Going through a breakup is painful, but one you didn’t see coming can be particularly hard to wrap your head around. It comes with the anger at your partner for jumping ship without warning, or at yourself for not noticing the signs.
How you heal from a breakup is a personal experience, as everyone recovers differently. So, although there’s no ‘right’ way to heal after a break up, below are some steps you can take to care for yourself during this difficult time.
Don’t look for closure
When your breakup seems to come out of the nowhere it can be incredibly destabilising. It reveals that your partner wasn’t communicating and being honest like you thought and it can feel as if the breakup up just doesn’t make sense.
It’s common to want answers, but often with unexpected breakups you’ll receive vague unsatisfying explanations and a sudden no contact policy. This sudden one-eighty of your relationship can leave you reeling and in shock.
When someone ends a relationship with you abruptly and without warning, it’s not a reflection of you or your worthiness to be loved. They do this because of their own issues and their inability to communicate. Focusing on this can help you to move on when you feel you need answers.
You didn’t deserve to be broken up with this way, your ex simply didn’t have the tools or emotional maturity to handle the breakup properly. You’re unlikely to get closure from any explanation they could provide, so instead seek closure by healing and allowing yourself to move on.
Let yourself be sad
When you’re in pain it’s natural to seek a remedy, to try to find the answer to “how long will I feel this way?” but it’s important not to rush anything. Let yourself heal and be kind to yourself. It’s okay to wrap up in your duvet, put on a movie and eat a whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s. After all, the clichés exist for a reason, and ice cream is the ultimate comfort food.
If you’re not ready to let yourself be sad, that’s also okay. Leaning into your friends and filling up your social calendar is a good way to distract yourself from thinking about your ex and the whirlwind of emotions they bring.
It’s good to reach out to your support network and remind yourself you’re not alone, but you also can’t distract yourself forever. Eventually you’ll need to let yourself feel and to sit with the pain of your breakup, but it’s okay to only do so once you feel ready.
Going through a breakup is a form of grief and as frustrating as it can be to hear, there isn’t an easy fix – you simply need to give yourself time. Allow yourself time to heal and try not to compare yourself to the healing journey of others. Every breakup is different and everyone’s recovery will look different. It could take you weeks, months or years and that’s okay.
While allowing yourself to be sad is important, make sure not to let yourself wallow. If a period of sadness comes, ride the wave and let yourself feel your emotions, but don’t go looking for things that may trigger you.
As tempting as it might be, don’t look through old photos or stalk them on Instagram. If there’s a TV series you were in the middle of watching together or a café that was your go to spot, it’s best to avoid these while the breakup is fresh. By triggering yourself in this way you’ll only prolong the healing process.
The best way to start moving on from your ex is by removing their presence from your life. Mute them on socials, put all their things away in a memory box and most importantly don’t reach out to them.
Trust in love again
Unexpected breakups are particularly hard because they demolish your sense of trust. Romantic relationships are deep vulnerable connections and it takes trust to be physically and emotionally intimate with someone.
So when your partner blindsides you with a breakup it’s easy to lose trust in the belief that romantic bonds can be safe. It’s also very easy to lose trust in yourself when you question if you ever really knew your partner like you thought you did.
This breakdown of trust can cause you to approach new relationships with caution and wariness. Chelsea Lee Trescott, Relationship coach and host of Thank You Heartbreak, recommends writing down a list of all the ways your ex-partner blindsided you.
Just the act of putting thought to paper can help release your emotions and start the healing process. Write under each point what you fear this means for your future relationships.
For example, if your ex was behaving normally and lovingly up until the day they broke up with you, you could write that you worry you won’t be able to trust that someone means what they say. Write next to each of these points that you won’t blindside someone in the same way. So, you promise not to spare someone how you truly feel about them because being honest avoids confusion and breaking their trust.
This is an important exercise that can help you to recover from the impact of your unexpected breakup and to move on once you’re ready.
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