Recovering from a Break-Up
By Jennifer Heetderks, M.A.
Break-ups are a universal part of life. Unless you stay with the first person you ever have a romantic relationship with, you will experience a break-up. It can be incredibly painful, and often feels isolating. While there are many similarities in what people experience, each break-up is unique.
If it was your first serious relationship, you may experience how hard it is letting go of your "first love." Or, the end of a long-term relationship may cause you to experience a loss of identity. You may need to explore and find out who you are outside of that relationship. For many people, their romantic partner is the one person they could turn to for emotional support. During a break-up, the very person you are used to turning to is the one person you no longer can.
The experience of a break-up can result in a multitude of emotions, such as shock, denial, anger, relief, joy, depression, anxiety, and perhaps at some point, acceptance. You may notice changes in your eating and/or sleeping habits. You may cry frequently. You may be unable to concentrate. You may be more irritable than normal, and your mood can fluctuate.
One moment you may be thinking "Good riddance!" and the next you may find yourself crying and missing your boyfriend or girlfriend like crazy. You may also be letting go of friends you met through your partner, places you went together, and their family.
So what do you do to help yourself manage a break-up? Remember that recovering from a break-up takes time. Be patient with yourself during the grieving process. We also suggest that you avoid making any drastic changes, and avoid acting on any destructive impulses. Let your friends and/or family know you are hurting. Let them know ways they can help, whether it be listening, working out with you, or helping you study.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help bring stability to your life. Many have found that returning to a routine can offer comfort and a sense that things are returning back to normal. For more persistent difficulties (for instance, a depressed mood that doesn't seem to lift), it might be helpful to consider talking to a professional counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services.
It's very easy to only remember certain traits of your ex's, such as the great ones or the really annoying ones, or to only remember either the good or the bad times. But at some point, try to remember the full person and the experiences you shared. Nobody is all-good or all-bad, and neither is a relationship.
By remembering the good and bad, you don't have to beat yourself up for dating the person in the first place, or wishing you had never met them. Even though the relationship ended, meaning can still be found from the experience.
Every relationship brings us knowledge about ourselves, how we relate to others, and what type of relationship works best for us. Be aware of this information and use it for the next time. Most importantly: Don't give up on relationships!