Dealing with a break up | Advice for young people | Jigsaw Online

Dealing with a break up

The end of any relationship can be difficult and can bring up a lot of feelings.

Whether you broke up with someone or they broke up with you, or it was a mutual decision we can feel sadness, loss or anger. Sometimes we can be upset because we’re confused and not sure what happened. Other times it can even be a relief.

It doesn’t matter how long it lasted or how serious the relationship was, it’s about what it meant to you. How you felt about that person and how it actually ended will all impact how you react to it.

There is no right or wrong way to feel. Every relationship is different and it’s important to acknowledge and allow ourselves to feel whatever is going on for us.

The way we feel about ourselves and others around us will also have an influence on our reactions to a break up. They can be harder to deal with if we don’t have close friends around, or we’re not feeling good about ourselves. Try not to only focus on the loss of the other person, but to think about our own life and what we can do to help ourselves.

There is no right or wrong way to feel. Every relationship is different and it’s important to acknowledge and allow ourselves to feel whatever is going on for us.

Feeling loss 

Going through a breakup it can be really tough, especially if we don’t want the relationship to end. When this happens, we can experience feelings of grief at the loss of this person. It’s not unusual to feel loss from actually being in a relationship and part of a couple.

Not being able to hang out together or with the friends you made through your ex all adds to a sense of loss. Sometimes people feel upset about the plans that were made during the relationship. Like going to a festival or debs together, that will no longer happen.

How we might be feeling:

Confusion. Sometimes people go over and over things that happened, and ask themselves “Why?”, “What did I do wrong?” or “How could I have done things differently?”

Sadness. It can be hard to let go of all the great things about a relationship. Feeling loved and close to someone is a very special thing. This includes being touched, cuddled and kissed and also sexual touches. We can feel very sad thinking about not having these things in our life.

Anger. Some people feel angry at the other person for ending it. But some can feel anger toward themselves or the situation that caused the break up.

Let down. After putting our trust in another person when in a relationship we can feel let down or a sense of being betrayed.

Rejected. This is such a common feeling when someone breaks up with us, so know that you’re not alone with this. We can feel unwanted by the person we were so attached to after a break up. It doesn’t feel good to think that someone we care about doesn’t want us anymore.

Loss of identity. Being in a relationship can be very consuming, we can be so wrapped up in being a part of a couple. After being someone’s boyfriend/girlfriend for a while it can be difficult to figure out who we are on our own.

Relief. Even in situations where people don’t want the relationship to end, there can also be a sense of relief. Perhaps things were difficult before the break up with a lot of arguments or tension so it can be a relief not to have to go through this anymore.

Blame. We’re not saying anyone should feel blame, but we can sometimes feel at fault for a breakup, even if we’re not the ones who ended it. Maybe something was said or done towards the end and it can become the focus for the breakup. We can also look for someone else to blame outside of the relationship like a close friend or an ex.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a relationship. But it is important to know you do have to let go, even though you might not want to.

Following your ex’s activities online can make it tougher to move on.

Letting go and moving on

No matter how we feel we need to respect someone’s right to not want to be in a relationship with us anymore.

Social media can make it really tempting to keep an eye on what they’re up to. It might be tempting to follow them on social media or show up to places where we know they’ll be looking amazing. But really, we have to give them and ourselves space.

Following your ex’s activities online can make it tougher to move on. It gets in the way of you being able to let go. It could also be seen as stalking (which is against the law) and is very upsetting for the other person. As painful as it is, this is what we need to do when a relationship ends.

What you can do to get over a break up

Feel your feelings. Allow yourself time to experience what you’re feeling. It’s not easy feeling sad and hurt from a breakup and so you’ll more than likely want to push these feelings away. This can make us feel worse in the long run. Give yourself time to feel. Make sure that you do something nice for yourself too.

Talk to someone you trust. It’s OK to go over the break up to make sense of and accept what has happened. Feeling cared for and listened to by friends or family is important.

Think of the positives of being single. Embrace your new status as you have time to do other things such as hang out with friends you may not have seen in a while. This can be scary at first, but it can end up being nice not to have to think about someone else all the time. Now you can just focus on what you want.

Do things that you enjoy. Small things like watching a funny film with a friend, or walking the dog can make a difference. Doing things we enjoy can help build our confidence and sense of identity again.

Try something new. Sometimes relationships can take up a lot of our time. Use this time to try something new.

Avoid drugs and alcohol. It can be tempting to use drugs and alcohol to help with the pain. This just make us numb and means we don’t manage how we feel and learn from the experience. Alcohol also decreases our inhibitions. If we are drunk, we can become over emotional and do things we might not normally do. Drunk texting or calling the person late at night is never a good idea. If you do want to contact your ex, it’s better to do this sober.

Focus on what you did right. People often focus on what they did wrong in a relationship when it ends but don’t focus on what they did right. Think about how you let someone close to you and tried to connect with someone else. This isn’t always an easy thing to do. Acknowledge yourself for being able to do this.

When you’re ready, it can be useful to think if there is anything you can learn for future relationships. Remember, you were likable or lovable to this person, the break up doesn’t change the person you are. It just means that it wasn’t right for your ex. In the future, when you are ready, someone else will find you loveable. Don’t feel under pressure to find someone else, lots of people are happy being single. 

If you have a specific question about coping with a break up, you might like to ask it anonymously through ‘Ask Jigsaw‘, where a selection of questions are answered by Jigsaw clinicians on a regular basis.