I am a firm believer that we are 50% responsible for the success in our relationships and 50% responsible for the breakup. Breakups are never easy. Our routines and comfort zones are disrupted. Financially and emotionally we take a hit. Our children and family feel the pain. It is all encompassing as it touches every aspect of our lives.
We have a choice – we can be bitter, miserable and blame our ex partner for everything they did wrong and talk endlessly to our friends and family about it until they find us too depressing or we can learn from it and move on.
How do you move on when you are in so much pain or feel completely lost? Start by having compassion for yourself and then set out to understand what worked well and what contributed to the breakup.
In my own experiences and my research, a common theme that has emerged is that most people have not developed their own identity fully, before they enter into a long-term relationship. They slowly, over time, adopt their partner’s interests or lifestyle to please them and then they become resentful. They don’t even realize they have their own needs because they never identified them in the first place.
Another very common scenario is that who we are at the beginning of our relationship changes over time but our partner does not change or does not change at the same pace. We get angry because we are not supported. We don’t recognize and can not articulate our own changes to our partner. We are angry and they are confused.
After the breakup, I recommend you do an analysis. Who were you, what attracted you in the first place, what did you like or dislike over time, what are your values and those of your partner, how have you both changed over time, what was your contribution to the breakup.
Redefine your identity – who are you? Not who you became in your relationship, not what your parents, friend or relatives expect of you – simply rediscover you. A starting point may be to complete your own values exercise which you can access here. Many people, after redefining their identity, feel a renewed sense of energy to living the life they were meant to live. They replace the sadness and negativity with a plan to pursue their life in a more positive way.
A fabulous resource is a book and a workbook entitled “Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends” by Dr. Bruce Fisher and Dr. Robert Alberti. It helps you look at the building blocks you need to go through, before you enter into a new relationship. There are questions at the end of each chapter to help you determine if you have moved past that particular stage. The last thing you want is to repeat the same patterns in a new relationship, that contributed to the break up of your last one.
You can’t control what your ex did or does now. You can control your reality. Take time to feel sad, to celebrate what was great and most importantly, create a plan to move forward. It will give you strength and something positive to work towards.