How to deal with a breakup or divorce

Jul 5, 2023 | Blog Articles

Relationships have been mightily challenged over the past few years, with the stress of Covid and now the cost-of-living crisis. Many friendships and family relationships broke apart as people experienced varying viewpoints about Covid, the vaccines and the mandates.

The stress and feelings of helplessness that many of us have experienced – and are experiencing – as a result of what’s happening in the world has made maintaining relationships challenging, with many resulting in difficulties and breakups.

“The things in life that cause us greatest anguish and pain are generally the very things that also cause us to know ourselves deeply.”

– Petrea King, Your Life Matters

Relationship breakups happen for many reasons. Often a breakup or a divorce is not someone’s ‘fault’, it’s simply the outcome of one or many incompatibilities. No matter what you’ve tried, it’s just not working out. And that is likely to be painful – but okay.

Sometimes these breakdowns have taken us completely by surprise as we had no idea that our friends or family saw things so differently to ourselves. People we thought would be our closest allies are suddenly hostile or they cannot reconcile our viewpoint with theirs.  

A relationship breakup can be a major challenging life event, and the depth of its emotional impact can depend on many factors: the duration of the relationship, your current life stage and age, if children are involved, or if there is a history of substance, emotional or physical abuse.

You might feel relieved and finally free, or you might feel incredibly sad, bereft, alone and despondent. Maintaining faith in yourself and what is true for you can be a lonesome path sometimes. Your world can feel like it’s falling apart. The range of emotions can come in waves. Some days you’re feeling much better, and some days you find yourself in tears.

Whether it is amicable or hostile, a relationship breakup is a loss that can be overwhelming. You might find it hard to imagine a future without that person – or group of people, but it’s important to remember that you will one day feel better.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, Quest for Life’s ‘Coming to Your Senses’ meditation can be very helpful. It’s a simple pathway to calm to take wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.

Remember, it can take a long time to heal from a breakup or divorce. Social expectations and conditioning can often mean that men and women deal with relationship breakups differently. Here’s some ideas for men and women about how to deal with a relationship breakup or divorce. Read through all the suggestions as they’re not always specific to men or women.

For men

A relationship breakup is tough, no matter how it happened.

1.Feel the feelings.

Men often get told to ‘toughen up’ or ‘man up’ when emotions are involved. But sometimes you just want to let it all out, and that’s okay. Allow your emotions to take centre stage, whether it’s sadness, anger, disbelief, shock or grief. Just do it safely, so you don’t harm others or yourself.  

2. Get active.

Go for a run or to the gym, or play sport with some mates. Exercise has many benefits: it helps the body release feel-good hormones called endorphins, and helps you feel stronger and more capable. Sweating it out can be a great booster for your sense of confidence.

3. Spend time with your mates.

Get together with friends who you trust and whose company you enjoy. Do something together and get talking. It really helps to get some of those thoughts and emotions off your chest.

4. Go easy on the alcohol or drugs.

Sometimes it’s easier to bury emotions in alcohol or drugs. But depressants or stimulants deplete your body and don’t make the problem go away. Try the ‘Coming to Your Senses’ meditation instead.  

5. Give yourself time.

Don’t pressure yourself to be ‘over it’. Working through a relationship breakup is a process. There’s no quick-fix solution, but you can feel better in time, especially if you put some of these ideas into practice. And be careful: don’t jump into another serious relationship until you feel like the time is right.   

For women

They say that breaking up is hard to do. It is, but it’s not impossible to heal.

1. Express your feelings.

Relationship breakups bring up a range of mixed emotions. You might feel isolated, sad, angry, confused or relieved. It helps to find a positive way to express these feelings: write about them in a journal, get creative by drawing, sewing, painting, or crafting.

2. Reach out to others.

Get together with a close and trusted friend, and share your thoughts and feelings with them. Talking to others can help you process your emotions, gain some clarity, and help you feel supported and connected. If you’re getting depressed, seek professional help from your GP or a counsellor, or join a local support group.

3. Take care of yourself.

Make sure you’re nurturing and nourishing your body. Eat healthy foods that will boost your mood and energy. Take some time out to exercise and move your body. Take up yoga and meditation (such as the ‘Coming to Your Senses’ meditation), or get a massage to help reduce your stress levels.

4. Do things you enjoy.

Immerse yourself in all the things you love: going to the movies, spending time with friends who make you laugh, going for a coffee at your favourite café or spending time outside in nature. Recognise there is pleasure to be gained from simple and enjoyable everyday experiences.  

5. Give yourself time.

There is no right timeframe for feeling better after a relationship breakup. It’s a process that needs to unfold in its own way. Just know that the intensity of emotions will subdue with time and be gentle with yourself along the way.

Resources

  • Wellbeing books Including Your Life Matters by Petrea King – a guidebook for life
  • Meditation CDs including Be CalmSleepLearning to Meditate

Related articles

Sometimes breakups can lead to health issues, such as anxiety or depression

If you’re finding it difficult to give yourself time or cope after a breakup or divorce, and talking with friends or family isn’t helping, then it’s important to seek help from a qualified professional, such as your GP or a counsellor or consider attending a Healing Your Life program at the Quest for Life Centre.

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