How to Heal After a Relationship Breakup

woman sits on sand beside beach feeling sad after relationship breakup
by Vance Larson

So she’s sitting in my office looking at me like I am crazy. She had an 18-month relationship with a wonderful guy and they were to be married in the coming months. She is in my office because she found out this morning that he has been cheating on her with a co-worker for the past 3 months. Both devastated and hurt, my client said she has already signed up for 3 dating apps and has 6 dates lined up.

I get it. No one wants to find themselves in this situation. But mass dating is not the answer. I am not a drinker however, I once found myself in a bar with a friend of mine going through a similar time. What I remembered most is what he said: “The best way to get over the last one is with the next one.” Being his friend, I joked about how many times we had this same conversation. The answer to that question was 6 times in the past 4 years. The reality is that when you break your arm, you need to rest it. The same holds true with a broken heart. 
Finding out that Mr wonderful had been cheating on her, called for her to react. I told her not to react, but to retreat. That in no way was it healthy to be going on 6 dates when she has yet to process her feelings about losing the man she was to marry in a few months. They have actually done studies about recovery time in terms of break-ups. One school of thought is that if you have been with someone 10 years, it would take you 5 years to adjust and move on in a healthy manner. (Half the time spent together). While I don’t necessarily agree, I do know that one does not move through that process in a few hours, let alone be in the right head space to be dating multiple people in the next week. 
I always find it interesting on how we try and cheat the process. Breaking up and/or divorce is hard. It takes an emotional toll on us. We need time to evaluate, adjust and heal. This process takes time. The same time one would honor when mending a broken bone. You simply cannot break your arm and put a cast on it and expect to move on like everything is normal. You will have limitations. You are simply not 100 percent. Yes, you may get it reset or have surgery. But there is still recovery time that will be required. Why would we expect anything less?
So, what is the magic number to getting over a relationship? I think that number will be very different for everybody. The real question is can we take a look and learn from this past relationship and come out better. I have said it many times over. So many people do not nurture themselves or the process after a break-up. And when we don’t do the internal work, we more often than not have the same relationship over and over again only with a different person. Take a month. Take several. Do not throw yourself into another relationship. Is not fair to you and it’s really not fair to the person your dating.
I have been married for quite some time. But prior to my marriage, I enjoyed a healthy social (dating) life. In my late 20’s I realised that I too, was having the same relationship over and over again. I quickly made a few changes, and from that point on, my relationships took on a new meaning and greater level of intimacy. 

The success of my healing was based on:
1. Not dating anyone for 3-6 months after ending a relationship.
2. Not listening to friends or family about my break-up.
Why 3-6 months? It just felt like the right amount to do some self-evaluation. While my friends and family always meant well, I didn’t want anyone to distract me from my self-evaluation. That the validation, intimacy and at times, the kick in the butt, ultimately had to come from myself for it to really sink in. I think in retrospect, I would have been able to move through my process a little faster had I sought out a counselor or coach. However in the end, I think the time did me good. 
So while my client is shooting a glaring look at me and saying that I don’t know how she feels. She is right. I do not, however, I can tell you from a mental health standpoint that she does, in fact, need some time to process. I can also share my experiences of being cheated on and having my world come crashing down. But in the end, we must be our own superhero and save ourselves. Unfortunately, no amount of dating and distraction is going to fill the void of being hurt. 
Broken arm or broken heart. Both require time to heal. 

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1 thought on “How to Heal After a Relationship Breakup”

  1. Deborah Fairfull
    Deborah Fairfull

    A great article in raising our awareness around emotional health. Because emotions are not "seen", they are "felt", it is easy to overlook that they do need time as does our physical body does to heal, before we feel emotionally strong again after a break up for example. Thankyou Vance.

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