Relationships can break up for lots of reasons. Most of the time it’s no-one’s ‘fault’ and nobody is to blame, things just aren’t working out.

A breakup can bring a sense of relief, especially if the relationship was making you unhappy. But it can also cause difficult feelings such as denial ("it's not really over"), guilt, sadness, anger, fear, rejection, confusion, shock, disbelief or loneliness.

Dealing with a breakup

It takes time to get over the loss of a relationship. You might feel as though your world has turned upside down and that things will never be good again. The strength of your feelings might be overwhelming.  You might cry, feel restless, or have less motivation or energy to do things. Your appetite and sleep might be disturbed.

With time and support, most people pull through relationship breakups, sometimes coming out stronger at the other end.

Some things to remember

  • The end of a relationship doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with you! Try not to take it personally - lots of people break up.
  • You don't have to be in a relationship to feel happy. It's better to not be in a relationship than to be in bad one.
  • Whatever you're feeling now won't last forever. It may take time before you feel you have 'moved on', but you will! Take it one day at a time, and realise that there will be good and bad days.
  • If it was your decision to end the relationship, it doesn't necessarily make the breakup any easier to deal with.  It's still normal (and OK) to feel upset and to miss the other person.
  • It's OK to feel angry or hurt, but be sure you are safe in how you express your feelings. Don't act out your anger, or do spiteful things. Don't follow your ex around or call them all the time - this sort of behaviour is not acceptable and will make you feel worse in the long run. Remember that 'stalking' can be a criminal offence.
  • Don't feel embarrassed, and try not to worry about how the situation will look to others.
  • Remember that breakups can have a positive side. You can learn more about yourself, and what you want from future relationships. You can develop coping skills, become more independent, and have more time to spend with friends and do the things that you enjoy.

Some things that might help you feel better after a breakup

  • Let yourself be upset. Dealing with your emotions will help you heal and feel better.
  • Look after yourself. Try to keep up healthy eating, sleeping and exercise routines.
  • Be realistic when thinking about your ex and the relationship. It's common to remember only the good things about the person and the relationship. But be honest with yourself - it's rare for a relationship or a person to be perfect. Remembering the things that weren't so great will make it easier to move on.
  • Try to limit how much you think about your ex. Find things that will distract you, think positively, and try some new things!
  • Give yourself some space. You don't need to shut your ex out of life, but it might be helpful to try to avoid him/her for a while after the breakup.
  • Keep busy. You might find yourself with too much free time on your hands, especiallyat weekends. Plan ahead to do things and meet people.
  • Take time out for you. Do things that you find relaxing, like going to a movie, playing or listening to music, meditating, reading or sport.
  • Treat yourself. Buy yourself a treat or do something that you really like.
  • Talk to friends. It's OK to want some time to yourself, but being with supportive people can also be a big help. You can also get a different perspective by talking things through with others.
  • Don't use drugs or alcohol to deal with the pain. Alcohol will probably make you feel worse. Drugs might give you a high at first, but the after-effects will leave you feeling much worse.
  • Give it time. Allow yourself some time to cope with the change.

Breaking up with someone

If you're breaking up, then try to be considerate in ending the relationship. Think about how you would want to be treated in the same situation.  Try to end things in a way that respects the other person, but be honest. Clearly state that the relationship is over, and why. Understand that the other person is likely to be hurt and perhaps angry about your decision.  End the relationship face-to-face wherever possible, rather than by text, Facebook or email. If this isn't possible, write an email or letter clearly stating the relationship is over, and give some explanation for your decision.

When your ex moves on…

It can be especially hard when you find out that your ex has a new relationship. If this happens:

  • Try to avoid thinking about them being with someone else, as it can be really painful.
    Don't contact your ex or lash out at them for being in a new relationship. It won't make you feel any better.
  • If you are struggling with anger or jealousy, you need to make sure you stay safe when dealing with these feelings. Talk to somebody about it and get some help if you need it.

Thinking about a new relationship

Take all the time you need in beginning another relationship. Think about what you want in your next relationship, but feel confident about being single for a while.

When should you get some help?

Breakups hurt, but people usually get over them in time and without any serious problems. If you find yourself unable to move on, talk things through with someone you trust. This may be a friend, family member, youth worker or a counsellor. Counselling can provide a safe space to help you understand your feelings and gain some perspective.

Find out how you can speak to someone at headspace.