Dealing with relationship break-ups
A break-up can bring a sense of relief, especially if the
relationship was making you unhappy. However, it can also bring on
a range of difficult feelings such as denial or disbelief ("it's
not really over"), guilt, sadness, anger, or fear, and may lead to
feeling rejected, lonely or confused.
It's normal to feel sad after a relationship split and
it can take time to get over the loss of a
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
also be disturbed.
Some things to remember
- 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 break-up any easier to deal
with. It's still normal (and okay) to feel upset and to
miss the other person.
- The end of a relationship doesn't mean that there is
anything wrong with you. Try not to take it personally -
relationship break-ups are common.
- 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 a bad one.
- It's okay 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, call them
all the time or harass them online. This sort of behaviour is not
acceptable and will make you feel worse in the long run.
- Try not to feel embarrassed or to worry about
how the situation will look to others.
- Remember that break-ups 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, have more time to spend with friends and do the
things that you enjoy.
- It is important to remember that with time and support
most people pull through relationship break-ups, sometimes coming
out stronger at the other end.
Some things that might help you feel better after a
- Let yourself be upset. Dealing with your
emotions will help you heal and feel better.
- Look after yourself. Try to eat healthy, keep
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
- Try to limit how much you think about your ex
by finding 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 your life but it might be helpful to try to
avoid him/her for a while after the break-up.
- Keep busy. You might find yourself with too
much free time on your hands, especially at weekends. Plan ahead
and do things that you usually enjoy.
- Take time out for you. Do things that you find
relaxing, like going to a movie, playing or listening to music,
meditating, reading or playing sport.
- Treat yourself. Buy yourself a treat or do
something that you really like.
- Talk to friends and family and others who can
support you. It's okay 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 and drugs might help you feel better 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 with someone, 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 by email.
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
- 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
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 try to feel
confident about being single for a while.
When should you get some help?
Break-ups hurt but people usually get over them in time and
without any serious problems. Sometimes a break-up can play a part
in a person developing other problems such as depression. If you
are struggling to move on after a break-up, or if you feel unsafe
in any way, it is important to talk things through with someone you
trust. This may be a friend or family member. If you'd prefer to
talk to someone outside your family and friends, your general
practitioner (GP), a counsellor, or someone at your local
headspace centre can provide you with confidential
out how you can speak to someone at headspace.