What To Know About Breakups

What To Know About Breakups. One of the biggest challenges on mental health is obsessing about relationships that are in the process of ending, have ended, or should end. As a Marriage Counselor working with couples, married or not married, I utilize strategies for navigating what one can and cannot control when their relationship ends.

I recently worked with a couple who came in due to infidelity. The Hurt Partner (female) stated she wanted to work on Affair Recovery. The Affair Partner (male) was willing to go through the process and took responsibility for his behavior. During the course of counseling the hurt partner continued to inappropriately act out her emotions of hurt, anger, and disappointment by yelling, blowing up his phone, showing up at his office unannounced, etc.  According to the Affair Partner her melt downs and inability to manage her feelings validated his decision to end their 5 year relationship as he realized his betrayal was one of many issues the couple faced.

His decision blindsided her and she was left devastated. Reconciliation was not an option as his decision was final for all of his valid reasons. Both were experiencing grief and loss.

With mixed emotions they individually sought counseling with me to try and understand what happened. Breakups are awful. The one who wants to leave the relationship feels just as bad as the person who was left. (See blog: Dumpers and Dumpees)

Both asked what they can do to manage their feelings about the breakup. The best thing you can do during a breakup is to concentrate on yourself. Spend time focusing on “self” rather than “other.” Everyone has their own way of healing. Sometimes that way is not conducive to the other person. You can’t control anyone but yourself. Develop a support system.  Stay off of social media so you can concentrate on yourself and not what your “ex” is doing. Journal your feelings and what you learned about yourself in this relationship.  Your breakup can be a means to grow. Take advantage of the time alone.  Become the person someone would want to grow old with.

Call me at (858) 735-1139 for more information on surviving your recent breakup.

The Dumpers and The Dumpees

The Dumpers and The Dumpees.  A breakup seems easiest for couples who decide mutually to end the relationship. In most cases, however, as suggested by Bruce Fisher and Robert Alberti, in their book, Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends, a breakup involves a dumper, the party who takes the initiative to end the relationship, and a dumpee, the one who wants the relationship to continue it.  Sometimes, when one analyzes the nature of the relationship, it may be difficult to decide just who is the dumper and the dumpee. In general, however, the dumper is the one who says it is all over, and the dumpee is the one in shock who begs the other not to leave. Dumpees often say they were taken completely by surprise by their partner’s announcement.

The breakup experience is often very different for each of the two parties. The dumper usually began preparing for the end well before the final announcement, and the actual parting often comes as a relief for the dumper. The primary emotion experienced by the dumper is guilt. The dumpee, on the other hand, is usually hit by surprise and with a great deal of pain. The turmoil of the breakup itself is usually much more intense for the dumpee, but it is this pain that can motivate more personal growth. The main task of the dumpee is to work through feelings of rejection. Both parties usually experience a great deal of pain as their relationship comes to an end, although the pain of guilt is different from the pain of rejection. For a healthy adjustment, it is important to recognize which role has been assumed, dumper or dumpee, and to work on the issues appropriate to that role.

How Long Do I Wait Until I Get Into Another Relationship? Expect that it will take at least a year before things begin to feel at all normal again. For most of us, depending on the length and the nature of our previous relationship, it will take two or three years. This may seem like an eternity, but in reality, this is a wonderful and precious opportunity to find out who you are as an unattached individual. A word of warning is in order – don’t expect to involve yourself with someone else immediately! You are on the rebound. To attach yourself prematurely in a love relationship is unfair to you and to the other person. You must deal with important personal issues when your previous love relationship comes to an end.

Living through the transition and exploring these issues can be painful – and falling in love again may seem like the perfect way to end the pain.  If you enter the dating scene too quickly and before you have a chance to explore the issues which led to your breakup, the other person becomes a replacement object, and that is not what a healthy relationship is about. You will probably carry into this replacement relationship the same issues that helped to lead to the demise of your former relationship – and similar events may very well happen again. Your real goal is to discover who you are and to explore what happened. When you are at the point of being able to have a happy and fulfilled life as a single person, then you can choose when, or even if, you should involve yourself in another love relationship. When you know that you have that choice, you may be ready. I help individuals and couples who have broken up, with this process in therapy.

If you would like to know more about working on personal issues as they do effect relationship issues, please call me at (858) 735-1139 and I can help you sort out what you need to know about what is contributing to your relationship.