Breaking up is hard
As humans one of the most exciting and rewarding things to happen to us is finding a partner with whom we feel we can live the rest of our lives. The buzz, the feel-good factor, the positive attitude to life and all that it throws at us. But what happens if it all goes wrong?
Relationships tend to follow a certain pattern. You meet someone; you like them and they like you; you spend time together. This can then evolve into physical intimacy. The hormonal drive of the body to pair up takes over and friends begin to complain that they never see you. But life is fantastic.
But then within months the two of you begin to come down from the clouds. Do you actually like this other person? Do you like how you have changed? Are they really ‘the one’? Unfortunately not always. The challenge can be if one of the couple feels that this is the relationship for life and the other doesn’t.
But the memory of the good times encourages us to try to “save” the relationship. And there may be reasons that it is faltering, rather than dead, and going to a counsellor may help. Poor communications can be a major problem - usually the belief that he/she can read my mind and so should know what I want. Does that ring a bell? But there can be other influencers - boredom, meeting someone else, differing sexual needs or feeling that you have little in common for example.
Relationships take a lot of time and effort. The problem is that usually at the start they don’t. They’re just wonderful. But, if you feel that he/she is worth it, then putting the effort in can make the relationship more solid.
Sometimes, however, even with all the effort in the world a relationship is not to be. The pain of realisation and then of breaking up can be overwhelming. In fact it is very much like going through the pain of loosing someone very close to you through death. And there are similarities. Not only is this the death of the relationship but also of your dreams, hopes and future.
For most it is an extremely emotional and traumatic experience. Even if you have been abused and know the relationship isn’t healthy or if you are the person who has decided to do the breaking up. That pain, unfortunately, can be magnified by the modern trend of being told of the break-up by text, email or even on social media. How cruel is that. Not even to be told face-to-face when you have shared so many intimacies together.
It is important to find someone you can connect with who will give you support. Unfortunately, sometimes that person can be the one who is breaking up with you. Talking to a counsellor or a very good friend may be another option. But trying to be brave and bottling feelings up can leave you at risk of stress and hold you back rather than helping you move on and forward.
Working through the breakup can also offer an opportunity. It is an intensely painful period but this pain may help you plan your future. It can help you learn what you do and do not want. It will also take some time. Each of us will mourn the loss of a relationship both differently and for different periods of time. But take your time. Only you can decide when to take that first step to move on.
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About Owen Redahan
Owen works with individuals and couples. He focuses mainly on issues around self-esteem, relationships, sexual addiction and work problems using CBT and person focused therapies.
He holds a diploma in Counselling and is Vice Chair of ATSAC (the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity). He is based in Canary Wharf (E14).