Hide me!

When intimate relationships end

Relationships can end for many reasons and a lot of the time it’s no-one’s fault, it’s more that the people involved change, grow apart or things just aren’t working out. That doesn’t make it any easier though; deciding to end a relationship can be a very difficult decision and break ups can be a painful time for either or both of you.

Breaking up

Just about all of us will experience a break up (or few) at some point in our lives. You may make the decision to break up, it might be a mutual decision, or it might be the other person that breaks things off. Sometimes a break up can be a good thing, and may bring a feeling of relief if the relationship was making you unhappy. Or sometimes it can be a shock and not something you wanted or were ready for.

Regardless of how the relationship ended, chances are you will feel sad or miss parts of being in a relationship. You can both experience a range of feelings such as guilt, confusion, fear, rejection, loneliness, denial, shock, worthlessness or even relief. You may cry, feel restless, have trouble sleeping, and have less motivation or energy throughout the day, or you may adjust quickly to being single again. There is no right or wrong way to feel after a break up, it will be different for everyone and for each break up.

Some important things to remember when going through a break up:

  • There is nothing wrong with you; this just wasn’t the right relationship for you. Lots of people break up and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
  • It’s better to not be in a relationship than it is to be in a bad one, or in one where the other person doesn’t feel the same way as you do.
  • It’s ok and normal to miss the other person, even if you were the one that broke things off.
  • It’s ok and normal to feel hurt or even angry, but don’t let your emotions take over and cause you to do things you will regret or are illegal. It’s important to respect each other’s space after a break up – constantly calling your ex, trying to see them or spreading rumours about them isn’t appropriate behaviour and won’t make you feel any better in the long run.
  • These feelings won’t last forever; you’re likely to be feeling vulnerable and emotionally fragile, so give yourself some time to get over the loss of the relationship, but remember, you have so much more in your life to look forward to; these feelings will pass with time, and who knows what’s in store for you next.
  • Although it may be hard, try to look at the positives in the break up – it’s a good opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you really want in future relationships.

Being Single

Sometimes it can take time to adjust to being single again, and it may seem daunting. There is nothing wrong with being single; take time to do things that make you happy – spend time with friends and family and enjoy the time you have not being in a relationship.

If you find it hard to be alone, try to keep yourself busy and surround yourself with activities and people that you enjoy to help take your mind off the break up.

Some great activities include:

  • Exercise – go for walks, go jogging or go to the gym
  • Read a book
  • Play video games
  • Watch a movie
  • Listen to music
  • Catch up with friends or family
  • Join a local sporting team
  • Start a new hobby like cooking

Moving on

It may take time for you to feel you have ‘moved on’. It may be hard at first, you will have good and bad days, but things will get a little better and a little easier with time.

Person sitting on bench at sunset

It can be especially hard when one of you moves on with someone else before the other and that can stir up lots of difficult feelings again. It’s important not to bother your ex or try to harm their new relationship; it won’t make you feel any better.

Some things that can help you move on include:

  • Let it out – it’s ok to get upset and let out your emotions – cry, talk to friends or family, or spend some time alone. Dealing with your feelings will help you heal and make you feel better.
  • Give yourself space from your ex – you may want to avoid them for a while after the break up, give yourselves space to deal with difficult emotions and time to heal.
  • Take care of yourself – try to get plenty of rest, exercise and eat well.
  • Plan ahead – keep yourself busy, especially around those times when you know you will miss your ex. Arrange to do things with your friends so you’re not alone.
  • Think positively – try not to think about your ex – think about the future, try new things and meet new people.
  • Let friends and family help you – talk to them about how you’re going and, if you need further support, let them help you find it.
  • Take your time – moving on doesn’t mean jumping straight into another relationship. Take your time to get over your ex and figure out what you want from your next relationship. Try to feel confident about being single and enjoy the time you have to spend with your friends and meet new people.

Who can I talk to?

If you are feeling really down or finding it hard to cope with a break up – it’s a good idea to talk to someone about it, like a trusted adult, a youth service or a counsellor. Counselling provides a safe and confidential place to help you understand your feelings and gain some perspective.

Find more helpful information about how to deal with break ups at Reachout.

When relationships end