The end of a romantic relationship can be a very sad experience. When we enter such relationships, we give a part of ourselves to someone else, we grow to depend on that person for many of our emotional needs, and we learn to trust that person. It rarely occurs to us that the relationship will end, otherwise, we would not allow ourselves to be so vulnerable to another.
The loss of a romantic relationship can create a void in your life. The process of grieving that loss is similar to grieving the loss of a loved one through death. You may experience a range of emotions from a numbness, to sadness and despair, to anger. The numbness is our way of protecting ourselves from the overwhelming feelings that come along with such a loss. Depending on how much time you and your romantic partner spent together and how long the relationship lasted, your whole lifestyle may be shaken as you try to fill in the spaces of your life that were filled with that person. If that person also attends Loyola, you may have constant reminders as you see him or her on campus, walk along familiar places that the two of you traveled together, eat in the same place where the two of you shared your meals, or spend time with the friends that the two of you shared. Having mutual friends can be particularly awkward as you try to figure out how to maintain the friendships without running in to your ex.
Oftentimes, friends don't know how to handle the break-up either. You may feel that they are tired of hearing your feelings about the break-up. They may tell you that it is time for you to get over it. They may not understand your ambivalent feelings, of still caring for someone who may have hurt you. It is easy for an outsider to tell you what you should be feeling, but romantic relationships are very personal, and we each have our own way of dealing with their endings. We can never really tell another person how he/she should react.
What You Can Do
There are many things you can do to move through the grieving process as quickly as possible, including:
- Openly discussing your feelings with trusted others,
- Writing out your thoughts and feelings,
- Prioritizing basic self-care,
- Establishing a routine,
- Indulging yourself,
- Establishing distance from your ex, especially immediately following the breakup, and
- When ready, start dating again.
When you need someone to talk to, to share the range of feelings that you have, to help you mourn the loss, to help you get back on the track of your life, attending classes, studying, socializing, just wanting to enjoy life again, come to the Counseling Center. Talk things over with a counselor who understands what you are going through and can help you work through the break-up. Remember, the break-up of a relationship does not have to mean the break-up of you.
If you would like to discuss a break-up, relationship, or any other issues, please call or stop by the Counseling Center to schedule an appointment.