Your relationship ended. Not your life.
This is the second blog post in our series on Breakups where we will be looking at how to handle breakups in the medium and long term and some useful tips about how to engage in a relationship with the right person. Part 1 of this post can be found here.
Breakups can leave us feeling lost and heartbroken, regardless if we were or weren't the ones who made that choice in the first place.
And after a few months, you may still be thinking about your ex-partner, and questions such as: "Did I make the right choice? What if... " may pop into your mind from time to time. Be reassured that this is ok and entirely normal. Focus on yourself, on the here and now and look forward to what the future holds for you. If you feel the urge to contact your ex-partner think again. What would be the purpose of your call? What will you get out of it? Your ex partner is probably going through the same process you are going through and it's not going to be helpful for both of you to stay in touch - at least at this initial stage.
In this phase, you may be feeling the need for some comfort from those you have been in a relationship with before.
Don't go backwards unless you have a very good reason to do so. People usually find easier to go back to their previous ex-partners than to move forward to meeting new people. This is because we human beings like to be in our comfort zone. As I say to my clients, when they ask about why they have made such and such choice again and again, the unknown brings a degree of uncertainty and provokes anxiety. So as a result we end up going for what's familiar even if it's not what makes us happy. A good tip is to remind yourself why that relationship ended in the first place, why it didn't work and ask yourself "What will I get out of seeing him/her again?".
Another frequent mistake some of my clients do is to jump from a relationship to the next without thinking, without taking the time to process what happened.
Be mindful that it takes time to heal for both your heart and mind. Before engaging in an intimate relationship with another human being, learn how to engage in an intimate relationship with yourself. Spend time with yourself, after all this is the most important relationship we all have. Embrace yourself fully. Start exploring the world, do new things, interact with new people. This will help you to learn how to be the best version of you.
Now think about your previous partner and try to spot some of the patterns of your previous romantic relationships.
Come up with 5 adjectives that describe the quality of the relationship with your previous partner (not your previous partner, the relationship!) and write them down. Next, think about 5 situations linked to those 5 adjectives and ask yourself "How did I feel in those situations? Is it how I want to feel in the future?". Try to come up with some common themes about your previous relationship and ask yourself: "Is it what I want? Is it how I want to be treated? Is it how I want to be in a relationship?". This will help you to visualise the "dance" between you and your previous partner.
To avoid repeating our mistakes over and over again, it is crucial to learn something from our previous romantic relationships.
Think about your future partner, try to visualise an image of his attitude and personality. Ask yourself what you want out of a relationship, what qualities you are looking for in your future partner, and write down 5 adjectives that describe the quality of your future relationship. Look back at the 5 adjectives you have attributed to your previous relationship and see if they match with what you want for the future. This exercise can be very effective to help you learn more about the elements that influence your romantic partner’s choice. And remember by learning about them, you can start the process of change.
In Part 3 of this blog we look at attachment styles and how they function as predictors of adult romantic relationships.
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