Romantic breaks are more common than people think, and they are on the increase: for example, in Spain there were a total of 86,851 divorces in 2021, 12.5% more than the previous year.
The reasons that can lead to the breakup of a relationship are multiple (infidelity, lack of confidence, boredom, the appearance of a third person…), and each can lead to a different process of overcoming. Thus, going through a breakup can be very complicated, especially because it is a process that is often accompanied by many routine changes (e.g. stopping talking to someone every day, having to move out of our own home, etc.). In the end, a breakup marks the end of something we had been building for some time with someone else, so it marks the end of a part of us. However, there are different guidelines that we can carry out to make the post-break stage as comfortable as possible.
How does a love breakup affect us?
The effects of a love breakup can be many, and depend on whether we have been the person who made the decision to break up, or the one who has been left. They also depend on whether the relationship ended in a good way, or after some traumatic event (such as an infidelity). Of course, both people will share certain feelings, such as loneliness and sadness. This is natural, since a break means the end of a stage and, with it, the end of many routines.
The person who has made the decision may feel some guilt, even regret. You may have ruminant thoughts about whether you have made the right decision, whether you can go back, etc. This may create feelings of fear and uncertainty. On the other hand, the person who has been left may feel anger and resentment, as they may experience the breakup as a betrayal.
Stages of a love breakup
We talk about different phases that occur after a love breakup, phases that are the same as those that occur in a duel, since, in short, a love breakup is a loss; however, we must take into account that they do not have to happen for everyone, even in a linear way (for example, they can happen in a circular way, repeating themselves over time). These would be:
- State of shock: especially for the person who has been left. It may be accompanied by a feeling of “mental cloud,” disorientation, or denial of reality.
- Negotiation: this is the whole stage in which the desire to return with the expartner appears. It can lead to casual sexual encounters with her, texting her saying she misses her, etc. In particular, the person who has been left may try to persuade the other person to reconsider their decision. In this way, it may become too much insistence.
- Anger: again, especially for the person who has been left. The brain tends to think about the other person’s bad things, all their flaws, to try to ease the pain and feel better.
- Sadness and grief: it is the stage where one begins to assume the reality of the rupture. The pain is felt for the loss of the partner, but also for the loss of all future plans, as well as the self-image we had next to that person.
- Acceptance: the last stage corresponds to the full acceptance of reality. It is often accompanied by new projects; for example, people can sign up for new activities, start dating other people, etc.
How long does it last?
The duration of the mourning is different for each person, so it is not possible to speak of specific times. Some people take a few weeks to get over a break, while others may take more than a year. This time will depend on the reason for the breakup, the personal context of each, previous experiences, the length of time they were in the relationship, etc.
It is important not to be burdened with the overcoming, because it is another duel, with its rhythms, that one must inevitably go through. Although it is a natural process, it is true that there are certain guidelines we can follow to speed up or mitigate the process.
Psychological guidelines for overcoming a love breakup
- Rely on people close to you: making social plans and talking about the breakup with friends and family is often very helpful, as it mitigates the feeling of loneliness and makes us feel accompanied.
- Find new activities: starting new hobbies, or dedicating more time to those we already had can be very useful to distract us and strengthen our self-image on an individual level (reconnecting with ourselves).
- Zero contact can be useful in some cases: many people talk about zero contact with their ex-partner (disappearing from their life completely, at least for a while). This, however, will depend on each case, according to the needs of each. There will be people who don’t want to lose the relationship with their ex-partner because they ended up on good terms. It’s about listening to ourselves, and communicating with the other person to know what’s best in each case. Also, there will be times when zero contact will not be possible even if you want to, for example when you have children.
- Do those things you had given up: even in very healthy relationships, we might give up certain things (for example, we might have entered into a routine of going to bed early and getting up early the next day because our partner preferred it). Trying to find the things we had given up, and carrying them out, can be very liberating to try to find certain benefits in the face of the breakup.
- See a psychologist: performing therapy or psychological accompaniment can be very useful to get through the grief in the best possible way.
On the other hand, there are also couples who break up by mutual consent, which often facilitates the process of mature and healthy separation.
Sprecher, S. (1994). Two sides to the breakup of dating relationships. Personal relationships, 1(3), 199-222.
Sprecher, S., Felmlee, D., Metts, S., Fehr, B., & Vanni, D. (1998). Factors associated with distress following the breakup of a close relationship. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15(6), 791-809.
Col. Nº B-03138