Dealing with Relationship Breakdowns

Breaking up is a tough time, it can be better or worse depending on how you deal with it. How you cope over that time will depend on your ability to manage your own thoughts and actions, and to recognize when things are out of hand. In other words, a relationship breakdown is a time of heightened and mixed emotions. But, if you take time and care for yourself, you will come out the other side.

Regardless of whether or not you started the separation, you may still experience grief. Someone you used to care about, or may still love, is moving out of your life. To cope with your grief, look at things that might help you:

  • avoid using alcohol or other drugs to ease any pain
  • try to eat healthily, keep your sleeping and exercise routines, and plan for treats and the things you enjoy
  • avoid rushing into a new relationship
  • try to keep busy, perhaps distract yourself with new people and new activities, or talk to friends and family and others who can support you, or consider some quiet reflective time by yourself
  • talk to your doctor, or seek counseling, if you have any concerns about your health and wellbeing

Relationship breakdown is a key factor in worsening family violence and depression. Some people can have an extreme response to separation, which can be dangerous to them, their partner or their family. Anything that is an attempt to belittle, demoralize or punish a person is unhelpful, and sometimes may even be illegal, such as vandalizing a car or other property. The separation will be easier on everyone if each party takes responsibility for behaving with self-respect and maturity.

Sadness experienced from a relationship breakdown may be intense, which may lead to depression. Depression is a serious illness that affects mental and physical health. People with depression find it hard to function every day. They may become socially isolated, or unproductive at work and home, and stop enjoying their usual activities. Other signs of depression can be significant weight change, lack of concentration, and reliance on alcohol or drugs. If these problems last longer than two weeks, it is time to seek professional help.

Another unhealthy response to separation is violence. Some people feel enormous rage when their relationship falls apart, and they may try to punish their partner. If you feel you cannot control your anger, or you are worried about your partner’s anger, seek help immediately.

Family violence, stalking and abusive or threatening language and behavior are never acceptable. The safety of everyone in the relationship, including children, must come first. If your partner is violent:

  • avoid contact as much as you can
  • only meet in a public place
  • ask a friend or family member to be with you at meetings
  • don’t respond with aggression
  • keep a record of abusive incidents, including stalking
  • seek legal advice about what you can do

If you think you are in immediate danger, call 911.