Ending relationships can be a painful experience, and we’re often unprepared for the variety of emotions we feel in the process.

Reactions When a Relationship Ends

  • Denial — It can be hard to believe the relationship is over.
  • Anger — Feelings of anger or rage may emerge towards your partner, yourself or others.
  • Fear — You may experience fear related to the intensity of your feelings, as well as concern that you’ll never find another partner in the future.
  • Self-blame — You may blame yourself and worry about things you wish you could have done differently.
  • Grief — Intense feelings of sadness and loss may emerge. You may mourn the relationship as it was, along with hopes of what the relationship would mean for your future.
  • Guilt — You may have feelings of guilt about things you said or did. If you’re the one who ended the relationship, you may feel guilt related to hurting the other person.
  • Confusion — You may have some uncertainty about yourself and the future.
  • Hope — Initially, you may fantasize there will be reconciliation, that the parting is only temporary or that your partner will come back. As you heal and accept the reality of the ending, you may hope for a better future for yourself.
  • Relief — There may also be feelings of relief that there is an end to the pain, fighting, torment and lifelessness of the relationship.

While some of these feelings may seem overwhelming, they’re all normal reactions. They are necessary to the process of healing, so you can eventually move on and engage in other relationships.

Ways to Cope With a Breakup

  • Feel your feelings — Allow yourself to fully acknowledge the sadness, anger, fear and pain associated with an ending. It’s okay to validate the importance of the relationship you have lost.
  • Connect — It can be tempting to isolate from others, but it’s crucial to remember the caring and supportive relationships that remain in your life. Ask others for support and tell them how they can be helpful to you.
  • Give yourself space — Avoid overexposure to your ex. Try not to give in to temptations to constantly look at their social media pages and don’t feel forced to rush into a friendship.
  • Get it out — Writing, drawing or painting your feelings can be a helpful way of releasing and expressing your emotions.
  • Get moving — Exercise is also an excellent way to take care of yourself.
  • Give yourself time to heal — Be kind and patient with yourself after the breakup. Follow your usual routine as much as possible. As a general rule, don’t make large life decisions immediately following a breakup.
  • Avoid overindulging — Be mindful of engaging in potentially addictive behaviors, such as drinking excessively or abusing other substances.
  • Look for the lessons — Consider how you’ve grown personally and what you’ve learned as a result of being in the relationship.
  • Explore yourself — Use this time of transition to rediscover yourself, reevaluate your priorities and expand new interests.
  • Nurture your sense of spirituality — Nourish your spiritual side in whatever way fits your beliefs, such as spending time alone in nature, attending a religious service or meditating.
  • Get the help you need — If you feel stuck in a pattern and unable to change it, or if your reaction to the ending of the relationship is interfering negatively with positive areas of your life, a professional counselor may be able to help.