WAYS OF GETTING OVER THE PAIN OF A ROMANTIC BREAKUP
A practical guide to getting back to making a life and growing a future
By: J. Marlando
It hurts…deeply…to have someone break up with you that you love or even care deeply about. Indeed, it can feel devastating to “lose” a wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend who you believed (or wanted to believe) was your forever mate.
A whole lot of that hurt is because you trusted the whole of you to that special other and that special other became intrinsic to your dreams and desires. And so, when he or she walked out the door, on one level of consciousness or another, you feel those hopes and dreams were taken away too because without that special other, they are lost. It because of this that you fall into depression, cry and want to howl at the moon because you are hurting so much. And, because you feel rejected and cheated you ironically believe that the only thing you want is your mate…back!
Especially if you have most recently endured a failed relationship, you will know exactly what we re talking about here. Most likely your life has lost meaning, you feel isolated and alone and you wonder why you weren’t enough for your Jack or Jill. These feelings or feelings like them compound hurting you all the more because suddenly you are thinking about him or her being in someone else’s arms and that, as the saying goes, adds insult to injury. And so an odd combination of jealous anger and self-pity arise, there is more crying, more devastation and more undeserved loneliness.
In recognition of all this agony, you need first to overcome the neurotic belief that your happiness was taken away by the lover who abandoned you. You have assigned your happiness to him or her! Indeed if you say/think, I can never be happy without someone, you are affirming your dependency on that love-object, a position that NO ONE wants to be placed in because it is both coercive and demanding. It is NOT in fact a love factor at all but an emotional tool to control and manipulate the other. Your happiness is absolutely your own possession and what you do with it depends entirely on your own decision making. Just remember, if you deem the rose bush a thorn bush that is what it becomes…for you!
Never the less your feelings of despair may indeed cause sadness to possess you in the wake of being “left behind” by someone you care deeply about.
So let’s talk about despair by turning to Asbye Seren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), the philosopher and theologian known to be the father of existentialism. He tells you exactly what you don’t want to hear but gives you the truth anyway. He says:
Despair is never ultimately over the external
object but always over ourselves. A girl loses
her sweetheart and she despairs. It is not over
the lost sweetheart but over herself without the
sweetheart. And so it is with all cases if loss
whether it be money, power, or social rank.
The unbearable loss is not really in itself
unbearable. What we cannot bear is being
stripped of the external object, we stand
denuded and see the intolerable abyss of
There is a great lesson to be learned for all of us from Kierkegaard’s wisdom especially if we are willing to conscientiously mirror ourselves in the given situation. In matters of romance, if we are at all wise, we do not “want” anyone who doesn’t “want” us in any case as nothing but upset and anxieties will persist in the relationship anyway. And, the thought or hope that the loved object will change or can be changed is typically met with disappointment.
What generally gives us the most pain is not that our lover has gone away but that we have lost the possession. However, the very idea of “possessing” another is a false concept anyway—not even parents possess their children for that matter. Even marriage, if we override the legal ramifications, lasts only as long as husband and wife remain in voluntary agreement. The moment one mate decides to abandon the other, the agreement is broken and their years of sharing togetherness are given over to a non-recoverable past, and bitter/sweet memories.
Certainly the betrayal hurts the one left behind, no one is denying this, and we’ve all been through those painful times at least once or twice in our lives. But once a reasonable period of grief passes, there comes a time to simply dry our tears, put a smile on our own faces, let loose of the agony and dive into the recovery process. If your response to this is something like, I just don’t have the will, your problem is not Eros but instead ego.
Something that is seldom talked about when it comes to the despair of losing a romantic relationship is self-esteem. We suggest that the less self-esteem one has the more pain and depression will follow a breakup. First of all when someone we care about walks out of our lives, we are left swimming in a sea of self-doubt and rejection. In one way or another we blubber all kinds of self-promoting declarations—I’m a good person…I’m devoted and honest…I did everything for him (or her)…why didn’t he (or she) love me?
This is the ego crying out for recognition and appreciation, how could anyone leave me when I am so wonderful? The truth is you might well be all those wonderful things that you are saying you are. In most one-sided breakups it is typically not the one left behind that has the problem belongs to the one who has flown the romantic coup. The odds are very, very slim that you are the reason for the breakup especially if you actually have been the dedicated and loving mate that you are saying that you are. But let’s say that you had your faults too, which, truth be told, you probably did, but that still doesn’t mean that you are the “cause” of the breakup. Indeed, you may have served as the excuse but that is another topic and one that could stake volumes to delve into. We’ll leave that topic for another day.
With the above in mind and for simplicity’s sake let’s just look at the obvious—someone you cared deeply about broke up with you and left you behind. No matter what anyone says the quickest cure is finding someone else. And yes, I know that’s not always easy to do. But guess what the biggest problem is in this solution? The chances are that you will go out seeking to find a person who is most like the one who left you; the one who hurt and betrayed you. What you’ll probably be after is to replicate the old relationship in the foolish quest to recapture what you “THOUGHT” you had.
So your first challenge is to be receptive to the brand new—to refuse to judge or compare and just be open to starting a friendship and permitting romance to naturally occur if the friendship is someone you’re attracted to. DO NOT transfer your ex’s faults or frailties onto the new guy or gal though. If you do you’ll simply build a case against him or her that they don’t deserve and you’ll end up chasing your new Jack or Jill away. So, with this in mind, step one is just to be receptive to a new relationship when one happens by. If it doesn’t…even for a long time, that’s okay too because that gives you lots of time for the self.
In fact it is important for your recovery to take advantage of your aloneness: Take an exercise program, paint; write that article or novel you have in the back of your mind, take up tennis or golf, take a vacation if you can afford to. In short, start doing for you, for a change.
Another problem that strikes a person when they have been abandoned by someone they love or are deeply fond of is that they are left feeling unloved. Okay, that’s part of experiences but it becomes essential then for you to love you.
Self-love is necessary for all our human happiness—not to be confused with self-indulgence or any other ego-centeredness. Get into the habit every morning to look into the bathroom mirror and say to yourself, you are loving and lovable. Do this for just a week, without fail, and see what happens to your depression. In fact, let’s experiment right now. Repeat after me:
I am loving and lovable
I am loving and lovable
I am loving and lovable
Keep saying it a few times and you’ll start smiling again and be on your way to recovery.