September 7, 2017

Post-split Problems: How to Cope with Loneliness after a Breakup.

We frequently struggle with the pain of loneliness after a breakup.

The feeling is inevitable. There was a particular routine in our day that has now changed; we were accustomed to calling our partner when something important happened, or we were used to seeing them on specific days.

After a breakup, we can no longer meet those expectations. When something important happens, we grab the phone, only to put it down a few minutes later.

And so, we feel that something is missing. We can’t help but feel this massive void.

Some people might get back together at this sensitive period, regardless how much the relationship was destructive or whether or not they were really into their partner. They mistake feelings of love with feelings of loneliness. Then, the relationship crumbles again, once that feeling of something missing has been satisfied.

Breakups are challenging, but we have to learn to work our way through them. I have been there so many times that I now know what it takes to overcome this arduous phase.

Here are a few tips that have never failed me:

Understand the notion of missing someone. We usually mistake feelings of missing someone with wanting to be with them. It’s imperative to understand that missing someone after their absence is natural. It’s common to replay memories in our heads when we sit alone and reminisce about the good times. This is a normal activity of the brain. Embrace it, instead of turning it into a negative feeling or an unconscious excuse to sink deeper into misery.

Know that what you’re feeling is natural. Feeling lonely after a breakup is normal, because what was familiar has now changed. We usually deem it wrong to experience those negative emotions, and we try hard to prevent them. I have learned that trying to fight something only intensifies it. Therefore, don’t fight your feelings or the situation.

Accept your emotions. I used to think this advice was bullsh*t, until I started accepting my own emotions and realized that acceptance solves the bigger part of the problem. Go through the rollercoaster of your emotions, regardless of how challenging the ride may be. We shouldn’t try to feel anything other than what we’re feeling right now. When we experience our emotions to the fullest, we also give them the space to fade away.

Date yourself. In other words, learn how to be alone. This might sound terrifying, especially if we were in a long-term relationship. Nonetheless, learning how to be on our own teaches us how to not be dependent on other people and how to eradicate our expectations of them. Loving ourselves is essential and must be fulfilled particularly in times of struggle.

Be around people. Oftentimes, we feel like we want to be around people, so we won’t feel alone. It’s healthy to go out and to surround ourselves with our loved ones. Doing so doesn’t eradicate loneliness, but it does mask it temporarily for a few hours or days. Fake it ’til you make it.

Fill your time with activities and hobbies. Meet new people, pursue fun activities, and discover new hobbies. Filling our time shifts our focus from destructive thinking to doing something useful.

Write. You don’t have to be a professional writer to keep a journal. Write out your emotions and thoughts. You may throw the papers away, burn them, or keep them. What matters is the result once you finish writing. I usually feel a sense of relief after writing down my emotions, Moreover, keeping a journal helps eliminate the need to contact your ex.

Give yourself time. With time, the feeling of loneliness lessens—and, in no time, you will start enjoying yourself again. Time does heal wounds. They might not go away entirely, but they lessen to a great extent. Be patient with yourself as you cross to the other side of the river. The water is cold, the flow is strong, and you might fall along the way—but focus on the beautiful meadow on the other side…you’ll soon reach it. Remember, baby steps.

Dating might not be a good idea. I’m convinced that rebounds might be unhealthy. We don’t get over someone through being with someone else. We only brush our emotions under the rug—and soon enough, they will be reflected in our new relationship in a negative way. Give yourself time to heal before dating again.

Loneliness isn’t wrong. You see, we may feel alone at any given point in our lives—not necessarily just during a breakup. Therefore, it’s beneficial to change our perception on this. Call it “beautiful solitude,” instead of “loneliness.”

Look at the pros. We all need to be alone at some point. Breaking up allows us to have free time, because we’re no longer consumed in a relationship. This is not always something to be happy about, but it’s definitely something we can take advantage of. Consider it a call for action to get to know yourself without the presence of a partner. It’s your chance to explore yourself and to grow. Then, when you commit to someone again, it might be a commitment for life. Therefore, take advantage of the time when you’re wholly alone. It might not come again.



Pema Chodron: a Buddhist teaching on Loneliness, Rejection & a Broken Heart.

Navigating a Break-Up is F*cking Hard.


Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Unsplash/Ian Dooley

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social editor: Taia Butler

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