Moving on after a break up


How long it takes to get over a breakup with a beloved depends on many factors. It could be your length of time together, the strength of your attachment, whether you have children, Your emotional sensitivity, etc etc

But probably the main factor in the amount of time it takes to get over a romantic separation is how you deal with the grief, loss and emotional pain.

Grieving can be a difficult thing for many people. It is natural to avoid painful feelings, but to move on successfully with our lives after a break-up, it is necessary to process these painful emotions. If they remain unprocessed they become easily triggered over and over again and we keep feeling the pain over and over again.

To process them we must deal with the feelings that arise.

Kubler-Ross talks about the 5 stages of grief -
1. Shock and Denial, 2. Anger, 3. Bargaining, 4. Sadness & Depression, & 5. Acceptance.

These stages are just general guidelines, they do not always occur in that linear order as we can move back and forth through them. However, it is beneficial to know which stage you are in, so as to have a better understanding why and how you are feeling and behaving. Therefore, it is extremely important to allow adequate time to reflect, contemplate and meditate on what is going on within you. Journaling can be very helpful in this contemplation. Write it all down!

Provide yourself with time to be around supportive people and also time to spend alone processing these painful feelings. This all needs to be done on a regular consistent basis. A professional counselor may sometimes be needed to aid in this process.

A complicating factor to the grieving process is that this recent loss can trigger many of our unprocessed past losses. It is as if we have one place where all our past losses reside and lay dormant. When another major loss comes along it awakens all the previous losses and causes even more emotional pain. Childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse are common unprocessed losses.

People say “time heals all wounds” as over time the loss gets smaller. However, it is not time itself that heals; but the quality of the time you spend processing. As you process the grief the pain lessens. It feels less because you have grown in the process and your capacity to deal with the grief has grown and therefore you feel less pain. The grief is the same size but it feels very different. There is still the sadness but you have found a place within where you can now accept and manage this sadness. You have become a bigger more mature person.

It is important to remember when getting over a break up that it is the feelings, not the person, that you miss. When you were with that person many pleasurable feelings were felt and at certain moments you miss those wonderful beautiful feelings. However, it is not him/her that you long for it Is those very positive sensations that person evokes within you that you miss so badly.

So if you do all of the above, eat, sleep and exercise in a healthy manner, and remove as many negative triggers as possible, your grieving will be reduced to the minimum. You can be accepting of the present and you can finally move forward. You can do it!

Mark Hirschfield is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and contributing EXpert to

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