How to Deal with Losing a Relationship or Marriage

There are several things involved when it comes to talking about how to deal with the loss of a relationship, whether it’s a friendship, a dating relationship, or your marriage.

I’m not gonna say it’s easy, or that it doesn’t take that long, because neither are true. If you are invested in the person emotionally or otherwise, there are things that you will have to deal with after the relationship has ended that will be uncomfortable, and probably new to you.

I tend to see the loss of a relationship in similar terms to losing someone through death. I see relationships or marriage in the same physical terms that we see our loved ones or those close to us when they end. A relationship or a marriage was once lively and vital, in the same way that people are, but can also die out and lose their strength and vitality over time, and end.

I think the most important thing to know about how to deal with losing a relationship is that relationships do end, whether or not we had anything to do with the end of them or the downfall. It is a part of life, even if we don’t want it that way and reject it when it happens to us.

It’s taken me many years to really appreciate that people in our lives do come and go, and some stay longer than others. I’ve started to learn this as I’ve gotten older, which has helped me to see things in a greater perspective and not cling as tightly to people, especially when they’re not emotionally available or if they’re not providing what I need for a for a fulfilling relationship.

Relationships do end, and a lot of the hardship that we experience comes from the clinging in the attachment that we have had to the person or to the relationship as it was. In Buddhist terms, this is suffering, and the cessation of suffering would come from learning how to work through the difficult and painful emotions that keep you attached, to eventually learn to let go and grieve, and then heal.

Considering that idea, it’s necessary to be realistic and to know that there will be some time and attention needed on your part to work through that difficult process of grief. And it is a process of grief. Just like I had mentioned earlier, losing a relationship is like losing a physical person. It is a process that needs attention and that takes time.

Usually what delays the grieving process is that we hold on in some way or another, and can’t or don’t want to let go of the person, the relationship, or the way things used to be when you were in a better place with the person.

A lot of the times, we’re holding on to the person as they were in the past, or as the relationship was in the past. Sometimes the person, the relationship, or yourself have changed, which have created a different type of relationship that has come to an end. The loss of relationship has happened, but you haven’t accepted it.

A lot of the holding on part can come from holding onto those positive memories, or to wishing or hoping that the relationship would be different in ways that you would want.

It can also mean that you’re holding on waiting for the other person to change, or to shift backward into the place that they used to be when you had met them and developed the relationship originally. For that matter, this is disillusionment, and it’s not seeing things as they truly are, which keeps people from not seeing things clearly as they need to be seen.

Allowing yourself the space to grieve is so important. Grief does not look the same from person to person, and even if you’re expecting certain things to happen, such as following closely the stages of grief, it probably won’t happen that way. It happens on it’s own, and the more you’re open to letting those emotions come through you and pass, the easier the process will be in the long run.

Trust your feelings, and when those difficult emotions come up, just let them come up without avoiding them, pushing them away, or over-intellectualizing them. The kinder you are to yourself and the more space you allow for those feelings to come up and work them selves through, the easier the grief process will be, even if it feels like it’ll never end.

Get support, and find meaningful and positive people in your life who you can talk with and share your feelings about your relationship loss or break up. Take care of yourself, do what you can to get through the day, get the right rest and diet going, and know that grief and the letting go process does take some time. Sometimes it even takes years to get through it completely.

What I wouldn’t do is get into indulging your whims with the other person by continually checking on them or wondering what they’re doing. Try to not stay on social media and troll them online, or continually check their profiles to see what they’re up to. It’s not gonna do you any good. Stop texting them and calling them, and you’ll be able to help yourself let go a little bit more easily. I know this is difficult to do, especially when the feelings are so strong at the end of her relationship, but it’s important to try to take the highroad.

Dealing with the loss of a close relationship or marriage is painful, long, and can seem like an eternal rollercoaster of different emotions. The more you avoid this process, and push it away, the longer the process will stay in place and not allow you to move on and heal. Think about some of the advice above, and see if you can consider any of it if you’re dealing with a loss now, or if you’ve had with one in the past where you haven’t dealt with it. It may still be lurking somewhere in the shadows, affecting your ability to open up and have the healthy kind of relationship that you deserve.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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