How To Get Over A Break Up From A Long Term Relationship

Long-term relationships mean so much to us. We like making decisions keeping the big picture in mind. We find comfort in pairing up with others (usually a lover) and considering the time ahead with a view to long-term objectives or consequences. We’re wired to partner up, marry, and find safety in being a couple. Our culture and our physiology make it feel right to be with one partner for the long haul. Especially when we want children. When this type of relationship ends, it’s almost impossible to forget about the person who’s hurt your heart (and the legal separation and fight don’t make it any easier). It hurts!

Sometimes, however, especially as a relationship is ending or a marriage is falling apart, that long term view feels suffocating. The last thing you may want is to sit across from that person you call your spouse for another evening. Decisions become more complicated and it’s not easy to commit to something some time in the future never mind tomorrow. Everyone feels the tension. When this type of relationship ends, there’s a momentary relief: you think you’ll be fine not sleeping in their bed one more night. But still, it’s tough to quiet the mind and face the future on your own. You don’t quite know where to go to avoid the pain.

Getting over a long term relationship has us experience being whipped about by our feelings, out of control, and vulnerable. 

Every decision feels off. With divorce, so much is riding on understanding the legal choices being made. Either way, your chest might hurt right where your heart is - there’s this literal pain that catches you by surprise. You may wonder why you’re always overwhelmed or getting sick. You may feel frightened of things that normally you’d excel at and you may feel as if you’re out of touch with the sort of things you did each day. 

You might feel as if you need to hide just as you start out on your own again without that partnership and you may feel as if all eyes are on you. You will fear gossip and what your attorney is asking. Your mind races, imagining seeing your past lover everywhere you go. You can actually still feel their touch. This vulnerability may surprise you and you may wish to rewrite the past. 

The difference between those navigating this period of time with a degree of understanding and those that don’t is learning to respect these modern day rites of passage.

Separation makes us face our human frailties. We are not invincible and we are not immune to feelings of loss and grief - no matter what kind of job you might do for a living and how many tattoos you may be sporting. No matter how tough you may perceive yourself, losing love hurts! 

We also have a memory that stores all the information we need to function going forward. This includes knowing what we want and don’t want. If someone’s harmed our heart in the past, don’t you think, given the way we’re wired, that our innate need to stay safe is going to remind us of what we don’t want including a past lover?

We don’t like the feelings that come with heartbreak and we don’t like continually thinking about the other person. (News Flash:  It really doesn’t matter if you were the one who initiated the breakup! Clients, who were the ones who broke off their relationship, still struggle with memory, heartache, and understanding the loss.) So if you’re thinking about the person you just left and wanting it to be over with quickly, I’m sorry to tell you that you’re misunderstanding what it means to be human. Our brains can't rewire automatically.

This is the opportunity: 

  • You get to take back control of your thoughts.
  • You slow down for once in your life.
  • You set time aside to grieve and to process. 
  • You really think about what you want going forward. 
  • You learn how to take care of yourself. 

This is a little bit about becoming selfish. When I was going through my divorce(s), I pulled in. I had to. I was also accused of being self-involved by a court appointed professional. (News flash: my opinion of the professionals and people around me lessened. Of course, I had to pull in! Of course, I had to mourn, feel my feelings, process the information before I could move on and take care of everyone else! What kind of professional would question that kind of self-care?!) 

This is the time to grow:

  • to rise above your own fragility and to learn to protect your heart with clear boundaries.
  • to manage your thoughts and emotions the same way you do when you’re working or parenting.
  • to reach out for help knowing it’s a sign of strength, not a weakness to be vulnerable.
  • to empathize with other humans who suffer from loss and heartache the world over.
  • to learn what loneliness really feels like and develop a streak of independence and pride.

If you don’t take the time to feel the feelings, set aside time for self-care, reach out for help, and learn more about how you behave in the world, you’ll continue to suffer (and repeat the same relationship patterns going forward!)

You deserve to understand what’s really going on!

These are universal experiences and are what makes the world tick - we do things for love, for relationship. For survival. You know that. So get your nose out of your cell phone (after you finish reading this article) look around you at the men and women nearby, spend some time figuring out what you really want, and get involved with meeting people who’ll help improve your life. (Thanks for starting here.)

So take the time for yourself, find some help, do what you have to do. That’s the work you have in front of you and how to get over a break-up from a long term relationship. (News Flash: you may not be able to forget about that lover who hurt you immediately but over time, that memory will no longer make you cry. See How To Get Over a Break Up When You Still Love Her to learn more: ) You are way stronger than you realize and capable of more than you know!


Next step? Leave a comment below: how have you gotten over a break up from a long term relationship in the past? Then sign up for my weekly Scarlet D™ Letters - they are a wealth of information for you on what to expect and the feelings you’ll experience as you leave one relationship for another.