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Know Your Breakup

Long time back I suffered through a breakup. I cried overnight; sitting on the desk of my cubicle; while returning home from office. In short, I cried all the time. At that time, I felt that the world has got over for me, all my dreams have withered and I will never find happiness again. It was an indomitable phase something I thought I could never overcome. But time passed and I healed. With the help of a deeply caring friend and with some amount of self-strength.

It was then when the phase had passed, I realized that breakups are not the end of life. In fact they can be a beginning to a lot many new things. Trust me! When I say that, I actually have been through a painful breakup. I was on the verge of a total breakdown. In an effort to lure my lover back in a relationship, I even agreed to have causal intercourse with him. But just in time, I realized my self-worth and pulled back my feet.

In short, breakups are uglier, murkier scheme of things in a relationship I was not prepared to deal with. And how would I? In school and college I studied, there was no information and preparation on how should one deal with  a breakup? Friends who are equally inexperienced as you are offer precious, unproven, theoretical advice. ‘I think you should not waste your time on that boy who does not love you.’ How could you say this? How can I forget everything in a flash? I had such a high emotional, financial, physical investment in this relationship? Questions plagued my mind as I was advised to stop thinking and move forward.

I eventually did move forward but it took time. And as I chronicle that journey, I could distinctly see that every breakup has certain emotional stages, that will happen whether you like it or not. And you need to allow yourself that time to get through these emotional stages. Only after that you will heal.

So when someone tells you to get over the breakup probably you cannot because you are still in one of those emotional stages of breakup and because the emotions you are experiencing are legitimate. So let’s talk about 8 stages of breakup. Referring this framework will help you put your emotions in a context and not get blindsided by the feeling.

Denial – Even though at some level one or both partners know the relationship is in trouble, it can be frightening to admit there’s a problem. If the problems can be brought out into the open and addressed, the couple could try to work on the relationship. Sadly, this may not happen. In addition, one partner may actively hide feeling unhappy and wanting to leave the relationship in order to ‘not rock the boat’ and / or secretly plan an exit strategy. That deception may help the other partner stay in denial. But when the denial breaks, the pain begins.

Anger and Confusion – The person who will initiate the breakup may feel frustrated by the other. Just being around that person can be enough to make the initiator feel annoyed. Personality quirks, and other qualities that were never a problem start to get on his or her nerves. The person who will be on the receiving end of the breakup may feel genuinely confused as to why his or her sweetheart suddenly seems so angry or upset all the time. When the breakup does occur, the partner on the receiving end may react in angry outbursts, such as “You can’t do this to me!” “I won’t let you go!” or even “I hate you”. When your sweetheart seems to be more interested in criticizing you than in complimenting you, it’s usually beginning of the end.

Bargaining: We can work it out – Things look bad, but sometimes you might think you can fix it. When that doesn’t happen, the person on the receiving end of the breakup may become obsessed with trying to mend the relationship and win back the other, restoring to bargaining: “I will change for you. Please don’t leave me.”. Couples may repair a relationship at this stage if both really want to do so. A relationship will continue when both partners believe the work of staying together is worth it. A relationship will end when at least one partner believes staying together is just too much work. Remember! It takes two to stay together but only one to break apart.

Acknowledgement and grieving : This stage can begin only when a person admits the relationship is over – the denial has ended. It is in this stage that grief is felt most acutely and most deeply. When you’re hurting, you’re healing. While both parties experience some level of grief, the one who is left experiences more grief in the form of abandonment and rejection and the sense of not being good enough to keep a sweetheart from leaving.

Evaluation: What went wrong?

Grief offers an opportunity to shine a light in the dark, painful space of the breakup and look at what went wrong. It’s like an emotional autopsy. The person who initiated the breakup may begin to experience some feelings of regret, recognizing that there were good aspects to the relationship – it wasn’t all terrible. And after some time apart, the initiator may come to miss his or her sweetheart.

For the person who was on the receiving end of the breakup, this stage often offers a time to reflect on what wasn’t great about the relationship. Many of my students come to realize during grief that their ex wasn’t perfect, and that being out of the relationship may have some unexpected benefits. They may realize how their stress level has declined, or how they don’t have to keep a tally of time spent with a sweetheart versus time spent with friends. They may even realize that they feel happy, something they may not have felt in a while, especially during the earliest stages of the breakup.

I’m not the same person – In relationships, you can sometimes forget your own individual strengths and likes. Once the relationship ends, it’s normal to try to reconnect with your old self. “I love to paint but I never had time to paint when I was with him.” “I like to cook at home but she always wanted to go out to dinner”. This is a stage that offers both parties the opportunity to grow and develop into their most authentic selves as they rediscover the interests and personality traits that make them who they are.

There’s no going back – In this stage a person accepts that it was right that the relationship ended. Breaking up wasn’t a mistake. Ending a relationship that isn’t working is the right thing to do. It is important to know that life gets better and that happiness is in moving forward and opening their hearts again.

Peace – You can interact with or be around your ex and not feel bitter or angry or disgusted. Because we live in an age where momentary rage can be crystallized forever in a Facebook post or a WhatsApp text or tweet, when rumors can be circulated in seconds, it’s especially important that young people should quell their desire to lash out, hurt, or bully their exes or their exes’ friends. Deliberate cruelty will only make things worse.

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