dealing with relationship breakups

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Relationships break-up for lots of reasons. Often, it’s no-one’s fault and nobody is to blame, instead – things just didn’t work out.

Download our fact sheet on relationship breakups

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Break-ups can be tough - some people feel as though their world has turned upside down and that things will never be good again and others can feel relief and happiness. There’s really no right or wrong way to feel. 
It’s OK to feel whatever you’re feeling, lots of people do. Be kind to yourself; it can take time to heal after the loss of a relationship.  


Some things to help you after a break up:

It might be tempting to try and get over a break-up quickly, but it can take a bit of time, work and support. 
After a breakup, it’s a good idea to prioritise yourself and there are things that you can do to support yourself during this tough time. For example:

  • Give yourself some space. You don't need to shut your ex out of your life but it might be helpful to try to avoid the person for a while after the break-up – this can mean online, too.

  • Keep busy. You might find yourself with too much free time on your hands, especially on weekends. Plan ahead and do things that you usually enjoy.

  • Take time out for you. Do things that you find relaxing, like watching a movie, listening to music or playing sport.

  • Talk to family, friends, Elders and others who can support you. It's OK to want some time to yourself but hanging out with supportive people helps get your mind off things, and can help you get a different perspective.

  • Try not to use alcohol and other drugs to deal with the pain. While they might help you feel better at first, the after-effects can leave you feeling much worse.

  • Give it time. Allow yourself time to adapt to the change after a break-up.

  • Try to look after yourself. Things like eating well, getting enough sleep and staying active.
5 helpful ways to heal after a break up

Ask our expert

What advice can you give me after a break-up?

headspace clinicians put together this list to help you get through a relationship break-up: 

  • Whatever you’re feeling now won’t last forever. It may take some time to get over and recognise there will always be good days and not-so-good days.

  • If you ended the relationship it doesn’t necessarily make the break-up decision any easier.

  • If someone ended the relationship with you it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you. Try not to take it personally because relationship break-ups happen all the time.

  • It’s better not to be in a relationship than to be in an unhealthy one – remember, you don’t have to be in a relationship to feel happy.

  • If someone ended the relationship with you, remember to respect the other person's wishes and boundaries.

  • Many people feel upset or angry during this time. Always make sure you express your feelings in healthy ways.

  • Try not to feel embarrassed or to worry about how the situation will look to others. Now is the time to focus on yourself.

  • Try to see the positives in a break-up. You can learn more about yourself and what you want in future relationships.

  • Remember that with time and support you can pull through a relationship break-up and come out feeling stronger at the other end.  

Tips on breaking up with someone

If you’re breaking up with someone, try to be considerate about how you end the relationship. Always think about how you would want to be treated in the same situation.

Try to end things in a way that respects the other person but be honest. Be clear and tell the other person why the relationship is over. Understand that the other person might be hurt and possibly angry about your decision. 

If it's safe to do so, try to end the relationship in person. You could also take someone you trust along with you. Or you might prefer to try video calling if that's an option for you. Your safety is most important.


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When your ex moves on

It can be really upsetting if you find out that your ex has a new relationship. Try to avoid thinking about them being with someone else. Don’t contact or post about your ex and lash out at them because this won’t make you feel any better.  

If you’re struggling with anger or jealousy when getting over a difficult break-up, it’s important to remember to stay safe. Talk to somebody about it and get help from a trusted adult, like a parent, teacher, Elder or counsellor.


Thinking about a new relationship?

It's a good idea to take some time out before beginning another relationship. Think about what you want in your next relationship, things like having more independence or being more honest with the other person, as well as what you hope and want from them. 

It’s important to remember that being in a relationship won’t necessarily make you feel happier. Getting more confident and comfortable about being single is also a healthy step forward.


Getting support

Break-ups can feel like the end of the world, but most people work through them in time and without any serious problems. Sometimes a break-up can lead to someone experiencing other problems such as depressionThese feelings can affect your daily life and stop you from doing the things you enjoy. If it’s been longer than two weeks, it’s time to take action.

If you’re struggling to move on after a break-up, or if you feel unsafe in any way, it’s important to talk things through with someone you trust. If you'd prefer to talk to someone outside your family and friends, your general practitioner (GP), a counsellor, or someone at your local headspace centre can provide you with support.

For more information, find your nearest headspace centre or for access online and phone support through eheadspace.

Other useful resources

1800RESPECT for relationship resources and counselling.

The headspace Clinical Reference Group oversee and approve clinical resources made available on this website.

Last reviewed 14 September 2022

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