Dealing with relationship breakups

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 factsheet on relationship break-ups

A relationship break-up can be tough no matter what the situation. Everyone feels different when they’re going through a break-up. It’s OK to feel sad, angry or let down after a break-up – lots of people do!

Sometimes you need to prioritise looking after yourself and there are things that you can do to make it easier to handle. You have to do stuff like hang out with friends, eat healthy and get plenty of sleep.

It’s OK to feel sad after a break-up and it can take time to get over the loss of a relationship. 

After a break-up many people experience a range of difficult feelings, like sadness, anger or guilt, which may lead to feeling rejected, confused or lonely. You might even feel relief which can be just as confusing.

Some people feel as though their world has turned upside down and that things will never be good again. Many people may feel restless, lose their appetite and have less motivation or energy to do things. It might be tempting to try and get over a break-up quickly, but it takes a bit of time, work and support.

 

Some things to help you after a break up:

  • 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, playing or listening to music, meditating, reading or playing sport.

  • Talk to friends and family 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 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 will leave you feeling much worse.

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

  • Try to get regular sleep and exercise.

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 bad 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 a bad one – remember, you don’t have to be in a relationship to feel happy.

  • Many people feel upset or angry during this time. Always make sure you’re safe in how you express your feelings.

  • 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.  

How to break 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. 

Try to end the relationship in person if it’s possible, rather than by text or online.

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 or teacher.

 

Thinking about a new relationship?

Take some time out before beginning another relationship. Think about what you want in your next relationship, such as having more independence or being more honest with the other person. 

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.

 

When to get some help

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. This may be a friend or family member. 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 confidential support.


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

1 October 2018

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