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The Truth About Breaking Up And How To Survive

Dr. Leslie Davis is a survivor of toxic relationships and a healing agent of broken hearts. As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Relationship Expert near St. Louis, MO, Dr. D is on a mission to empower others to improve their relationships.

 
Executive Contributor Dr. Leslie Davis

Relationships are challenging and when they’ve reached the point of expiration, we are often met with unwanted emotions such as anger, disbelief, sadness, anxiety, even abandonment. It’s an experience no one ever wants to deal with, but it’s just a part of life. Breaking up with someone you believe you were deeply in love with is an unforgettable, gut-wrenching pain. And the end of a relationship, no matter how long it lasted, can send us into shock, make us panic, and leave us heartbroken. Why does this pain feel so unbearable? 


couple at home discussing relationship difficulties

If you’ve ever been dumped by someone, especially someone who is able to maintain very rigid boundaries, terminating all forms of contact, it can feel like death. In fact, ending a romantic relationship can feel similar to experiencing the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. We may even tell ourselves we can’t live without the other person. To be honest, it can feel that way. This is because the loss of connection can feel like you’re dying and create a sense of loneliness.

 

As you enter the denial stage and sometimes the bargaining stage, you might find yourself going down memory lane. You might resist sleep as you scroll through photos and text messages trying to analyze every moment you had with that person. Taking these actions can trigger memories of both the good and bad times as our heart and mind simply wants to find a connectionThe more frequently you do this, every triggered memory begins to consume your daily thoughts, eventually evoking anxiety or depression. 

 

The truth about breaking up

 

Maybe you’ve been dismissed from a relationship recently and you find yourself missing the individual, even if they broke your heart. As you move through the stages of grieving the loss of this relationship, you might find yourself in a stage of denial, minimizing every time they hurt you. If no one else tells you, let me be the one to say, This is toxic

 

Break ups can lead to confusion and disbelief of our past experiences with the one we loved. It’s like Ariana Grande said in her song In My Head, “I thought you were the one, but it was all in my head.” I’ve helped many clients who struggle to let go of the memories they have with their ex-lover. It’s not uncommon to attribute false meaning to the relationship as you try and make sense of your pain. You might tell yourself how much you miss your lover because they were so special to you, but the truth is, you are mourning the loss of an attachment.

 

How to survive the break-up

 

If you’re struggling to survive a break-up, here are a few suggestions.

 

  1. Avoid seeking a new relationship too quickly. Allow yourself time to heal your broken heart, reflect on who you were and who you became in the last relationship. Depending on the longevity and level of toxicity of your relationship, this may take longer than expected.

  2. Do not call another ex. It’s easy to reconnect with an old flame because it’s familiar, but it’s not always healthy to revisit your past trauma. Revisiting a past relationship, especially one that was abusive, can lead to trauma bonding.

  3. Avoid connecting to someone who is also newly single. It’s easy to connect with someone who also recently ended a relationship, but that can be dangerous. The new connection may fill the void, but this is likely to be a temporary fix if neither person has allowed time to heal from the previous relationship.

  4. Maintain your boundaries. If you struggled with a toxic relationship, boundaries were most likely non-existent or often crossed. Now is the time to keep your boundaries and protect your heart. Be aware that your ex may try to come back into your life because they are also mourning the loss of connection.

  5. Connect with a relationship therapist. Sometimes your friends and family may not be the best option for you to process heartache. If you were back and forth in the relationship, your loved ones may not believe that you’re really done with this relationship and express judgment, which can be detrimental to healing. I challenge you to find a therapist who is trained to handle the internal chaos that can erupt after a break-up and provide the empathy you seek.

 

To the broken hearted individual reading this, be encouraged and know that love will come. If you are struggling to process the loss of an attachment and would like to learn how to navigate a path to true love, let’s connect. 


 

Dr. Leslie Davis, Clinical Counselor and Relationship Expert

Dr. Leslie Davis is a survivor of toxic relationships and a healing agent of broken hearts. As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Relationship Expert near St. Louis, MO, Dr. D is on a mission to empower others to improve their relationships. Her experience as a Black single mom in America inspires her podcast, SHE Matters with Dr. Leslie Davis, available on Apple Podcast and Spotify. Her hope is to empower single moms around the world to develop healthy attachments, with a goal of reducing depression and suicidal thoughts. When she's not in counselor mode, Dr. D enjoys training the gentle art of jiu jitsu at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu.

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