A long-term relationship means so much to us. We like making decisions with the big picture in mind. There is 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 a long-term relationship ends, it’s almost impossible to forget about the person who’s hurt your heart. And a legal separation and fight won’t make it any easier. It hurts!
Sometimes, however, that long-term relationship view feels suffocating.
It has to end. The last thing you may want is to sit across from that person you call your spouse for another evening. Especially as a relationship is ending or a marriage is falling apart. The decisions you have to make become more complicated and it’s not easy to commit to something sometime in the future never mind tomorrow.
When that happens, everyone feels the tension. And if the long-term relationship ends, there’s a momentary relief. You start to 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 whips us about emotionally.
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. At times, you may wonder why you’re always overwhelmed or getting sick. Then fear may take hold and the things that normally are easy may feel overwhelming. You may feel out of touch with the sort of things you do each day.
Navigate this period of time with a degree of understanding by learning to respect this modern-day rite of passage.
Separation makes us face our human frailties. Despite wanting to be, 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 your heart in the past, given the way we’re wired, your innate need to stay safe is going to remind you of what you don’t want going forward.
We don’t like the feelings that come with heartbreak and we don’t like continually thinking about the other person.
If you’re thinking about the person you just left trying to understand what happened, and want to stop doing so, you misunderstand what it means to be human. Our brains can’t rewire automatically. It also doesn’t matter if you were the one who initiated the breakup. The struggle to forget about things and deal with the heartache takes time.
You have many opportunities as you get over your long-term relationship.
To take back control of your thoughts begin to slow down. Learning how to set time aside to grieve and to process isn’t easy at first. But when you do, you get to think about what you want going forward. And learn how to take care of yourself. This is a little bit about becoming selfish.
After a long-term relationship ends, you have the time to grow.
You get to rise above your own fragility and learn to protect your heart with clear boundaries. As you manage your thoughts and emotions, you will become calmer and more present the same way you do when you’re working or parenting. If you need help, you learn to reach out for it knowing it’s a sign of strength and not a weakness to be vulnerable. Unfortunately, if you don’t take the time to feel the feelings and set aside time for self-care, you’ll continue to suffer. No one wants to repeat the same relationship patterns going forward.
You deserve to understand what’s really going on after a long-term relationship ends.
These are universal experiences and are what makes the world tick. Don’t worry, we have all done crazy things for love and for long-term relationships. As you look around at the men and women nearby and spend some time figuring out what you really want, your life will be easier. (Thanks for starting here.)
Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach. Laura’s a writer, public speaker and the founder of The Better Divorce and doingDivorce™ School – online coaching programs for those ready to shed the pain of breakups. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com