Sex Ed in Bed
Breaking up (and surviving) is hard to do
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

Oh! The agony of ending a relationship. The rejection! The failure! The loss! And the sadness! These feelings are so intense, that it seems like they will never end. Hopelessness abounds from the fear that you’ll never find anyone else to share your life with. Your may be embarrassed to talk to friends for fear they won’t understand, or they’ll start preaching, or they’ll not take you seriously. In the swirl of confusion, helplessness and change it’s so hard to keep perspective. So here are some reminders to weather the stormy end of a relationship.

Breaking up is not the goal. Surviving it is! Basically, breaking up is the painful acknowledgment of what’s already happened in the relationship. Ultimately, after the dissapointment subsides, surviving is something you want for yourself and your partner. Sure, there are times you’d love to toss a grenade in his/her shorts, but if the relationship was ever based on some semblance of love, hopefully sooner than later you’ll both want the ending to be as stress free as possible and you’ll want to get on with your lives.

Ending a relationship involves redrawing your boundaries. What once was shared — finances, groceries, sex, touch — is now individualized. This might mean that you completely remove yourself with no contact whatsoever. For most, it’s not that cut and dry. So there are going to be times that you’ll innocently step over the boundaries and vice versa. Try to have some flexibility while you clarify these lines.

For most involved relationships, when there are shared expenses and living arrangements, a breakup is going to take a long period of time that requires continued interaction. However, don’t be drawn into arguments that no longer matter. I remember getting snagged in many a “discussion” where it felt like his perspective was invalidating my perspective and vice versa. If we were still together, this scenario would be something to work on. However, we’re no longer a couple so I didn’t have to concern myself about what he thought and neither did he have to take my thoughts so deeply to heart. It’s over.

Remember, there will always be some things that will never be resolved. I’m guessing that’s why the break up is occurring in the first place. If everything could be fixed you wouldn’t be breaking up. As the metaphor goes: To end a game you don’t take another turn, you simply walk away. This kind of letting go is not an acknowledgment of failure. No one really “wins” in a break up, and therefore no one fails either. Letting go is confirming that you have completed everything in your power to make this relationship work. So when it’s still not functioning there’s nothing more you can do. Accept the end. Accept your limitations. Accept your partner’s limitations.

Although the relationship has ended, there are still those potent emotions. Light a candle and chant this mantra, “This will not last forever. The despair will not last forever. I will not forever feel lost without him/her. The emotional fallout will not last forever!” Believe it. Believe me, eventually you’ll find yourself again, but it does take time to get all these feelings out of you. A great way to do that is to speak them out loud. Meet with someone to talk, preferably a good therapist, who knows how to listen well. Of course friends can be good listeners, but there’s only so much venting you can do before it takes its toll on them. Besides, a professional listener with advanced degrees in relating to people can probably move you a long more effectively.

Relearn the experience of being single. Welcome those experiences that once defined what you really enjoyed about being a single person. This involves taking care of yourself. This also involves no longer caring as you did for your partner. I don’t mean to sound harsh. It’s just that for a while you’ll still do those automatic things you use to do while caring for him/her and you’ll have to make a conscious effort not to do them.

Be determine to wrap up the relationship on as positive a note as possible. Even if your counterpart is out for blood, try your best not to retaliate for that will only prolong the process. Take the steps to resolve what you can. The sooner you can view the whole experience in the past, the sooner you can choose to focus on the good memories and what you learned from each other.

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