Breakups make even the strongest people feel small, helpless and even hopeless at times. But if you stay optimistic and embrace some positive, healthy approaches to healing, you can emerge from the breakup stronger than ever.
Below, therapists share seven things resilient people do when dealing with heartbreak. (Chances are, you’re probably already doing many of them!)
1. They don’t try to get back together with their ex.
Don’t expect someone who’s serious about moving on to send a 2 a.m. text to their ex. Sure, they get the urge just like the rest of us but they resist the temptation to press send, said Aaron Anderson, a marriage and family therapist in Denver, Colorado.
“They know that there was a reason the relationship didn’t work out. And instead of giving it one more try, they accept their losses and resist the urge to get back together with their ex,” he said.
2. They don’t blame themselves or fall into the victim role.
People who remain positive post-split try to maintain some perspective while working through their feelings, said Olga Bloch, a marriage and family therapist in Rockville, Maryland. They recognize that they made mistakes that led to the breakup but instead of falling into a cycle of self-blame, they take responsibility for those mistakes and focus on becoming a stronger, smarter person.
“Blaming yourself feels different because it comes from a place of little self-worth and a gnawing feeling of beating yourself up,” Bloch said. “This approach leaves you feeling powerless, unlovable and longing to return to a relationship. Taking responsibility is the only way to heal your heart and emerge stronger.”
3. They don’t allow the loss to define them.
In I Remember Nothing, the late Nora Ephron reflects on how far she had come since her divorce from journalist Carl Bernstein:
The divorce has lasted way longer than the marriage, but finally it’s over. Enough about that. The point is that for a long time, the fact that I was divorced was the most important thing about me. And now it’s not.
It’s not that resilient people don’t give themselves time to mourn their loss; they do, but like Ephron, at some point they refuse to allow the heartbreak to define them.
Marriage therapist Susan Krauss Whitbourne puts it this way: “They don’t allow a breakup to pervade their sense of identity,” she said. “Even though the experience is, of course, incredibly painful at the time, they learn from it and grow more resilient.”
4. They recognize the need for closure.
Resilient people don’t allow themselves to mentally replay details of the breakup over and over again and they certainly don’t waste time Facebook stalking their ex. They recognize there’s a need for closure and try to get on with their lives, Whitbourne said.
“They recognize what happened can’t be denied, but that they don’t benefit from becoming preoccupied with the breakup or their ex,” she said.