The Breaking Dad, Dan Betts, with daughter Evie @thebreakingdad
These two words, when used in the context of a relationship, can have a deep, lasting and upsetting impact on both the person receiving them, as well as the person delivering them. The end of a relationship marks the end of your journey with that other person and, instigator or not, dealing with the fallout and moving on...is tough. Let’s face it, whether you’ve spent weeks, months or years together, unpicking the dying weeds of romantic entanglement is tough, particularly when there stood a blossoming relationship in their place.
The bad news? Separation never gets easier, whether you’re the ‘leaver’ or the ‘left’.
The good news? There are things you can do that’ll help you cope with separation in order to find a path forward towards a life that not only do you want, but you deserve.
1. Embrace your emotions
There are few times in our lives that are more stressful than the dissolution of a relationship. It doesn’t really matter whether you were the ‘leaver’ or the ‘left’, both sides are likely to experience a rollercoaster of emotions at some point or another.
Whilst it might feel like you’re trapped in a “glass case of emotion”, to quote the fictional philosophical genius that is, of course, Ron Burgundy, it’s important to acknowledge those feelings instead of hiding from them. You might be feeling bitterly angry, desperately upset, horrendously hurt or furiously focused on a new and unknown future; let me tell you this: All of those feelings are normal and part of the process, so don’t suppress your feelings.
I’ll say that again, louder: Don’t suppress your feelings.
Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with a strong network of supportive people. It’s vital that you feel comfortable enough to let them know how you’re feeling. The good, the bad and the ugly.
A true friend will feel comfortable just...listening. Remember though, if they’re your friend they may feel the urge to try to fix it for you and present ideas and suggestions as to how you can move forward. You might not be ready to heed that advice just yet and that’s absolutely fine. Just gently let them know you appreciate them, but you need them to just hear you right now. If they’ve been through anything similar before, they’ll understand.
In my experience, there are few situations in life lonelier than the immediate aftermath of separation. Nobody else understands the gravity of what you’re going through because they don’t have the same emotional investment in the relationship as you do. Expect there to feel like there’s suddenly a huge void in the place of your relationship – it’s perfectly natural. Let’s face it, after sharing such a significant part of your life with somebody, there’s you’ll need to re-learn how to be ‘single’ and how to be alone.
It’s part of the process. Embrace those feelings by acknowledging that they’re to be expected and you’ll find it infinitely easier to move on.
2. Take care of number one
In the wake of separation, lots of people find themselves feeling a little lost. It’s not a nice feeling to know that the path you’ve been walking for the whole time you’ve been together has ended up at a dead end. You might find that your motivation and sense of purpose and direction is suddenly in utter disarray.
In these situations, the most important thing for you to do is...look after you.
What do you love doing? Do more of it.
This is important because it helps you shift your focus away from what can often feel like a sense of failure at what has happened, towards a more optimistic send of what can happen in future.
Taking time for yourself will help you fortify a strong mind, with clarity of thought and a new perspective on the exciting future that stands before you.
3. Make a Plan
The French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. Once you’ve taken time for yourself and embraced your newfound clarity of thought, it’s time to make a plan for the future.
What are the next steps? Where will you live? Do you need to think about separating assets and belongings for example? Do you have children together?
All of those questions, and likely many, many more, will need careful consideration and tactful, strategic planning. For example, just turning up and laying claim to the family dog without prior discussion could, let’s be honest, cause a bit of friction.
Always remember to build in plans for support if you need it too. Whether within your friendship group or your family, or a trained professional if you need it.
For example, if you’re worried about finances, seek the help of a financial advisor – don’t try to carry the burden on your shoulders alone.
Communicating effectively will help you in all aspects of your life. However, in the wake of separation, if you want things to remain amicable at least, it’s crucial. One of the most challenging shifts is moving away from talking to your ex as your partner and adopting a new, less emotionally involved tone.
If you’re married or have children and are separating, you might look to see the support of a professional mediator, as they’ll help give you advice on exactly what you can or can’t do.
You can book a free 15 minute advice call with the amicable team, who can give you advice on the next steps if you’re unsure.
- 5 tips to help you communicate with your co-parent after separating
- Adjusting to life as a co-parent
- How to rebuild your life after a divorce - helpful guide & tips