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About Everything Wiki » Relationships » What to do if the relationship is over, but the feelings remain

What to do if the relationship is over, but the feelings remain

29 May 2023, 13:58, parser
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It doesn't matter who it is: a partner, a family member, a friend, a boss or a colleague — it's always hard to end a relationship. But sometimes the period after the breakup is even harder than the breakup itself. We can get stuck in our unprocessed feelings, doubts and anxieties that quickly fill the void.

"Let's call it unfinished business," suggests psychologist Antonio Pascual‑Leone. — Most of us are sure that it only takes time to move on. But if you feel really broken and empty, this condition will not go away the next morning, like an unpleasant hangover."

Antonio Pascual‑Leone carefully studied this process and came to the conclusion that people who encounter similar feelings go through three stages. "This is a rather chaotic and confusing process in which many people take two steps forward and one step back, or even get stuck in the middle. Fortunately, each of these stages can be passed efficiently and without hitches," the psychologist notes.

The first stage: to sort out your feelings

Antonio Pascual‑Leone shares the story of an entrepreneur who was a senior business partner and mentor for her colleague. They worked great together until the junior employee suddenly decided to leave. The psychologist notes that when the businesswoman told her story, she said that she now avoids professional conferences and other events: "It would be so embarrassing to run into her. I don't even know."

The last phrase became the key for the psychologist. Why? "She demonstrates a global inner pain. The entrepreneur seems to be saying, "I'm so upset, I don't know why everything is so bad." We used to think that such a period can be waited out like heavy rain outside the window. But as long as we avoid problems, little will change," the specialist explains. His solution: to face his experiences.

How to pass the first stage

Most often, the strongest feelings after a breakup are anger and sadness. Moreover, they can combine into a large dense lump. "You need to give yourself time to separate them from each other, find the right words and describe what exactly is terrible, awkward or difficult for you," the psychologist advises.

To do this, ask yourself, "What's the worst thing about this breakup?" If you want to work through unpleasant feelings and move on, you need to focus on your emotions and figure out what hurts you the most.

The second stage: to understand what you need

After the relationship ends, most of us are well aware of what exactly causes the most pain. But at the same time, we easily fall into a vicious circle of self-flagellation. Most often this happens because the break provokes long-standing deep and unpleasant feelings.

During this period, we may be visited by thoughts from the category: "Everything that happened is my fault. Maybe I deserve to be treated badly" or "It's true, I'm really incompetent (unattractive, uninteresting)." We begin to blame ourselves for the problems associated with the ended relationship .

How to understand that you are going through this stage? "You feel vulnerable and broken, and, oddly enough, these emotions seem familiar to you. This is a familiar story, you have already been through it," notes Antonio Pascual‑Leone. And he adds that some people experience this period and the other two quite painlessly.

How to pass the second stage

Ask yourself: "What do I need most?" Don't answer superficially, for example:

  • "I need a loved one to relax together."
  • "I want my boss to like my ideas."
  • "I need someone from my family by my side so that we can worry about my father together."
  • "I want to have a friend who understands my sense of humor."

Also, you should not associate your needs with the relationship that ended: "I need the sense of security that he gave me" or "I want to be looked at the way she looked at me."

Instead, analyze your deep existential needs and determine what you absolutely need to develop and become better. For example:

  • "It's important for me to feel needed."
  • "I want to feel loved."
  • "I need to know that I have a sense of self-worth."
  • "I want someone to know the real me."

Very often our needs directly conflict with the breakup of a relationship: "It's important for me to feel needed, but my divorce made me feel that I could be easily replaced." According to Antonio Pascual‑Of course, it is with such a contradiction that changes begin. Admit it at least to yourself.

Third stage: analyze the end of the relationship

The last step to take is to go back to the moment when the relationship ended, understand what exactly you lost, and work out the feelings that are associated with it. As a rule, this means working through suppressed anger and sadness. Moreover, it can be especially difficult to cope with the latter.

In sad moments, we usually remember the good: "We will never have a picnic in the park again" or "No more family dinners on Wednesdays." "You need to say goodbye to such things and put small "tombstones" for them," says the psychologist. — One of the reasons why sadness is so difficult to work through to the end is the losses that we are not talking about. These are the hopes and dreams that you shared with another person."

For a couple that divorced after a short marriage, such a loss can be a common child, which they will never have now. For business partners, this is a big project that they will never launch. Antonio Pascual‑Leone tells: "When I conducted psychotherapy with one client who was in prison, he already knew that his partner had abandoned him. And he told me: "We will never go on vacation together, but we saved money for travel and even kept tourist brochures."

How to pass the third stage

Ask yourself:

  • "What annoys and angers me?"
  • "What do I miss?"
  • "What dreams and hopes do I need to say goodbye to?"

These are not the easiest questions. You will need inner strength and time to find the right answers to them. However, this is a key part of working through the gap. "The life cycle of healthy emotions resembles a curve graph. They arise, you feel them, then express them, and only after that the process ends," concludes Antonio Pascual‑Leone.

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