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Navigating Relationship Breakups – By Dr. Shamarel Odusanya

Relationships can be a source of great joy when we’re in them. They can make us feel loved, wanted, safe and secure. This can be especially important when we’ve had earlier life experiences where we haven’t experienced such positive attachments. For those with secure attachments in earlier life, relationships remain a crucial space in which to connect with another person, where the love is unconditional and reciprocated.

When relationships don’t work out this can be a tremendously difficult experience for many reasons. For some, it’s because of the investment in the relationship and a feeling that the investment has not produced the desired returns. For others, it’s about the loss of a significantly important person. In some instances the pain of a relationship break up is sometimes due to feelings of rejection. When all of these reasons coincide it can feel all the more painful. 

The adjustment to the loss of a romantic relationship is a journey that looks different between individuals. There is no prescribed length of time for being able to adjust to a relationship breakup. Rather it is a journey that one must navigate depending on one’s own needs. 

One important step in moving past a relationship breakup is to allow yourself time to process the loss. Again, there is no prescriptive length of time for this. However, it is an important part of the process to allow yourself the time and space to feel sad or angry or whatever the emotion is. Pushing these feelings away is hardly ever a successful strategy. Like pushing a beach ball underwater, you’ll find that suppressing your emotions will have the effect of it popping back up. Instead of ignoring or denying these feelings, it can be helpful to acknowledge that they are there and sit with them. After all, our emotions are there to communicate something important to us. 

Another important part of navigating a relationship breakup is giving yourself time to heal. If the breakup in some way hurt you, there is little value in pressing on to a new relationship where those hurts still remain and may likely show up in the new relationship. You may even seek out the support of a therapist if the hurt feels too painful to bear alone. 

The side of breakups that can sometimes be overlooked are the ways in which the breakup has been beneficial. In reframing the breakup, one can find this to be a helpful part of the process. For example, reflecting on aspects of the relationship that weren’t so great. It is sometimes the case that after a breakup we romanticize how great the relationship was forgetting that we weren’t actually all that happy or fulfilled! 

Below are some useful takeaways to help you through the ending of your relationship:

  1. Remember that your romantic relationship is just one of many relationships that are important in your life. So don’t hold it above other relationships. 
  2. Utilize the breakup as an opportunity to reflect on how you’ve grown as a person
  3. Reflect on what you would like to be different, or the same, about future romantic relationships you may embark on.

Dr Shamarel works with individuals experiencing difficulties with navigating loss and grief following the end of a relationship.  Should you wish to make an appointment you can contact her directly on WhatsApp via the MapleTree Psychotherapy Center website www.tmtcdubai.com.

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