Since I have just completed my program that concentrated on relationship, marriage and family, I think I should write more articles that related to my field of study. I choose to write some of the things to do and not to do after a painful break up due to my previous personal experience as well as most of my friends are facing the similar challenges after a painful break up. They either simply follow their friends' or family's words blindly or they suffer so much and do not know what to do. I always wanted to write something about break up but for some reasons, it took me forever to start writing it. I call this "my" to-do and not-to-do lists because they are my personal opinions, with no empirical research base and no quotes from famous psychologists. You may find these are helpful or you may not and it is totally fine.
The reason I add the word "painful" before the word "break up", is because break up, divorce or lost of a love one could be very painful. Why does it hurt so much? I read a paragraph written by a famous relationship expert, John Gray, and I think the reason he gave best explain this question. He said when we faced other disappointments and injustices in our daily lives, it is love that comforts the soul and makes our pain bearable. However, when love is lost, there is no way to find relief. Most often we are not aware of how much we rely on this support until it is taken away. I guess that's the reason why it hurts so much.
1. Stay away from substances or any other addictive behavior.
Whoever know me well will know how much I like to drink. Of course, I am not an alcoholic, not even close. In critical time like this however, we have to be extra cautious of not allowing ourselves to use alcohol or any other substances to avoid the painful or uncomfortable feelings. Be mindful and not allow ourselves to drink alone. This is the time when people get addicted easily. For some other people, instead of consuming substances, they will run away by involving too much in certain activities or behaviors, such as playing computer or video games, gambling or even jump into another relationship right away.
Personally, I would like to pair alcohol with pleasure feelings instead of miserable memories. Therefore I do not allow myself to lock myself in my room, thinking that I am a victim and then get drunk all by myself and do something stupid. So do you, don't do that.
2. Do not contact him/her
After a break up, you suddenly live your life all by yourself. I am not only referring to physically alone, but also emotionally. When you were in love, even though he or she is far away physically, you do not feel the pain because you know you still have him or her. After the break up however, even though he or she is right next to you, you know that you are alone. There are times you will feel the urge of wanting to find him/her, call him/her, see him/her. It is completely normal. Nevertheless, this is not the time to follow your instict. Let me give you a real life example and you will understand why.
A pair of couples were in a relationship for many years and broke up for many years and still cannot let go (when I said many years, I mean more than 3 years). They still constantly calling, emailing, facebooking, msn, sending gifts to each other ever since they "broke up" from the very beginning. No wonder they cannot let go.
Please do not take me wrong, I am not saying after a relationship is over, the couples cannot be friends anymore. I do want to be friend with my ex boyfriend and there is no doubt he is a good and kind hearted guy. However, I know that I am cheating myself and him if I said I can be friend with him right away.
When we still have feelings with our former partners, we will unknowingly do something to harm the so-called "friendship". For the previous examples that I provided, I can see how their actions of constantly contacting each other has caused counterproductive in their lives. Whatever they are doing now, is to stop each other from finding their true loves in their lives. They are stopping each other to move on in their lives. The intention of their actions has changed from love to revenge. I said so because when the man has finally had a significant other, the girl started calling more frequently and do some other things to hold on to that guy. Unfortunately, that man started feeling confused, thought that he still love her and fall into the trap.
Their story reminded me of one of my little clients. He drew a heart shape, colored it half black and half red and said, "This is my dad's love, it is bad love." Yes, their loves have turned bad. In fact, I do not think they love each other so much because if they do, they will do whatever mean to be together. As I remember the guy told me when I asked him what kept him from marrying her, "Because our love is not deep enough to make me want to marry her."
The last thing you can do for your love (if the relationship does not work out) is to let go. Let go, is really a precious gift of love. When you know you two are not able to commit to each other, it is time to really let go. That is the reason why I say, DO NOT CONTACT HIM/HER. What is the intention of continuously contacting your ex partner anyway? To let him or her know that I still love you and I cannot let go? And then what? Investing another 5-10 years to play the distance game and stopping each other to move on with their healthy lives?
Instead, I will do this: Dear, I love you. Too bad things do not work out and the last thing I can do for you, is to let you go and set you free. It is definitely not easy. However, I am willing to do this because this is the last gift of love that I can give you. I sincerely hope that you will find the love you want in your life. I feel sorry and sad that the person is not me but that's OK, as long as you get what you want in your life and stay happy and healthy.
Perhaps we do not need to drill into the topic whether or not we should be friends with our ex partners. Out of 6 billion people in this planet, I believe you will find the friendship that you want from others. It is not necessary has to be your ex. Perhaps leave your ex alone will be the best thing to do, to avoid further confusing him/her or backfire your current relationship someday.
--- to be continued
P/S: This post is about after a break-up, when things seriously cannot work out. I am not telling you to simply let go your love. Please do not expect that an ideal relationship should be no conflict or argument. If you think he/she is the one, do not simply let go but treasure the fate that brought you two together. As Shakespeare once said, (well I am not directly quoting his "Shakespearish" words but simply translated from the previous Chinese version that I posted) "If that's something you should treasure, please never let go. But if that's something you should let go, please do not turn back and cherish." Therefore please do not affected by this post when you have argument with your lovely partner.
Go to Part II
Go to Part III