Breakups are tough to deal with, for sure. But a sudden breakup in a long-term relationship hurts even more, especially when you didn’t see it coming. Ending a long-term relationship with someone you love is probably one of the hardest things to do because you get used to a life with that person and have already imagined a future with them.
You expect the relationship to last but it doesn’t and that can be so heartbreaking. You probably feel like your world just came crashing down. At this point, you’re probably thinking if it is even possible to cope with the heartbreak. Can you mend a broken heart after a long-term relationship breakup? Is it possible to recover? The answer is yes, it is.
It might seem impossible at that moment, but you can cope. We spoke to psychologist Juhi Pandey (M.A. Psychology), who specializes in dating, premarital, and breakup counseling, on ways to recover after a long-term relationship breakup. She also shared long-term relationship breakup stories and some of the most common reasons why such commitments or marriages come to an end.
Why Do Long-Term Couples Break Up? Top 3 Reasons
Most of us have heard of those long-term relationship breakup stories. There are instances of couples breaking up after 5 years of living together. Makes you wonder what went wrong in paradise, right? Well, there can be several reasons behind the sudden break up in a long-term relationship.
Juhi elaborates, “People, at times, confuse attraction with love due to which the relationship becomes more of a drag. Also, this whole idea of ‘love happens only once is now an outdated and old phenomenon. If either partner finds someone they are more compatible with, they might choose to end their long-term relationship and move on in life.”
As we mentioned earlier, a long-term relationship breakup can have several reasons. Communication issues, lack of intimacy, career goals, lack of growth in the relationship, unresolved problems, infidelity, change in priorities – it could be anything. Here are the top 3 reasons behind a sudden breakup in a long-term relationship:
Related Reading: 18 Subtle Signs Your Long-Term Relationship Is Over
1. Unsaid feelings and unresolved issues
This is one of the main reasons behind a long-term relationship breakup. According to Juhi, “Serious communication issues or unresolved fights and arguments between couples usually cause a long-term relationship breakup. For instance, I had a client who broke up with her partner of 7 years because there was hardly any communication between them. The fact that the couple was in a long-distance relationship didn’t help their case either.”
Feelings and problems, if left unsaid or unresolved, can cause long-term damage to a relationship and lessen the love a couple has for each other. You are bound to disagree and have different opinions, but disagreements or fights escalate to a point where the staying together begins to feel unsustainable, then one or both partners may choose to move on.
2. Lack of passion and intimacy
This is one of the most common reasons behind a sudden breakup in a long-term relationship. Having been together for so long, partners grow comfortable in each other’s presence. This comfort can easily give way to complacency. Of course, you cannot sustain the same level of passion and intimacy that you felt during the honeymoon phase through the years, but if you stop dating in the relationship, then there’s a problem.
Sex is an integral part of a relationship or marriage but that’s not all intimacy is about. Small gestures like holding hands, kissing each other good night, checking in on each other, cuddling, and stealing a small kiss on a busy day go a long way in showing that you love and care for each other.
However, couples, at times, fail to keep that excitement and magnetism alive due to which a certain sense of monotony sets in, causing both partners to drift apart. This is the time when, instead of finding ways to rekindle the romance in the relationship, they tend to give up on their commitment and part ways.
3. Lack of growth in the relationship
Juhi says, “One of the reasons behind ending a long-term relationship with someone you love is when you realize that there is a lack of growth in the relationship. Changes in priorities or career opportunities in this fast-pacing world can affect a long-term relationship. If partners find better opportunities and personal growth apart from each other, they might choose to move on from the relationship for the better.”
A healthy relationship should allow both partners to grow individually and together as a couple. Living together is not enough. Sharing a life with your partner in constructive, meaningful ways is crucial. There needs to be space for growth. If that space is missing, then it can create problems between couples in long-term relationships. If either partner feels they are better off without the other, then it is best to quit.
A breakup can have many reasons. Lack of trust and respect, sexual incompatibility, toxic or abusive behavior, over possessiveness or excessive jealousy, financial issues, long distance, or no emotional intimacy could be a few reasons. Then, of course, we’ve all heard of long-term relationship breakup stories of infidelity, leading to couples breaking up after 5 years of living together or more. It is difficult to come to terms with it but know that it is possible to recover after a long-term relationship breakup.
11 Expert Ways To Cope With A Sudden Breakup In A Long-Term Relationship
A sudden breakup in a long-term relationship is not easy to deal with but it’s not impossible either. A person goes through a range of emotions that may seem difficult to manage. You may feel like your world is crumbling. But there are steps one can take to recover after a long-term relationship breakup. You can move on to better things in life or form healthy relationships with others and yourself in the future.
You may feel like it is difficult to re-imagine a life alone or start all over again but don’t be too hard on yourself. Know that it is possible to cope with a breakup. It is normal to feel confused, helpless, sad, lost, and emotionally numb. Allow yourself to experience those emotions. Cry as much as you want. Take as much time as you need to heal. These 11 tips might help you with the process:
1. Understand and acknowledge your emotions
This is the first step in the healing process. To recover after a long-term relationship breakup, you must allow yourself to feel the emotions you are going through. Try to understand, analyze and work through your feelings. Cry, yell, show anger – express yourself in whichever way feels right at that moment. Let it all out.
Acknowledge your feelings and gradually find healthy ways of expressing yourself. Meditate, exercise regularly, jot down your feelings in a journal, talk to a friend or family member, listen to music, watch a film or eat your favorite food. Don’t blame yourself for feeling the way you feel. Your emotions are valid, and you need to process them instead of letting them fester inside you.
Related Reading: 20 Questions To Ask Your Partner To Build Emotional Intimacy
2. Lean on your friends and family for support
It might be difficult to think straight or express yourself after ending a long-term relationship with someone you love. “At this time, the presence of family, friends and loved ones is a blessing. They form the strongest support system that you could probably ask for. Spend time with them. Talk to them about how you feel,” says Juhi.
They can listen to you, serve as a distraction to help you cope and offer advice. Going out with friends or spending time at a family get-together can be a great mood uplifter and offer a ray of positivity following a sudden breakup in a long-term relationship. Our friend circles and social relationships play an essential role in our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
3. Practice self-care
People often let go of themselves following a sudden breakup in a long-term relationship. Try to avoid doing that. Practice self-care. Indulge in your favorite pastime. Do something you like, whether it’s watching a movie, eating your favorite meal, pampering yourself at a spa session, reading a book or listening to music. Take care of your physical and mental health. A few minutes of physical exercise, yoga, meditation or a walk amidst nature can really uplift your mood and spirits.
Taking care of yourself will also boost your confidence, which is probably what you need right now. Refrain from going through things that your partner loved or both of you enjoyed doing together.
4. Take on a new hobby
According to Juhi, “Getting back to your favorite hobbies or picking up a new one is an effective way to recover after a long-term relationship breakup as it proves to be a distraction from all the negativity within and around you.” What are your favorite hobbies? What is that one thing you’ve always wanted to learn? Now is a good time to get into it. It’s a great way to keep your mind off the negative emotions and focus on the brighter side.
Whether it’s a new sport, art form, cycling, reading, playing some musical instrument, or learning scuba diving – picking up a new hobby will definitely get your mind off the breakup. Try a new hair color if you want. Travel the world. Try some adventure sports. Take an online class. Learn a skill. You have free time in hand and a lot of unoccupied headspace. Make the most of it.
5. Snap all contact with your ex-partner
Juhi recommends snapping all contact with your former partner. She says, “Ending a long-term relationship with someone you love is hard enough. Don’t complicate it further by staying in touch with your ex, at least for a while.” We are not saying that it isn’t possible to stay friends with your former partner after a breakup but it’s fine if you are not able to do it right away. It’s a good idea to heal the broken heart first.
Block their number, stay away from their social media, and don’t reply to messages or answer their calls. It might send mixed signals and make it difficult for you to move on because, in a way, they are still very much a part of your life. If it’s a breaking up after 5 years of living together or more kind of a scenario, then you may have bills and other logistics to discuss. Or you may be co-parenting if there are kids involved. In such a situation, we suggest you stick to only the necessary conversations and keep them brief.
6. Think about what you want going forward
Juhi explains, “A sudden breakup in a long-term relationship offers you an opportunity to reform yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Ask yourself what you want in life or even at the moment. Do you want a change of environment? Is there a course you always wanted to pursue but didn’t get a chance to? Go after whatever it is that your heart desires.”
A long-term relationship breakup brings in its wake a complete disruption of the lifestyle you had grown accustomed to. You’ll have to learn to navigate life without the presence of a partner. You’ll have to figure out who you are and what you want for yourself without viewing it through the lens of your partner. After all, you share the most important relationship with yourself.
In a relationship, partners usually make decisions that work for them as a couple. We are not saying it’s not a good thing but now that you are single, you can make your own choices according to your convenience. If you’re not in a clear headspace, wait for a while.
Give yourself a few weeks or months before you make any major decision about your life. Do you want to focus on your career or take a break from work and engage in activities or hobbies you’ve always wanted to? You may feel scared, the future might seem bleak but try to focus on the next step.
Related Reading: 15 Super Cute Ways To Express Your Feelings To Someone You Love
7. Try therapy
According to Juhi, therapy is one of the most effective ways to recover from a sudden breakup in a long-term relationship. She says, “There are several benefits of counseling. It can help you understand and deal with your emotions. Therapists use different techniques like CBT, REBT and STAR therapy depending on the mental state the person is in. These techniques help in rationalizing a person’s thoughts and make them realize that no matter what they go through, they are precious. Their life is precious.”
Taking care of your mental health is crucial at this point. Seeking therapy or joining a support group can prove to be of immense help for your mental and emotional wellbeing. If you’re stuck in a similar situation and looking for help, Bonobology’s panel of experienced and licensed therapists is only a click away.
8. Get into a daily routine
Getting into a daily routine might seem like a difficult task following a sudden breakup in a long-term relationship. But it’ll help you get into a better frame of mind. It’ll provide a sense of calm, normalcy and stability amidst all the chaos going on in your life. It’ll help you gain control over your situation and life.
Create a schedule that helps you get out of bed every day. Make sure you eat all your meals, exercise regularly, drink lots of water, fulfill your work commitments, spend time with friends and family, and just do whatever you do on a normal day. It might be hard at first but it will improve your physical and mental state.
9. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms
This is an extremely important tip to keep in mind while you recover after a long-term relationship breakup. People usually lose control over their emotions and sense of self during this time and end up taking refuge in unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse, self-harm, overeating, smoking, alcohol consumption, overworking, etc.
Resorting to such unhealthy ways only causes more harm. It may seem like a great option to deal with the pain of the breakup but, in the long run, you may develop addiction issues, further complicating your situation. In addition, it will not help you deal with your emotions. It’ll only delay the healing process, which is why it’s better to find healthier ways to cope.
Related Reading: Making Peace With Your Past – 13 Wise Tips
10. Don’t feel afraid to date again
A long-term relationship breakup may make you feel like you won’t be able to love again. You may feel scared to date again but try to not let that affect you. Put yourself out there when you feel you’re ready. Ending a long-term relationship with someone you love is hard but don’t let it stop you from falling in love again.
Don’t jump right back into it. Take your time to grieve the relationship you lost but know that you also need to move on in life. A fling or a casual relationship at first might be a wiser option than getting into a serious, committed relationship. But make sure you open yourself to that possibility. It’s a different thing if you feel you are content without a partner but if not, allow yourself to meet new people and have new experiences.
11. Learn from the breakup
Every experience in life teaches us something. It might seem like a hard thing to do but try to look back at your relationship and see if it taught you something. Maybe you’ll realize the mistakes you made or how toxic your relationship was. It may also help you understand the kind of partner you want going forward or what your goals are in life. It’ll probably help you figure out what you want in a relationship.
Make an attempt to see the whole situation in a positive light. Learning from past experiences is part of the healing process. Consider both the good and bad parts of the relationship. What kind of behavior patterns would you like to change? Is there anything you did that you aren’t proud of? What caused the breakup? Ask yourself these questions but don’t blame yourself in the process. Remember, the idea is to heal and grow, not aggravate your pain.
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A sudden breakup in a long-term relationship is not easy to get over. According to Juhi, “A break up hurts so much because partners get so used to each other that it becomes hard for them to imagine a life without each other. Starting afresh seems difficult because the memories of the relationship and your thought process during this time do not let you think rationally.”
However, moving on and starting things afresh is not impossible. Each individual deals with heartbreak differently and chooses to heal in their own way. Figure out what works for you and do what you feel is right. Know and believe that you will get through this and come out transformed into a better version of yourself.