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10 Ways to Deal with the Loss of a Relationship

A fair number of relationships do not work out. Researchers estimate that more than 40% of first marriages end in divorce, and the numbers are much higher for second and third marriages. The rates are at least similarly high for non-married couples.

This means that most of us will either leave someone else or will be left by someone else at some point in our lives.

Then what?  What do we do next?  What don’t we do?

Here’s my list of do’s and don’t’s.

If you are ever in this position, I sure hope it helps!


1. Realize that, corny as it sounds, things happen for a reason—usually, many reasons.

There are so many reasons relationships fail.  Your love triangles don’t match:  One of you wants a lot of passion, the other a lot of commitment.  One of you ends up having a travel story of your love, the other a business story.  You can’t carry on a conversation.  One of you keeps cheating, or once was enough.  You have different views on money or on children.  Your bedtimes don’t match. Things happen for a reason.  In the long run, you may realize you are better off.

2. Put the relationship in a box, wrap the box, tape up the box tight, and put a ribbon around it.

If you’re done, you’re done.  Instead of thinking about what’s inside the box, think about the outside. That relationship is boxed, wrapped, taped, and sealed.  Now move on.

3. Make a list of all the things that really weren’t right, regardless of whose fault they were.

Relationships end for reasons. What are they?  Make a list.  If you’re honest, it will be longish and kind of sad.  But every time you wonder how you got to where you are, look at that list, and you will see why.

4. Look for friends to help you get through a very difficult period in your life.

Find support.  Maybe you have friends.  Maybe, if you don’t have enough friends, you can join some organizations and find some new ones.  (It’s usually better, as you know, not to find your best friends at work—too often, professional and personal responsibilities end up not mixing well.)  Get at least one friend you can talk to; or find a therapist; or both.

5. Use the opportunity to pick up a new hobby or pastime.

This is a great opportunity to do something you maybe always wanted to do that you never got around to.  Now you probably have some extra time.  Take advantage of it.  Instead of moping, find something fun to do.  Play the trombone?  Chess?  Soccer?  Tennis?  Bridge?  Poker?  Monopoly?  Bingo?  Read those books that have been sitting on your bookshelf?  Write a book?  Investing? Take the time and make the most of it.


Do not:

1. Mope.

It’s hard not to mope or ruminate.  It’s hard not to keep turning things over in your mind.  Turn off the record player.  Don’t listen to the record again. You know you keep thinking the same things, over and over again.  Don’t.

2. Get into another (serious) relationship right away.

If you get into any kind of serious relationship quickly, it most likely will fail. You will end up looking for someone to help you out of the slumps, and once you are out, you will associate your new partner with the slumps.  Wait!  You need to be over your last relationship before you can get into a new, deep, and healthy relationship.

3. Pick up a new addiction to replace the old one.

If you had any passion at all for your partner, then you had some level of addiction to that partner.  You don’t do well getting over one addiction by forming a new one, especially to alcohol, drugs, nicotine, or you name it.  This will not get you out of your current mess. It will create another mess, and you will now have two serious messes to get yourself out of.

4. Blow your responsibilities.

When you’re down, it’s easy to let things go.  You may find yourself thinking: The bills—who cares anymore?  Your kids?  Let ‘em take care of themselves or let your ex- handle them.  Your job—what difference does it make anyway? Taking showers—they always can wait another day, or two days, or maybe a week.  Once again, you have enough problems.  Don’t make more for yourself.

5. Bad-mouth your former partner to everyone in sight.

You won’t make your partner look bad. You’ll make yourself look bad. And the worst thing a parent can do, if a marriage fails, is to bad-mouth the spouse to the kids. If you do, you’re hurting them, and you’re showing that you don’t know how to parent.  The other parent is still their father or mother, and your bad-mouthing the other parent only harms the children who will need help perhaps like never before.

Well, there are 10 tips for what to do—and not to do—when it’s over.   Who knows?  Maybe you’ll get back together.  But if not, in 10 years, maybe 5 years, maybe 5 days, you may realize that the break-up, like so many break-ups, really and truly was for the best.  And if not, then move on anyway.  Life sucks sometimes. Suck it up and make the most of the future life you have to live.  Your life will be what you make it!

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