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Surviving a Breakup

The University of Texas at Austin
Counseling and Mental Health Center
SSB 5th Floor
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
512-471-3515

Topics

Taking care of yourself
Reaching out to others
Who am I now?
Is something seriously wrong?
What can I do?
Resources

Are my feelings normal?

When a romantic relationship comes to an end, you may experience a wide range of emotions: anger, sadness, denial, and/ or anxiety. All of these are normal reactions to a difficult situation, and many people will feel each (or several) of these at different times. Whether or not you chose to break up, losing a romantic partner often means losing a major source of support, and adjusting to that loss can take some time. As painful as this process can be, these feelings will lessen, and there are things you can do to help yourself get through this challenging period.

Taking care of yourself

The end of a relationship brings many changes. Be patient with yourself as you cope with these changes and try to accept what you are feeling as it comes, rather than telling yourself what you "should" or "shouldn't" be experiencing. Extend the same compassion to yourself that you would to a friend going through a hard time.

Some things that may be helpful include:

  • Giving yourself permission to not be on your "A" game. You may not be as efficient in getting your work done or play as well in your intramural soccer game; that's okay.
  • Making time to do the small things that are fun or relaxing. Go on a walk. Listen to your favorite song. Take a few deep breaths.
  • Avoiding using alcohol, drugs, or food to escape your feelings. These may seem to provide temporary relief, but in reality they can intensify negative feelings and lead to unhealthy patterns.
  • Exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating well may not feel like priorities when you are coping with a breakup, but they can be important ways of boosting your mood, reducing anxiety, and supporting your immune system when you need it most.

Reaching out to others

A breakup can feel isolating, like no one else understands what you are feeling. While it is true that all relationships are different, most people will endure the pain of a breakup at some point, and the people who care about you will want to support you. Let them know what's going on with you. Sharing your experience with others can be an important part of getting through this tough time. Avoiding others or keeping your emotions under wraps may just prolong the pain and can be an obstacle in making sense of what you've been through.

Who am I now?

After a relationship ends, you may have questions about your identity. If you spent a lot of your time with your partner, shared friends, or had the same hobbies, it may feel like you are losing a part of yourself. Trying a new activity or returning to a previous interest can be the best remedy. Join that club you've been meaning to check out or sign up for the next Rec Sports Outdoor Recreation trip. Getting involved can be a great way to meet new people and reconnect with yourself.

Is something seriously wrong?

Grief over a loss usually takes time to work through. However, if you feel that your mood is not improving with time, you may be experiencing depression. For more information on ways of coping with depression, go to Depression and consider seeking additional support through the resources listed below.

What can I do?

  • To schedule a confidential individual appointment with a counselor, contact CMHC: 512-471-3515
  • To speak with a counselor by phone, call CMHC Crisis Line: 512-471-2255 (available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week)
  • To see the list of groups being offered this semester, go to: Groups

Resources

For more ideas on how to cope with a breakup, check out the following websites and books:

Coping with a Relationship Breakup, HelpGuide.org

Breaking Up Without Breaking Down by Kristina de la Cal, 2007

Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You by Susan J. Elliott, 2009


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