How Do You Build a New Life after a Break-up?
Romantic love can take on a personality of its own. Your life becomes so thoroughly entwined with your partner’s that it’s hard to think of yourself as a separate entity anymore. You’ve made adjustments for them, compromises, physical and emotional space. So when you lose them, it’s as if you’ve lost a big chunk of yourself. It leaves a huge void, and that void can be all you think about for a long time.
As humans, we’re wired for connection. From our earliest days walking upright, we’ve needed others for our very survival. So when we’re rejected, we not only react emotionally, feeling sad and abandoned, but our nervous systems react like we’re physically vulnerable.
Bottom line: Feeling emotionally and physically sidelined after a break-up is normal. Given this, how can you turn it around so you can begin to build a new life on your own?
Don’t try to sidetrack the grief process. Grieving the loss of a relationship is essential to your healing process. You need to go through feelings of sadness, anger, confusion, and betrayal. Your emotions may seem overwhelming and out of control at first, but ignoring them or pushing them down can cause them to boomerang back later with even more strength.
Emotions, even uncomfortable ones, have important functions. They tell you when to take action or just hunker down and engage in some serious self-care. In a highly stressful situation, they let you know when you need additional support to help you through.
Most importantly, your emotions carry wisdom. They tell you when something in your life is out of sync and needs attention. And there’s nothing more out of sync feeling than the break-up of a relationship.
Getting emotional support is essential and can come from all directions: friends, family, an online support group. Even then, you may still find yourself caught in that never-ending loop of break-up despair. Speaking with a therapist who specializes in relationships can offer some insight into what and why things went wrong. You may even realize that, though you’re struggling with pain right now, your break-up presents glittering silver linings.
The end of a long-term relationship can make you feel financially vulnerable. Two incomes are now whittled down to one. But there’s still the mortgage, electric bill, car payment, and credit card bills. How will you do it by yourself?
Pull your records together, and conduct a quick audit and budget. A simple income vs. expense overview will give you a good baseline. You may never have created a budget in your life, but now is the time to start.
If you haven’t paid much attention to your financial life before this, it may be a scary exercise. But it’s better to be uncomfortably knowledgeable than to stick your head firmly in the sand and be sidelined later.
If you feel overwhelmed, consider talking to a financial counselor who has been trained to help people manage their money, debt, credit, and financial goals. Note, however, that “financial counselor" can be a loose designation. Those with Accredited Financial Counselor certifications have passed an exam and acquired over 1,000 hours of experience.
Getting professional financial help can arm you with important tools you’ll use to make good financial decisions for yourself now and in the future.
Are you holding on to aspects of your old life without realizing it? If you changed your name in marriage, reclaiming your birth name can represent an important step toward an independent life in this new chapter. Keep in mind, however, that changing your name back to your pre-marriage name requires some work. You’ll need to change it everywhere, including your job, driver’s license, Social Security, passport, bank accounts, and insurance policies.
How is your post-divorce property owned? As part of your divorce process, you had to divide shared assets and debts with your ex. But even if property is awarded to you in a divorce settlement, you must put these once-shared assets and accounts in your own name. The process of doing this will vary depending on the account and property. You may want to get professional advice for larger assets like your home or investment accounts.
You’ll also need to change your beneficiary designations and marital status on insurance policies, estate planning documents, joint bank accounts, retirement accounts, and pension plans.
It seems like a lot to do, and it will take time, but improper ownership of these accounts and assets could have adverse legal consequences in the future.
You may want to take some time to yourself after a break-up, and that’s normal. But there will come a time when you’ll be ready to move out of that bubble of despair into the sunlight.
Your self-esteem may have taken a hit, and good old-fashioned self-care should be a priority. Remind yourself of everything that is good, kind, and valuable about yourself. You are worthy of happiness and love. Count on your friends and family to surround you and share what they love and admire about you. This is no time to be humble.
Remind yourself of the times and ways your ex-spouse came up short, didn’t act partner-like, wasn’t respectful, or was downright mean. You may want to “be friends,” and that may be possible at some point, but right now, you need to focus on your healing.
Expand your social circle. Find new friends. Go new places. Give yourself a social media sabbatical for a time. The last thing you need to see is everyone else’s picture-perfect posts when your life feels less than perfect.
Dating? There’s no pressure to start a new relationship. If you’re not ready, weeding through today’s dating world might make you feel more vulnerable. When you’re ready, you will know it. Until then, be your own best partner. Consider what you will need and want the next time around, and create important boundaries so you don’t settle for less.
Don’t despair if you feel you don’t have a support system in place just yet. In today’s digital age, it’s easier than ever to find friends in a divorce support group. We like the online support network called Circles. Check it out here.
At Hello Divorce, we know divorce is not just a legal action. We’re here to help you through the legal divorce process, but we’re also here to support you in other ways, with friendly account coordinators and mediators who strive to make personal and helpful connections with all clients.
Schedule a free call to speak with one of our account coordinators and learn how we can help.