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California State University, Long Beach
Health Resource Center, Student Health Services
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Surviving a Breakup

Even the toughest and most independent individuals can have difficulties when going through a breakup. Whether the decision is yours, your partner’s, or a mutual agreement, it is hard to leave behind something that was comfortable and normal and move on. After a breakup, remember that you are not alone, but rather have the support of friends and family to get you through this difficult time. During this time, it is important not to only recover from a break-up, but to also take this time to learn and grow as a person from your past.

Give in to the pain

Allow yourself to be sad. Cry, sob, or scream if that is what you need. By letting go of any bottled up feelings, you release some tension and get one step closer to closure. Sometimes people will feel the need to hide their feelings to seem strong, confident and independent, but going through a breakup is a difficult time and it is important that you stay connected with your feelings and let them show It is a healthy way to relieve stress and take steps to getting over the relationship (Amatanstein, 2002).

Confront your Self Doubts

Following a breakup, it is easy to doubt the decision. If you were the one who made the decision to end the relationship, you may feel as if you did not make the right decision or were too hasty in your approach. It is also common to think you did not try hard enough or explain your feelings better if your partner is the one who ended the relationship. After a conversation has ended, new ideas or things to say come more easily. If this is happening, you must realize that the initial decision made was the right one, and it will only make it harder on yourself to fall into self-doubt. Instead, confront these doubts and realize that you made those decisions for a reason (Ellington, n.d.).

Find Closure

After you have come to accept the decisions made about your relationship, it is crucial to find closure in what has happened. The emotional tolls of a breakup can last for a long time if a person does not take the steps to accepting what has happened, growing from it, and allowing themselves to move on. This can sometimes include talking to your partner in a non-confrontational way. Be sure to explain that you are just looking for a full explanation without any fighting, rebuttals or blaming. This explanation can give you a better insight into what went wrong so that you are able to move on without being unsure of what happened (Levine, 2007).

The Value of Distraction

This is the time to begin any project, hobby or activity you have always wanted to start. With too much downtime, it is easy to fall back into the mentality of missing an old relationship. Instead, it is advised to keep busy with close friends and family, and also find activities that will keep your mind off of the past. These activities could include a road trip, starting a project, joining a club or becoming more physically active. All of these activities can boost your mood and help you move on (Levine, 2007).

Don’t Rely on a New Relationship Too Soon

It is common for recently single individuals to find a new relationship quickly after a breakup because they are scared to be alone. Often, that person has become too comfortable with having a partner in their life and seeks that same safety net after a breakup. Instead, take this time to learn about yourself as an individual and grow from your past relationship. Breakups, although painful, can be a great learning experience about a person and about future relationships. One of the most beneficial actions an individual can do after a breakup is allow themselves the time to heal and find closure before jumping into a new relationship (Levine, 2007).

Examine your Relationship History

This is an opportunity to assess yourself and look very deeply into your past in order to create a future that is satisfying. Start by writing out the answers to these questions. Journaling is an excellent way of reflecting upon your own actions and behaviors. It also helps you to heal and go through the grieving process.

Tell the story of the relationship. Reflect back onto your actions and behaviors that may have contributed to the end of the relationship. If you need help, ask a trusted friend or relative that observed the relationship.

  • Explore what went wrong Explore what went right
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses in relationships?
  • What are the patterns that you have observed in your past relationships? If you can’t see this, ask a trusted friend or relative.
  • What is it like for you to communicate with your partners? Can you be honest about your feelings?
  • What was this last relationship like with regards to honesty and your inner feelings?
  • When you were in this last relationship, did you feel like you could explore your own interests and pursuits? Did you feel dependent or independent with your partner?
  • What did you learn from this past relationship that can help you in your next relationship?
  • What would you like to improve upon (e.g., communication, honesty, etc.) in yourself to have better relationships in your future?
  • What are the values that are important to you? These values should be the basis of how you judge future relationships. For example, if you value spirituality, then your partner should also have a similar value system. If you want to have children, then your partner should share this goal (if this is a long term relationship!).

Focus on Today

The thought of being alone can be overwhelming, especially if you start thinking about the future. Instead of worrying about things out of your control, concentrate on the present moment. The future will take care of itself (Amatenstein, 2002).

The Power of Positive Thinking

Just because this relationship ended does not mean that your future relationships will be doomed. The world is full of available men and women, and eventually you will meet someone new and feel just as happy—or maybe even happier—with that person    (Amatenstein, 2002).  The ending of one relationship allows a person to have the opportunity to discover new passions, interests and reclaim their life to turn it into something they will be happy with (Levine, 2007).

Connect with Friends and Family

Feeling the need for companionship and comfort is natural. Since you have just lost an important person in your life, you most likely need the comfort of close family and friends to help you through this time. Hanging out with friends can be an excellent solution as long as you do not use social activities to ignore your feelings. Moreover, discussing your feelings can be highly therapeutic, and other people might have words of wisdom to share with you. Also, a good friend can be valuable during the times when your thoughts become negative or irrational (Amatenstein, 2002).

You are a Survivor

Before you entered your previous relationship, what did you do with yourself? You had hobbies, friends and activities that kept you busy and happy. One common misconception after a breakup is that happiness can only be found in a significant other.  It is beneficial for a person to look beyond the relationship to what life was like before and realize that you are strong, independent and able to live a happy and fulfilling life without the help of another person. Initially after a breakup, it may be frightening to think of living life without the support of a significant other, but you will be surprised by how much you can learn and grow from this situation (Levine, 2002).


Amatenstein, S. (2002). Love Lessons from Bad Breakups. New York: Perigree Press.

Ellington, A. (n.d.) Surviving a Breakup: Self Growth. Retrieved from

Levine, I. (2007). Getting Over A Breakup. Retrieved from