The Single Biggest Mistake People Make After Breaking Up
So many people stay in unhealthy relationships (or go back to their ex-partners) because they hold the limiting belief that they can’t do any better. This is a fear-based mindset, and the reason why we settle for relationships that are less than what we really want.
Relationships (or to be more specific – successful relationships) really boil down to our capacity to communicate and assert our own standards and boundaries. In this way, we teach other people how to treat us through our expectations and responses to their behaviour.
Now, there are graceful ways to do this and less graceful ways to do this, but the point is, it starts with us.
Too often, people waste years on a relationship based on the hope and fantasy that one day this person will change into the person they want them to be. In the meantime, they over-invest, giving their time, emotions, energy and intimacy to this person, despite the fact that their actual relationship yields little return.
Maybe the chemistry was initially hot but sometimes too much fire can be a result of explosive ingredients that don’t stabilise well. Ultimately, if your values and vision are not aligned, you’re going to have more trouble than fun down the track.
In light of this, it’s important to recognise that – like it or not – dating is an evaluation process. It’s an opportunity for us to get to know someone and then decide how far we want to go with them or how much of our lives we want to invest.
And along that journey, it’s really important to have breakups – in fact, it’s something that we really need to get comfortable with. Otherwise, we’ll get stuck in these relationships that aren’t really healthy because we’re staying in them from a place of fear.
In fact, if dating is done right, you should be having more breakups than matches because the truth is, most people you meet and date won’t be a compatible match for you.
The thing is, heartbreak hurts. There is no way around it. People break up for many reasons and when love is involved it can be tragically soul-shaking. The cold hard truth here is that sometimes love just isn’t enough – particularly when values and vision don’t align.
Other times, love may have already fled the bed, and yet two people stay together because there is still some form of attachment. And the more intimate time we spend with a person, the more likely we are to become attached as we form habits of being together. But attachment can be very different from love. Attachment is often a habit. A behaviour that we identify within our comfort zone, and to suddenly take that away can often feel uncomfortable and disorientating.
This is because we habituate to having them around and losing them is about losing company generally, not love specifically.
The thing to remember when going through a breakup is that it is normal to go through a grieving period as we let go of a partner — which is why a key element to a breakup is acceptance.
Until we move on, our mind will naturally go back to the positive associations with the other because the body has no other current reference point for love and affection. So, in those lonely moments, it is our natural response to think of only the best moments we had with that person and miss them.
So often, people mistake this as an excuse or a justification to get back with an ex-partner who they have already realised is not a good fit for them (I mean, I don’t know anyone who breaks up with someone lightly). They think “Oh I miss them so much, that must mean we’re meant to be together” because they want the painful feelings to stop.
However, an aching heart doesn’t mean that breaking up was the wrong thing to do.
The other force at work here is the enormous pain of abandonment and rejection. This can feed into any fears that we have about not being good enough. In this way, getting back together becomes all about trying to rid ourselves of this experience.
This is the biggest mistake people make after a break up: they get back together with their ex-partner, primarily out of fear, discomfort or insecurity.
This is not a good strategy for a satisfying long-term relationship. Because even if you were the one who was broken up with, the breakup was initiated for a reason, and unless you can both commit to identifying and really working through the underlying issues at hand, it’s likely that it’s not going to be any better the second time around.
In most cases, going back to that person isn’t going to serve us. It’s actually the kind of behaviour that leads people into a loveless marriage. Whereas the truth of the dating world is, the more that we can say no to what we don’t want in a relationship, the more we actually say yes to what we really do want.
This is why I see dating and the relationship that follows as a process of clarification. Sometimes we think we want to be with someone or experience a particular kind of relationship, until we get into it and realise that No, actually this isn’t what I thought it would be like… Thankfully, these kinds of experiences give us an opportunity to explore and get clearer on what it is that we really do want to explore and experience in relationships, in the future.
P.S. Interested in learning more about how to approach your relationships more consciously? Get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to book a complimentary intro to coaching session where you can learn more about what I do and how I can help you get the love you want!