When Relationships End…Badly

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When people enter a relationship, they don’t think about it ending. When everything seems right (at that time), partners may even think about spending the rest of their lives together.

The reality, however, is that not all relationships have happy endings; and relationships can be hard. In a previous post, Why Are Relationships So Hard?, Luciana shared a quote:

“In order to have a satisfying love relationship, both partners need to draw their energy back into the relationship. It is very difficult to identify what is wrong with a relationship if the participants keep themselves distant and distracted. Even more important, two intimate partners cannot reconnect with each other until they are physically and emotionally available.” – Harvelle Hendrix, Getting The Love You Want

This is probably the key to a successful relationship, but what if your relationship is one of those that end…badly?

Sometimes, relationships end with both partners agreeing explicitly. In other cases, it is just one partner who decides that it is over. Whichever the case may be, if a relationship ends badly, both parties will struggle with the aftermath. Even more so if they have lived in the same home in the duration of their relationship.

What should you do when your relationship ends badly?

The answer is not just one thing. In fact, there many things to consider and do when this happens.

Allow yourself to feel.
After your relationship ends, you’ll be a massive mess of emotions. One minute you’re distressed, sad, or lonely. Then you’re angry the next. This anger may be directed toward your ex, or it may be directed at yourself.

relationship end


This mixture of emotions is normal, and you need time to sort them out. Cry if you have to. Scream. Punch pillows. Cry again. It’s okay.

Face your emotions.
The only way you can sort yourself out is to actually face what you are feeling. This way, you can identify specific emotions and why you are feeling them. Then, you can think of constructive ways to handle them.

For example, if you find yourself distressed because of the loss of the relationship, think about why it ended. Think about why it might be a good thing for both of you.

It is important that you don’t devalue yourself or your ex. You did have good times, else you wouldn’t have gotten together in the first place. There will always be something special about your relationship, but there will also be anger after the bad breakup. Avoid:

  • Allowing feelings of inadequacy overwhelm you.
  • Placing all the blame and “hating on” your ex.
  • Letting shame and despair overcome you.
  • The desire to “punish” yourself or your ex.

Instead, fast-forward to a year or two years from now. Where do you want to be? What will you be doing? What do you want to be doing? If you do any of the things above, how will it affect your future self? Thinking of these things will give you perspective and help you behave more positively.

Distance yourself from the problem.
This may be contrary to the previous point, but in cases wherein you just can’t handle facing your emotions at the moment, another recourse is to withdraw or distance yourself from everything. This will allow you to regain energy that will help you face your emotions later on.

This is very important: You distance yourself temporarily. If you want to get over the negative effects of a relationship that ends badly, you will have to face your emotions at some point.

How can you distance yourself?

  • Spend time with people that will lift your spirits. If you’ve been out of touch with friends and family, reconnect. This will help counteract the negative emotions raging inside you.
  • Do things that make you feel good. Treat yourself to a massage, a little shopping, or cook a nice dinner for yourself. If you like traveling, take some time off and go on a trip.
  • Don’t rush into a new relationship, do rush into one. This is a tricky one because both can make sense, depending on you. The former is a good idea so you don’t carry baggage entering a new relationship. The latter can be good in the sense that a new relationship may offer a new perspective and show you insights/teach you new lessons as to what went wrong in the past.

While your relationship might have ended badly, it doesn’t mean that you have to continue living in the “bad”, so I leave you with this.

“There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.”
– Ellen Goodman

Things may be over, but you can still make that graceful exit by moving on – even if it’s only you who knows about it.

Related reading: Are You Emotionally Unavailable?

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