How do I get over a break-up?

My long-term boyfriend has broken up with me and I feel so lost and confused. From my experience with past break-ups, I'm worried this feeling will last for a long time. At the beginning, our relationship was wonderful. He repeatedly told me how much he loved me, but then he became distant and didn't want to see me. For weeks he denied that anything was wrong and then he broke up with me, saying I'd started to irritate him and I demanded all of his attention. All I want is the good part of our relationship back. I blame myself for doing the things I did to make his feelings change. I miss him so much and don't understand why he didn't try to work it out with me. The pain is far too intense for me to deal with and everything reminds me of him. To make things worse, he's since had sex with other girls and I feel so worthless.

Breaking up with someone you love very much can be extremely upsetting and distressing. The fact that this isn’t the first time it’s happened to you doesn’t make it easier. Sometimes, when you’ve been through an experience before and are aware of the pain you’ll feel and the time it will take to heal, it can be even harder to deal with than the first time. Unfortunately, there’s no way to rush through your feelings and get over this any quicker, as much as you must want to. But perhaps you can take comfort from the fact that you have survived before and that means that you can again, horrible as it is.

The intense feelings you describe are completely normal in these circumstances. Breaking up with someone you deeply love is very much like suffering a bereavement. Like a bereavement, there are a whole raft of different emotions that you must go through before you feel better and able to move on with your life, shock and anger, among them. The way you feel at the moment won’t last, but you have to work through each emotion and give yourself time to recover from this.

Talking about how you feel is really important. The worst thing you can do is to bottle up your feelings. It may be helpful to confide in your friends as most people have been through a break-up and will understand how you’re feeling. Don’t worry about imposing on them – good friends will understand and take time to listen to you. If you don’t feel able to talk about this to friends or family, there are people out there who can help and who will listen. You could call Supportline, a confidential telephone counselling service on 020 8554 9004 or e-mail [email protected]

Try to go out as much as you can. Simply having people around you, even if you’re not talking about the break-up, will help. It will distract you from thinking about your ex and it will remind you that there is a world outside him as well as helping to rebuild your confidence.

None of this is your fault. It sounds like you did everything you could to make this relationship work. Sometimes, however much you love someone, you can’t always make them happy. Your ex may have some issues he needs to work through on his own and by sleeping with other girls, it may be that he isn’t ready for a committed relationship. It’s always easy to blame yourself but just because someone has broken up with you doesn’t mean you’re worthless, you will have lots to offer to the right person. Painful as it seems, not speaking to your ex or having any contact with him is probably the healthiest thing to do, in the long run. Put away your reminders of him such as photographs and letters and try not to get them out until you feel better.

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