For some people, a breakup clearly marks the beginning of a better time in their lives. They may feel a sense of relief that the relationship is over. Maybe they'd been abused or manipulated. Maybe their partner cheated on them. Maybe they simply realized the relationship couldn't work out -- end of story.
For the rest of us, though, breaking up can be a complicated, torturous mess. It often doesn't matter whether you're the dumper or the dumped -- it's a huge loss, and it hurts like hell. Many experts compare the loss of a relationship to the death of a loved one. After breakups, people often go through similar stages of grief -- just as they would if someone they'd loved had died.
"The length of time it takes to move through these stages is directly related to the length and intensity of the relationship," says Morra Molotsky, a psychotherapist in private practice in Cherry Hill, N.J.
"As in recovery from any loss, it's important to allow yourself to grieve appropriately and acknowledge what you miss about the person/relationship. It's also important to do a reality check and remember all the things about the relationship that were not so positive," Molotsky continues.
If you're recovering from a breakup, there are ways to make it a little bit easier. Follow these suggestions, and you just may start to feel like a human being again.
Exorcise your demons. Let yourself grieve. Feel the pain and sadness. Cry, scream, beat your fists on the floor. The more you allow yourself to acknowledge and experience your emotions, the sooner you'll start to feel better.
Resist the temptation to become a lunatic. Your ex won't reconsider his or her decision if you drive by his or her house 17 times each night on your way home from work. He or she won't want to take your 4 a.m. calls any more if you relentlessly hit "redial" until he or she picks up the phone. Behaviors like these will only alienate your ex -- and if you're really lucky, they'll land you a starring role on psychoexgirlfriends.com.