Finding Balance When A Relationship Ends

By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The end of a relationship can be emotionally devastating. There are however, steps you can take to ease the pain and move forward with your life.

Tribune News Service

Have you been forced to end a friendship, marriage, love relationship, or a work partnership?

Ending a relationship can be worse than a death. It can feel very disturbing, especially if betrayal has taken place.

Few of us end a relationship unless something tragic has happened. Even cutting ties with a dating partner isn't often that easy.

It's a shock to the system, if you ever cared about the other person at all.

"I found out my business partner had been robbing me blind," says a friend of ours we'll call Bart. "We'd been friends since grammar school. This was worse than a divorce I went through. There were more emotions to deal with that involved extreme betrayal."

Bart goes on to explain that he must legally prosecute his business partner and lifelong friend.

Here are some coping strategies that help in such situations:

-Realize that your emotions will switch directions rapidly. You might still care about your friend one minute and hate him the next. You might cry over your cheating ex-spouse one minute and curse her the next.

-Focus on talking out the pain, so you won't act it out. For example, you might fantasize about beating up your best friend who stole your husband. But, talking it out with a counselor or friends helps you purge hate-filled emotions.

-Accept the fact that total cutoff from a relationship will create a hurtful void in your life. Even if you turn away from a scoundrel, the good part of your relationship dies as well. Turning away from someone completely will cause you to think about the other person so much, you'll wonder if separation is worth it.

-Strive to feel neutral vs. angry as time goes on. Try not to hate someone or love someone you need out of your life. Feeling completely neutral, neither good nor bad about this person, is your goal.

It's important to take good care of your emotional needs. In order to deal with the stress of a recently-ended relationship, try to focus on other things as much as possible.

"I learned that my pain over my failed marriage got worse, if I talked about it too much," says a woman we'll call Pam. "I found that talking about it to several people a day was reversing my healing process."

Pam is right. None of us should bend the ears of others for hours as we wail about our failed relationships.

Instead, write your feelings down on paper and hide your notes in a locked drawer. Later, you can burn your notes, so no one will accidentally discover them.

"Setting new goals helped me a lot," says a business owner we'll call Al. "I had to fire two top employees for having an affair. Both were married to other people, and their respective spouses came to confront them during a big sales meeting!

"When I let them go, some of my clients fell away, so I had to build up my business quickly. When I got busy planning new ways to increase profits, it helped me forget the damage the two lovebirds did."

A psychologist we'll call Anne says working on your own goals keeps any relationship mess from destroying you.

"I tell my hurting clients to get busy on self-care," says Anne. "I advise them to start with a good 30-minute walk every day. I tell them to watch their favorite movies, buy some good self-help books, and nurture themselves." ___ (Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe at www.usawellnesscafe.com. Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)

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