NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, April 18, 2020

7 Reasons Why You Might Be Struggling to Get Over a Breakup

Breaking up is hard.  Whether it was a mutual decision to end the relationship or you were the one who ended it, breaking up is a challenge, especially in a long term relationship (see my articles: Overcoming the Heartbreak of a Breakup and Coping With the Stages of a Breakup).

Breakups Are Challenging 

There's no timetable for when people get over a breakup. Healing is an individual process.  It's understandable that you would want the emotional pain of the breakup to end as soon as possible, but emotions don't always respond to what you want or think.

In addition, most people have unrealistic expectations about healing from a breakup.  Part of this problem might be that they're harsh with themselves (see my article: Self Compassion: Loving Yourself Even in the Places Where You Feel Broken).

Another problem is that other people, including friends and family, who have good intentions, also have unrealistic expectations and they might try to push you to "move on" before you've worked through the grief and loss.

7 Challenges After a Breakup
Aside from the heartache which takes time to heal, there can be other issues that make it difficult to get over a breakup:
  • Co-Parenting Children Together
    • If you and your ex have children together, this is a big challenge because you'll need to interact with one another until the children are of age and can go off on their own. 
    • There are countless things that need to be worked out when you have children, including: child custody, childcare, child support, housing arrangements, and other co-parenting issues.
    • Being able to put aside your differences to focus on your children is paramount, but anger and resentment don't always go away after the breakup, so it takes work to reman primarily focused on the needs of your children (see my articles: Talking to Your Child About Your Divorce and Co-parenting After the Divorce).
  • Giving Up the Emotional Ties With Your Ex's Family
    • Often, the problem isn't just that you're missing your ex--you can also feel strong emotional ties to your ex's family.  
    • This makes the loss much bigger.  
    • Maintaining emotional ties with your ex's family can be difficult and can keep you feeling stuck in terms of healing from the breakup. Boundaries would need to be negotiated, if it's even possible to do that.
  • Maintaining Mutual Friendships
    • If you and your ex have mutual friends, it can be difficult for you, your ex and your friends to negotiate the boundaries around these friendships.  
    • Friends might feel their loyalty is being tested or they might feel that they have to side with either you or your ex.  
    • You or your ex might have unrealistic expectations of your mutual friends in terms of sharing information about what's going on with you or your ex after the breakup.
    • Your friends might inadvertently tell you things about your ex that are hurtful or they might slip and divulge things you don't want your ex to know.
  • Communicating With Your Ex After the Breakup
    • Assuming for the moment that you and your ex don't have children or other compelling reasons to be in touch, if you're still communicating with your ex, healing from the breakup is going to be that much more difficult.  
    • One or both of you might still be holding onto hope that things can be worked out between you.  But if nothing has changed, you're probably going to be facing the same problems that led to the breakup (see my articles: You're Considering Getting Back Together Again, But What Has Changed?).
  • Tolerating Loneliness and Redefining the Relationship as "Friends With Benefits:" 
    • After a breakup, many people feel lonely (see my article: Overcoming Loneliness).
    • Many people would rather go back to a relationship that isn't working out than tolerating loneliness. 
    • Some people find being out of a relationship and alone intolerable, so they try to redefine the relationship as being "friends with benefits" and continue to get together with their ex to hook up.  
    • In the long run, "friends with benefits" rarely works out for people who are or were in love without confusion and resentment, especially if one person is already dating other people.  The boundary issues get muddied fast.
  • Dating Again: 
    • After a breakup, some people refuse to start dating again--even after they have healed from the breakup. 
    • While there's a reality that dating, especially dating online, can be challenging and discouraging, many people refuse to see other people, even after they've healed.  In those instances, there can be other underlying issues, including unrealistic hopes of rekindling the former relationship or fear of getting hurt again (see my article: Overcoming Your Fear of Getting Hurt Again).
  • Ruminating About Your Ex and Looking at Your Ex's Social Media
    • It's common to think about your ex after a breakup. You can't just turn off your feelings like a faucet.
    • It can take a while to heal and there's no one-size-fits-all time or way to do it 
    • If you're spending a lot of time looking at pictures of you and your ex together or doing frequent checks to your ex's social media accounts, you're prolonging your emotional pain and not allowing yourself to heal (see my article: You Can't Stop Looking at Your Ex's Social Media Accounts).

Even under the best of circumstances, breakups are difficult.  Aside from the challenges that I've outlined above, there can be other problems, like unresolved earlier trauma.

For instance, a breakup often triggers old unresolved issues which make it even harder to deal with the breakup.  Many people who felt emotionally abandoned as children have an especially difficult time during a breakup because of this triggering (see my articles: Fear of Abandonment and How Past Psychological Trauma Leaves on in the Present).

Getting Help in Therapy
Working through the grief and challenges of a breakup can be difficult to do on your own, especially if you've been feeling stuck for a while.

If you feel stuck and overwhelmed, you could benefit from working with a licensed NYC psychotherapist after a breakup to help you work through unresolved issues so you can heal.

Most therapists are doing online therapy (also known as teletherapy, telemental health and telehealth) during the COVID19 crisis (see my article: The Advantages of Teletherapy When You Can't See Your Therapist in Person).

Asking for help can feel scary at times, but remaining stuck is even harder (see my article: Overcoming Your Fear of Asking For Help).

Taking the first step of contacting a licensed mental health professional could make all the difference between prolonging your grief and getting closure that leads to a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Therapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

I am providing online therapy sessions during the COVID19 pandemic.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.