Leaving someone you once loved can bring unexpected surprises – some good, some bad. Here’s what to expend when you end a relationship, plus tips for coping with the fallout. This article was inspired by a comment a reader left on one of my most popular articles…
“I know my boyfriend wants to end our relationship but I’m scared to let him go!” says Natasha on What to Do When Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Time for You. “I can’t be alone. I haven’t been without a man for almost 25 years. Me and my boyfriend have been together for 10 years. I know our relationship is struggling and I wish I could end it with him but I don’t know what to expect. I’m scared of everything. I just want him to break up with me. At least then it’ll be done and I won’t have to make the decision. Because that’s the hardest part – deciding to end it with him and then actually breaking up with him.”
Are you in the same boat as Natasha? Maybe you know you need to end an unhealthy or difficult relationship, but you don’t know what to expect. Maybe your relationship is already over but you’re still hanging on because you’re scared of the future and worried about never finding love again.
You are not alone. Your feels of fear, anxiety, and insecurity about the future are completely normal! Of course you don’t know what to expect when you end a relationship – even if this isn’t your first breakup. Or divorce.
Every ending is different. But, you can prepare yourself by learning what surprises may be in store for you…
What to Expect When You End a Relationship
The most important thing to remember is that ending a relationship will be filled with unexpected valleys and victories, groans and gifts. Expect the unexpected when you end a relationship – even if you think you know how things will shake out.
Write down your “stinking thinking”
As a woman thinks, so shall she be.
Did you know that every thought in your head creates the reality you live in? Your thoughts create emotions, and you act out of your emotions. If you think you can’t handle the ending of a relationship, then guess what? You won’t be able to handle it. If you think you can’t be happy without a man, then guess what? Miserable and alone you will be.
Take time to examine your thoughts! Write them down in your private journal, or even in the comments section below. Don’t edit or question them; just write them down. Get in touch with your fears and anxieties, your thoughts and worries. Identifying them – naming them – will help you see them more clearly. If you can see them, then you can start to change them.
Learn from others what to expect when a relationship ends
Ask your girlfriends: what was the best part of your last breakup? What surprised you? What was good, beneficial, positive? How did the end of that relationship change your life in helpful ways?
And, ask them what they didn’t expect. Did ending the relationship create new or more painful problems? Did they stumble and fall, are they living with regrets and difficulties now? Talk about it. Then, take it a step farther: plan ways to avoid the same snares from tripping you up.
Learn how to emotionally detach from someone you care about – because you’d be surprised at how powerful your heart is.
Take a deep breath when your emotions threaten to overwhelm you
Ending a relationship is painful. Scary. Overwhelming and difficult. Even when you know you’re not meant to be together, even when he was unhealthy or maybe even abusive, you will find it hard to let go.
Letting go is not easy, even when you know it’s time to end a relationship. Your emotions, no matter how painful they are, are important. Feeling those emotions, working through them, is the only way to heal. So, when you feel fear and anxiety rise up, just let the feelings pass through you. They won’t stop your heart (though your heart may feel battered and bruised), nor will they break your spirit (though your spirit may feel dull or dead). Those feelings are normal and actually healthy because they’re helping you heal.
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Take a deep breath, and look up. Open your heart. What do you hear?
Give your life – and emotions – time to settle
If your relationship ended because of a serious crisis or terrible argument, you’ll need time to cope with the shock and emotional fallout. Maybe you’ve been hurt or betrayed by your boyfriend or husband. Maybe you lied, cheated, or betrayed him…or he broke your heart. Or, maybe you’re addicted to the drama of creating problems and ending relationships because you need something to occupy your mind and restless spirit.
Whatever the reason your relationship ended, give yourself time to settle. Your heart, soul, and life has just experienced a major upset. Take a deep breath, and let go of your worries for the future. Just get through this hour. Make a cup of hot cocoa or a healthy smoothie. Take care of your body by going for a gentle walk or even a fast bike ride. Just give yourself space and time to heal.
Allow waves of grief and relief to come and go
Here’s what to expect when you end a relationship: unexpected waves of extreme grief and relief. Ride it out.
As you begin to heal, you’ll find longer and calmer stretches of peace. You’ll start to feel lighter, more hopeful. Those feelings of anxiety, dread, fear, and panic, will fade. Instead of telling yourself you can’t live without him and you’ll never survive the ending of this relationship, you’ll find yourself focusing on hope and future plans. You’ll start to live with a sense of lightness and joy…and you’ll see sprouts of love blossoming all around you.
Tell me 3 things you know for sure about yourself
What do you know about you? This will help you know what to expect after ending a relationship. The more you know about yourself, the better able you’ll cope with the breakup.
Tell me in the comments section below three things you know about you. Here, I’ll go first: I tend to leave relationships too early, probably because I grew up in foster homes and was constantly being moved around. I didn’t learn how to be part of a family and I didn’t have roots. I can’t settle into a job (except for blogging, which I’ve been doing since 2008!), and I’m constantly looking for new things to do.
What do you know about you, that will help you cope with this breakup?
Surrender your heart and life to the one who created and loves you
The joy, peace, and rest that comes from giving your heart to God is sweeter than all the “what to expect” tips in the world. The love and grace Jesus offers is more precious than any boyfriend or husband. The freedom and wisdom of the Holy Spirit surpasses all the books and youtube videos and Hollywood movies in this world we live in.
How’s your spirit doing these days? You and God have a relationship, even if you aren’t exactly on speaking terms. He loves you and knows you, even if you haven’t let Him into your heart.
What would it feel peace and joy even when you don’t know what to expect after you end a relationship? Read How to Find God and Heal Your Broken Heart.
I welcome your thoughts below, on anything and everything that comes to your mind. I can’t offer advice, but you’ll find writing to be a helpful, healing way to work through your emotions about ending a relationship.
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear,” said Jesus. “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.