- You keep contact with your ex..or stalk them on social media
By keeping in touch with you ex, you are holding on to your relationship beyond its expiry date. It’s human nature to want to hold on to things and people we love – or used to love – but there’s a time to let go. By holding on, you are not giving yourself space to reconnect with yourself and truly heal from the breakup. You get triggered every time you communicate with your ex and you lose focus on yourself and your own journey. Worse still, you might be lying to yourself and harbouring a secret wish for something more.
Even if you have officially cut off ties with your ex, you might end up stalking them on social media. You are holding onto the ghost of a past relationship and participating in a comparison game intead of protecting yourself from distractions that suck your time and energy that could be better spent on yourself. And more often than not, you end up getting hurt when you see pictures of them having a great time or even starting a new relationship with other people. Why torture yourself?
- You don’t grieve, instead you numb yourself
When we are going through a breakup, we are in fact going through a grieving process. However, instead of letting yourself be with your emotions – and yes I mean all the hurt, confusion, disappointment, longing, anger, shame and guilt associated with the loss of a partner and the relationship itself – you avoid or even deny them. Instead of feeling them and then letting them go, you look for something or someone to distract yourself so you don’t have to feel those feelings – in other words, you numb yourself.
We all have our vice. The thing (or two) we go to make ourselves feel better for now. Maybe it’s the TV. Or food. Or alcohol or drugs. And increasingly it’s social media. The list goes on. While they may provide some short term relief, they are also distractions that prevent you from properly processing your emotions. Also, in the long term you may develop addictive behaviours and they end up being bigger problems than the breakup itself.
- You rebound immediately, or you decide not to trust men.. ever again
Rather than being with your emotions and really processing them, you find it easier to sweep them under the carpet and move on, start a new relationship so you don’t have to deal with them for now. Also, you might want to fill the void that your ex has left behind, or simply to have a quick boost in your self-esteem and feel desired again. So you opt for instant gratification instead of doing all inner work, not realising that dating so early on after a breakup can be brutal for someone in your fragile state if you haven’t fully healed and rebuilt your self-worth.
On the other extreme, you over-learn your lessons from your heartbreak and think all men are bastards. You decide you don’t want to be hurt like that ever again. You harden and build a shield around your heart, choosing to stay single indefinitely and keeping any potential candidates at arm’s length. Even if you find yourself dating or in a relationship, you have a hard time trusting them and are always on the look out for anything negative and the red flags.
- You blame yourself – or your ex – endlessly
Regardless of who initiated the breakup, breakups are painful and confusing. Sometimes you could see it coming, other times you are completely oblivious to it until it hits you like a ton of bricks. So you go looking for answers, either from yourself and your ex, hoping to make sense of the mess you find yourself in and discharge some of the hurt that you feel.
So it’s very natural, or even helpful, to go through a period of intense self-reflection and introspection to assess the breakdown of your relationship and part you and your partner played in it. However, the trouble starts when you become obsessed and you can’t stop ruminating about all the things you or your ex should have said or done differently, all the times they have hurt you (or vice versa), and you indulge in negative talk – out loud or in your head – about yourself or your ex. This process can go on for weeks, months or even years!
- You isolated yourself from your support network
It’s quite common to want to spend time on your own when you are freshly out of a relationship. In fact, it’s really helpful for your healing process. The problem starts when you continue to withdraw or stay isolated for too long from your support network, wallowing in your emotions or feeling embarrassed over your “failed” relationship and worrying that others will judge or criticise you. As a result, you don’t keep up with family and friends, then you think nobody cares about you! It’s a vicious cycle.
As for those who of you who are used to being very independent, you might think showing vulnerability is a sign of weakness, so you stay away from your support network and try to rebuild your life on your own. However, asking for support – personal or professional – will help you speed up your healing process. It takes strength and vulnerability to ask yourself, “What do I need?”, then courage to ask for it.