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  • Writer's pictureHeather Keenan, LCSW

What to Expect With the Ending of a Relationship

Whether you are the one ending a relationship or you are on the other side of a breakup, there are a wave of emotions and thoughts that can be experienced. In this blog, you will gain more insight into what to expect with a breakup and how to process these emotions in order to move forward.

The Stages of Grief Related to Breakups

When we think of the word grief, we often assume that it’s something experienced only when someone passes away. However, there are so many additional ways that we grieve and one of them is with the ending of a relationship.

Maybe you feel like your emotions are “all over the place” or you’re wondering why you feel anger, resentment, and depression. Whatever emotions are there, they are completely valid! There is no right or wrong way to feel and our emotions can fluctuate from minute to minute.

The stages of grief are denial, depression, anger, bargaining, and acceptance. One hour you may be in acceptance and the next hour you may be feeling angry. Again, there is no right or wrong in the intensity, order, or longevity of your emotions. One of the most important actions you can take is to “ride the wave” of the emotion and normalize and validate the emotion for yourself.

We can make emotions exacerbated by resisting them and telling ourselves we “shouldn’t feel this” or “should be over it by now”. Set an alarm for 15 minutes, feel whatever emotions you need to feel and then take an action that feels good for you when the alarm goes off.

Moments of Doubt

With any big decision, there are pros and cons for that decision. Very rarely can we make a big decision where there are only pros for the decision. Because of this, it can make it very difficult to follow through with a breakup.

I often hear, “I think I made the wrong decision because I miss XYZ about the person”. We take that and confuse it with making the wrong decision when in fact, it is okay to miss someone and also understand you made the best decision for yourself to end it. It is normal to miss aspects of a relationship, EVEN if you were the one to end it. Normalize that for yourself and don’t confuse it with making the wrong decision. Remind yourself of the headspace you were in when you ended it and the reasons for it.

Self-Sabotaging Behaviors

Our brain is all about protecting ourselves. Since the ending of a relationship is often very painful, of course our brain doesn’t want to go through that again! The brain’s natural instinct is, “How do I avoid feeling that level of pain again?” and that is when self-sabotage behaviors kick in.

It can be scary putting yourself out there again. However, we have to remind ourselves that we cannot pick and choose what we avoid so if we are avoiding possible pain, we are also preventing ourselves from a deep connection and happiness!


Maybe you began to start dating again or started exploring “what is out there”. Your brain may go into comparison mode of what your ex would do or say and what current prospects are doing and saying.

This is a great time to remind yourself that you don’t want someone who is exactly like your ex- partner because it didn’t work out for a reason! Go in with an open mind and with excitement of what someone may have to offer.

Cravings to Return to the Relationship

Since our brain is all about comfort and safety, it is very common to crave a past relationship. A good question to ask yourself is, “Am I actually wanting to go back to that relationship or am I craving normalcy, comfort, and predictability?”

Oftentimes, our brain will start craving comfort when you start to put yourself outside of your comfort zone. An example could be when you start dating someone new and there is a lot of uncertainty and discomfort, our brain will usually play a trick on us because it is craving comfort and safety.

All of these emotions, thoughts, and behaviors WILL pass with time! The more you acknowledge and validate your emotions, the quicker they will decrease. Having additional support with therapy can really help too!

If you are struggling to recover after a breakup or feel stuck in your relationship patterns, reach out today for your complimentary consultation at 954-391-5305. I’d be happy to chat with you to see how I can help. You deserve to live your best life!

For more information about my approach to counseling or my services, click here.

I provide counseling for adults, EMDR therapy, and counseling for First Responders at our beautiful Fort Lauderdale office. I also offer online therapy across the state of Florida via our secure telehealth platform.

I look forward to speaking with you!


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