Impact of a Break-up and How to Survive it

Danielle Barbereau
Danielle Barbereau
Personal Crisis Coach

A relationship break up is life-changing.

Everything you had taken for granted in your marriage and indeed your life, has come to an end. It overturns all that is familiar, including any hopes and dreams you had for the future.

How does it feel?

Going through an unexpected breakup can feel like falling into an endless black hole.

Dealing with the aftermath of a sudden breakup is comparable to grieving.

Rejection is unbelievably painful and leaves you feeling so devastated that you can only compare it with a form of mourning. Even if the relationship was not very good, you crave the presence of your partner.

This is normal, and the loss can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing. Going through a breakup can lead to sleeplessness, weight loss, high blood pressure and even chronic depression.

When the breakup occurs, you naturally focus on how awful you feel and get stuck in your recollection of the breakup. The pain you feel is overwhelming and real.

In the midst of this chaos, you have to find a way of rediscovering who you are, what you want, and to create a new life, while you are dealing with potentially damaging emotions.

What adds to the feeling of loss and humiliation is often the manner by which you may have been left.

You would think that when people are adults, they have the maturity to discuss and explain the reasons why they no longer want the relationship. Yet, too often, you are left wondering why it happened because you have not been given any explanation at all or you have been lied to. You may have been given no other choice but end the relationship. All of this is cruel and bewildering and adds to the feeling of helplessness.

As time goes on your emotions will evolve.

It is impossible to give a timescale for this to happen because all individuals are different, but rest assured that this feeling of pain and helplessness will eventually diminish and pass.

impact of a breakup
Impact of a breakup – Recovery takes time

When you are in the midst of the crisis, it is hard to believe that you will ever get better. Yet you will; but of course, it does take time, pain and effort to make sense of what has happened and truly move on.

You may find it reassuring to know that you are not alone going through such a traumatic event. Many people have experienced this and the effect it has on their emotions.

In the immediate aftermath of the breakup, it is all too easy for the person who has been left to blame themselves. It is often the case that they feel responsible for everything that has gone wrong, are ashamed the marriage has broken down, and cannot face family or friends. They fill their head with all sorts of thoughts: ‘I was not good enough, I should have been more attentive, I let myself go, I concentrated on the children, I worked too hard’ etc.

Of course there may be some truth in all of this, but I always say to my clients that the breakup has probably little to do with what they have done or not done, said or not said. Most marriages break down over a long period of time, rather than as a result of a sudden or isolated event. This is crucial: in reality, when this point is reached it is probably too late to save a relationship.

Remember that you are a person in your own right and fully deserving of a relationship which fulfils your needs. A successful relationship is where partners have mutual respect of each other and don’t take each other for granted. 

Towards the recovery

These tips and thoughts are the results of many hours I spend working with people who are left bereft. Some may hopefully resonate with you:

  • As bad as things seem at the moment, these times will pass
  • Accept that the relationship is over: you deserve better
  • Your partner will justify their actions no matter what and may never face up to what they have done.
  • Your partner is NOT coming back
  • You may never know why they left
  • You may never get the explanation or the apology you so richly deserve
  • Just because they claim something, it doesn’t make it true
  • Accept where you are. Don’t dwell on what you can’t change. This will make moving forward easier
  • You are going through life changing emotions; it’s OK to feel these emotions
  • Recovery takes time. You cannot just bounce back; you need to go through a process
  • Be kind to yourself – no beating yourself up and taking all the responsibility
  • Start thinking of you and your future
  • Take control.

You can emerge a better, stronger and happier person, I PROMISE!

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings” Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher, 6th Century BC

What to do next

  • Get legal advice (it is always better to know where you stand and make informed choices)
  • Accept where you are; don’t dwell on what you cannot change
  • Most importantly: start taking some control back, however a small step that may seem. At the time of a breakup you feel that your partner, and may be other people (solicitors, the other man/woman, dependents etc) call all the shots. Time to regain control of your life. The process of doing so will help you regain a sense of self-esteem, which has inevitably been dented
  • Start thinking of you and your future. Reconnect with who you are
  • Focus on what you enjoy. Get out of the house, take up physical activity
  • See a professional relationship coach and get medical help
  • Do not force yourself to make decisions when you are vulnerable. Take some time and space to clarify your thoughts
  • Do not jump into another relationship.

I can say categorically that eventually you will begin to heal and slowly start to create a new life which you will enjoy. Good luck.

Danielle Barbereau is Relationship Coach specialising in breakups.

She is author of After the Split: The Definitive Guide to Recovery When Relationships Break Down

Available on Kindle, Amazon and on Danielle’s website:



photo credit: Yellow Bow-Broken Heart…The Break Up via photopin (license)

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