Sex & Relationships

How to recover from a breakup or divorce: 10 tips

We spoke to the author of The Breakup Bible to give us her best tips for healing the heartbroken

Rachel A. Sussman

Rachel A. Sussman (Photo credit: Tess Steinkolk)

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You’re hurting and it’s not going to be easy to recover from the pain of a broken heart, but psychotherapist and author of The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce, Rachel A. Sussman, is here to help. We recently asked this specialist in relationship counselling to give us her best tips for healing the heartbroken.

Q: First off, for our readers who are going through a messy breakup or a nasty divorce, what can they do to feel better now?

A: A full and healthy recovery from a breakup or divorce takes time plus hard work, and healing cannot be rushed. Acknowledging that concept and then agreeing to partake on a journey toward wellness is the first thing you can do. Also, never give up hope.

Q: The Breakup Bible talks about three stages we must go through to get over a breakup or divorce: healing, understanding and transformation. What does true healing look like?

A: The main concept behind healing is that you must settle into your breakup and start taking excellent care of yourself. The model woman in her “healing” stage is obviously still grappling with her breakup and experiencing a roller coaster of emotions (hurt, sadness, anger, embarrassment, self-blame – to name a few!). But she is also trying to get to the gym and eat healthy, she is journaling, building a support system, and not isolating herself. She is in the process of either fully cutting ties with her ex, or if children are involved, learning how to deal with her ex in a mature fashion. But she’s also allocating time to be alone to feel and explore her feelings without running from them.

Q: And why is it actually important for women to understand the reasons for their ended relationship(s)?

A: If you don’t take the time to honestly assess your relationship – the part you played in selecting your ex, your behaviour during the course of your relationship, and your behaviour post-breakup – you are setting yourself up to repeat mistakes over and over again. You have to understand all of those particulars and then take responsibility for your part in the breakup. It’s very hard to admit after a break up that you may have been part of the reason for the relationship’s demise. But once you see this, and make a pledge to change any behaviour that is getting in the way of your having a healthy love connection, the transformation begins. It’s about breaking unhealthy patterns and learning how to be a better person and a better partner.

Q: Transformation is such a dramatic word. Are you suggesting that a breakup actually transforms a woman into a changed person?

A: Yes it can! I see this all the time. Understanding why you picked your ex as your lover, how you behaved during the course of your relationship and how you mourned your breakup, is the lynch pin to a full and healthy recovery. Massive chunks of information will emerge that will allow you to move past your heartache and into new relationships that are better, safer, healthier, connected and extremely fulfilling.

Q: Can you give our readers who want to move forward from a breakup or divorce any further tips on how to feel better? 10 easy tips perhaps?

A: 1. Make peace with the concept that full recovery takes time and cannot be rushed.

2. Validate yourself. You are not alone. Millions of women have gone through difficult breakups and divorces and have fully recovered. In time, you will too.

3. Hold on to hope. If you want to recover, and put in the time to do so, you will.

4. Do not run from your feelings. Take the time to sit with and explore them.

5. Build an excellent support system and use it regularly.

6. Commit to fully cutting ties with your ex if you can. It will accelerate your healing.

7. Do not spy on or inquire about your ex. Delete his phone number, de-friend him on Facebook, take down his photos.

8. Total recovery requires an honest inventory of your relationship and life history. Pledge to acquire a full understanding about why your relationship actually ended. It will help you build a higher “EQ” (emotional intelligence) and allow you to have enhanced relationships in the future.

9. Take accountability. You have to understand the part you played in the breakup (even if miniscule), so you do not repeat any negative patterns in future relationships.

10. Don’t date until you are fully recovered.