The residue of a past broken relationship can linger longer than you may realise. Here’s how to ditch the break-up baggage and move on.
You don’t need me to tell you how difficult it can be to recover from a broken relationship. The loss can be bitterly consuming. The thought of surviving the next hour with sanity still intact can seem hard enough, let alone the next day, week or month.
Which is why, so often, when the first light at the end of the break-up tunnel appears, we race towards it, telling ourselves that we never have to go back to that dark place of rejection again.
And so off we go, convincing ourselves that the worst is behind us, only to discover somewhere down the line that, far from over, we have all the symptoms of a ‘love hangover’. You might have long said goodbye – and quite possibly good riddance – to the ex, but the residual effects of a failed romance stick around like an unwanted reminder of the night (or nightmare break-up) before.
The lingering aftermath
“Although you can end the physical attachment very quickly, the emotional attachment takes longer,” agrees Paula Hall of relationship counselling group Relate. “And if that’s been a difficult relationship, there may be some scars.”
Failing to acknowledge these emotional scars could mean that you make mistakes in future relationship choices. Developing a penchant for remote or unavailable men, deciding to opt out of the romance rat race once and for all or even, notes Hall, finding yourself settling “for Mr Reliable, Mr Boring, who’s not really your type but [who makes you] feel safe,” are all classic indicators of the emotionally hungover.
Tempting as it is when a relationship’s over to patch ourselves up and race back into the fray, only to make a similar (or worse!) mistake again, what’s really needed is for us to make the space and time to truly acknowledge what effect our past relationships have had.
A break-up is a bereavement of sorts and, like any significant loss, there are five recognised stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – that we all have to go through to be ready to move on. But to avoid a love hangover there’s another vital stage – understanding – we need to clear before we can honestly say we’re, if not cured, then at least ready to move on.
By “analysing your motives and understanding what went wrong,” confirms Hall, you will learn to recognise – and in time come to terms with – “what part you played in the break-up and what was down to them.”
It’s only through understanding what really went wrong in our past relationship, what we’re afraid of bringing to our next one and what we would or wouldn’t want to repeat again, that we are finally able to banish a love hangover for good. Consider it an emotional detox. Your future relationships will thank you for it.
The hangover antidote
The way to a cure is to follow these steps:
Look for patterns in your relationship behaviour that might indicate unresolved issues from a previous relationship. Are you always falling for the ‘wrong’ guy? You may be suffering from a love hangover.
Be honest – what went wrong? Don’t beat yourself up or get stuck on who is to blame; use this as an opportunity to come to terms with what happened properly.
By recognising your own strengths and weaknesses you will be better equipped to face future relationship fears. Knowing what you want (or at least what you don’t!) helps teach you to recognise good romantic opportunities from bad.
4. Move on
Be open to new things and be honest with yourself about the decisions you make. It’s never easy to start again; you need to make sure that when you do, it’s for the right reasons and with the right person – even if he’s only Mr Right Now.