Wendy's Blog

What to do when a relationship breaks up

by Wendy Keller, survivor of heartbreak, mother, friend

My daughter, age 20, told me that today she found herself repeatedly thinking of her recently-ended ex-boyfriend.  He’s been (in my opinion) unfathomably childish and dramatic since they broke up, but then again, the kid is only 21.  He seemed like a nice boy until she really got to know him and found out…well…let’s just say he’s now in judge-ordered anger management classes for a situation unrelated to my daughter.

She said, “Mom, how long does it take until you forget about someone, until it doesn’t hurt anymore?”  And I, the Great Sage also known as Mom, said “There’s no way to know.”  I told her the blah-blah about how some people claim it’s half as long as the relationship lasted.  I also told her that it probably depends on the extent of the affection you shared with the other person. She wondered aloud if maybe what she misses most are the plans they made for the rest of their lives, and how those won’t come true now.

This is grief, of course.  The loss of the hoped-for future with a loved one.  The stark realization that what never quite happened now never will be.  It’s sad. It’s tragic.  I wish I could save my baby girl from this pain.  Heck, I wish I could have saved myself from it.  I still carry a torch for a few men I’ve known in the many years since my divorce.

How long does it take?  The real answer: As long as it does.  But there are things we can do to help move the process along a little.  The tips below aren’t a quick fix for healing a broken heart, because there isn’t one. Whether you are facing a divorce, the end of something long term and meaningful, a summer romance or the teenage drama of failed puppy love (like when I was sure I was going to spend the rest of my life with the deejay from the roller rink…) sometimes love ends.

Who chose to leave and who wishes for one more try doesn’t really affect how long the pain can linger.  Who betrayed whom doesn’t either.  Even if your ex-love is putting on an “I’m so happy we’re through” show in public, trotting around with other attractive people, their heart strings are still pulled by thoughts of you – even if they’ll never admit it.  Even if you don’t want someone back, the ties of love don’t just evaporate into thin air. Humans don’t work that way.

Here are four things that will help you inch back toward a healthy, whole, vigorously functional heart:

1. Give yourself time to grieve, to feel, to heal. 

As in, don’t try to use some new person to salve your wounds.  It’s not fair to them and it could lead to a major disaster in your life when one day you wake up and realize your Second One True Love is also not the panacea you’d expected from the first.  And don’t try to use other distractions like drinking, shopping, eating or substance use to skip the pain – it will just come back to bite you in the bum.  You gotta go through it to heal.

2. Let your feelings flow.

You’re a writer?  Journal how you feel.  Or write poems. Or songs.  You’re a talker?  Call a trusted friend who will let you rant about “that jerk!” one day and sob over your loss the next.  You’re a thinker?  Take a whole day next weekend to reflect on what happened, how you contributed (because you did – we all do – even if it was just bad choosing!) and what kinds of traits you might want if you ever dared to love again one day.  Grab a box of tissues and sit and wallow.  You’re entitled!  But let the feelings erupt – angry, sad, glad, thrilled, excited, terrified, lonely, all that stuff.  It will go by pretty quickly if you just stay in the moment and face what’s true for you right this second.  None of it is “Good” or “Bad” – it Just Is.

3. Don’t compare your relationship or your healing process to anyone else’s. 

It’s not the same. You’re not the same person, the situation was different and what happened is similar only on the surface, if at all.

4. Get your act together.

Take time for you.  Put your life back together on every level.  Give yourself permission to be a little bit selfish.  Take good care of your body, mind and spirit.  Let your heart mend, like you would a nasty cut.  Turn yourself into a closer version of your own ideal self.  You’re worth the investment – and you’ll find as you focus on yourself, your heart becomes more buoyant by the day!

These tips aren’t rocket science, and they don’t mean you’ll feel all better and never think about your lost love again.  A broken heart is a “real” disease, and it has to be allowed to heal.  Give yourself time, space and extra nurturing.  One day, someone will catch your eye and you’ll think…hmmm!  What a terrific person!  I’d like to get to know them better….and that person will be yourself!

 

Get my helpful, inexpensive ebook:

“When ‘I do’ becomes ‘I don’t!'”

Healing from Divorce or a Bad Breakup – Just $2.99

 

 
  1. Katina Patterson says:

    A very kind & heartfelt article, thank you for sharing. Unfortunately, for some of us even time cannot heal the wounds and/or reduce the pain of losing someone you love so deeply. I guess that’s when you know it was “true love.” At least it was for “me.” I’ve been grieving for months, yet it never eases. I am, however, learning how to muddle through daily life again, even that was a challenge in the previous months. I embrace all of life’s little blessings. Peace & Love to you too Wendy. 🙂

    • Hi Katina,

      Thanks for writing. I’m not convinced the duration of grief is an indicator of “true love”. I fell in real bona fide love at 14. We were forced apart woefully and wrongly when I was 19 and he was 22. We had plans to marry. We loved one another until I was in my early 40s, despite both of us eventually marrying other people. We speak a few times a year now, and acknowledge we still love one another, but life has taken us to very different destinations. I’m not sure the grief I endured over him for 25+ years means it was “true love” at all. If it were, it would be a “move any obstacle to be together in the future” sort of thing, and neither of us feels that.

      Of course, everyone is different. I hope you feel better a year from now.

      Wendy

    • I have been grieving for months but only at night-I have thoughts during the day but at night the tears flow.It seems like my heart is shattered sometimes I wonder if it’s ever gonna heal. My brain knows it’s the best solution but my heart is shattered the absence and the silence is so hard. I moved away thinking I would stop thinking buy I don’t and the tears fall almost every night.

      • Oh, Margo! I’m so sorry to hear of your sadness. Yes, for many who grieve – a relationship or a death – night is the worst time. I suppose that’s when most of our daily energy allotment has been used up and the ability to resist negative thinking becomes overwhelming. May I gently suggest that for a while, you give yourself a bedtime soothing ritual? For instance, an hour before bedtime, take a hot shower. Light a scented candle. Lie safe in your comfortable bed and read something either positive or something distracting. Let your body drift into a peaceful state of sleepiness. You may find this helps you manage the evenings better. (Don’t forget to blow out the candle!)

        Sending you good wishes for peace and joy again,
        Wendy

        • I am a guy and all I read in this comments, were girl got dumped by guy. But all the comments are really helpful. My girlfriend and I were in relationship for one yr, I am 20 and she is 22. We were from different countries and different backgrounds, different cultures, and different religions, but we fall in love, she was my first lover. We both loved each. some times we did had some arguments I guess this happens in every relationships (Especially if you both live together). We had a lot of good memories and spend a lot of time together. At start I guess nothing matters when you fall in love so we didn’t cared about our backgrounds.

          Before we broke up she was talking to another guy, I told her why you talk to him a lot, actually I couldn’t understand their conversation because they speaking in Chinese. She was trying to keep her phone a way from me so that I don’t use google translate. And I find out that she was meeting the guy in his house and watch TV drama together, she was telling me they go to study together. She was telling me she loved me and I shouldn’t worry about the other guy and I shouldn’t compare him to myself. They were continue seen each other and I was in pain and telling her to stay home. I continuing calling her were she were. I really loved her, and one night she told me she want to break up.

          We broke up, and she moved out 3 weeks later, I couldn’t move out since we had contract for another 3 months. I went through a rough pitch, I agreed that we weren’t happy primary because of our background difference but now I think we could’ve tried harder or we were going through rough pitch as people say. After our breakup I missed her so much and I didn’t want go through another day without her 🙁 I was thinking how will I possibly be happy again. Especially seeing her with the other guy. Most of the time I treated her good, sometimes we had arguments than we were back to normal. I did always run back to her to come back start again I admit that I didn’t treat her good and I will change if she give another chance. For some time during our relationship I also thought that we should break up and that we are not actually happy with each other. That obviously effected her and things got worse at the end. To cut the longer story to short she is no longer in love with me. That hurts more than anything I have ever felt. I am afraid that I have made mistake:( all I can think now is the good times we had together and the strong deep love we had. I just want her back 🙁 logic is telling me that it’s just the phase I need to get through but I don’t know how I will get over her and live without her:( it’s killing me and all in my mind is her wonderful memories and our happiness together.

          • Hello Geelam,

            I am sorry you are feeling sad because your relationship ended. Feelings of sadness when a relationship end are good, because they prompt us to look at the relationship. There may be things you did that you will not do in a future relationship. There may be things she did that you will not tolerate in future relationships. Most of all, it is important to examine what was good about this relationship and your behavior in it, and what you do not want again. This is how we learn. You may find as time passes that you do not want her back, and instead feel ready to move on to find a woman who loves you as much as you love her. I wish you much happiness and true love in the future. — Wendy

  2. Generally, sometimes it is very important to distinguish between broken heart and broken ego. I mean it is not the same.Broken heart is usually easily to heal, but broken ego…Sometimes it takes all life long without good results.Everyone of us has another “level” of pride and the more is higger, the more is difficult to live with an idea, the other one can live and exist without me..

    • Nataly,

      I’d love to understand your point better. I believe I see your point, that it is sometimes an affront to someone’s ego that someone else doesn’t love them anymore, but are you saying that the insult to the ego is the harder to bear? That’s an interesting perspective.

      I see many people who are in relationships that seem to be more about their ego than about their hearts. I’d love to understand more fully what you mean, please?

      Wendy

  3. I thought I was the one! says:

    Nataly, i find it very interesting what you said about the heart and the ego. I recently broke up with a young man that i have thought was everything. I messed around a little in high school and reconnected 20 years later. He was coming out of a 5 year relationship and throughout ours, it was evident that he was still in love with his ex. I feel so much pain daily because I believe that he is now with her again. I’ve often wondered if my pain is from love or ego.

  4. Broken hearted says:

    This is great, thank you for this, you’re right it isn’t rocket science but it hurts and it’s hard. I just got broken up with by text by the guy who I thought was my “one in 6 billion” I still don’t know the reason because he is too much of a coward to face me. It has been 4 weeks and the constant chest pain has eased but I’m still questioning what happened. The worst bit is I’m left with tickets for our overseas trip and now I’m going alone, no name changes on tickets before someone says take a friend! Heart break hurts it is painful and actually feels like you’re having your heart ripped out.. I still believe “pain is inevitable and suffering is optional” though… I would love to lie in bed forever til the pain goes away but I get up, show up, keep busy nd do my thing. At the back of my mind I am always thinking ” what if he comes back to me” I know I’m not over him. Some days I am angry and others I cry but like you said above, the hardest bit for me is knowing that what I wanted to happen, that never happened will now never be…. I don’t think there’s a way to mend a broken heart, I think it is just time and trying to remember who you were before you met the person or who you want to become. Keep your mind strong and learn from it. It is hard but you have to feel the pain, you have to cry and b miserable but no matter what you can’t let it destroy you. You lived without the person once and you will do it again…

    • Hi “Hearted”,

      It really bugs me when grown ups break up with other people by text message!!! It’s my personal opinion that if you’ve gone on more than 3 dates and/or done more than a peck and some hand-holding that the other person deserves at very least a phone call!!!! Grrr!!! I’m sorry for the way this weakling handled this – it’s not right and it irks me.

      I hope the trip overseas distracts you adequately, whether or not you find someone at the last minute who can go with you. I’m sure you’ll heal in time, but it sounds like it’s really hard right now. Let yourself feel what you’re really feeling, because that will let it pass through you faster than trying to resist it, OK?

      Much love,
      Wendy

      • Agree with you completely.

        I was with someone for 8 and a half years (married for 4 of them). I went to work as usual and in the evening I came home to find all her stuff had gone and she didn’t come home. Got a text message later to say the marriage was over and no contact. I tried hard to keep the no contact (even getting paper and putting it on the floor to recognise the days of no contact) but every 14/15 days would break it ( with a phone call where she would emphasise no contact). It wasn’t until many months later that I found out that she had broken off the marriage for another guy (she moved in with him immediately).

        This happened at the beginning of 2012 and it even hurts now. Some days are better than others but I still have no real explanation as to why she left. She talked to a few of her friends to say “It wasn’t working” etc but sadly she kept the truth from me and acted as if everything was great. How you leave a relationship can cause a lot of unnecessary damage to the other person.

        • Oh Thomas! The heart is a funny thing, isn’t it? You’re right to give yourself time. And for this kind of matter, I believe that moving on with your life after a reasonable amount of time is probably wise, too. Did you learn anything? Can you think of any ways you’d like to be different in your next relationship? Do you have any different requirements in your next partner?

          As best as you can, please do try to see the opportunity to find a loyal, loving partner. I wish you much success!

          Wendy

          • Thanks Wendy for your kind words.

            Yes, I did learn a great deal. Initially started to read everything I could that could help in this area and started to realise that I had got together with my ex for all the wrong reasons. It was clear from the start that she was prone to extreme behaviour but I ignored it thinking that she would never do anything bad to me. How wrong was I. If someone is capable of doing bad stuff to others then they are more than capable of doing bad stuff to you too.

            I learned an awful lot about emotional management, meditation etc which has helped a lot particularly in the last year or so. The unanswered questions have made it so much harder though. I never had that last conversation (which most likely would have been full of lies anyway). Still, we learn much more from our failures than our successes.

  5. Hi, I’ve founds Wendy’s website extremely helpful to me at a time of great sadness.

    I separated from my husband of 15 years, 11 months ago! and i think of him still everyday. Its seems no matter how busy I am or surrounded by friends and family I always have an underlying sadness – i guess this is grief! grief for the loss of my marriage and the dreams we shared and constantly talked about the small business we set up and the house we loving restored.

    Sadly he had always suffered with depression but i had always managed to get him out of it – but this time a few years ago he was worse than ever. He constantly put myself and our small daughter down, one day I snapped and could take no more of his barrage at me and asked him to leave which he did.
    It was the hardest decision i had to ever make in my life, but i realized that i deserved to be treated with respect and so did our daughter (6 yrs old). He now lives alone and is sad. But will do nothing to help himself get better!!! He has to take responsibility for himself and his own happiness.
    I too wonder how long i’ll be said over the loss of my marriage and when i’ll stop hoping that he will get help with his depression, but i take each day as it comes and live in the now and enjoy my daughter and my friends and family.

    I hope my story will help others too.x

    • Dear Rachel,

      Your story really touches me. I’m so sorry that your relationship has ended. After 15 years, you will likely always feel a twinge of pain and perhaps a twinge of wonder if you did the right thing…likely for the rest of your life. But as you move forward, taking care of your daughter and your self (emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically, mentally) I am quite certain you will increase in confidence, joy, peace and happiness. You said it yourself that he needs to take responsibility for his own emotional state (don’t we all!) and…so do you. You can continue to allow good to come into your life and your child’s now that you’ve made this big decision. Thanks again for sharing.

      Wishing you love, peace and joy from here forward,
      Wendy

  6. Thank you for that inspiring article. Somewhat, it made me realize something about myself. :)I’m sure there are still a lot to be inspired by your article. more power. 🙂

  7. Hi Wendy,

    I’m a very socially isolated person. I moved to a new city a few years ago for work (very far from home) and have been going from one relationship to the next. I very much loved this latest person but I knew I was only staying because I was/am afraid to be alone. I feel destined to be depressed; my entire immediate family is (and past generations). I feel myself withdrawing from my family in order to protect my dream to be happy and at peace wih myself. This makes me feel rootless, without direction and alone. I just don’t understand what it is to be happy. How can I change my mindset when I am feeling so wounded, so abandoned, so alone?

  8. It is so good to find other women who are also struggling to recover from a painful experience such as “a broken heart”.
    I am also trying to find a motive to wake up every day accepting that the so called “love of my life” doesn’t have what it takes to make the decision to live our love of many years. We were deeply in love in our youth and for reason that at that time were valid we got separated. We each got married but don’t have a succesful marriage. We had an encounter last year and both accepted we are still in love with each other and started making some plans together. All of the sudden adn with no explanation of any type he stopped all comunication between us for a whole year.This trigger a deep depression and some anxiety attacks. As part of my healing process I decided to contact him again and when I asked him “what happened?” he gave no substantial reason but until now he continues to talk to me with loving words. I am very confused and don’t know how to untangle this mess in my heart and in my mind.
    However, reading all the comments in this blog I am starting to feel hopeful that one day I will get over it and I will finally be able to be happy to wake up everyday and have a reason for it!! Thank you all for sharing your thoughts!!

  9. It’s been three months since my boyfriend broke up with me. I think the hardest thing for me has been trying to recuperate my self-esteem. The night he ended things he also said a list of all the things he thought were wrong with me. I’ve gone through so many phases since the breakup. From missing him to being mad at him. Trying to figure out if all the things he said were true. I know I shouldn’t over analyze the situation, but it almost seems inevitable. Reading all the comments here has made me feel a bit better. Knowing that I’m not the only one feeling this pain gives me hope that one day I will wake up and look at this situation as a life learning experience.

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      I’m glad you’re starting to realize there’s light at the end of the tunnel! When I would dump people when I was younger, I’d spend time telling them what was wrong with them, because I thought, “Well, if they fix these intolerable problems, perhaps they’ll find love next time, so I’m doing them a favor.” Boy, was I surprised to find out that traits I thought were intolerable, the next woman sometimes found adorable! I’m pretty sure that’s a good lesson for everyone – even your ex boyfriend – to learn.

      Take everything he said and reflect on it, but not “Could it be true?” Reflect on it in “Have I heard this consistently?” If a whole lot of people tell you the same thing, then you can choose or not choose to defer to “public opinion”. But if it’s just one guy, his opinion is statistically worthless.

      The most important part of a healthy loving relationship is loving yourself. Sounds like you’re on the way!

      May your life overflow with joy, peace and love,
      Wendy

  10. I am 16 and just went through a terrible breakup. I know I sound too young but I fell in love deeply, so much I am willing to forget everything that went wrong with this person and just give it another try. He was in love with me, but then some months ago (before the breakup) he started flirting with some girls and always blaming me for ruining the relationship. I “ruined it” because I took a transcendental decision for myself and it affected the amount of time we would be able to see each other. The breakup was very tough on me and yesterday i gave in and called him saying that I missed him, but didn’t get a positive response at all. A friend of ours later confirmed this “other girls thing” and so I got really mad and decided to call him and tell him that I knew everything and didn’t want to have anything to do with him. I hung up, erased him in every sort of social media I possibly could, and burned some letters and pictures. I feel terrible because I know he doesn’t care at all and he is trying to star dating this other girl now. I’m seriously dying here and this awful feeling doesn’t seem to end. Please help me?

    Thank you Wendy

    • Hi Michelle,

      Firstly, I don’t believe 16 is too young to fall in “real love”. At other times in history, people were married and women were mothers by your age! That’s just silliness – you know what you feel. When someone you love doesn’t love you back, it always hurts. I’m so sorry you’re hurting, Michelle!

      As teenagers, few males are ready to settle into a long term relationship. Playing the field is fairly common. This particular guy may grow out of it in a few years or a dozen; he may not and become a bad husband for someone one day; he may grow out of that stage tomorrow. One cannot know. But that’s not really what this is about, is it? It’s about you and your feelings.

      Michelle, please don’t think this says anything about you as a young woman. It doesn’t. It’s nature. And don’t take him blaming you for ending it or ruining it anything more than the guilt a guy feels when he knows he’s doing something he might regret. It’s probably fairly common for any female to call and threaten, give him a piece of your mind, tell him he’s hurt you, burn up stuff, destroy his contact information, unfriend him, all that stuff. But you are wise to recognize he doesn’t really care, and that your behavior – to him – just reaffirms him moving on. Rather than let it make you feel worse that he doesn’t care, take a deep breath and realize that it isn’t logical for you to want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you, and who cannot be kind to you the way you need. Please, choose better next time – and let the next guy prove to you how much he cares by treating you with respect and kindness.

      Take a deep breath. This will pass.

      Wendy

  11. My ex and I ended our relationship alittle over two months ago and I have started to feel alittle better. I have gone through several different stages and I have now started to rebuild me ego and self esteem and it does take time but eventually you will feel better. Our relationship lasted over 5yrs and it was sort of a mutual decision yet it still stung as if I had been the one dumped. I wish everyone luck and hope for the best.

  12. Everyones comments and the article has been very helpful! Unfortunately I don’t have enough time behind me to feel better as it’s been 2 days since he told me it was over. I am 20 and he once year older than me. He suffered from depression as well and its always been tough. But there was no doubt we were madly inlove. On one hand he treated me like gold but when his mood was bad it was BAD and he would say and do the worst things that I felt I really didn’t deserve! ! Our 1 year anniversary was coming up now. We had broken up before and I moved out and I remember myself being really strong and positive. He did always come running back and it was easy for me to make him grovel and work for it. Anyway we had actually been what I thought very happy since and started going though some troubles and he started treating me terribly again. For a while now I had been constantly thinking we should break up and that im not actually happy.and that there is better out there for me and that I deserve better and alot of ppl agreed. That energy obviously affected him as well and things got worse. To cut a long story short he’s not calling or worried wher I am or if I’m eating or still coming over like he always still would before when we had serious problems. It has now been confirmed by him that he definitely does not want me back and doesn’t belive in our future together any more. This hurts more than anything IV ever felt before and am now afraid IV made a mistake 🙁 all I can think about now is the good times and the strong obvious love we had. I don’t have the ability to be strong like before and think of positive thoughts I miss him so much and also feel like u could put all the terribly disgusting things behind me just to have him back 🙁 logic is trying to tell me that this is just a phase and I had thought those things for a reason but I don’t see how I cud ever get over him. I had just moved to a new city for a new adventure far away from home and met him shortly after so now my hole life revolved around him and now I have no one and nothing. The thought of finding my own place and life used to be exciting but now just seems cold dark and empty now that realisation is setting in that he isn’t coming back this time. 🙁 he really did so much good for me but also so much bad I feel like he has somewhat broken me down as a person a lot. But I am so heart broken and was subconsciously convinced he would always be around:( I’m now left with this deep anxiety and sadness and fear of complete Regret. What if I don’t find anyone who treats me this well again and why am I all of a sudden forgetting the anger and compete pain I was in just a week ago because of him. It’s killing me that the only things running through my mind is all his wonderful ness and our happiness i know we both agree we were not happy but now I feel we could have tried harder or were going through a rough patch as ppl would say and now it’s too late and he keeps saying I did this which might be right 🙁 I hope it’s not too late for a reply I really need help and have never been so lost before I miss him so much I don’t even want to go through another day without him 🙁 how will I get thru this or ever possibly be happy again especially so far away from what used to be home and my good job is tying me down to stay in his area 🙁 I don’t know what to do 🙁

    • Chiara,

      I’m sorry for the sadness you are experiencing presently! The loss of a love really hurts, all of us know that. Believe it or not, you really WILL be happy again. Think of pets you have had in your life, if you’ve had them. If one got lost or died, you probably really grieved it. In time, perhaps you bonded with another pet. It wasn’t the same. You may not have loved it “as much” as the one that was gone. But you did love it, and your life did go on with the new. Humans are amazingly adaptable, and you are too. I promise it will subside in time.

      Wishing you much peace, love anew and joy,
      Wendy

  13. My wife of 25 years suffered chronic depression. I stood by her that whole time. When I became depressed, she went to a therapist and then immediately to an aggressive lawyer. She planned to take the house and kids. That was almost 4 years ago. She never explained herself and said that she doesn’t have to.

    Although we have joint custody of our 2 children we do not “co-parent” and have next to no real communication.
    I have been grieving since she left. I still re-live a lot of the pain every day. I am still depressed. I don’t want the relationship back as I would have to be crazy to want to be with someone who went out of her way to hurt me.

    I now have a girlfriend who loves me dearly. While she is wonderful and I love her I am too scared to just let myself go. I almost have feelings of guilt, as if I am cheating. Really though, I think that I am emotionally cheating on my girlfriend. This makes me very sad.

    At least now I can cook and eat if I remember to. I only cry once or twice a week and I can work most days. It’s nowhere near as bad as it was 4 years ago, but I don’t think that I’m even half way back to alright yet.

    The loss of what we hope for
    The broken heart
    The smashed ego

    The trips to the lawyer
    The good and bad advice
    The wondering “Why?” with no explanation

    These are the realities we have to we have to somehow get over in order to get over our broken relationships.
    I still just haven’t figured out how.

    • Hi Miguel,

      Thank you for sharing what you did. It’s a common enough experience for people going through divorce to feel like you do. The realities truly are onerous, and although I firmly believe “time” heals nothing, I do believe that over time, you will find yourself noticing coping strategies – things that work for you. Pay attention to when you feel good, or even just OK, and start to do more of that on a daily basis.

      If you can swing it, it would probably help to talk to a male therapist for a month or two.

      If you think that your girlfriend loves you but you feel like you’re “cheating” emotionally, then probably you need to take a pause in that relationship until you can heal from your old relationship – for her sake and for yours. I’ve seen SO many couples leap right into the first comforting thing that comes along and then suffer greatly further down the road. Just my two cents, but you’re not being fair to her or yourself, the way you describe it. We can’t order our hearts around with our heads.

      It took me a long time to co-parent with my former husband. Our daughter was 14 before it happened, and even then only because his second wife also left him (citing the same reasons I had) and he finally started to mature a little. It may be some time before your former wife gets the hint that co-parenting is better for the kids. The best thing you can do? Strengthen yourself emotionally, mentally, and so on. (For instance, personal therapy.)

      It’s a long, hard journey but I believe that you will be a stronger, more compassionate, wiser man once you’ve gone through it. You’ll see – things will get better. I can promise you that! No matter how bleak it seems right now, life is like a ball – it just keeps rolling. There is no “top” on a ball.

      I wish you peace, Miguel.

      Wendy

  14. I re-connected with a dear friend of mine from high school..its been 27 years…our love was powerful…we were so happy..I always was very careful of the decisions in my life, as I had children to also consider. My family adored Bryan. They were so happy they we -reconnected again, after being in high school. After a year of dating, he asked me to move in with him. With long discussions, we knew that we wanted this to be “forever”…I didnt answer right away, cause i wanted the Blessings from my children, who range from 22, 19 & 11..My oldest boys are in college..but the youngest I wanted to make sure his feelings came first. Everyone was thrilled and so we moved in…Exciting times, we became a family…Many dreams and promises were made…Then he cheated on me..(which he denied, but i had more proof that i needed )I was devasted…my dreams were no longer there…I left..after many talks, i went back to him…to make a long story short…After the second time i found he was meeting/talking to her again .Not only that, but i found out he has a secret life..I call it a secret as not too many people know…At the beginning, he told me he was married with one daughter(17)..but in fact, he was married at 19 and had a daughter from that marriage, who is now 26..The 17yrs old, doesnt even know all this and i feel really bad for her, that she doesnt know she has a half sister.Its been one lie after another..When all this became too much for me to deal with. i put a plan in place…After finding out he was planning a trip with his 17 yrs old, i planned to move out the same week…so when he came home, i wasnt there anymore. ( I did tell him a month earlier that i was moving out but i dont think he believed it) I had a whole week to move out..i felt horrible that i was leaving a man that i loved so much but knew it was the right thing to do, for myself and my11 yrs old, he was very unhappy and could feel the tension…To make a loong story shorter..Its been 8 months now, i am doing well on my own..I have found me again..but i struggle everyday of what i went through..I was just a girl who followed her heart, but in reality, his heart was with someone else…5 months after i moved out, my sweet dad passed away (sept 2013) My soul has been tortoured..I dont let people see me cry..Im grieveing for two men that i loved so much…Im scared to go to sleep at night cause every night i have dreams of my ex…From what i understand, he has moved on..and i guess, his actions have really shown the true man that he really was (he played the victim and made me look bad, for him coming home to where i was gone)..how do i cope??? when will the pain stop??

    • Hi Lynn,

      I’m not a therapist, so my advice is only as qualified as any of your other girlfriends. (Except maybe that I answer a lot more of these kinds of questions and am fairly well-read on the newest psychology literature…) So take it for what it’s worth, Lynn.

      First, condolences on your dad. That’s got to be super difficult to deal with! That grief will eventually soften, as you think of more happy memories and fewer sad ones. Time does NOT heal anything, but it does give us better coping strategies.

      As for the other matter: Honey, you don’t want a guy who lies and cheats. He’s lied to his own DAUGHTER and you’re grieving him? No. You’re too smart to grieve this schmuck. What you’re grieving are your “we were a family” dreams. The story you made up about how Fairy Tale it is/was to have gotten back your old love and found each other after so much time, blah, blah, blah. You’re grieving what DIDN’T happen, not this guy. This guy, well, he sounds like he’s bad news. Or at least, extremely immature and insecure. You, I’m worried about.

      Here’s why: when we tell ourselves fairy tales, we’re setting ourselves up for them to NOT end up with the Princess on the back of the Prince’s horse, hair flowing as they gallop off to his castle. We’re grown ups now. Fairy tales are questionable, even for little girls.

      Take a look at what you wrote. You don’t want that guy. You want a happy, stable, loving, solid relationship in which to raise your youngest and feel content yourself. If you get some wild coyote pups, they’re probably pretty cute in the first weeks. But after a while, they show their true character and bite your fingers off. You picked poorly. Doesn’t mean you’re bad. Doesn’t mean he’s even bad. It just means this: you picked a “wild dog” not a domesticated one. Pick better next time, and you’ll get different results.

      At our age as grown women, the men we date come from the equivalent of the animal shelter – they’re all rescues. SO ARE WE. Pick the best one you can. Skip the fairy tale. Look for character and kindness and courtesy and honesty. You’ll get a whole different result.

      Best wishes, Lynn. Write me when you find him!

      Wendy

  15. I found out that my boyfriend of 7 months was lying to me the whole time and was secretly having internet and texting “flings” I guess behind my back. The day I found out I felt my heart stop in my chest and I feel like it hasn’t started beating again and it’s been over a week now. I know that it is going to take more time…but I cry every day. I have no control over my emotions. I ended things with him the moment I found out about what he was doing and it was not the first time this has happened. I’m at this point where I just want him back in my life again but I know that I will never be able to trust him again. How do I get through this? loving someone so much just to find out that they are taking advantage of you is probably one of the worst things I have ever experienced. I can’t go back because I would be setting myself up to be treated poorly again. I just want the pain to stop. But I can’t imagine my life with anyone else.

    • Hi Casey,

      Well, I agree with your comment “I can’t go back because I would be setting myself up to be treated poorly again.” You’re a wise woman for recognizing that – many women who find themselves miserable time and time again tolerate bad behaviour from one man…or many sequentially. I can assure you of this: in time, you will feel more emotional equilibrium. No one knows how long it will take. Some estimate 1/3 – 1/2 the length of the relationship, but that’s not been my experience nor my observation. I’d guess you’ll feel less blue as the days go by, and a few weeks from now, you’ll still feel a pang when you think of him, but you’ll “have your sea legs” and feel a lot more stable.

      Sending you an ENORMOUS hug! Cheers for you at leaving when you found out – you did the right thing and your relationship life will be better from here forward because of your courage.

      Wendy

  16. Hi,I’m 27 yrs old and the father of my son just stop communicating with me,we were just doing fine we were so inlove or I’m the only one who’s inlove with him.The day I found out he’s been sleeping over at his ex girlfriend house I thought the world slapped me.i couldn’t walk I couldn’t talk or eat ,I couldn’t breathe.after 6yrs thinking that he was mine turned out as a delusion.i cry every single day and I don’t know how long I have to b like this.i wanted to put my self back together but it feels like there’s no way to make it.

    • Hi Cindie,

      Oh! I’m so sorry to hear your misfortune with your son’s father! I can sure understand how you’d be hurt because he was at his ex-girlfriend’s house. I know you know in your mind somewhere that plenty of people have been in your sad situation before and survived it, even gone on to find other people they love – and who treat them better. Sounds like this man isn’t the right one for you and although it’s painful, I’m glad you are showing your son how women don’t put up with that kind of bad behavior. You’re being a good mom! The pain will subside, and your heart will make healthier choices in the future.

      Sending you a big hug and my best wishes.

      Wendy

  17. Iam a 40 year old man and abt 2 weeks ago my wife of 10 yrs just decided she had enough and left me and iam really devastated,and the hardest thing is I was loyal to her and never laid a hand on her which makes it harder on me because I didnt do anything wrong, I miss her, i have lost weight due to not eating, I cant sleep,iam in alot of pain I met her wen she was 17 and we got married wen she was 18 so she is 14 yrs younger then me, I need some advice

    • Hi Brendan,

      What a sad story! I’m so sorry for your pain. 18 is very young to make a decision about who you will be for the rest of your life, and who you will be happy with. I was 19 when I wed, proudly telling me mother “I’m an adult now, I’m done changing.” I’m sure your pain is terrible, and it must make it worse because you apparently really tried to be a good husband. I send you a big, warm hug and hope that in time, you will come to find love again, and joy, and peace.

      Wendy

  18. Im 53 Australian and for most of my adult life was a career for my disabled dad ,after he passed i traveled to Scotland and met the most wonderful woman and fell in love,got engaged in 2011 and had planned to move to Scotland the following year only to find out the British gov had introduced new laws requiring us to have 25000 pounds in savings so there is no way we could save that much so after 2014 trip over to spend 3 wonderful months with her ,2 days after arriving home she lets me know although she still loves me she sees no future and now im completely distraught and like the previous person cant sleep or eat and constantly thinking about ending it..i really need help as she was the first woman i have ever been in love with

    • Hello Richard,

      Oh, that sounds like a very sad outcome! I’m sorry your relationship didn’t work out. As hard as it is to see now, one day you may think that this is for the best, because you may meet someone you love more than you could have ever dreamed possible.

      I know that doesn’t assuage your pain right now, yet I’ve always found that hoping for the best is a good strategy, especially in les affaires de coeur. Sending you a big hug! You will get through this sad time!

      Wendy

  19. You thing I’d be a pro about this breaking up thing by now… after being married twice (8 years and 13 years), one would think that I’d have my post-breakup game together… but in these immediate days after my most recent (3.5 years) relationship ended, I’ve realized something about myself. Before now, I’ve never stayed with my pain. I have always taken the less painful way out and immersed myself in almost-immediate online dating or life-avoidance tactics like getting involved in online gaming communities.

    This time, I’m in counseling… and was before the relationship ended… so I’v finally got help in living through it rather than diving away from my pain at the earliest chance.

    I am only about 3 weeks post-breakup now – and with Christmas next week and all these future plans we’d shared shriveling up before my eyes, my heart is just on fire every day. In the hardest part of these days, it takes all I have not to go into avoidance mode again. Instead, I’m finding small distractions, trying to remember who I was a million years ago when I was last truly alone.

    I guess I just want to reach out to anyone else who is suffering right now – and vicariously believe that you are also reaching out to me – in a shared knowledge that these are the hardest days. I have to believe that they will get easier as time passes.

    Apparently, you *can* teach an old dog some new tricks.

    • Keane,

      What a lovely, evocative comment you made! Thank you so much! I admire your commitment to yourself – to face it instead of diving into the pain. That’s a GREAT sign that you’re healing in a deep, restorative way and will make healthier choices in the future.

      Thank you sincerely for sharing with us. Many good wishes to you for the weeks of the holiday and the years ahead. May you love and be loved resoundingly well.

      Wendy

  20. 8 months ago my partner of nearly 5 years left me for somebody 13 years younger than me.
    I was previously in an abusive marriage. In this relationship I opened up and he promised he’d never hurt me and would always look after me. I loved him with all my heart and took on his three children. He always said we were soulmates and best friends too.
    I finally was happy for once in my life and was looking forward to our future together. Little did I know after just a few weeks chatting to a young girl on the internet he’d drop me straight away.
    He let her send me nasty hurtful messages and made the break up so spiteful and nasty.
    The pain gets better and I think I’m getting myself together again but then I feel low and what we had is constantly on my mind and the grieving starts all over again.
    I wish I could be in his mind to know if he really could just walk away and losing what we had not mean a thing to him or if he is still thinking of me and regrets what happened.
    I still feel after 8 months I cannot imagine being with anybody else or how I could trust somebody again.
    The more you give and love somebody the harder the fall and slap in the face they give you in return,

    • Hello Ange,

      Wow, that’s a REALLY tough story! It sounds awful – like you were treated badly. The obvious elements to me, as a stranger who knows only one side of the story, are that this guy was a piece of dirt. He dumped his 3 kids on you; lied to you; had so little character and nobility that he dumped you after just a few weeks, despite previous promises; and he allowed the new woman in his life to treat you poorly. Frankly, he sounds shockingly immature, self-centered and a bit imbalanced. Naturally, my assumption is that you’re far, far better off without him.

      THAT however – even if you can see it – is not going to heal your heart nor convince you that men are good and can treat you right. This guy failed to act like a mature, rational, responsible man. You’re left reeling 8 months later. There’s nothing we can do to help him mature. Life will (or maybe won’t) take care of that for him. But we CAN focus on you. First thing I’d say? That you need to look at this as a lucky break. Suppose you’d married this bozo – then where would you be now? Second, nobody said you have to be over the deception you’ve endured in any specific length of time. There is no need for you to trust anybody again or date anybody again, until you’re ready. Because the person you cannot trust appears to be yourself. My best recommendation is that you take some time to calmly move through the healing process, ideally with the support of a therapist or qualified cleryperson. You have chosen unstable, unhealthy, dangerous men (physically and emotionally) at least twice now. I think you would benefit from finding out why you do so and making the changes in your heart so you can attract love – healthy love – someday in the future.

      Wishing you peace, love and joy,
      Wendy

  21. I might need your help. Long story short I was saw a man for about 5 months. The first 3 were intense. What started off as mutual attraction and curiosity became full fledged love. Then life intervened – his work schedule became overwhelming and his ex started getting on his case (they have kids together). So our relationship began to fray. He started flaking for the first time and eventually we stopped contacting one another. After 6 weeks of no contact, he suddenly showed up for a brief visit and it was like no time passed btwn us. No one was over anyone. But his life was still chaotic. We texted briefly a week later, joking and flirting. Said good night and kisses and I never heard from him again. This was 9/11.

    The mere thought of him makes me well up in tears. When I say we fell, we did – really hard. We spoke of traveling together, him meeting my family overseas, kids, you name it. We spoke of the future.

    I don’t know what to do. I’m currently burying myself in work. I’m purposely overworking myself. I can’t imagine dating and temporarily took myself off the market. I’ve never reacted to a break up this hard before..

    And you know what’s ironic? We have the same birthdays. Different years but the same month and day. It’s coming up and I’m dreading it like the plague.

    Memories of him haunt me less now. But I’m not ready to move on. This man made me glow. And I never glow.

    • Hi Ann,

      Thank you for sharing. It’s shocking to me how many whirlwind romances happen and fade away relatively quickly. A lot of psychologists write about making it past the “magic 90 days mark.” Sounds like you two were victims of that syndrome. I’m so sorry – I know it hurts. In time, it will lessen, although that’s no comfort now. Sending you love…and happy birthday wishes.

      Wendy

  22. Thank you for your article; it is very helpful to know I’m not alone. I recently broke up with someone after about five months of dating. We started out okay, but he always seemed a little ambivalent. When I would bring things up to him, he said he didn’t want our relationship to end, but that he didn’t feel very passionately about me, and it worried him. I’m not sure if his ambivalence could have been overcome but me discussing it made it a matter that was forefront in his mind, or if it just wasn’t going to work out regardless. Either way, I really fell for him, and I’m struggling with the things that I wanted with him, that I know will never be. Maybe I became too attached too quickly? It is hard on both the ego and the heart to really care for someone and have him tell you, essentially, “You’re great, but I’d rather risk being on my own because I think there is someone better out there.” I’m trying to move on – it has been about six weeks – but I fall apart when I’m alone and think of him with someone else, or wish we were spending this time together. I’m supposed to go on a few dates in the coming weeks, but I just feel exhausted at the idea of trying again, and right now, I don’t want anyone else. I’m very lethargic, and I spend a lot of my time reading, thinking, and just trying to stop the hurt. I know eventually I’ll feel better, but if you have any ideas on how to speed this along, and any thoughts about dating again, I could sure use some guidance.

    • Hi Arlene,

      First and foremost, I’m sorry you are hurting. Underneath your message, I see the signs that you’ll get through this and find a real love, with someone who wants to be with you as much as you do with him. For now, it sounds like you’re doing great things to self-nuture. May I suggest you add time to write a letter about how you feel – to yourself? You may want to do this daily, but slowly, you’ll start to see yourself progressing. Sometimes, when we lose a love interest, it is because of the fantasies we created about them, not really about that specific person.

      You may also find it helpful to NOT start dating – there’s no rule, no sand rushing out of your hourglass. You don’t need to hurry. And in fact, until you let your heart heal a little and settle into some realizations about what went wrong with that guy, you aren’t really ready to start something new yet. Ask yourself “What did I learn from this?” and “What character traits should I be careful to avoid in the future?” The fact that you both know he was ambivalent is a HUGE flashing warning sign. Pay attention to what men say – they are usually more candid than we are as females.

      I wish you much love – when the time is right for you
      Wendy

  23. Joanna Franklin says:

    This article is very interesting and comforting. I have been developing a friendship with a lovely man at my workplace. I worked in a hospital library and this man is one of the doctors at the hospital. He started talking to me and really seemed to like me as he would head straight for me when he wanted anything and if he saw me unexpectedly his face would light up with the most beautiful smile. I was rather uncomfortable about it, as I have never had someone like that take any notice of me before and I am quite a bit older than him so all he would get in return was a mumbled hello. However he kept coming in and chatting to me and over time we developed a nice little friendship and I think a mutual soft spot! This went on for 3 years! Then in July he dropped his bombshell. We were having one of our little chats and he announced that he would be going to another part of the country to do a degree course for a year. I don’t know what my face did, but my insides went cold. I said I would miss him as he was my friend and he said he would be coming back when his course was finished. So we parted amicably on the surface at least. However I realised that I had fallen for him completely and thought to myself that I couldn’t handle the situation any longer. As well as this situation with the doctor, our family has suffered several bereavements and Dad has recently has a stroke and now has dementia. So we had had to come to the hospital to see dying relatives, collect death certificates and regularly go to the Emergency Department when Dad was admitted with a nasty turn. It all got very weird for me to go to work at the hospital and I was becoming very ill with stress. So two months ago I had to leave before I ended up in the hospital as a patient myself. I contacted my doctor friend to tell him that I had left, as I didn’t want him to go to the library and have someone else tell him I no longer worked there. I didn’t think that would be fair. He said he understood as he knew what had been going on with the family and our contact ended with us wishing each other good luck for the future. That was 3 weeks ago. My problem is that I have been horribly unhappy since leaving the hospital. I’m not sorry to have left the job, as things had been rather weird for some time for one reason and another. But I miss my doctor. It breaks my heart to think that I will never see him again and I cry about it every day. I am surprised at how devastating an effect it has had on me. I just wonder how long I will feel like this.

    • Hello JoJo,

      What a lot of suffering you’ve been through! That’s a lot to handle. It sounds to me like a classic case of burnout, a topic I actually speak about at hospitals as part of doctors’ continuing education programs. If you’re interested in participating in my next FREE webinar on overcoming burnout, please do write me through the Contact Us form on this site and I’ll make certain you get put on the invitation list.

      Meanwhile, please be gentle with yourself. You’re going through a big transition.

      Much love and good wishes,
      Wendy

  24. Hello Wendy,
    I am in my sixties and have just received a cancer diagnosis.
    Whilst at another clinic l met , by chance, someone I had long loved but not seen for 15 years.
    I was overwhelmed with joy but also such sadness because my friend had clearly moved on, with a busy life and family. I am single and alone and unbearably sad. And I so miss her.
    How do I find relief?
    Aaron.

    • Hello Aaron,

      I see you sent this message a while ago. I am just seeing it now. I hope you are in remission now and feeling stronger – physically and emotionally. I observe that when we are in a low mood, or in a scary place in our lives, it is human nature to reach out for anything that might offer even a bit of comfort. The fact you bumped into someone you loved is, to me, an indication of two things: First, that you are capable of love. You were then, you are now, and you will be for the rest of your life. And second, because that person’s life has gone on to flourish, it is proof to you that you have the ability to do the same. I suspect this all comes down to hope. We have the ability to change, to open our hearts, to release past sorrows, to slough off our hardened shells, and to be warm and compassionate toward others. If you dedicated yourself toward being as loving and kind as possible to every person you meet from this moment forward, you might find the world changing in your favor, and that the world is full of delightful, loving people of both genders. xoxox

      Wishing you health and love, Wendy

  25. My husband left me to be with another woman. and wanted him back. i was jealous and it made us argue all the time until he vanished away, I was desperate to get him back, I wasted so much time and money on getting my lover back after I have tried almost all possibilities to have him back and nothing worked. I became lonely for 2 years. To make it short, I found a spell caster Mr Robinson buckler by accident. I don’t know how I found him and i cant remember. But, when I first saw the good testimonies about his wonderful work and after reading the Testimonials, I decided I had to try and give it one last shot. After the spells, a miracle happened, my husband came home. it was awesome, anyone who needs help, should email robinson. [email protected] com He is the best. whoever need a spell caster that will work for you and bring back your lover should contact Robinson buckler. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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