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When a relationship ends

Tags: splitting ip, grief
Content Types: Moving Forward
Categories: Separating

When a relationship ends, it’s normal for you to go through a range of emotions as you come to terms with the fact that you are no longer part of a couple.

Whether you feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, anxious or relieved, there’s no right or wrong way to feel in this situation.

Many people experience a sense of loss and disappointment, and can find it difficult to face a future that looks so uncertain.

Even if you were the one who instigated the break-up, you may still have a sense of fear over what the future will hold, and how the split will affect your child. You may even begin to wonder whether you’ve made the right decision and consider returning to your partner.

If you didn’t choose to end the relationship, your negative feelings may be a lot stronger  - especially if the split came as a surprise. You may find it difficult to control your feelings as your life is turned upside down.

Psychologist and psychotherapist Dr Janet Reibstein explains: ‘You haven’t planned for things so the chaos will be that much greater, the grief will be that much greater, and you’ll be going at a different pace.’

In order to move forward, Reibstein recommends taking time to mourn: ‘It’s fair to say that, normally, as with a death, people go through the mourning process or readjustment and come out of it alive, and sometimes better off.’

Read on for our tips on how to cope when a relationship ends:

  • Take time out to grieve. With all these intense and conflicting feelings running through your mind, you’ll find it difficult to concentrate on much else. Acknowledge the fact that you’re not going to be at your best for a while and give yourself a break. You won't be at your best for a while, so if you worry that your grief may get in the way of your childcare responsibilities you may want to consider asking a close family member to help take some of the load.
  • Remember grief lessens with time. Just like when we mourn the death of a loved one, it can feel like our pain will never go away. But keep in mind that it won’t be like this forever, you just need the time to get it out of your system.
  • Don’t go through this process alone. Some of us like to hide ourselves away when we’re going through tough emotional times, but in these situations it’s always a good idea to get support from people you trust. Close friends and family can always provide a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen when you’re feeling particularly down. If you feel like you don’t have anyone to speak to, why not sign-in to our free Listening Room service? There a trained helper will listen to your worries and provide you with the support you need. 
  • Think of the future. As mentioned before, it can be hard to think of the future when things seem so uncertain. However, as a parent, you need to start making plans and childcare arrangements so that your child can resume a normal way of life as soon as possible. Sometimes having that goal in mind can give you the motivation to move forward.
  • Remember that while the couple relationship is over, the parenting relationship must continue. Your split can’t be as cut-and-dry as you’d like it to be. While you may wish to never see your ex again, you will have to continue working with them in the future to help raise your child as co-parents. Learn more about co-parenting here.

TheParentConnection has two free online programmes to help separated and separating parents plan for the future and deal with any conflicts that may arise with their ex-partner:

  • Splitting-Up? Put Kids First is the UK’s first free online parenting plan. By signing-up you can start making childcare arrangements for your child.
  • Getting It Right For Children. Many separating couples will bicker and argue over childcare arrangements and divorce settlements, and it can be very tempting to put the child in the middle of the argument to be used as an emotional weapon. This free course will help teach you the skills to manage conflict with your ex in the appropriate way while minimising harm to your child. 


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