Life after parting: a psychological view of the problem

Parting with a partner is quite a common topic in my therapeutic work. And, on both sides: male and female. Listening to the difficult history of the relationship of their clients, each time delving anew into their specific situation, I understand that despite the uniqueness of each pair, you can still talk about the typical mistakes and difficulties faced by partners in parting. Accordingly, it is possible to propose some algorithms to deal with such customers.

Parting for partners is always stressful in any nature of the relationship. And in many cases it is also a trauma. Psychological trauma is a significant life event, a strong change in life circumstances, in which the human consciousness is difficult to accept and survive. In a situation of strong emotional dependence in partners, this is not only an inevitable serious injury, but also a crisis.

The situation of Psychological trauma knocks to the borderline level of functioning even psychologically healthy person. A person in such a situation has a complex cocktail of emotions-feelings, which, as a rule, in different proportions have resentment, anger, rage, fear, shame, guilt.

In addition to the above feelings, the typical state of a person in a situation of separation are experiences of disappointment, abandonment, a sense of inner emptiness, loss of the meaning of life, depression.

This is not surprising. Breaking up is the death of a relationship. And often, “death relationship” is even subjectively more difficult to accept than the real death of a partner. In a situation of real death, the second half does not remain hopes and illusions. In a situation of death relationship is harder to give up hope. “Burying” a living person is harder, because somewhere he lives, makes plans for his life, rejoices, sad, falls in love, builds a new relationship, but not with you.

The main difficulty of parting is to part psychologically. It is possible to leave a person physically, but not to part with him emotionally. The main task of therapy in case of parting with a partner is the task of living the process of parting and building new life meanings.

And here you can meet with a number of common mistakes that partners often make when parting. Describe their.

Error separation

Premature understanding and forgiveness

It often happens that succumbing to the influence of fashionable psychological ideas “to understand, forgive and let go” in a situation of separation and a person tries to quickly understand and forgive his former partner. However, such forgiveness is premature and rational, coming “from the head.”

Forgiveness and acceptance is a complex multi-step process that captures all levels of personality. In the case of rational understanding is not involved emotional side of the person. The huge flow of emotions and feelings natural for this situation is stopped and blocked. As a result, the true experience and living situation of separation becomes impossible. Such a person has to spend a lot of effort to avoid his feelings, not to meet them.

In therapy, such a client declares at the very beginning that he has forgiven his partner. However, such a rational installation “bursts at the seams” every time “on the stage of life” emotions appear. Quite a minor provoking factor (for example, accidentally saw his former partner with his new partner), as all this rational design shatters like a cardboard house from a gust of a hurricane.

In therapy, such a client declares at the very beginning that he has forgiven his partner. However, such a rational installation “bursts at the seams” every time “on the stage of life” emotions appear. Quite a minor provoking factor (for example, accidentally saw his former partner with his new partner), as all this rational design shatters like a cardboard house from a gust of a hurricane.

Running away in a new relationship

This is a fairly typical mistake in parting, in which, as in the first case, a person tries to avoid the painful experiences of parting, hastily switching to another person and escaping into a new relationship. Such tactics of parting is unfavorable for at least three reasons. First, do not live feelings inevitably accompanying this situation and the real separation as such does not occur. Secondly, “work on mistakes”is not done. A person has a high probability to repeat the previous relationship. Thirdly, it is possible to fly in undesirable relationships without going through a necessary stage precontact testing a new partner. There is a fourth, the moral aspect – the use of another person as plugs for plugging wounds left after the separation.

Former partner depreciation

This unconscious strategy acts at parting as a protective mechanism. It really helps temporarily relieving acute pain. This strategy is also an inefficient way to break up and makes psychological separation impossible. Devalue the former partner – means to cross out that part of life that lived with him, the experience that has gained in this period in this relationship. In a sense, to devalue another means to devalue yourself, the part of yourself that was good there. No wonder this second part will actively resist. If you do it environmentally unfriendly, snatching that part of myself with the root, slowly and carefully, “not untangling all the knots,” that the soul remains hole.

Living the life of an ex-partner

This strategy of separation the person is not released from the field of view of a former partner. Most of the time, energy is spent tracking the actions and events of his life. How is he? With whom? How is his life shaping up? What’s he thinking? Is he sorry about the breakup? Does he think of me? – here is a small list of questions that concern people.

It is not surprising that in this case the separation as a psychological Department does not occur. A person continues to live the life of a former partner, actively invest there emotionally, and there is not much time and energy left for his life. In the described situation, a person, as a rule, has little chance to meet a new life partner – this place in the soul remains occupied by the former partner.

Life past

In this case, the person gets bogged down in past events, memories of previous relationships. The time as if stops, the real life stops. All the energy of life is directed to the past, the present and the future. However, a person without the present is deprived of reality, without the future – possibility. Physically, the life of such a person continues – he goes to work, communicates, solves some problems. Psychologically, his life stops.

Life with the motto: “I’ll prove it”! He’ll regret it!”

People with this setting, in contrast to the previous, actively looking to the future. He is not complacent and is constantly striving to changes, actively putting new goals in life and reaches them. And all would be good, but that’s just his life remains firmly linked with the former partner, the meaning of his life are built from the motive to prove to the former that he was wrong, parting with him, out of a desire to show his whole life his value for him. As a result, such a life can be defined as “life with an eye on the former.”

Life for children

This is another life strategy of incomplete separation, in which the life meaning of a person is rigidly fixed on other people, on the function of parenthood. All other facets of Self-identity are “buried”.

The absence of other meanings leads to the fact that the meaning of parenthood is the only one and therefore greatly overloaded. All the energy that could be used to build a relationship with a partner is invested in the child, which results in a parent-child relationship with all the consequences for all participants in such a relationship. A similar situation unfolds in the case of fixing life at work.

Life without a relationship

Sometimes, as a result of a traumatic breakup of a relationship, a person, having met with a strong emotional pain, decides that “he will have enough”, “the relationship is not for him”, “it is better not to have a close relationship at all”. It is easier for him to avoid even the possibility of experiencing this pain again. This position can be supported by social stereotypes such as “All men/women are the same”. And is it worth the risk in this case? In this case, it is likely to live your life, avoiding intimacy.

These are the most common mistakes that can be observed when parting. They can be present in different degrees and in different proportions in individual life stories. Perhaps in the moment of parting this is the only possible survival strategy and facilitate emotional pain. But the sad thing is that fixation on these defensive strategies can make a person closed to his own life. Each of these mistakes can become a mental trap for a person, often making the process of parting, and, consequently, new meetings impossible.

A man who can’t part can’t meet. To meet another person, another self, another world… It is stuck in the past and closed to the future. He chooses all the time. Chooses the past.

The task of parting

To part is to separate psychologically. To break up, you need to recognize and accept the reality of past relationships. And for this it is necessary to conduct a thorough objective audit.


  • To recognize the good that was in the old relationship and sincerely thank the former partner (at least in your soul);
  • Mourn this relationship. This is more difficult for men. Here social stereotypes are triggered, firmly entrenched in the structure of personality, such as: “Men do not cry”;
  • Say goodbye and give up illusions. To abandon the expectations, the hopes placed on this relationship. This is complicated.

Parting means discovering new facets of self-identity. This is especially important when the relationship with a partner was built on the type of merger. And as the only facet of I-identity, the marital we-identity was “polished”. In this case, you will have to “take yourself”. And for this, sometimes you need to meet with yourself, remember yourself. It is important to discover, remember and revive other facets of your identity – professional, friendly, creative…

To part means to find new meanings and values. Parting, apart from the fact that it is a trauma, for many couples it is also a crisis. This crisis, although it refers to non-normative crises, nevertheless, deeply affects the personality, forcing it to change radically – to radically restructure the basic components of consciousness – the picture of the World and the image of itself. And this inevitably leads to the need to revise their values and birth on their basis of new life meanings.

It is important to remember that separation is the death of relationships, not the death of people. In the case of “the death of the relationship” dying relationship, not the people. And people, no matter what, have to live on – to make plans, to create, to love.

To do this, the trauma of parting needs to be lived and experienced, so that it does not freeze the human soul, does not make it “a frozen block in the flow of life.”

The crisis can also take place in different ways. It is important that it becomes a point of growth for a person, in which sprouts of new life meanings and goals will be sprouted.

Love yourself! And the rest will catch up.

local_offerevent_note May 10, 2019

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