How To Handle A Breakup: What To Do When Your Relationship Is Failing

By Joanna Smykowski|Updated August 9, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Christy Booze, LCSW

Failing Relationship

Many people worry that they are in a failing relationship sometimes. You may be thinking that things are falling apart, but you’re not sure how to handle a breakup. Perhaps the two of you finally have the dreaded talk and decide that the failing relationship is truly over. Maybe you’ve never experienced a breakup before, or maybe you just don’t know how you can go through it again. So, what do you do when breaking up with someone you love?

How To Handle A Breakup The Healthy Way

A woman contemplates her failing relationship

The first thing you need to understand is that you are not alone. There are people around you who love you and care about you. These people are there to support you through your breakup. Whether you decided to end things, or the other person did, you’re going to need your support system. They are the ones who can help you feel better no matter what you’re going through. It’s important to have someone you trust available to help process what happened while it’s still raw.

If you don’t have anyone you trust or can confide in at the moment, you can always write down your thoughts and feelings. Many people find journaling after a breakup to be beneficial. It allows them to record their exact feelings at that moment without judgment or attachment. You can journal every day after the breakup or only when you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s up to you. There is not a right or wrong way to journal. Try not to edit your writing, just let it flow naturally. Many people report feeling less anxious and depressed after writing in a journal.

Another therapeutic exercise to help manage a recent breakup is using rituals. This is some type of regular practice you devise to mark the end of the failing relationship and the start of a new life. It can be something as simple as deleting all of your former partner’s pics from social media and files where you might have stored them. Writing a goodbye letter that is never actually sent sometimes helps people find closure if the failing relationship ended badly, with both parties not speaking to one another. Perhaps getting rid of everything that reminds you of your ex in your home might help—it’s up to you. The act can be literal or symbolic. What is important is that it sets the stage for a new beginning in your life.

Let It Out

When you feel upset or angry or anything at all, make sure to allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship. Even if you are the one who ended the relationship, you are definitely allowed to feel frustrated about it and to mourn its loss. You are allowed to feel however you want and do whatever you need to make yourself feel better and prepared to get on with your new life. It can take time to grieve the loss a relationship. Typically, people go through particular stages when they experience grief or loss. Don’t be perplexed if it takes you a while to reach the final stage of grief: acceptance. Everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace.

Don’t ignore the end of the relationship or the feelings you have about it. Trying to push it out of your mind and pretend it never happened is a good way to end up with even more problems down the road, when all those feelings start to bubble over.

Instead, let yourself cry over the loss of the good times. Let yourself feel angry about the bad times. Experience the emotions when they happen to avoid completely falling apart later on.

Bottling up your emotions from a relationship can lead to more than just a complete breakdown at some point in the future. It can actually cause health problems over the long term. You may experience increased stress and anxiety, which can actually cause weight gain, extreme weight loss, ulcers, headaches, a compromised immune system, and a whole lot more somatic issues. That’s definitely not going to help you when you’re already feeling down.

A positive behavior to try when working through the loss of a failing relationship is exercise. Moderate to intense exercises such as running or another prolonged cardio activity will release endorphins, also known as the feel-good hormone into your brain. This temporary sense of euphoria will help you relax and feel less stressed about the breakup. Yoga is also great for working through sore and tight muscles, as well as helping you get a good night’s rest since many people struggle with insomnia when they first break up with someone.

Be Your Best You

When you’ve worked through your emotions, or even while you’re still working them out, figure out what you want out of your life. What do you want for yourself? Do you want to go back to school? Do you want to get a new job? Maybe you just want to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. No matter what you’re thinking, you want to get started on making yourself into the person that you want to be.

This is an opportunity to look at your life goals. Maybe with the end of your failing relationship, it’s time to start thinking about where you want to go and what you want to do. It’s also a great time to not only consider long-term goals but short-term goals as well. Perhaps there is someplace you wanted to travel to that your partner did not. Or perhaps you wanted to join a social club that you didn’t have time for before the breakup. Breakups can be a great time to evaluate career goals as well.

Taking some me time can definitely help you in getting over someone; and it can help you turn that break up into something positive too. You’re going to be a better person, a stronger person, and a happier person when you’re all done—and you’re going to enjoy it, too.

Finally, (this bears repeating) make sure you’re talking things out. Whether you have a friend or family member to talk with or you need some neutral third party, you’re definitely going to feel better about things when you take the time to talk to someone about everything. You may feel like you’re completely fine with the relationship ending, but if the relationship has been going on for any length of time, there’s bound to be something in there you’re not quite over with yet.

Navigating A Breakup With BetterHelp

There are a number of recent studies pointing to online counseling as an effective method of helping individuals manage complex emotions related to breakups. For example, in a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, the efficacy of online therapy for adults dealing with a breakup, divorce, or bereavement was evaluated. After treatment, participants reported decreased feelings of grief, depression, embitterment, and loneliness, as well as an overall increase in overall quality of life. Researchers concluded that online interventions could help reduce difficult emotions arising out of the loss of a relationship. These findings are similar to conclusions drawn by similar studies showing that online counseling is helpful for addressing grief.

As considered above, if you are confronting difficult-to-process feelings related to a relationship failing, online counselors are available. Because BetterHelp has thousands of counselors, from all over the US (and beyond), you’ll have access to more mental health professionals. Without being limited to those therapists operating in your area, you have a better chance of matching with a counselor who knows how to help you work through your specific concerns. A licensed counselor can help you move forward after an emotional breakup. Read below for reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from those experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

“I’ve tried other counselors that I liked but didn’t seem right for me but Margaret has been amazing! I love her honesty, compassion, and realness! It was really easy to open up to her and she’s helped me get through a very tough breakup that nobody else could seem to get me through. I would recommend her to anyone! She makes it so comfortable to talk to her as if you’ve known her for forever!”

“A year ago I was experiencing difficulties in my relationship, which highly affected my psychological state and interfered with my work. At one point, I decided to try My counselor Dr. Brewer helped me to see some things I couldn’t on my own and encouraged me to prioritize myself. It was a huge help for me at that point, which led to the decisions I am happy about.”

Failing Relationship Conclusion

If you’re really struggling with your breakup transition, it may be time to seek out some help. Think about reaching out to a professional who will help you with this difficult time. It’s not just about getting over the other person. It’s also about getting comfortable with yourself before you jump into another relationship.

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