“The relationship ended before it could start” seems to be the common thread among the locked down love stories in therapy. The pandemic has sent a lot of hopeful romantics finding love on the internet, while some have been lucky – the others are still in search of their “other half”.
Even though we are confined to our homes we have all tried to connect with others using technology. The need for connection and forming relationships is testimony that man cannot, rather, not want to live on an island by themselves. Forming healthy relationships are crucial because they give us a sense of belonging and care. After all, we only want to love and be loved.
Living in lockdown has made us confront obstacles most of us could never imagine. We all have had to get creative to initiate and sustain relationships, it has urged us all to dig deeper and find “deeper” connections. A lot of relationships began in the lockdown with the promise of meeting when it’s over, but the uncertainty of the end has weighed heavy on a lot of hearts. Global research suggests that there is an increase in divorce rates, and my therapy room (virtually) suggests that there is a spike in break-ups. A key contributor to these separations have been the high pressure environments at home and work, lack of space both physically (and as result space to just be!), unequal division of labour in the relationships and realising you just want different things.
However, separating during the pandemic often means we cannot go on our version of “Eat, Pray, Love” but we have to sit and confront our feelings and heal from the relationship.If you have recently broken up during this pandemic and are finding it difficult to cope with specially during this unprecedented time where there might be pressure on other aspects of your life such as job, education, family relations and friendships. There are things that might help you cope with that.
Step 1: Acknowledge + Accept
Don’t brush it under the carpet. A lot of strength and inner resilience is built by acknowledging our emotions. Begin your journey, the pandemic version of Eat, Pray, Love by, accepting that the relationship played a role in your life and that you miss it. It is only after acknowledging can we accept and then make a choice to do something about it.
Step 2: Choice
Once you are aware of what you are feeling, you have a choice to wallow in it or do something to disengage. Be aware that at this moment, you have a choice and you have to be at peace with whichever choice you make because it is made from a place of awareness.
Step 3: Evolve
If you choose to disengage, choose activities that engage your mind and body. This could include a focused work-out, cooking something new or a tough game of Sudoku. The key to choosing an activity is doing something you are familiar with but are now leveling up in the skill. Do not do something too difficult or too easy cause your mind is most likely to wander to unwater things at these times.
Get a routine that is reflective of only your needs. Very often our routines sync with our partners, and thus following that routine will remind us, more than needed, of our ex. Create a new routine that is uniquely yours, this will reduce moments of missing them and it will encourage you to go about your day with fresh eyes.
New memories – a common concern is that clients express is that things remind them of their ex. The Netflix home page, or the bus stop (the list is endless). Well, a lot of these things cannot be wiped off the surface of Earth. Thus it is important for you to create new memories there, do the same activities with engaging friends who are bound to leave you splits of laughter!
Take care of yourself. They say the best way to get even is by taking care of yourself. While this has become an anthem for a lot of women, there is value in it because exercise, eating right and sleeping well have all proven to release happy hormones, increase clarity, build resilience, and reduce stress all of which will help you cope with the break-up effectively.
Developing a sense of self away from ex. This will give you a chance to do and explore things you like doing independent of your ex or anyone else and in turn grow your self-worth. The pandemic might even aid in this. It might give you the time to develop some new indoor skills that you have been wanting to learn.
Do not engage with your ex. This is easier said than done but it is very important. Even if it’s necessary for you to engage with them in order to get work done or get things in place, keep the conversation minimal, to the necessity. On the other hand if you aren’t sharing spaces with them CoronaVirus is a good reason as to why you can’t go see them if you feel like meeting them. Also, do not check in on them through social media or text even if you are tempted to if you want to move on you should give your brain time away from thinking about them.
This point may seem hurtful for some but remembering the negative things about your ex might put you in a bad mood for a short period of time but will eventually decrease love feelings for them. You can do this by writing down why you should not be with them.
Spending time on other valued relationships such as family and friends and having them back you will help you focus more on the present and future.
Breakups are tough especially during the pandemic where most are surrounded in a bubble of isolation. Confronting feelings and healing from the break up is not going to be a linear quick and easy process. Nevertheless, there are steps that can be taken in order to cope with it, provided you give yourself the permission to acknowledge your feelings regarding it and choose to start your healing journey.