Breaking up is hard to do...and it's even harder when it's unexpected. These expert tips will help you bounce back in a healthy way

By staff
May 22, 2013
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You've been dating someone special for several weeks. Or months. Or even years. How long you've been together isn't as important as the fact that you thought you were happy. No wonder this breakup came as a surprise. And to make matters worse, his reasons for breaking up seem so out of left field and don't make any sense.

How do you cope when someone you care about ends your relationship and you're not entirely sure why? Here are five things that might help:

1. Obsess. Let's face it: You're going to do this no matter what, and that's okay (to a certain point!). It's natural to wrestle with events we don't understand, and if your partner's reasons for breaking up seem lame to you, you're undoubtedly struggling to wrap your head around it all. Give yourself permission to run through the history of the relationship, to try and figure out where things went south. Talking with a trusted friend might even help shed some light. Desperately wanting to figure things out is inevitable. It's also part of grieving, which you're starting to do. But even though it's normal to find yourself obsessing over the what, how, and why of it all, this is not a place you want to get stuck. In other words, it may be an important stop on your journey back to joy, but don't unpack your bags and sign a long-term lease.

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2. Connect with someone. This isn't the time to withdraw from people who love you. You're going to need friends with whom you can talk, cry, laugh, and ultimately travel forward together out of this unhappy spot you're in. Especially if you've been so caught up in your now-defunct relationship that you've missed spending time with good friends, this is the time to reconnect.

3. Write about it. In her book The Chocolate Diaries, Karen Linamen says, "When you and I are surprised by painful events, we can see these events as ‘senseless' and ‘random.' In the puzzle of life, they can feel like pieces that don't fit. They're floaters without a purpose. Twists of plot without a story. Our brains keep returning to the rogue puzzle pieces, trying to figure out where they belong in the big picture of our lives." One solution: Journal about it. When we write about hurts that don't make sense-especially as we explore connections between those hurts and other things in our lives (for example, our childhood, our health, other people we've dated, a particular season in life, or whatever)-we often find ourselves less haunted by the randomness of it all. We've put the senseless hurt in some sort of context, which is a big step to healing.

4. Pursue an unrelated goal. Train for a marathon. Buy a bicycle. Learn to cook Asian cuisine. Sign up for scuba-diving lessons. Pick anything, just do something. Take action and make sure your new endeavor is something unrelated to your past relationship. Pursuing a new experience, goal, or skill is not only distracting, but it's also a good reminder that there is life beyond your breakup.

5. Finally, let go of the need to know. You've been mentally gnawing at those excuses he gave you, haven't you? On some days you tell yourself there has to be a deeper, darker reason this person broke up with you, and if you could just figure out what it is, there's a chance the two of you could solve it and live happily ever after. On other days, you wonder if that lame excuse is really as deep as it gets, and you hurt over the idea that you must not have meant much that much to him if he could walk away over something that trivial.

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Wasn't your relationship worth fighting for? Weren't you worth fighting for? You may never know the real reasons it did not work out. More importantly, one day you'll realize that whether your ex was hiding something from you, or whether he just fell out of love, it doesn't really matter. Often times it is really more about where someone is in their lives, and just not being in a place to really accept love (for whatever reason), than anything you did or said.

Sometimes love ends, and whether it ends with a war cry or a whimper doesn't change what you get to do next: Grieve. Laugh. Heal. Live. Let go and move forward, toward what you deserve…which is someone who sees you as beautiful, inside and out, and worth fighting for.

Has this happened to you? How did you deal with it?

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