I became a single parent to my two children almost four years ago. Now, I write about lone parenting and relationship breakdown.
Many people harbour negative feelings following the end of a relationship. Sometimes, it can be very difficult to move on and shake those feelings off. Here are 11 reasons why you feel depressed after a break-up, together with some thoughts on how to adopt a new, more positive perspective.
1. You're Looking Back Through Those Rose-Coloured Spectacles
It's easy to do, once you're removed from the situation. And, of course, good memories and happy moments can be found in most relationships - but if you're feeling an unbearable sense of loss it's likely that you have 'forgotten' all the negatives that used to upset you or drive you up the wall, and instead painted a rosy glow over everything. Take off your spectacles and be objective - were you really as happy as you deserve to be?
2 . You're Afraid of the Future and/or a Lack of Security
Don't feel bad - most of us are, to varying extents. The unknown can seem like a scary place, but things do have a habit of working out - it's just that you don't know how yet. Life isn't over just because a relationship hasn't turned out as you'd hoped. Who knows what great chances will come around the corner - next year, next month, or even tomorrow? Adopt a positive attitude towards life on your own and you're more likely to invite good things in. To quote a line from the well known song, Que Sera: "The future's not ours to see" - but that doesn't mean it won't be amazing, with a bit of faith and trust.
3. You're Afraid of Being On Your Own
Navigating life on your own, particularly if you have just come out of a very long relationship, can seem extremely daunting. People separate for different reasons, but the truth is, being part of a couple should complement you, not consume you. You are your own person, with your own dreams, passions and abilities. If your relationship had hit a point of no return, then it was probably holding you back and preventing you from being your true self.
Stop thinking of yourself as a victim in the situation, and instead see it as a pause in your life with which to reflect, work out what it is you want to do, and move on with a new optimism - as you. Ultimately, real happiness is not, and cannot be, dependent on someone else - it has to come from within. And when you are happy within, you are more likely to exude a positive vibe, which in turn will attract positive things into your life.
4. It Feels So Final
Of course, any relationship that comes to an end has an air of finality about it. In terms of what being a couple means, it is final. But ending a relationship doesn't have to mean a total loss of communication. In fact, it can lead to good friendship instead, if you allow it to and if you want it to. Particularly if you have children, there will always be a tie between you. And even if friendship feels difficult when you first break up due to heightened emotions that inevitably come with the end of a relationship, situations very often mellow and find a new footing.
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5. You're Not Living in the Moment
We spent so much time mourning and being affected by the past, or worrying about the future, that all too often we forget that the only true thing we have in life is the present moment. Life is beautiful and precious, but if you are constantly focusing on what went before, or what might one day happen, then you are in danger of missing it altogether. And that is the saddest thing of all.
Instead, grab life with both hands, regardless of your circumstances, and work at enjoying the life you have. Fill it with happy moments and togetherness with family and friends - it doesn't have to be expensive or cost anything at all. Appreciate the small things, and the bigger picture will seem brighter. In fact, when we look back it is so often those little, ordinary moments that create the best memories.
6. You Think You've Failed Yourself Or Your Children
When a relationship ends, it's normal to reflect on what went wrong. After all, when you first got together you believed in 'the dream'. Most of us do. But sometimes the dream doesn't last, because the path that you both set out on forks out in opposite directions and you both take different routes. Perhaps life is simply destined to take you to separate places. We all have our own map to follow.
You shouldn't, however, feel as though you have failed. Relationships break down for a variety of reasons and - as the old adage goes- it takes two to tango. Over time, people evolve and grow in different ways, so the person you fell for in the beginning might not be the same person now. That is true of all of us, and when we grow in a different direction or at a different rate to a partner, it can lead to incompatibility and, ultimately, the breakdown of a relationship.
Don't think, either, that you have failed your children. If you are there for them, if you care for them, feed and clothe them, listen to them and love them, then you are not failing. In fact, staying in a relationship that isn't conducive to their well-being is more likely to be harmful than beneficial in the long run. Remember, too, that harmful doesn't have to mean abusive - tension and hostility can create a difficult environment in much the same way.
These days, separation and divorce are extremely common. Children nearly always have friends and schoolmates that have parents who have separated, and even though they may feel sad at first, they are likely to adapt quite quickly to the situation.
If you are doing your best to raise your children and make the most of the life you have, then you are actually a success - and certainly not a failure.
7. You Don't Think You'll Meet Anyone Else
That's a very presumptuous thought. It is a bit like saying you can read the future. The truth is, you might meet someone else and spend the rest of your life in a new and fulfilling relationship (lots of people do) - and you might not. But surely you are more likely to meet someone else if you are out there getting involved in life and believing in possibilities. Closing yourself off and wallowing in negative thinking will not get you anywhere. What's more, positive people tend to attract more positive things into their lives, and that includes people.
If you want your life to be a rewarding experience, then it is far better to focus on yourself and YOUR needs as an individual than to worry about whether or not you are part of a couple. If you can do that, then good things may come - be it in the form of new friends, great memories, a feeling of pride and achievement, and, perhaps, a new significant other. But if you are happy in all other aspects of your life, you might find that any feelings of loneliness float away and that you're not as bothered as you thought you were.
8. You're Worried About Your Children
We all worry about our children - it's part and parcel of being a parent. And it is true that most children would not choose for their parents to break up. Telling your children that you are planning to separate or divorce is one of the hardest things you will do, and they may feel upset or shocked at first. Children often worry that your divorce might somehow be their fault, or that they will no longer see the other parent. It is the lack of stability and the inevitable changes that come with separation that upset them the most. For this reason, it is very important to reassure your children and to answer any questions that they may have.
But children are adaptable, and if you do your best to work through your separation with your husband or partner in as amicable a way as possible, then there is every chance your children will thrive, enjoying a happy and stable childhood. The most important point is to avoid bitterness and tension between you and your ex-partner, which is picked up on by your children. If you and your ex can work together in the best interests of your children, pursuing their happiness above all else, then they will be fine. And even if you don't feel you have the support of your ex, simply creating a happy family environment just for you and your children will be enough.
9. You Don't Think Life Will Be Good Again
Believing life is never going to be good again is the attitude of a defeatist. It's the old 'glass half full' saying - and whether you are an optimist or a pessimist can have a great impact on how much you ultimately get out of life. Optimists chase after good things because they believe they can have them. Pessimists give up and don't try, believing good things elude them, and allowing their negative outlook to hamper their dreams.
Try turning the thought on its head. Instead of saying life will not be good again, ask why shouldn't life be good again. In fact, why stop at good - life can be great. It can be amazing, wondrous, utterly fantastic. As long as you don't believe that the place you are at at the moment is the place you are going to stay for the rest of your life.
Believe, believe, believe! A slice of positive thinking, plus a little bit of action, can work wonders.
10. You Miss Your Ex, Despite It All
Even when things don't work out, it's natural to grieve over what you have lost. Most relationships have good points, even great points - and that goes for ones that reach an end. But if it was perfect, you'd still be together. Come on, admit it - you've put those rose-coloured glasses on again.
Treasure the memories you made together, because they are part of you and part of your life. But accept that you need to go forwards separately. You can waste your life worrying about what might have been. Don't stand with one foot in the past, because that's like being sucked under by quicksand. Being stuck in one place hinders your chance of future happiness - and happiness is what we all strive for.
11. You Hate the Thought of Growing Old Alone
Hey! Aren't you jumping the gun here? Every single moment is an opportunity. Chance encounters open up new doors all the time. Stop worrying - if it's meant to be, it will be, and all that . . .
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.