We’ve all been through the end of a relationship. Whether you broke up with your partner or ended a relationship with a friend, we have all been there. We all know what it feels like to carry that guilt — the guilt we feel for “giving up” instead of fixing the relationship.
First off, before we get into anything else, it is important to note that not all relationships are meant to last forever. Part of life is letting go of things and moving on. This applies to possessions, dreams, and, yes, people as well. So, before we dive into why we feel guilty after ending a relationship and how to cope with that guilt, just take this in:
There is nothing wrong with ending a relationship that is not healthy or happy for you.
Now that that’s in your mind let’s dive into what’s going on behind the guilt you feel about the end of the relationship.
Why Do We Feel Guilty After Ending a Relationship?
Before diving into how we can cope with guilt after a break-up, we need to consider exactly what is causing that guilt. Unfortunately, there is no simple, clean answer to why we feel so guilty after breaking up with someone. But, a number of reasons can go into this overwhelming feeling of shame and guilt that we experience.
Some common reasons for feeling guilty after a break up are:
- You hurt someone you care about
- You miss being in a relationship
- Your ex did not do anything wrong
- You feel that you did something wrong
- You feel like you’re giving up
- You worded the break-up a little more aggressively than you meant to
- Your ex is a very nice person
- Your ex didn’t see the break-up coming
- You regret breaking up with them
These are all common thoughts we have after a break-up, and while they feed into the reason behind our guilt, they alone may not be the cause for that heavy feeling you carry around. As mentioned above, there is no clear answer for why we feel guilty after breaking up with someone, but one thing to keep in mind is that there is no clear answer for any of our feelings really.
When we are young, life is simple, and we tend to view it through a more black-and-white lens. But as we get older, this lens evolves to see more and more grey until there is little to no black or white one day.
We are taught to feel guilty when we’ve done something wrong, and while this works when we are children because we view the world in a very clear black-and-white way, when we get older, what counts as “wrong” changes. This makes it incredibly difficult for our minds to properly note the difference between when we have actually done something wrong and when we simply feel like we have. So, even if we know that we did something right to end a relationship that was unhealthy or failing, we can still feel guilty because part of us is still stuck in feeling like we did something wrong.
How to Cope
Guilt can be a very challenging thing to cope with because it can leave us feeling so full of regret and sadness. But, just like any other feeling, there are ways to overcome guilt and move on. Here are four of the most effective ways to cope with feelings of guilt.
Remember, You Only Have One Life
What you did in the past cannot be changed. Accept your actions because there is nothing you can do to “un-do” them. If we spent our entire lives only regretting our past decisions or thinking about how we could have done something different, we’d never be able to enjoy anything. You are still living. You still have the rest of your life ahead of you. Celebrate that, and do not dwell in the past.
Think about picking up a new hobby or revisiting an activity that makes you happy. Do not stop living your life because a relationship has ended.
Focus on What Went Correctly
When we are experiencing the end of something, we can have a tendency to dwell on what went wrong. Try to tip this on its head and focus on what went right. Take some time to just sit and think (or journal about) what happened at the end of the relationship and what were the things that went right about it ending.
This shift in focus can help to alleviate feelings of guilt by reinforcing our decision and helping us to remember that ending the relationship was the right thing for us.
The end of a relationship is hard — even for the person ending it. We put a lot of energy and feeling into relationships, and admitting that a relationship is over can take a lot out of us. So, rather than allowing ourselves to wallow in bad habits, regret, and guilt, try to consciously take care of yourself.
You still owe it to yourself to eat healthy meals, get outside and active and have restful nights of sleep. You may find that creating a routine for your mornings and/or evenings can help you to create the time and space you need for yourself to relax. Routines do not have to be complicated, and they could be as simple as having a cup of calming tea and reading a book before bed or something more rigorous like going for a morning run.
The point is to do what you need to take care of your body mentally and physically.
Talk About It
Talking about what you are going through can be an incredibly effective way to help you process your thoughts and feelings. Maybe you have a loved one you can talk to about what’s going on with you — like a sibling who is always just a phone call away or a friend who is always up for a late-night weekend chat about anything.
Maybe you do not feel comfortable talking to a loved one, or you are looking for someone who can help guide you toward more coping techniques. If this is the case, you may want to consider talking to a therapist or counselor. A therapist can help you to move on healthily so that you can move forward with your life. If a professional hand seems like something that may help you to get back on track in your life, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow.