10 Ways to get over the guilt of your breakup.
Nov 13, 2021
Being left by your partner can be traumatic and devastating and you can feel like your whole world has been turned upside down. But being the one to leave the relationship can also be extremely difficult, especially if there’s been no cheating or other ‘bad’ behaviour involved.
The person leaving the relationship can be racked with guilt, especially if they know their partner is still in love them and not expecting it.
Guilt is a powerful emotion and can keep you stuck. It can be all consuming, make you doubt yourself and your decision and feel negatively towards yourself. It can make you feel like a failure.
Feeling guilty for ending a relationship is normal, especially if you’ve hurt someone that you once loved and still care about. If they didn’t see it coming, then it will be a complete shock to them, and they will be struggling to process it and catch up with where you’re at. However, just because you feel guilty doesn’t mean you should stay in the relationship as that will just hurt both of you more in future.
Before you end any relationship make sure you’ve communicated with your partner about how you’re feeling and done everything you can to make the relationship work. At least then you can leave with no regrets, which helps to reduce some of the guilt.
Here are 10 ways to deal with the guilt of breaking up with someone:
- Be honest with your partner – Don’t ghost them. Sit down with them and have an honest conversation about why you’re ending the relationship. Give them an explanation as this will allow them to get closure on the relationship, otherwise they’ll go round in circles trying to work out what went wrong. Be very clear that this really is the end so that you don’t give them any false hope.
- Feel your emotions – Accept what’s happened and the decision you’ve made. Distracting yourself from your true feelings and ignoring your guilt will not help you in the long run. You need to accept your guilt, no matter how uncomfortable it feels. Journaling can be a powerful way of helping you to process all your emotions. Be curious about what you’re feeling and try and understand where it’s coming from and exactly what you’re feeling guilty about. Once you understand this you can work on letting it go.
- Remember the reasons you broke up – It’s normal to doubt yourself after a breakup and wonder if you’ve made the right decision, especially if you still care about your ex. Write a list of all the reasons you ended the relationship so that you can look at it in those moments when you’re doubting your decision.
- Take responsibility for your part in the breakup – It’s normal to feel guilty when you’ve done something wrong. But you can also feel guilty when you feel you’ve hurt someone - even when you’ve done your best to make the relationship work. Recognise your part in the breakup, but also remember that it takes two people to make a relationship work where you both feel happy and fulfilled.
- Remember you’re not responsible for your partner’s happiness - They are an independent person and responsible for their own emotions. They can’t rely on you for their happiness and ultimately need to find happiness within themselves. You both need to focus on your healing and your future.
- Make sure your partner has support – Although you’re not responsible for your partner’s happiness, you could make sure they have a good support team in place to help them through this difficult period. You may want to speak to their close friends or family and ask them to look out for them. At least then you can rest easier knowing they’ve got people that they can turn to for support.
- Trust yourself - Trust yourself that you made the right decision in ending the relationship – even if it was a difficult decision. Listen to your intuition. Only then can you start to let go of the guilt you’re feeling.
- Forgive yourself – Set aside some quiet time and write yourself a forgiveness letter. Forgive yourself for ending the relationship, the part you played in the breakdown and anything else you’re feeling guilty about. This is a powerful Positive Psychology intervention which has been proved to increase your wellbeing. Burn the letter after you’ve written it to signify the letting go of the guilt.
- Focus on your future – Instead of dwelling on the past and what’s happened concentrate on making plans for your future. Think about what makes you happy and what you love doing. Start planning some of those activities into your diary and spend time with people who light you up and make you feel good about yourself.
- Practice gratitude – This is another powerful intervention from Positive Psychology which improves your wellbeing and mental health. Start or end each day noting 3 things you’re grateful for and really connect with the feelings of why you’re grateful for them.
Reflect on what you’ve learnt from the relationship and what you can take forward into your future relationships to make them happier and more fulfilled.
Just because your relationship has ended doesn’t mean that it was a failure. Remember all the good times you had together. Those memories will always be with you. Staying in a relationship that you’re not happy in, because you feel too guilty to leave, is not fair to either of you. At least by leaving you both have a chance to move on and find true love.
If you're struggling to get over a breakup at the moment and feeling stuck and unable to move on with your life, then send me a message at [email protected] and we can have a free chat about how I could support you.