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Tips to Get Through a Breakup

If you're dealing with the breakup of a relationship and the demands of military training or deployment, getting through it all may be especially difficult. Despite the pain, it’s a chance to grow and start fresh. The information in this article will help you weather a breakup safely and regain your confidence and positive outlook.

An emotional journey

Healing from a breakup takes time and effort. Along the way, you may experience intense and conflicting feelings. You may:

  • Get stuck in your pain. You may direct your pain inward in the form of unwarranted self-loathing, shame and isolation. You may even fantasize about death.
  • Be overwhelmed by anger. You may feel incapable of getting beyond your resentment or feel desire for revenge.
  • Lose focus or sense of perspective. Small annoyances or worries may be magnified to seem like huge problems. This makes it difficult to eat, sleep, and attend to personal needs.
  • Experience obsessive soul-searching over the loss. You may find yourself constantly replaying events or conversations and trying to analyze them to figure out what went wrong. This will almost certainly interfere with or prevent you from functioning normally at home and on duty.

If you're struggling, you need to ask for help from your unit medic, corpsman, chaplain or through Military OneSource non-medical counseling. If you’re having thoughts of self-destructive behavior or suicide, you can also call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, and press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255.

Positive strategies

Take some action to make yourself feel better. Distractions can be a good thing, and there are plenty of ways to use the resources at Morale, Welfare, and Recreation to take your mind off the breakup for a while.

  • Focus on the here and now. Working hard to be "in the moment" will help you to keep thoughts about your loss from taking over your thinking. Notice the people around you, listen carefully and respond actively to what they say.
  • Participate in activities that make you feel better. Think about the things you enjoy. Walking, hiking, playing sports or taking up a new hobby are all ways to use the recreation resources on your installation. Focus on yourself, friends and family, and rediscover your identity apart from the relationship.
  • Find sympathetic people to talk to. Just about everyone getting over a broken relationship needs to have people to talk with about how they feel. Find a friend or relative you can confide in, and don't forget that you can also find a kind and caring professional to talk to through Military OneSource.
  • Try to see the breakup as a way to grow. While you can't undo past actions, you may be able to learn from this experience, so you can make future relationships better.

Knowing when you need help

A broken relationship is a type of trauma, and guidance for knowing when to seek help is the same as for combat stress. You need to ask for professional help if you’re engaging in the following:

  • Self-medicating. While self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, food, video games, pornography, or any other mind-numbing activity may temporarily suppress your obsessive thoughts and painful feelings, they tend to come back even stronger.
  • Acting on your anger. It doesn't help to unload anger on friends, co-workers or innocent bystanders. Instead, release your anger without hurting others by putting it into words, either by talking with others or writing about it in a notebook. Journaling can be surprisingly therapeutic.
  • Denying the reality of the breakup. When you refuse to accept the end of a relationship, you can get hung up on futile efforts to stay connected to the other person through unwanted personal contacts, phone calls, and emails. Sometimes denial progresses to actual harassment or criminal stalking. Frequent and obsessive attempts to make contact only push the other person further away and keep you from moving on.
  • Engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviors. Self-destructive coping behaviors signify the need for immediate professional help to get through a crisis.

The earlier you get help, the faster and healthier your recovery from the breakup is likely to be. And the less likely it will be that your loss will lead to a more serious condition, such as clinical depression.

Where to get help

Take advantage of the resources on your installation, from counseling to group activities to lift your spirits. If you feel that you’re in crisis or that your feelings of anger and sadness are getting worse, reach out. Military OneSource has the tools to get you through this.

In theater, talk to your medic, corpsman, chaplain, medical officer, or combat stress control unit. At home, you have the support of Military OneSource, including confidential counseling any time by calling 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.