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Watch: Why is it so hard to deal with a relationship breakup?

We’ve all heard the old saying that love lasts forever. But you know what? Sometimes it doesn’t.

The end of a relationship can be one of the toughest and most stressful experiences that we as human beings can go through, and unfortunately, most of us will experience this at some point in our lives.

For some of us, the breakup we feel the most is from our first relationship, because it’s often our first experience of navigating the joys and challenges of love. Losing a romantic relationship that’s spanned decades can also provoke intense feelings of loss and grief – even if the relationship was dissatisfying and unloving in the end.

The range of emotions you feel after a breakup is usually different depending on your part in it. To the person doing the breaking up, they will often experience relief mixed with feelings of guilt, anxiety and sadness. For the person being broken up with, it’s common to go through three phases of loss, explains Associate Professor Gery Karantzas from Deakin University’s School of Psychology.

The first phase is anger. In this phase, ‘a person protests the breakup and tries to re-establish closeness with their partner,’ Assoc. Prof. Karantzas explains. Trying to reconnect will also bring about feelings of panic and anxiety. But often this behaviour only makes it harder, and takes longer, to recover from the relationship loss.

The second phase is realisation, in which ‘a person comes to the realisation that getting back together is not possible,’ Assoc. Prof. Karantzas says. The major emotion is sadness, alongside feelings of lethargy and hopelessness.

Finally, the third phase is acceptance, which means ‘a person comes to terms with, and accepts, the loss,’ according to Assoc. Prof. Karantzas. At this stage, you’re starting to focus your time and energy on other life tasks and goals – perhaps even finding a new partner.

While painful and difficult, going through a relationship breakup can lead to significant personal growth.

Watch the video below to explore how relationship breakups impact us so intensely.

Interested in learning more about relationships? Consider studying Psychology at Deakin University.

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Assoc. Prof. Gery Karantzas
Assoc. Prof. Gery Karantzas

Associate Professor, School of Psychology, Deakin University
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