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'Breaking up is hard to do, but moving on is sometimes harder'

Christmas time can be tough if you have just recently broken up with someone, writes Bernadette Ryan.

THEY SAY BREAKING up is hard to do, but moving on is sometimes harder. Christmas can be a testing time for relationships and some don’t come out well on the other side. Or perhaps your relationship ended during the year and it seemed like Christmas opened up old wounds.

Maybe you bumped into your ex over the season and they seemed to be ‘over you’ and getting on quite well without you. It was hard to resist checking their Facebook page to see if they were as miserable as you, but there they were smiling and having fun with no trace of missing you.

No Christmas wish, no ‘how are you doing?’ It can really hurt your feelings.

The pain of a breakup 

The pain of relationship breakdown is felt both physically and emotionally. There are many losses, loss of the partner, loss of extended family and friends. The loss of the intimacy and the loss of shared experience. Loss of a lifestyle.

Facing into January can feel like a cold hard task as it can be a bleak enough month as it is, but it can present an opportunity to move on. It can represent a new start to a new year and we do love making new year resolutions.

shutterstock_260499239 Shutterstock / Antonio Guillem Shutterstock / Antonio Guillem / Antonio Guillem

Relationship breakdown can deal a heavy blow to self-esteem and evoke feelings of rejection and failure. There can be a lot of soul-searching to find out where it all went wrong. What did I do wrong? What if I had done things differently? What’s wrong with me?

It can be very helpful to self-reflect on the relationship in order to figure out the lessons to learn but not in a judgmental way. It is not about apportioning blame and fault, but to bring an awareness of ourselves and how we are in relationship. Was I true to myself? How realistic were my expectations of the relationship? Of my ex? Of myself? What am I looking for in a relationship? What are my needs? Do I have a good relationship with myself?

Draw a line under it 

It is important to grieve for the losses and to make time and space for that and it will be different for each individual. It can be a good idea to put a time limit on it for yourself. Allow yourself to feel the full spectrum of feelings and wallow in them if need be. Then draw a line under it.

Make a date for putting it behind you and moving on. If your own self-worth has taken a bashing be proactive in rebuilding it. Be kind to yourself. Replace those negative thoughts with either positive or neutral ones. Tell yourself you are lovable, you deserve love and you are loving, and believe it!

It is not your fault nor your ex’s. Like many things in life, relationships don’t always work out and there are many factors at play. Give yourself a break from connecting through Facebook or texting.

shutterstock_194508896 Shutterstock / Syda Productions Shutterstock / Syda Productions / Syda Productions

Following a tough breakup, it is unrealistic to think you can remain friends, for now at any rate.

Focus your energies on you, on your support network and on your new phase in life. Perhaps there are some things you have neglected for yourself, activities you enjoy, friends that care for you.

Reach out to them. Learn a new skill or try a new pastime. Know what helps you relax and stay grounded and make time out for this a priority. January brings a new year and the offer of new possibilities. Spring is on the way. Nature is busy awakening and getting ready for growth and renewal. You can embrace the opportunities it affords you!

Bernadette Ryan is a relationships counsellor and psychotherapist with Relationships Ireland. For more information on their counselling services including their separation support services or to book a consultation you can contact 01 678 5256, email or visit Relationships Ireland also offers counselling for teenagers who are affected by separation via the ‘Teen-Between’ service. For more information visit

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