How to Handle and Overcome a Breakup

We'll tell you how to handle and overcome a breakup through 6 key ideas. Remember that this is a gradual process.
How to Handle and Overcome a Breakup
Laura Ruiz Mitjana

Written and verified by la psicóloga Laura Ruiz Mitjana.

Last update: 18 May, 2023

Did you know that in 2015, a marriage broke up in Spain every 5 minutes? This is the conclusion reached by the Report on Marriage and Breakup in Spain 2015. Although the data is from 8 years ago, the reality is that thousands of breakups are produced every day around the world. With that in mind, we want to tell you how to handle and overcome a breakup.

In this article, we will focus on romantic breakups with ex-partners, although the tips we’ll offer could also be applied in situations with friends or family. The reality is that when a breakup occurs, we end a relationship with a person who’s been significant in our lives, and it’s a process that has consequences for mental and emotional health.

How to handle and overcome a breakup

Below, we’ll leave 6 keys on how to handle and overcome an emotional breakup. Although there’s no magic formula to do it and it’s a process that you’ll have to go through no matter what, you can implement actions that will help you move through this time in a healthier way.

Divorce breakdown, a woman removes the wedding ring from her hand.
Although breakups are usually associated with couples, they also happen with friends and family.

1. Allow yourself to feel

When facing and overcoming an emotional breakdown, it’s important to validate your own emotions. That is, allow yourself to feel whatever you feel and don’t judge yourself for it.

It’s okay to be wrong right now. Suppressing feelings won’t help you overcome this phase of life. On the contrary, it’ll make it difficult to adequately manage the situation emotionally.

So, the first step in getting over an emotional breakup, besides listening to how you feel, is allowing yourself to feel it. It’s normal and healthy to be sad, angry, or distressed, especially in the initial moments.

2. Begin to go through the mourning process

Grief is an adaptive response to a significant loss for a person. The process is activated by different types of loss: A job, a partner, a loved one who passes away, a part of the body, etc. For this reason, when we face a breakup, we also enter that path.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross defined the 5 stages of mourning that can follow an order or be random, repeat, and go backward. These phases are the following:

To reach the acceptance phase, that is, to overcome a breakup in this case, it’s very likely that you must go through the previous ones. As we’ve said, it’s not a linear process, but rather cyclical, and can go back and forth. You shouldn’t feel bad about going back to previous phases because you must understand clearly that it’s a process and not a specific moment.

It’s a path, a journey full of obstacles and good things that will happen to you, but you must always keep one thing in mind: It’s about moving forward little by little. Starting by accepting the reality of the loss can be a good way to start.

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”

-Leo Tolstoy-

3. Everything happens for a reason

Although it sounds like a common phrase, it’s true: Everything happens for a reason. By saying this, we want to refer to the fact that the things that happen to us, although today they don’t make sense, over time, it’s very likely that they’ll acquire meaning.

Many times, events happen to us that we consider very negative; however, with time and the gaining of perspective, they take on a different meaning for us. Let’s not forget that a breakup is one more phase of life, but that existence continues, and fun, different, and happy moments still await us.

Also, love is a part of life, not the whole of life. All this doesn’t imply that it’s not healthy and adaptive to cry and have a hard time after a breakup; It’s the healthiest thing in the world! However, let’s not lose perspective. The path continues and better things can come.


-Bernie S. Siegel-

4. Express what you feel

When you need to overcome a breakup, it’s essential that you be able to express everything you feel. It’s normal for feelings of emptiness, loneliness, sadness, guilt, fear, and anxiety to come. It’s also important to accept that all this is there.

However, it’ll help you enormously to be able to express it, be it with someone you trust, with friends or family, through writing, letters, drawings, art, music, etc. Each person finds their way to do it.

Don’t forget that it’s best to find moments to express yourself and vent, but without ceasing to have spaces that allow you to disconnect from your grief. That is, cry when you feel it, express yourself, but come back to the present, hold on to what still excites you, and connect with the good things.

5. Take care of yourself

It seems simple, right? Take care of yourself. It’s time to listen to yourself, feel what your need, and give yourself self-love. Don’t let the sadness of these moments drag you into a bottomless pit. Try to do things that motivate you and that you like, even if you don’t really feel like it right now.

At the same time, don’t forget to eat well, sleep the number of hours you need, and practice some exercise. All this will provide you with the energy that you’re likely to need.

The reality is that getting active will gradually make you want to do things more. You can try an old hobby or sign up for something new, meet friends, go out, and have fun. Beyond expressing yourself and going through your grief, try not to stop taking care of yourself and look for moments to disconnect.

6. Ask for help if you need it

Finally, asking for professional help is often necessary in order to overcome a breakup. This is personal and everyone will know what they need at all times.

At first, asking for psychological help when we’ve never started a therapeutic process can be difficult or produce a certain degree of fear. However, try not to judge yourself. A good therapist can help you manage the break in a healthy way and strengthen your mechanisms to deal with this new situation.

According to the Spanish Society for the Advancement of Clinical and Health Psychology, the way we decide when to go to therapy is linked to the degree of involvement that this problem has in daily life. So, it’ll be important to listen to yourself and find out what you need.

A quarreled and estranged couple.
Breakups produce feelings that we sometimes don’t accept. It’s important to understand and assume them in the process.

There’s no one way to get over an emotional breakup

As you can see, there’s no “right” way to deal with a breakup. Any action is valid if it allows you to progress little by little in your mourning and accept the reality, which is that the other person is no longer in your life. Although it’s somewhat painful, it’s part of learning and, over time, you’ll remember it as just another life experience.

Also, don’t forget that people appear who accompany us for a while, but who are totally free to decide when to leave our side (just as we can also choose). Accepting this new reality is a painful process, but little by little, it’ll hurt less. Don’t stop taking care of yourself!

  • El manual de la investigación de la pérdida de Margaret Stroebe y colaboradores: “The Handbook of Bereavement Research (2001).
  • Pérez Sales, P. (2006). Trauma, culpa y duelo. Hacia una psicoterapia integradora. Desclée de Brouwer.
  • KuBler-Ross, Elisabeth. “Tras los pasos de elisabeth kubler-ross. una nueva vision del duelo.” Tras los pasos de elisabeth kubler-ross. una nueva vision del duelo autor Elisabeth KuBler-Ross 215706. GLAGLA-SHOES. DE Tras los pasos de elisabeth kubler-ross. una nueva vision del duelo pdf gratis Tras los pasos de elisabeth kubler-ross. una nueva vision del duelo (2000).

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