A relationship ending isn’t ever easy – but for some people it can be really hard, to the point where their mental health, and even safety, is impacted.
If you’ve ever been the one to end things, you’ll know it’s not easy, and it’s even worse when you know that they’re not handling it well. Maybe you’re still hanging out and can see they’re not doing well. Maybe they’re texting you out of the blue with lengthy emotional monologues. Maybe they’re telling you that the only way they’ll be okay is if you take them back.
This can feel really manipulative (and occasionally it is – check out these articles if you have serious concerns), but someone putting this pressure on you might not be consciously trying to make things harder. They might genuinely be experiencing depression, confusion and hurt, and not realising how unfair it is to share that with you.
You might really care about them, you might feel guilty, worried or even scared – but they’re not your partner and it’s not on you to “fix” them post-relationship. There are ways your ex can recover without leaning on you.
With that in mind, here’s what you can do to make sure that their struggles aren’t causing you distress too.
DON’T GIVE FALSE HOPE
It can be really hard, when you want your ex to feel better, to not indulge them in the fantasy that things might change between you both, or that you’ll get back together. But sheepishly telling them that “who knows what’ll happen in the future”, when you know you have no intentions of dating them again isn’t doing anyone any favours.
It might feel like you’re making things better in the moment – but it’s important to be truthful so that they can process where you really stand.
LET THEM KNOW YOU CARE BUT CAN’T BE THEIR SUPPORT
It’s surprisingly easy to become the support person for your ex in your own break-up, because you’re used to sharing your hardships with each other.
You’ve probably built a dynamic of support during the time that you were dating – but as exes, it doesn’t work for them to lean on you, the person they feel upset or hurt by, for support.
Early on in the break-up, take a moment to let them know that although you care about them, you can’t be their support person and they need to find other people to talk to about the break-up.
It won’t be easy, as you may feel like you’re making their situation worse, but if they continue to come to you with their break-up blues, keep repeating that sentiment to them
SPEAK TO THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Getting in touch with a friend, or family member, to make a similar statement can be really helpful. Let someone close to your ex know that they aren’t coping well but it isn’t healthy for you to be a part of that, so they need to be there for them.
Again, it’s not your responsibility to make sure they’re okay.
FIND YOUR OWN SUPPORT
Finally, but in many ways most importantly, make sure that you have support, too. Although being on the receiving end of a break-up is generally touted as the hard part, ending things is no easy feat. Make sure you’re spending time with people who care for you, ask for the care you need and keep doing the things that make you feel good.
Especially if your ex is trying to involve you in their handling of the break-up, have people you can talk to who can step in and speak with your ex if needed.
Own the Feels is brought to you by #LoveBetter, a campaign funded by the Ministry for Social Development.
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Rachel Barker is a writer / producer at VICE NZ in Aotearoa.
The post What To Do If Your Ex Isn’t Coping After Your Break-Up appeared first on VICE.