How long should you give yourself to get over the end of a relationship?

We rightly accept that when we face a loss we must give ourselves the time and space to heal. Grief is valid and vital. To push on through without allowing all the emotions, is repressing part of who you are and won’t help in the long term. But how long is long enough?

Of course there is no standard answer. It’s all relative and personal. It’s a question of how long is long enough for you. But if you wait passively it can be a very long time.

It is possible to move on to a new happy fulfilled life, yet still have fleeting moments of sadness, poignancy or nostalgia years later. That’s healthy and very human.

However, it becomes a problem when, despite moving through and expressing the stages of grief repeatedly, you haven’t moved on from your ex-partner emotionally. Or maybe you are stuck in your thoughts, and your health or peace of mind are suffering for it.

Simply telling yourself that ‘time heals’ when you’re struggling years after a divorce, is doing yourself an injustice. If you believe that feeling better is simply a matter of time, and not within your own ability to control, you will eventually give up hope of happiness just because it has failed to “arrive”.

tunnel illusion 3


I like this quote because it’s empowering. I’ve come to understand that it’s not really the time that heals us at all. Growth is what heals. And the good news is that how quickly we grow from the pain is within our control. The slightly tougher news is that sometimes it takes a lot of work. You have to really want to heal.

So how do we grow?

Well, from my own personal experience, and in no particular order of significance, this is what worked to turn my life around.

  • Learn from the past; don’t let what happened be in vain
  • Forgive
  • Gain perspective of the bigger picture
  • Love and respect yourself; remember your life is still valid and worth living as you, not just as half of a couple.
  • Make positive choices based on the present and future, not living in the past
  • Listen to your inner knowing and trust your intuition
  • Be grateful for the good in your life

Once you begin to grow in these ways, your life becomes not just about healing from your break-up, but about feeling positive and empowered in everything else you do. When you take an active part in your healing, rather than simply wait, the sooner the proverbial tunnel shrinks and the quicker you reach the light at the end.

Do you feel that you have reached your limit of feeling awful and are ready to move on?

What steps can you take today to lift you out of break-up pain and start on a shiny new path? 

With love and support 





See Also:

Divorce Hope: Moving From Grieving To Believing

Divorce Emotional Stages: Free Book Chapter


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Divorce Grief: Does Time Really Heal A Broken Heart?

7 thoughts on “Divorce Grief: Does Time Really Heal A Broken Heart?

  • May 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Take care of your needs. Be nice to yourself. Treat yourself to a “date” night. Reflect and journal. Make a list of goals and work towards accomplishing them. Decide what you want and what does and doesn’t work for you. Have faith that you will find love again, once your heart is open and the time is right.

    • May 24, 2013 at 8:43 am

      Yes agree to all of those. It’s so important to treat yourself in a way that you would expect a partner to treat you, because you are worth of that by yourself. Then if or when you do find love again, your standards will be so much higher and deservedly so.

  • November 18, 2013 at 8:26 am

    I am grateful for your blogs and glad I stumbled upon them! Thank you. I have a question that maybe you don’t want to answer because of your new relationship. But anything that may help would be immensely appreciated. I was married 9yrs and have three small children as well. I’ve made the long process through being happy and whole on my own, finding who I am and sorting through many childhood pains. I have learned about myself and what I want in relationships. I have gotten through pain of why and how it all happened. I am truly understanding that it’s an over with, past relationships. Yet I have found it very difficult to be with any other person physically other than my ex husband. I’ve had a boyfriend who I felt was so wonderful and yet being physical with him, especially when snuggling, was very very painful. I tried hookups and friends with benefits and dating all to find the same thing, that it hurts so bad to try to be with any other person physically. I feel like I’m still married in that regard. Being with someone else may be temporarily fun but the emotional pain becomes unbearable. And its become hard for me to even be fully attracted to other men. I’ll think someone is attractive at first and we click but I freak out and run. Does it take a pure love relationship with someone and later learning to be comfortable with their body over time to get over this? I don’t want to cry in bed with a new relationship over pain from ex, it’s embarrassing and scary. I know this seems like a self explanatory situation to me but right now it hurts and I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m finally ready and want that romantic love relationship… my best friend…. but I’m scared and want to run away to avoid the pain that may come up. I’m sick of feeling this way, like it’s robbing me and especially robbing my potential man of a new fresh start. What makes this go away? Any ideas/tips/personal insight?? Thanks so much! I enjoy reading your blogs.

  • November 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Hi Heather, thanks for getting in touch and I’m happy to try to answer your question. Firstly from what you’ve said it sounds like you have done an amazing job of realising the importance of finding your own happiness as a single person before launching into a relationship. It’s really great that you have looked into past issues and you sound like you know yourself quite well – that would be the first thing I would normally advise someone to do. To me it sounds a bit like you have a bit of a block when it comes to what you think you want and the reality of receiving it. The idea of being in a relationship feels good to you, you are doing the right things and making connections with men, but when it starts to get close you become afraid. It’s ok and perfectly normal. I think the key when this kind of thing happens is always to trust that your intuition, inner guide, soul (whatever you call it) is just telling you that there is a bit more stuff for you to work on. It might be something that needs counselling or therapy, it might be something you can do yourself. But look at what the block or stuck area is telling you.

    Are you worried about trust? In order to be really happy physically with a person you need to trust them emotionally. It’s not about how long you’ve known a person but about whether you feel deeply comfortable being yourself with them. One of the things you asked about was whether feeling really comfortable with someone will help you get over the feeling of not being physically attracted to them. It’s so hard to answer because our experiences of being comfortable with physical affection are unique, and will change depending on who we are with; only you will know how much you need. If your relationship doesn’t make you feel you can express or receive what you need, then you will know in your heart that they are not right for you. Is the lack of physical intimacy outweighed by other aspects of the relationship? Only you will know how important this is. I’m sorry this is no real answer, but it really can only come from you. However, I will say that from personal experience that I used to believe that I was not that bothered about cuddles, kisses and sex, until I met the right person with whom they are a hugely important part of our relationship. You will know when it feels right 🙂

    Are you really, really clear about why you want a relationship, and what you want from it? If we don’t know what it is we actually want, we are going into a dating confused and unable to really be ourselves. If you think you know what you want, but aren’t sure, the panic about intimacy can set in once you realise this isn’t the right person. Don’t expect too much of yourself too early. Even if you want true love and a lasting relationship (which I did), don’t go into the first date expecting it. Take baby steps, I asked for what was really important to me for the first date, which was to have great fun and laugh a lot.

    But at the same time (not on the date!), set clear goals for what you want out of your relationship. Be specific about what you will and won’t be happy with; that way when you meet someone you will have a better idea of if they are a good potential partner and will be less confused about whether it’s right to let them get close to you.

    I hope some of this has answered you and been helpful. Do consider going for some counselling if you are still really feeling stuck about your fears. I would also recommend a book called “Calling in the One” by Katherine Woodward Thomas which I found amazing for helping you to being ready emotionally to find love again.

    With love and best wishes

    Marissa x

    • November 19, 2013 at 5:22 am

      I think you are absolutely right with trust issues. I wrote down a list of things I needed in a relationship right after I read your response, and sure enough I spotted the trust insecurities. The first two things I listed pertained to loving my body, emotions and mind, fully and completely without reservations. I wouldn’t have recognized it for what it was worth for a while had you not pointed that out. Sure, I love myself and I think I’m fun, optimistic, funny, and motivated with great plans for life. Yet I realized that my first two relationship needs were a red flag with what I must work on.
      Also after thinking long and hard about why I felt like I was still married it dawned on me…I wasn’t in any way comfortable with custody exchanges! When the kids were with their dad I felt like we were still married and I was just leaving them with him while I romped around with other men. And I did finally acknowledge that deep down the men I ran from weren’t what I wanted. Looking back on how I felt after being with them, I see I was betraying myself; I was in denial. I was trying hard to get over my excessive wants in a man and not be “too picky”. But when it honestly comes down do it, if I rob myself from what I want that is going to be a relationship set up for failure, on top of selling myself short. I’m worth it, like you wrote. You refused to just sit and wait… you set a time limit of 6wks. That speaks volumes to me and helps me stay focused on my own journey of loving myself fully and knowing that I matter. I do have needs and I can’t give myself up. =)
      I’m very glad to have discovered the root of my fears. It helps me not be scared anymore and gives me hope for the future. I appreciate you challenging me to dig deeper and look at what I didn’t think was an issue. I look forward to reading your posts continually as your writing style strikes a chord with me. I will definitely read that book! Have a great week and keep up the good work.

      • November 27, 2013 at 8:35 pm

        Thank you Heather, I’m really happy you found my response helpful. Best wishes to you and I really hope you have a positive time finding future love.

        Marissa x


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