Why there’s no such thing as a failed relationship – when love dies it is a chance for a new beginning

  • No relationship is a total loss; even the bad ones can help the heartbroken find the right person to share their life with
  • Learn from the experience, and you can build a happy and healthy life with a new partner
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 December, 2018, 2:04pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 December, 2018, 2:04pm

A girlfriend told me her boyfriend disappeared not long after they decided to get married. At the time, she was living in Guangzhou, a city in southern China, and he was in another city in China.

He told her that he had divorced his wife so they could be together. But when it was time to plan their wedding day, he stopped visiting her and cut all communication – he did not even send a text message to break up with her. She later found out he was still married.

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This happened seven years ago, but the friend told me it still hurts after all these years.

Gaining closure is crucial when a relationship ends because it allows you to bury it and leave it in the past. It is like giving yourself the opportunity to properly shut a door to write off an unhappy or even horrible chapter in your life so that you can have a new beginning without any emotional baggage. You cannot begin to heal if you are weighed down by guilt or deep-seeded resentment.

Finishing a relationship is never easy, and having a clean break-up is becoming ever harder as more people choose to break the news via text message, which makes it hard for the recipient to find the closure they need to heal and move on.

The emotional impact of a lack of closure is described in English singer Adele’s song Someone Like You. “I had hoped you’d see my face, and that you be reminded that for me it isn’t over,” she sings.

In my experience, the best way forward is to accept that you cannot stop a relationship ending. Hanging on to it will only deepen the sense of failure and frustration. It is completely normal to have questions about how things wound up the way they did, but you must deal with them head-on.

This means being upfront about gaining closure from the other person; this is crucial to erasing any doubts about your relationship.

To heal, you must first protect yourself. You need to tell yourself that you are not being rejected; it is just an inevitable and unfortunate outcome

It is said there are seven stages of emotional reaction to a break-up: shock, denial, isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I say forget about these different stages, and just tell yourself that it is over and to accept reality.

You may have days when you feel angry about what has transpired. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what matters is how you channel your feelings about the relationship ending.

To heal, you must first protect yourself. You need to tell yourself that you are not being rejected; that way you avoid blaming yourself or your partner, and it lessens the blow to your self-confidence and the pain you feel.

Once you have got closure, cleanse yourself by writing down your unanswered questions about the failed relationship. That way they shouldn’t haunt you in the future. The answers you find are not important; this exercise is about staying strong and avoiding unhealthy emotions.

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Another element is mindfulness; focus on the present and the future, instead of harking back to the past, thinking “what if” or “what could have happened”. Of course, while you are healing, you are allowed to feel sad and lost, but do not let those negative feelings overwhelm you.

Do not stop living just because a single part of it has changed. Spend time with friends and family and people who love and cherish you.

Remember, no relationship is a total loss; all relationships, even the bad ones, help you grow so that you can carry that experience forward and build a happy and healthy life with a new partner.

Once you have taken all the right steps, you will feel the weight of your emotional baggage being lifted and have the inner strength to walk away without looking back. It will give you a sense of absolute emotional freedom.

To some, moving on might take time, but the rule of thumb is: no matter how long it takes or how painful it gets, your pain will pass in time; you just need the patience to get to that light at the end of the tunnel.

Luisa Tam is a senior editor at the Post