Breakups are pretty much the worst. It’s hard to see any silver lining when you’re in the middle of one. But guess what? Sometimes a breakup just may be the best thing ever … in disguise.
Sounds kinda ridic, right? After you’re over someone, you can look back and see he wasn’t truly right for you in the long run. But that doesn’t mean ending the relationship was this amazingly positive experience, either.
But it can be.
1. You’re free of a relationship that wasn’t really good in the first place
Even though it’s almost always tough to get out of a relationship, if things aren’t working, then it wasn’t meant to be and wasn’t a good match to begin with. Breaking it off liberates you from a situation that isn’t right. “You get to be free of having to please someone else, hoping they will take care of you,” explains Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D., a couples therapist and the author of Now You Want Me, Now You Don’t!. “You don’t have to allow yourself to be someone else’s possession simply to have a relationship.”
Don’t downplay the issues and romanticize the whole thing either, which is a common reaction to a split, says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., a psychotherapist known as “Dr. Romance” and the author of the forthcoming Dr. Romance’s Guide to Dating in the Digital Age. “Understand that there were problems already,” she says. “If you break up, it’s probably for the best. Don’t idealize a bad relationship. Don’t pick out the few good moments you remember and ignore what wasn’t working.”
2. You learn how to handle loss
A breakup is a loss, and going through one means you have to figure out how to handle losing something that’s important to you. It’s a valuable lesson, since life is full of losses of one kind or another. “You learn to deal with loss and move on,” Raymond says.
3. You stop being defined as part of a couple
So many people stay in bad or mediocre relationships because their sense of self is tied up in them. It’s a good thing when those end and they can stop identifying themselves as a “plus one” or part of a couple. “You learn to define yourself without needing to use a relationship as a reference or label,” Raymond says.
4. You realize your own inner strength
There’s nothing like getting through something as difficult as a breakup to make you see how strong and resilient you really are, and that can be a major boost to your self-esteem. “You discover that you are stronger than you imagined when you walk away from a connection that no longer fits or didn’t fit in the first place,” Raymond says. “You value yourself more when you take the right step of breaking up to respect your needs and meet them yourself.”
5. You stop feeling unsettled and unsure about things
When you’re with the wrong person, you can’t quite shake those feelings of doubt and uncertainty. You don’t ever fully feel at peace or settled. But when you finally have the courage to end the relationship, that “up in the air” state ends with it. “You don’t have to live in a world of uncertainty that makes you insecure anymore,” Raymond says.
6. You become more confident and independent
Being brave enough to walk away from a relationship that isn’t working will do wonders for your confidence and your faith in yourself. You’ll feel like you have the power to handle anything that comes your way. “You get to use your own mind and be in charge of yourself and your decisions,” Raymond says. “That’s self-empowerment.”
7. You open yourself up to a brand new relationship — one that’s truly right for you
You won’t have any chance of finding the love that’s right for you if you’re in the wrong relationship. But when you break it off, you open yourself up to meeting the person you’re truly meant to be with. “You will have so much more to bring to a new relationship after you have broken up and taken on the task of self-care,” Raymond says. You’ll also have learned a lot that will help your next romance flourish. “After the initial upset, review the dynamics of the relationship and analyze what went wrong, what you could have done differently and what you learned,” Tessina suggests. “You’ll get information from this experience that will help make the next relationship successful and happy.”