Surviving a Breakup in Recovery: The Do's and Don'ts


Ending a relationship is challenging at any point. It can be painful, confusing, and full of other competing emotions. But enduring a breakup in recovery can be incredibly complicated, especially if you're newly sober.


That said, there are a few helpful tips to consider when navigating this change. Let's get into what you need to know.


Do Lean on Your Support System

Loneliness can be tough during a painful breakup. If you've spent many years with your partner, the idea of navigating the world without them may even seem impossible.


Now's the time to socialize and reach out for healthy support. Ask family or friends for help if you're struggling. Vent when you need to talk. Let people know how you're feeling, even if the emotions embarrass you.


Your loved ones will want to listen, and they will want to support you. If you don't feel you have safe people, it's time to make an effort to start looking. Consider joining a sober group, reconnecting with treatment alumni, or reconnect with old friends.


Don't Fight Your Emotions

After a breakup, it's normal to oscillate between various emotions, including shame, relief, sadness, anger, fear, and betrayal. These emotions can happen even if you were the one who initiated the breakup.


Relationships require an intense commitment- you've invested time and energy into this person. It can feel strange knowing that you're ending this commitment, that you're starting something new.


Instead of denying or suppressing how you feel, try to embrace these emotions. They are what they are- they are typical reactions to loss. If you're struggling to know how to handle them, try journaling or consider speaking with a therapist.


Do Consider a Digital Detox

Nearly half of Americans report checking on their current or past partner's online activity without their consent. If you keep cyberstalking your ex, you're likely to start feeling resentful, sad, or anxious. You may even become obsessive- checking their whereabouts, friends, and recent likes and follows.


This activity won't make you feel any better, and it certainly won't help you move on from your breakup. Instead, it often prolongs the inevitable pain.


The best strategy? Delete or block them from all social media. Avoid any opportunities to lurk. If you catch yourself getting curious and wanting to spy, reach out to a supportive friend instead. They will be able to talk some sense into you!


Don't Rebound Too Quickly

Even if it's tempting, be careful about dating or latching onto someone new immediately. This pattern often exacerbates unresolved emotions, and it can lead to more complications later.


There's nothing inherently wrong with dating in early recovery, but rebounding too quickly can result in:

  • problematic distraction.

  • choosing undesirable or unstable partners.

  • codependency patterns.

  • avoiding your true feelings.

It's okay if being single scares you. It scares most people, but this alone time can provide an excellent healing opportunity for you to rediscover yourself. By giving yourself this chance, you might feel more prepared when entering your next relationship.


Do Rediscover New Parts of Yourself

Who are you without your ex? Better yet, who do you want to be?


These questions may seem challenging to answer, but they're certainly worth asking, especially if you feel like you've entangled yourself in your past relationship.


There isn't a universal method for self-discovery, but it could be worth trying the following recommendations:

  • pursuing a passion or hobby that's always piqued your interest (that you haven't tried before)

  • traveling somewhere new

  • changing your physical appearance

  • embracing more mindfulness

  • spending more time practicing self-care

Self-discovery doesn't need to be an all-or-nothing process. Simply taking the time to focus on what makes you feel happy and recharged can be a tremendous step in the right direction.


Don't Write Everything Off

Even if the relationship ended badly, it doesn't mean you can't reflect on what you gained from the experience. Every person can teach us something about ourselves, and your ex may have taught you some critical life lessons.


For example, maybe you've learned:

  • how to stand up for yourself or set reasonable boundaries

  • that you don't want to date a future partner who does ____ (undesirable trait).

  • the benefits of emotional intimacy

  • what it's like to date someone in recovery

  • how to navigate challenging feelings while sober

Our romantic relationships can be our greatest teachers. Even if this one ended, it doesn't mean you shouldn't take time to assess and reflect on how you grew from it.


Surviving a Breakup In Recovery Without Losing Yourself

We understand transitions can be difficult. A breakup in recovery can seem detrimental, and it's okay to feel angry or sad. Regardless of your circumstances, we have confidence that you can get through this.


At The Mental Health House, we are here to support you as you navigate this change. We understand the benefits of social support and coping skills during this time. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.



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