How do You Know if You Need Counseling from a Relationship that has Ended

From a legal divorce to a sudden separation or ghosting after a handful of dates, breakups come in many forms. Regardless of the length or status of your relationship, breakups hurt and require time to heal.

The amount of time it takes to move on can vary significantly. When a short-term relationship ends, a person might feel fine after a few days, but when a long-term relationship ends, it can take years to fully heal. Especially in long-term relationships, breakups can lead to the end of shared friendships, custody issues, and financial concerns.

Breakups are a common cause of mental health concerns, with many people experiencing depression, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, and psychological distress after the end of a relationship. If you’re struggling to move on after a breakup, here are some signs you should seek counseling.

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You’re withdrawing from others.

The emotional rollercoaster following a breakup can be similar to those following bereavement. It’s normal to feel denial, anger, emptiness, and sadness after your relationship ends, and you might even find yourself revisiting the stages of grief several times.

As a result, it can be tempting to withdraw from close relationships. You might feel like your identity is tied to your past relationship, and figuring out how to move forward can feel overwhelming. However, by avoiding the people who love and value you, you’re depriving yourself of their love, support, and concern, which are essential for your recovery.

Even if you’re not ready to reach out to friends and family members, it’s important to express your vulnerability. If you’re dealing with the end of a marriage or long-term relationship, you might find yourself searching for a new place to live, determining the custody of pets or children, and explaining your breakup to close friends and family—all while accepting a future without your ex. This can be a physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially stressful process, and couples counseling can provide a safe place for you to talk through your concerns, thoughts, and feelings with a licensed therapist.

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You can’t function properly.

Especially after a long-term relationship, a breakup can make you feel like your life is falling apart. You might get into trouble at work, get into fights with family members, or find it difficult to eat or sleep properly. Sometimes, coping with the pain of a breakup might involve unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol, prescription pills, or drugs.

If your breakup is interfering with your quality of life, it’s imperative to seek mental health support. Whether you’re considering individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, or marriage counseling, therapy can provide a safe place to explore your pain from the breakup while learning how to effectively cope with difficult emotions, build your resilience, and embrace your independence. Years of research have shown that relationship therapy is a valuable component of the healing process, especially when mental health concerns such as depression, low self-esteem, substance abuse, or post-traumatic stress arise after the end of a relationship.

You can’t stop romanticizing the relationship.

Because romanticizing your ex only makes it harder and more painful to deal with a breakup, getting over your ex requires taking them off the pedestal and de-idealizing both them and the relationship. Especially if you had a troubled relationship, struggled with intimacy issues, or experienced infidelity, it’s essential to take a step back and reanalyze your relationship.

Working with a relationship counselor can help you change your perception of the relationship, recognize your ex’s flaws, and come to terms with your relationship problems. In turn, relationship counseling can help you form healthy relationships, identify patterns in your relationship issues, and develop healthy coping strategies for the future. A couples therapist can help you define your goals and clarify what a healthy relationship means to you. Your therapist isn’t only there to listen—they also provide a neutral perspective that your close friends and family members may not be able to offer. Ultimately, relationship therapy and marriage therapy can help you build self-esteem and regain strength after your relationship ends.

Finding the Right Therapist

Counseling provides a valuable opportunity to voice your concerns and feelings, solve deeper problems regarding your relationship habits, and move on from your past relationship. Before you start dating again, take the time to fully process your breakup, assess your relationship habits, and define what a healthy relationship means to you.

Whether you’re starting therapy for the first time or searching for a new counselor, it’s essential to find the right mental health professional for you. Opening up about intimacy, sex relationships, and relationship issues are never easy—but forming a positive therapeutic relationship can help you feel more comfortable during your appointments. Above all else, you should feel like your therapist listens, expresses empathy, and has your best interests in mind.

To find a therapist to help you sort through the ending of a relationship, reach out to a mental health professional at the Therapy Group of DC. Whether you’re thinking about ending a long-term relationship or struggling to move on after a breakup, one of our licensed therapists will provide the support and empathy you need to move on.

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