Clients in relationship counselling often make appointments when their relationship life gets turned upside down following a separation. If your partner has just left you, you will most probably experience a tumultuous time trying to find your way through feelings and experiences like shock, denial, sadness, despair, trying to understand and asking why, why, why.
In many cases, especially where the separation comes as a surprise, you will experience shock and disbelief. Many of my clients describe this as a stage of huge turmoil, filled with questions of ‘why?’ and going through possible scenarios trying to make sense. Often, the situation is compounded by having to tell friends and family who are also shocked.
Differences in men and women’s experiences
From my experience working with clients I have found that in many cases men will take a while to think things through in their own head, sometimes for a long time, before telling their woman that they no longer want to be in the relationship. 95% of men do not want to hurt their woman and therefore take time until they finally open up.
Women in comparison talk more openly about their relationship dis-satisfaction, either (do you mean either?) with their female friends, their therapists and their partners. It is therefore often more an experience of shock, when a man separates from their partner than the other way around.
Who am I?
Finding your place outside of the relationship is a huge process. Many couples have had years of togetherness and become used to being part of ‘me and my husband or wife’. In many cases individuals have un-learnt to refer to themselves in any other way than as part of a couple and family. Becoming ‘single again’, especially following an unexpected separation, can be a jolt to the experience of self, having to re-learn being ‘me’ as opposed to ‘us’.
There are various strategies to travel through the separation process. Some people keep themselves busy, some live in intense sadness and hide from the outside world. Whatever you do or don’t – take time to journey through this stage in your life. Take time and find the support you need. It might be group of friends who support you, you might find sport to be your saving activity or you might consider talking to someone not involved, like a therapist.
Whatever you choose, remember that totally avoiding dealing with the emotional aftershock is only ever a temporary solution. Often we take unresolved emotional baggage into our next relationship, so you might want to ponder your way of dealing with it.