How To Recover After You’ve Been Blindsided By A Breakup

Paolo Raeli

You’ve been dating a guy for a while, and all seems to be going well. You connect, you enjoy each other, you have amazing chemistry, you might even think this could be the one!

Then one day he shows up at your door and breaks up with you. You almost think it’s a joke. He can’t possibly be serious. You try to get an answer, some sort of explanation, but his answers are totally vague.

He may give you one of these generic lines:

“Now just isn’t the right time for me to be in a serious relationship.”

“I just feel like something is missing.”

“I just don’t think this would work out long-term.”

“I don’t think I can make you happy.”

You might be tempted to try and fix whatever the alleged issue is. Ok, let’s dial it back and not be serious! Whatever is missing, I’ll go out and find it and bring it into the relationship in ample supply! What do you mean it won’t work? It’s already working, how can you predict the future?? And you do make me happy! I’m happy! The only thing you’ve ever done to not make me happy happened 10 seconds ago when you tried to break up with me! 

But you can’t reason your way out of this one. His mind is set, and it’s done. But you can’t accept it. You can’t believe it. You can’t understand it.

Getting over a breakup is hard. Recovering when you’ve been blindsided can almost feel impossible. You’re not only dealing with the pain of losing him, you seriously start to question your own judgment. How did I not see this coming?  

Don’t worry. I’m going to explain everything to you. We’ll cover why he ended it and how you can recover and climb out of the black hole you’re currently in.

Why did he break up with me out of nowhere?

To you it feels like it was out of nowhere, but not to him. He was always on the fence about you. You may want to fight this, but just because you felt something doesn’t mean that was the reality. Feelings aren’t facts. And it’s very possible you and he were in two very different relationships.

In your relationship, everything was perfect! You finally found a smart, funny, kind, sexy, all around wonderful man, and he makes you really happy. You love spending time with him, he is everything you want in a long-term partner.

Now here comes the painful part…

He just didn’t feel the same way about you. He obviously likes you, he was obviously attracted to you, but it just wasn’t enough. Something significant was missing. Maybe you didn’t fulfill his emotional needs (yes, believe it or not, men have them too). Maybe he just didn’t find you intellectually stimulating enough (and no man will ever tell you this to your face. A guy that blindsided my friend with a breakup told me this in private when I asked him why he did it, and he made me swear up and down I would never tell her that was the reason!), maybe your political views are different and this is a real problem for him, maybe he just doesn’t see you as the future mother of his children, honestly it could be a million different things.

It’s a waste of time to try and figure out the reason. Maybe you really, really want to know, but all it’s going to do is hurt you. It’s just going to make you feel “not enough” and unworthy, and who needs that?

All you really need to know is he was never in it to begin with, at least not in the way you were. Because when someone is in it, they do everything they can to make it work.

My husband and I are opposite in so many ways. When I was single and dating I was so sure I knew exactly the type of guy I needed … and he didn’t meet those “requirements” at all. There were times when it was challenging, but we both wanted it to work, and we made an effort. We both knew if it didn’t work out, it would be a mutual decision, it would happen only after we both tried our best and gave it all we’ve got and ultimately realized it just couldn’t work. Fortunately, we were able to bridge the gap between our vastly different personalities and I could never imagine being with anyone else.

The point is, people who are in it, are in it. People who are quick to leave were never really intending to stay!

When a relationship unravels over time, you can kind of prepare yourself. When a relationship ends in one swift motion, you are literally knocked sideways, and it’s really difficult to recalibrate.

Now that we know why let’s look at how to recover from this devastating experience:

1. Go somewhere far away

Love is a drug, literally. Studies have found that the brain of heartbroken subjects resembles that of drug addicts, just like they crave their drug of choice, you crave him.

And what do addicts do when they want to recover? They go to rehab where they will have no access to drugs. You need to do the same. Except, you get to go somewhere a little more fabulous. If you can swing it, try to get out of town and go on a fun adventure. There is something incredibly therapeutic about being in a new environment.

The initial period after a breakup is the worst, that is the time when you are emotionally erratic and have little to no impulse control. Everything reminds you of him, so any tiny progress you make immediately gets undone the second you see a tree that reminds you of him.

When you get away, you escape from all the physical reminders and all the emotional landmines surrounding you.

It can also do wonders to help you detox and cure your cravings. Did you know most American soldiers were addicted to Heroin while serving in the Vietnam war? But surprisingly, most of them didn’t resume their addiction when they were back home. This just goes to show the amazing power changing location can have on conquering an addiction!

2. Feel your feelings

If you don’t face your feelings, they will continue to haunt you until you do. Feelings don’t go away just because they go unacknowledged.

Let yourself grieve, let yourself feel the sadness and the emptiness, just let it all out.

It hurts, and it’s OK for you to be hurting. Just try to limit the amount of time you let yourself stew in the hurt. Picking yourself up off the floor and moving forward is also a vital part of moving on.

3. Accept that it was never going to work

Like I said, if it were going to work out, it would have worked out. You need two people to make it work, two people need to be invested and committed.

Don’t torture yourself with what you could have done. Let’s say he gave you a specific reason for the breakup, maybe he says he felt like you didn’t appreciate him enough. And of course, you torture yourself over this and replay every time when you could have been more appreciative. But here’s the thing, if a guy really, really likes you, he will tell you what he needs from you and give you the opportunity to at least try to meet that need. He won’t preemptively dump you. People aren’t quick to write off those that they truly love.

Yes, maybe he did feel you didn’t give him enough of something he wanted, but that’s not the whole reason he broke up with you. He broke up with you because he didn’t want to be with you. A reason is just to placate you and give you something tangible to hang onto aside from “This isn’t going to work.” And like I said, the reason he gives is probably real, but if he really wanted you, he would work with you on solving the problem.

So don’t obsess over everything that went on and think about all the ways you would have done things differently. I can guarantee you that the outcome would have been exactly the same.

4. Don’t make it personal

I know it feels personal. I know it feels like you just weren’t good enough for him, but that’s not true. You just weren’t right for him, and that’s not the same thing.

Not everyone is a match, and that’s no big deal. Whatever qualities you have that didn’t work for this guy will probably be what the right guy for you loves the most.

You can’t panic in the middle of a sentence … you don’t know what’s yet to come.

5. Be better

If you let every defeat in life defeat you, then you’re in big trouble and are setting the stage for a hard and miserable life. If you take those defeats and use them to fuel your growth, then the best is yet to come for you.

Don’t let nonsensical, destructive thoughts penetrate your being. You know the song I’m talking about: I’m not good enough … nothing ever works out for me … my life is miserable … I don’t know why I even bother. 

Cut all that out. It doesn’t serve you, and it just makes any problem even worse.

Instead, try to be better. Be happier, be more confident, be better at whatever hobby you enjoy. Try to learn whatever lessons there are to learn from your relationship so you can be even better in the next relationship.

And speaking of the next relationship, please don’t be on guard for him to blindside you when you least expect it because then you’re just robbing yourself of the best part of a relationship … while also sabotaging your chances of making it work.

Working on yourself, loving yourself, and bettering yourself is what will open the gates to having the love you’ve always wanted. It’s a lifelong process that picks up and stagnates. Usually, the greatest pain is a precursor to our greatest growth, but only if you take that pain and use it productively, rather than letting it consume and define you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Sabrina Bendory is a writer and entrepreneur. She is the author of You’re Overthinking It, a definitive book on dating and self-love.

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