The question of separation begins with the persistent feelings of not being fulfilled, unhappy, feeling that something is missing, not being physically or psychologically attracted to your partner, feeling overwhelmed in a relationship, having phantasies of a different life or a different partner, planning a future without the partner, growing apart, conflicts, different goals, and values, not being able to forgive, feeling of relief at the thought of separation, not wanting to talk or be intimate, seeing only the negative qualities in your partner, lack of respect, feeling lonely in a relationship, not liking who you have become in a relationship, not being able to trust or compromise, or simply just knowing it is not working for you any longer. If the process of separation was initiated within you, it may take a while for you to come to terms with your decision and accompanying feelings of doubt and guilt. There might be an inner conflict between your heart and your head. Psychotherapy can help you to understand yourself and whether you are making the right choice depending on who you are, your values, feelings, and goals. Your therapist will help you work through your doubts, fears, and guilt connected to separation.
If the separation was initiated by your partner, it is most often a traumatic experience. It may appear that there were no warning signs and separation was sudden. Relationship psychotherapy can help you to understand the dynamics of your relationship, roles played by both partners in your separation, whether there may have been signs that were missed, and what the possible reasons are for missing them. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help you deal effectively with the secondary symptoms of separation, such as insomnia, nightmares, eating problems, depression, numbness, confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, low self-esteem, rejection, breaking the news to others, doubts and persistent negative thinking. Together with your psychotherapist, you will devise an effective plan on getting back on your feet, minimising emotional pain associated with separation.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy can help you explore and overcome deeper issues associated with separation, such as despair, loss of meaning or hope, repetitive life patterns, reasons for falling in love with a particular partner, your partner choice, subconscious criteria for your partner choice, your behaviour in a relationship, explore new possibilities, values, hopes and ways to be in the world and with others. In psychotherapy, you will learn that not all relationships are meant to last and that does not mean that they were not useful or fulfilling. You may learn to appreciate what you had and look forward to the new experiences.
Whether the news of separation comes from you or your partner, there will be inevitable feelings of loss, sadness, and loneliness. However, it does not mean that you have to act on these feelings or that they are the sign of a wrong decision. Our attachment system is designed in a way that we feel close to the person who is located in our proximity most of the time, even if they are not helpful to us. It is often an intimate connection itself rather than a person that is missed. This means that to overcome initial loneliness after separation, you may want to start exploring how to build deep and meaningful relationships with other people in your life – family, friends, or peers within the social group. As you build new connections, you will be guided on the effective ways to let go of the connection to your partner. This starts with dealing with physical mementos that you shared and that remind you of each other, the sentimental memories that may pop into your mind on a daily basis, associations created through shared places, songs, topics, habits, phantasies about your partner and avoidance of your partner.