Everyone has experienced a breakup in life. It hurts, it sucks, it makes you feel horrible. But for people in their 50s or beyond, breakups can feel more emotionally taxing than splits in other decades as the fear of being alone later in life often make them think they will never be able to have another chance.
However, even though there is no magical, quick-fix cure to mend a broken heart, it helps to realise that these grieving feelings will not last forever and you will be always able to find a new partner, no matter your age. Whether you’re 50 or 80, know that it’s possible to meet another special someone.
Just remember that healing is not linear and it will take time. In truth, how long it takes to get over an ex depends on a variety of factors, including the narrative you tell yourself.
Why is it so hard to get over it when over 50?
The hardest part of getting over a relationship is often not the loss of the actual person, but the loss of the fantasy of what you thought could happen. According to psychologist Guy Winch, TED speaker and author of “How to Fix a Broken Heart“, it can be so hard to move on, because we’re often inclined to idealise our former partner.
You have to make sure that any thoughts you have about an ex are realistic and balanced – he explains-. If your mind conjures up images of your happiest weekend together, you need to add in the images from the weekend that drove you crazy and upset you tremendously. If you find yourself longing for their sweet embrace, you should remember the nights they rejected our advances and slept on the far edge of the bed.
Once you admit to yourself that there were parts of the relationship that were not working for you, that will help you to recover. In the end, if you were so great together, you’d probably still be together. Wouldn’t you?
Getting over a heartbreak in midlife
All you have to do is pick up yourself, keep going, stay strong, and re-learn the process of how to trust again. Here are a few things you can do to make this journey less painful.
- Let the tears flow
Don’t pretend you’re OK. Allow yourself to feel sad about the love you lost, and don’t rush the process.
When somebody breaks up with you, you’re going to feel a flood of emotions – says Rebecca Hendrix, LMFT, a psychotherapist in New York City.- It’s a trauma. It’s a shock to your system. And as with any type of emotional shock, you want to be really gentle with yourself and you want to allow yourself to feel your feelings.
Journaling might be one of the most effective ways to process your emotions and a very therapeutic option if you have a lot to say. Write down a list of all the reasons why the relationship didn’t work.
- Cut off communication with your ex
Remove reminders of the relationship that cause you distress or pain such as texts and photographs. Do NOT phone him. This will reinforce your ex’s presence in your mind and only make it harder for you to stop fantasising about your broken relationship.
- Find help
Opening up to others may help. Spend time with friends, and share your grief and heartbreak. Socialise and stay distracted until you feel a lot better. If you need it, it might be wise to reach out to a coach or therapist for support. Especially, if your breakup triggers thoughts and feelings about other losses in your life and you’re having a hard time processing it all, definitely seek outside help.
- Invest in yourself
Pick up new activities or hobbies that make you happy, create new routines. Take intentional steps to move forward with your life, like joining a new gym, signing up for pottery class, or booking a trip with friends. Take a trip to the wilderness or lose yourself in a good novel, or do some exercise. Start that new project, write the first pages of that book. Create a dream board and place all kinds of imagery of your new life as a visual meditation.
- Get a pet
Consider adopting a kitten or puppy. Studies have shown that interacting with animals helps lower blood pressure, reduces anxiety, and decreases depression. Scientists have also observed that interacting with animals increases levels of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin has several important effects on the body. It slows a person’s heart rate and breathing, reduces blood pressure, and inhibits the production of stress hormones. All of these changes help create a sense of calm and comfort. Animals may be a lot of work, but they give love better than just about anything else on earth. And they need you so much.
- Reinvent yourself
Now is the time to reinvent yourself, but don’t rush into the dating game. A breakup is an incredible opportunity for unravelling your path, focusing on reshaping your life to be the person you want to be and it’s never too late.
One of Tony Robbins’ core messages is, “The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships” – and that includes your relationship with yourself. Learning how to fall in love with yourself is essential to your own happiness, to your success in relationships and to the way you interact with the world. When you fall in love with yourself, you’ll naturally spread that love out into the world, improving the quality of your life and others.
When you exude confidence and joy, you’ll attract others with the same zest for living. This improves the quality of your relationships, which improves your life. The cycle is clear – and it all starts with falling in love with yourself.