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Relationship Breakdown

Relationship Breakdown

Despite what we might hope, relationships don’t always last forever. When a relationship breaks down it can be difficult for everyone involved.


Beside the difficult emotions that you’ll no doubt be going through, there’s often a whole host of other things to think about.  You may be worried about your children, home, work, money, relationships with others, or simply what the future holds next. These can all add up and make it tough to cope. 

If you’re going through a break-up, divorce or separation and are struggling, you can talk to the CALM helpline, where trained staff will offer practical support and guidance to help you move forward.

How does a relationship breakdown feel?


Divorce and separation are very common but that doesn’t make them any easier. While the breakdown of your relationship might feel like the end of the world, you’re not alone

While relationship breakdowns are common, the way people experience them can be very varied. Relationships are complicated, and when they end there are a lot of things to sort out and deal with. Relationship breakdowns can be particularly hard if you didn’t expect them to happen, there are children involved, or your partner was the only person you could open up to. 

The end of a relationship can trigger many feelings such as sadness, rejection, loneliness, depression, anxiety, anger, happiness or relief, guilt, shame and even suicidal thoughts. 

You may feel some of the following: 

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Rejection
  • Loneliness
  • Failure
  • Shame
  • Grief
  • Lack of motivation
  • Worthless
  • Helpless

How do I move on after divorce or break up?

The most important thing to do after a separation is to look after yourself. Don’t isolate yourself from your friends and family, try to maintain communication with people who you feel at ease talking to, be they family members, mates, colleagues or even talking to a counsellor can help. You also need to allow yourself time to grieve and let go of any residing anger you might have.

It’s not easy dealing with the aftermath of a relationship breakdown, but it’s important to remember you’ll have good days and bad days – just like everybody else. Because separation can be an extremely distressing time, it’s also a good idea to try to give yourself time to unwind  and let your body de-stress. Do what makes you feel relaxed , whether it’s watching the footy or meeting your mates for a catch up – laughter can be a great therapy so make sure you allow yourself to have some fun – or at least some time away from dwelling on what has happened.

Remember that your physical health is just as important as your mental health in times of stress. Maintaining a good diet and exercise can help boost your self-esteem and your outlook on life. Similarly, if you’re struggling with the emotional aspects of a separation, remember that help is always on hand in the form of friends, family and the CALM helpline.   0800 58 58 58, open 5pm – midnight, every day of the year.  Our trained helpline staff can talk through your problems with you and help you decide what to do next or where to go for further support.

Relate, the UK’s leading relationship support organisation can help you at all stages of relationships, including helping you to separate in a way that reduces conflict and helping you to move on from a relationship which has ended. They have developed practical, online support that you can access in your own time. You can find out more by visiting, where you can chat for free to a trained Relate counsellor, or by calling 0300 100 1234.

What if my divorce or separation is complicated? 

There are some important options to consider that may help your situation and make a resolution easier to achieve.

One of these options is relationship or family counselling. If you have children, this  might also help you explain the situation to them better so they are less affected by the separation, and can help you to communicate better in order to understand and resolve problems, and find a way to move forward.

If you choose to open up to a family or couples counsellor, they can provide confidential and non-judgmental support. Talking is difficult, but necessary to reach a resolution so you’ll be encouraged to share your thoughts and feelings on the situation. In the first few sessions the counsellor will ask you to talk through what’s happening and what you’d like to change, you’ll then work together with the counsellor to decide what happens next.

Even if you still retain a good relationship with your ex-partner, talking about money and children can lead to arguments, which make things more difficult.

An option to consider in this situation is mediation, which differs from family counselling and is often used once a couple’s attempt to reach agreements has failed. Any discussion you have with a mediator should be in a safe, non-judgmental environment where you and your partner can discuss the practical issues that are involved in divorce. 

What about my kids?

One of the most difficult things to do when separating is discussing it with your children. It is important to try not to involve them in conflict and to minimize the stress they might feel at home by reassuring them that even though you’re not in a relationship with their parent, you’ll still be part of their life. 

It can be easy to take your feelings out on other people, including your children, when things are tough, but remember that a relationship breakdown is out of their control. If you are struggling and need to talk, the CALM helpline is available from 5pm to midnight.

Looking after your mental health

Where can I find help?

  • Talk to CALM from 5pm to midnight everyday. Our professional helpline workers are there to talk and to help you find ways to move forward. Calls and webchats are free, anonymous, non-judgemental and confidential. 
  • Outside of these hours, calls the Samaritans on 116 123

Dealing with a relationship breakdown 

It can be hard to think about moving on after a relationship breakdown. Here are some things to bear in mind:

  • It’s ok to feel excited about your future. It’s ok to feel scared about your future too. Think about your aims and what you want for yourself
  • You don’t have to lose touch with the extended family, it might take time to build bridges
  • See the opportunity for new connections
  • It will take time to adjust to a new life, you can do it. Some days will be harder/ easier than others
  • Don’t hold on to guilt. It’s happened, so it is important to try to move on

Talking about how you feel

It can be difficult to talk about how you’re feeling with your friends, family or professional. Here’s some ways you can start a conversation around how you’re feeling: 

“The break up has really hit me hard and I need someone to talk to.” 

“Since the break up, i’m struggling to move on. I haven’t got anybody to open up to.”

“You might have noticed i’ve not been around so much lately. I’ve been finding things difficult, but realise that keeping it all to myself isn’t going to solve anything.”

Header illustration by Hollie Fuller


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