When you and your ex parted ways, you probably also said good-bye to a few friends. You may have lost them because they were your ex's friends to begin with (so you felt you had no choice), or, disillusioned by your breakup, they may have left the lives of both you and your ex. You may have decided to shed others, seeing that they could no longer contribute to your life in a positive way.
Losing people in the wake of a breakup can be yet another painful aspect of the experience, but you might be surprised to find that it can also be quite a relief. The space you create in your life allows new members of your community to shine and often lets old members play more important parts than they could in the past. Instead of a community based on the ups and downs of your romantic life, you now have the opportunity to choose exactly whom you wish to invest in, gaining the chance to build a wide, varied and comfortable safety net that supports you while letting you be exactly who you are.
In some ways, you're likely very different from the person you were before your breakup. Of course, the fundamentals of your personality are still intact, but a painful breakup can change the way you feel about a number of important life issues. Just as your attitudes may have changed about how you see yourself and what you want, the role you play in your community may also have changed.
How your friends react
For starters, you may have been surprised at the various reactions you saw in your friends when they heard about your breakup. They may have been shocked, or they may have seen it coming from a long way off. Many women find that their friends, who are often privy to the troubles going on in a relationship, are glad it has finally come to an end. Of course they're sympathetic to the grief the breakup brought, but don't be surprised if they're also very relived that you're out of a bad situation.
On the other hand, some of your friends may surprise you with a negative reaction. Even if they know all the problems that existed in your relationship, they may express dismay at the ending or be too uncomfortable with the suffering they see you going through to be able to help. At this point, you can either seek comfort from more supportive people in your life, or be direct with these friends about what you need from them.
Next page: Runnin' with a new crowd
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The truth is, though, many women also find that the lack of effort put into their friendships during their relationship comes back to haunt them. This makes asking for help very difficult, but if you're going to get what you need, you may have to come right out and ask for it. Again, being clear with your friends about your expectations is the best way to ensure that you get their support. It may be a little scary at first, but you'll probably be surprised to see how quickly your friends will come around. In fact, many women find that even distant friends will come to their aid.
Because of an entirely different set of hopes and expectations, your family might react to this news in any number of ways. They may be very happy about the breakup because they, like your friends, saw the problems you'd been dealing with in the relationship. Or, they may be sad about the breakup if there were expectations of permanence for the relationship. They may have wanted you to get married and start a family, and they may think you've taken a big step back from those events. They may also be saddened to lose your ex, to whom they'd grown close. Your parents may think of your ex as a son or daughter and feel the loss keenly.
Of course, if you're close to your family, they can also be a source of powerful support. Your needs may have the effect of drawing family members closer to you, reaffirming the bonds you feel for each other. You may also be surprised to find that, even if your family hadn't fully supported your relationship in the past, they're willing to respond to your pain and lend a hand.
Runnin' with a New Crowd
As painful as a breakup can be, the flexibility of relationships means that you're always free to add new people to you life. In fact, these people can help you see the possibilities you have before you -- what your life could be. This new vision can help you leave a relationship or encourage you to spread your wings after you've left.
It can be tremendously exciting to feel your social world opening up to new possibilities and people, though it's not always automatic. The vacuum that your breakup left will begin to fill with new people if you're open to them and go after them. If you feel short on new friendships, try some of these tried and true methods. Get involved in professional groups, visit online message boards or chats, take classes at a learning center or local college, get involved in a political cause or volunteer in your community. Follow your interests and seek out what makes you happy. New people will be naturally attracted to you -- trust us.
What's the most positive change you've made since breaking up? Talk about it here!
Next week: Learning to Love ... Again
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