The Challenges Of Life After A Long-Term Relationship

When a long-term relationship ends, it feels like the end of the world. The pain you feel in your heart is real, not imaginary, I assure you, and the level of devastation runs deep no matter who decided to end the relationship. When you’ve built your life around someone with the assumption that you’d be with them for the long run, then you’re suddenly without them, life doesn’t feel real anymore. And while you’re definitely still very much alive, you feel dead inside. That might sound depressing, but it’s the painful truth of losing that type of relationship.

But feeling dead inside, drowning in devastation, and suffering from the inevitable ache of such a loss is just the beginning. Here are seven other truths that come with the end of a long-term relationship:

  1. You have to start all over. In many ways, you have to start from square one. If you’ve lived together, you have to find a new home. If you’ve shared bank accounts, you have to divvy up what belongs to whom. Even if you’re not married, there’s still a division of assets. Either way, you’re suddenly standing amongst boxes of your life trying to figure out what the hell is next.
  2. It’s a loss on so many different levels. You don’t just lose your partner, but their family and friends, too. It’s during this period that you realize who your real friends are, as each one takes sides or, if you’re lucky, are mature enough to stand somewhere in the middle without judgment. It’s a loss all around. Of course, if you never liked your partner’s friends and family, then consider yourself lucky; very lucky.
  3. You feel like a failure. When a major relationship comes to an end, you can’t help but feel like a failure. You wonder what you could have done differently, what you could have said or done to make it better, and you torture yourself with the big, “What if?”
  4. You become exhausted with explaining the why and how of it all. Another harsh truth that comes with the end of a long-term relationship is having to explain, over and over and over, to people that you’re no longer together. While you have every right to keep the details of your breakup to yourself, you still have to tell people that the relationship is over. Unless you just want to keep the façade up forever and constantly tell everyone your partner is “out of town” all the time for the rest of your life.
  5. Your future looks both grim and scary. I hate to say this, but after a long-term relationship, things for your future don’t look so great. Of course, this will pass, but there’s a good chunk of time right after the breakup where your future looks terrifying, especially if you and your partner had already mapped out your whole future together.
  6. You feel like you’re being judged. Whether you keep your pain and rage inside by crying yourself to sleep or you outwardly trash your ex, you can’t help but feel like everyone is judging you for your behavior. If you seem like you’re doing OK, then you feel like they’re all waiting for you to snap, and if you’re your vocal about your pain, everyone seems to think you need to be committed. It’s hard to not feel paranoid.
  7. You just can’t be happy for others. I know it’s selfish, but life after the end of a long-term relationship involves a lot of resentment toward those how manage to keep their relationships together. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. In fact, I think it’s natural to get sick to your stomach when you see someone else delighting in love and life the way you once did with your ex.
  8. You’re quite certain you’ll never love again. Between a grim looking future and the fact that you need to start from scratch, it’s easy to let your brain wander to the “I’ll never love again” and “I’ll be single forever” territory. While this isn’t very likely, it’s a thought you absolutely, positively will have.
Amanda Chatel is a sexual health, mental health, and wellness journalist with more than a decade of experience. Her work has been featured in Shape, Glamour, SELF, Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Elle, Mic, Men's Health and Bustle, where she was a lifestyle writer for seven years. In 2019, The League included Amanda in their "15 Inspirational Feminists Every Single Person Should Follow on Twitter" list.

Amanda has a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She divides her time between NYC, Paris, and Barcelona.

You can follow her on Instagram @la_chatel or on Twitter @angrychatel.