You learned to sail because he loved the open seas. You became a tequila aficionado because your ex went gaga for agave. You may have even starting eating differently—seriously, who wants to watch someone enjoy a juicy cheeseburger without stealing a bite? In relationships, we often blend our identities with our partner's, and after a breakup, we feel lost.
As if we needed proof, a recent study from Northwestern University confirms it.
"Across three different studies we found that when a relationship ends, people think their self has changed. They change their hair, their friends, and their goals for the future," says study author Erica B. Slotter, M.A. While a drop-dead gorgeous new 'do can make you feel better, all this change can be rattling. "Being less sure of who people are contributes to the emotional stress that happens when a breakup occurs," says Slotter. So, how can you start reclaiming your self after a split? Read on.
1. Gather your gal and guy pals. No man—or woman—is an island, and this is the time to cash in all those late nights spent listening to other people's problems. "You need support to know that others care and to process your feelings and get it all out," says Susan J. Elliott, JD, MEd, and author of Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss Into the Best Thing That Ever Happened To You.
2. Keep talking. Your friends and family aren't your only outlets. "Look for other places for support, too—a therapist, a support group, on-line communities," suggests Elliott. The YourTango Experts network can help you find a qualified relationship professional to help you. Facebook can be a great place to reconnect with old friends when you're ready to start socializing again.
3. Don't lean on mutual friends. Yes, talking is good. But you want to avoid reconnecting with your former "his-and-her" friends early on. "Being in touch with mutual friends will be a temptation to talk about what he is doing, and you don't want to be in that position," says Elliott.