Nearly all of us know the feeling — the blissful first days of new love. We get swept away with the emotional highs, exhilarating new experiences and stomach-tingling thrill of falling head over heels for someone new. It’s an amazing experience and can happen oh so fast.
To fall in love is awfully simple … but to fall out of love is simply awful. Quite frankly, falling out of love can really stink. It's flat-out painful. Whether our own feelings change or we're in love with someone who no longer loves us back, falling out of love can be simply awful. Sadly, there's no quick fix for the heartache. But many of us make the pain of losing love much worse by not managing our thoughts and emotions. We put ourselves on a ‘mind game torture ride’ of our own design and we do it over and over again.
The "what ifs" can be horrendous: "What if I can win him back?"; "What if I had treated her better?"; "What if he'd change?"; "What if she'd love me again?"
Whether falling out of love is our decision or one that is forced upon us, it can be hard to stop second-guessing ourselves. Losing love requires us to re-orient our definition of our partner and often ourselves as well.
With the ending of a relationship, we have to let go of the plans, hopes, and dreams we had for being together. There's an acceptance required of the reality that this person is not going to meet the needs we had hoped they would. Not only must we let go of these expectations, but in order to do so there's a mourning process that must take place as well.
Anger typically arises out of the hurt of losing love. It can be multiplied many times over when the other person is the one initiating the ending. Adding fuel to the anger-fire is the difficult task of accepting that the ex-partner wasn't who we thought they were. Many people really get stuck at this stage. They find it hard to understand how they could have been so wrong in believing who they thought they were in love with.
One of the biggest challenges for most people in accepting the end of a relationship is facing their fear of being alone again. In my counseling of men and women, this is a common struggle. It doesn't just happen for those who have age magnifying this fear. Nearly everyone fears being alone. For most people, this isn't the first time they've lost love. The pain of prior lost relationships piles on to the many challenges of accepting the loss of love.
The cherry on top of this cream-pie-to-the face called "falling out of love" is the regret that comes with it. If the "what ifs" weren't bad enough, the regrets over lost time, wasted effort, trusting and getting hurt again can be a real killer.
Losing love is simply awful for all of us, but we need to be very careful that we don't needlessly multiply and prolong the pain. The mind games are an easy hole for any of us to fall into. If you've fallen out of love and don't know how to stop torturing yourself, find a mental health pro and ask for help.
This guest post from Psychcentral is written by Kurt Smith, LMFT, LPCC, AFC.
More break up advice on YourTango: