through" these old emotions. Eventually, he/she will decide to get on
with his/her life.
Stage 6: A new life.
The focus shifts from the past to the future. Sometimes there is
even an obsession with a new interest or life-style--new clothes and
looks, drinking, seducing and partying, or complete involvement with
work and planning a new career or volunteering to help in some social-
political movement. Some are eager to find love again, others hate the
opposite sex, others are scared of emotional involvement. In some
ways it's like being a teenager again.
Stage 7: Healthy adjustment
With luck, one emerges from a broken relationship wiser, tougher,
stronger, and mellower. You have found some good friends and made
reasonable plans for the future. You are no longer so worried you can't
sleep at nights and, although life is hard, you are ready to move on to
Each person is different. Some skip stages; some get stuck in a
stage; some slide through the stages quickly and silently. Seldom does
a divorcing couple start and go through the same stages at the same
time. The earlier a couple attends to problems, the better. It is an
unending task of true lovers to be sure the fun and affection outweigh
the boredom and resentment. If you are stuck in stage 2 or 3 for a few
weeks and can't work it out or get your partner to seek counseling
together, go by yourself. If you are still mourning a former relationship
(that obviously had problems) after more than two or three months,
seek some help with speeding up the recovery process.
I have counseled many young people in the depths of agonizing
depression following a break up with a boy/girl friend. Many felt the
situation was terrible, almost unbearable (see cause #6 above).
Indeed, some had thoughts of suicide. Yet, in my classes three-fourths
or more of the students have broken up with someone they thought at
the time was the best partner they could ever find. But, when I ask if
that expectation has thus far proven to be true (that they couldn't find
anyone as good), less than 5% say yes. There is an inexhaustible
supply of people to love. It is a cruel hoax to imply that there is only
one person for us to love. So, should you leave a strained relationship
without regrets and pain? No, there is another way to look at it.
Feeling terribly upset when losing a lover may be hard but
desirable. After listening to the pain for hours, I have often asked a
person who has just been rejected, "How would you rather react to
such an important loss?" The point is: your sadness comes from your
good traits--you were loving, devoted, caring, committed, trusting,
and involved. You had given your whole self to the relationship. Isn't
that the way you want to be? Isn't that the way you want your future
partners to be? Would you really want to be so self-centered, so