Relationship Repair: Getting Over a Breakup

Relationship Repair: Getting over a breakup. New research on how reflecting on a breakup may help recovery.


We all know getting over a breakup is tough. It can take months to years to recover. New research by Grace M. Larson and David A. Sbarra sheds light on how to recover. [1. G. Larson & D. Sbarra, Participating in Research on Romantic Breakups Promotes Emotional Recovery via Changes in Self-Concept Clarity. Social Psychological and Personality Science online on January 6, 2015.]  Larson and Sbarra explain that recovering from a break up involves reconstructing our independent self.


When in a relationship, especially a long-term one, our sense of self becomes intertwined with our partner’s. This new research, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, reveals that reflecting on one’s breakup helps the recovery process. The study participants who completed additional questionnaires, testing, and interviewing about their breakup fared better than those who only completed two questionnaires. “Asking the participants to reflect on their relationships helped the participants ‘build a stronger sense of who they were as single people,’ Larson says.”[2. .]


Larson suggests that reflecting on one’s recovery process in ways such as talking or writing may be helpful. Larson goes on the say “if that person can reflect on the aspects of him- or herself that he or she may have neglected during the relationship but can now nurture once again, this might be particularly helpful.” [3.] And, “it might be simply the effect of repeatedly reflecting on one’s experience and crafting a narrative – especially a narrative that includes the part of the story where one recovers” says Larson. [4. .]


This research suggests that journaling, talking to friends or a therapist may help in the process of getting over a breakup. Processing feelings in these ways can be therapeutic. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up in your head. If you’re concerned about burning out your family or friends, try journaling and/or a therapist. Each offers different opportunities to unload your pain, rediscover and rebuild your independent self, and grow happiness.




© 2015 Sharon Martin, LCSW


Sharon Martin, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist in Northern California, specializes in helping adult children of alcoholics and others who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and self-criticism. She has a private psychotherapy practice in CA where she is available for online counseling. Sharon is also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and write the blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today.