Sydney Hills Counselling Blog

Blindsided by A Breakup? Tips to Recover and Move On


When the ending of a relationship seems to have come out of left field, it can leave you feeling destabilised and in a state of shock and disbelief. Nothing seems to make sense, especially when in the hours, days, weeks, and even months beforehand, your partner said and did things that were contrary to this ending. At Sydney Hills Counselling we’ll guide and support you through each of the stages of the breakup process and we will help you gain the insight and understanding to figure out what went wrong, why your ex left/ or lost attraction, and how to move forward.

Danielle (not her real name) was engaged to be married to her fiancé of five years. Just a few weeks before he blindsided her, ending their engagement, he was telling her how much he loved her and how he couldn’t wait to start their life together as husband and wife. Danielle’s fiancé suddenly and brutally ended their relationship. Although she was heartbroken, Danielle initially thought the breakup was triggered by the stress her fiance had been under from work in recent months. Unfortunately, what Danielle’s ex forgot to mention was that he had fallen in love with a work colleague and had already begun a new relationship. 

The one thing I can assure you of is that the individual who delivered a devastating ‘blindsided breakup’ to you, didn’t just wake up one day and decide to call it quits. Although you may have thought that everything was going well and that you were both happy, they knew, at least on some level (even if they won’t admit it), that they wanted to end the relationship. What I can tell you is that they didn’t, and hadn’t been communicating with you and that you weren’t privy to what was going on in their inner world. 

Individuals who choose to break up with their significant other in this manner often exude an air of calm and happiness, and speak of a shared future together, while secretly harbouring doubts, fear, anger and perhaps grievances. If the person who initiated the breakup lets loose with a barrage of complaints that you were only hearing for the first time, this is an indication that they were carrying escalating, silent anger in the relationship. You were probably oblivious to the fact that they were keeping a tally of your offences or flaws, or perhaps they turned around and stated that they could no longer tolerate something that you genuinely believed they were okay with. Perhaps they kept telling you they were okay when they really weren’t.

Very often when someone blindsides us with a breakup, it’s almost impossible to get answers as to why they chose to end the relationship so suddenly and brutally. Many times, they will just ‘disappear’, become uncontactable, or just refuse outright to give you reasons for why they broke up with you. They may also give erroneous reasons or excuses that just don’t seem to make sense to us. 

So, how can you get closure when you can’t get answers from your ex? 

Take a moment to reflect and rewind to the beginning of your relationship:

Ask yourself: 

Did you agree or disagree with the reasons they gave for ending the relationship? Do you believe in your heart that these reasons were legitimate?  Were they blaming you? You need to acknowledge why your partner was unhappy enough to end your relationship. Were you happy? (Answer truthfully!)

Were there any pink or red flags you dismissed, or made excuses for, especially in the early stages of your relationship? 

What was it like when you disagreed about something? How did they behave during an argument? How did you behave? 

What happened when you needed to share your feelings and/or opinions?

What role did you play in the relationship? Was it important for you (or them) to think that you/they or the relationship was perfect? If so, why? 

What happened when you disagreed with them? How did they behave when you disagreed? How did you behave? 

Did you feel that you could be yourself and that your boundaries were respected?

If they gave no reason (or very few reasons) for breaking up with you, and there was no obvious sign of their discontent, are you able to see where there may have been a lack of communication about how they were feeling about you and/or the relationship?

Moving On

When we’re blindsided by a relationship breakup, our self-esteem and mental health can be hugely impacted. Rebuilding what has been broken can be extremely difficult and can take time: often months and sometimes longer. 

Here are some tips for moving on in a healthy way:

Grieve: Healing from a blindsiding breakup is a necessary process that involves plenty of grieving. If we consider the five stages of grieving according to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, we may find ourselves experiencing denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance, in no fixed order. Repressing our grief can cause depression, anxiety, obsessing about an ex, health issues such as the suppression of our immune system and other chronic health issues. It’s important to take some time out and cry if you need to. Some people report feeling too numb to cry, however, the tears will usually flow once their numbness subsides.

Cry as much as you need to; eat your favourite comfort foods and indulge in some serious self-care. Grief is the first and most important step to healing after a break-up and the most important step to healing. 

Go no contact: For the sake of your health, both emotional and physical, cutting off all contact with an ex is vital. You don’t need to know where they are, what they are doing or who they are with. Don’t call them or write to them and don’t show up at their home or anywhere where you know they will be. Although it can be devastating to be out of their lives completely, your priority should now be focusing on your own life and well-being. Remove yourself from social media networks and groups where you may see their status, activities, or comments. Block them on social media, don’t text them or ask them to meet with you. Honour their decision to end the relationship and only respond to them if they reach out, however, I wouldn’t recommend this. When someone blindsides you, they pay no heed as to how the breakup may affect you, so please be careful in re-establishing contact with them, as most of the time they will reach out because they are bored or just curious as to what’s happening in your life, not to beg for your forgiveness and rekindle your relationship.  

Get some exercise! Go for a walk or run, join a gym, find a workout online, do some yoga or meditate. Getting into shape and feeling fit and healthy can motivate you and rebuild your self-esteem. An added benefit of exercise after a traumatic breakup is that working out releases endorphins in your brain which make you feel more purposeful and happier. 

Get back into a routine: Being blindsided by a breakup can create chaos in many areas of your life, so continuing on with your daily routines can provide a sense of stability and regularity. Don’t feel pressured though to do things that feel just too difficult. Try to return to or create routines around wake-up and bedtime routines, mealtimes, study or work-related activities, exercising and connecting with others. 

Visualise moving forward: Try to avoid staying stuck in the same place that’s getting you nowhere. Set some personal goals and make a list of steps you will need to take in order to get there. For example, if one of your goals is to ‘get out there’ again, avoid the dating pool, instead, focus on socialising in a less pressured way such as joining a social or interest group. 

Moving on from an ex who blindsided you can be extremely difficult; however, it can be done. It’s a process that will see you experience good days and bad days. Remind yourself frequently that things are getting better, that you’re putting the past behind you, and that you will emerge as a stronger and healthier version of yourself.

Recovering from being blindsided by a relationship breakup can be an extremely traumatic, painful, and emotionally draining experience. You may be wrestling with feelings of grief, anger, jealousy, resentment, and fear. At Sydney Hills Counselling we offer intensive counselling for people going through a relationship breakup. We will help you learn confidence, identify and heal any attachment wounds, master emotional self-control and apply your new skills in future relationships. If you are experiencing difficulty coping after a blindsiding breakup, please contact Sydney Hills Counselling for support. We offer both face-to-face counselling sessions and tele-counselling sessions via Zoom. Please contact us today to see how we can help you on (02) 9159-6277 or via email at [email protected].

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