The last breakup I went through redefined my understanding of heartbreak. While I once believed it would always manifest as an outpouring of emotions, I learned that heartbreak can carry with it a perceptible silence. It can be something that takes root and builds over the course of months or years. And while the experience was unfamiliar at first, it pointed me to the many opportunities for growth and the benefits of breaking up.
Don’t get me wrong—the end of anything hurts. And while it’s important to give yourself the time to feel your emotions, recover, and heal, a breakup can be a beautiful opportunity to reflect, develop a deeper connection with yourself, and ultimately transform your life.
Here’s what I’ve learned from being through the relationship ringer and ending up on the other side of heartbreak. I’ll start with a spoiler: though breakups have tested what I believed I was capable of going (and growing) through, they’ve shown me that I have more resilience and more strength than I once thought was possible. Today, I’m sharing some of the unexpected benefits of breaking up, and how it can help you arrive at a place with more love, kindness, and empathy in your heart for others—and for yourself as well.
Featured image by Kristen Kilpatrick.
9 Unexpected Benefits of Breaking Up
1. You’ll Learn That Grief Can Manifest In Different Ways
Over the last few years, I’ve grown familiar with the concept of loss. I’ve learned that while death is perhaps one of the most evident examples, any absence can draw out the challenging emotion of grief. I remember during quarantine when intimate interactions with loved ones were replaced with the ubiquitous (and tiring) use of screens. And even the joy I once felt doing my weekly grocery shopping trips was swapped out for anxiety and the fear of getting sick.
It took months before I had the language to convey the grief I was feeling—the pain and near-anguish running through me because of the loss of my past life.
Of course, while the experience is different, these emotions can be commonly felt after a breakup. The end of any relationship marks a loss. It isn’t only the acknowledgment that someone won’t be in your life in the capacity they once were, but you’re saying goodbye to what your life looked like with them in it. Your schedule will shift and your routines may change, and there’s a certain sadness that comes with it.
However, I found that by experiencing this grief myself, my eyes and my heart became more open to the loss people were experiencing all around me. Suddenly, I had more empathy and grew more sensitive to others’ difficulties. Friends and family were more willing to share their stories, and very quickly, I felt less alone. I can’t explain the profundity of the connection, but in a way, the humanity it allowed me to experience introduced me to a new sense of gratitude.
2. You Can Reinvest In Yourself
To be clear, just because you’re in a romantic relationship with someone doesn’t mean you can’t take care of your own needs or address your wants. However, by definition, entering into this level of commitment with another person implies that a certain portion of your headspace is directed their way. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing—it’s wonderful to be able to care for and offer love to someone else.
But I’ve found that one of the benefits of breaking up is being able to double down on my self-care rituals and personal development practices. In the weeks following my breakup, once I felt able to, I revisited the titles on my to-read list and got moving on the to-dos I’d been putting off. It was a reminder that though people may come and go from my life, I will always have me—and that’s a relationship I intend to cherish forever.
3. You Can Pour Into Other Relationships
Speaking of dedicating your time elsewhere, the end of a romantic relationship can clear your schedule for friend and family time. When you feel ready or are craving a little socializing, call up your closet gal pals or set a date to get to know a coworker better. You can even establish weekly or monthly calls with your siblings so you’re not playing the constant catch-up game that I’m very guilty of myself.
The truth is, while we don’t need a million people in our lives (the dissatisfying pursuit of social media fame confirms it), we do need different people to engage different parts of ourselves. And as someone who values the depth of a conversation or connection more than the number of contacts on my phone, I make sure to pour into my friendships and relationships with my family each day.
4. You Can apply what you’ve learned to future relationships
To be honest, I’m not a fan of the attempted consolation “they weren’t right for you anyways.” However, I do love the very real truth that we are always growing and amassing more information. From any experience, we learn new ways of showing up that are more in alignment with our inner truths. Everything we do, every perceived mistake or fault, is an opportunity to learn.
Even now, in a relatively new relationship, I find myself secretly thanking his ex-girlfriend when I learned that she was the reason he loves going on walks. I can reflect on my own journey as well and feel thankful for the ways past partners have helped me learn more about myself—what I love about my life and the people I want to invite in. I’m a better communicator, listener, partner, and person because of what I’ve been taught over the years. And though pain may be a part of that, there’s a knowing sense of gratitude woven throughout the tougher moments as well.
5. You May Find a Renewed Sense of Energy
Again, this can come after the pints of Ben & Jerry’s have been consumed and every Bridget Jones movie has been watched. While it might not materialize in the espresso-like shot of energy that many a rom-com protagonist feels when they’re ready to get their groove back, there can often be a resurgence of creativity, motivation, and passion after undergoing such a significant life change.
What are ways you can channel your feelings or any insights you’ve reflected on since the breakup? My initial inclination has been to write it out—through poetry and journaling. However, you might want to dance, paint, craft a vision board or do anything creative that resonates. The intensity of your emotions can lead to a rejuvenating spark that might very well be the answer to any creative block. Who knows—you might discover a new hobby or even feel inspired to change your career path in the process.
7. You Can Practice Asking For Help
This has been a BIG one for me through the years. For women especially, because we’ve been conditioned to do everything all by ourselves (with a smile!), the thought of asking for help had always felt like a moral failing. Why couldn’t I do it all alone? What was wrong with me that meant I had to ask others for support? Newsflash: Nothing is wrong with you and we *need* others to function.
Especially following a breakup, it can be tempting to self-isolate and believe that no one wants to spend time with you while you mope. But I’ve learned that being vulnerable lets me experience a profound sense of belonging and connection. Truly: there’s nothing more comforting than having your best friend hold you while you cry.
8. You Can Do a Life Edit
With open, seemingly limitless space to reflect and re-evaluate, you have the ability to perform a life edit. Not sure what that is? I was first introduced to the idea from one of my favorite podcasts, Almost 30. Essentially, a life edit is the practice of taking intentional steps toward creating the life of your dreams. It’s taking action and organizing all areas of your life so that you’re living in alignment with your values. There’s no time like the present (following a breakup), to design a life that’s true to you.
9. You Will Learn How to Thrive After Hardship
Ultimately, what all of these unexpected, but very real benefits of breaking up lead to is re-emerging as a transformed, strong, compassionate, and self-aware individual. Through grief, loss, and the experience of opening ourselves up to others, we can craft a life that’s filled with significance, meaning, and love at every turn.
Remember: that life looks different for everyone. But so long as you remain adamant and honest about the direction you’re headed, you’re bound to attract a lot of good along the way.