After Breakup, Understanding Your Identity as an Un-Partnered Person

Up till now being in a relationship may have been a determining factor in how you view yourself and how comfortable you feel in the world. It may be hard to know or trust who you are without a relationship. Therefore, even when you have said your goodbyes, it can feel like the only way you will get through to the next minute is to hear your ex’s voice: Like they are anchor that brings you back to who you are, or who you understand yourself to be. But, at the same time, you know that indulging that connection feels awful because you don’t want to keep depending on it.

The fear that you won’t know who you are without your ex can be as debilitating as the losing them in the first place. For many people, being in a relationship or perpetually devoted to the idea of one, means knowing yourself as a partnered person, which is often viewed as gauge of success, whether in your world or that of your family’s. It can become interchangeable with feeling successful, confident, accountable and safe. When you let go of that anchor it can seem as if you are floating free of something central to what it means to be you, as if you no longer know who you are. And you have no choice but to find out.

As you work toward discovering who you are as an ex-partnered person, and most importantly as an individual, remember are that you existed in the world before and without your ex. You were somebody before you were their partner. There may even have been times you fantasized about ending the relationship yourself (yes, this is true for many people, even if grief at the loss of the relationship now seems intolerable).

It may feel too overwhelming to shake the feeling that there may be nothing you can do about the confusion, even desperation of not knowing who you are without your ex as a reference point. For now, just work on understanding that it’s ok not to know. It is a part of you to feel unfamiliar with what it means to be an individual. It’s a common struggle. As terrifying as it can be to lose track of who you were supposed to be in the world, this is part of your process. Just experience it. Listen to it. Take comfort in knowing that feeling uncertain about who you are is a part of you too. Know that you will ultimately re-make yourself in whatever form is right for you.

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