In my article about dealing with secret relationships, I describe the problems arising when you hide who you’re involved with. Here, you’ll find tips for healing after a secret relationship ends. You couldn’t talk about the relationship while it was happening, and now that it’s over you may feel ashamed or embarrassed. Hang on, my friend! You are not alone and you will get through this.
Here’s an insight I recently discovered about healing after the end of a relationship:
“How come some people don’t feel heartbroken [after a breakup]?” asks Paul McKenna in the book I Can Mend Your Broken Heart. “Because the people who don’t experience heartbreak at the end of a relationship have already left emotionally. Often they already have someone else to go to, a ‘better’ future already planned. They have thought about the breakup over and over again, and reinforced neural pathways so that their new, exciting future feels very real.”
People who have already emotionally left their relationships — secret or not — will heal and move on faster. People who are caught off guard or blindsided by a breakup or divorce will take longer to heal because they weren’t prepared for the end.
And that, my friend, leads us right into my first tip for healing when a secret relationship ends.
How to Heal After a Secret Relationship Ends
When it comes to healing, the length of your relationship doesn’t matter as much as your heart. Whether you’ve been with your boyfriend (affair partner, secret lover, boss, teacher or coach) for 45 years or four months is less important than the emotions you felt before breaking up.
Whether or not your relationship was secret is also less important than how prepared you were for the breakup. If you were planning or preparing for the breakup in advance, you’ll heal faster.
To heal quickly after a secret relationship ends, you needed to have started detaching from your boyfriend before the actual breakup. Healing is even faster if you were the one who broke it off — which doesn’t mean it’s easy to say goodbye and let go! It just means you were prepared in advance to end the relationship.
But if you didn’t see the breakup coming, you’ll need more time, space and tools to heal your heart.
Change how you think about the breakup
What you tell yourself about the relationship — and the breakup — has a direct and significant effect on how fast you heal. If you can change your thoughts, you will heal faster after a secret relationship ends.
- Take time to think about these questions:
- Why was your relationship secret?
- How healthy or unhealthy was it?
- Did you expect the relationship to end?
- Who initiated the breakup?
Writing is one of the best ways to discover what you really think and feel. Take time to write down your thoughts to those questions. You’ll find yourself untangling emotions and clarifying your thoughts in unexpected ways.
Learn why you feel so terrible
How have your habitual ways of thinking and feeling changed after the end of your relationship? Are you ruminating and obsessing about the breakup, and dwelling on negative thoughts?
“Some habits are created by the intense experience of breaking up, such as the habit of thinking about the ex-partner and repeating the fact that they have gone,” writes McKenna in I Can Mend Your Broken Heart. “Negative feelings are maintained by the repetition of the thoughts and pictures that trigger unhappy feelings. When we stop repeating them, the feelings decay. One of the most powerful ways to start mending your broken heart is to change the habits of your thinking. It is easy to do, it makes you feel better straight away, and it cuts out a vast amount of emotional pain that you didn’t need to feel anyway.”
Remind yourself to think differently
Notice when you feel unhappy or negative. What thoughts triggered those emotions? How did you feel before the thoughts, and how would you feel if you deliberately focused on different things? Are you suffering more than you thought you would?
Sometimes people think secret relationship breakups aren’t as painful as open relationship breakups, but the truth is that secret relationship breakups can be even more difficult to heal from. This is because you haven’t been able to talk about the relationship or the breakup with people you trust. You’re holding it all in too tightly — it was a secret, after all — and you have nobody to process your grief with.
When you feel sad about the breakup, remind yourself that your thoughts control your feelings. Notice your negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. This is easier said than done, I know. It’s hard to end a relationship, even a secret one. There aren’t any quick fixes or solutions that will heal your heart, but if you change how you think you will notice a difference in how you feel.
Tap into the power of healthy habits
Every week I focus on a different theme on She Blossoms. This week we’re exploring the power of small, consistent habits. Over time, they make a huge difference in your life! Here’s how using the alarm on your phone or watch can help you heal after a secret relationship ends.
- Set your phone or watch to go off three times a day. Perhaps morning, noon, and night would work best for you.
- When your alarm goes off, take a deep breath. Remember why you had to keep your relationship a secret and how unhealthy it was for you. Accept that the breakup hurts, but the relationship had to end. Remind yourself that it’s time to move forward into a new season God has planned for you. Take time to focus your thoughts on the healthy, positive things that are in store for you.
This little habit has the power to change how you feel about the breakup. It can help you heal after a secret relationship ends, and give you hope for your future.
How do you feel about your healing and growing forward after the end of your secret relationship? Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below! I read every comment, but don’t worry: I won’t give advice or tell you what to do. It’s your turn to talk.