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Dealing with Feelings of Anger about your Ex when a Relationship Ends
Breakups Often Lead to Anger
When a relationship comes to an end, we go through a cycle of feelings similar to those that people go through when dealing with the death of a loved one. One of the stages of grief that we go through is feeling anger. This is a natural response to the end of an important relationship on our lives. However, it can also be a very destructive and self-destructive phase if we don’t deal with it properly. That’s why it’s so important that we understand and deal with the feelings of anger that we have when a breakup occurs.
What is anger?
It is important to realize that anger is just a feeling, an emotion. When we talk about anger, many people think first about what anger looks like. We think of anger as slammed doors or violent outbursts. This can cause us to be afraid of anger, especially if we have had problems with expressions of anger in the past. When dealing with the emotions that we are feeling after a breakup, it is important to separate the feeling of anger with the actions that we take to express our anger. Anger is just a feeling. It is a valid feeling. It is a natural feeling to have at the end of a relationship. And it is important to have this feeling rather than repressing it.
Why do we experience anger when relationships end?
Anger is something that we feel when we perceive that we have somehow been wronged. Although we may know intellectually that the end of the relationship wasn’t anyone’s fault, we still feel like we were wronged because the relationship didn’t work out.
Some of the reasons that we experience anger when a relationship ends include:
· It’s part of the disappointment. When we are in a relationship, we have a lot of hope for what that relationship is going to be like. Maybe we want to get married and have a family and stay together forever or maybe it’s as simple as wanting to still know each other for a long, long time. When a relationship ends, we are disappointed. And that feels like a wrong that was done against us so we get angry.
· It may genuinely seem that the other person wronged us. There are things that people do that cause breakups. These things can cause a genuine feeling of being wronged by the other person. The biggest example is when the breakup is caused by cheating; you are angry that your significant other is having an affair. However, you may also be angry that the other person didn’t try harder or didn’t want the same things that you did.
· Others may have done something that hurt us. We may feel that the relationship was hurt by other people. The person you’re spouse cheated on your with, the friends who weren’t supportive of the relationship and the family members who didn’t teach us to love properly when we were young can all be subjects of our anger. We feel angry because we are hurt.
· We may feel that we have wronged ourselves. A breakup can often cause us to have feelings that are related to feeling like we have harmed ourselves. We may be mad at ourselves for falling in love with someone who turned out not to be right. We may be angry at ourselves for not being able to try harder to work things out. If we initiated the breakup, we may have feelings of doubt or regret and be angry at ourselves for making that decision. Any type of guilt can lead to anger with ourselves.
· We want someone to blame. Sometimes anger just has to do with the fact that we are trying to make sense out of why this relationship doesn’t work. We get angry at ourselves, our ex, others and even God or the universe because we just want there to be a reason that the relationship ended.
· Anger is a normal part of the grieving process. We get angry because it’s natural to go through a phase of anger when we are grieving.
How to deal with feelings of anger when a relationship ends
It is important to learn how to properly deal with feelings of anger when a relationship ends. Failure to do so can result in the anger lingering for a long time and causing you depression, health issues and problems in other relationships. It can also lead to you acting out on the anger in ways that harm others. You want to go through this part of the grieving process in as healthy a manner as possible. Some of the ways to deal with feelings of anger when a relationship ends include:
· Acknowledge and accept the anger. Notice when you are angry. Accept that you are angry and have the right to be angry. Remind yourself that being angry is normal and that you won’t feel angry forever.
· Express the anger in writing. Many people find it helpful to keep a journal or to write unsent letters to express their anger in an appropriate way.
· Work with a therapist. You can work through all of your feelings of anger in a healthy way by seeing a psychologist.
· Channel the angry energy into productive things. It’s healthy to acknowledge being angry but you shouldn’t sit and dwell on it each day. Use that energy to clean the house, go to a kickboxing class or start volunteering.
· Choose behaviors based on beliefs, not feelings. Acting out your anger usually doesn’t make you feel better for long. (Really, keying his car is just going to make you feel bad!) Decide in a calm state of being how you want to behave towards your ex. Choose actions that are based on those beliefs and not on the feelings of anger that you have. This can take hard work but it’s better to act consciously than to react impulsively.
· Work on forgiveness. Ultimately, you will want to work on forgiveness in order to move past the anger that you are feeling. This can be done in any number of ways, ranging from taking concrete actions to framing the situation according to your religious beliefs. Find a path of forgiveness that works for you.
Dealing with your ex’s anger
It is important to realize that you are not the only one who is going through feelings of anger. Your ex is probably going through the same stages of grief that you are and feeling angry as well. This anger may or may not be directed at you and it may or may not be something that you see. If your ex does express anger towards you, keep the following things in mind:
· It is a stage of the grieving process that everyone goes through. It really helps not to personalize the anger. It is normal for your ex to be angry even if you don’t think it’s justified. You don’t have to feel guilty as he or she goes through this stage.
· Accept that you cannot force forgiveness. Your ex may be angry at you forever. You cannot make other people forgive you or stop being angry at you. You can apologize for things that you feel you’ve done wrong and you can make amends for those things. However, you can’t make someone stop being angry. Accepting this is the best way to move on.
· Conversations should be productive. If you’re both angry about the end of the relationship then you can end up having endless fights that go nowhere. Make a rule that your conversations should be calm and productive. Take space from one another when you can’t stick to that rule.
· Anger should never be abusive. You need to set appropriate boundaries when your ex is going through this stage. You shouldn’t let your ex mistreat you with verbal or physical abuse. You may need to cut off contact at least for awhile. If things get out of control, get assistance from the authorities.