When a partner announces suddenly that they want to end the relationship, the heartbreak is not always immediate. Often it is preceded by shock and decisions around what to do next: how to deal with being alone, returning to dating and getting on with life as a single person.
For an English-speaking person who is separating from a Swedish partner or from another expat or non-Swede, becoming single in Sweden is life-changing and can be traumatic. Often there are children involved and almost always there are decisions about finding accommodation to be made (we all know how hard it is to find rental apartments in Stockholm!).
According to the Swedish government bureau Statistics Sweden, about half of Swedish marriages end in separation. Sweden has one of the highest rates of divorce in the world. Whether married or not, leaving a relationship can be one of the most stressful and devastating life experiences to endure. The emotional consequences can include feelings of hurt, loneliness, regret, powerlessness and anger. These are all commonplace. For some, separation is sudden and final, but many couples have months of instability before they decide to go their own ways. Whatever the circumstances, breakups can be tough and painful.
Dealing with a Breakup
Some people deal with a breakup by going straight out to look for another partner. Others withdraw from friends and family and keep to themselves. There is no standard formula for recovering from separation but whatever you decide to do, it is important to look after yourself both physically and emotionally during this stressful time. Sufficient sleep, adequate nutrition, exercise and a balance of work, rest and play can all make a difference to your recovery (I covered these in detail in my last post, ‘5 Ways to Deal with Stress’). Isolating yourself and withdrawing from other people is usually not so helpful. And throwing yourself into too much partying or use of alcohol may not be either. The first often leads to more depressed mood and the latter to debilitating hangovers or embarrassing regrets!
If you are coming out of a long-term relationship, a separation or a divorce, you might find yourself ‘adrift’, with a sense of feeling lost or not knowing which direction to take. This is quite normal when experiencing such a major life upheaval. Those who have been through similar experiences advise that you should be kind to yourself and give yourself time to work out what is important to you again. And if you are considering returning to dating, remember that it might take some time to get used to doing that as well, if you are ‘out of practice’.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Talking about feelings and emotions is one of the best ways to manage stress and overcome heartbreak. Many of my clients fear their friends will tire of listening and have sought out counselling for an impartial perspective. Most counsellors are used to talking with people about separation and marriage breakdown. It can sometimes feel a little uncomfortable discussing your personal life with a stranger, but keep in mind that this is part of the counsellor’s job. I am paid to listen, help you explore your feelings and assist you with strategies and to find the best ways forward or adjust to a new life in Sweden. Whatever you decide, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I work with adults of all ages and nationalities, people who have been in LGBT or same sex relationships as well as those leaving heterosexual relationships.
If you’re struggling with separation or relationship issues and want to get your life back on track, you are welcome to contact me right now. You can come to see me on Södermalm in central Stockholm and we can have an initial chat over a cup of coffee or tea in my consulting room. I usually have appointments available within a couple of weeks. If you are outside Stockholm you can make a webcam therapy consultation. Webcam is convenient and private because you don’t need to travel. In any case, consider your options. People often tell me that they started to feel better as soon as they made their first appointment.