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Getting past your breakup (Susan J. Eliott)

Jesse Martin

July 29, 2013

In Getting Past Your Breakup Susan J. Eliott does an excellent job breaking down a lot of the key challenges faced by those going through a breakup. With a focus on embracing your emotions, and putting yourself first, Susan lays out a solid foundation for recovery. The relationship itself, gets a lot of attention too. She has a particularly poignant piece on the essence of dysfunctional relationships.

A person chooses a partner with a similar degree of “brokenness” and does a dance of dysfunction where they both know the steps. Therefore, one person cannot be so much healthier than the other. Healthy people do not dance with unhealthy people.

Many of us have “broken choosers” as the result of our upbringing and past relationships. So we choose people who represent our unfinished business, hoping on a subconscious level to win over that which we have never won. The irony is that we pick people who represent our past struggles, people who are just like those who came before, and in doing so we will never triumph. We need to disengage from people like our former tormentors because the only way to win is not to play the game.

I like that a lot, the only way to win is not to play the game. Susan later adds

If you listen carefully and look closely, usually your choice of mates will tell you what you need to know about yourself.

Overall, the book is laced with optimism and drawing from both personal and professional experience Susan shows us how to view things in a positive light.

Emotional pain has an upside—it can motivate you to examine certain aspects of your life in a way that doesn’t happen when you are comfortable. The new breakup pain coupled with old, unresolved grief can bring you to a place where you can address issues and recover—in a way you’re not able to do when you’re not facing a major loss.

I very much like the focus on the concept of identity that Susan brings to the table.

After a breakup, the work each person has to do is to lose the couple identity. In other words, each person needs to establish his or her individual identity, and no longer see him or herself as part of the couple they once were.

Susan also has advice for those that want their ex back

Even if you do reconcile, the relationship you once knew has ended, so you must grieve the relationship that has passed and move on from what once was. Because if you do reconcile, it has to be different than it was before, or it will just fail. Again.

A recurring theme in the book is the advice that you must shift the focus onto yourself.

One of the most therapeutic things you can do for yourself is to make the effort to spend time with you. It is critical that you begin to know and value yourself, and you do that by spending time alone, doing nice things for yourself.

On being alone, Susan has the following to say:

To be happy with someone else, it’s important to be happy alone.

If you can’t be by yourself, you will attract others who can’t be alone, and your relationships will be formed out of unhealthy dependency.

Learning to be alone means that if you do enter a relationship, you know that you will be okay no matter what.

Susan has a chapter devoted to breakups with children involved and offers some useful advice. Among other things, she tells us to be open to your children about the breakup and to model healthy behavior. Lastly, she offers some great perspective on love, namely what it's supposed to look and feel like in a healthy relationship.

When you finally meet someone who loves you and respects you in words and actions, relationships take on a whole new meaning. Your life becomes bigger because the things you discovered about yourself in your alone time are still being honored and cared for and you have a partner to share your life with. Love accommodates you and all your interests and obligations. You’re not being asked to give anything up for love and someone is helping to support you while you support him or her.

Getting Past Your Breakup is a holistic guide to getting over your breakup. Susan's poignant statements capture a lot of breakup wisdom. Check it out on Amazon.

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