Why You Need a Support System after a Break-up and How to Select One


You’ve just experienced the shocker of your life. Your relationship is crumbling before your eyes. You or your spouse, live-in lover, or long-time mate decided to call it quits. How will you ever get through the emotional turmoil of the ending of this relationship? How will you cope with a separation and navigate the divorce process? With a support system.

Who should you call on to hold your hand, tell you everything is going to be ok, keep you from going off the deep end of despair, tell you that you are strong and capable, offer suggestions and tangible help? Your support group, that’s who!

Whether you’ve formalized a support group or not, you can probably identify those special people who should be on your list … close friends who have been with you through the good times and the not-so-good times, through your highs and lows. You’ve been there for them too. So, take a deep breath and get ready to call in the chips and ask for their support.


Be Willing to Ask for Help

Sometimes we’re hesitant to ask for help, don’t know how to ask for it, feel awkward about it. (Confession: I’ve been totally guilty of this.) Maybe asking for help makes us feel weak or we fear that we’ll come across as weak by others. Well guess what? Don’t buy that! We’ve all been there; at that intersection of “What do I do next?” and “I can’t do this alone.”

Giving and getting support is a basic human need. Muster up your courage. Ask. Your true friends will rally. Make that phone call, knock on the door. Begin the coping process with a little help from your support group.


What Can A Support System Do?

Where to begin? Think about what you really need right now. Make a list, if it helps you form a clear idea of what’s critical to your immediate functioning and sanity. Some ideas might be:

·         I need someone I can vent to about my frustration, anger, or hurt;

·         I need advice on what steps to take next;

·         I need a change of scene to put physical distance between me and my ex.

Next, think about the people in your life that can answer those needs. Each member of your support system can help you in different ways. Some may be good listeners; some may be good at offering suggestions; some may be good at making you feel calmer, safer, loved.

Think about what makes each of them special. Some of them may be able to satisfy multiple needs:

·         Who can give you a different perspective on your situation?

·         Who can help you see your blind spots?

·         Who encourages you, motivates you?

·         Who understands you, relates to what you’re going through?

·         Who acts like your mother and makes sure you’re taking care those day-to-day activities like eating properly, taking your vitamins and meds, shopping for groceries, making it to meetings and appointments, taking care of business?

·         Who is good about making and returning phone calls, text messages? Who can you reach at a moment’s notice and can drop whatever they’re doing to talk or help?

·         Who knows when and how to tell you to get off your butt and take action? Quit feeling sorry for yourself?

·         Who doesn’t get offended when you blow off steam with them or use them as a crying towel?


Supportive People Aren’t Just Your Friends

Who are people you can ask to be on your support team? They may not necessarily be your bosom buddies. They may be not-so-close friends. They could be family members, neighbors, a doctor, your pastor, your health coach, your therapist (put therapist high up on the support group list), a member of your book group or networking group, a co-worker. Put your pet pooch or cuddly lap cat on that list too – their unconditional love can melt those feelings of hostility, fear, depression.

Who shouldn’t be on your list? People who have a negative disposition, are pessimistic, drain your energy, make you feel down, or might have a hidden agenda for wanting to help you. Be discerning.


The Better Parts of Yourself

Your support system is a group of people who share a part of your life … who act as cheerleaders, moms, counselors, sounding boards when you are making a life transition. Collectively, they are like the parts of yourself that are missing right now, the necessary pieces to get you through a rough patch. They are what making human connections are all about.