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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
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"Breaking Up Is Hard To Do," Why?

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 8th 2010

"Breaking Up Is Hard To Do," Why?It comes through popular songs, past and present: losing a lover, breaking up, is painful and depressing. Neil Sedaka's song is one example, "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do."
Here is the first stanza:

"Don't take your love away from me
Don't you leave my heart in misery
If you go then I'll be blue
'Cause breaking up his hard to do"

This is a follow up to an old article: "Rejection, why does it hurt so much" at this URL:


Why is breaking up so hard to do?  People experience depression when their boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, leaves them. Divorce is never easy. Is the pain that accompanies a break up caused by the loss of the lover?  Perhaps we feel a loss of love itself? Perhaps we that we will never find a another lover?

While all of these provide part of the answer as to why ending a relationship is so fraught with awful feelings, there is a missing element and that has to do with the attack on the self.

Self Attack:

What is really experienced, in a break up is not only the loss of the other, but, a deep self blame for this loss having occurred. In other words, the thought goes something like this: "I lost my dearest love because of the self I am. Had I been a different person, this would not have happened." This is despair over one's self and the emotions are intolerable. Now this self, this person I am, me, "I have to live without my lover, but with myself."

Another way to express this dynamic is to think that, "It is not only that he, or she, left me but I deserved to be left because of who I am."

It is fairly obvious that this state of mind leads to suicidal thoughts. These thoughts have to do with getting rid of that hateful self.

How to Cope:

Understanding the tragic feelings and conflicts that are experienced by people in this situation, it is natural for the reader to ask, "So, what do I do?" The answer to this important question is complex.

There is always the possibility of seeing the medical doctor, either primary care physician or psychiatrist, so that anti depressant medication can be prescribed in order to relieve the pain until the crisis passes.

While that is an option that will help in the immediate situation, it does not help the individual to learn much so that the next relationship can be handled in ways that are healthier. That is why psychotherapy is important, whether it is "cognitive behavioral" or "psychodynamic therapy."

The importance of psychotherapy lies in helping one's self to accept the person they are instead of chronically wishing to be someone else. This means accepting the fact that each of us has certain limitations and imperfections. In accepting the fact of these imperfections, it is easier to be more self forgiving when things do not work out, especially in relationships.

None of this means that breaking up will be easy to do, if that happens. However, it can lead to greater forgiveness of ones self.

What are your thoughts, experiences and opinions about the loss of a partner?

As always, your comments are strongly encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD


Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Friends versus no relationship - cass - Nov 15th 2010

Breaking up a relationship is truly hard when it is imposed upon you or the other way. But what is even harder is when the imposer wants to remain in a friendship style of appearance for joy for themselves and preferably me too. It seems like a cage with a key that is gone with the other and when the friendship comes time to open you up out of the meltdown you are going through from me breaking up. Oh what whims we weave when we don't think  of the heart of others that try to survive the mental anguish from the break upitself.It really is darn hard on your entire body health.

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