08/08/2012 12:20 | By Dr Pam Spurr, contributor, MSN Her

How to walk away from an unhappy relationship

MSN's relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr helps you take those steps to move on from misery.


Alex Reid and Chantelle Houghton (© Rex Features)

TV reality stars Chantelle Houghton, 28, and Alex Reid's relationship has hit yet another hurdle. Evidently she hoped Alex, 37, would give up his cross-dressing alter-ego Roxanne when they had baby Dolly. Now it's alleged she feels unhappy about their future.

You may not have a cross-dressing cage-fighter in your life [and maybe that wouldn't trouble you] but there are plenty of reasons why you might walk away from your relationship.

Here are crucial steps to walking away:

Step 1 to walking away: damage limitation
You can end it with some of your dignity intact or you can create plenty of dramas as you leave. The choice is yours! But if you want to limit the damage to you emotionally and psychologically [and to your ex] look at leaving him as a life-phase to be managed as best as possible. Never forget that self-respect rocks.

Step 2 to walking away: shoulders to lean on
Don't let pride get in the way of getting help. When people choose to walk away often they feel they can't ask for help. This is particularly true if they know from the outside their relationship didn't seem that bad to others. Definitely lean on the shoulders of trusted friends and family when you need support.

Step 3 to walking away: roll with the punches
Even when you choose to leave there'll be good and bad days. Tell yourself now you can roll with the punches. And when the bad days hit you'll do everything you can to pick yourself up. Mental preparation makes walking away a smoother journey.

Step 4 to walking away: analyse this...later
You don't break up with someone overnight and you've obviously thought through your reasons. But one big problem people face when they've walked away is starting to over-think everything: did I do the right thing? Did I give it enough time? Should I go back? Should I have left sooner? Leave a few weeks between the break-up and this kind of analysis.

Step 5 to walking away: midnight misery
We all know the middle of the night is the hardest time when you're trying to move on. You're tearful, lonely and you consider making that call - don't! Resist ringing your ex as you should never make a decision to go back with them - or even lean on them - when you're feeling at your lowest.

Step 6 to walking away: revel in something new
If you two were together for any length of time there'll definitely have been opportunities you passed up because it would've "put him out". Now's the time to go to Greece with your girlfriend, go skydiving for charity, etc, whatever it is that you never got around to with him. Research shows doing those things you wanted to do help move you on quicker.

Step 7 to walking away: don't turn it into a bitch-fest
Your girlfriends rally around and they want to take you out - that's fantastic - go have fun! But it's easy to slip into a bitch-fest with your girlfriends about your ex. It's one thing to share your feelings and toss around the reasons for why you moved on. It's quite another to surround yourself with negativity - it doesn't help that process.

Step 8 to walking away: single satisfaction guaranteed
Embrace your time as a single! You don't have to buy into the romantic myth that you must be part of a couple. Spoil yourself with evenings in, face-mask on, watching your favourite chick flick. Luxuriate in long baths, eat your favourite foods, do things in your own time... you're the only one who counts right now.

Step 9 to walking away: date slowly
Despite being the one who walked away it doesn't mean you're ready to date properly. Yes get out and have fun - and flirt. But don't look for love immediately. Even if you left you're still at risk of plunging into a rebound relationship.

Step 10 to walking away: mind the 'break-up bore'
Time's moved on but you catch yourself still debating with family and friends if you made the right decision. Now's the time to stop yourself becoming a "break-up bore"! Be aware when you start bringing your ex's name up unless it's for something necessary.

For loads more advice follow Dr Pam on Twitter @drpamspurr or visit www.drpam.co.uk. You can also buy her new love and sex guide here.

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