Bookstore shelves creak under the weight of self-help books devoted to healing after a divorce or a breakup. These books generally have two things in common: 1) They feature predominantly pink covers with broken heart graphics and 2) They focus on grieving the loss of an imagined future with your former romantic partner. Were I to write a book on breakups, however, I’d probably call it, “Your Friends Were Cool and I’m Really Going To Miss Your Mom.”
We tend to focus exclusively on the loss of that one important person in the aftermath of a breakup. What is rarely discussed is the loving community we lose as part of the package. The warm and generous parents? Gone. That adorable niece you babysat and nurtured and watched grow into a real little person? Bye. The delightful and close-knit group of friends? See ya.
“Breakups suck for all of the expected reasons,” says Toronto psychotherapist Matt Cahill. “But if you were really close with the family (and friends), you’re losing that on top of your partner. It can actually be a pretty intense situation.”
It is possible, however, to override the awkwardness of a romantic breakup and maintain bonds and connections to the family and friends of former romantic partners.