Why Do I Have Regret After A Breakup? 5 Questions That Help You Figure Out If You Made The Right Choice
Most breakups come with some form of regret: regret that it didn't work out, regret that it ended the way it did, and, if you were the one to do it, perhaps even regret that you broke up with your partner. So, how do you know when your regret over a breakup actually signifies that the breakup was the wrong decision? And when is it just a normal effect of heartbreak?
"Whenever you break up with someone, there may always be a feeling of regret," marriage and family therapist Sophia Reed, PhD, tells Bustle. "At some point, you did actually care about that person, and even if the breakup was the right decision, you can still feel bad about it because of the way the relationship turned out. Or, you can feel regret about having to hurt that person through the breakup itself. Even though you feel regret does not mean that it was the wrong choice."
On the other hand, there are situations where you might break up with someone for the wrong reason and regret it because you really do belong back together. How do you know which situation you're in? Here are some questions to ask yourself to better understand why you regret your breakup and whether it was the right choice.
1. Has Your Life Been Better Since The Breakup?
Granted, this is a hard question to answer if you've just broken up with someone. And you may feel sad for a while whether it was the right decision or not. But after a while, you should notice whether you only feel sad, or whether you also feel free or relieved.
"Like the old saying goes, 'I can do bad all by myself,'" Reed says. "You don't need another person to make your life worse than if you were single. So if your life is better without them in it, then it was meant for you to breakup. Relationships should add and not take away."
2. Did You Think It Through?
If you broke up in the midst of a heated argument, the chances are higher that the breakup was a mistake, because you may not have had the opportunity to carefully consider what to do. If you spent weeks mulling it over, on the other hand, more mulling is probably unnecessary.
Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today, tells Bustle she recommends asking, "Was there a lot of drama? This probably indicates you and your partner were just reacting to each other, and the breakup wasn’t really thought out. It’s worth going back, apologizing, and seeing if you can talk about what is wrong and work through it." Then again, she adds, "If you two fought all the time, that may be a good reason to break up."
3. What Do Your Friends Think?
You're ultimately the one who understands your situation the most, so you can't make a decision just because someone else thinks you should. But if you have certain friends that you trust to have good heads on their shoulders, they may help you talk it through and see things you're missing.
"If they’re saying, 'You know it wasn’t working. I think you’re better off,' then pay attention," Tessina says. "They might be right."
4. Did You Try To Make It Work?
If you both tried your best and couldn't make it work, there's no reason to feel bad about it ending. But if you didn't take measures like talking through your problems, proposing compromises, and possibly going to couples' therapy, this may be an opportunity to do that rather than end the relationship.
"You may need to try a couple of counselors before you find one you can work with. Look for a counselor who is demanding, who expects you to change what you’re doing. It will be the best investment you ever made in your [relationship] and your own happiness," Tessina says. "If you haven’t calmly told the truth about how you’re feeling, and it only comes out when you fight, then you haven’t created a chance to fix things and restore your loving feelings."
5. Is The Reason You Broke Up Really Important To You?
You get to decide what your criteria are for a partner, so nobody can tell you whether your reasons for breaking up were good enough. What matters is whether the issue you broke up over is truly important to you.
"If you’re sure you broke up for a good reason, trust yourself," Tessina says. "Just the upset of being alone and not wanting to date again isn’t enough to get back into a relationship that wasn’t working."
So, only you can say whether your breakup was the right decision — but keep in mind that it often seems like the wrong decision when it was right. If your only reasons for wanting to get back together are that you love and miss your ex, but all the problems you broke up over are still there, they'll still be there if you get back together. Unless you think you have a shot at resolving them, it's better to learn the lesson the first time than to do it all over again.