Overcome The Impulse To Deny a Breakup: Get Over a Breakup

What not to do after a breakup? Please don't deny it's happening. Black and red cracked heart with a gold background.

Breaking up with someone can be difficult and painful, and it can be effortless to deny the reality of it and pretend it isn’t happening. But this is unhealthy and can make it harder to cope with the pain.

This article will explore denial, why it occurs, and strategies to overcome it to accept the loss and move on. We will also look at how to find healthy coping mechanisms to support yourself through the process.

What Is Denial

Denial is an unconscious psychological process in which an individual attempts to avoid reality by refusing to believe that a particular event has occurred. It is a typical response to trauma and can be an effective defense mechanism in the short term.

In a breakup, denial can manifest as an unwillingness to accept the new reality and trying to ignore the situation. This can be especially detrimental when the individual continues to deny that the breakup has taken place, even when presented with evidence to the contrary.

Types of Denial

When a relationship ends, it’s natural to feel various emotions, including confusion and sadness. However, it’s also common to deny the reality of the breakup and try to block out the pain. This type of denial can manifest in various ways, including:

  • refusing to acknowledge the separation
  • avoiding any reminders of the relationship
  • convincing oneself that the breakup was a “mistake”
  • convincing oneself that everything is “normal”

In addition, some individuals may try to remain friendly with their ex, acting like nothing has changed to ignore the painful reality. It’s important to recognize when denial is occurring and take steps to move forward.

Causes of Denial

The impulse to deny a breakup can stem from several causes. Often, people try to deny the reality of separation, breakup, or divorce as:

  • a defense mechanism to shield themselves from potential pain
  • fear of the unknown with being alone or single
  • feeling unprepared to handle the complex emotions
  • the need to appear strong in the face of a breakup
  • the situation will improve or that the person will change their mind

By denying what occurred, one can maintain the illusion of strength and control and avoid feeling vulnerable or exposed. All of these causes of denial can block people from moving forward and healthily dealing with a breakup.

Recognizing When We Are in Denial

It is essential to recognize when we are in denial about a breakup. Denial can manifest in different ways, such as avoiding the topic altogether or actively refusing to accept the reality of the situation. We may also downplay the significance of it as if it is something other than what needs to be taken seriously. This sign of denial can be an obstacle to healing. If we are in denial, it is essential to be open to the emotions that come up as a result.

Symptoms of Denial

Denial is a natural response to pain and distress; however, it can become a dangerous habit if not addressed. Symptoms of denial can include a wide range of behaviors, from trying to convince yourself the breakup didn’t happen to avoiding activities and people that remind you of the separation. If you are in denial about a breakup, it is essential to recognize these symptoms and take steps to move past them.

Strategies For Identifying When We Are in Denial

The most crucial step to overcoming the impulse to deny a breakup is recognizing the signs that you may be in denial. These signs can include:

  • excessive rationalization and justification of the situation
  • clinging to the hope that the relationship can be restored
  • feeling disconnected from your emotions
  • extreme avoidance of the problem
  • denial of the reality of the situation

If you find yourself making excuses for your ex’s behavior or blaming yourself, you are likely in denial of the breakup. By recognizing these signs and confronting the reality of the separation, you can take the steps necessary to move on.

Overcoming The Impulse to Deny a Breakup

This impulse to deny a divorce, separation, or break-up can be incredibly strong and difficult to overcome. However, it’s essential to recognize that denying the breakup will only prolong the pain and may even prevent healing.

The best way to overcome this is to acknowledge the feelings associated and accept that it has happened. It’s also important to not focus solely on the negative aspects of the breakup but to remember and appreciate the positive experiences that had been shared as well.

Acknowledging and Learning from Your Feelings

Acknowledging and learning from your feelings after a breakup is integral to healing. It would help if you allowed yourself to go through sadness, anger, grief, relief, contentment, joy, and freedom. Doing so will help you to move through the stages of grief in a healthy and meaningful way, such as identifying and resolving underlying issues, making peace with the past, or finding closure and a sense of renewal.

It might seem difficult to recognize the pain associated with a breakup, but it benefits your mental and emotional health for you to learn from it.

Accepting The Loss and Moving On

One of the most challenging aspects of accepting and moving on from a breakup is coming to terms with the fact that the relationship is over. It can be tempting to deny the situation’s reality and cling to the hope that the relationship can be saved.

Instead, it is vital to acknowledge the loss and to allow yourself to feel the emotions associated with what happened. This can help you to process the loss and eventually work towards a more positive future.

Finding Healthy Coping Mechanisms to Support Yourself Through the Process

Healthy coping mechanisms can include spending time with friends and family, engaging in exercise, writing out your feelings in a journal, or even seeking the advice of a mental health professional. These coping strategies can help you get through the process of ending a relationship constructively.


  • Psychology Today. Denial, Psychology Today Staff,
  • McLeod, Saul. 10 Defense Mechanisms: What Are They and How They Help Us Cope,
  • Houston BK. Viability of coping strategies, denial, and response to stress. J Pers. 1973 Mar;41(1):50-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1973.tb00659.x. PMID: 4692329.

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