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Surviving a Painful Breakup in Your 40s

Breaking up is painful at any age and stage of life, but a breakup for a woman over 40 is different. These tips for surviving a split in your 40s will help you recover, heal, and flourish in fresh ways!

Just sit with that for a moment: you CAN recover, heal, and flourish in fresh new ways! You are a strong, healthy, smart woman over 40. You’ve seen the best and worst of what life has to offer. You survived more painful things than a breakup in your 40s, and you will blossom through this experience.

When I turned forty, I wrote one of my favorite articles: 12 Creative Ways to Celebrate and Honor Your 40th Birthday. I also wrote one of my most popular articles on She Blossoms: How to Let Go of Someone You Love. Gently detaching from past relationships and people we love is one of the most important parts of a healthy life. It’s also a smart tip for surviving a breakup in your 40s.

These Blossom Tips for surviving the heartbreak of a breakup are inspired by my She Blossoms readers. We’re pressed, but not crushed. Struck down, but not destroyed! Sad, but not defeated.

How you feel and think about yourself is crucial. As a woman over 40, you need to keep reminding yourself how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned. Don’t let the world tell you that you’re not good enough, not pretty or skinny or smart enough. Those are lies. The best way to survive this breakup is to blossom into the woman God created you to be.

How You – a Strong Woman Over 40 – Will Survive the Breakup

The following “Blossom Tips” are based on psychological research about how traumatic events can spiral women downward. The more you know about how depression and anxiety can overtake your life, the stronger you are. You can fight and survive anything – including a hard breakup in your 40s – if you know what you’re dealing with.

1. Know yourself – especially as a woman in your 40s

starting over after a breakupYou have the power to make the most important decision of your life right now! How do you want to spend the next forty years of your life? You’re approaching midlife, and time is going faster than ever. Don’t waste your valuable energy and time feeling bitter, heartbroken, or anxious about the breakup. Don’t wonder how you’ll ever survive this breakup or how you’ll live without him.

Instead, remember that as a strong, smart woman over 40 you are in control of your life. You have what it takes to recreate your life any way you want. And if you know who you are and where you want to go, then you’ll find everything you need.

2. Replace rumination with “focused distraction”

Rumination is when you keep thinking the same depressing, negative thoughts over and over. You literally change your brain when you keep thinking the same things – you build a groove in your brain, and you can’t dig your way out. I used to ruminate about the past alot, beating myself up for mistakes and failures. I didn’t realize I was creating grooves in my brain that made obsessive thinking a habit!

When you’re surviving a breakup in your 40s, you may find yourself ruminating over your regrets. This is important to remember: instead of ruminating learn how to distract yourself with focused thoughts. For example, when you start obsessing over regrets about your relationship or your self, gently guide your thoughts to more positive, healthy things. Learn how to stop thinking about your ex by practicing the art of thought stopping.

3. Learn about thought stopping

I practice thought stopping when I find myself ruminating on negative or self-destructive thoughts. Now that I know how rumination creates grooves in my brain, I can refocus my thoughts on healthy and positive things. It really is that simple! It takes mindfulness and a conscious decision, but it’s not hard. When the negative, depressing, anxiety-provoking thoughts creep into my brain, I lean into God. I don’t always pray; often I just remember Jesus.

As a woman surviving a breakup in your 40s, you may have a long or complicated relationship with God. This season of your life – when a relationship ends – is a wonderful time to explore your spiritual self. God created you for a reason, and He wants you to blossom and flourish! Focus your thoughts on how you will heal and grow forward in your life.

4. Learn about adaptive coping strategies

An “adaptive coping strategy” is simply a way to take good care of yourself when you’re surviving a breakup, loss, or disappointment. As a woman over 40, you know what foods and activities make you feel good! You also know what choices set you back and spiral you downwards into the pit of despair.

How did you survive a breakup, divorce, death or other traumatic event in the past? If you found friendship or connection with others healing, then do it again. If you were inspired and motivated by joining a soccer team, Zumba class, or yoga retreat, then do it again! You know what works for you. If you need a change in your life, pursue new and different activities.

Getting over a man you think you can’t live without won’t be easy, but it is within your grasp.

5. Be prepared for the triggers

Certain anxiety-provoking circumstances or triggers will make it harder to survive a breakup. Do you fall to pieces every time you see your ex-boyfriend at work? Maybe you have a crying spell or fit of rage when your ex-husband picks the kids up. Maybe Facebook updates send you spiraling downward (that’s my nemesis! Facebook depresses me, especially when I’m trying to survive a breakup or loss).

You can’t avoid all the triggers that will set you back. But, you can be aware of what your triggers are, how you’ll cope when they arise, and what helps you feel better. This comes back to knowing yourself, which was my first Blossom Tip for surviving a breakup in your 40s. The more insight and self-awareness you have, the quicker you’ll heal and flourish.

6. Surrender to the pain

How to Survive a Painful Breakup in Your 40sIn How to Cope With Anxiety After a Breakup, Iyanla Vanzant says, “When you hit a wall, you must not claw at it. Back up. Take a look around. Let go of your needs and desires, and surrender.”

Surrender has negative connotations. But as a woman over 40 I am learning the freedom and beauty of simple surrender. I love Jesus, and have surrendered my life to Him. I’m not attached to anything in this world because I know how fast life passes. People die, seasons end, and beauty fades. Surrendering to the grief and pain of the breakup will help you survive. You are a woman in your 40s; you are wise, experienced, and perhaps even a little jaded and faded. Surrender to who you are.

7. Care for your body and mind

When you’re surviving something as painful as a breakup, you need all the strength you can get! Sleeping is a particular problem for women over 40 – especially if you experienced early menopause, like I did.

It’s normal for women to have trouble sleeping after a breakup or divorce. This is unfortunate because sleep is crucial to health, good mood, and longevity! Your blood pressure, immune system and emotional health are directly related to the quality of your sleep. Research from the University of Arizona shows that poor sleep quality might be one of the reasons breakups and divorce are linked to negative health effects. If you still aren’t sleeping well a few months after the breakup, talk to a doctor. You’re in survival mode, which means you need to prioritize your health.

8. Stop blaming yourself

Some women over 40 tend to default to blaming themselves for everything that goes wrong. Are you one of these women? Do you take responsibility for things and people that aren’t yours? I often do. It helps to notice when I’m doing it.

Blaming yourself for the breakup is toxic and pointless. It won’t help you survive this breakup. In fact, self-blame will make you feel like you’re in your 80s, not your 40s! Blaming yourself will make you feel old, burdened, and responsible for things that have nothing to do with you. Decide that you can’t blame yourself anymore. Find ways to stop seeing yourself as wrong, bad, dumb, or unlovable. You are a beautiful, unique, creative, lovable woman who has years of valuable life experience behind her. And lots of life, love, and light to experience!

9. Give yourself a life makeover

I don’t mean a physical makeover, unless of course you know this is the best way for you to move on after a breakup. In 9 Makeover Ideas for After a Breakup, I share a variety of ways to recreate life after breaking up with someone you love. I’m particularly fond of that article because there are so many ways to start fresh in your 40s: your physical home, job, spiritual self, exercise, food, hair, friends, financial, education….there are dozens of ways to start fresh after a relationship ends.

Instead of focusing on “surviving a breakup”, decide that you are blossoming into who God created you to be. You don’t have to stay stuck in survival mode.

10. Let go of the past

 Surviving a Breakup in Your 40sIn How to Let Go of Someone You Love I offer 25 Blossom Tips, each paired with a practical “how to.” Every tip highlights a different part of who you are—spirit, heart, soul, body, and brain. This holistic approach will help you move forward in different ways, according to your personality, mood, energy level and lifestyle.

The Blossom Tips are actionable insights that will fill your heart and help you heal! If you want to dig into your faith, for example, you’ll love the Spirit Blossoms. If you need emotional healing you’ll find comfort in the Heart Blossoms. If you want to explore the creative side of your personality, you’ll love the Soul Blossoms; they’re designed to help you express who God created you to be! You’ll be physically strengthened by the Body Blossoms, and intellectually challenged by the Brain Blossoms.

I also share stories about letting go from me and a few “She Blossoms” readers. Our experiences with love and loss will comfort and encourage you. My life with a schizophrenic mother, absent father, foster homes, attempted rape, infertility, and three years in Africa taught me that choosing to grow forward is essential for healing.

How are you? Feel free to share your thoughts on surviving a breakup in your 40s. What do you need to hear? Writing about your needs, experience and feelings will help you heal. Sharing your thoughts can help you find insight and clarity, and encourage you to move forward with your life.

May you grow forward and blossom without fear, hesitation, or anxiety. May you find the support, resources, and strength you need. May you be blessed with surprising bursts of sunshine and fresh hope!


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Source of the research on coping with traumatic life events: Psychological Processes Mediate the Impact of Familial Risk, Social Circumstances and Life Events on Mental Health on PLOS.org. 

11 thoughts on “Surviving a Painful Breakup in Your 40s”

  1. I am 62 and leaving a narcissistic, abusive spouse. I am Catholic, female, professional and married 32 years. Leaving my spouse is the most difficult thing I have done in my life. Thank goodness I am doing it now. Nonsensical, illogical things kept me in this marriage, including what my parish community and friends might perceive. I cannot believe that Jesus intended for us to suffer at the hands of a spouse. I have not walked away from my Catholicism, and consider my faith grace and a gift. Recently I heard from a parish priest that people like me are called ‘cafeteria’ Catholics, picking and choosing which parts of Catholic dogma we accept or reject. I finally accepted this and I finally decided to move on.

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