Psychologist reveals five different types of 'relationship grief'

The five different types of ‘relationship grief’ revealed: Psychologist decodes break-up emotions – from accepting someone you love has become a stranger to feeling like a ‘failure’

  • Dr. Lalitaa Suglani is a Chartered Psychologist based in Birmingham
  • She creates content about mental health topics for her following on Instagram
  • In a recent post, she discussed five different types of relationship grief
  • Said relationship grief isn’t just about death, but about partnerships changing 

A psychologist has revealed five different types of relationship grief, from feeling like a failure because a relationship has ended, to processing that someone close has become a stranger.

Dr Lalitaa Suglani, a chartered psychologist based in Birmingham, shared the information in a post on Instagram, where she has some 100,000 followers. 

In her post, she explained that we rarely discuss ‘the grief that people experience when a relationship ends or changes form’, and that relationship grief does not just occur as a result of bereavement.

According to the psychologist, ‘grief is a natural part of relationships ending and changing form’, she adds that people going through this should be ‘patient and kind’ to themselves.

Relationship grief comes in multiple forms, including coming to terms with your once intimate partner now being a stranger, and feeling like a failure over the partnership ending, according to a psychologist (stock photo)

‘A relationship will always evolve as we grow and develop, this can sometimes mean our needs can change in a relationship and this is why communication and understanding it so important,’ she explained.

Dr Lalitaa Suglani’s 5 types of relationship grief

1. Letting go of the idea of how you thought your future will look.

2. Coming to terms with no longer depending on that person and feeling alone.

3. Feeling like a failure because the relationship ended and did not turn out how you hoped it would.

4. Processing that someone who was once your best friend and intimate partner has moved on and you are now strangers.

5. Separating from a partner after having children and letting go of an idea of how family life will look. 

‘Grief is also very personal. It’s not very neat or linear. It doesn’t follow any timelines or schedules. 

‘You may cry, become angry, withdraw, feel empty. None of these things are unusual or wrong. 

‘Everyone grieves differently, but there are some commonalities in the stages and the order of feelings experienced during grief.’

Dr Lalitaa added that relationship grief is not just about someone you love dying, it’s  also about the ‘grief that comes when you have to let go of an idea you had for your future’.

Among the five types of relationship grief she listed are letting go of your vision of the future you thought you would have, and coming to terms with no longer relying on the person you were in the relationship with.

Another was feeling like a failure because the relationship didn’t turn out how you had hoped it would, and instead ended.

Dr Lalitaa also listed processing that your former partner, who was once your best friend as well as someone you were physically intimate with, is now a stranger. 

Finally, she said that for those who have a family together, separating means having to let go of your vision of how family life should look. 

The psychologist also noted in her post that there are many emotions that can be felt as a result of relationships changing and becoming uncertain, including confusion, anger, pain and more.

She said: ‘It takes time to process these emotions, it is not something we can process overnight.’ 

Instagram users took to the comments section of the post to share their own thoughts on, and experiences of, relationship grief.

A number of Instagram users took to the post to share their own thoughts around relationship grief and how it has affected them

One revealed: ‘I’m going through this at the moment and it’s so painful. It physically hurts and I just wish a magic wand could be waved and it all go away.’

Another added: ‘Feeling like you have lost a best friend as well as a partner can also be rough as you feel like you are grieving for two relationships not just one!’

And a third wrote: ‘Thank you, I needed to see this. Makes me feel less crazy for feeling the way that I do at the moment.’ 

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