Marriages between women are more likely to end in divorce than those between two men or heterosexual marriages, according to data compiled by academics in the Netherlands. The researchers found that around 30% of lesbian couples who got married were divorced 10 years later, compared to 18% of heterosexual and 15% of gay couples. Whether you recently got separated or divorced, or you never wed but are undergoing a painful breakup, what considerations should you keep in mind, and what steps can you take to make breaking up a little easier to do?
Breaking Up Can Be Harder For Members Of The LGBTQI+ Community
Breaking up or divorcing a partner can be harder for members of the LGBTQI+ community because their grief can be ‘disenfranchised’. Hidden or ‘disenfranchised grief’ is any grief that is not acknowledged, or that is invalidated by social norms. As reported in a study published in the Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling (B McNutt, 2013), LGBTQI+ individuals who lose a partner often “remain invisible within the larger culture.” Many feel that they are forced to keep their pain to themselves, and they keep their breakups quiet in order to avoid questioning from family members, colleagues, and friends.
What To Expect During A Breakup
If this is your first breakup, then you may be surprised to find that you go through various stages – similar to the ‘cycle of grief’ theory first espoused by Kubler-Ross. This essentially states that losing a loved one (either physically or when they are suddenly no longer part of our lives) can give rise to various stages and emotions – including shock and denial, bargaining, anger and acceptance. You may also find that your ex inhabits your dreams more than usual. Rather than interpreting this negatively, you may choose to find meaning behind your dreams using Freudian, Jungian, or even Gestalt approaches. You can try to analyze what your dreams may be telling you, or even place yourself within the dream and engage in a dialogue with the characters and objects that appear in them. Even if you decide that dreams do not have any value in themselves, don’t think that their repetitiveness means you necessarily want your ex back, or that your ex was ‘meant’ for you. See dreams as your heart’s way of healing and processing often difficult, challenging experiences and emotions.
Relying On Your Support System
Because you may come across individuals or groups that negate or diminish your feelings and emotions during a breakup, it is vital to rely on your support group – including the friendship group you once shared with your ex. It is important to avoid creating triangles, and to accept that friends have a right to maintain their friendships with both of you. However, you can ask friends to simply help out by letting you know if your ex will be at a given social occasion, and you can ask them to refrain from discussing, for instance, news about whom your ex is now dating. Now is also a time to build new bonds, mend those that may have been broken, or strengthen relationships with people you may not have seen in a long time. Not all friends may have gelled with your ex, and they may be delighted to enjoy a bit of ‘us time’ with you, catching up on important events and experiences.
If you have just been through a breakup, then people who disenfranchise your grief will make the experience more difficult. It is important to go through all the stages of grief, understanding that you may feel better for a few days, only to experience a slump a week later. Rely on trusted family and friends to get you through your darkest days, and if you find that your grief is prolonged or severe, seek professional help.
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