Sex therapist Rachel Cooke joined Jennifer Zamparelli on the RTÉ 2FM to talk all things breakups - why they happen, how they should happen, and what to do after.
Romantic relationships can end for any number of reasons whether it be bad timing, incompatibility, poor communication, poor behaviour or anything in between. According to Rachel, our ability to deal with conflict is a big decider when it comes to working on or abandoning a relationship.
"I would say it's mostly around people who haven't learned how to deal with their differences and manage conflict," she told Jen. "They don't pay attention to the relationship anymore so they just sort of feel like they've fallen out of love and they think that that's it and that's over.
"They don't communicate their needs and their boundaries well so, again, there's going to be a lot of conflict and resentment. And then, often people's self awareness is low, they don't actually know what they want so they're not able to communicate that."
According to Rachel, the brain processes a break up "very much like a physical pain" and can feel "absolutely excruciating". She adds that some people may feel guilt and shame over how upset they are, but insists that it's perfectly normal to grieve a relationship like a death.
"It is a type of a death; it's a death of a shared life together - past, present and future. It's about letting yourself feel angry as well and really making space for that."
Rachel recommends looking after your body as well as your mind during a break up by getting out for exercise and maintaining a healthy diet as well as finding a balance of down time by yourself and staying connected with friends and family.
Ideally, heartbreak would come with a sell by date or some kind of formula by which we could calculate how many weeks we had left to feel sad over someone. Sadly, though, this simply isn't the case.
"In my experience, there is no set amount of time to grieve and feel awful afterwards," says Rachel. "Sometimes you might have had an amazing connection with someone and only been with them for a couple of weeks, a couple of months, maybe even one date, but what that represented to you might have been really massive."
"And then you might have been in a relationship or a marriage for 10, 20, 30 years but, possibly, you did a lot of the grieving and processing and the relationship ran its course while you were still in it. So, potentially, you're not going to spend that much time afterwards feeling that bad about it."
No matter the length of the relationship, Rachel says that if a break up is taking up a lot of your time and energy and you're struggling to see past it, visiting a therapist may be your best course of action.
Listen back to Rachel's tips for breaking up with someone the right way and spotting red flags in a relationship by clicking on the audio above.