One of the hardest aspects of no longer living with your family is finding yourself suddenly alone. Even if you have a good support network of family and friends around, you’ll still spend plenty of time on your own, and it can seem like a huge dislocation after years with your partner and your children. How do you deal with it?
Learn To Be Happy With Yourself
Learning to love yourself and to be comfortable alone might sound like something from a self-help book, but it really is important. It takes time to emerge from a relationship – up to two years, according to some – before you’re free of the baggage and really able to move ahead. (See our article about the Emotional Stages After Separation on this site.)
You can use time by yourself very positively, to consider why this last relationship and others before it ended. See if there’s a pattern that’s been repeated. If there is, identifying it is the first step to breaking it.
It’s also a good time to take stock of your life. What do you want to do with the rest of your life? Are you happy in your job, or is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the chance? This is the perfect time to make that change, whether it’s for a new job or to improve your education to move into another field. A new focus will bring new goals and surroundings and fill your time. It will also bring you a new circle of friends and colleagues, which can be useful when you’re making a fresh start.
Take up a new hobby. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? If so, begin doing it. Even if it doesn’t live up to your expectations, that’s fine; you’ve given it a try, and it might introduce you to something else.
Using Your Network
You will have family and a network of friends that has built up over the years. Make time to see them and spend time with them. Often when in family situations, others become relegated to the background. Being alone is the perfect opportunity to become close to those others again.
Of course, there can be problems with some friends. A number of them will have known you and your ex, and might be on her side, or might not want to be thought to be taking sides. Others, though, will be supportive. Socialise with them, enjoy evenings out.
If You Have No Network
For a number of reasons, it might be that you have no family or friends locally that you can turn to. That definitely makes life harder, since you’re completely cast back on your own resources. You need to make sure you don’t become a recluse. Look around. You’ll see a number of activities advertised locally. Take the plunge and join in with one or two; it’s a good way to develop a circle of acquaintances.
Unless you’re a naturally social person, it can be hard to force yourself to go out and meet new people. However, it’s worth making the effort.
The worst thing you can do is dash out and try to find a new partner. Emotionally, you’re not in a good state to begin a new relationship – all the clichés of on the rebound really apply. It’s better to wait. That doesn’t mean no girlfriends, of course, but keep things light and Try Dating. A new girlfriend can be good; it reminds you that people can find you attractive and desirable. Just don’t make more of it than it really is, for your own sake.
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My wife and i married in sep 2014. I was content to wait for a few years and plan something that we both would look back on as one of the happiest days of our lives. She insisted that we had to get married before the year was out, saying things like " im sick of waiting i just want to be your wife". Anyway i was working away at the time and it meant that i stayed with my father for 5 days a week as i worked for him, and came home on the weekends. Money was tight, emotions were high and things were difficult for us both. After agreeing to get married it seemed like all the bad had melted away. She chose the date wich happened to be 2 days after my 30th birthday, i wasnt overly happy with that but it was what she wanted so that was the date. We saved, i worked and she looked after our 2 daughters. As the time came we got married and i had never been happier in my life. Sure we had our problems, who doesnt but now we were husband and wife and i felt like we could manage anything life threw at us. 4 months after the wedding i was working one afternoon (still away) when my wife rang, she was crying and babbling and not making alot of sense. I calmed her down and asked what was going on, i thought one of the kids had been injured or worse and i was starting to panic. She kept saying i need you to come home you have to come home. I had dropped my tools and was heading for my father to say we had to go now when she said. I dont think i love you anymore.I remember my ears started ringing and i felt instantlly nauseous, i didnt know what to say so i said ill be home as soon as i can and we hung up. The drive home was a blur. I couldnt drive dad had to. I couldnt feel my hands. When we arrived i got out of the car and dad said call if you need me and drove away. When i got inside she was out the back so i went and sat next to her and she started telling me the most horrible story i have ever heard. She felt this way before the wedding. She thinks about being with someone else. She doesnt know what her love for me means anymore and so on. When i pointed out she was the one who "shotgunned" the wedding she said she did so hoping it would fix the way she felt. I was devastated, nothing in my life has come close to hurting the way hearing all that did and nothing could have prepared me for what came next. On sep 24th (the day of my 31st birthday) i moved into a flat in the next suburb. She went from sorry to distant to accusing to hate and finally she asked me to leave the house we married in. The house our children where born in. And she stayed with the kids. I wasnt given much and my father helped me obtain what i needed to live eg: a bed, a couch and so on. In the months between her breaking down and me leaving i had real trouble coming to terms with what she had said to me, it seemed impossible we hadnt even been married for 6 months. I found i couldnt forgive her. And she had moved on with life as if she had never said anything, she told me she had to ge
saddad - 16-Feb-16 @ 11:35 PM
My wife & I were together for 23 years. One day she said that she didn't love me anymore & asked me to leave. Looking back now I can see I was in denial as my wife indicated to me that something was wrong with our relationship. I think it was a cry for help from her but I stuck my head in the sand. Things were made worse by financial problems; our business was in trouble & as she was the main player in the business, she took all the pressure. Can't believe I didn't support her more. I also think I had begun to take her for granted by the end.After I left I went to live with my mother in another country & start anew but after 3 months I decided to return the UK; I felt I was running out on my daughters.
I returned.Speaking to my wife on my return, she didn't sound to happy that I was back.
It's been 7 years since & it's been very tough for me; living in a b&b for 8 mths, unemployment, trying to get back in to my old house that I rented out ( the tenant wouldn't leave), having no money, only able to find part-time work. But after saying that, I've been able to see my daughters which has made me very happy. I must have been living on another planetas during the last 7 years I thought I could get back with wife, although she did blow hot & cold with me. Last week I found out she's in a serious relationship & was applying for divorce; I was shocked. I suffered all the emotional stages of separation in 1 week. I can't blame my wife for getting on with her life & I feel like a idiot in believing we could get back. I have been feeling depressed but realize I've got to move on. As my mate told me: the past is history, the present is now, the future is a mystery.
My main problem now is that I'm prepared to look forward but I'm thinking of moving to another country. This means I want see my daughters; this plays on my mind. my youngest is 14 & doesn't seem to want to communicate with me. She doesn't answer my phone calls & texts & doesn't want to go out with me.
Normie - 14-Jan-16 @ 10:12 AM
mjkyorkshire - Your Question:
@mjkyorkshire - I am sorry to read what you have been going through. The issue surrounding depression is that many people can live in the depression bubble and find it impossible to escape which also leads an inertia to seek professional help. There is one statement of note in your comment; you previously said your depression was a possible problem in your marriage - if you could try and take a step back from your current situation and try and see whether this may have been the case, then things may become clearer. If it was a marital issue then you now have the space to try and get back on track and find a new you. I realise this may seem impossible at the moment and you will need to take baby-steps to start with, but there is a new you in there, it just may take a bit of time to come out. I was reading recently about the comedian John Bishop who under similar circumstances found himself in a devastating marriage break-up. However, this was the catalyst he needed to make himself the person he now is. His wife returned eventually when she re-discovered the man she originally married, whom both she and he said had disappeared. Sometimes we need an experience such as this to jolt us back to awareness. This really is the darkest time for you currently, but if you seek some professional help and attempt to get yourself back on track and push yourself to experience new things, then life will begin again. You have two daughters and a wife who are obviously very precious to you, with help from counselling and family and friends I hope you can bring yourself out from this experience and you too discover your old self. You sound like a very genuine person with a lot of love to give, so please don't give up.
SeparatedDads - 4-Sep-15 @ 12:49 PM
I have suffered from depression since my teens (I'm now late 30s) and last Friday my wife asked me to leave and told me our marriage of 12+ years is over.
I have battled with my depression privately for a number of years, not really realising what impact it was having on my wife and two young daughters.
Recently it all came to a head and my wife (in not so many words) gave me an ultimatum.So I went to see my GP, I've been on anti-depressants since May, I'm on a diet and I'm on the waiting list for counselling with my local NHS.Unfortunately for me my wife has always viewed depression as a state of mind, and has constantly told me to just work through it and it's all in my head.She did ask me repeatedly to go see my GP, but for some reason (I genuinely don't know why), it took me far too long to do it.I did have some counselling about four years ago, but the person we saw them identified it as being marital problems, so we ended up in couples' counselling, which didn't really help, i think it missed the point.
However, my wife has spoken for a number of months about no longer being "in love" with me, and that the spark has gone from our relationship.Everyone I've spoken to says that it happens to everyone at some time, and that eventually you settle down into a comfortable and loving relationship.
On Friday morning she came back to bed and just told me it wasn't working and wanted me to leave, that day.
I've been living in my old bedroom in my parents' attic for the last week, but i'm really not coping.I know I put my wife and daughters through hell with my mood swings and anger (never violent though), but I've never felt a physical and mental pain like the one I experience every waking second of every day.I shake, I don't eat, I don't sleep, and my chest just constantly hurts.My wife was everything to me, and I don't think she realises that without her I would've been even lower than I have been.I know I took her for granted, and she's clearly had enough of that.
I just want to know if, and how, the hurt will ever stop.How do I get on with my life, how do I start again.At the moment I just don't know if I can go on any longer, I'm not at the stage of considering suicide (that wouldn't be any good at all for my daughters for starters), but I just don't see a way out of this absolute hell I'm in.
I'm seeing my girls on a Monday in the day time, Tuesday evenings and Friday night to Saturday evening at the moment, and every time I see them and leave them my heart breaks just a little bit more.I miss my wife so much, she has been the centre of my world since we started dating in 2000, and before that we were at school together from the age of 11.If she wants a divorce and to move on then I will have to accept that, but right now I just don't know how to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
mjkyorkshire - 3-Sep-15 @ 12:56 PM
It affects many people the same way, especially if you are accustomed to residing in a family environment. I find it is always helpful to keep busy engaging in the hobbies, interests and spend time with friends that you enjoy, as well as doing some online dating to broaden your circle of friends. While it may not seem like it now, this feeling will pass. The most important aspect is to get to like yourself and your life again. After a period of time if you will begin to enjoy your space, especially if you have a busy life with your daughter as part of it, but not where you are pining for her all the time.
Jez - 21-Aug-15 @ 2:56 PM
I have been separated now for for years after a relationship that lasted 22 years I have a daughter who is now 15, for some reason i just cant get used to being by myself it feels alien to me somehow. Even now my daughter is almost an adult I so miss being in the family environment. After 4 years I thought living by myself would become easier. I don't see my daughter as much as she's visiting her friends etc. How can I ease the pain of missing my family?
Simon Galsworthy - 20-Aug-15 @ 4:22 PM
After 18 years together, my wife and I have finally separated. We have 2 children aged 9 and 13,and the older one has autism which has been a huge strain. There has been no foul play, or other parties involved, it is just the sad natural conclusion of things. Our marriage has not been good for 6/7 years and we have struggled along with virtually no physical relationship (at my wifes request) and some tough times. I came to accept I was unhappy, and wanted out at least 2 years ago, so I feel I have done the grieving for the relationship and gone through the emotions of that part. However as it is only a month since we told the kids that I was moving out, I am still going through the stages of accepting what this will be doing to them. My dilemma however is that we moved 500+ miles away from my family 6 years ago to be near my wifes family in Scotland so I am very much on my own now. I have been scared of loneliness and have subsequently joined a dating site, and met a very genuine, hard working, kind, sensible and just lovely lady who lives near by (we actually have a couple of common aquaintences) and we are getting on just great and we both feel optimistic about the future. We have been totally open with each other and she is prepared to wait for me until all issues with my ex are resolved. She does not want to cause an obstruction or hinderance to my children. I have read all the advice saying DONT DO THIS so soon, however I am trying to reassure myself that it is just the separation of the practicalities and finances that have just happened, as the emotional break up happened a while back. Yes she is the first person I have met, and who knows, she may well be the one..? However as a deep thinker and anxious guy, I am scared I am making a big mistake, although being with her just feels so comfy and so right. We are both in our 40s. Any good advice really appreciated . Thank you.
sambrooklands - 11-Aug-15 @ 4:18 PM
@Kirsty - I am sorry to hear this, he would need to take it back to court and apply for a contact order. He just has to keep trying and if he wants to avoid the legal costs he can self-litigate, see How to Represent Yourself, link here. I hope you get to see him soon.
SeparatedDads - 16-Mar-15 @ 2:12 PM
Hi, I realise this is a sight for dad's but I am a daughter of a loving dad. My dad split up from his ex quite a few years ago now and they had a son together. My dad is a wonderful dad and there is no reason why the mother should stop us seeing our step brother. I am worried for my dad because he is still so upset that he doesn't get to see his now 10 years old son! I finally had the courage to message her on face book asking if me and my brothers and sisters could see our brother, to get no response. Until a year later she replies to the message saying how hurtful my dad has been to Billy(my brother) and not being able to rely on him. Which is all absolute rubbish, which she possibly has been feeding him. But we each wrote a letter to Billy saying that we miss him and would love to see him. Obviously it will be a slow process. But the mother is refusing to let Billy have anything to do with my dad. What can my dad do to ensure he gets to see his son. He is on the birth certificate. He has tried to see him he also paid for him too. It stopped a little while ago, to which I do not know the reason. But I think he is trying to sort something out to pay for him. Dad's what shall I do??
Kirsty - 13-Mar-15 @ 12:05 PM
Thankyou for your kind reply Seperated Dads. I have set up a contact file with my local solicitors to try and reinstate contact with my daughter for only a couple of hours to start with as I have had no contact since they left. luckily I have some savings I can call upon to help with the costs that will increase if contact is denied. Once again thanks Mky
Mky - 11-Jan-15 @ 3:19 AM
@mky - you are not alone in this, it is the worst time of the year for families to break up. You have to remain strong for your little girl as I'm sure she is missing you as much as you are missing her. You need to try and get contact organised in the first instance and start to rebuild your life and make new friends. I know it is hard, but you can do it. There are also organisations that can help talk you through it, especially the likes of the Samaritans if you are feeling suicidal. You can access it via the link here. You don't need to suffer alone there is always someone willing to lend an ear. Separated Dads also has a Facebook page with many men going through the same or a similar situation as you which may offer you some comfort and support. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 7-Jan-15 @ 12:00 PM
Hi all, my (ex)partner left with my 9 year old beautiful daughter on the 19th Dec, to say I have been devastated is an understatement, although I knew it was coming but chose to bury my head in the sand.So now I find myself all alone, the thought of suicide has even crossed my mind, how sad. The range of emotions where wide ranging and the numbness of it all has subsided as have the many tears, I am left now with the feeling of what next? I have little social life before this and very few friends to hang out with, my only near family are two sisters, one of which I. Spoke to about what happened for about ten minutes on the phone, and now when I have seen her since and try talking about it , I can tell she doesn't really want to know, so I wont bring it up again.The one thing that really gets me in all this is the way I feel totally unapreciated by my former partner its like I ve never existed! I did everything for them, payed all the bills for the home without question never missed a bill, payed for her car , her phone I am no way rich, she hasn't worked for a few years now but I never pushed her to get a job and all I get from her is that I am greedy and selfish. AllI know now is that I miss the sound of my daughters voice in the home so much it hurts and she even took our little dog who I loved.
mky - 31-Dec-14 @ 2:58 AM
I am in a real mess! I had to leave my wife and two young kids in oct as I could not live with the lies, threats and accusation. I am 37 and we had been together since I was 16. My oldest son has come with me. He is. 15. My situation is so complicated as I live in the south of France working in Monaco and don't speak French. My wife works at the same company and after the constant accusation and her even visiting my director feeding false accusation and lies, I had to make the choice to leave my job. I cannot get any other work here as I don't speak French and now have to move back to scotland for work away from my younger kids she rarely lets me see. I saw them for a few hrs on Xmas morning which was just amazing, but last night she made my 8 year old son call me on the phone and made him say he no longer loves me and doesn't want to see me any more. He was in tears the whole time. She pretended she was not there. How can a man ever deal with this pressure?
Young gunn - 28-Dec-14 @ 8:18 AM
@STU - you might find our page How a Separated Father Can Move on link here. I hope this helps - it does get better.
SeparatedDads - 28-Nov-14 @ 2:42 PM
I split with my ex two months ago and it's been hell. I don't like being on my own and tend to spend it in the pub, which means I've started drinking too much in order to blot it out. I feel so useless, can anyone help me find a way around this? I've got Christmas coming up and I just can't face it.
STU - 26-Nov-14 @ 11:43 AM
@Johno, please have a look at our facebook page, if you just search separated dads it will come up straight awwy. There is a great community of dads on there who have been in your position and know how lonely and devestaing it can be.
SeparatedDads - 21-Jul-14 @ 12:35 PM
I have just been told my wife doesnt want to be with me any more. Im totally devastated. My life feels over. We have two wonderful kids and my two year old has down syndrome and needs the stability that we both can provide. However, she wants out according to her because of falling out of love with me. I have faults like everyone, but i wasnt given any chance to fix it. Im gutted. Work is horrible and and i have to still live in my house as if nothings happening. She doesnt work as she took voluntary redundancy 3 years ago, joint choice. I cant get somewhere else as i cant afford two houses.Im going to relate on monday to talk to someone but i doubt it will help. Ive asked her to go but she wont so its killing me ever more. I am in hell. And need help. Please.
Johno - 19-Jul-14 @ 11:58 AM
Jewson, i totally agree with you mate, i too split with my ex in march, was forced from my own home, lost my job, etc etc etc, and to top it off, she'd been cheating on me with a so called mate, i have taken a massive fall mate and lost it all, i live in a stinkin hostel full of druggies and drinkers and you are right, its so hard to see when things will ever start improving, my kids are only 5 + 6 so theyre a bit younger than yours, which i'm sure you know, presents many problems, but dont lose heart mate, things will get better, they arent yet for me but i am trying to not focus on the negatives, and make the best of any situation, be it in the workplace, or dealing with a paticularlly awkward ex!! however, i do know that all this will soon be in the past, and lives inevitably move on, your life will move on and your child will always be in your life no-matter what dirty tricks people try and pull, patience and strength mate, thats what you need to concentrate on!! take care mate!! G.
greg - 21-Nov-12 @ 3:42 PM
I split with my partner back in March and everyone said that time is a great healer . . Sorry have to disagree with that, things are just going from bad to worse, I have had to move to somewhere I don't want to be, she had already moved out of our house and in with her new partner, (we had a joint mortgage, couldn't sell the house until I got somewhere to live and couldn't get somewhere to live until the house was sold). I have no friends or family in the area, very little money due to paying 15% (mutual agreement) for my daughter as well as the normal bills etc.
Every time I ask to see my daughter (12yrs) I get told she is not stopping me and to ask my daughter. I speak to my daughter who says she would love to come and see me as she misses me and we agree a day to go out together only to be told (usually 12-24hrs) before the day planed that she cant make it as she has to go out with her mother and new partner.
Therefore I just end up stuck in the flat where I don't want to be and with next to no contact with my daughter. I don't really know how much more I can take before I go mad or worse