End of Relationship Anger | Counseling | Therapy

End of Relationship Anger

Jennifer Foust, PhD, MS, LPC , MS, LPC, PHD — Clinical director


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End of Relationship Anger image

Anger Management in Philadelphia: End of Relationship Anger! Has your relationship or marriage ended and do you find yourself feeling really angry? Anger is a very normal emotion to feel when a relationship ends. There are many reasons that you may feel angry. Sometimes people are angry with how the relationship ended. Maybe your partner left you with no explanation or your partner cheated on you and you ended the relationship. Maybe you and your partner have been fighting a lot and the end of the relationship also contains a lot of conflict. Some people also feel angry from resentments and frustrations that they felt in the relationship (even if you don’t have contact with your ex), unfulfilled expectations, breaking of commitment, uncertainty about the future, and feeling helpless about the end of your relationship. You may identify with many of these things or you may be able to add a few of your own. Anger is a response to very hurt feelings and it is your way of defending yourself against that hurt. Angry can be a very healthy emotion and helps you to move forward in your grief process. Anger is a distancing emotion which is what you need when you are ending a relationship and disconnecting from a partner. If you hold on to your anger or express it in destructive or unhealthy ways, it can keep you stuck. You can learn how to cope with your anger as you are going through this process. In addition, you can also learn how to use your anger to move you through your grief and to make some positive change in your life. Anger is intense energy and you can learn to channel it into healthy changes for yourself. This tip will describe some ways to deal with your anger in a healthy manner (and when communicating with your ex) as well as channeling it to create positive change.

First, let’s cover some basic strategies for expressing and managing your anger. One basic strategy is physical exercise. This may be the time to try some exercise that is more strenuous than usual (unless of course that is already part of your routine). Try running, kickboxing, zumba, swimming, etc. Anything that gets your body moving will help but doing something more strenuous gives you an outlet for your anger. Kickboxing is great for anger because you can get out your frustration and anger by punching and kicking a bag and it has the benefit of being a great workout. Try to exercise at least three times a week.

Another basic strategy to express your anger is to write a letter to your ex. Go ahead and write every mean and hateful thing that you ever wanted to say. Don’t hold back anything and make it as long as you want. Write until you can’t write anymore. Fold it and put it away or tear it up and throw it away, but don’t send it. You may want to say all of those things and you may want your ex to hear every word, but sending the letter is a very unhealthy way to express your anger. All it will do it open up a can of worms that will likely put your ex partner on the defensive and/or make things worse. Sometimes people want to write letters to get a response out of a partner who has left without saying much of anything and think that an angry letter will make them respond. It likely won’t get any response. If a person is avoiding talking with you, an angry letter will mostly likely push him or her even further away, which will just intensify your anger. Remember, just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean that it is a good idea or that it will get you what you want. Feel free to have that fantasy of your ex reading the letter, yelling at him or her, slashing his or her tires, beating him or her up, etc. Fantasy is safe whereas doing those things in reality can be very destructive and unproductive. If writing a letter was helpful, journaling about your angry on a regular basis can help you to discharge your angry feelings.

Don’t hold back your tears. Some people get so angry that they start to cry. It may feel like tears don’t make any sense when you are angry, but they do and they can be a great release. If you tend to cry when you are angry, use that release. When you are feeling angry, look at some pictures, listen to music or watch a movie that reminds you of your ex. Use anything that is a reminder of him or her. Crying when you are angry versus crying when you are sad can feel different, but both allow a great outlet for your emotions.

Handling your anger by yourself is one thing. What happens when you are really angry and you have to communicate with your ex regularly or even one time? Relationships and certainly marriages often do not end with one conversation. Often you need to disconnect your lives in some ways and/or you share children together which will involve regular contact if both parents are involved. Try to maintain some control and know going into the conversation that you are going to likely feel angry. Remember, your ex does not make you angry. It is your response to what is said or what happens, so take responsibility for your own anger. You can’t control what your ex does, but you can control your own behavior. If he or she is angry, you don’t have to match that anger. You can work on being calm and try to have a discussion. Shouting matches may feel satisfying when they are occurring but rarely accomplish anything and often make things much worse for you. And if you have kids, don’t use them as a bargaining chip or as a way to get back at one another. This breakup is between you and your ex. With your children, focus on what will make this transition easiest for them.
When you are conversing with your ex don’t say “you made me feel….”, “you never do….”, “you always do …”. Instead try to say “I feel… “, “I wish…..”, “I don’t like….”. These are called I statements and communicate that you are taking responsibility for your own feelings and wants. These types of statements are less likely to place the other person on the defensive meaning that it is much more likely that an actual conversation can occur. When we become defensive, we stop listening to the other person. If you really want to resolve conflict, you need to listen to each other and try to understand the other’s view. You can’t control how your partner responds, but if you don’t feed into name calling and blaming, it makes it more difficult for them to continue it. This can be a very difficult task when emotions are high and you are feeling angry, but it can be done with practice. You can write all the horrible things you want to say about your ex in your journal later.

Now what about channeling your anger in a positive way? Remember anger is a distancing emotion. When we are angry with people we want space from them and want to push them away. One of the ways that you can use it to make forward positively is by allowing it to help you create healthy boundaries with your ex. Earlier, you may have missed your ex so much that you wanted to talk to him or her all the time, find out what he or she is doing, etc. and often doing these things can be very hurtful, especially if you want to get back together and your ex does not or is with someone else. Being angry at your ex helps to give you that energy to create healthy boundaries with your ex and to take care of yourself. It also creates the energy and strength to help you cut off from your ex if you can, especially if your communication with him or her has been very hurtful and caused further damage to your self-esteem.

You can also use your anger as energy to better yourself and your life. Use that energy to move forward in your career. Or maybe you always wanted to get in better shape, work on physical strength, or finally train for that half marathon you been wanting to do. This would be a great time to channel this angry energy into making that happen. You could also use that energy to indulge yourself by taking a fun class or starting a fun new hobby. As the old adage goes, the best revenge is living well. Channel your anger into working on goals that will help you live a great life.

Managing and dealing with your angry after a breakup can be really tough. There is a lot of energy in anger and it you don’t control and manage it; anger can become very self-destructive and unhealthy. Take charge of your anger and learn how to cope with it, work through it, and channel it positively. Don’t let it take charge of you. Anger Management in Philadelphia - Call 267 - 324-9564 and schedule an appointment with an anger management counselor today. Help is available.

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