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'What happens when you're dumped without warning?'

Q: He just broke things off out of the blue. As in hindi naman kami nagaaway or anything. Bigla na lang siyang naging distant tapos he wanted to end things. I thought if I gave him space, he'd change his mind, pero sabi niya it's time to move on na raw. How do I deal with this?

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We don't have to tell you that breakups are rough—for everybody. Even the most amicable uncoupling can still feel like a sting. So when you don't see it coming (read: if you get dumped without any warning), it can be the hardest thing to deal with. Cosmopolitan spoke to relationship coach Aileen Santos to get to the root of this issue. First of all, was it really a breakup? 

With so many rules and terms nowadays, dating can be really complicated. So first ask yourself: Were you actually in a relationship with this person? Or were you just getting to know each other? Aileen explains, "The first stage of dating is [when] you are getting to know each other. That means that maybe you found each other through an app or social platform or a friend of a friend introduced you, and you've been messaging each other. The conversation has been going great, and you thought it was going to go somewhere... and all of a sudden, that person disappears.

She continues, "Even though it feels like you were dumped...what that actually was was that person realizing that he or she has no time to invest in the relationship and just let go of it. Or that person realized that maybe you don't have that much in common and just stopped the conversation. It may feel like getting dumped but since there was no relationship to speak of—there was no commitment, there was no agreement, there was no label—that wasn't getting dumped. It [hurts] but it was just that person not wanting to continue the conversation with you anymore."

How to deal with an unexpected breakup

But if you were in a relationship (it was clear, there were labels, and absolutely no room for confusion—the works), Aileen is here to tell you: "There is really no such thing as 'without warning' or 'having no signs.'" Let that sink in. 

"I encounter a lot of people who knew that things were not going as well but we are creatures who would rather deny the things that we are seeing. We want to believe that things are going okay even when they are not. Or maybe you were really just too busy, and that's also another reason why you did not see the warning signs," she elaborates. 

And if you're grieving this relationship, that's completely normal. It is a loss. Aileen says, "When it comes to healing faster, there's a difference between someone who is at fault and someone who is responsible. With breakups, yes, maybe, your partner was the one at fault—but you are the one responsible for your own healing. You might wait for the apology that may never come. You might want an explanation. You might want a reply to the hundreds of messages that you have been sending. But that's not going to help you heal." She suggests considering professional help like turning to grief counseling or grief processing if it's too much to bear on your own. 

There are a lot of things to parse through in breakups. Not only did you lose that person, but there's also the idea of letting go of the memories you shared or letting go of what that person meant to you. If it was a serious relationship, you probably had something planned for your future, so letting go of that is another factor. But this doesn't mean that you need to completely erase him or her from your life. Once you achieve real healing, actually, you'd be able to acknowledge that that person was a part of your life. 

Aileen Santos is a relationship coach and romance author. Her mission is to help people learn love facts versus love fiction so they can have more awesome relationships. She is a registered guidance counselor and has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Aileen is also a certified professional coach internationally.

Do you need career, life, love, or mental health advice? We're here to help you, bb. Join our Cosmo Community on Facebook, post your question—btw, you can do this anonymously now—and use the hashtag #AskACosmoCoach. 

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