Dealing with changing relationships

Coping with change and loss in relationships

Activities for coping with work and personal relationship changes

The relationships you have with other people will change and develop throughout your lifetime. It is important to understand the impact changes in relationships may cause you and how you can manage them.

This page will help you reflect about how relationships in your life may change and consider ways of managing changes and loss.


Life changes that may affect your relationships

All changes in life, good or bad, affect you and your relationships. Here are examples of changes you may have to deal with:

  • new relationships, e.g. new jobs, becoming parents
  • loss e.g. bereavements, divorce, redundancy, retirement, bankruptcy
  • change in situation eg. having a baby, moving in together, or being evicted and becoming homeless
  • life event e.g. accidents, traumatic event, graduating from education, getting married
  • professional development e.g. academic or professional successes and disappointments

With some of these your role in society may change too. It can be difficult to deal with this change, especially if it was unexpected and you had little control over it. Or, if the consequences of the changes are unknown.

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Identifying and thinking about change

We have all dealt with changing relationships before in our lives, from moving between schools or workplaces to beginning or ending a relationship or friendship.

These changes can help us to reflect on the past and situations where we have managed a similar challenge before. Can you remember any situations where you have had to deal with a changing relationship?


Think about:

  • How did you deal with them?
  • Who helped you deal with them?
  • What did you manage well in these situations?
  • What would you do differently now if you could?

Sharing positive changes

It is important to remember that not all change is bad, and all types of change are an opportunity for us to grow. That doesn’t mean we should not feel worried, sad, or angry about it.

Acknowledging how you feel and being patient with yourself is part of the process. It can help to think about positives though. Hope is our fuel for moving forward and being resilient.

Activity

Think about positive changes that have happened. What are you happy about or proud of?

  1. Think about keeping a list of positive changes somewhere visible. You could start a positivity jar and add each positive change you have experienced to the jar and read them when you feel the need for a boost.

  2. If you could write a letter to your younger self to give them the hope and resilience to keep going, what would you say? What advice would you give yourself?

Talking about how we feel

Talking about how we are feeling or our experiences with others can help us feel supported and understood. If you feel comfortable doing so, watch the video below of Nubi and Carol talking about their feelings of loss and loneliness.

Activity

Watch the video and think about the following questions:

  • How do they talk about their feelings?
  • How does it help them to share?
  • Do you think starting a conversation with someone like this would help you?

For more guidance on starting conversations about how we feel, look at our advice on building meaningful connections.

Coping with loss

Everybody goes through changes in life, like having children, changing job, moving house, retiring, or losing someone close. People cope in different ways. You might feel upset or angry about some changes. Accepting and growing comfortable with the new situation takes time.

Do not pressure yourself to deal with or move on quickly. Loss is not always something we can just stop feeling, we just learn how to cope with it.


Support for coping with loss

When dealing with loss and change, it can help to speak to others experiencing the same thing. Are there any support groups in your area that you could join to help with your grief?

Joining an organisation or community group can help, for example Gingerbread offers support to single parent families, the Good Grief Trust can help you find local support groups in your area, or the University of the Third Age can help give you a new hobby or purpose.

You can also call our free support service on 0808 196 3651 to ask for information on community networks. It's open 10am to 6pm every day and can also give support with loneliness and other issues.

Wellbeing support

During times of change it's important to make sure you are also managing your wellbeing. Explore our full range of wellbeing activities and information or, try one of these resources that can help you develop coping skills, as well as building connections.

Wellbeing first aid toolkit for adults

Wellbeing Pack

You can further boost your wellbeing by downloading our Wellbeing Pack. It's filled with activities to help you manage stress, cope with change and skills to build your resilience. You can order printed copies or download the pack to read online.