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Relationship breakdowns

Relationships can have a big impact on our physical, mental and financial wellbeing. Explore this useful guide to find support and guidance around navigating relationship breakdowns between you, your partner or family members.

Woman looking sad being supported by another woman with man walking away

Exploring the impact

Relationship breakdowns can be painful and disruptive. By first acknowledging your emotions and understanding why they’re happening, you can start taking steps to improve how you feel.

No matter the reason for a relationship breakdown, you’re likely to feel a number of intense feelings as you come to terms with what’s happened. It’s completely normal to mourn the end of a relationship. Whether it’s a partner, a close friend or a family member. These can all bring on feelings of denial, anger, emptiness, depression and acceptance. It’s how you deal with the loss.

You may also feel anxious about what’s to come. But there are steps you can take to help navigate your feelings and discover new opportunities on the horizon.

Every relationship breakdown is unique, but they can all feel painful. It’s not just the physical separation that happens, the emotional life you shared also ends.

That can mean a lot of change. From living arrangements, to responsibilities, finances, your daily routine and, for some, parenting. It’s natural to worry about how you’ll manage these aspects on your own, but we’re here with supportive steps to help you start moving on.

Relationship breakdowns can bring on stress, anxiety, and even impact your physical wellbeing. You may experience:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Loneliness
  • Emptiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low motivation
  • A nervous feeling in your stomach

It’s important to look after your mind and your body during a relationship breakdown. You’ll be able to make clearer, positive choices to help you start your new life.

I’d really recommend speaking to the Bank Workers Charity. They just listened to me, they didn’t make me feel like a bad parent. My relationship with my daughter is in such a better place now

– Helen, our client

Steps to stay ahead

Follow the steps below to help nurture yours and your family’s wellbeing during a relationship breakdown.

Relationship counselling can be a helpful way to approach different challenges, either together or by yourself:

  • If your relationship is in trouble but you think it can be mended, consider joint counselling. A counsellor may be able to help you make things work, or help you realise when it’s time to start a new life apart
  • If your relationship has ended or you’re thinking about ending it, individual counselling may help you to work through your feelings
  • If you’re working, ask your line manager or HR about an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) for relationship counselling
  • Our expert partner Relate also offers private, personalised counselling for you, your partner and your family. Give us a call to talk about a referral


Emotions can run high during a relationship breakdown. Work with your partner or family member to understand their feelings and effectively manage difficult conversations.

If you have children, it can be even harder. Luckily, there are ways you can prepare for these conversations to stay calm, objective and supportive of everyone’s emotions, like exploring counselling with our partner Relate.

Sometimes it’s just not possible to stay calm during a relationship breakdown. If you need help keeping things civil, try a professional family mediator. They can help you reach important decisions at the end of your relationship, rather than trying to improve it. From finances, to living arrangements, or your children. Explore access to helpful information and advice:

It’s important to look after your physical and mental wellbeing during a breakdown. Try not to blame yourself or overthink things. Small steps like the ones below can have a big impact on your longer-term recovery:

  • Try relaxation techniques including deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness
  • Stay active to boost endorphins and reduce anxiety
  • Try to improve your sleep with regular routines
  • Cut back on things like caffeine, alcohol or smoking
  • Stick to a healthy diet with help from The NHS
  • Stay in regular touch with friends and family

Discussing financial responsibilities can be tough, but it’s important to set yourself up properly for the next phase of your life. Take these steps to stay on top of your finances:

  • Sort out any shared debts you have with your partner, friend or family member, with advice from MoneyHelper
  • Figure out what maintenance you need to pay or be paid:
    • If you were living together but not married, neither of you is financially responsible for the other
    • If you were married, you can both apply for maintenance from the other by voluntary agreement or through the courts
    • If you have children together, you’re both equally responsible for financially supporting them, whether you were married or not. For child maintenance information, visit GOV.UK
    • If you had a civil partnership, the same applies to you if you’re biological parents or have parental responsibility
  • Changes in circumstances can impact what benefits you’re eligible for, so it’s worth checking with our helpful benefits calculator. If you’re already receiving benefits, let The Department for Work and Pensions know about any changes

Changes in living arrangements can be a tough consequence of a relationship breakdown. It’s important to work out what your housing options are, including your rights. These will vary based on whether you rent or own, and if you’re married or not.

Take these steps to protect yours and your family’s wellbeing by having strong foundations in place:

  • Find out your rights with help from Citizens Advice
  • Use our helpful benefits calculator to check if you’re eligible for Housing Benefit, Council Tax support or mortgage payment relief
  • Get support and advice on moving or renting from charities like Shelter, including local rent deposit schemes, rent guarantee and bond schemes
  • Use this helpful search tool from Turn2Us to find out which eligible grants you could be matched with
  • Get support becoming a single parent through Gingerbread, or get private, personalised relationship counselling for you and your family through our expert partner, Relate
  • If you just need to talk through worries about moving, we’re just a phone call away

Yours and your family’s safety should always be a top priority. If you’re experiencing abuse or violence, help is out there:

  • Call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247, available 24/7 for women
  • Call the Men’s Advice Line for free on 0808 801 0327, available Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm
  • If you’re LGBTQ+, call Galop for free on 0800 999 5428, available Monday to Thursday, 10am – 5pm, and Friday, 1pm – 5pm
  • Read Refuge’s helpful guidance if you’re thinking of leaving an abusive relationship, and get more support with our guide on domestic abuse
  • Get in touch with Surviving Economic Abuse for support with financial abuse


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