6 ways to bounce back after a relationship meltdown

Relationship meltdowns happen to the best of us (and they’ve certainly happened to me).

As humans it’s only natural that we make mistakes, have freak-outs, and overreact sometimes. Lots of things can cause us to have a meltdown, from fear of abandonment to jealousy issues. We can’t control the past, and once we freak out, what’s done is done. Luckily, we can control how we act after we have a meltdown, and that’s what’s going to make all the difference.

Here are 6 steps for bouncing back after having a relationship meltdown.

Step 1: Stay Calm

It’s not easy to stay calm when emotions are running wild, but it’s important to be chill when trying to repair a relationship after an emotion-fueled meltdown.

Before you try talking to your partner to make amends or clear things up, you want to be in a relaxed state of mind. This way you can communicate effectively and not have another freak out. Do whatever you gotta do to blow off some steam and de-stress, whether it’s heading to a kickboxing class, journaling, or taking a bath. You’ll be ready to talk — and more importantly, listen — without yelling or giving an attitude to your partner.

Step 2: Recognize what the real issue at hand is

Look back at your meltdown and try to better understand it. What caused it? Is there something deeper than surface level that was a contributing factor?

For example, if you had a jealous freak-out after you saw your boyfriend like another girl’s Instagram picture, ask yourself what the real issue is. Are you really just mad that he’s looking at other girls’ profiles, or are your feelings hurt because you feel like he doesn’t value you or give you attention the way he used to?

In situations like this, it’s usually the latter. This is the issue that you need to address.

Step 3: Recognize what the issue looks like to your partner

You know what I’m about to say…put yourself in your partner’s shoes!

If the situation was reversed, how would you feel? Hurt? Betrayed? Mistrusted? Lied to? You aren’t a mind reader, so you’ll have to communicate with your partner and ask how they feel. Clear, open communication will allow you to truly understand your partner’s emotions and stance on the situation. From there, you can figure out how to bounce back and make it “better.”

Another tip: try not to get defensive. It doesn’t help and nobody wants to deal with that!

Step 4: Leave your ego at the door

Trust me, I know it’s hard to let go of your ego for a minute and apologize, especially if you think you aren’t really in the wrong. Take a step back to evaluate your actions and how they put a strain on your relationship.

Many of us love to play the blame game, but it’s crucial that you’re able to take the blame and hold yourself accountable when necessary. Be able to mean it when you say, “I know I messed up, and I’m sorry.” Your partner will know if your apology is sincere or not.

You might even need to apologize to yourself! Be kind and understanding so you can heal and not beat yourself up for making mistakes.

Step 5: Figure out an action plan

What are you going to do to make the situation okay? How are you going to mend the relationship, regain trust, and so on? Sure, make-up sex is great, but it’s not going to fix all your problems.

While it’s tempting to brush things under the rug and just move on, it’s all going to build up and possibly result in another meltdown if you don’t address the underlying issues. So again, communicate, communicate, communicate! Work through the awkwardness, talk to your partner, and figure out what’s next for the both of you.

On top of that, figure out how you can better yourself and how you can be a better partner. Problem solving isn’t easy, but it’s essential in any type of relationship, and it’ll pay off.

Step 6: Remember that no relationship is perfect.

No matter how perfect someone’s life may look from the outside — in public or social media — you never really know how someone else’s relationship is progressing. You should know by now: Social media is just an illusion! Plus, it’s damaging to compare yourself to others, and the same rules apply for comparing your relationship to others’ relationships.

Instead, focus on yourself and your partner — and what you can do to further nurture your partnership.

A meltdown doesn’t have to mean “The End”

If you’re in the process of recovering from a relationship meltdown, don’t worry (remember step one: Stay calm!). Follow these steps and you’ll be well on the road to getting your relationship back to a good place. Also, consider individual or couples therapy if things become more difficult than you both can handle. There’s no shame in seeking outside advice or counseling if it helps bring you closer to someone you love.

Who knows, you might just mend your relationship so well that you and your partner will be even better off than you were before!

This article first appeared on Talkspace.