This week I’m delighted to feature a guest post from psychotherapist and author Christine Webber. If you have angina, talk to your doctor, but if your heart’s broken, you need Christine’s wisdom.
Is there a worse pain in the world than heart-break? I don’t think so.
It can happen if you’re made redundant. Or if a parent or partner dies. But most of us associate it with being dumped. And that is one of life’s truly devastating losses.
You lose your partner. Your investment in the past and future. Your certainty about who you spend Sundays with. And – most distressing of all – you can feel that you’ve lost your judgement too.
As one heartbroken client of mine said: ‘I picked him. Then I put up with all sorts of awful things when we were together – but soldiered on because of our children. Now I wonder what on earth I was thinking when I got together with him in the first place.’
So what can you do to get over your broken heart?
First of all, don’t make things worse than they already are by assuming that life is going to be hateful for ever.
Often, when people are heart-broken they say: ‘I feel rejected, and miserable and low …’ This is entirely logical, and understandable.
But then they compound their distress by saying something illogical like: ‘And no one else will ever love me again, and life will be total hell from now on.’
However, without a crystal ball, they can’t possibly know that!
So, no matter how hurt you are, try to confine your focus to what’s happening now, rather than making painful assumptions about your future.
Secondly, accept that the relationship is totally over. It’s agony acknowledging that your partner has really gone for good – but it’s easier in the long run than living in hope that he or she will have a change of heart.
Another thing you need to accept is that you may never understand why you’ve been dumped. Often people insist that they can’t move on till they know for sure what went wrong. This is a waste of time and energy. Vast numbers of individuals never feel satisfied with the reasons their ex gives them for wanting out. So the sooner you give up on getting a plausible explanation the better.
Next – no matter what the temptation – don’t try to be pals with your former partner. He or she may try to persuade you to stay friends, in an attempt to lessen their own guilt. But this is unlikely to benefit you. You’ve got friends. You wanted your partner to fulfil a totally different role. In time, perhaps you will be able to restore some sort of friendship – especially if you share children – but not now.
Above all, NEVER HAVE SEX WITH YOUR EX. Afterwards, you’ll feel more lonely and wretched than ever.
Of course your ex-partner may hint that he or she has made a terrible mistake. If that happens, you should talk together, have dinner, talk some more … But don’t let this person join you in bed unless the relationship is fully back on track.
Finally, write a list of things about your ex that you don’t miss. This is very therapeutic. Carry it with you at all times and add to it every time you think of another negative aspect of this person who has hurt you so much.
One day, like the characters in One Night at the Jacaranda, you’ll realise that you’re ready to start dating again, and that you’ve got a whole lot of living to do yet. I can’t promise you when that will be, but it will happen.
Christine Webber is a psychotherapist who specialises in sex and relationship problems, and the author of How To Mend A Broken Heart.