Are you suffering from a broken heart this Valentine’s Day?

By Liz Paul, Psychotherapist & Counsellor

Most people experience the pain of a broken heart after the break-up of a relationship, especially if they are the one who is given the bad news.

Of course it’s worse if you are blindsided by the break-up, and worse still if it happens just before a time when you had expected to be attending events with your partner.  Like Christmas or New Year’s Eve or a birthday.  Or Valentine’s Day.

Researchers have found the pain from a break-up to be similar to that experienced when one is grieving from the death of someone close.  Some people fall into a clinical depression after a break-up.  It can be a prolonged period of trauma.

Mending a broken heart takes time, but if you follow these 4 strategies, you might minimise your suffering and make your recovery a little easier and faster:

1. Accept the reason you are given for the break-up, rather than dwelling on every conversation you had trying to find a more rational reason… or trying to work out what you had done wrong to cause the break-up. The longer you dwell the longer it takes for you to start moving on… and start recovering.  Often times, the reason for the break-up is really as simple as ‘I just don’t love you anymore’.  Accept the simple reason you are given, and don’t blame yourself.

2. Accept that the relationship is over. Do not fall prey to hoping that you can get back together.  ‘Hope’ is not your friend here, it is an insidious process which will prolong your pain… and delay the start of the recovery process.

3. Don’t idealise your ex-partner by dwelling on all their good points and the good times you shared. This just make your loss feel all that more painful.  Instead, be realistic by balancing out the good with the bad – your ex also had many, many faults and traits that really bugged you.  Write these down, and refer to them whenever you find yourself romanticising about how great your ex was.  This will help remind you that your ex wasn’t perfect (which your heartbroken mind is trying to get you to believe).

4. Identify the voids in your life left by the break-up. And then fill them.  For example, you may need to re-establish who you are as a single person and what your life is about.  You may need to re-establish a social life now it’s just you.  You may need to re-engage with your ‘old single’ friends.  You may need to find new activities to replace those you used to do with your ex.

What are the issues for which most people seek assistance?

  • Relationship break-ups
  • Constantly fighting with your partner
  • Loss of intimacy with your partner
  • Communication problems with your partner or child
  • Difficulty parenting toddlers or teens
  • Pre-marriage counselling
  • A child misbehaving
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Family counselling
  • Wanting to separate from their partner amicably
  • Helping the children cope after a relationship break-up
  • Trouble staying in relationships
  • HSC stress for students and their families
  • Relationship commitment issues
  • Problems at work
  • Couple counselling
  • Difficulties with step-children
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Problems with in-laws
  • Substance addiction
  • Facing major life changes
  • Making new life choices
  • Relationship counselling