How to Mend a Broken Heart

Article excerpt

Byline: Ruth Tierney

TURN TO THE RIGHT PERSON says psychology professor Cary Cooper There are different emotional stages a person experiences after a long-term relationship ends. Depending on who initiated the split, you will feel shock and disbelief, anger at him, yourself and other people, rejection, mourning and guilt. You need to allow all of these to surface. The best way to do this is to talk to a friend who loves you unconditionally.

Sometimes people turn to their ex for support, the very person at the centre of the situation. If the break-up was mutual, if love went away but like is still there, then it's actually healthy to stay in touch. But if the split was initiated by one person, ask yourself why you want to maintain a friendship. If you're clinging to them because you feel insecure, that's not a good place to be. You need to turn to other friends instead.

It can take years to get over a split, and there are certain aspects that you will never get closure on. But you know the grieving process is coming to an end when you can talk about the happy times you shared.

DEFRIEND HIM ON FACEBOOK says cyber psychologist Dr Emma Short In the past, it was easier to draw a line under a failed relationship, but now there's a real temptation to check up on your ex by following his every move on Facebook or Twitter. This problem particularly affects people with what psychologists would call a 'preoccupied' relationship style. So if, while in a relationship, you're jealous, anxious about what he's doing in your absence, disturbed by his flirting, need reassurance, and tend to be clingy, then you're more likely to torture yourself by looking at what he's doing online when it's over.

You need to police your internet use. Delete him as a friend on Facebook, so that you don't waste time imagining what your ex is doing and who he's doing it with. If you find it hard to fight the Facebook urge, ask yourself three questions that are the basis of cognitive behavioural therapy: ? Is my behaviour true and acceptable? ? Is it logical? ? Is it helpful? WAIT BEFORE YOU DATE AGAIN says marital therapist Andrew G Marshall A lot of people 'selfmedicate' by sleeping with someone else immediately after a break-up to make themselves feel better. This is a bad idea because it stops the necessary reflection after a long-term relationship, so you don't learn anything from the experience. You're in danger of taking problems from one relationship to the next, so if you didn't trust the ex, you won't trust the rebound man.

You need to allow yourself time to heal: you're only ready to move on when you're seeing another man because you genuinely like him, not just because he makes you feel better. You also need to be honest with yourself. People are incredibly economical with the truth when it comes to break-up dates. They think they're ready to move on because they split up five months ago, but they're not factoring in the five coffees they met up for afterwards, or the night they slept with each other a month ago. These interludes need to be accounted for because they leave you incredibly tender.

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR THOUGHTS says psychotherapist Philippa Perry We generally try to make sense of what has happened in life by weaving a story around the events to give them meaning and to soothe the self. The most common version you hear around break-ups is that the person telling their story is invariably good and the other person something of a bad lot. I'm not going to knock this habit -- it can be a valuable method of feeling your way back to solid ground -- but it might be useful to examine your own habitual patterns in how you make and break relationships.

At a time of such self-evaluation, obsessive thinking can become intrusive. One of the nicest ways to quieten the voices in your head is to learn to meditate. Meditation teaches acceptance and is also a successful method of treating depression. …