By Juliet O
There is arguably no worse feeling, in the entire universe, than a broken heart. At least — that’s what you trick yourself into believing when you are suffering at the end of an intense relationship. Whirlwind romances — with their highs, lows, and everything in between — leave you exhausted at the end of the journey. Exhausted, and bewildered. And a host of other adjectives: devastated, dysfunctional, jaded, temporarily insane.
It’s okay. We’ve all been there. In fact, I challenge anyone to find me an adult person (who isn’t a sociopath) who hasn’t at one point experienced the pains of being brokenhearted. It happens to each and every one of us, and when it happens, we are never really prepared for what is to follow. A lot goes on in the human heart. It’s a mysterious organ.
The next question then, when realizing that lovesickness happens to us all, is how something that feels so catastrophic be at the same time so terribly mundane. Because it is mundane, and it’s also horribly monotonous. You feel the exact same way (sad, bereft, lost, alone) for a really, really long time with hardly any positive emotional interruptions to lighten that dull blanket of gloom. How unfair, to feel exactly the same, for so long — and to feel as if you hardly have any control of it at all.
But the thing is, you do have control. At least, you have some control. And with effort, you can at least pull yourself out of your depressing doldrums into a more stable place, if you try. It isn’t easy to force yourself to ‘snap out of it,’ but in the end, you’ll realize it’s for the best and thank us. If you are suffering from a broken heart and are trying to mend it with Zoosk, here are some tips that might help you.
1. There are things out there that are worse than a broken heart. Realize this.
Broken heart does not equal ‘you die’. Because you won’t die. And death is worse. You should always repeat this to yourself when you feel like you’re living through the worst thing in the human experience. You aren’t. You are alive, you appear to have access to the internet, you are probably not terminally ill, you probably don’t live in abject poverty in a hut in Darfur — you have it better than most. Even if being brokenhearted makes you wish you were dead, take heart that you aren’t. And you won’t be. At least, not from this.
2. Zoosk cannot cure your broken heart, but we do give you an option of moving on.
People heal from emotional traumas at different rates, and we are not here to tell you that you need to be perfectly healed in order to start dating again. In fact, waiting by yourself, completely isolated from the dating world, for the months (and even years) that it can take to get over a lost love is counter-productive, we believe, in moving forward. Have you ever seen the documentary Grey Gardens? It can drive you crazy to remove yourself from the world and wait in self-imposed exile for the heart to heal.
There are certain phases in broken-heartedness. At first, you feel stricken with panic and grief, and you maintain delusions that one day, you and your lost love will be reunited. Many people try to ‘win back’ their exes, and when things don’t go as planned, they feel even more despondent. When you are in the initial phase of grieving, it is not advisable for you to begin dating. Every person you date, no matter how amazing they are, will seem to you as pale comparisons next to the golden light of your beloved. Your brain will trick you into viewing everyone as a foil for your ex, and dating might even have the effect of making you run to your ex and try even harder to win them back.
We think dating is actually good when you feel sad over someone else, but only when you get to the second stage of grieving: you accept that you and your ex are over, you know it will never work out in the near or far future, and you are prepared to make the adjustments in your life that will cause you to move on. You don’t have to be completely ‘over’ your ex, but you should be accepting of the fact that your past relationships is in the past and will continue to stay in the past.
3. Enjoy simple pleasures.
The feeling of love is intoxicating, addicting. After it vanishes, it is tempting to seek its exact replacement. But love doesn’t sit on every corner waiting for you. People don’t operate like that. When one love vanishes, it can be a while before a new one crops up and takes its place. It takes a lot of dating a lot of different people to find the one. In the meantime, while you are dating around, you should take time and enjoy the simple things. Ice cream? Exercise? Being out in nature? Shopping (within reason)? You should do the things you normally enjoy, and reflect on all the small moments of happiness that you experience in your day-to-day life.
4. Make lists. Be busy.
Being too busy to reflect on your broken heart is a blessing in disguise. For people with intense, stressful jobs, that means you should focus on your work and try to be too busy to mope. For those with plenty of free time, that means making lists and filling your day with places to go and people to see. Lying in bed all day and eating ice cream out of the carton is all good and well up to a point (I say a week is fair, give or take) but there does come a time where you need some saving from yourself. Save yourself from yourself, and get out of the house.
Make dates! Line up dates during the week, and try to get to know new people. It helps!
5. Challenge yourself, once enough time elapses, to stop talking about your ex.
So he/she is all you can talk about for the first three weeks. You bring him/her up at every opportunity, much to the chagrin of your friends. What a room emptier. What a thing a wet mop does. Don’t be the person everyone is trying to avoid because all you can talk about is your long lost love! It’s tedious. Yes your friends and loved ones will be there for you. Yes, that is what they are for. But only up to a point. Do not take advantage of your friends by using them as therapists. If you find you really need to talk about your ex that much, perhaps it’s time to spring for a therapist and leave your friends out of the mix.
Exercise. Seriously. Exercise regulates your brain and releases awesome endorphins and other healthy hormones that will make you feel better. Also, exercise is a great way to feel accomplished, after you’ve put in a great work-out. It makes your brain release oxytocin, which is a peptide that regulates your mood. Even its just going for a brisk walk, exercise is a great way of moving forward.
7. Eat yummy things.
Eating certain foods can help regulate your mood. Certain fatty acids can help boost your mental power (find things packed with omega-3 vitamins and electrolytes) and stabilize your mood. Selenium helps regulate anxiety, and you can find that in Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and swordfish. Protein can elevate mood, and can be found in healthy foods like lean meat and tofu. Calcium is a great way for women to regulate mood swings, and you can find it in yogurt, soy milk, and broccoli. If you’re feeling heart-broken in the winter, perhaps you aren’t getting enough vitamin-D from the sun (which leads to seasonal depression). Try drinking a big cup of soy milk with breakfast to get the day started right!
8. Make goals and meet them.
Smal, reachable goals that can be easily met are a great way to boost your self-esteem and confidence. Make plans for yourself and follow through! If you’ve always wanted to go to Paris, start saving up for it, and go. If you’ve always wanted to figure out your personal finances, set your mind to it and do it. Want to climb Mount Washington? Do it. Make your dreams realities, and you will see a huge impact on your self-esteem. Once enough of those goals and follow-throughs have been met, make a goal to be 100% over your ex, and follow through.
9. Online dating can be your friend.
If you’re broken-hearted, signing up for an online dating profile can be a great (and huge) step in the right direction. Now, compared to these other tips (like making goals, exercising, eating right), we admit that online dating is pretty small on this list. However, we don’t believe that a broken heart should make you stop believing in love. We don’t want you to turn into a sarcastic, jaded cynic. So we think that part of the healing process in overcoming heartbreak is the realistic understanding that while your love with one person doesn’t work out, you aren’t bereft of love forever. People can fall in love many, many times. It ain’t over ’til you’re dead!
10. Find solace in art and creativity.
Finding solace and comfort in art is a great way to get a grip on your emotions. Listening to Mozart’s Don Giovanni is quite a different experience when you’re experiencing unrequited love. You almost feel like Mozart is composing just for you. Same with less highbrow songs like “Hello” by Lionel Ritchie. Listening to music, reading poetry, and looking at art and photography is a great way to find solace in your difficult time. Even better, channel your sadness and grief into art itself. Write about your experiences. Paint a picture. Go out and take photos. Write an aria. Never lose faith in the healing and transformative powers of art.
photo credit: carbonnyc