After Love Island’s Camilla broke with Jonny last week, the nation went kerazeee! So, Healthista has turned to relationship expert Andrew G. Marshall about how to get over a break up in real life, not just reality TV
It’s not easy dealing with a breakup and nobody knows this better than ITV2 Love Island‘s Camilla. After a rollercoaster relationship and rocky start, the nation really thought that Camilla Thurlow, 27 and on-screen boyfriend, Jonny Mitchell, 26 were heading towards marriage and babies (beautiful babies). But not only did Jonny break all of our hearts but most tragically, he broke Camilla’s when he ‘got to know’ new girl Tyla Carr, 23 last week (by snogging her in front of Camilla…) .
He hit it off with Tyla, which meant the couple broke it off. When Jonny broke the news, Camilla took it like a champ, accepting it straight away, staying polite, level-headed and gracious. She took comfort in her best friend, Gabby on the show and (as anyone would) cried her eyes out.
Being dumped is a horrible experience but what is the best way to deal with it? Should we binge eat Ben & Jerry’s and play moody music on repeat or should we give ourselves a shake, deal with it and download Tinder?
We spoke to marital therapist and internationally renowned relationship expert, Andrew G. Marshall about what exactly we should do when our hearts get trampled on. Should we cut all ties? Can we still be friends? And what should we do if we really want them back?
1. Accept that it is over
‘When we have a broken heart, we often try and avoid the pain but the best way to deal with a broken heart is to actually accept the pain and go through it. To do this, the first thing we should do is name the feeling. Are you feeling sad? Is the feeling abandonment, is it rejection? Is it anger? All of these things are entirely different and you’ll discover something important when you discover exactly what the feeling is.
Accepting your pain and learning from the experience will help you turn it from a break-up tragedy into a great learning opportunity and that’s really positive. Accept when you’re feeling down and low, it’s perfectly natural and it’s okay, it’s part of the healing process to mourn and to grieve and to think ‘if only’ and ‘what if’. That’s all part of the natural process so be kind and compassionate to yourself.’
Accepting your pain will help you turn it from a break-up tragedy into a learning opportunity
2. Learn to self-soothe, not to self-medicate
‘Self-soothing is getting a friend to come round and have a nice girly night in and watch Bridget Jones. If your way of coping is to drink two bottles of wine, that’s self-medicating. Don’t binge on ice cream because a binge is trying to suppress your feelings with lots of sugary foods. Giving yourself a treat and having a cream cake is fine, that’s just being nice to yourself. If you want to listen to sad songs, listen to as many as you like. Exercise can be really good for you as well. It gets the adrenaline pumping and gives you a real feel-good feeling.’
3. Minimise contact with your ex
‘People think that the slow withdrawal isn’t going to be quite so bad but you just prolong the agony. Blocking and deleting sounds incredibly rude so you don’t have to do that but if they send you messages I would just ignore them or be polite and business like. Thank them for the message but explain you’re not ready to be friends. Say thank you but no thank you.’
Be a bit like a prosecuting lawyer. What evidence have you got that you are no good with love?
4. Challenge your thoughts
‘Nine times out of ten the problems are not your feelings but all the toxic thoughts you’re having. Instead of letting them go around your head, write them down. Take dictation from that nasty voice in your head and go back over it. Knock out all the words of ‘never’ ‘always’ ‘must’ ‘should’ all of those negative words. It’s not a case of ‘I never have any success with love,’ change it to ‘I haven’t had much success with love lately,’ its only a small change but it will make you feel significantly better.
Be a bit like a prosecuting lawyer. What evidence have you got that you are no good with love? Are you putting together five lots of disparate pieces of information? How factually accurate is all of this?
And finally, turn the statements into questions. Don’t think ‘Oh God, I’ll never find anyone else,’ turn that into a question: ‘How will I find someone else?’’
5. Be compassionate to yourself
‘Never have a go at yourself. If you’re struggling to get over a breakup, ask yourself why you’re finding it so difficult and why you’re so stuck on it. If it’s because it was a very serious relationship and you need more help, get a professional in to help you. If it reminds you of what happened with your dad when you were younger, maybe you need to try and sort out your relationship with your dad.
If you can turn this from being dumped into a learning experience then that is incredibly positive.
‘While you’re beating yourself up and giving yourself a shake you never learn anything. You just make yourself miserable because you’re saying ‘For God’s sake, pull yourself together.’ If your mum talked to you like that you’d be upset about it but you’re perfectly happy to do it to yourself.’
6. Turn it into a learning experience
‘If you can turn this from being dumped into a learning experience then that is incredibly positive. Ask yourself why you were dumped. Was it because you go for the wrong kind of people? Maybe you go for ‘bad boys’, which might be exciting but you can’t expect consistency from someone like that. It could be that you knew from the very beginning that the other person had a bad track record when it comes to relationships or even that they weren’t that interested in you to start with and that the warning signs were all there.
It could be that not only did you pick badly but maybe you have a talent for throwing yourself into relationships too quickly. You need to ask yourself why you’re making these bad decisions, ‘why do I pick bad guys?’ ‘why do I ignore the warning signs?’, ‘Why do I act like a doormat?’ What did your partner contribute to the breakup and what did you contribute? If you ask these questions you can learn from them and either do it differently next time or step back and see the pattern.
You need to ask yourself why you’re making these bad decisions
You often see a pattern where people are either going for the same kind of person or they’re doing what I call zig zag dating. They go for the ‘bad boy’ who’s exciting, thrilling and terribly glamorous but you know they’re going to end up cheating on you. And then the next time you go for someone who looks good on paper but there’s no chemistry and then you go for somebody who is so nice, they bore the pants off you. Then you get bored and you become a ‘bad girl’ and cheat on him and then next time round you go back to the bad boy and think you’d rather go for the chemistry and round you go again.
Do you over commit too quickly? Do you hold back so much that they don’t think you’re really interested? What is going wrong? Find the patterns and fix them.’
7. Forget friendship
‘To be perfectly honest, I’m not a particular fan of people staying friends after a breakup. A lot of people torture themselves with this. If you are going to become friends again, I think you’ve got to give it at least a six-month break between being lovers and being friends. Following them on Facebook is just torturing yourself. Going out with them in a group because you’re hoping that they’re going to see how gorgeous you are now that you’ve been on a five-mile run every day or going out with their friends hoping you’ll hear about them – all this stuff is doing more harm than good.
We’re looking after ourselves not torturing ourselves. So I’m a little suspicious of when people attempt to be friends with their ex. Also, if your partner was friends with their ex, would you like it? Not really, so why should your next partner like the fact that you’re still friends with your ex?
If you keep running into him because you’re part of the same circle or he’s your best friends brother, then maybe you do need to have a certain amount of friendliness but generally, you don’t need it.’
When should I start dating again?
‘If you go out and find another person straight away you have no time to learn from your mistakes. When we go and find somebody else it might do our ego some good but it will effectively take all the crap from one relationship into the next relationship and all the pain with it.
do you really want to be with someone who can’t learn and change?
You go into the next relationship almost expecting to be dumped. Using a relationship to soothe your ego isn’t a very good foundation for that relationship.’
‘I wouldn’t start seeing other people until you’ve done a full autopsy. Look at the patterns of your dating history and why your past relationship ended. If the answer is ‘because he’s a dickhead’ you need to ask yourself why you date dickheads. When you’ve learned the lessons, that’s when you get back on the horse. If you haven’t taken any riding lessons and you’re still getting on huge stallions rather than ponies, you’re going to fall off again so what’s the point of leaping straight onto another horse.
‘Once you’ve done the learning and you’ve thought about what you’re going to do differently, that sounds like a very good time to go out and experiment again. You’ll know when you’re ready’.
How do I get back my ex?
‘If you want somebody back you’ve got to ask yourself why you want them back. Is it because you’ve treated them like shit and then suddenly because they’re no longer available they’ve suddenly become more valuable in your eyes? That’s a pretty dumb reason. If you’ve done a full autopsy and you’ve realised that the reason why the relationship was a problem was because you were doing destructive and stupid things then it might be worth talking to the person about it and explaining what you might do differently this time if you gave it another try.’
Talk things through
‘If your partner doesn’t want to listen to you, you can try reaching out by writing a letter. But it could be that the reason they don’t want to listen is because either the relationship never really put down roots in the first place or secondly, he’s not at a learning point in his life. We live in a world that thinks the easiest solution to something is ‘if you don’t like me there’s plenty more fish in the sea, let’s go and find another fish.’
You want to try and show that you’ve actually heard what that other person has had to say.
If someone has the mentality that they just want to feel good again as soon as possible rather than learn from the experience – do you really want to be with someone who can’t learn and change? And if they’re not prepared to listen, at least you’ve learned and you can do it differently with someone next time.’
Choose your words carefully
‘If you want someone back you shouldn’t use begging language. You want to try and show that you’ve actually heard what that other person has had to say. Reflect back what they’ve been saying. For example ‘You wanted to end this relationship because I was always very anxious and expected lots of texts all the time and then I got angry when they wouldn’t come. I’ve really thought about that and I realised that I’ve been insecure and this is what I’m going to do about it.’ Lay out what you see the problems as and what your solutions are.’
Andrew Marshall is the UK’s best-known marital therapist and has thirty years experience helping couples fall back in love. His self-help books include the international best-seller I Love You But I’m Not In Love With You.
He leads a team of therapists in London offering tailor-made practical solutions for couples looking to repair the marriage or improve their love life by getting back the spark.