What to do if you get dumped, according to a relationship counsellor

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It’s the time of the year when most people are going on saccharine dates to the Odeon, eating at Pizza Express and having perfunctory missionary position sex.

So you might be surprised to learn the week before Valentine’s Day is when more couples break up than during any other period.

In case you find yourself abandoned and distraught on Valentine’s, sobbing through old Instagrammed Wagamama dates with bae, here’s an emotional coping guide.

We spoke to relationship expert Christine Northam who gave us practical advice on how to get over your Valentine’s Day woe.

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Everything’s going to be OK

Christine says first of all it’s important to know you’re going to be fine.

“It’s best to normalise your feelings. Remember that if your relationship meant anything to you, you’re bound to feel like this. This will all pass, that’s the first thing to say.

“If you think it will be helpful, try to understand objectively why the relationship didn’t work out from your perspective and also theirs. Think why you broke up.

“This could be with the help of friends or family or going to a counsellor depending on how painful it is and how upset you are.”

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What you might feel

Christine advises the sort of emotions you could experience after you’ve been chucked.

“Normally when a relationship breaks down it feels like a bereavement: you become emotionally attached to that other person and you have all sorts of hope for the future of your relationship. When you break up, you lose all of that.

“It depends how old you are and how long you’ve been going out.

“Some people can be stuck in a depressed state. Accept you might feel sadness, lack of energy, listlessness.”


How to feel better

Christine suggests how you can try to get out of your break-up rut.

“Distracting yourself is a way of helping: learn a new language, go on a holiday, do something new.

“It’s OK to have a few drinks in a pub but to drown your sorrows is not a great idea, because it can become a habit.

“Sometimes seeing your ex can help if you have things left that you really need to say. There’s definitely no point in meeting up so you can have a slanging match.

“Write them a letter — don’t send it necessarily  that can help to clarify your feelings. If you really feel you need to meet them, don’t just go to vent.”


See your mates and treat yourself 

Christine says to remember if you’re feeling down, it’s because you’re experiencing a kind of loss.

“The support of friends can really make a lot of difference. Bear in mind though that they may have a bit of an agenda so they’re going to see things from a particular perspective.

“Think, ‘Are they going to say things supportive of me?’ and which friends are going to help. Half of the time talking to good friends can be all you need to get over your break up.

“Watch films or listen to music you’ll always loved. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself.

“If someone had died you would react in a similar way but because it’s a break-up, people aren’t sure how to cope.

“There is a chemical imbalance as your immune system can be affected if your grief is really profound. The whole system gets depressed we know that stress has a physical impact on the body. If it gets really bad seek help.”

Christine Northam is a professional relationship counsellor for Relate.