{August 20, 2007}   Why Therapy Works: Healing Heartbreak

I’ve been seeing my therapist every week for over a year. She always has insights that no friends or family can offer. During my tearful recent session her words were especially effective.

I broke up with my First True Love two weeks ago. We broke up because he’s moving back to Europe, still very much in love.  I’ve been calling on all my family and friends for reassurance that my pain will heal and that I made the right decision.  My doubt arises from the fear I’ll never experience the same feelings for another person. Though all my friends tell me this won’t be the case and that my FTL just “isn’t the one,” I don’t believe them. My therapist had this to say:

Me: I think about things and I don’t understand why we aren’t trying out long-distance.

Therapist: What would that look like? You’d see each other a couple times a year. You wouldn’t be able to talk to each other much. You’re not sure when you’d be living in the same place. Is that what you want from a relationship?

Me:  [long pause] No.

Therapist:  I think what FTL is saying is that he needs to be with the person he’s in a relationship with. Relationships don’t grow when people aren’t together. That’s not how intimacy develops. And, Me, do you think—at 22 years old—your life would be as full and rich as it could possibly be if you were committed to somebody an ocean away?

Me: [long pause] No.

Therapist:  For long-distance relationships to work the two people have to have a plan for being together in the end. And it’s not like he’s going to Connecticut, which itself would be hard.  He’s going across an ocean.  If you were studying abroad in Europe in January, your situation could be different. But in relationships two people have to want the same things. They have to have the same priorities. FTL chose his home. And home is a very deeply rooted place.

Me: I’m afraid I’ll never feel that way about anyone again.

Therapist: I don’t know anyone who that’s happened to. And everyone who goes through a difficult breakup like this feels that way. And I think over time you’ll be proud of the decision you made. Because your relationship wasn’t perfect. He didn’t accept your personality for what it was. He could be controlling. Ask yourself, if you were in the same situation again would you have made the same decision?

Me: You mean if I gave him an ultimatum to commit to me when he leaves or it’s over?

Therapist: Mm hm.

Me: Yes.

Therapist: So that’s important to know.

Me: But I’m so attracted to him. I’ve never felt so attracted to anyone before.

Therapist: And you’ll feel that way again. Me, don’t make the mistake that so many women make of thinking that a man made you feel that way. You made you feel that way. Those feelings came from you. They didn’t come from FTL. He may have brought them out in you for the first time, but those are your feelings. And now you know you’re capable of feeling that way. That’s a good thing.


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