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Relationships over 50 – how to mend your broken heart

Article by psychotherapist and health writer, Christine Webber

Being broken hearted is just about the worst pain in the world. It can devastate people at any age – but can feel especially painful for those who are fifty or over, particularly if they thought they were settled for life.

You can suffer from heart-break if you’re dumped. Or if your partner dies. Or even if you’re the one choosing to walk away from a relationship.

Whatever the circumstances, it’s not just the loss of a partner which is so devastating; it’s the fact that you have to face up to the end of your emotional investment and a whole set of hopes and dreams.

However, the fact is that though you no longer have this particular relationship to sustain and stimulate you, you may very well get into another one. Loads of adults in their 50s and 60s – and even older than that – are finding love and sex later in life. And they’re blooming.

But first, people have to recover from their broken hearts.

If your heartbreak is still new and raw, it’s a good idea to treat yourself as if you’re recovering from a major car accident. You’re probably deeply shocked. So, take life in little steps. Let people take care of you. And be kind to yourself.

Next, hard though it is, do accept that your relationship is absolutely and totally over. I know this is agony, but it’s easier in the long run than living in some sort of tortured limbo of hope that one day it will magically mend.

You also need to lean on your friends. They may be scattered round the UK, or indeed the world. But with modern technology you can be in touch with them all. This is the time that you need them – and if they’re good mates, they’ll be anxious to support you.

What else?

Well, you can definitely help yourself by banning illogical and negative thinking.  Often, when people are heartbroken they say: ‘I feel rejected and so miserable I can’t stand it …’ This is entirely logical and understandable. But then they compound their distress by going on to say: ‘And no one else will ever love me again, and life will be total hell from now on.’ But without a crystal ball, they can’t possibly know that!

So, no matter how hurt you are, try to confine your pain to what is really happening, as opposed to your understandably negative perception of what might go wrong in the future.

What don’t you miss about your ex?

Another good tactic is to write down all the things about your ex that you don’t miss, and add more points every time one occurs to you. This could become quite a long list!

Also, try to have a laugh. Research shows that laughter raises the levels of feel-good hormones in our blood streams. So, end your day with a TV programme or DVD that is guaranteed to give you a giggle. You’ll feel much better for it.

nd do get some exercise. Sitting around makes us feel sad and old. Getting active helps elevate our mood and encourages us to feel more supple and youthful. It can be fun too. If you don’t like sport of any kind, try a dance class. Or go walking at weekends.

The thing is that whether or not you wanted it, you have now opened a new chapter in your life – and you’ll feel better if you vow to enjoy it. Maybe it’s been decades since you were single. So make the most of it. Re-arrange the furniture. Buy new linen for your bedroom. Go to a comedy club with a colleague. Take up tap dancing with a friend. Go to yoga with your sister. Look up old pals on Facebook. Watch the kind of films your ex couldn’t bear, and listen to the music that matters to you.

In my consulting room, I see people recover from broken hearts all the time. Just this week, I had a session with a client who had felt utterly demolished by her husband leaving her last January after 25 years of marriage. Gradually, she has returned to her normal, optimistic self. And now she’s seeing someone new. ‘Christine,’ she said to me. ‘I simply can’t believe it. I thought I was a washed-out old woman, and suddenly I’m having fun – and the best sex of my life!’ She has got over her broken heart – and so can you.

Christine Webber’s book How to Mend a Broken Heart is available as an ebook from Amazon

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