they are heartbroken?
Signmund Freud shared, “We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love.”
Although the very definition of love offers a scholarly debate, when one is in love there is a reciprocal exchange of sentiments and as Susan Johnson (2008)shares, a survival mechanism. The very act of falling in love allows us to foster bonds with another and when those bonds are broken, it can feel as if our ability to survive is in jeopardy. When someone is heartbroken, they often times exhibit symptoms that are similar to those that we see in a person with a depressive mood. This is in severe contrast to the excitement and feeling of euphoria that they typically experienced at the beginning of their romance. Such a shift in response will often contribute to ones sense of hopelessness or negative thought pattern. Patients might share that they are afraid that they will never find love again or will focus all of their energy trying to understand why their partner ended the relationship. It is if they feel their ability to be loved has died.
When a therapist has an understanding of the meaning that romantic love has in one’s life and the traumatic effects of the abrupt and sometimes unexpected death of a relationship, the therapist can address the client’s ability to continue their survival and ways to strengthen their resiliency. Moving beyond the pain of a failed relationship requires a shift of focus back on one’s self and to their own unique ability to give and receive love. When we understand how we fall in love we can connect to the difficulties in moving forward after our heart has been broken. We can then connect again to the beauty of the experience and an optimistic understanding that if it has happened to us once that it can happen again to us.
Johnson, S. (2008). Hold Me Tight. New York: Little Brown and Company.