As love island's Jack discusses heartbreak, this is how an expert says you should really get over a break up
By Liz Connor
Love Island might be known for its merciless dumpings, but this year's
series has opened up the conversation around a topic many of us are
familiar with: Heartbreak.
Semi-professional footballer Jack Fowler told his fellow Islanders about
a particularly painful breakup, admitting that he "cried all the time"
and lost weight after he and his ex decided to call it a day.
"Especially being a guy, sometimes it is hard to voice how your feel,"
he explained. "I have been through heartache... and it's not nice.
Talking to the others about it was quite refreshing, because guys, we
don't really do that."
Anyone who has gone through a painful breakup will know that nursing a
broken heart isn't easy. Sometimes it can take months to feel like
yourself again, while it can often take years to move on and grow past
But there are ways to get over an emotional stumbling block more
quickly, even if you think you've lost 'The One'.
We spoke to Rachel Davies, a counsellor from relationship support
charity Relate, to find out the mechanics of heartbreak, and a few
coping mechanisms you can use to get over a big break up.
Why does heartbreak hurt so badly?
"One of the reasons heartbreak hurts so much is that when we want
something, we invest in it and when it's not going to happen, it can
feel like we've wasted our time and our feelings.
"It can also leave us feeling exposed - we've shared parts of ourselves
and in opening up, we make ourselves vulnerable. This is a good thing
when it's reciprocated, but can hurt when it's not.
"When we feel hurt it can trigger feelings of hurt from the past,
particularly if we've had our heart broken before. So as well as feeling
bad about this break up, we're also feeling the emotion from upsets in
the past. Sometimes this goes way back and can be pain that we
experienced when we were young, such as if our parents broke up.
Emotions are complicated things and all of these past hurts can be
reactivated even if we're not consciously aware of that happening.
"If you don't think this is the case, then remember a time when you've
welled up at a sad film or music and you thought you were overreacting.
It's the same thing - emotions don't come with neat labels about their
causes. If we feel sad, we can be feeling sad about a lot of things."
What are some of the negative health effects of heartbreak?
"Heartbreak impacts everyone differently, but a common pattern is not
being able to switch off, which can lead to feeling stressed and
ruminating about your ex all of the time, not being able to sleep,
feeling edgy and anxious and not being able to swallow - almost feeling
that the lump in your throat stops you from eating.
"Another common pattern is overcompensating, which can lead to
overeating and gaining weight, over exercising, going out all of the
time, trying very hard to get together with someone new or making
dramatic life changes such as quitting a job or studying.
"Anxiety can also mean that what's going on emotionally starts to feel
physical and you may get aches and pains and/or worry something really
serious is going on."
Why is it often particularly hard for men to open up about heartbreak?
"Men are socially conditioned to keep feelings in from a young age,
being told to 'Be brave', 'Don't be a cry baby', and to 'Man-up'.
"Many men don't want to keep this tough facade up but when it comes to
sharing their feelings, they don't have the years of experience to draw
on that women tend to have.
"There can also be competitiveness in male relationships that gets in
the way of sharing heartbreak and encourages men to make out that they
don't care. Suggesting you were going to end it anyway, being negative
about your ex or getting back out there to meet someone new straightaway
are all examples of hiding the pain."
What are some coping strategies for dealing with the pain?
1. Let go
"Decide to focus on what you can control and not what you can't. You
couldn't have prevented the break up but you can control how you
respond. Even making the decision to do this can help you feel better.
"If you have a tendency to replay everything that went wrong, who said
what to whom and how you could have done things differently, then
recognise that this is energy sapping, and you can use this energy
"If it persists, then give yourself 20 minutes, once a day, to write
these thoughts down and then do something else. Reduce the time you do
this so it becomes once a week, and eventually once a fortnight."
2. Allow yourself time to grieve
"They say a relationship is a bit like a bereavement and just like this,
it will take time - so don't be too tough on yourself, or expect to
bounce back straightaway. Allow yourself recovery time in whatever way
works for you e.g. you may want to avoid places you went to together for
a few weeks, or spend time with people who care and can nurture you."
3. Don't be tempted to stalk your ex online
"Don't keep punishing yourself by checking what they're doing on social
media or quizzing mutual friends - it won't help you and can even slow
your recovery from the pain."
4. Focus on you
"Doing things that are good for you and that you may have neglected
recently, like seeing friends, spending time with family and doing
things for fun, can all help. Now is the time to find new hobbies, new
friends and to be positively selfish."
5. Don't blame yourself
"Don't take responsibility for everything that went wrong, especially if
you have low self-esteem. It's likely that at least half of the
responsibility rests with your ex. If you feel you're in a pattern of
negative relationships, then use being single as a time to reassess what
you want from your next one, and consider talking to a professional so
that you can form happier relationships in the future. "
You can find out more about Relate's services at relate.org.uk.