Book publication announcement

The Scientific Approach to Healing from Heartbreak

People struggling after a relationship breakdown or yearning after ‘the one that got away’ might wonder if the pain will ever end, and how they can move on. Now a psychologist has developed a step-by-step guide to heartbreak recovery the scientific way.

According to Dr Clare Rosoman, a clinical psychologist with decades of experience as a relationship therapist, there are several steps you can take to heal emotionally and rebuild your life.

Backed with extensive psychological research, Rosoman has authored Life After Love: An Emotionally Focused Guide to Relationship Loss, which has published today.

The psychology of heartache

According to Life After Love, the first step to healing a broken heart is to understand the psychology behind why break-ups are so painful in the first place.

“As humans, from the moment we are born we need to form loving connections with others,” says Rosoman.

“While our earliest attachment figures as children are our parents or caregivers, we don’t grow out of our attachment needs, and everyone has an innate yearning for trust and security with one or a few irreplaceable others.”

Known as ‘attachment theory’, this concept is rooted in the idea that our experiences with caregivers early on in childhood act as a blueprint for our subsequent relationships throughout the rest of our life.

This is backed up by decades of psychological research and, Rosomon explains, it is the loss of these attachment figures that causes intense pain in the same way a baby feels when separated from their parents.

Understanding attachment

Rosomon suggests that to heal from a broken bond and to ensure strong connections in the future, people should understand their own attachment styles.

Studies show that people who grow up with caregivers who are sensitive and responsive to their needs as children are more likely to form positive beliefs about close relationships, and to develop a healthy sense of self.

Such people are more likely to form secure attachment strategies where they see their partner in a positive light, feel confident about their partner’s reliability, and feel worthy of love and support.

On the other hand, people with anxious attachment strategies are likely to have experienced their caregivers as inconsistently available as children. These individuals are likely to hold negative views of other’s reliability in their adult relationships, and to doubt their own lovability.

“People with anxious attachment strategies are quite susceptible to blaming themselves for their attachment figures’ lack of reliability,” says Rosoman.

“They also tend to believe that if they put more effort into catching their important other’s attention and approval, then they will be successful in acquiring their love and support. However somewhat counterproductively, their fear about impending rejection or abandonment will often place a strain on relationships, contributing to them not lasting.”

Finally, people with avoidant attachment strategies are more likely to doubt that romantic love happens, or even exists at all. These individuals believe that others cannot be relied on and do not have positive intentions.

This arises from the cumulative effect of experiencing their early caregivers as rejecting or dismissive of their attachment needs.

“They have learned that it is better to cope alone, and to suppress their painful emotions, rather than risk turning to an unresponsive or rejecting caregiver,” says Rosoman.

“As adults, people with avoidant attachment strategies are not likely to take their emotional needs to another, or even to acknowledge them to themselves.”

Learning from the past

According to Rosoman, one of the most important steps someone with a broken heart can take to move on is to recognize which attachment strategy they tend to favour in relationships. By doing so it is possible to avoid falling into negative and harmful thought and behavior patterns in the future.

“The way in which people with avoidant or anxious attachment strategies can go about attempting to get their needs met in close relationships can actually contribute to some of the insecurity in those relationships,” says Rosoman.

“If you can recognize that then you can take responsibility for your half of the connection. This will help you work through the pain of the loss of your past relationship and set you in good stead for detaching from this bond and opening yourself to new connections, unencumbered by unresolved feelings and yearnings.”