Hi! Can you share a little about yourself and what you do?
I’m a licensed counselor and love coach, so I work with people around breakups, dating, and relationship issues. I’m also a two-time author, with my books Breaking Up and Bouncing Back: Moving on to Create the Love Life You Deserve, which teaches you how to overcome a soul-crushing heartbreak and date with intent to find your ideal match, and Your Last First Date: 7 Steps to Dating Who You Want (out September 2019), which offers concrete and actionable dating advice along with foundational mindset shifts so you can date with more confidence and self-worth. I am passionate about helping my clients full circle, from going through a soul-crushing breakup, to healing, gaining insight and confidence, learning to become a smarter dater, navigating the often anxiety-producing dating scene, and securing a healthy, happy relationship (and what this looks and feels like). My clients have told me that it feels like working with your therapist and best friend combined to kick your breakup in the butt! Basically, I bring all of my clinical knowledge, psychology, neuroscience, and supportive, directive advice to help your love life thrive.
Can you tell us about a significant heartbreak and how you recovered?
I share in-depth about my own personal breakup experience in my book Breaking Up and Bouncing Back, so make sure to read that if you want all the juicy details! The short of it is that I was dumped by my live-in boyfriend of 4.5 years, who I met in college and assumed I would marry. We had talked about marriage and moving across the country together, and on the day I thought he was going to propose he actually told me that I wasn’t “The One,” but couldn’t articulate what was missing or what went wrong. I obsessed and ruminated about this for months, wondering what wasn’t right. My world shattered and I mourned the future I had planned with him.
We lived together for another three months, still sleeping together and saying “I love you.” It was torture. When he moved across the country, I told him we couldn’t talk anymore because it was too triggering and painful. Setting healthy and firm boundaries are key to giving yourself time and space to fall out of love. That’s because when you’re in love, you’re physically addicted to your partner, and neuroscience shows that you process a breakup similar to withdrawing from drugs or alcohol, with symptoms such as changes in sleep and appetite, anxiety and depression. I learned that no one goes from lovers to friends overnight, especially when one person didn’t want the relationship to end.
In addition to setting boundaries, what was most helpful in recovering and letting go was moving to a new apartment in a new town with new roommates, which means I was no longer bombarded with memories from our shared house and the places we typically went on dates. I started going out more socially, reconnecting with old friends and making new friends at a kickboxing gym that I joined. Exercise has always been very therapeutic for me, so I focused on my fitness.
I also found it helpful to begin dating again. At first, I used it as a casual and fun distraction, but I grew more and more intentional about the process, knowing I was looking for husband-material and getting clear about my core values, which are the things that are most important to me and influence the lifestyle I want to have. It is key to align your core values because when you compromise on them (which is what would have happened had I stayed with my ex, so it was actually a blessing in disguise), you wind up resentful. I think it’s a myth that you have to be 100% healed in order to date again. We heal through love. Of course you still need to work on yourself, take accountability for what you did wrong in your last relationship or the ways you didn’t honor yourself, but when you pick the right partner who is supportive, doesn’t activate your anxious or avoidant attachment style (an important concept to dating smarter—learn more in my book!), and who validates your worth, you can grow stronger and blossom in ways that were never possible with your ex.
I ended up meeting my husband three months after I moved out! At first, I wasn’t ready for a commitment when he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was still healing and needing closure from my last relationship, which I was starting to create myself and I also got when my ex contacted me to say he thought he made a big mistake and flew me across the country to see him, only to realize he was content with his decision. However, at this point, I had spent enough time dating and starting to fall for my now husband that I knew he wasn’t the right fit for me. I was finally able to let go of my victim-mentality and view the breakup as dodging a bullet. I dated multiple people for a couple of months because I wanted to make sure that I was making the right choice with my husband, and frankly, I was enjoying myself, my new freedom, and doing what I wanted! I communicated openly with him about where I was emotionally, and he was patient and supportive since we were still progressing and increasing intimacy. We talked about every topic under the sun, and when I had doubts or concerns we talked through them and deepened our connection. The more I learned about him, the more I loved. I was authentic, vulnerable, and real with him. He really saw me and adored me, and treated me the way I knew I deserved to be treated. Three months into dating we became exclusive, six months into dating we moved in together, and one year into dating we got engaged on the anniversary of our first date! We’ve been happily married almost five years now and just welcomed our first baby, Talia Rose!
What are major red flags for you when you start dating someone new?
In my past, I had an anxious attachment style, which has now been healed through dating someone securely attached who validated my concerns and treated me in such a respectful, high-value way (the way you always deserve to be treated!). If you’re constantly feeling insecure, jealous, needy, anxious or on edge in the new relationship, there’s a good chance it’s activating your anxious attachment style, and there are things you can do to help calm yourself and feel more secure (discussed in my book!), but ultimately if the person you’re dating has an avoidant attachment style it may not be a healthy fit or worth your time to work through it as a new couple since this is your fresh start in your love life and you should invest your precious time in someone who makes you feel trusting, reliable, and safe! There can still be chemistry and fireworks with someone who pursues you consistently, communicates openly about their feelings, and lets you know what page they’re on.
What are your favorite mood elevators to uplift and inspire you?
A good workout has always been my best mood booster. It gets me out of my head and into my physical body, which is my own way of meditating.
Do you stay friends with your ex? Unfollow or follow them on social media, etc?
It took me almost a year to want to reach out to my ex in a platonic way. Most people aren’t able to have a friendship with their ex because it’s too painful, and for many, there was always a romantic connection so it feels awkward to only be friends. I definitely recommend unfollowing and/or blocking for the first 30-90 days while you go through the process of falling out of love. You can always re-evaluate down the road once it’s less triggering and emotional. If you find yourself stalking their page, looking to see if they’re dating someone new, or where you might “accidentally” bump into them, it’s a sign you’re probably not ready for friendship.
Any tips for our users on moving on from heartbreak?
Understand that the pain you’re experiencing from your breakup is actually a physiological response to the withdrawal from love. Neuroscience shows us that the act of falling in love is actually an addiction that activates the same brain regions to those seen in drug or alcohol addiction. When you go through a breakup, you experience similar withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and changes in your eating and sleeping habits. Your brain revs itself up looking for it’s next “hit” or “high”, which is why you feel driven to communicate with your ex, you miss them like crazy, and feel inclined to stalk them on social media or even drive by their house. A region in your brain that processes physical pain is even activated, which is why you may feel like you’ve been punched in the gut during a soul-crushing split. It takes time, space, and healthy boundaries to fall out of love. Place less emphasis on your ex as the “one that got away” and more emphasis on the fact that this is a physical process to falling out of love!