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Do It with Emotion

This is a column where we address questions and topics of all kinds concerning sex and relationships. Dr. Do It and Ms. Emotion do not claim to be experts in the fields but have been “around the block” a few times and have seen their share of situations involving relationships and sex. The opinions of Dr. Do It and Ms. Emotion do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this publication.

Dear Dr. Do It and Ms. Emotion,

What’s the best way to mend a broken heart?

-- Hurting

Ms. Emotion: Getting over a broken heart is never easy, whether a failed relationship or an unrequited love is the culprit.

A lot of emotions are probably flooding through your head right now -- anger, despair, emptiness, bitterness, and maybe even jealousy if there was a third person involved. Most people will tell you that time heals all wounds, and they’re probably right. But I’ve been there before and I know that waiting for time to heal the wounds is no walk in the park. So I have a few suggestions that will hopefully help in the short term.

You are inevitably analyzing what went wrong. And I think that’s part of the healing process -- making sense of what happened to you. That’s also how we learn from our mistakes. It takes two people to make a relationship work. While you’re reflecting, try to think about what you should do differently in your next relationship (even if you can’t imagine having one right now).

I’m a big fan of the theory that if it’s meant to be, then it will be. Philosophical arguments aside, it’s a nice way to think about life. Since you can’t be with this person, then it must not be meant to be, and therefore you should accept it.

If you can come to the realization that your life is better without that person, or that you would be better off with someone else in the future, then it’s easier to accept that you can’t be with them. Once you accept it, you can have hope for your romantic future, and joy when reflecting on the past. The best part about an old crush or an ex is that you can think back about the fun times and be thankful that you have the memories, even though things weren’t meant to be.

Some twisted and dramatic part of me likes to think that if someday my husband, my true love, were to die, I would never get over it. Certainly, I would never stop loving him. Both of my grandmothers lost their husbands -- one to cancer and the other to his secretary. To this day they both ares till in love with their husbands, and both of them recovered from their broken hearts. So it’s possible you’ll never stop loving this person, but I know if my grandmothers can recover from their broken hearts, then you and I can too.

Dr. Do It: Wow, that’s a pretty long-winded answer, Ms. Emotion. I hate this question because I never know how to answer it, but I will tell you this. I broke up with my last girlfriend over a year ago and it was the most painful experience ever. I still think about it from time to time. I don’t think anything went wrong in the relationship per se, but that she was just ready to move on because it didn’t feel right for her. Those months after the breakup were perhaps the hardest days of my life. I didn’t know what to think or what to do. However, I was thankful to have a network of very supportive friends who were there to hang out with me through those tough times. I also know that it was hard to focus on stuff I was doing because I was so preoccupied by thoughts of her and why she broke up with me, thinking there was either something wrong with me or something I could have done to prevent it.

I eventually decided to start doing some interesting activities that I had always wanted to do, like dancing and sailing. I also decided to start working out again to get back into shape. Through these activities, I increased my quality of life and felt better about myself, while also meeting new people.

You can’t control what the other person does or feels and you can’t control what you feel. But you can at least control what you do, so go out and try to have fun. I still occasionally think about my ex-girlfriend and it still affects me somewhat. I don’t know if we ever really get over these things in life and I’m sure they have impact on the way we live the rest of our life. I only hope that someday I will find someone else who I will cherish at least as deeply. But in the meantime, I am living my life to fulfill my needs and desires and doing the things that I want to do.

If you have any questions for Dr. Do It and Ms. Emotion or topics you would like them to discuss, please send email to advice@the-tech.mit.edu.