Brittaney Latta, LMFT is a California-based online therapist who specializes in helping young adults overcome people-pleasing tendencies, prioritize self-love, and build self-esteem. Her Instagram is full of mental wellness tips from how to cope with difficult emotions to embracing self-acceptance. In this #howimend interview, Brittaney shares the importance of no contact, her four pillars of healthy love, and how to effectively communicate in a relationship.
If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?
The first time I was heartbroken, I was 15 years old. I remember being so "in love" with the guy that he could do no wrong. The problem was he was the bad boy type. If I could go back and give my younger self advice, I would say: "Walk away and stay away; you deserve a love that doesn't hurt." I would encourage her to reach out to her friends and family more about her feelings and how hard it was to keep the no-contact boundary. That way, we could have created a plan to help my young and impressionable self to stay strong. I would remind her that although the person she loves now may seem like the center of her world, it won't be her last love. I would encourage her to fill her time with hobbies and friends and remind her that intimacy can be found in platonic relationships. Surround yourself with those that love you because you are not alone in this process.
What has heartbreak taught you about yourself?
Through heartbreak, I have discovered my own strength and resilience. Every closed door has led me to an open one, and each relationship has taught me valuable lessons about myself. No relationship is ever a waste, as there is always something to learn. Finding yourself single teaches us to be more independent and self-sufficient, to carry our own bags from the car and build the life we want in the present moment. Heartbreak helped me rediscover the things that brought me true happiness outside of someone else. And in being alone, I got to focus on creating my unique identity without worrying about someone else's opinions. After a breakup, I take time to check in with myself and determine what I truly want in life. I focus on my own goals and self-care, putting the time and energy I once invested in someone else into myself.
What are your rituals during a breakup? What things/practices/people helped you mend?
After a breakup, I practice 30 days of no-contact, blocking phone numbers and social media accounts to process my emotions. I also reconnect with my hobbies, journal with the help of apps like Mend, talk to a therapist, and spend time with loved ones.
My first ritual after a breakup is 30 days of no-contact. That means blocking phone numbers, social media accounts, etc. It allows me to focus on my feelings and process my grief without being triggered. Social media has created a whole other level of difficulty getting through grief. Seeing what my ex is doing and how they are coping, or not coping, is none of my business.
My second ritual is getting back in touch with my hobbies. I love to dance and take dance classes; filling some extra time with movement gives me something to do and boosts those feel-good chemicals in my brain.
My third ritual is journaling. This is where I implement apps like Mend to help me process my emotions and find journal prompts to help me move through grief. Also, talking to a therapist is very helpful in conjunction with these. Any tools to help get emotions out and help change perspective. It is easy to forget the bad and focus on the good. Still, journaling, self-help apps like Mend, and therapy can help shift our perspective on why this breakup will benefit us later. Lastly, really spending extra time with loved ones. Talking about all the breakup feelings with trusted people is so helpful. Friends also provide a healthy distraction and remind you of the fun in life.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?
I grew up in a home with physical and emotional abuse, manipulation, and multiple divorces. I was never taught what healthy love looks like. Through therapy, self-help apps like Mend, and my journey of finding love, my biggest lesson has been what healthy love is and is not. I discovered that healthy love involves 4 pillars; I like to call them "The 4 Legs of a Chair: communication, trust, compatibility, and reciprocity." To break each down further. Being able to talk and argue healthily has been huge for me. Using non-violent communication tools such as
1. no yelling/name calling/belittling/criticizing.
2. active listening
3. using I-statements
4. finding a compromise
Trust is essential in relationships. I used to stay with cheaters, hoping they'd change, but later finding they didn't. Compatibility is also important. Differences in desires can be a deal breaker. Being bi and polyamorous means, I need an accepting partner and one who is also polyamorous. Trying to make it work but wanting clashing things out of life just puts us on the road to frustration and disappointment. And finally, reciprocity is key. Everyone involved must contribute to the relationship, even if their efforts are not always perfectly balanced. It is important to take turns in putting in a greater amount of effort.
Thinking back to breakups you’ve had, did you have any breakup vices (checking your ex’s Insta, etc) and how do you conquer them?
The biggest vice I had was reaching out and checking social media. I always thought I needed "closure" and would succumb to the idea of having one final talk. More times than not, that talk leads to getting back together and trying again. Walking away from toxic relationships was the most challenging skill as a recovering codependent. There is no such thing as maintaining a friendship immediately after a breakup for me. I had to learn to go no-contact until the grief or withdrawal emotions calmed. Blocking the person on all channels wasn't just so they wouldn't reach out to me, but mostly so I wouldn't reach out to them. I learned to text my friends and family every time I wanted to text them. Or post my stories on Instagram if I want to talk with them. The most challenging part of breakups for me was not having that person I could always talk to or text, no matter the time of day. So I learned other outlets to get the same experience but without the harm of reaching out to an ex.
Do you think exes can be friends? Do you stay friends with your exes on social media?
Can exes be friends is a complex answer, sometimes. It really depends on several factors.
First, looking at what kind of relationship was had and why things ended is a huge factor in whether this person would be healthy as a friend. Sometimes relationships end because of timing or incompatibilities; then, you may be better as friends. Now, if the relationship was harmful and a lot of damage was caused, would this person really be a quality friend?
The second question would be, how do you feel about that person being in a relationship with someone else? If you can be happy for them and it doesn't negatively impact you, you are ready to move your ex into the friend zone. If you still get hurt or triggered by them being with someone else, then you need more time, or this isn't a healthy option for you.
I still have some of my exes on social media. Our relationships ended for various reasons, like being too young, lousy timing, or simply not being the right match. But I'm happy to say that we've remained friends, and we're supportive of each other's new relationships to the point of all being able to happily hang out together.
What keeps your heart open, despite the heartbreaks you’ve had in your life?
A couple of things keep my heart open despite having experienced heartbreak. One thing is to remember there are billions of people in the world, so if one relationship fails, there's always another opportunity for love. This helps prevent me from having a scarcity mindset and helps me hold hope and stay positive that my person is out there. Another thing that helps me keep my heart open is reminding myself that emotions are temporary, and pain and grief will eventually pass. During difficult times, I actively remind myself through journaling, talking to friends, and therapy that the intensity of my emotions will eventually subside. This continual reminder helps me to be less fearful in the future of giving love another chance. Lastly, the benefits outweigh the risks. Being in love is one of the best feelings in the world. The happiness that comes from sharing life, receiving affection, and being able to grow with your person is worth continuing to be patient and ride the ups and downs of dating to find that reward of a healthy relationship I imagined in the end.
What is your favorite song about heartbreak?
Selena Gomez “Lose You To Love Me.” It is an excellent story about a girl blindly entering a relationship and believing everything her partner tells her. Later to find out he is hurting her in the relationship. It talks about the journey of self-discovery and self-love after heartbreak. Something heartbreak can push us to do. We get the time to focus on ourselves and figure out why we are attracted to certain people or what skills we still need to work on as humans. Relationships show us a lot about ourselves and what areas still need growth and improvement. This song reminds us that we can view this pain as an opportunity to work on self-love.
What is your favorite movie about heartbreak?
“The Notebook” will always be my favorite movie about heartbreak. The thing about movies and love is they are fairytales. Many people get caught up in romance movies and how things always work out. This causes people to fantasize about relationships and hold hope that the person will change, or the fantasy we create in our heads is not who the person actually is. We must remember movies are fictional, although they make us feel all kinds of things–we must not forget to be intentional when dating. We have to believe people when they show us who they are. Remember, actions and words should align when getting to know if someone will be a safe person in a relationship.
What projects are you currently working on, and looking forward to most?
I am a California-based online therapist at YourTherapyRooms.com. I specialize in helping young adults aged 18-45 heal from trauma and people-pleasing tendencies. Through therapy, I empower them to prioritize self-love and self-esteem and create healthy relationships. I recently launched a YouTube channel this month, @Brittaney.does.therapy, where I interview everyday people to break down mental health stigmas and promote open conversations. I am still trying to figure out how YouTube works, but it has been a fun and exciting new project.