Therapist Samantha Burns On How Pain Helped Her Find Love


Team Mend

Samantha Burns is a Boston-based licensed therapist and relationship coach who specializes in helping people through heartbreak. She’s also the author of several books, including “Breaking Up And Bouncing Back” and “Done With Dating.”

If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?

“I learned a lot of love lessons in my breakup experiences, which also made it easy and clear when I met my husband that he was my person:

You should never have to convince someone to love you.

You should never compromise on your core values (what’s most important to you in life).

Your partner should bring out the best in you, not make you feel insecure, jealous, needy, upset, or crazy!”

What are your rituals during a breakup?

“Exercise always helped me the most when going through a breakup. There are so many mental health and physical benefits to being active. It’s a way better coping skill than excessively eating or drinking, both of which activate the reward center of your brain and make you feel temporary pleasure.”

“When writing my upcoming breakup book, I collected breakup survey responses from women all over the country and analyzed their breakup data. I learned that I’m not alone because the majority of ladies listed exercise and quality time with friends as the most helpful coping skills. The least helpful were binge drinking and rebound sex. Having a strong support network is essential. The feeling of rejection that comes with a breakup is devastating, so knowing that friends still care about you creates a sense of belonging at a time when you’re feeling most alone.”

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?

“You can really love someone, but it doesn’t mean that person is your perfect match, or that he is “The One.” One of the most difficult situations is ending a relationship with someone that you truly care about, but knowing that there’s a better match for you out there is the silver lining.”

Do you think exes can be friends? Do you stay friends with your exes on social media?

“I think it’s possible, but you absolutely cannot go from lovers to friends overnight. You need strong breakup boundaries and no contact so that your heart can heal. This means removing your ex, even if it’s temporarily from social media, and creating an ex-free environment. You can always welcome this person back into your life later after you’ve healed and moved forward in your love life. Save all of your old photos on a flash drive and put it out of sight and out of mind.”

“Every time you connect with your ex, whether you communicate passively by liking each other’s Instagram photos, bumping into him at the local coffee shop, or wearing his sweatshirt to bed every night, you’re triggering negative and difficult emotions and you’re more likely to stay stuck in your heartbroken funk and “relapse” with compulsive behavior, such as sending a text, or showing up at his apartment uninvited. After taking about 60-90 days with no contact, reevaluate whether you’re ready to be platonic friends, which means you have the same emotional reaction to him as you would if any of your other friends contacted you or behaved in the same way.”

What keeps your heart open, despite the heartbreaks you’ve had in your life?

“My own self-worth and self-love, knowing that I had a lot to offer someone and that I wasn’t willing to settle for less than I deserve.”

What projects are you currently working on, and looking forward to most?

“I have an upcoming book, Breaking Up & Bouncing Back, about how to survive a soul-crushing breakup and develop healthy skills to a happy dating life. It feels like your therapist and best friend combine to kick your breakup in the butt! It’s full of tips, tools, client stories, and psychological research that walks you through the most difficult part of your breakup—zombie mode—to gain understanding about why the breakup occurred, how to manage all of the rumination, anxiety, and sadness, and reflect on your love lessons to become a smarter, more intentional dater moving forward.”

“On my website, where I write about dating and relationship issues, I also offer free resources, such as Breakup Bounce Back, 14-days of email support to help get over your ex, a Good Guy vs Bad Boy Quiz so you can figure out whether the man you’re seeing is emotionally unavailable, and my ebook, Love Successfully: 10 Secrets You Need to Know Right Now, which covers the secret ingredients to cook up a happy relationship.”

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