Dear Dr. Romance

I am in a terrible funk over a failed relationship that lasted 2 years and I thought would lead to marriage. We met online and now I'm afraid if I go online again, he will see my profile and/or I will see his. I took this breakup so hard, the thought of that happening just makes me cringe. I understand one can block certain online names, but if he has changed his how will I know? Also, can you give me any tips on getting over this? I'm in my late 40s and feeling very unhopeful about my future love life.

Dear Reader:

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I know it's painful, and I'm concerned that you're worried about whether he sees you're online. That may mean you're not healed enough from your grief to risk dating again.  Maybe you need to withdraw for a little while, and focus on healing.  "Surviving Loss and Thriving Again"  will help you go through your grief and bounce back to a positive outlook.  

If you're not together any more, then you need to stop focusing on him, what he thinks, or what he's doing. Let him go. Put your focus on yourself. The following tips will help.

Dr. Romance on how to handle a bad breakup:

DO put it in perspective
If you're dumped, it hurts, but count your lucky stars. You don't have a relationship if the other person's not really interested.

DO understand that there were problems already
It's never easy to find out that your relationship, long or short, is over. Once bonded, even if the relationship is terrible, both men and women have trouble breaking away. So if you're dumped, the other person really wanted out.

DON'T idealize a bad relationship:
In counseling people who got dumped, every client realized the warning signs that were ignored early in the relationship. Don't pick out the few good moments you remember and ignore what wasn't working.

DO try to learn from the experience
After the initial upset, review the dynamics of the relationship and analyze what went wrong, what you could have done differently, and what you learned. There's no need to give yourself a hard time about it, just process the information, so you don't repeat mistakes.

DON'T expect closure from the dumper
It is lovely when two civilized grown-ups can dissect what happened in the relationship, tell the truth, ask for forgiveness and absolve each other. But this usually happens years later. Closure requires getting truthful answers to your questions about what happened -- to understand why. After a breakup, both of you are upset, hurt, and guilty and probably won't be telling the truth, even if you understand it. Neither of you really wants to hear the truth this soon. Longing to talk "just once more" to your ex is just asking for pain. 

Dr. Romance's  tips to moving on emotionally after a split

1. If you gave it your best shot, and you know it's over, don't waste time in resentment and anger, it's self-destructive. Let go. Do your grieving, cry, write about your feelings, ("How to Write a Love Letter" is good for this) and talk about it with a trusted friend or a counselor. Have a "letting go" ceremony with close friends, and say goodbye to your relationship. Put reminders away for a while.

2. Don't hesitate to get therapy to help you through this transition, so you can grieve what's lost (even if you're the one who left, you've lost your hopes and dreams for this marriage) and move your focus on to building a good life in your new circumstance. A professional viewpoint will help you move from past to present, and plan for the future.

3. This is an important time to have your friends or family around you, you need support. Don't isolate. You don't have to go right out and date again (go slow with that) but you should have a social life with friends and family. Even if you don't think you feel ready to see people, see your closest friends and spend time with them. They'll help you heal, and remind you that you still have people who love you.

 4. Focus on re-building your life; on the practical things you need to do and think. Get your emotional, personal and financial life together as soon as you can. Think about all the things you've been freed up to do, and do some of them. Try things you would never have done before, or things you've always wanted to do. As Gatsby said "Living well is the best revenge." Use the energy from your anger and grief, and channel them into doing things just for you. Try out for that local theater, take dancing lessons or an art class, learn to scuba dive, plant a garden. All of those things will keep you focused on the present and the future, instead of the past.

The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty will give you more help to restructure your life and your self-image.

The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty k

For low-cost phone counseling, email me at

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.