How to mend a broken heart

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 February, 2000, 12:00am

Forget roses, chocolates or candle-lit dinners for two on Valentine's Day. Is there anybody nursing a broken romance? Still smarting over being dumped but at the same time wanting to let your ex-partner know how well you're living now? On the issue of splitting up with your girlfriend or boyfriend, there is a whole school of knowledge that tackles the psychological war partners face at the last stage of their relationship. A course offered by the YMCA helps partners see the light at the end of the tunnel.

'This course is for those who have experienced failure in a romantic relationship,' said YMCA counsellor Tse Pui-chi. 'If the wound is not properly treated, there may be long-lasting side effects which can lead to fear of intimacy, apathy in life, taking vengeance in future relationships or even suicide.' Searching for a partner is a stage almost everyone goes through in life, and handling an intimate relationship is not easy. Many who break up may feel their life and everything else has come to an end.

'If the person cannot face separation, he may feel bitter, lonely or miserable,' Ms Tse said. 'The pain needs to be healed.' As part of the healing process, the course provides an outlet for participants to vent their complicated emotions - fear, insecurity, anger, frustration and denial.

'Too often, people just let their experience pass without gaining insight into why they failed,' Ms Tse said.

'They leave their gash untended, not knowing that it could have an adverse effect on their future relationships.' But if the person is aware of his needs after his failure, he will seek further help like counselling so he will not repeat the pattern. He will learn how to re-perceive himself and rebuild his broken world.

'We hope to help participants deal with their experience from different perspectives so they know where their problems lie in the old relationship,' Ms Tse said.

One problem may be the values we hold, such as dating which means marriage or that girls are always passive in a relationship. Such values may cause incompatibility. In the course, participants will learn how to reconstruct their values.

Another problem lies in the inability to communicate. A girl may expect her partner to understand everything about her. 'Such expectations are inappropriate and may make the partner unable to handle the relationship,' Ms Tse said. 'You must understand your needs first and communicate your needs to your partner, who is completely different and has his own needs that you have to know about too.' Each experience of separation can be fruitful and contribute to a person's growth.

'We can learn how to turn a bad experience into something positive, like knowing more about how to get along with the opposite sex. We learn new skills and gain maturity,' Ms Tse said.

She believes it is not impossible for a couple who have broken up to remain friends forever. It depends on how well you've handled the aftermath of your failed relationship - 1) Did you have an emotional outlet? 2) Did you evaluate what went wrong? 3) Have you rebuilt a new self-image? 'A couple that separates does not necessarily have to behave like enemies towards each other,' Ms Tse said.

A girl who is dumped may feel cheap or inferior. This feeling is an attitude, according to Ms Tse, and if she can correct it she may not feel so much pain from being rejected.

'The ending of a relationship is not about who dumped who but an indication that something is wrong with the relationship. We help our participants see the whole picture, of what caused the break-up and not just concentrate on the moment of separation.

'For those being dumped, once they have gone through the healing process and accepted what happened, the past will not hurt them anymore. It is only in that way they can feel good about the way they are living now,' Ms Tse said.

Forever Friends starts February 18, from 7pm-9pm, at YMCA, Tsim Sha Tsui. Cost: $360 for members, $400 non-members. Instruction in Cantonese. Inquiries: 2268 7000