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March 26, 2017

I Bet You Will: Dealing with Loss of Love

By Dr. Richard Boyum

One of the major areas we deal with as counselors is the loss of a love. Breakups and/or outgrowing a relationship can be as or more difficult for college students than any other group in our population. For many students the breakup/growing out maybe in their first primary or major relationship. Books such as Necessary Loses or Surviving the Loss of a Love address these issues. I have developed a simple exercise to help the student client get past the hopelessness stage in experiencing the loss of a love. It incorporates the realizations that time is the best healer and times will change. And that they are capable of having a healthy and positive relationship with another person. I often hear someone say, "I question if I will ever meet anyone again." A more empathetic form of this statement is, "I doubt that I will ever allow myself to love again."

When I hear that kind of statement, I say the following to a client, "I know you are in pain; you are honoring your own feelings at this moment, but here's the deal, I would like you to tell me the net worth of all your worldly possessions. I wan you to include your clothing, radios, television sets, stereos, the car if you have it, I also want you to consider the amount of money that you now have in your check book. When you come up with an approximate dollar amount, I will bet you even odds that by the time you are age 30, that you will have found a relationship that is not only as good as, but better than the one that you have just had. If you really believe that there will never be another person, or that you will not let yourself love, I want you to place that bet with me." I then add the following, "If you will not take the bet it is because th4ere are parts of you that understand how worthy you are, how you will meet new people, and how in the time and places in your life change that the things you want out of relationships will indeed occur…in at least an approximation of your desires. With that in mind are you willing to place the bet with me?" At the date of this dictation, I have not been able to find anyone who will place the bet. They know in their head and in their heart that there will be someone else. This kind of reframing can change hopelessness into hopefulness. See if this technique doesn't work for you as well.