'Break-ups don't have to be angry and hurtful'

Introducing Dr Love, who solves your relationship riddles in a confusing digital age

Q. Can breaking up be a health hazard?
A. If there is one thing we have learned from history, it is that breaking up with people we love is never easy. The Roman Emperor Nero, for instance, reportedly divorced and then killed his first wife so he could marry the most beautiful woman in Rome, called Poppaea Sabina. They weren't happy though and after a quarrel, he supposedly kicked her in her stomach when she was pregnant, which some historians say killed her. Henry VIII married six women, two of whom were beheaded. This clearly shows that breaking up can be a health hazard. Things aren't as gory as that today, fortunately, but how you break up can have a huge impact on your mental well-being. Some people manage to break up and still stay friends for the rest of their lives. Others end it with anger and violence and never meet for the rest of their lives, hating each other for years in the process. Only you and your partner can script how your own story will end. Try and figure out how much each of you has to lose.

Q. When is a good time to get professional help for relationship problems?
A. Some psychologists believe it's never too early or too late to speak to someone about how your relationship is going. Others believe the worst thing you can do to your relationship is bring an outsider into what is essentially a personal, sacred bond between two people. The right thing to do, however, is speak to your partner and find out whether or not a professional can help if either of you think that things aren't what they used to be. There are certainly a number of advantages offered by counselling, starting with advice from someone who has dealt with all kinds of similar issues in the past and has the accumulated wisdom of those encounters to share. Maybe you ought to turn into a therapist yourself first though, and have a heart-to-heart with your partner before making any decision.

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