Dealing with losing love as an expat

Dealing with losing love as an expat

Being heartbroken is difficult enough... being heartbroken and an expat can really complicate things. Many expats feel that they don’t have the support they need to mend a broken heart.

Our best friends may be in our home country (or another country) and the people we socialise with are often from our professional network - which can make it difficult to open up about our love life. Loneliness can feel heavy especially when our significant other is gone.

Can the pain of losing a great and deep love be overcome? How can we survive the loss of a love? How can we get through the painful moments or the realisation and acceptance of this loss?

Time to (re)connect

For expats, this may be a good time to reconnect with friends and family at home. Skype, chat and email make communicating quick and easy!

Reach out to other expats too. Often they will understand how hard it is to face challenges while far from home and a support base. Sharing may also deepen these friendships.

Tips for dealing with a loss of love

The following pointers are adapted from the bestselling How to survive the loss of a love (Mary Book/Prelude Pr, 1993, 2000) by Bloomfield, Colgrove and McWilliams:

 Understand it's normal

Losing a relationship in which we have invested emotionally or deeply brings great pain. The loss may be invisible to others, but for you it is very present and painful. Questions such as: Is the relationship on or is it off? Is the break-up a gain or a loss? are normal to have at this stage.

 Feel your emotions

You may feel helpless, tearful, empty, despairing, guilty, angry or you may pretend that everything is ok when deep down you know that it is not.

 Ask for help

If you feel that you are "coming apart," that you no longer have control; if you feel overwhelmed or isolated, with no one to reach out to; or if you turn to alcohol or other substances to cope with the difficult emotions, seek professional help at once.

The sooner you ask for support, the better for you. It doesn’t have to be this way and you don’t have to go through this on your own.

 Be aware

You may find that earlier losses may surface (previous experiences of rejections or break-ups). Allow them to heal as well.

 Take it slowly

Take it day by day until your pain lessens. If it hurts, let it hurt, but know that it will be better one day.

 Believe in yourself

Expect to feel afraid; to experience the fear of being alone, the fear of being rejected, the fear that you will never love again or that you will never be loved again. This is normal and understandable. But remember, you can successfully meet these challenges.

 Be trusting

Try to see pain not as hurting but as healing. Trust the healing process.

 Be kind to yourself

Don’t punish yourself with "if only"s. Disregard any thought that begins with, "If only I had/hadn’t done/said..."

 Give yourself time

Take your time and make space for new beginnings, when you feel ready. In the age of fast food and instant gratification, it can be hard to accept that some things take time. Give yourself this rare gift.

 Allow the pain

The sooner you allow yourself to be with the pain, the sooner it will pass. The only way out is through.

 Look after yourself

Schedule comforting activities. Continue with your hobbies or explore new ones. Get some rest, but also remember to have as much fun as possible.

We know it seems difficult but do try. Healing needs fun and laughter!

 Let it go

Remaining distraught is not a "proof of love." Of course you really loved this person! That is why you are feeling this pain.

 See beyond now

Imagine your future. Take a moment to visualise a positive outcome: that you will be happy again, that you will fall in love again, that your life ahead is full of surprises.

Remember that love is a game

You may have lost today, but you will win tomorrow. When you feel ready, and without a burden on your heart, continue your search for a partner who meets your standards; who understands your vision of partnership, love and sharing.

You are alive, you will survive!

What have you found helpful when getting over the loss of love? Let us know in the comments below.

Vivian  Chiona


Vivian Chiona

Vivian Chiona is the founder and director of Expat Nest (, which provides emotional support to expats and their families through online counseling services. A bicultural, multilingual expat with family...

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