Broken Heart or Broken Expectations?

Breakups are always painful but people are mistaken when they say someone broke their heart. What they're really experiencing is the pain of their broken expectations. 
Broken Heart or Broken Expectations?

Last update: 12 August, 2020

Everyone has or will experience a breakup at some point in their lives. However, even though they think their heart is broken, the pain they experience is really due to broken expectations. This usually difficult situation seems to be more complicated for some than for others. In fact, some people’s pain is truly paralyzing.

People often mistakenly believe that these types of individuals had stronger, deeper feelings for their former lovers. Others might believe the expression of their pain is due to a lack of emotional strength on their part. However, in reality, the foundation of their suffering isn’t excessive love or personal weakness. These feelings are due to broken expectations.

A person crying.

Broken heart vs. broken expectations

Your former loves never broke your heart. Speaking in a literal sense, it’s evident it didn’t happen because it’s physiologically impossible. Still, it hasn’t happened figuratively either. Perhaps at some point, you felt you gave your heart to someone and this person damaged and destroyed it. In reality, and although it may be difficult to admit, you did the damage yourself.

Love doesn’t tear nor destroy, even when it fades. When you genuinely love someone with all of your heart, your suffering is different. This is because it’s free from dependencies. Thus, you don’t put your happiness in the hands of anyone else. You don’t expect others to make you happy and fulfilled.

Evidently, everyone has expectations when you enter a relationship and it’s healthy to have them to a certain extent. You should expect respect, support, and sincerity from the people around you. However, real love understands that every person is responsible for their own well-being. In addition, this responsibility includes knowing when to distance yourself from those who don’t treat you right. You mustn’t allow anyone to humiliate, betray, or disappoint you and you shouldn’t allow these things to become a part of any of your relationships.


People tend to blame others for these situations. However, they alone hurt themselves merely by staying with a toxic person. Loving isn’t painful. In fact, it hurts to cling, submit, not be who you are, and neglect your self-love in lieu of another person’s love.

Nobody’s heart has ever been broken as a consequence of loving too much. This is because those who really know how to love would never feel so devastated by someone else’s behavior or departure. They’d understand and accept they’re not in control of the other person’s actions, only of their own. Therefore, they’d protect their own integrity and calmly move away from a painful situation. Yes, they’d feel pain, but wouldn’t be a wreck.

You’re not weak

Don’t feel guilty if you’re part of the large group of people who, at some point in your life, have experienced a broken heart. You’re not weak for harboring such a feeling. Furthermore, you’re not weaker than others nor was your partner spectacularly valuable. Neither they were too much for you nor too little. Understand that the heartbreaking anguish you may have felt was only the result of your broken expectations.

When you establish a romantic relationship, you begin to project a future together with a given person. You begin to make plans, set goals, and visualize set goals. Thus, you hope and trust that such a life plan will come to fruition.

However, as you may already know, life can suddenly change and you have no control over it. Thus, things don’t always go as planned. The fall can be impressive if you’re not psychologically flexible, if you don’t easily adapt and lack solid self-esteem.

Generally, people who are most likely to experience complicated or pathological grief after a breakup are rather rigid. They need certainty and control. Also, they fear change.

A seemingly sad woman.

Learn to manage your broken expectations

It’s good to share dreams and projects with your significant other, but you mustn’t allow your psychological and emotional stability to depend on them. You must always be prepared to face changes without emotionally falling apart and, for this, you must conscientiously work on your self-esteem and flexibility.

Finally, review the true origin of that feeling if you feel someone broke your heart. Also, understand that it’s in your hands to begin to love in a healthier way. Begin by loving yourself unconditionally. Change can be scary, yes, but remember that everything is possible when nothing is certain.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Sierra, V. E., Rodríguez, J. L. S., & Torres-Torija, C. S. (2017). Incidencia del duelo en la ruptura amorosa en estudiantes universitarios en un centro de crisis, emergencias y atención al suicidio (CREAS). Journal of Behavior, Health & Social Issues9(2), 27-35.
  • Ardila González, A. E., & Ojeda Garrido, K. (2019). Síntomas y signos de personas que afrontan el duelo por ruptura amorosa.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.