When I met Tom, I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend—I just wanted to have some fun. A barista with his back covered in a giant dreamcatcher tattoo, he wasn’t exactly the type of guy my parents would approve of. We made out the first night we met, dancing at a packed Lower East Side bar. He was exactly what I thought I needed.
My friends weren’t exactly thrilled with Tom, but they tolerated him. “He’s fine to mess around with, but not to actually, you know, date,” they would tell me. And I agreed. Tom was definitely not the type of guy I wanted to end up with. Until, suddenly, he was.
Sure, he didn’t have a “real job,” but Tom was really funny. Within weeks of dating, we had more inside jokes than I had with people I’d known for years. We’d spend hours lying in bed talking, and I’d laugh so hard my stomach hurt.
A few weeks after we met, I told Tom I wanted him to be my boyfriend. At that point, I was so infatuated that I didn’t mind my friends’ disapproval, or that I was the one who paid for all of our dates. Being with him made me happy, and that was all that mattered.
Our relationship only stayed blissful for a few months. Soon, we were fighting constantly. Tom hit on other girls in front of me, was always on his phone when we were together, and would tell me I needed to do more squats to get a perkier butt. Eventually, he started acting like such a jerk that I had no choice but to break up with him. And when I did, he didn’t argue. I knew it was what he wanted.
Although I’d dated people longer than Tom (not to mention guys who treated me way better), for some reason this breakup hit me hard. I couldn’t wrap my head around why he didn’t value me. My confidence was completely shattered. I didn’t have the energy or will to start dating anyone else again, and even getting up in the morning to go to work seemed impossible. That’s the thing about breakups—you expect them to get easier the older you get, but they don’t.
The more I researched hypnotism, the more it seemed like the magic fix I was looking for. How great would it be to take a nap and wake up completely over him?
One day, I was at work Googling “how to get over your ex” when an article about Katy Perry came up. It said that after her divorce from Russell Brand, she went to a hypnotist who specialized in heartbreak and it “healed her.” I spent the rest of the workday going down a rabbit hole of researching hypnotism for breakups.
Initially, I thought hypnotism was a weird magic trick that could make someone quack like a duck in a quick finger snap. But with a bit of research I learned that hypnotism is actually a deeper form of meditation, just with a specific goal in mind.
The more I looked into it, the more it seemed like the magic fix I was looking for. Though there’s not really any scientific evidence proving hypnosis can mend a broken heart, it’s a legit therapy for related conditions like pain and anxiety. How great would it be to take a nap and wake up completely over Tom? Why wouldn’t I do that?
So I set out to find a hypnotist to help me get over my heartbreak. Here’s what happened.
Breaking the ice
At first, my situation was a bit out of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I spoke with certified hypnotist Elena Mosaner, who has experience in treating heartbreak, who asked me about my situation. “I really just want to get over this guy,” I told her. “Honestly, I want to forget he even exists. Do you think you can help?”
“Yes, I can help you,” she told me. “It will only take an hour. Want to come this weekend?” The 60-minute session would set me back $300, but in my mind that was a small price to pay for being miraculously cured of my sadness. I quickly agreed.
The 60-minute session would set me back $300, but in my mind that was a small price to pay for being miraculously cured of my sadness.
Mosaner’s office was in a nice Upper East Side building and didn’t look that different from your average therapist’s office. But waiting for her, I was nervous. What exactly was she going to do to me? Suddenly, I wished I’d spent even more time researching exactly what hypnotism was. But it was too late to back out.
Mosaner welcomed me with a warm smile and guided me to a reclining chair, just like the kind most grandpas have. After a few minutes of obligatory, awkward small talk, she got down to business. “Tell me about the breakup,” she said. I spent about 15 minutes telling her about Tom and how I was ready to completely move on. She also asked me about my future goals, not just with love, but for my career, too. Then, she switched gears. “Okay,” Mosaner said, “let’s start the hypnotism now.”
What was hypnosis like?
The first thing Mosaner did was make sure I was deeply relaxed. By listening to her trance-like voice and doing guided breathing exercises, I became so relaxed that after about 15 minutes, when she asked me to lift my arms, I couldn’t. She had slowed down my racing mind and even though I was jittery just an hour before, now I felt completely at ease.
Next, she guided me through a series of visualizations. She made me imagine myself emptying all my Tom memories out of a box. Then, she had me envision Tom and I together, connected by a string. When she told me to let go of the string and walk away, I felt my eyes well up with tears. “Goodbye Tom,” I silently said, as I visualized myself walking away.
She had me envision Tom and I together, connected by a string. When she told me to let go of the string and walk away, I felt my eyes well up with tears.
Then, Mosaner made me picture something else: my future. “Think of one moment where you are happy,” she said. “Just a snapshot in time.” My moment was simple. I saw myself sitting on the couch, watching TV, cuddling with someone who made me feel loved—and who I loved in return. I couldn’t see who that person was, but the feeling was there, a feeling of complete contentment, safety, and trust.
Mosaner nudged me out of my resting state by bringing my awareness back to my breathing and eventually having me open my eyes. After a few long seconds, she looked at me and asked, “How do you feel?”
I thought I would wake up completely cured of my heartbreak, but truthfully, I wasn’t. I felt my face turn hot and tears burn my eyes. “I must have done it wrong,” I said. “I still feel really, really sad.”
Mosaner gave me a small smile. “No, you didn’t do it wrong,” she said. “This isn’t a magic fix. But it is the first step to truly moving on. Today, you let go. And you visualized what you want for yourself. Always keep that image with you. It gives you something to work toward. And just know that going back to your ex is a step away from making that visualization real.”
Did it work?
Taking the subway back to my apartment that day, I felt like a failure. Hypnotherapy wasn’t the instant fix I thought it would be. There’s just no way around it: Time is the only thing that can heal a broken heart.
It wasn’t until the following weeks that I was able to see the smaller, yet still profound ways hypnosis had helped. When Tom texted me a few weeks later I ignored his message, something I never thought I would be able to do. Like Mosaner said, I knew that responding was a step away from being 100 percent happy with someone new.
There’s just no way around it: Time is the only thing that can heal a broken heart.
Then, I started doing things to make my vision happen. I signed up for online dating for the first time ever. (“Welcome to 2001,” my friends teased me.) I stopped going out with guys I didn’t seriously consider a future with.
Most importantly, I did eventually heal. So perhaps the question isn’t, did hypnotism work? But rather: Do I feel better? And I don’t need to tap into my subconscious to know the answer to that.
Originally published on February 10, 2017; updated on August 19, 2018.
If you’re going through a breakup yourself, here are some expert tips for moving on healthfully. Feeling acute sadness? This quick happiness hack will help lift your spirits.
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