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Break up helpline

The breakup gurus

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Everyone has their own way of coping with heartbreak. Men either hit the bar or hit on another woman. Women analyse every little word, text or moment, with either Cosmopolitans and/or chocochip ice cream for company. Some might even head for answers to "break up babas" who offer respite through black magic and mantras and offer a guaranteed results within 15 days.

Mending a broken heart isn't easy. That's where the Breakuphelpline comes in. A two-week-old venture, it helps people get over their exes without becoming bitter. The process takes four weeks, and is done over email or Skype.

Founded by four folks out of Mumbai, the idea behind BreakupHelpline also, expectedly came from heartbreak. Ankit (last name withheld) went through heartbreak last year, did some "crazy stuff to get over the pain", felt better and found himself at a book reading session at the Kala Ghoda Festival. While waiting for author Kenny Deori to arrive, Ankit reached for his book Chocolate, Guitar, Momos and started flipping through it.

"I started reading the first chapter and on page two the protagonist was describing how his girlfriend had dumped him and how miserable he felt. He continued to say if there was a 'breakup helpline', he would be so much better off without the alcohol and cigarettes and that's where the idea for this venture came from, " says Ankit, a 25-year-old marketing executive.

In February this year, Ankit and his friends tested the waters with a blog to get feedback on the concept. Then they did a small market survey - all of 10 people - to find that most people preferred someone new to get over someone old. "But that's a rebound and not exactly the healthiest way of getting over someone, " Ankit says. "One needs to talk it out, get it out of the system and realise that you won't always feel this awful. " It's just been two weeks but already 54 clients - 44 Indian and 11 foreign nationals - have signed up.

The stress of modern relationships has made the breakup gurus almost as important as the dating experts. Who better to tell you that it's no point rehashing what went wrong and blaming your partner. Most coaches teach the broken-hearted how to grieve and then move on. And of course the fact that these experts or coaches don't know you personally, makes it easier for people to open up. "People don't want to expose themselves emotionally and then have friends or family worry about over them.

Talking to counsellors makes it easier to offload without guilt and many of them feel comfortable crying in front of a third person, especially men, " says Deivyani Dheer, a psychologist in Delhi who works extensively with young adults.

While 40-year-old Yogiraj, who has a website yogirajastrologer. com and professes to be an "online breaking up & divorce expert in India", prepares you for what to say during a breakup, the BreakupHelpline prepares you for what lies ahead after heartbreak. The way the helpline works is simple. Go to the website, breakuphelpline. com and send your tale of heartbreak through the 'Contact us' link. Within a day, you'll get a response. "When someone registers, we send a mail to try and get to know them better and it's not a template email that we send out. Each client gets their own specific response, " explains Ankit, who works along with three other people - two side-effect managers who have a Masters in psychology and one assistant film director.

"We do ask a couple of personal questions about the relationship and what went wrong, whether someone cheated or what the issues were, " Ankit warns.

Those who register are offered free email assistance for a month till they feel better about themselves and their life. For people who need a little more attention and counselling, the BreakupHelpline lends an ear for Rs 2, 500 for a month of counselling.

"About 40 per cent of our clients are paying for our services. "

Besides email, Ankit and his team offer Skype sessions, phone calls, videos and even personally hand written letters. "One of our international clients wanted to talk to someone she could see so we decided to offer Skype sessions. An Italian client whose boyfriend had written some 260 letters to her said 'I need handwritten letters to move on' so we sat and actually wrote letters to her, " Ankit reveals.

Even though the helpline has two trained psychologists on board, it's not a fact they advertise openly. "Visiting a psychologist abroad for therapy is acceptable. In India, people think you are mentally ill, " Ankit offers an explanation.

No one is judging you, says Ankit. "Breakups are hard but the most important thing is to get over it mentally. If you go back to your ex, your confidence will take a hit. Our job is to make people feel good about themselves and their life, " he says.

Are there any common threads between all these breakup stories? "People breaking up after college - that has to be the most common story we come across and that's also the age group which is a tad impulsive and given to feeling very despondent. "

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