They say it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all, but deep down we all know that there’s nothing more emotionally devastating than going through a tough break-up – especially when you didn’t want the relationship to end.
When the reality sinks in, it’s easy to panic and resort to begging for reconciliation over text, crying over the details with friends and obsessively stalking social media, but a new app is helping millennials to get over their heartbreak in both a healthy and efficient way.
It’s called Mend (£3.99 per month; itunes) and it’s dubbed the “personal trainer for heartbreak”. Part therapist, part online community, the app acts as a sort of Amazon Alexa for the emotionally afflicted – coaching you through topics such as detoxing from your ex, upping your self-care and even tracking your exercise and sleep habits.
Mend is the brainchild of former Google employee Ellen Heurta, who built the sophisticated algorithm using a mixture of science-based knowledge and mindfulness techniques to create a 360-degree approach to heartbreak. She was inspired to bring the idea to life after going through a particularly tough breakup herself.
“I created Mend because it’s what I needed when I was going through a breakup in my mid-twenties,” Heurta tells me. “All of the resources I found online felt cheesy and outdated, and none of them addressed the science of what’s actually happening in your brain and body during a breakup.”
Getting started on the app is pretty simple. Plug in the details of your relationship’s demise, the date of your breakup and the time you last contacted your ex, and you’ll be taken to a questionnaire where you can “check in” with your emotions, sharing how sad you feel each day on a sliding scale.
A soothing avatar of Heurta, called Elle, then begins offering the good stuff: advice on how to emotionally move forward. Have you been scrolling 53 weeks deep on your ex’s Instagram account? “This is totally normal,” Elle reassures. “You are not crazy, and this feeling will pass.” She then launches into the science behind your need to bridge contact, explaining that your body is in withdrawal from endorphins and oxytocin – pleasure hormones that are sent back and forth with your partner. Once you break up, you’ll do anything for another hit. But, as Elle assures, these feelings will pass.
“Mend is like a best friend guiding you through a breakup, if your best friend always had great advice,” Huerta says.
As well as suggestions for break-up reading material, such as “five ways to foster a better sense of self”, the app prompts you to log healing activities like exercising, being social or even getting intimate with a new person. With each activity, you can rate how it made you feel, in the same school as gratitude therapy.
Swipe to the dashboard and it will give you a motivational time stamp of the days since you last contacted your ex, as well as a chart showing how your mood has progressed over the days.
There’s also an active Mend community of fellow dumpees. Here, you can read posts about relationships, tips for moving on, and Q&As with people who have recently gone through breakups.
“Heartbreak is overwhelming and also a very isolating experience, so we work hard to make you feel less alone and break things down into manageable chunks,” says Huerta. “Sometimes even getting out of bed after a breakup is hard. Our daily check-ins and audio trainings strike a delicate balance between science, emotion, and practicality – I think that holistic approach is what Menders love about us.”
For the self-care generation who rely on habit trackers to remind them to drink more water, take regular desk breaks and get to bed on time, the app has clearly struck a chord – it has helped people in over 190 countries around the world since launching last April.
“Menders describe Mend as a lifesaving app, which we don’t take lightly,” says Huerta. “We’re grateful every day to work on something that has a profound impact at such a critical moment, and we’re always trying to improve the experience.”
At £3.99, Mend is way cheaper than a bottle of wine, a revenge haircut or any other traditional heartbreak therapies. So if your valentine has taken a nosedive and you feel like sobbing into your old text messages (Adele soundtrack: optional), it might be time to get onto the App Store instead.