I'm Dr. Andrea Liner, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist and breakup coach. Since we're friends here, you can call me The Breakup Doc!
A little about me…I’ve always been fascinated by why people do the things they do and driven by a deep desire to help others. That led me to my path as a psychologist.
In the last year of my psychology doctoral program, my boyfriend of 5 years broke up with me seemingly out of nowhere (more on that later). I was devastated and questioning every single thing about the relationship...and myself. Not only was I going through an agonizing heartbreak, but the Universe decided to pile on and made 90 percent of the therapy cases assigned to me about breakups. So I thought, “OK got it, message received!” I channeled everything I was going through into helping others and eventually healing myself.
By the end of that year, I was a breakup expert — and a new passion was born!
Over the last 7+ years, I’ve supported hundreds of clients as they moved through breakups, helping them recognize patterns, set new goals and expectations, and ultimately find the healthy, loving relationship they’ve always dreamed of.
In our work together, we’ll get to know each other really well — soul-crushing heartbreak has a way of bonding you, you know? In the spirit of trust and vulnerability, I’ll start by sharing more about myself, both professionally and personally–something coaching allows me to do in a way therapy doesn’t. I combine my years of clinical training and personal experience to help you heal from heartbreak and come out the other side stronger.
My Clinical Expertise
I earned my doctorate in clinical psychology from George Washington University and completed my postdoctoral fellowship at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. During my schooling, I worked for 3 years in university counseling centers, where the majority of my cases revolved around breakups. In addition to breakup coaching, I also work with clients in my private therapy practice, Flux Psychology, in Denver, Colorado. You can learn more about my therapy practice here.
My Own Breakup Lessons
Now onto the juicy stuff! Even trained experts have gut-wrenching breakups. Mine taught me life-changing lessons and inspired my career. Here are some of the major breakup types I’ve experienced myself and that I often see in my clients. Any of these sound familiar?
The Never Saw It Coming (But Should Have) Breakup
The story: I met my first serious boyfriend when I was 19, between my sophomore and junior years of college, and we dated for 5 years. It got very serious very quickly; after just one semester together, he joined me to study abroad in Paris. After undergrad, he followed me to Washington D.C. for my graduate program, and when he got a job in a nearby state, we did long distance for 2 ½ years. Throughout our entire relationship, there was some shady stuff going on that I chose to ignore. There was one girl in particular who was always an issue for us. He constantly texted with her; he explained it away. He was accused of cheating with her; he denied it and I believed him. She was one of his “best friends” on Snapchat (back when that was a thing); cue more excuses and justifications. Every instinct was screaming at me that something wasn’t right; I didn’t listen. At that point, I was IN IT. We talked about marriage, we looked at rings. In my mind, this was it — for better or worse (and this was worse). In the end, he made the decision for me. He broke up with me out of nowhere and it felt like the rug was ripped out from under me. To pile on the devastation, he started dating “that girl” (loudly, publicly, and all over social media–when he rarely posted about me) shortly after our breakup. I was in a really dark place, I couldn’t sleep or eat. This was the crying-on-the-bathroom-floor kind of breakup we all fear. But looking back with time and hindsight on my side, I am so grateful this ended when it did. Our values didn’t align and he was never going to be my person — no matter how hard I tried to force it.
The lesson: Your instincts know. Trust yourself. When you date someone for a long time or start a relationship young, it’s tempting to fall into the “sunk cost” trap. You’ve invested so much of your time, energy, and heart into a person that you feel like you can’t just walk away — even if all the signs are screaming at you that it’s not a fit anymore. I learned to examine a relationship as it is now; not what it was, what it could have been, or what I wished it would become. Sometimes you need those devastating breakups to show you what’s missing.
"If you can love the wrong person so much, imagine how much you can love the right one."
The Inevitable (But Just As Painful) Breakup
The story: Six weeks after my first breakup (soon, I know!), I met a wonderful man at a dinner party. We had great chemistry, had so much fun together, and he was a genuinely good person. The hitch (and you know there’s a hitch): I knew from day 1 that we had no long-term future together. He was 7 years older than me, and he told me that he wasn’t interested in anything exclusive, didn’t want kids, and was leaving soon to travel the world. I was looking for a monogamous relationship, I always wanted children, and I couldn’t go with him on his travels because I was still working toward my doctorate. That should have been the end of it, but we fell harder for each other than either of us ever expected…and we delayed the inevitable. After a year and a half of dating exclusively, we broke up when he finally left for his world adventure. I wasn’t left wondering why, but I was left just as heartbroken.
The lesson: We learn in fairytales and rom-coms that love conquers all. But some love stories (even the beautiful ones) don’t end in happily ever after. Sometimes circumstances — different life stages, unaligned values, a move across the country — get in the way. That doesn’t mean the relationship wasn’t just as meaningful and valuable. These types of relationships show you what you DO want in a partner and what your true deal breakers are.
"Not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path."
The Situationship Breakup (or Breakups…Let’s Be Real)
The story: You know when Taylor Swift released her new version of All Too Well and those think pieces came out asking, “Why write a 10-minute song about a 3-month relationship?” I’ll tell you why: Sometimes the shortest relationships (even the ones that aren’t “official”) hurt the most because you’re left with more questions than answers. After my second long-term boyfriend, I had several situationships that left me frustrated and dejected. You know the ones…where you get really hopeful and a little ahead of yourself thinking, “This could be it.” And then it’s not. And it’s back to the drawing board (aka the apps). These situationships were crushing in a different way because I was falling for the idea of a person; I didn’t get a chance to see their negative sides and collect all the data. I wasn’t necessarily hung up on the person — I was mourning the dream of what could have been.
The lesson: Sometimes the short relationships can be sneaky heartbreakers. Your heartbreak is valid. Whether your relationship lasted 1 month or 1 year. Whether you put a label on it or not. You’re allowed to FEEL IT ALL. And you should honor whatever is coming up for you — whether you want to cry into your pillow or write a 10-minute breakup ballad. If it’s good enough for Taylor, it’s good enough for all of us, right?
"You can't start the next chapter if you keep reading the last one"
That All Led Me To…Meeting My Husband as a Whole and Healed Person
The story: I met my husband, Jules, on Hinge when I was least expecting it…when I didn’t want to date at all because I was on the restrictive Whole 30 Diet. Still, Jules insisted on going out and even picked a Whole 30-friendly restaurant. From all my previous relationship experience and my work in therapy, I was very clear on what I wanted in a relationship and I wasn’t afraid to say it. On our first date, I told Jules, “I’m looking to date for the last time.” He felt the same way. Our values aligned, we made each other laugh, and it just felt easy. One month in, he even invited me on an international family vacation that was 10 months away! Two years later, we were married and I couldn’t be happier!
The lesson: With the right person, it should feel easy at first. You shouldn’t be agonizing over whether or not to text them, stalking their social media, or going on anxiety spirals over what they’re thinking. You’ll know and you’ll feel secure to communicate your own needs. A lot of this comes from experience and doing the internal work. When you’ve done that work of healing, it’s just a little easier to tell when you’ve met your person.