When heartbreaks can 'kill': Expert warns Pinoys struggling with relationships

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2023 02:24 PM

Passengers walk past a Valentine’s Day installation at LRT-1 Central Station in Manila on February 13, 2023. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Passengers walk past a Valentine’s Day installation at LRT-1 Central Station in Manila on February 13, 2023. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Jianne Pamintuan was at loss for words when her ex-boyfriend admitted cheating on her with his workmate, despite being in a relationship with her for 4 years. 

The college sweethearts still tried to fix what was wrong between them, she said, but it could no longer be saved. Since this was her first relationship and first time experiencing cheating, Pamintuan said it was not only painful but confusing as well. 

"Umabot sa nagka-anxiety ako and panic attacks kasi bago siya sa akin. Hindi ko siya ine-expect na mangyayari siya sa akin and ginawa siya sa akin ng taong pinagkakatiwalaan ko talaga," she told ABS-CBN News. 

"Parang feeling ko mag-isa na lang ako sa mundo. Alam ko namang may nagmamahal sa akin na friends and family pero napapangunahan ako ng sakit," she said. 

For Pamintuan, a researcher, the butterflies she felt in her stomach during the early parts of their relationship turned into traumas, making her afraid to love once more. 

She admitted developing thoughts of harming herself after the heartbreaking experience, leading her to seek therapy. It was important, she said, that she heals first before opening her heart again to someone else.

"Parang iniisip ko no'n, may thoughts na may mapagkakatiwalaan pa bang lalaki sa buong mundo... feeling ko if magiging open ako sa bagong relationship, may emotional baggage pa rin ako," she said. 

Pamintuan is not alone with the experience of cheating. Angelo Trinidad, 25, got cheated twice by his previous partners that he met on dating apps. 

Trinidad said he did not expect it to come, as his exes were transparent with him in terms of text messages they send to other people and the friends they hang out with. 

"Mas nahirapan akong mag-cope sa first, kasi first time kong ma-experience ang cheating. Mas matagal 'yung process ko ng pag-recover sa first ko," he told ABS-CBN News. 

"More on iyak. Gabi-gabi, hindi ka makatulog kasi iniisip mo what's wrong with yourself. Andoon 'yung papasok 'yung insecurities na 'oh baka may mali sa akin.' Iisipin mo ikaw 'yung mali," he said. 

Two heartbreaks and cases of cheating though did not stop Trinidad from seeking another relationship which he said makes him really happy at present.

To Filipinos still finding for their "forever," he has this to say, "Heartbreaks are natural and hindi talaga maiiwasan. Heartbreaks will always be a part of life, huwag silang matakot magmahal... kasi darating at darating ang someone. Masaya magmahal." 

Pamintuan and Trinidad are just two among millions of Filipinos currently in a relationship or who experienced failed relationships recently, to the point that it affected their mental health.

Data from the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) showed that calls related to love life rose significantly during the pandemic, which means it has become a concern for many Filipinos. 

Total number of love/relationship related calls for the past five years during Valentine season/February

  • February 2020 - 30 
  • February 2021 - 120 
  • February 2022 - 354 

Mental health advocate Dr. Gia Sison said acknowledging one's feelings and talking it out with someone would go a long way. 

Crying it out and recognizing one's grief and pain is also the first step towards healing and help them get the strength to move forward as the days go by, she told ABS-CBN News. 

"Iba-iba tayo ng ways, paraan ng pag-cope. I'm really for acknowledging how you feel although 'yung iba, gusto muna itabi 'yung feelings. That's fine, but for me, facing it more will actually lead you to healing better," Sison said. 

Family members and friends however must still respect a grieving person's space if that is what they want, noted the expert. 


A cardiologist, meanwhile, warns that people should not dwell in too much stressful emotions since this could kill. 

Dr. Tony Leachon said "broken heart syndrome" or takotsubo cardiomyopathy happens when there is so much emotional stress as a result of failed relationships or painful separations. 

Its symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pains, palpitations, or headaches, as it stuns or weaken a heart due to extreme emotions. 

  • Chest pain 
  • Palpitations
  • Headaches 
  • General body malaise 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Gets tired easily

“It simulates a condition na para siyang may heart attack pero wala pala siyang heart attack. Kung hindi isang severe emotional stress causing that problem brought about sa katawan," Leachon told ABS-CBN News in an interview. 

"Sumosobra ang release ng niyan, tumataas ang blood pressure mo or heart rate to a certain extent," he added. 

Those at risk for broken heart syndrome includes women over 50, those who have a history of severe anxiety or depression, and those who had stroke, the expert said. 

Experts said this condition can be prevented through exercise, proper diet, and stopping of vices such as smoking and drinking. In some cases, Leachon said, it could lead to heart attacks.
Sports and recreation, taking care of pets, and other mental toughness exercises are also seen to prevent the occurrence of a broken heart syndrome.

“Nakakamatay ang broken hearted o ang pagka-heart break. The only way you can actually not develop a broken heart syndrome is to stay calm and be healthy. And then find happiness with your loved ones," he said. 

He advised those struggling with failed relationships to "find happiness" with one's immediate loved ones and stay healthy. 


Meanwhile, a survey from the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that 30 percent of Filipinos have experienced unrequited love or unreciprocated feelings. 

Despite this though, the recent poll also showed 57 percent of those interviewed face-to-face said they were happy with their love lives while 25 percent said they "could be happier."


Sison said while this is common, one must accept that this situation happens even if it is painful. 

“Hindi naman lahat ng ginusto natin or minahal natin ay maibabalik. That is a given and that’s a fact of life. Masakit pero it’s slowly realizing that mayroong mga bagay sa mundo that we can’t control and one of that is feelings… Hindi natin kaya i-force and that’s okay too.” 

Developing feelings is something that people cannot avoid, she said, and preventing unrequited love from happening though must come from a person's awareness of "limits." 

Being open-minded to possibilities will also help. 

"Most of the time, the feelings are unplanned... Feelings are something that you develop over time. Having to prevent it, all I can say is be aware of yourself, be aware of your limits pero sana hindi ka naman maging jaded na kapag sinabing love, lagi na lang nasasaktan," she said. 

Sison, meanwhile, reminded workmates and family members of those experiencing heartbreak this Valentine's to be sensitive to their situation. 

Watch more News on iWantTFC

She advised them to create "safe spaces" to these people, which was why if they can avoid showing flowers, trinkets, or any romantic gestures to heartbroken people, the better. 

“Kung nakatanggap kayo ng mga flowers, ‘wag niyo na muna ipakita... Dito papasok ‘yung sometimes you have to be sensitive na may pinagdadaanan ‘yung kasamahan mo... Lend a listening ear kapag handa na silang makipag-usap about it," she said. 

The best way, Leachon said, to cope with heartbreaks is developing a healthy lifestyle and surrounding oneself with positive people. 

"Madaling sabihin but I think the best way is surround yourself with people na nagmamahal sayo," said Leachon. 

— with reports from Ianna Gayle Agus, ABS-CBN News