For Valentine’s Day, heal thyself

Marni Kamins, left, with Janice MacLeod wrote "The Breakup Repair Kit," in response to breakups they suffered a week before they met. Heidi Manteuffel

Before stepping out into the sometimes cruel dating world, make sure you’re over the last relationship.

By Heidi Manteuffel/Special to The Malibu Times

The majority of Valentine’s Days in the ’80s were comprised of flashy, over-priced presents and a box of heart chocolates. A ’90s V-Day consisted of split checks and an assorted box of chocolates. As for the romantic holiday in the new millennium, Marni Kamins and Janice MacLeod, co-authors of “The Breakup Repair Kit,” predict that this decade’s Valentine’s Day will throw out the fattening candy and consist of healing the self.

While this choice sounds bizarre and makes the holiday tougher to prepare for than with the regular bouquet of red roses, it follows the trend of yoga, pilates and other self-searching practices that have gained popularity as of late. Kamins and MacLeod assure us with their expertise, that this introspective attitude this Valentine’s Day is also quite necessary.

Kamins, who grew up in Malibu, met McLeod, who moved from Ontario, Canada to California to be with her long-term boyfriend, during a weeklong “break-up” period in which both had just ended their relationships. Kamins had ended a serious long-term relationship with a person she thought was the “one.” The two became friends through their common thread.

Their idea is that this year’s Valentine’s Day date, just like a relationship, shouldn’t happen just because one needs to fill the void left from a past breakup. They assert one must first deal with the sense of loss before he or she can move on to the next romantic interlude. This idea doesn’t seem hard to stomach, but the “have to date” attitude is a trap Kamins feels many fall into when the expectations of next Valentine’s Day starts to build.

Kamins says there are eight stages to the healing process: shock, denial, numbness, fear, anger, depression, understanding and, lastly, acceptance. It’s only at this final stage of acceptance that one is considered ready to get back out into the dating world, and hand out the conversation hearts and V-Day cards.

But through their research, McLeod and Kamins stress to be wary of the box of chocolates during what can lead to be a long recovery period. Kamins warns that many foods males and females crave during this time will actually make them feel worse than before. The lack of nutrients from such foods as popcorn, cheesecake, and chocolate works to feed the cycle of irritability, uncertainty, and anxious-ridden tendencies.

“The Breakup Repair Kit” does provide recipes for healthy comfort foods such as low-fat soups as well as their personal favorite, the friendship pretzel. The format also features easy-to-glance-at bulleted sections, so a reader can take away something from whatever page she/he turns to.

MacLeod says the book draws largely at times on the two’s own break-up experiences: “We had two broken hearts. We both broke up with our boyfriends a week before we met, and had a lot of time on our hands. We were finding all these books analyzing the problem of our ex’s, and nothing that told us how to feel better.” Kamins, then working on a master’s in spirituality, and McLeod, a writer by trade, joined forces to write the basics of breakup rebuilding.

While this new Valentine’s Day trend suspiciously sounds like it’s mainly geared toward females, Kamins and McLeod assure this isn’t the case. As Kamins indicates by book sales, a great deal of men respond to “The Breakup Repair Kit.” “Actually, a man approached me just yesterday in a restaurant, who had recently bought our book, right there telling me how grateful he was it was on the market,” Kamins says.

The book, which came out last month and published by Conari Press is retailed at $14.95, and can be found in bookstores nationwide. For more information on Kamins and MacLeod, their breakup coaching, or to post your own relationship stories, visit their Web site at