Anon asks: Hi Isaac! I’ve been seeing this guy for about six months and he is fantastic. He’s loving, kind and treats me with respect. I’m still very hurt/angry from my last relationship even though it ended 18 months ago. My ex — who I was with for five years — was manipulative and used me then broke up with me to ‘be alone’ to deal with his depression, but just turned to drugs and got a new girlfriend. Any advice on how to move on?
Hey, gidday mate! I’m a huge believer in staying single while we’re working through the pain of a breakup. When we’re not over our exes, we’ll often carry the baggage of our past relationship into our new relationship, and it can cause massive problems for everybody concerned.
So that’s one side of it, but I also think that when we’re heartbroken, it’s super easy to get ourselves into convenient relationships with people we might not love, but who give us things we need right now — love, compassion, patience, attention, sex, a signal to the outside world that we’ve moved on, etc etc.
Don’t get me wrong, this is exactly what we think we need to help get over our exes, but it can also be a pretty crappy form of using people, and it’s a temporary solution to a larger problem, because you’re putting band-aids on cracks in concrete as opposed to spending time alone dealing with the real issues.
For the record, feeling hurt/resentful towards your ex is super normal. You guys broke up after being together for five years. Maybe you thought you were going to marry him. That is a genuine emotional upheaval, and it takes some of us (myself included) wayyyyyyyyyyyy longer than other people to get over this stuff.
So as someone who has spent a LOT of time obsessing over his exes, my advice to you is this:
1. Focus on the reality of the situation, which is that your ex didn’t treat you with love or respect, but that he used you and manipulated you and didn’t even tell you the real reason he was breaking up with you. In other words, you’re much better off without him. Tell yourself that every time you find yourself day dreaming about what might have been. YOU ARE BETTER OFF WITHOUT HIM. As for his new girlfriend, feel sorry for her. She has to deal with his crap now.
2. Take control of the situation. Stop stalking him on Facebook and Instagram. Stop watching his Snapchat stories. Stop stalking his new girlfriend. Stop sitting there for hours at a stretch thinking of all the past memories. Take control. Just stop.
3. Figure out if your new boyfriend is someone that you can realistically see yourself with in the longterm. If the answer is no, then do him a favor and break up with him. Otherwise, you’re acting just as selfishly as your ex.
4. Go to therapy. It’ll give you the opportunity to talk all this out with an unbiased professional who has counseled many, many people through this exact situation.
5. Don’t be scared of being alone. It’s where we put in the best work and yield the best results.
Hope that helps.
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