Question: I broke up with my ex more than a year ago but I still think of him. I know that I don’t regret breaking up with him because he cheated not once but twice. The second time with my best friend. The first few months after our breakup were particularly hard. I cried a lot and also thought of him ex all the time. he was always in my dreams some happy ones but most of the time I’d wake up crying because I missed him so much. I distanced myself from everything to do with him and sought therapy. Over time the pain got better. When I look back, we brought out the best in each other, but we also brought out the worst. I’m seeing someone and he makes me happy the way my ex never did. But every now and then, I feel sad when I think of my ex, sometimes I cry. I know it’s not fair to my current boyfriend, what is your advice for getting over an ex you don’t want back?
The Love Doctor’s Answer: I don’t think you really ever “get over” someone even one who we never want to see or talk to again. At least not in the “get over” way most of us hope for. This is a hard and painful fact about break ups. The feelings of attraction and memories may fade and even the agony of the breakup will eventually go away but that person will always be part of our past. And sometimes when we think of that past we include the people that were part of it. My article, “ How Do You Stop Loving Someone?” might help understand this better.
The pain you feel is not necessarily a longing for him — i.e. still in love or not over him — but the pain of a loss of a dream you had and died. What you need to do is “get over” trying to “get over” your ex. The more you try to “get over” him, the more resistance to moving forward you create.
Allow yourself to grieve by not trying to “get over” the pain but welcome those thoughts or feelings. It doesn’t mean you want them to be there, it just means they are there. Whenever you think of him, just allow the thought to be there, observe and watch it like you were watching a cloud form. You can’t do anything to make it form faster or go away even if you tried. So you let it be. And just as a cloud, the thoughts will form a shape then they’ll transform into another shape and another until they disappears on their own.
Just letting your thoughts be will help you accept that your ex will always be a small part of you, because your past is part of who you are today and will become tomorrow. Resistance keeps us stuck. Acceptance propels us forward.