Nobody compares to my ex

nobody-compares-to-my-ex
My last post was about why some people find partners easier than others and focused on giving you some insight into why and when it does work. I would like to continue writing on this topic by taking a closer look at the opposite situation – what happens when it’s not happening? Today’s post talks about one of the culprits: comparing new/potential partners with an ex who made a significant impact on our life.

No matter how appealing it is to make your single days shorter, it is usually not a good thing to just jump from one relationship straight into another. More often than not, we are not ready to date someone new straight away – especially after a long and intense relationship. Our hearts need time to heal, and our minds need time to think about what happened, why it happened – and what we want to do differently next time to avoid the same outcome.

When we are in a relationship we often neglect our individual needs for the sake of our needs as a couple, so spending time alone can be good since it means more focus on yourself – your needs, desires, passions, and interests. It gives you space to listen to your own voice without interference, get to know yourself better, explore who you are and eventually – what you want from a relationship. All that is not only good for you as a person, but will also help you choose your next partner wiser. The more we know ourselves, the easier it is to recognise what we want and need from a partner.

If you are the one who ended the relationship, and you did not want to end it – it is only normal and natural that you have feelings for your ex for a period of time after the break-up. While you are in that “rebound zone” you will probably not be able to fall in love with someone new. You might be tempted, especially if you meet someone interesting and attractive, but if you are driven by a wish to stop feeling lonely and hope that this new person will make you stop wanting your ex back – you are motivated primarily by running away from heartbreak. Which means it most likely won’t work, since our feelings cannot change “on demand”.

Even if you are not sure you want your ex back, as long as you still think he/she is the best person for you, someone who truly knows you, understands you, gets you, connects with you… that puts them on a pedestal that this new person cannot even hope to reach. Since you have no history together, they have absolutely no leverage, and will not be able to successfully capture your attention and your heart. Nevertheless, you might decide to start seeing the new person while you are still in love with your previous partner. It might give you some satisfaction, but more times than not you will not be very happy in a new relationship – and will spend most of your time wishing you were somewhere else. With someone else.

In most cases, I would say, it is good to be alone between serious relationships. But how long? It is hard to come up with a formula – every person and situation is different. But a good indicator you are ready to start anew is when you feel you have not just physically but also emotionally broken up with your previous partner, meaning you don’t have romantic feelings for them any more.

Sometimes, even though enough time has passed, and you know you don’t want to go back, you still keep comparing your new partners to your ex. You know you should move on, but somehow every new person you meet seems to lack something compared to your old flame. If that happens for a while, you might even conclude you missed your one chance of true love, and you will never find anyone who will love you and understand you like your ex. He/she was so great for you – and now you will have to settle for something less.

Those thoughts are simply not true – but they can be very powerful in keeping us in this “my ex is the best” limbo. Even if you are aware they are totally irrational, and that you can meet someone who can be as good or even better match for you – sometimes you just can’t believe it until you see it. But the catch is – it probably won’t happen until you stop glorifying your ex. So what can you do to make him/her finally go away?

First, go back and think about what it is that your ex had that is really so special, that nobody else on this planet can possibly have. Write it down. When it’s there in black and white, it often seems much more ridiculous. Ask yourself: how can I be sure he/she is the only one who has those qualities? Have I met every single person living on this planet? Can I safely say that I don’t know anyone else who has at least some of those features? Most likely you do, so – is it realistic to think that nobody else has them all?

If you are still not convinced that your ex is just one of many people who could fit you – ask yourself this: is it possible that this one person is really the best one out there for me? If I can’t meet someone like them, could it be that a different person meets my needs and desires in the same, or even better way? Could it be that maybe I don’t know exactly how happy I could be with someone else – and that is why I think what I had before was the only real thing?

These are just some of the questions that can help you. Try coming up with some more: the way to do succeed at this is to systematically sabotage your beliefs which are based on your feelings about reality, and not on reality itself. You have to gradually convince yourself – since you are the one who is living in this “ex-bubble”, you are the one who has to break out of it. Our hearts can be so irrational – which can be good sometimes, but it is not helping you now. So if you want to change that – start applying some logic to those emotion-driven thoughts. Your beliefs about your ex are just generalisations, and once you fully understand that, you will make space in your heart – and your life, for someone new and equally, if not more wonderful than your ex.

LET ME HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS

I am sure you had that one special partner that at some point you thought you let go for no reason and regretted it. Maybe you are still regretting it. What is/was the biggest obstacle to move on? Leave a comment below!

(UPDATE: comments on this post are closed. Please feel free to contact me via CONTACT or COACHING pages if you have questions on this topic.)

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95 Responses

  1. Great post. I like the point you made about really honing in on good traits the ex possessed because defining it allows you to see and attract those traits in other people including potential partners. Even knowing there are other wonderful potential, its hard to get over a romantic relationship you didn’t really want to end, until you attract another amazing love interest. That’s my experience. Relationships get progressively better each time because you learn and embrace more of what you need and want.

    • Hello. Thanks for your comment. I agree with the last thought – absolutely, relationships get better as we get to know ourselves better. And true, it’s easier to get over someone when we meet someone new, and finally see in comparison that the ex was not so special after all. But what to do in the meantime? Because when you are so focused on the ex it is even harder for a new person to grab your attention. So I am trying to get people to think more… I know that “think about your feelings” sounds like an oxymoron 🙂 but we must, otherwise it’s so easy to wallow endlessly in self-pity, despair, and just totally lose perspective of reality. Speaking from experience – it used to take me somewhere from 1-3 years to get over my own big-love breakups… spent way too much of my life thinking about what ifs.

      • I think it’s ok to allow yourself a window of time to obsess over what went wrong, miss your ex, and wallow in misery. I separated from a guy last year (I ended it then regretted it), I couldn’t eat or sleep for ten days. I still think about him but I’m also optimistic that I’ll meet someone else who possesses the traits i love in him. In the meantime, I focus on my personal goals and give other guys a chance. Having met someone I’m compatible with, I’m quicker to end it with guys I know I’m not really interested in. Not because I’m obsessing over the old flame, but because I know what I want and deserve.

      • Es says:

        Hi, i totaly agree with what you have posted. For me it has been almost 6 years since i broke up with my ex gf. I think about her every moment. I sometimes become very tired just by thinking about her. I might be doing something & wish she was here.

        I have alterted my life changed my ways to help me move on, but at the end i cant let go. One example how attached i am to my ex is, even in a new relationship i dont want kids with my new partner. I dont think i can love the child. Where as with my ex i would be excited to have kids.

        I see myself as ted from how i met your mother, always attracting the wrong girl.

        • Petra says:

          You are dating someone new, and you are still in love with your ex? That is so unfair to your new partner.

          • Es says:

            Yes i know, my relationships dont last more then a month. I start feeling guilty & struggle to make a connection. I just want to stop having feelings for my ex, i want to forget the memories maybe then i can start having a meaningful relationship with a new partner.

          • Petra says:

            You have to move on first (emotionally), that’s the reason why you can’t get excited or attracted truly to a new partner. It is hard, but there are ways – usually what blocks us is our idea that that one partner was the best we could ever have. And holding on to that idea just keeps you emotionally trapped in love with someone who’s moved on years and years ago.

          • Heman B. says:

            Es, it appears to me that you’re not fully healed yet.
            Just know that it’s perfectly fine to have those feelings of attachment, sadness, and sorrow; it’s normal.
            Cry as much as you want or need, and don’t feel guilty for not being over your ex.
            The fact that you can date other guys should tell you that you’re a woman worth dating, and thus aren’t ugly or worthless, like your mind may tell you.
            Men like you.
            Just give it the time you need, even if it’s a year or two; and seek to be happy without a man.

            Once you start finding happiness outside of a relationship, that’s when usually the men will start being attracted to you, and find you.

  2. Of course, we all need time to pull ourselves together… it’s a must, to give yourself time to heal when love breaks down. Thanks for the insightful comments. I think it’s great that you’ve learned so much about yourself and what you want and need – that’s the best outcome of a failed relationship.

  3. Cody Dee says:

    I am really torn atm. I have been in a 3 year relationship which has been on and off again. And although I know in my head this relationship is really not working. I am pretty unhappy and we have nothing in common. I keep running back because I just can’t live with out this person. I do love them. It was my first serious relationship. I have this moment straight after we break up that I am too scared to be alone and need to run back and settle for someone I know wants to be with me. I have tried to meet new people and just compare them and they never match up even though my ex has nothing to offer. I have a fear of being alone. I feel reading this blog is a great step to make me see things from a more rational point and maybe should continue to re-read this when I am having second thoughts of running back. It’s really hard to break up with someone you love even though you know they are not good for you.

    • Petra says:

      Hello Cody, you are right, you’re going back to this person because you are afraid you will never find someone new and better. If this is your first and only experience of deep love and connection, it’s no wonder you feel this way – but it still doesn’t mean that is true. It would be worth exploring why you feel he is so special for you (sorry don’t know if it’s a he or she). Maybe make a list of his qualities and his flaws, to try to see what’s in it for you in a more rational way. If you see it written down and there is not much positive, it will be easier to deal with your emotions and weaken that feeling that you love him so much. There has to be something concrete that you love, and it has to be stronger than what you resent or don’t like. Another thing – your fears are completely irrational, and the only way to fight them is go out and look for someone new and better for you (who definitely exists!). But until you resolve the emotions you have for this person, it will be hard to meet someone who will in your eyes be a better match. As I said, if you don’t feel emotionally strong enough yet, think about what you are getting by staying with him, maybe even observe on daily basis how he makes you feel. Often times we stay in situations we are not happy with because we don’t see the value of getting out – and if we pay more attention on how we feel in it, we can see how much more we’d enjoy being without it. Thanks for your comment, wish you all my best!

  4. Si says:

    Great article! I haven’t seen or spoken to my ex for nearly 4 years now, we had a wonderful but short relationship that lasted a year. Basically I ended the relationship because we were heading in different directions through career and location and even though she wanted to come with me I knew in my heart it wasn’t fair for me to let her do that, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’d been in a couple of long relationships before I met her and she truly was very special, every moment with her was magical, nothing and no one previous had come close to how she made me feel. No one else since has had the effect on me she did and over time I have learnt to accept that no one ever will, but instead of focusing on comparisons I embrace them. I am extremely lucky to have met a fantastic women who I love deeply and even though I still think of my ex occasionally, I am now at a stage where I can smile about the time we spent together and be grateful for it, instead of wanting it back.

    • Petra says:

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure you can find someone who’ll be as great as your ex. Sometimes it just takes time and a new wonderful person that shows us we can find that something special again. And every relationship is different so it’s really hard to give them justice when you compare – some are short and extremely passionate, some are maybe less exciting but have stability and true connection. Sometimes you look back and think about an ex, and remember some special moments with a wide big smile, while in reality you’d never want to go back for the whole thing 🙂

  5. Elena says:

    Thank you for such a great post. It’s like walking through all the thoughts I had, step by step. It is true and hard at the same time, to let go of someone I used to love so much, and still have so much positive feelings and thoughts about. I’ve tried to talked to different people after ended a 3 year relationship a year ago unwillingly, but no one gave me the excitement I got or attracted me enough to go on. I guess it needs more time, much more time than I thought. I just want to thank you for the post, the last part especially, to get my mind straight on my wonderful image of my ex. Though, everyone I talked to agree that my ex was so good (Except the break up). He was compatible with my career, my lifestyle, my view of life, and we never got tired of being and spending time with each other. It just seems so hard to find someone whom I can connect like that again.

    And lately, it reminds me so much of a quote in a movie “I guess when you’re young you just believe there’ll be many people with whom you connect … Later in life, you realize it only happens a few times.” What do you think?

    • Petra says:

      Hi Elena, I think once you let go of the image of your ex as the perfect guy for you – you’ll find someone who’ll be as good as him. If he was really that great for you, you’d still be together. There is no doubt about it. You must have grown apart at some point, and you might have missed it then… but now with a 3 year difference, you should be able to look at things more realistically. Just let go of him as ‘the one’, and allow yourself to think there are plenty of great men that will suit you perfectly, and that at least one of them is ready to come your way – and practice thinking that thought. You’ll be amazed how quickly he’ll materialise if you truly believe 🙂

  6. I think I probably will just jump from one relationship to another. I lost someone I loved because of my own selfishness and spent the worst part of a year regretting and wishing I could have done things differently and better. I felt so guilty and wretched about the failed experience. But in the end I just accepted that I’m not ever likely to see this person ever again; I’m never going to share the friendship and romantic love that I briefly had with her ever again so I might as well just move on with my life. I learned that spending so long picking myself up off the ground and wishing things were otherwise was just a complete and total waste of time and energy. I’ll try much harder in any relationship next time and if I get dumped I get dumped. I’ll just try to get over it faster even if it hurts. I don’t plan to get dumped because of lack of trying and if I do get dumped despite my best efforts in the relationship then that person probably didn’t really love me from the beginning or just became bored with the relationship so that person isn’t worth missing or pining for anyway. I don’t see anything wrong with jumping from one relationship to another, there’s no point in feeling miserable and lost for so long because of one person. Life is about meetings and partings, beginnings and endings, sunrises and sunsets and so on. There are plenty of other people in the world and it’s futile to cling to something that doesn’t exist anymore for so long. You give excellent advice, Petra but I do want to make my single days shorter. I’m twenty-four and I’m not getting any younger, ha ha.

    • Petra says:

      I agree with you on this one – and, I tried to respond to your email but it keeps returning with an error undelivered. If you read this and you’d like to get a response do send me another one directly to contact(at)petralovecoach.com

      • There really isn’t any need to. I just want to ask you the simple question here and now: Is romantic love and attachment worth pursuing when it tends to be so ephemeral? Am I wasting my time desiring it or not?

        • Petra says:

          Hi Scott, here is your answer. Is love worth it? That is something only you know, is it worth it for you to go through the effort of finding the right person.
          For me personally, it was always worth it because I wanted to feel the connection and I realised this is the most intimate and beautiful relationship I can have with another human being. I had lots of experiences similar to yours, but I never gave up because I knew the reward was bigger than all the discomfort and pain in the process. The good thing is you can learn from the bad experiences too, and it makes you a better partner and makes your search easier over time – so your failed relationships have certainly not been in vain.
          The decision is really up to you. If you don’t feel a strong desire to have a partner, that’s perfectly fine. Pursue other relationships that will make you feel loved and connected to another human being.
          The one relationship which is the key to feeling loved and being happy is the relationship we have with ourselves. That’s why I always stress the importance of loving yourself and being your own partner, best friend, even parent (in a metaphorical way of course) to make your life a happy place – then we are truly capable of having a happy and healthy relationship with another too, and it comes much more easily.

  7. Stephanie says:

    This is a great post. I thought I was the only one who felt this way. 6 months ago I broke off a 4 year relationship. I saw myself marrying this man, having his children, and living a secure life. He was my best friend and deepest connection; It was my first serious relationship and I will always treasure it. I broke it off right before he was going to purpose because deep down I knew it wasn’t right. For the longest time I felt trapped in the relationship and always felt the need to escape. I stayed because it was comfortable and we had a soul like connection that I’ve never experienced. However I wanted to change him, the way he looked the way he acted. It wasn’t fair to him; I loved the companionship more than the companion. Over time he became needy and resentful, argumentative and emotionally abusive. Needless to say we drifted apart. It’s been 6 months since the official break, but we tried to work it out for a month and all of the same issues came back tenfold. I love him but I don’t want to be with him. It’s so confusing. It’s been 2 months since we separated for good and last spoke; I feel like each day gets more difficult. All I can remember are the good times and the way I felt secure and safe with him. I definitely haven’t found my footing and I feel like I’m just floating through life without any direction. I’ve filled my time with doing fun activities, new hobbies and deepening friendships. I’ve been with a few men (the kind you don’t bring home to mom) and none of them compare to my ex at all, for obvious reasons. They, like myself, are emotionally unavailable and not relationship material right now. But that’s all that I seem to be attracting at this time. I’m not ready for a relationship, but I just want a connection with someone. Someone who can make me forget for a little bit and give me hope. But! The more men I meet the more sad I become because it’s just proof that the type of connection and love I experienced is very rare. I guess my question is this: Is it too early for me to be putting myself out there? Are my feelings of hopelessness in not finding that love and connection again valid at this point or should I be further along in the healing process? Thank you for a great post, it makes me feel better to know that there are others that are dealing with similar issues.

    • Petra says:

      Hi Stephanie. You do need some time to get over him and be ready for someone new – so give it to yourself without resenting yourself in the process. That is a natural thing – grieving and healing. I don’t know how long will it take, but you will know when it’s over. What you are missing now is not your ex, but the feeling of being in love and having that close connection in your life. It’s also helpful to fill your life with things you love and connect with friends, so keep that going. And don’t feel bad about having flings, sometimes that’s exactly what we need in a time of rebound – “hanging out” without the real connection because we still feel very hurt. Once you come to the other side you’ll see that the men you’ll meet and get attracted to will be much more relationship material. The reason you’re meeting the unsuitable ones now is because you’re not ready for the real thing yourself yet. If you would like to get some help with putting your ex in his right place so you can start to let go of him emotionally, we could do that together. Let me know via email and we can schedule a consultation. Take care.

  8. Thank you for your advice, Petra. I truly appreciate it.

  9. I think that theoretically people could discover someone who is much better for them, even if the ex was an amazing person. There are other amazing people as well.

  10. ... says:

    aaaah I’m dealing with this myself, unrequited love is one of the worst feelings in the world, I go through it almost every day but yes times are best when I surround myself with my closest friends or family!
    I have been split from my ex now since November 2010 & were together for two years! I thought all the things you have said, like how I thought he was the love of my life, my soul mate & I was so convinced I’d marry him! we chose the song for our wedding like all couples probably do, all those silly things… I don’t think I have gone a day without thinking about him since we broke up! he ended it (via text!) but it was mostly my fault, it’s too personally to say on here, I kept something from him which now I wish every day that I hadn’t.
    I’m tired of going over all the ‘what if’s!?’ I have broken down so many times over it all I’ve lost count, we don’t even speak anymore, it’s silly cos I know he’s moved on! I try telling myself all the time that if he wanted to speak to me he would… nothing I tell myself or when my friends tell me ‘you’ll find someone else!’ Nothing helps or makes a difference!
    I even went to a councillor a few years ago when I thought I was going through depression because of how it ended but that didn’t help it made me feel worse actual cos I didn’t need help in that way just someone to talk too.

    Your advice is great though! It’s good to know that I’m not the only one going through this 🙂 you’re very helpful!

    • Petra says:

      Thank you! Glad to be of help. If this happened to you years ago – and you’re still not over your ex, try examine why you still hold on to it, and what makes this person so special and unique. What does he have that nobody else has? Maybe it’s just the rejection / abandonment you can’t get over, not him. I wonder if counselling has helped you in that regard? If you’d like to discuss further please do contact me for a consultation (it’s free). Just send an email via CONTACT ME page.

  11. Petra says:

    Oh I am sure you have something wonderful to give to a woman, why would it have to be only your ex? When we lose someone usually there is a very big reason why it didn’t work, only we are too hurt and emotional to see it.

  12. Petra says:

    It doesn’t have to be any woman – you won’t be able to fall in love with just anyone. But the key thing here is that you are the one with capacity to love someone, love comes from you. It doesn’t come when you find the right person, it’s yours to give – so if you feel there are women in this world worthy of your loving, you can find love again. What I mean is, if you can love, you can find it with another. And if you found it once, you can find it again. There is no such thing as just one person in the whole world who can be a good partner to you.

  13. david says:

    coming on two years since we broke up. still think about my ex everyday. have dated women since, but not had the connection. my ex has moved on and is seeing someone.

    I had other partners before her. she was different, very intense relationship. truly believe i will not have that intensity again.

    • Petra says:

      You can have it as good as you had or better with someone else, there is no doubt about it. But first you have to let go of the idea that your ex was one only and the best you could ever find. The reason you can’t fall for someone new is because you are still emotionally attached to your ex, and as long as you stay in that place you are not really single – nobody new can become your partner because that position is still occupied in your heart. If you’d like to explore ways to move on for real, I can help.

      • david says:

        Thanks Petra but i don’t believe i will meet someone and share such a connection. Yes, i am still emotionally attached to my ex, but that is because i havent met anyone that comes close who is also into me. And im cool with that. for me this journey is just about acceptance of what is, and being at peace with the present moment.

        Im ready to meet another woman. i have put myself out there on a lot of dates and some relationships. my problem is that my ex was hot, sexy, cool, funny and intelligent to name a few things. she was also a professional muso and singer, and she was into me!

        I dont believe its that uncommon to be with someone and simultaneously be ready to drop them in a seconds notice if a particular ex came back. ive heard of so many first hand stories where this has happened or where someone wishes it would happen. Its just that some connections are far stronger and more intense than others.

        there are thousands of hot, sexy, cool and funny women in the world. even some that are single, around my age and in my city. problem is these type of women dont go for guys like me. they have EVERY man chasing them and so have plenty of options. Dont get me wrong, im a good catch, but there are a lot of guys out there to choose from!!

        I have no problem meeting women. Its just the women that are into me are the nice ‘plane jane’ boring types with no personality that aren’t hot.. when i say ‘hot’ i mean the woman is fit, has style, confidence, takes pride in her appearance, has personality etc.

        i know this sounds superficial, but im a strong believer in physical chemistry as well as personality. I dont want a passionless relationship, ive had enough of those in the past.

        I have no doubt that if i did meet such a woman and she was into me i would forget about my ex fairly quickly. But I dont think you truly stop having feelings for your ex until you fall in love with someone else, and for that to happen you need mutual attraction for a start..

        As a general rule, Im not into ‘nice’ women. As far as im concerned, if ‘nice’ is your biggest asset, you usually dont have much else going for you, no personality. sorry, thats just my experience, and ive dated a lot of ‘nice’ women.

        i appreciate the offer for help though!

        • Petra says:

          You’re welcome! I still think it can be done by letting go of the idea of your ex being so special. If it was meant to be, you’d still be together. I don’t disapprove of your way of choosing partners, chemistry is important – but one of the big reasons you are not meeting new hot, sexy and into-you women is because of some your beliefs about your ex, and very likely – about yourself not being able to hold the attention of the girls you are into. Could be other things too I can’t say for sure this is it, but just think about it. The partners we meet are a reflection of our own feelings and beliefs. Take care!

  14. Petra says:

    If that’s what you think – that’s exactly what you will get. There is no way around your situation but to open your mind to other possibilities and start believing love can happen with someone new. It’s your choice, you can’t control other people and their feelings, only your own.

  15. aweman says:

    I had my first serious relationship with my ex for only a year. She broke up with me 4 years ago and I am still heartbroken. From the beginning she warned me she was going to break my heart. But for me being almost 40, never having a girlfriend, and really liking her went ahead into a casual relationship that got serious fast.

    She eventually moved in with me for financial reasons and I was blissfully happy to have a girl. But I was half happy and half depressed because I had no job. I think my sadness and unemployment caused her to break up with me. She thought I wasn’t trying hard enough and I felt she didn’t understand my predicament. Anyway I had a job a couple weeks after she broke up with me. But she had made her decession already and was too stubborn to come back.

    The following year was about the toughest time of my life. I almost killed myself. I still kept in contact because I didn’t want to lose her. She kept in contact because I owed her money. I eventually paid off my debt, got a very good job and hadn’t talked to her for a year. She had a another boyfriend.

    I thought I was over her then I started to miss her. I met her for drinks a few months ago and it was great to see her again. She looked better than when we were going out. I fell in love again but she still didn’t want me. I went through a few months of hell like I broke up with her all over again.

    I am feeling like there is no else out there for me. I am on dating sites and no one responds to me. I am 42 now and feel like I am getting too old. My sexual libido is down my energy is down. I don’t want to do anything anymore. I felt that was my one true love and it’s never gonna happen again. And she never even really truely loved me yet she is the only person that gave me that much affection. Our most recent text exchanges are probably our last. She said that I shouldn’t contact her anymore so I can “move on.” I just miss her and what we had sooo much. I know it’s never gonna be the same but my emotions don’t agree.

    • Petra says:

      She is right! Keeping in touch is the worst thing you can do. It prolongs your attachment. You’re getting no responses because you are not really single – your heart belongs to her. You need to stop looking to her as the solution to your need to have a loving relationship in your life. She doesn’t want it. She’s not the one for you otherwise you would still be together. She left you because you were not a good match. Why do you still think you are, 4 years later? Please think hard about this, you have to understand nobody is that special or precious that you need to suffer for them so long.

  16. D says:

    Hi Petra!
    Came upon your post… It is so interesting and so true but it is still so hard to swallow. Basically I’m dating someone else but still thinking about my ex. I’m not sure if its the fact that I am forcing myself to move on so I’m believing I like him (regardless my mind always wonders back to my ex). The relationship ended with both of us being mutual about it. But we realized later we did want to get back but now wasn’t the right time so instead we decided we’ll break and work on ourselves and reevaluate at a different point if were both still free. Do you think it’s healthy to have that hope back in mind that we can reunite? Do you believe in second chances?
    Thanks!

    • Petra says:

      Anything can work – and second chances are possible. But they usually happen when both people have changed and matured from the time they broke up, meaning they are both different people. The question for you is – why doesn’t it work now, what needs to change for you two to get back together? Why can’t you overcome those obstacles now? Think about that, it will get you closer your answer – whether it makes sense to wait for him or actually move on, for real. You haven’t done that yet, your heart is still taken even though you are formally single. That’s why you are not meeting potential partners who can make you fall in love with them, and as long as you are emotionally tied to your ex, new love won’t happen.

  17. Ross says:

    Hi, my ex girlfriend left me 4 months ago. We were together for 9 years, had a house and dog together. I’m 29 and she’s 25, so we got together when young. Both of us wanted it to work badly. This is the only time we have broke up. We had to grow up very fast at the beginning of our relationship for reasons that were out of our control! We missed out on a lot but that never really bothered us. In the last year I worked too much as stared a new business, which left me stressed and constantly taking work home. Also she had to take care of the dog, house and a full time job. Fun and spending time together basically stopped, I see all the mistakes I made, taking her for granted and not finding a balance. I still love her so much, it hurts badly knowing you’ve lost the person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with.

    She’s now with another guy, 4 years younger than her, out partying every weekend without any cares or worries. This isn’t the girl I knew or showed while we were together. She was the kindest, most caring and loving person I’d ever known. I’m worried about her but I know I can’t show it. I don’t want to push her away.

    • Petra says:

      When you get together so young (she was 16 or so?), sometimes you feel like you missed out on partying and being careless, like you skipped your youth. Maybe she’s feeling that way now, she wants to make up for lost time. If you want her back, talk to her honestly about how she feels, what went wrong, what can you do to fix it. It may or may not work out – but if you don’t talk it through you’ll never know. Show her how much you care, and then let her be and think about it. If she still loves you, it will help her to know you still feel the same. If she doesn’t – then at least you’ll know where you stand and you can start moving on with your life. First love is often – just that, first. I am sure you had a great relationship, but you haven’t been with anyone else, so you can’t really compare and know if she was truly your match. And even if she was, doesn’t mean she was the only one. You know how to be in a serious relationship, so you can create it again with someone new.

      • Ross says:

        Thanks for your response… I want to tell her how I feel but I need to be sure she feels the same. Right now I don’t think anything I’m going to do or say will change her mind. Is there anyway to slowly show her that I’ve changed for the better and see what’s important to me?

        • Petra says:

          Well, you can’t be sure she feels the same. And you won’t know until you ask, right? No matter what you do or say, her feelings are her feelings and you can’t influence them. Even she can’t decide what she will feel. If we could make ourselves love or not love someone, that would make life so much easier – but it doesn’t happen at the push of a button. I know you are afraid you will mess it up and destroy your chances to be with her again, but trust me – you have no control over that. Just do what you want – communicate or not, but don’t overthink it because there is no right or wrong move. If she says no, or even refuses to talk – then at least know where you stand and you can start moving on. I know you don’t want that – but if she doesn’t want you, that’s your only choice.

  18. Jessica says:

    Hey Petra, reading through this article and the comments helped me a little bit, but it can be difficult to apply general advice to one’s own experiences, so I thought I’d try sharing what I’m going through.

    I’m 21 and have been in 4 relationships, but the guy who broke up with me 3 weeks ago after a 6-month-long relationship is the first one I’ve fallen deeply in love with. I have never connected with someone on so many levels. We have the exact same sense of humor, the same core values, and had an extremely passionate sex life.

    However, I struggle with insecurity/jealousy/anxiety and he struggles with communication. I often had trouble understanding his negative emotions because he was bad at talking about them. The first time he really even brought up any major dissatisfaction with the relationship was when he told me that he wanted to break up with me about 4 months in. After discussing how he should communicate his issues in a constructive way that could lead to a better relationship, he decided to stay with me. At this point, we fell into a negative feedback loop where I would become insecure, which would chip away at his feelings for me, which I would sense and then become more insecure. I was hoping that because he is such a loyal, honest person, I would be able to overcome my insecurity by continuing to go to therapy and work hard on it, but I honestly think that the breakup scare made it impossible. How can an insecure person learn to be secure in a relationship that has come so close to being unhinged? I just couldn’t handle it. He tried to break up with me again a month later, only to decide not to. A month later, he really did break up with me. For 2 weeks. We got back together for another 3, and then he broke up with me this final time. We both tried so incredibly hard to make it work, but couldn’t, mostly because of my insecurity.

    As you can tell, I have come to accept that the failure of our relationship was largely his fault too, but I can’t help but feel immense regret and guilt for allowing this to get so messed up. I just wish that I could go back and not question all of his interactions with his female friends, and not get angry at him for wanting to spend a few nights with his friends instead of me. I feel awful. But, even when I felt awful, I couldn’t control myself. I know that I tried my best and that I need to learn a lot before I will be ready for a truly successful and well-balanced relationship.

    I can’t let go of the notion that he is seriously “the one” for me. That I’ll never connect with someone like this ever, ever, EVER again. That we came together at the tragically wrong time, when we weren’t developed enough for each other. I don’t know how to let go of him because I don’t think I want to let go of him. I can’t stop thinking about how perfect he is, how sweet, genuine, goofy, positive, radiant. How will I ever find someone else as quirky, loving, fun as him? I am both terrified of and set on holding onto the idea that we might be together again. I know it’s not healthy. I know it will stunt my growth and recovery. But I don’t know if I can let go of the hope. Every time I’ve asked him if he thinks we could come back together in the future, he is ambiguous and almost positive about it. He agrees with me when I say that if we are meant to be we will come back together. He says it’s possible, he says maybe. Part of me wishes that he would just say “no, there is no future for us,” because then I would feel more free. I feel trapped yet I don’t entirely want to escape.

    Do you have any advice for me? I have never dealt with such strong emotions and while this article makes it apparent that losing hope for future love is a common affliction, I can’t shake the idea.

    • Petra says:

      Hello there. You seem like a wise young woman, just the fact you detected issues as well as you did is a great start, and this quality is one that will help you be a great partner going forward. You are still very young and it’s ok not to have all the answers, but you are getting there fast – when I was your age I had no clue why and what was happening in my relationships… so I think you should be proud of yourself for that ability. If your boyfriend did not give you reasons to doubt his loyalty (e.g. flirted and behaved like more than friends with other girls) – then I would say your insecurity is based on how you feel about yourself. Maybe you compare with other girls and see yourself as less attractive, less interesting, less something. That’s very normal and human, and most of us feel either superior or much more often – inferior to others at your age. To cure insecurity you will have to build confidence in who you are, and realise your value as a person and a partner. When you’re sure in your qualities, you are not afraid that someone will leave you for something better, because you know there is no better, just different. And if someone breaks up with you – you understand that it’s because you two didn’t work out, and that it’s part of life – it’s not because someone is a good and someone is a bad person. So you don’t go around fearing breakup, but you trust that if someone loves you, they also respect you and won’t cheat or behave inappropriately with other women. And if they do – you will know that means the person you’re dating is not a good match for you, so you’ll have no big regrets when the relationship ends. So – that’s all from your side. If he did behave in a way that would spark jealousy – then regardless of his great positive sides, he is not the guy for you. Sometimes we love someone for a lot of things, but there are crucial things missing and we can’t be happy with this person. Regarding your other question – will you ever find someone as good as him – well, ask yourself: what proof do you have that it will never happen again? What proof do you have that he is the best you can do? There is no proof. Like there is no proof that he isn’t the best and the one. But – trust me, most people think their first big love is their one and only, only to discover afterwards they were wrong. Because as we grow and mature emotionally, we connect better, we find better partners, we have better relationships because we know ourselves and what we truly need much better. So it only gets better from here, not worse. Besides, if everyone’s first love was their last or biggest, most people would be unhappy searching for someone to replace that for the rest of their lives. And that’s clearly not the case.

  19. kee says:

    I was together and then married my ex for just under 9 years, he left me 2 times in our marriage because he couldn’t decide if he could take marriage life. The second time he left in 2012 he said he wanted a divorce he left me for 4 months and I started to sell the marital house but then he decided he cant live without me. I took him back happily, but I had made a decision to travel.around the world for 10 months and he said he would join me.

    But 5 months in he decided he cant take me or my family anymore . He didnt like them and to be honest my family was never keen on him either. He had emotional outbursts and the one he had when we were in argentina was very unpleasant.

    I was very hurt even though he apologised later we decided we should go our separate ways when we got back home. I.left immediately after we got back home to go to see my sister in australia. Then I announce that we are divorced and he says he cant believe it. I tell him but you and I discussed it and there was no other way. He says he cant believe it but he doesnt say he wants us to change anything so I get a job in far east and I leave in jan 2014.

    But we still have contact and tell each other we ae family. Just cant live as husband and wife. Mainly cause he thinks im boring and doesnt like my family and feels he has been disrespected. He hasn’t spoken or met my parents since 2011.

    I still love him and miss him dearly all of last year and we keep in touch via phone and text, mainly driven by my need as im all alone in far east having left everyone behind to get over the divorce.

    all of a sudden in sep last year he begs me back saying he has changed and wants all that I want family and all and he has no more issues with me or family. I dont believe him and I think he is just saying words thst I want to hear. He tells me his love for me has even changed. But I didn’t believe him.

    I was so hurt from the previous 3 years of rejection.
    I said im not in love with you no more only have love for you. But it wasnt true I was just tired of his flaky behaviour. I didnt believe he had changed.

    I fell into a deep depression of which im currently struggling with. He called me again and asked why we cant be together now he has forgiven our past and he wants a family with me he just doesnt have any money. He can hardly support himself but since we have love we can do it.

    I told him we have too much baggage – my heart ached for him and I cried so many times over the phone for him. I told him I tried to get over you by dating a guy a few weeks but I kept thinking of him I just dint know how to get back to us. So following this a tells me he has a gf a has accepted our break up 0. But throughout our conversation he keeeps bringing up past – First good memories and then bad (in his eyes) behaviours of mine and sometimes even his. But he excuses them away saying he was young and so were I (we were both 33 when we divorced). I started to get pulled more into emotions while he started once again to pull back. He even told me after 3 months he doesn’t even care if i call or not although 2 months before he told me i was the love of his life and he would always have permanent love and respect for me.

    I am now stuck on moving on. I am desperate ly trying to move on in my thoughts. I know in my mind he is not worthy of me cause he treated my love so carelessly – one minute he wanted me then the next he was shouting how he can’t stand me. I know I have to let him go but even after 15 months after our divorce I still have love for him and Im also in pain for all the things he did to me and that I accepted. I accepted his coming and going abd telling me that only if he had money i would go back to him when told him thats not the case but l think I was too nice to him even when we broke up. He could blame the break up on me.

    When in reality he broke up with me 2 times, 2012 and 2013.

    Any advice to find ways to get him out of my thoughts?? I dream of him every night and they are all nightmares. Where do I go from here? I do guided meditation every Night to stop nightmares but as he is in my thoughts 24h I dont know how to get rid of him.

    At one point 2 months ago I considered the point of life but I have come out of that thinking now general stuff is feeling pointless.

    Please help….

    • Petra says:

      Please ask yourself why do you need all that drama in your life? What does this man have nobody else has? To me it seems he is just trouble. He’s treated you badly. His life is a mess. Why is he still in your thoughts and in your heart? There must be something about him that you want and think you won’t have with anyone else, otherwise you would let go. We can explore this together if you want – just contact me for a consultation via Contact or Work with me page.

  20. Brandon says:

    So do you not believe in reconciliation and if you do what is the best way of going about achieving reconciliation? I know there are many “suggestions” on the Internet, but it would be nice to hear from an actual professional. My break up is sort of fresh only a couple of weeks into it and we both are young (22 and 20). However, I have felt like my partner and I always had a deep connection, never fought or anything and we’re always having fun with each other, but we just lost our spark towards the end. Do you believe that the spark is something that is achievable again?

    • Petra says:

      I wouldn’t say I don’t believe in reconciliation – but that is a mutual decision, not one-sided wishful thinking. If your partner had decided to break up and doesn’t want to come back, no amount of reasoning will change her feelings. Same vice versa. You either feel it or not. If one doesn’t it’s not going to happen. If you are both keen to explore what happened and why the spark is gone – you’ll have to talk about it and be completely honest with each other. That’s the only way to find the reason and possible solution (if there is one). That’s how people save or revive their long term relationships and marriages. It can be done, but as said – both need to really want it, and there has to be enough love and enough things that bond you so you are both keen to work on it.

  21. TB says:

    Petra, thank you for your post. I was recently told “something is missing” by someone I was with for two years.. the last 8 months were long distance… we lived together for about a year, and lived well together…it was a mature, giving, compromising, happy, fun, emotionally honest and open relationship..after moving apart, it was great when we visited each other, but he became so distant, not responsive when we were apart… i was in a 4 year long distance relationship before him that worked well while we were apart but was my first love and i did not feel for sure i wanted to marry him. but with the recent one, i felt that he was going to be my husband.. i was slow with opening up in the beginning.. he said he loved me very quickly.. brought up me being the love of his life in the first year.. said he couldnt live without me when we visited each other.. but then while apart.. it was like a different person.. how could someone say you are the love of their life and then be so distant when you are apart? i eventually saw that he was an amazing fit for me.. i accepted his flaws and insecurities… i dont expect perfect because nobody is.. and as i came to realize he was the love of my life.. he began pulling away…Why did my first relationship work long distance when my love wasn’t nearly as powerful with him as with the second guy? I felt like I had to keep reminding him of the connection we had..i asked him if he was ever sad about us not living together anymore, and his way of coping was to suppress it.. fill every minute with friends and work so that he wouldnt think about it.. how do you keep a long distance relationsip alive without thinking about it!? it just feels like it didnt get the chance it deserved and that it was really special…i want to be open to others..but it’s difficult!

    • Brandon says:

      Almost spot on with my situation

    • Petra says:

      Long distance is always hard to maintain. It just takes much more effort and communication and dedication than when you see each other all the time. I wrote why that is so in this blog. But I am not sure you can compare your two relationships to make sense of what happened. It seems to me it was just different people – probably the first guy was OK with long distance, the second wasn’t. Maybe because you spent the first year together, so he was missing that? It would be great if he’d open up to you about it, seems like he didn’t give you many satisfactory answers. Something is missing – but what? I think he is the only one who can give you those answers. If he doesn’t want it, just accept the fact you grew apart and that’s how life goes – sometimes we are happy with someone and things gradually fall apart until one day we wake up and we’re not in love any more. Doesn’t mean you won’t find love again, and doesn’t mean it won’t work out better with someone else. You don’t mention your age – but if you are younger than 25, what happened to you is very normal and usual. We develop, change and grow so much in our early 20s that we often grow apart with friends and partners for no apparent reason, it just happens because we develop into people with different lifestyles, priorities, expectations and beliefs.

      • TB says:

        I agree, they were very different people. I am 25 now and he is 30. It was definitely a very different kind of love than with my first love. It was a marriage-ready relationship. We even overcame his few months of chemotherapy during our first year when his cancer came back (i knew he had it previously when we first started dating). I was a vague ending to something that was special and its confusing. It’s disheartening because our values were very similar. When I think of a list of things he had..chivalrous, honest, loyal, thoughtful, introspective, funny, successful, romantic, affectionate, similar interests, i do think it may be possible that there is someone out there like that, but the odds of me meeting them?? doesn’t that seem so unlikely? :/ At least with my first relationship I can look back and say there were things I wanted that he didnt have… but I cannot think of anything this one had that I wouldnt have wanted in a life partner.

        • Petra says:

          What proof you have that you can’t find it again? There is no way of knowing. I believe our partners and relationships only get better as we grow and mature, but of course you can’t know that until you’ve had enough to compare. However, if you believe that nobody will be as good as he was, that’s what will happen. So don’t believe that, you really have no proof or reason to. You’ve attracted one great guy, that means you can attract others. He’s not the only one that can tick your boxes.

        • Petra says:

          Well there is no way to know for sure whether you’ll meet someone as great as him – but why do you think your odds are low? Because you only met one guy like that so far? That’s hardly proof of any odds. He was the first guy you connected to on a deep level, which doesn’t mean there won’t be others. But it does mean you are capable of love and connection. Also, you haven’t got much to compare it with – so you can’t know if he was really the best ‘type’ for you, but even if the was, there is always others. The world would be a very sad and lonely place if that wasn’t the case! We’d all have one chance and most people would miss it – because the odds of meeting that one person at the right time in our lives would indeed be terribly low. Also, our relationships always get better as we grow up and became more emotionally mature and stable, so things will only go up from here.

          • tb says:

            Thanks Petra, I can definitely say I’ve grown and will carry many positive things into my next relationship. I guess I can’t know for sure if he was the best type.. but if you’re happy and feel like you can be yourself..loved him for who he was..flaws and all..it seemed like no question that he was the best type, because after two years there was nothing I was unsatisfied with.. I feel like dating can be an endless game of achieving perfection, but at some point you have to choose what flaws you are okay with dealing with.. I wanted to work on the little issues we had, he didn’t… I hope to find exactly what he was for me.. but I do hope they love me back enough to stick with it!

          • Petra says:

            I am sure you had an amazing relationship, and he was probably the right person for you at that time of your life. And I totally agree that you don’t need to look for perfection. But you will see that it doesn’t mean he was the best you’ll ever have. I am sure you will find another great guy, you are a smart girl and your head is in the right place. Take care!

          • tb says:

            Thank you Petra, that makes me feel more positive. I appreciate your words !

  22. Aditi says:

    I have a boyfriend who is amazing. But I think I’m still in love with my ex, and still have a strong pull towards him for reasons I don’t understand.

    Me and my ex dated for 7 months and broke up because he was ambitious and we’d been fighting a lot. We got back after a month, for 3 weeks and broke up again because I was too serious about the relationship.

    I’ve loved my ex for 2 and a 1/2 years now, and have known him for 3 years.
    I don’t want to break my boyfriend’s heart but the relationship has left me dissatisfied over the last one month (we’ve been together for 2 and a 1/2 months).
    Also, there’s rumours that my ex is interested in someone else, but she’s already in a long distance relationship.
    My ex is a senior and my boyfriend and I are juniors. My ex will be passing out from high school and leaving the country which terrifies me, because I may not see him again.
    Please help.

    • Petra says:

      Maybe you only want your ex back because he left you? You say he didn’t want to get serious, you fought a lot – sounds like a bad relationship, and I wonder if the reason you want him back is simply to prove you can still have him. Think about it please, the reasons why you still want him. Why is he so special? What has he got that your new (amazing) boyfriend doesn’t have? You don’t want to be dating bad boys, those relationships are always full of pain, heartbreak and drama. And drama can be exciting, but it’s not love.

  23. Lily says:

    Hello! Sorry for my bad English. I am in my 30s. Got back with someone who dumped me years ago. Later he admit that he wasn’t feeling motivated to try harder for us. I was hurt by this because first he admitted that he wanted me back. he know that we were meant to be together. And that he know it was hard to lose me. And of course I love him. But now he’s lazy and cant find the energy to give me what I want.

    The relationship is dull. I asked him about what is important for him. His answer was something that I’ve been trying to give but he just wasn’t happy with the what I am giving already. He said that’s probably why he is unhappy now. That is one of the reasons why I broke up with him. No matter how hard I am trying, I am not enough.

    I still love him and this is so so difficult. It’s been a month since breakup. I miss him and am questioning. maybe I should’ve given us more time to fix it? Maybe I can still beg him to come back? One month is not too late. I fear my regret will be bigger in the next month. I am so scared that he will not take me back. But again I just remember I cannot make him happy even if that is my goal.

    I read your article and am trying to apply your advice. I meet a lot of guys but he is still the most special. He is my best friend. My constant. Now I don’t have a best friend. Or a boyfriend. This is painful but I did break up with him. But this is my choice.

    • Petra says:

      Seems like neither you nor him knows what kind of relationship or partner you want. You want him when you’re not together, but when you are – it’s dull and confusing. Maybe you’re not meant to be together in a romantic sense, but you can still be friends. I can help you get to the bottom of this. How about a consultation? Contact me via Work with me or Contact pages if you’d like to arrange it.

  24. Christine says:

    I was with my ex for almost 17 years and have been apart for over 5 years. He is married with a family now…and I still think about and miss him everyday. I don’t see how I’m ever going to be over him.

    • Petra says:

      Oh that is really a long time! You won’t live forever, it’s time to move on. I can help, do get in touch.

  25. Heman B. says:

    Thanks for the writeup.
    Similar situation,
    in my case, male, loving female because she was gorgeous.
    No problems in a 6,5 years marriage, 10 years relationship. I was her first, and she was my first wife.
    Things got a little more difficult. She changed. Was no longer happy, and perhaps wanted to try out someone else; despite that I loved her a lot.
    She left, and I was left with the pain.
    She forgot about me quickly, while I still couldn’t comprehend what happened.
    Even now, almost 3 years later, I still feel it.

    There’s this rule of the thumb I’ve created over my life being in relationships…
    If you really loved the person, it takes about 1/2 the time you spent together, in order to fully get over it.
    That’s 2 more years for me!

    • Petra says:

      I don’t know… 3 years is already a long time. I think you made this rule up so you don’t have to deal with the reality of letting go. It’s painful, but the pain of loving someone who doesn’t love you anymore is much worse. It’s done, it’s time to move on. Excuses will only make you suffer longer, and in the end – you’ll look back at all the time you wasted following your ‘rule’. There is really no need for that.

      • Heman B. says:

        I’m sorry,
        But I didn’t make the rule, as a rule to follow;
        The rule was made after how long it took me to get over a person; which is something completely different.

        Anyone you talk to will agree that ‘move on’, and ‘let bygones be bygones’, don’t work like that.
        No matter how much you want to move on, it just doesn’t happen like that!
        It takes time to heal. And often finding comfort in another’s arms, and ending up breaking up, just creates a fresh new wound on top of the old one.

        It’s perfectly fine, to be sad, and to not be over the ex.
        Time will come when something clicks in the mind, and you’ll get over the ex; but forcing (or manipulating) your mind to get over your ex, does not work.

  26. Peachy Ting says:

    My relationship of only two years recently came to a final end. And it was very final. He shut all contact and communication. I went crazy. The man who adored me to the point of crazy walked away. I am reading about narcissism and he fits the bill.
    But our sex life never faltered. The last time I had any contact with him we actually had a very intimate time, but he said it wasn’t enough, and I’m accepting that, in accepting he didn’t treat me as wonderful as I thought, that he was a weakness in my life and I wasn’t doing too well. But we did love each other insanely. I am getting randomly upset very suddenly of images of him being intimate with anyone else. I’m quietly confident he will not feel with anyone as he did with me, but I know I probably won’t either. We became lost in each other which made us lose ourselves. He is highly sexed and can use it as more pysical needs and enjoyment. It makes my heart literally ache. And I cannot imagine having anyone get close to me. Talk to me or play fight or all the things I still very much love about him.
    I’m 37 and have three children from a previous I’m scared I will not get the partner I wanted. But I will use your tool. He wasn’t perfect. Hutu now look back and think all the criticism I made to him were really not that bad and I could of nurtured the relationship more. Or maybe he would of walked regardless and I’m fooling myself.
    Thank you

    • Petra says:

      I know you feel he was the best ever and nobody will be able to compare, but that is simply not true unless you choose to believe it. Intense chemistry and great sex is not a reliable indicator of relationship potential. Nor is great connection. It can be, but if you just have the intensity, it can lead to burnout easily. You need more than that – the best relationships are the ones where you have stability, mutual respect, support, love – all those ‘mild’ things that make loving someone worthwhile. Yes it’s great to be overwhelmed with passion, but those moments are usually peaks and are not sustainable long-term, and shouldn’t be a measure of how great your relationship is. Eventually the intense chemistry goes away – when we start sharing life and doing mundane every day things with someone. That’s where you can see whether someone can be a true partner. And narcissists are rarely capable of caring and loving the right way – they are too absorbed in their own selfishness. I would say – use this experience to redefine what you want from love and relationships. Of course you need attraction and chemistry, but you need much much more for a relationship to work and be loving, satisfying and not hurtful. Crazy ups and downs turn into just painful downs over time. If you’d like to discuss, give me a shout via email or contact on my Contact / Work with me pages.

  27. Es says:

    Heman B, yeah i agree what you had to say. But im a bit impatient. After so long after a break up i think i had enough time to cry & heal. I just want to be that happy person now & find that perfect girl for me..

    • Heman B. says:

      I don’t really know what the solution to the problem is,
      I found that short term dating does help a lot; just intermingling with people of the opposite sex, going on a date, to the movies, to a restaurant, or something might make you feel a lot better about yourself.
      However as long as there is sadness for being alone, it’s not recommended to start long term relationships yet, nor get too intimate.

      Usually, by the time you’ve fully recovered from the sadness, and start feeling the benefits of being single, will you be ready for a healthy relationship, based on friendship, rather than based on co-dependency.

  28. Mk says:

    My ex and I have been broken up for nearly seven years and I can’t say that I’m completely over him or maybe I am and he’s just forever going to have a piece of my heart. I don’t exactly compare others to him Bc I know there will never be another person exactly like him. However, I miss that spark that was there and I have never came close to having that again and I have opened myself up to others but that connection when you look into someone’s eyes or when they just do as much as touch ur arm and u swoon, it just hasn’t been there.

    • Petra says:

      Hey, if you’re not completely over him, there is no way another person will find their way to your heart. You have to let go of the feeling that your ex was the only special person you’ll ever meet, ever connect. If you’re still in love with him that means your heart is not free, if your heart is not free, you can’t let a new partner truly in, and all the seriously good matches will not cross your path. Think about it and of course if you feel you need help get in touch.

  29. Berty says:

    I am in a 4 year relationship with my first girlfriend ever. Before I met her i was lonely, deep down I always knew she was not ‘the one” but i got attached to her anyway because i enjoyed her company. She is such a good girlfriend and a caring person,she has never done anything wrong.I love her and care about her deeply but i am just not in love, we have always been so different.
    I just know i have never felt the same way about her, the way she feels about me, and that guilt will haunt me forever. I am afraid that if i dump her, she will be just like some of the people in here suffering for years. I know she truly loves me and has seen me in her future, I care about her so much and the thought of her not being able to get over me and be depressed for 7+ years is really tearing me apart. I just want to be alone again and focus on myself and my career. I am afraid of regretting my decision also. I also don’t feel comfortable with the idea of marrying the first and only girl i have ever been with. I just don’t want to waste any more of her time because her biological clock is ticking, (she wants kids at 28, shes 24) but i am afraid of sending her into years of deep depression and frustration. How do i tell her this without crushing her? Please help.

    • Petra says:

      Hi there. Have you ever thought about all the years of your and her life you already wasted, by being with her while knowing you are not in love? How would you feel if it was vice versa, if she was with you but didn’t love you? Being where you are doesn’t help you nor her to be happy, in life or love. Don’t waste her time, let her find someone who will truly love her. You are afraid you’ll hurt her feelings. Wouldn’t it be far worse if you stayed with her out of pity? Out of obligation? Out of desire to postpone her suffering? Well, she is hurting already, because she loves a man who doesn’t love her back. She is probably in denial too – she thinks she has a loving relationship which according to you isn’t true – so you’re not helping her there either, because she has nothing to compare your relationship with, so she thinks this is the real thing. So you are not just wasting her time, you are feeding her a big lie too. Your biggest concern is that she will be hurt and suffer for 7+ years – how did you calculate that? Maybe she will find a great guy 3 months later and be over you in a blink. Maybe you’re afraid you won’t be able to find someone better than her? Honestly, if you don’t love this girl – stop lying to her, stop lying to yourself and give yourselves both a chance to find a better match.

      • Rich says:

        Petra, that is so true. Berty! Listen to this good advice! I wish I had had the courage and honesty to do so decades ago. Now we are both old and have wasted our lives because of my weakness and fear. It is a terrible thing I did to a good woman, and to myself.

      • Rich says:

        What I’m going through now isn’t grief over an ended relationship–though God knows I’ve been through that many times. It’s something that is, in a way, so ridiculous that I hardly know if I should talk about it. I’ve become friends with a young woman at my work–and when I say young, I mean less than half my age (I’m in my 60s). She’s got a boyfriend, I’m married though not happily, and while she seems to find me interesting and in fact suggested we get together sometimes outside of work, there was never any question of a romance developing. And now I find myself with a serious crush on her. She is, objectively, a remarkable individual–I thought this before I got into this emotional state. Talking with her is more stimulating and fun than with almost anyone else I’ve known. And yes she’s gorgeous. And yes–I’m really afraid I will never meet anyone like her again.

        • Petra says:

          Ask yourself why you got there in the first place. That will get you closer to the answers you are looking for. It’s not what happened, it’s why it happened. And no – she’s not that special, she was just close enough so you could project your needs and cravings on her.

  30. Tim says:

    I met me ex gf freshman year of college. I was attracted to her beauty and intelligence. I knew that she would make a great partner and shortly after we started dating. She showed me a life I never thought to be possible. I had a rough childhood with both of my parents abusing hard drugs and I always felt less than because of the neglect I received throughout. But she made me forget all that. She came from a functional loving family that loved me and it all made me feel like I’ve never felt before. We dated for 5.5 years. We took things too fast by moving in our 4th year and at 5.5 years I moved out because she said some mean stuff to my foster family that helped me out at my early stage of college.

    The kicker is i was under the influence of pain meds when I left. I made the decision while a 6 month drug binge. I have struggled with this in the past and she knew it. The drugs changed who I was and made me feel powerful and feel like I could find someone who wouldn’t judge my family. At this time she still loved me for who I was. So i moved out and ignored her for 2 months. She would call and text and I would only reply when I wanted to. I was too busy setting up my new place and stealing from Walmart. My mother taught me how to steal at a young age and its always been something that provided a sense of accomplishment; getting free stuff.

    My days were full of drug use and stealing and just enjoying freedom. She was devastated but i was too numb from the drugs to even consider her feelings. I regret this with every fiber in my body. I eventually got caught stealing and it was a wake up call, I feared my dreams of getting into grad school could no longer be achieved. I believe it was at this point I realized how stupid I was and that I wanted to be with my gf. I had no idea on the damage i had done to her. I thought it would be simple. She allowed me to move back in and we still had sex but I could tell things were different. She was emotionally distant from me and it began to frighten me. I couldn’t lose the woman who I loved deeply for the past 5 years.

    I moved back in around march and I spent the summer with her at her parents. I helped them build a fire pit and I believed everything to be fine. It felt like we were together, we watched movies together and had sex still but it wasn’t the same. Right before school started in August she demanded that I move out of her house and that she didn’t want to be with me. She was starting her second year of pharmacy school and feared that I would distract her. It was hard on me but her parents helped me find a condo which I moved into right down the street. At the time I landed a job at a bar with attempts at becoming a bartender so I could make a lot of tip money. I knew having money would help me take her out and re ignite the fire. It didn’t work out and I ended up getting and OWI. I kept making mistakes. I just didn’t know what I was doing. I couldn’t work in the pharmacy where I worked previously with her due to me not getting certified in time.

    Anyways, I did this 2 month church program and found God. I have learned so much from proverbs. Like how to treat a women and be faithful and a good man. I wanted so bad for another chance at loving her with the new me but she said that there is no future for us. As time went on I received mix signals from her, she would want to hang out and talk but she also had a tinder at this point and it upset me. I became needy and feared that she would find someone else and i know now that being needy didn’t help me out any. We hung out again during the second summer of us just being “friends” and she met a doctor who she is now sleeping with. I was devastated. I haven’t even gotten into grad school yet and heres this guy who I can’t compete with.

    She cut me off completely when she met this new guy. She blocked me on all social media sites and stop talking to me saying I annoyed her and that she just wanted to be friends and nothing more. She said because I wanted to be more than friends and she didn’t that we couldn’t be friends. This happened over a 17 month course after I left. It is now the 20th month and I am so destroyed. I kept hope throughout and prayed to God that we would get back together. I pleaded and begged( I know it was needy but I was scared of losing her) for her to take me back. She told me ” I told you already there is no future”.

    I loved this women to death and it all ended because I was using drugs. Now I have to live the rest of my life imprisoned by this. I truly believe that I will never find a women like her. She is half asian, intelligent, honest, beautiful, driven, clean, she motivated me and counseled me, she also provided a sense of security. She is one in a million. Even my co workers would tell me ” she’s stunning” and ” don’t let her go because another guy will take care of her if you don’t”. However it was too late at this point.

    Why would she leaver her doctor boyfriend to come back to a loser drug user who still isn’t in grad school and she’s in her 3rd year of pharmacy school. I still pray to God for the miracle that she comes back but I know deep down that I need to move on.

    • Petra says:

      You said something truly interesting: “Now I have to live the rest of my life imprisoned by this.” Please think about that statement. This is true only if you believe in it. There is no universal law that says you need to stay stuck in some permanent misery for the rest of your life because you lost one person who cared for you. That ‘prison’ exists only if you think there is no way to move forward if you don’t go back and fix the past. But we can’t fix the past.

      You may not think much about yourself – but you’ve come a long way from an abused neglected kid, you are now a man who is on a path to sort out his life. You’ve made huge steps in your life, much bigger and harder to make than someone born in a good happy family has to make. You should be very proud of yourself and your achievements. Your ex was there for you through some tough times, and for that you can only be grateful for. But she has moved on. And so can you. You’ve changed, you are a much better version of yourself today. I’d say you can find a great girl who will love you, and be happy with this new you. I’d even dare to say it will be much easier for her to love you without all the drama and baggage your ex had to put up with. You can find love again, it’s not once-in-a-lifetime thing (if it was most of the people on the planet would be single or with someone they didn’t love after the age of 25). And you can be the great partner you wanted to be for your ex. You will redeem yourself – not by digging up the past and fixing it, because that’s impossible – but the only way we can – by making sure we don’t make the same mistakes in the future. Moving on is a challenge, because you look at her as probably the only person who ever truly loved you. That may be true, but she is not the last one who will.

  31. RJ says:

    My life the past 5 years just seems to be a never-ending series of “why the hell do I keep doing this to myself?”

    I was married to my children’s father for 22 years (I met him when I was 20, dated him for 2 years and was married to him for 22 years). While I was attending law school at night (a dream of mine that he supposedly supported), he went on Match.com and got a girlfriend. I was blindsided by his actions, mainly because I was so busy and didn’t notice he was so unhappy and he was not great at communicating his needs. Long story short, we tried counseling but in the end it was clear the marriage was over so we divorced 5 years ago.

    I was an emotional wreck for about 6 to 8 months – crying every day, not able to sleep or eat, etc. My ex remarried the woman he met right away and my kids were having a very hard time with everything as well (they were 8 and 11 years old at the time). I decided that I needed to get myself better so I could be the best parent for them I could be so I checked myself into a mental health facility for a few days, got some great counseling and anti-depressants and got my life back together.

    Then I met a man that was charming, handsome, and was more attentive and affectionate than I had ever experienced from anyone before. He is wheelchair bound but his neurological disease is not life threatening. He had a similar experience with his ex that I had with mine and we bonded immediately. Fast forward a year from that – we got married. However there were problems from the start in that he didn’t have kids and I didn’t realize the step-parenting issue was going to be such a nightmare. The second problem we had is he comes from a wealthy family that had babied him his whole life so there was much infantile and interfering behavior from him and his family. We fought all the time but I felt that we always loved each other and were friends no matter what happened.

    After two years of this however, we decided to get divorced but remained friends. I was determined not to make another stupid “man decision” so I got counseling, waited many months before I started dating again, etc. Well ex #2 and I did remain friends and he harbored the hope that we would someday eventually get back together but I told him unless he received SERIOUS counseling and worked out the issues with his parents, that would never happen. Well he did just that. He has been in counseling, as well as myself, the entire time since our divorce two years ago. We started dating again but very casually as I was also dating other people. He would get very jealous if I dated others but when I dated him exclusively, he was very aloof. I finally got tired of his “hot and cold” nature so I told him it was over romantically but we could remain friends so we saw each other over lunch and talked occasionally, but not like before.

    I reconnected with my high school sweetheart over Facebook after our 30th class reunion last summer and in the beginning the relationship was amazing. We had such a connection and since we knew each other from long ago, we felt that is was “meant to be”. Everyone was so happy about it – his kids, my kids, my family, etc. So much so that he recently proposed marriage to me. I accepted and we recently got married. Even though we dated a year, he lived about 5 hours from me so we only saw each other on the weekends. I don’t need to tell you that living with him now is quite a bit different than dating him. He has a lot of trust issues as his ex-wife was a serial cheater the entire time he was married. It has gotten so bad that he has forbidden my ex and I to be friends, even though I have assured him time and again that there is nothing going on.

    My ex and I have still been talking and going to lunch occasionally but now he has decided that our friendship must end so that my new marriage stands a chance. But here is my problem: once he made the announcement that our friendship is through, I am totally lost. I realize I really am still in love with him and I am heartbroken. I am now married to my high school sweetheart that is not the man I thought I he was and do not love him as I think I should my husband and the one man to whom I consider my best friend in the world I am losing and really am in love with all my heart.

    I know I brought this on myself. I know I didn’t take enough time in between all of these relationships. And I know I am hurting my current husband and have been hurting my best friend and myself with all of these shenanigans. But I truly don’t know what to do. I feel like I am losing my mind.

    • Petra says:

      It’s not that your ex is better than your current husband, it’s a matter of perspective. When you were with husband two, you saw you were not compatible, but now when you’re with husband three and again unhappy – he looks like a better choice. You’ve correctly assessed that you rushed into both these marriages before you were ready, and that’s definitely a part of the problem. But I would say a bigger problem here is why you pick men who are not a good match for you, why do you fail to notice it before you get too deep? I think that’s a key question for you – and if you’d like we can work on this together.

      • Reena Allen says:

        Petra, Thank you for your comments. Things have changed drastically since that post. I found out the reason that ex #2 was hot and cold is he has had another girlfriend on the side while still trying to see me. When I found out I told his girlfriend and she didnt believe he was still pursuing me and he denied the whole thing. I realized right then and there he was a liar and a cheat and I needed to stay as far away from him as possible. And I feel sorry for her because I know what she is about to go through with him. Anyway, friendship over.

        Husband #3 and I have been going to counseling and he genuinely does loce and care for me. I am also going to individual therapy to deal with my co-dependency issues with men, stemming from when my birth father deserted me when I was 5. I have been making tremendous strides in understanding my behavior and actions.

        So this is probably the best thing that could have happened to me because it has caused me to get to the root of my lifelong co-dependency issues.

        I feel myself getting healthier and stronger every day.

        Thank you again.

  32. leeeloo says:

    Dear Petra,

    I really want to understand my exs behavior. We were best friends for 5 years, then started our relationship, moved in together but unfortunately we had fights a lot mainly because of the same things: I wanted us to have direction in careers and life, he always agreed the same but hadn’t work on that which left with disappointment to many times. So many broken promises from his side, to much pressure from my side resulted in very toxic environment. But he loved me deeply. I loved him as well but we have different views of expressing love. I believe that love is when you keep someone’s best interests, when you love them to the point you wanna be better person for them and vice versa, I believe in mutual love but also a fight. A fight for better tomorrow, self growth and life in general. He is more of a dreamer. Live it for tomorrow guy. Gentle and sensitive, Petar pan syndrome. So we ended it after 2 years of living together, I left him because he done something terrible for the third time and I couldn’t forgive him as much as I wanted to undo the scenario – I couldn’t. We’ve been 8 months apart but we still hang out as friends we were still emotionally attache and I wanted to get back together at first but I wanted to see progress but all I was seeing was begging and pleading to come back. We weren’t intimate in that period of time. I just couldn’t. Something inside me was pushing him away. I was trying to work on myself hardly, working out, reading, connecting with nature, with myself I felt good and I kept repeating him that he should do the same that we can’t be together because we can’t live without each other – we should be OK without each other but choose each other instead. Then maybe this kind of stuff won’t repeat (he spit me in the middle of the fight) because he could control his anger and wouldn’t feel so inferior beside me. Unfortunately we didn’t manage. I did but he didn’t. After 8 months I even considered to get back together but I wanted it without terms and conditions, but we fought a lot cuz I always felt trapped. Like he loved me so much he couldn’t be without me but paradox was that he couldn’t do the only thing which would take me back – put his shit together and just become more reliable, loyal to himself and to his word. I went for a one month trip across the ocean to visit my family and I even wanted him to go with me. Again we had a fight. 2 days after we texted and I felt he was pulling away. I felt it there was someone else. And it was. I was beginning him to reconsider what he is doing but he kept runing away from me. I left him alone for 2 months. No contact. He went with her to 2 trips, posting fb pic (just places never her)….After 2 months I got I touch. We started hanging out again he tells me that she is not his girlfriend, he tells me that he loves me but je always felt he is not good enough for me…Inače The meantime I thought he’s stopping things with her only to discover he is still seeing her! I felt betrayed in a way. I told him that I want to get back together but only to get things slowly forward I realise my mistakes as well and that I can’t put my tempo on relationship, but I also know that we were best friends and I love him deeply. He cried more times then I can count always repeating that he doesn’t know where he is, that he loves me but maybe can’t be with me only to call me 2 days after and tell me something which I would conclude that he is still attached. Ultimately he came to my birthday party, he lied her about that, then told me that he maybe won’t sit near by me because of the Facebook pictures, I got my heart broken that moment and we all got drunk and in 2 hours he started to behave like I’m the woman of his dreams telling my best friend he always loved me, walking me home, holding my hand, crying in my car then to suddenly change his behaviour telling me he would have huge problems tomorrow because of this today. Tomorrow he untaged from all the pictured of that night and start to pull away. I was in shock we were so close to get back together he even told me trough tears that he is awful person to her that he won’t kiss her or hug her publicly I couldn’t believe that I’m hearing all this – it hadn’t made sense – how can someone say he loves you, I saw he love me I saw it I know him, telling me that he can’t hug her publicly but then choose her??? So it’s been more then a month since that he called and cried every time saying he doesn’t know where he is bla bla and then just one day 2 weeks ago I stopped with everything. Calling explaining asking….everything. He still calls from time to time mainly because of work (he’s working on one project as an freelance in my company) but I can recognise that it is bothering him that I pulled away. I’m in such a shock sometimes I can’t believe this is all happening, how can someone throw this all away if he still feels he loves me, and he done so much lying to that girl – why had he pick her over me? I even told him once – why haven’t your stay single and took a break for month or two and then delivered a decision you’re not fair to me to her or to yourself. He just cried and kept silent. But I still love him. I’m so sad that I put him on a pedestal and I’m so angry at myself that I couldn’t fix our problems before this all happened. I know it sounds so shallow but I’m better looking then her, with better job, more ambition, I’m sure she has her qualities but I feel so inferior to the point that I’m starting to hate myself for wanting so much out of life. It’s like my ambition, my hunger for reaching more then mediocrity and for integrity has cost me everything. It’s like all the right things that I wanted had cost me the love that I lost. And now I feel like that – lost. Please help

    • Petra says:

      You are expecting mature behaviour and reactions from a guy who is immature. You would never be happy with him even if he chose you – he’s not your match.

      • Lejla says:

        Thank you Petra. Even though your answer isn’t in depth maybe your answer is all there is left for me to understand. He’s terribly immature and I won’t change that. When I think about it it amazes me then why I feel the way I feel it’s like he had me trapped for the first time with this sick on and off behaviour and I lost so much of self respect even though I have so many things going on on other fields of my life (I’m buying my own flat, got another job as a consultant bla bla) and as I said before it’s like my own accomplishments are becoming my burden. I feel that if he – the guy who would always choose me and who was in love with me for 8 years – has chosen someone else, more simple and basic that there are no guys out there who would appreciate my ambition, lifestyle, warrior’s mind with a poets soul in a way. I don’t know, I think the real problem isn’t my ex anymore but me and the fact that I lost sor much self worth in this process..

        • Petra says:

          Agree! You deserve more. No need to beg for love, and no need to linger around for those who are not ready to love you back. There will be those who will!

  33. Eric W. says:

    I unfortunately did not come across my first true love, which I sincerely believe she was, until this year as I am a 33-year-old male. She was younger, extremely pretty, funny, and had a handful of qualities that made her so fantastic. We were together since February of this year and this past November 2015 was very rough as the initial breakup occurred in the first week and was absolutely finalized (meaning, there’s no returning from here) this past Tuesday December 1. That night, I was an absolute wreck; complete meltdown, fetal position on the carpet (I have always suppressed all my emotions in my life, this time I just allowed it to flow, let it wash over me, and as therapeutic as it may have been, it still killed).

    Anyways, she was the first relationship in 13 years when I dated a girl from when I was 18 to 20. I never genuinely loved her, it was more of an experimental relationship, two people together for pleasant company, but she never set a spark in my heart.

    I sincerely do not see myself dating anyone after this since my ex, as I refer to her here, pretty much took and owns my heart, despite it being completely destroyed. She has it and will continue to have it, even though we will never be together again and so therefore, no one else will be able to ‘acquire’ it.

    You know, it’s interesting. I have never known love – never received it, never felt it, until this year – and because of the turmoil it has caused, a part of me would rather have never gotten together with her and felt it, I would have preferred to remain ignorant of it.

  34. AS says:

    Hi Petra,
    First of all, i loved reading your article. Helps a lot to move on. 🙂
    Me and my ex were in a relationship for 6 years, and he was truely a gentlemen. He brought out the best in me, he made me feel loved. But I felt he cheated on me with some other girl and so i broke up with him. I know he suffered a lot after the breakup and tried of all the possible ways to get me back. I was very adamant then, but now i miss him like hell even after 2 years of breakup. He tried to convince me that he did not cheat on me, and that girl was just his friend but i could not digest it. I think he still loves me and so do I. I think i cannot get a person as good as him ever. I even tried dating a guy for a year but broke up with him because i missed my ex.
    I really want to get back to him.. but one more thing is, his looks, he is not good looking.. i feel i will be judged by my family and friends.. but he has a heart of gold.. Please help me.. should i get back with him..?

    • Petra says:

      First: you left him because you “felt” he cheated, did he or didn’t he? Do you trust him when he says he didn’t?
      Second: You’re worried you’ll be judged because he isn’t good looking. I believe most people who love us are more interested in us being happy with someone, than being a good looking couple.
      Should you date him again? Only if you love him and you think he’s truly a good partner for you. If you want to go back to him just because you haven’t found someone better, it will not last.

  35. AS says:

    Thank you so much Petra for your advice.. 🙂
    I miss him a lot which means i love him.. (i think so). I was always happy with him and he brought out the best in me, he always encouraged me to become a better person. Everyone who knows him, tells me to get back to him because he is very mature and a nice person. I think it is actually more important to be with a person who loves you rather than a good looking stranger whom your parents choose for you. (thanks for making my belief stronger). I think if we both love each other so much i can trust him for not cheating on me and start our relationship again by forgetting all the past mistakes. N looks .. well they can be worked on together.. 🙂

  36. Ale says:

    Sorry for my bad English. I broke up with my boyfriend two months ago, we were together for 4 years and he was the most amazing person I know, we met when I was an exchange student in the USA and kept a long distance relationship for 3 years until he moved to my country last July, we were happy for the first month until he decided he didn’t want to keep living here and started hating his job, he planned to go to England to get his degree but that started to conflict with our plans in the future, we always talked about getting married and living here. I tried to support him but I had this many episodes in which I would break up with him because I was scared of an other long distance relationship or what would happen in our future because I’m studying law and it would be very hard to apply it in an other country, I love living here and didn’t know if I wanted to sacrifice my dreams to be with him, also he got some friends here and started going out a lot with them and I became so jealous that I would fight with him about it all the time, I was used to having this “only us” moments when we visited each other and now he wanted to spend some time with them and I would go crazy.. after 3 months of him telling me that everything would be okay and we could handle an other long distance, he got tired of me being afraid and hurting him, so he broke up with me leaving me devastated.. he also started using drugs and partying a lot with those friends I didn’t like and I worry so much about what he is doing constantly but even though I tried getting close to him again he says he misses me and loves me but only wants to be friends.. now he still has to live here until June because of his contract.. Now I have been trying to move on but I feel like I’m never going to find someone that would have love me that much and have that much patience, and would do something like moving to an other country for me.

    • Petra says:

      The things that drove you apart are important – your life plans just didn’t match. And he clearly wants to live his life differently now. Those are not signs of a great match. Think about it a bit, you’ll see he’s not such a great choice for you anymore (he might have been at the time you met). Also, long distance is hard, and it puts a strain on even the strongest of relationships. So many things can go wrong when you live far apart. If you really want to stay in your home country, then you’ll need a guy who wants to live there too. And trust me, there will be those who can love you same or more than him. This would be a sad planet if we all had just one match in the whole world.

  1. 19 May, 2014

    […] live up to the idealised memory you have of them (read more about getting over a significant ex here and […]