Thinking About Your Ex All The Time? Here’s Why, And How To Stop.

Why You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex

WHY YOU CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT YOUR EX | Is your Ex always on your mind? Do you think about your Ex first thing in the morning, throughout the day, and last thing at night? Does every little thing trigger memories of your Ex?

If you are like many (most? all?) people struggling with the aftermath of a painful breakup — even a breakup that you know was the right thing for both of you — you may find yourself tormented with non-stop thoughts about your Ex.

Have you ever found yourself saying (or thinking) “How do I stop caring about my Ex?” or “Why am I still thinking about my Ex?” or “I don’t care! But I do…” Like so many of our breakup counseling clients or divorce recovery clients, you’re wanting to fully heal your heart so that you can let go of the past, and move forward into a new future.

Obsessed With Your Ex? It’s Not Just You…

As we all know — letting go of a relationship is easier said than done. It’s close to impossible to turn off your feelings for someone else, even when you know, logically, that the relationship should be over. It’s especially hard when you thought you were getting over your Ex, but then they move on with a new partner, and the feelings flare up all over again. Nothing like thinking about your Ex having sex with someone new to rip the slowly healing scab right off again. Ouch.

Sometimes, people can’t get past a breakup because they have unfinished emotional business with the past.

Many people come to us for therapy or coaching after a breakup or divorce for this exact reason: they need support in figuring out how to move past the past, reclaim their power, and start feeling good again. The most maddening thing is often knowing the relationship is over…and yet they’re still thinking about their Ex. Still fantasizing about them even. They sometimes think about getting back together with their Ex, or whether they should try to rekindle the relationship. Sometimes they try… and quickly remember all the very good reasons why they broke up.

And yet, despite knowing that the relationship is wrong for them (or perhaps even toxic) they still think about their Ex. They still care about their Ex. They still feel jealous knowing that their Ex has moved on. They hurt… and they want it to stop.

But how? How can you break your attachment to someone? How do you turn off the feelings? How do you stop thinking about your Ex?

Why You’re Still Thinking About Your Ex

One of the first things we do with breakup and divorce recovery clients in therapy or coaching is helping them make sense of their feelings so that they can learn and grow from them. Also, we need to normalize what is happening: Having lingering feelings for an Ex is very common, and there are many complex reasons for it.

Sometimes, people can’t get past a breakup because they have unfinished emotional business with the past. They have lingering feelings of guilt, anger, regret, or pain that are holding them in the past. They may never have gotten closure around their relationship having ended. They need to do the work of growing and healing before they can move on.

Sometimes, people are still thinking about their Ex for months, or even years after the relationship ended because of lingering insecurities or comparisons they’re making — even subconsciously. This is often true when your Ex has moved on before you have. The path to healing here is to focus on growing your own self-confidence, and feeling like you’re moving towards your goals.

Perhaps the most insidious kind of Ex-attachment is that related to your biology: When you don’t understand how you’re maintaining your attachment to your Ex on a neurological level, you can get stuck for years — even though you desperately want to move on. (For much more on this subject check out my book, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love”)

Yes, it’s hard to stop thinking about your Ex, but it’s also necessary. Not being able to move on emotionally after a breakup or divorce can impact your life in major ways. Here are just a few of the consequences you might be experiencing… Can you relate?

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Dating While You’re Still Thinking About Your Ex

Continuing to have feelings for an Ex is not just frustrating, it can also limit your ability to move on and start a new, healthy relationship with someone else. When you’re dating while you still have feelings for your Ex, it can interfere with your ability to form a new attachment. 

Comparing your new love interests to your Ex can also lead to you breaking things off with someone who could be great for you

If you’re officially broken up but still sleeping with your Ex? No judgment (this is surprisingly common) but you’re going to be stuck for a long time unless you make some changes.

Emotional Zombie: When Your Feelings For Your Ex Die… But Then Come Back

Another thing we often hear about are situations where you think you’re over your Ex but then something happens: your Ex moves on into a new relationship or you have some new contact with them, and the feelings flare up all over again. Or perhaps you’re still connected with your Ex through social media or have shared friends. When you see or hear about your Ex starting a new chapter without you, it can bring all the pain, regret, anxieties, and even jealousy roaring back. 

If these feelings are strong enough, they can get in the way of you enjoying your life in the present. It can be hard to focus or concentrate at work, you might worry about running into your Ex and their new partner, or you might even make life decisions based on your feelings about the breakup. None of this is good for you or fair to you.

The path to recovery often involves working through complex feelings related to grief, longing, guilt, regret, anger, and even self-forgiveness. While you can’t “turn off” feelings about an Ex, you absolutely can use them to do important personal growth work that will move you forward.

How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex, For Good

If you’re still thinking about your Ex, and wishing you could let go and move on, today’s episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast is for you.

On today’s episode: Why You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex, we’ll be discussing:

  • Why you can’t stop thinking about your Ex
  • Why understanding your biology can set you free
  • What to do when you’re obsessing about your Ex’s new relationship
  • Why anger and guilt can keep you trapped in the past
  • How to build your self esteem back up after a breakup
  • How to let go of insecurities and jealousy about your Ex’s new relationship
  • How to get closure after a relationship has ended
  • How to let go of a toxic relationship
  • How to (authentically and honestly) work through the feelings in a healthy way
  • How to use this experience as a launchpad for growth
  • Why traditional talk therapy can keep you stuck in obsessions about your Ex, and why evidence-based breakup recovery coaching that uses cognitive strategies breaks you free

Your partner in growth,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

P.S: Some of the resources I mentioned on this podcast refer to other past episodes, other articles on the blog, and also some listener questions about breakups I answered on IGTV. I’ve sprinkled links to them through this article, but here’s one more: Our “How Healthy is Your Self Esteem” quiz. Do you have follow up questions for me? Get in touch through Instagram, or leave them for me in the comments below! LMB

P.P.S: Want more articles and podcasts like this one? Check out our “Healing From Heartbreak Collection” — It’s all for you. xo

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Why You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Music Credits: Torrelli and the Fuse, “Forgive and Remember”

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Episode Highlights

[03:14] Why Can’t You Get Over Your Ex?

  • It’s common for people to not be able to easily and effortlessly get over a relationship.
  • You are a healthy, normal, loving person that is capable of developing deep and powerful bonds with other humans.
  • It would be more concerning if you didn’t have lingering feelings and thoughts about your Ex.

[06:30] Why You Still Think about Your Ex: The Biology of Attachment

  • There are systems in your brain and in your body that exist for the purpose of maintaining bonds, attachments and connections to other human beings.
  • Some newer research into addiction actually postulates that the reason why people get addicted to drugs and alcohol is because they are artificially stimulating the parts of the brain that are there for the purpose of bonding to other people.

[19:06] How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex

  • One of the first things we work on is beginning to detach that feeling part that’s having this monkey-mind experience from the rational part of your brain.
  • We need to start moving into this other piece of the brain, which is very different from the emotional part of the brain.

[25:12] The Phases Of Letting Go

  • Denial, bargaining, and imagining these possible outcomes, is, among other things, a very effective way to protect ourselves from the feelings of grief.
  • A lot of times, when people move into this grieving phase, it’s deeper grief, and it feels like a more profound loss.
  • Another place people get stuck is when they are still angry with their ex and they haven’t been able to fully process this anger.
  • Another thing that can get people stuck on an ex is wanting their approval and love.

[31:07] How To Get Over Your Ex

  • A secure and supportive attachment to a therapist or coach who’s able to, first of all, make it feel safe enough to go there but also actually help you stay there instead of pulling back out of it super quickly.
  • We need to go in and drain those emotional abscesses.
  • Even if you hate your ex and don’t want to have anything to do with them, you can still be accidentally maintaining your attachment to your ex simply by thinking about them.

[39:41] How Attachments Are Formed

  • Our connections to other people are formed through repeated contact over and over and over again.
  • The emotional part of your brain cannot tell the difference between things that you’re thinking about and things that are actually happening in front of you.
  • But the limbic system, the part of your brain that experiences emotion, will have the same feeling from a mental movie that you’re playing in your head, the same feeling between that and something that you experience in real life.

[43:12] Doing The Work To Get Over Your Ex

  • Unfortunately, what actually happens is that you have to do all these other layers of work first, because there is valuable information.
  • You will eventually, sooner or later, have to do this work.
  • It does become time to learn thought-stopping skills, distract and replace skills to very consciously and deliberately shift your attention elsewhere.
  • What I have experienced time and time and time again, as I’ve walked with people through this process, is that there comes a time when people have done all this work, that they don’t think about their ex at all.

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70 Comments

  1. Such a helpful and encouraging podcast! Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is incredibly personable and well spoken. I will definitely be using the resources at growingself.com to help me finally get over my relationship that ended over a year ago. I’ve been frustrating myself with my own thoughts for so long but after listening to this I feel like I actually have hope 🙂

    1. I am so glad to hear that Krystopher. Thank you for sharing! I bet other people who are in the place you were a year ago reading this will feel hopeful hearing from you that it gets better. It sounds like you’ve done a ton of hard work, and that it’s paid off. Congratulations! All this growth is yours to keep from now until always. You earned it. xoxo, Lisa

    2. I was in a serious relationship for 3 years and he broke up with me after we came back from a holiday.Then I found out he was dating a girl who was his friend and he is always posting her pictures on his social media as if he is trying to hurt me.I tried moving on but it has been difficult.I met a married guy who after a year just stopped all forms of communication.I sometimes feel as if I am cursed as nothing is working out.

  2. I feel this podcast is exactly what I needed, thank you very much for your work <3
    Do you mind leaving a quick list or summary of the 5 layers for reference?

      1. Hey Dr Lisa Marie Bobby I loved your podcast so inspiration. its exactly what i need I went through a really rough breakup like 5 mouths ago and I never really was able to let go of. We started off as best friends we were so close we would go to each other for everything and then we ended up liking each other and we were together for 4 months. The day that it happened and I saw the text saying “its over” I just couldn’t move, it felt like my soul left my body for a feel seconds. Then I got to that stage were I really thought I was over it and I started dating again with this really really great guy. The exact day we went on a date i had a meltdown about my ex and it just hurt cause i thought i was done with him i though I was over him. Even I still had those thought about my ex I still ended up dating the guy to see if I was able to push that aside and move on and I wasn’t it still hurt. Still today I still think about him and my brain keeps replaying all the memories and every time “our” song would come on I would still get sad and empty. He just mad me feel so happy so special. When he smiles I feel like I don’t have to worry about anything. The reason we broke up is because we got into a huge argument. I Feel like it not him that I miss its the relationship but I don’t know cause I still think about him. I was always, always with him. I hated when he left my whole mood just changed when he left the room. I was just so attached to him i never wanted to let go of him and even the thought of it made me so sad. There was something about him,I don’t know but he was just so special to me I would do anything for him. When he was in trouble I was always the first one there not him friends not him family. It just still hurts you know. I feel like there always gonna be that special spot for him in my heart, i’m always gonna care for him and look out for him or be there when hes in a rough situation. If he had something going on I would always still check up and make sure he all good.If you could wrote back I would really appreciate it.

        1. Yazmin, I’m sorry that this has been so painful for you. I’m hearing that you hooked through the gills and that, like many, you are still suffering long after the relationship ended. I would recommend that you stop dating and instead, get serious about doing the work of growth and healing that will allow you to break your attachment to your Ex and not just move on but grow from the experience.

          I would recommend enlisting the support of a good therapist who really understands the addictive nature of love and who uses evidence-based approaches to breakup recovery that help you stop the obsessive thinking and take your power back.

          If you’d like to do that work with one of the breakup recovery coaches at Growing Self, the first step would be to schedule a free consultation meeting to discuss your hopes and see if it’s a good fit. Then you can begin to do the work of releasing this attachment and getting a handle on the thoughts and feelings that are keeping you stuck in the past. Once that work is done, THEN you will be emotionally available to begin a happy, healthy new relationship with someone who loves you back.

          Gotta do that work though Yazmin. Time does NOT heal, and these thoughts and feelings are unlikely to go away on their own.

          Wishing you all the best on your journey of growth and healing,
          Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  3. I feel like I’m being tortured when my ex randomly pops up in my mind even 4 years later, thought I had closure, and just right away hearing your words, knowing someone understands, is very relieving. I hope your podcast can help me move on with my life. Thank you.

  4. This was a great podcast. I’m at a point where I know missing my ex and feeling hurt about her having moved on has nothing to do with HER. I’ve been in and out of therapy since I started highschool and I know it comes down to the fact that my self esteem is at an all time low. My self esteem has been the crutch of every relationship I’ve had since as long as i can remember. It’s always been thin, but it’s crashed now for several reasons but my ex was the camel killer. I’m trying to do things to build my self esteem, to feel better about myself, to be happy with myself because I know that’s the key for me, but am I just doomed to be haunted by her until I build my esteem back up? Cause that could take me months even years! Am I just stuck in one of middle layers even though I know what it’s really about? Also I have no real human connections anymore so how am I supposed to make new ones with this last one haunting me?

    1. Logan, thank you for reaching out. In reading your question I can’t help but think of another comment that came though on the blog recently from someone who had a persistent crush on a professor, despite her commitment to her marriage, and how to be able to move on from these persistent feelings.

      I’m linking to my response to her, (scroll down to my reply to “Anon.” Pay special attention to the part about the dangers (or at least futility) of buying in to “therapy” that involves a hyper-focus on all the things wrong with you, like low self esteem. I fear this may have happened to you, and it’s not helping you. I wonder if you too could benefit from a more active, positive, strengths-based approach that teaches you skills and strategies that support your wellness instead of your continued disempowerment?

      Also, NO: I do not agree that you “should not be alone until you feel better about yourself.” We humans are built to bond, and part of being healthy and happy is based on the quality of our connections. Relationships are the path of growth — not the destination.

      I believe you deserve more Logan, and I’m not sure you’ve been getting the guidance and support you need to move forward. Time to take action, and BE DONE with this pining / self-flagellation thing for good. xoxo, LMB

  5. Is it possible to have this kind of treatment while the person is in a new relationship, and doing this to be able to marry?

    1. Lorena, I think what you’re asking is whether it’s okay to be working through these painful feelings about an Ex if you are also, simultaneously in a serious relationship with someone new? (A relationship serious enough to be heading towards marriage?) If that is the case, I would encourage you to consider the possibility that you are not currently emotionally available for your new partner right now, and it may be in both of your long-term best interests to hit “pause” on this new relationship until you are.

      I say this because, first of all, your future husband deserves to be with someone who is crazy about him, and not secretly pining away for another guy. I mean, really. How would you feel if you were getting married to someone who couldn’t stop thinking about an ex-girlfriend? It would break your heart.

      Furthermore, if you’re not completely “in the pool” so to speak, it increases the likelihood of conflict and unhappiness in your current relationship. If you’re secretly comparing your partner (unfavorably) to another person, it’s hard to have the commitment and respect required for a happy, healthy marriage. Also, if your partner feels your ambivalence (and trust me, he might not KNOW but he will still FEEL the truth) it can lead to anxiety in the relationship that will wind up pushing you further away, over time.

      If you’re serious about having a healthy marriage with someone you love, my advice would be to get serious about doing some growth and healing work on your own first. I recommend seeking out therapy or evidence-based coaching that’s focused on helping you break the attachment to your ex for good.

      Even though it feels impossible now there can come a time when your Ex is literally not even a though in your head. Just not important. But getting there takes intentional, strategic work. Time alone will not heal, and rehashing the past won’t either. Gotta do the work!

      I believe in you Lorena! xoxo, LMB

  6. Thank you so much for your podcast. It has really shed some light on how and why I feel like I do.
    My ex and I were together for 11 years in a relationship that was never great from the start mainly due to my jealousy. I blame myself for the breakup because I was a very jealous, insecure and a paranoid partner. I would go as far as saying somewhat controlling, although I never intended to be or was aware of my behaviour being that way.
    We share two children and have to remain in contact for their benefit. During the 14 months we have been separated I have allowed my grief to completely take over, I accessed her social media accounts and found things I didn’t want to see (things she had done, guys she had been with, all whilst we were separated) and I made things really difficult for her. I acted out of anger and pain, and said and did things (foiled sexual messages between her and her friends partner) that I can’t take back. This has caused me to just push her further away. We have recently spent time together with both of our children, it was really nice and just made me feel like we were a family again. I think it just gave me hope that we could work things out, that there was still something there between us. After initially feeling like I had got through the worst of the grief having taken some time off work shortly after the relationship ended, I feel like I am back to square one following a conversation whereby I asked if there was ever a chance for us again, she has told me that there is no way back for us and she doesn’t really have any feelings anymore due to everything that has been said and done since we separated. I’m heartbroken and can’t shake the thought of her out kissing and moving on with other men. She has given me closure but even now I can’t let go. I guess I am still hoping she will change her mind and her and my children will come back to me so we can be a family again and do all the things we talked about doing as a family. The pain is so bad.
    Thank you again for your podcast, it’s helped me to understand why I feel like I do.

    1. Aaron, I’m so sorry to hear about all of this. It sounds like it’s been such a terrible, painful experience for you and I can understand why. I am glad to know that the podcast has helped you get perspective and compassion for yourself. I do hope that you continue to engage in the type of growth and healing work that will help you get closure, release the attachment, and move on emotionally. Sounds like you have a couple of kiddos there depending on you. I know that it’s hard to coparent with an Ex but I hope that your commitment to being a great dad provides you with motivation to continue working on yourself, and doing what you need to do to be healthy and well.

      You’re on your way — keep going!
      xoxo, Lisa

  7. This podcast was wonderful and hopeful. Thank you.
    My challenge has been in social media checking of an ex who ghosted me a couple years ago.
    I’ve since blocked his number and social media accounts but I still find myself occasionally combing the net for info on him. I didn’t get closure from him (dont need it) but I’m wondering why I have this obsession with checking the internet and going into a downward spiral until I’ve had enough and lick my wounds until the next time I start checking again.
    It’s a tough self destructive cycle and I’d love to be past it.

    1. I completely agree. It sounds like it’s difficult for you to control the compulsions to “check” even though you know you shouldn’t. This pattern is not something that is going to be resolved by me dropping one miraculous nugget of advice, however there is something that can help. I would recommend something called “cognitive behavioral therapy” which is a type of evidence-based therapy that focuses on helping you change your thoughts and get in control of your behaviors, so that you can feel better.

      Like any truly meaningful personal growth work, it’s going to take some new self-awareness and intentional effort to learn and incorporate these new skills. And, my hope for you is that through this effective therapy, you’ll get to a place where you feel much more in control and have good skills in place to NOT indulge the impulse to check.

      Then, when you get really good at that part, in time, your new cognitive skills will make it so that this person is just no longer a thought in your head. Then you’ll be free!

      Cognitive behavioral therapy. I hope you look into it, I think it could really help you.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  8. Thank you so much Dr. Bobby! You really know your stuff. You literally listed EVERY thought and behavior I have done since my break up. It has officially been 1 year, but I’m still ruminating. I listened to your podcast before falling asleep and I woke up the next morning feeling great. The triggers were less intense.

    I believe I am at the longing, guilt and jealousy phase. I think that putting a label on it helps me understand what’s going on and helps me move through it.

    I have been very confused by my ex coming into my life to tell me she was in a relationship with this guy that we both worked with. We broke up last year in may but finally separated in September. She called me in December because her mother died and I helped her though it. I would stay on the phone with her until she feel asleep.

    Before helping her I did ask her was she talking to the guy and she said no. Fast forward she’s been contacting me all this year and I haven’t responded back. I did not respond until after July 9th. She told me she did have a relationship with the guy but he blocked her.

    She told me he was on a trip in December that’s why he didn’t talk to her when her mom died. I didn’t feel too bad I just hated allowing her to use me to fill her loneliness. She subconsciously took advantage of me and I allowed it.

    You helped me realized my anger was with myself and I had jealousy for that relationship because she stopped having sex with me a long time ago. And she brought him in before we finally separated but had the nerve to call.

    Your pod cast really help. Your voice is super soothing please don’t stop helping you’re really good at this.

    1. Hi Liam! Thank you for listening, and I’m so glad to know that this podcast was helpful to you. It sounds like you’re doing wonderful work around self-awareness, getting perspective, releasing your attachment, and in creating a new narrative to help you understand your relationship in a new way. This is fantastic. I’m so glad to hear that these ideas are helping to support you on your journey. Sounds like you’re doing a really good job — keep going! You’re doing it!

      Wishing you all the best,
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  9. I listened to this podcast and really wished that it helped me somehow. Dr Bobby described exactly what I am going through but somehow I feel like from some fear or discomfort I do not want to accept that this is happening to me, as I have never been in such depression/state in my life. I always saw positive in negative, and never dwelled on negative too much.
    We were together with my ex for 8 years and then on/off 2 years. I have had really hard past three years, everything kind of started spiraling down since 2017 when my ex started treating me more aggressively (mentally) and on that time I did not see, that he was being like this only because his own problems and issues which he did not want to confront. So I had told him in our fights, crying, that he is really ripping my heart apart of how he is being – and he just had this satisfactory smile at him at that time. He never believed my tears, as I have my own issues of taking everything very personally and getting hurt quite easily because of my past. So on my birthday in May, I told him in the morning before work (he was unemployed all years) that maybe he could think of some place where we could go for a picnic (because it was a sunny and nice day for a long time) and go and get Falafel with us and come pick me up at work. So he did come, he also brought flowers then (I think it was second time in all relationship when he brought me flowers – and we were together then for 7 years) and we drove to very nice place at the beach. I really felt peace and calmness and nice inside to be with my partner, having this kind of bday and not party. And I enjoyed kind of silence as well, since at that time, I kind of was already getting more sad about life, but not much. And at one point he just snapped – told me that I am being boring, and I shouldn’t be forcing someone to be with me in such a boring place etc. It REALLY hurt me. And then he said he’d rather play Fallout Shelter at home (so PC games – which he was doing for all the years every day 24/7). I was so confused and hurt and no words came out of me, so we just went home, as I always was a people pleaser (I know now what to work on). He never did apologize for this.
    In the same year summer time we were in Sardignia, Italy – and we enjoyed there time with other pair – our friends. At one point I got message on my phone from my gamer friend (because I did play PC games as well) and because we got along good (he is from another part of the world) he had sent me his progress of him doing sports – so he sent me picture of his naked upper body and my bf then saw that and asked why does he send me these kind of pictures? He got really angry very fast. I explained to him that I was surprised myself that he had sent me this, because I was, but I didn’t take it as “hot” or serious and told him that I guess he just wanted to show me his progress – like friend to a friend. So he got so mad that in when it was night, he kicked me out of the bedroom, told me to sleep on sofa and also threw me with my heavy handbag which was in that room. I got so hurt and cried because I was thinking in the time – I did not do anything wrong.. or did I? I received picture from internet friend and it didn’t affect me in any ways because I loved my bf so much and the most of everyone! And adored him as well, although he treated me not very good sometimes, and then I was just so confused on the sofa – how come we are together for 7 years, I love him so much, and he doesn’t believe me at all when I am telling him the truth! Of course now I understand that he had his own issues and a low self-esteem but I NEVER gave him any doubt of him having the low self-esteem. I guess it got stuck with him since his ex, before me, cheated on him….
    Then few months later on same year, I had booked a trip for us together to neighboring country – our home country. I had free weekend and really wanted to enjoy spending time with him. We went by ship. So before going on a ship, we got in an argument at home, I don’t remember of what, because it was something really small and I didn’t think of it something big, something he took really personally again – maybe I did not laugh at one of his jokes he saw in internet or whatever. I was busy of cleaning the apartment before leaving. And so when we arrived at the ship, he told me “I regret being with you all these years” …. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I was shocked, sad, confused and everything together. Tears started to come out of my eyes a lot and he told me “Stop crying, why you are making drama here in front of everyone” … but this wasn’t me making drama, it was me hurting very deep inside. So I did not do anything on that day after to him.. I didn’t tell him if he is asshole or acting very bad or anything, because he wouldn’t listen and I was SO tired of all these pointless things. How come someone does not see or believe that other person loves him when she is next to him and doing everything and loving him for who he is?! So in the evening he apologized but I did not accept this apology in my heart and soul at all.. it did not seem real because every time he apologized he would act so agressive again. So I just let myself and my body be kind of used again, not standing up for myself. Because from early time of relationship I learned that it is pointless to stand up for myself, because I do not know nothing and am stupid (his words).
    So then after all this, I started to flirt with other guys on games, and also in same time trying to figure out what my bf future plans were – how does he see future like etc, because we rarely spoke of it, since he didn’t actually never seemed to be wanting to be with me, his mind changed more often than men change socks… in that time he told me things which no man, who loves his woman, tells.
    So after new year, I told him, you know what? You might be right that we don’t belong together, since the start of our relationship etc. And he started to cry – first time in our 8 years being together. <- for this part I still blame myself of not believing his tears, because I do believe he got hurt and let himself finally free, but I was cold then and did not let the tears affect me. How come NOW after all this time, he is allowing himself to cry in front of me?
    Then he kind of tried being the man for me but I had somehow started to loose interest in him and had someone else in mind from another country. So I told him that, honestly, because honesty is nr1 for me in relationship. And after that, he first accepted and told me hopefully other guy is nice and offers me something he couldn't and later he came visiting me many times (we lived apart for half a year) and took me snowboarding and on the mountain went on his knees and begged me not to go. <- also a part what I regret and blame myself SO MUCH now!!! because I was so blinded of what he had done to me and told me in the past, that I didn't see that he really meant being sorry and begging in front of me and so. I was crying then and told him that I have to do this and have to go and find out what it is… Basically I feel like ripping my heart and soul also in same time but also in a way enjoying that he suffered because he made me suffer so much <- I really really still am in tears when I think of all this.
    After I came back from the trip, I told him it was over between me and him. BUT again, I did not want it to be over, but his family started to call me and tell me stop torturing him and just leave him if you must or want etc. So I felt like noone is giving me time and I just again did for others to be satisfied. <- I feel big guilt of this and very deeply.
    After two weeks of being "separated" I told him to please meet me and to have a talk. Because I really felt that it was so wrong what I was doing and I love him and want to fix things with him but I would need time to heal from all this pain which he caused and which I caused for myself, so I would not want nothing sexual but just comfort for some time because I really was very fucked up (sorry for the language here) mentally. So yes, we got back together kind of, but he was not satisfied of giving me time to heal and not being sexually active as well and he told me he took advise of his friend and told me it will be "everything or nothing". So I said after giving thought of it all that ok everything, but I didn't expect him to be very suspicious, jealous, angry, that he'd spit on me, and didn't believe me that when I told him I did not have anything with this other guy…. In summer we went for a trip by car with Europe. We had our fun and nice times there, but I felt him being not at ease. Then I moved back to my home country (neighbor country) in the end of summer, because I had planned this after he had kicked me out in spring time (when I left him) from his friend's apartment (yes he told me to get out of the apartment, he did not want his friend to have me there etc). So when I moved back and started to work I felt like I am killing myself. Really killing the authentic me to be someone who I don't want to be at all, against all my worldviews etc with this company that I started to work for. So I booked us again a small cabin next to lake and inside woods in the country he is living in (I had many choices so I asked him as well which would be best one). I even borrowed money from friend for booking, because I did not get yet my first salary. So when we drove there – he asked me how much it cost and I told him that he shouldn't worry about it, but he got really angry and demanded to tell him. I already felt that it will not turn out good. And so I told him and he got angry and told me I am stupid to pay so much money for it etc.. I was kind of hurt again because really, for me, I don't care of money if I want to enjoy time with my loved one somewhere… But I did not say anything back, only that it is not at all his worry and I paid for it so he shouldn't care of it. I really dislike money talks.
    So when we were there at the cabin all was okay but then we went on small boat to go fishing on the lake, then at one point, I wanted to try the fishing as well, and the hook got stuck in my sleeve, and we tried to get it out, for 2 min or so, unsuccessfully. So he just gave up and told me that I am boring person to be with. So he paddled the boat to the shore and left me there, it took 5 minutes for me to get the hook off and I bled as well in the end. I was again so sad and just hurt of this situation. I went inside after that and saw him just sitting in his phone. I asked if he wanted to come out to the woods with me or not, I was so sad and hurt but I still wanted to spend time with him and cared for him. So all calmed down after that.
    But later in the winter time, he started to be angry with me again, telling me that I am boring, not doing anything, I can't even cartwheel since the time we were together and basically I am just pointless etc. I was really broken after getting such messages in Whatsapp for more than a week, I couldn't sleep good and work good. I understand all he wanted me to be was more courageous but he was mentally so agressive all the time as well, and I would need to write whole book of how he was with me when we started being together.
    So I again left him after new year of 2019 and told him that I think we really just don't fit because I guess you need someone else beside you and so.
    I was so hurt again after that time and because of that, I did not want to be alone, and I met someone and started to date and was even sleeping with him, after month of breakup. And I felt how wrong it is and I hurt myself even more. Really felt like ripping myself apart in all kinds of ways.
    So in spring 2019 I contacted him – he had blocked me from everywhere because he told me it will be easier for him. I contacted him to get some of my stuff and now I know that I was contacting too early because of a lot of things. But he really seemed to be more understanding and kind this time. In all the year he was keeping in touch with me and wanted to be nice to me and talk to me and I myself pushed him away because I thought I did not deserve it since I also slept with someone else in the time of when we were not together and so on. I still feel such big guilt and blame myself of being like a total bitch to him when he reached out to me in summer time and just wanted to talk to me and hear my voice. I was so suspicious and was thinking that I don't want anyone to change because of me or do something because of me but really for himself. That if he had changed then for himself. I had told him to not contact me so frequently and to leave me alone and try to be and handle your things alone and so. Now when writing this I feel like I deserve the worst in this world for being like that with him.
    So in the autumn, I finally understood, that it is all only in my head, and I should be more present and in moment and this is actually what I wanted always and all is good, I don't need to have this anger in me and all will be good if I also do work with myself – with my self-esteem, and with guilt and with everything else. So I really felt in the end of the year, and also he felt, that all is good and will be good, and in last day before all went down, I even talked about the dream I had and asked if he would agree also with it or what he thinks of it and I was reaaallly starting to feel happy and peace inside again! Only thing was that I couldn't be sexually active with him because I needed my time with it because I feel like women cannot enjoy or be sexually active when having emotionally hard times.
    So… we went to sleep, and in the morning when I woke up, he asked me – were you with someone in past 2 years? And I couldn't lie, so I told him yes I was, in the time when we weren't together. But that was it for him. And he asked me to leave the apartment. And I did not even try to fight for us because I felt like I deserve this pain and to go away and that I really did not want him to go through it, I felt guilt and blamed myself etc.
    And after that we never saw each other and only talks were only through Whatsapp – and they were quite painful – I tried , really tried to explain everything from purest heart and soul, and he just told me what he had always told me – "you women are all the same, worthless and hurting men" … So the year 2020 has been so rough – he told me all he thought of me – lot of bad things. He went to another part of the world and told me not to contact him at all, where I listened and did not take contact. And then he contacted me instead. I really should not have answered but I did and he said he is sorry and wishes me all good and we are not meant to be together etc and I told him that he first time in all 9 years treated me last year like he hadn't ever treated me before, and he is telling me these things like not meant to be together, while he was not willing to even try or listen to me.

    Anyways…I am so sorry of this long story, but I feel very guilty, in the same time very sad, I am crying almost every day still, since the start of the year, I had my nose bleeding randomly some times and seeing and hearing him doing things, he always wanted to do., without me (although I never stopped him, more like told him that he is the best, always) it all just breaks my heart so much, because I know relationship takes more to work, and if two people are together they both work together for supporting each other. And I never felt that, he wanted me to be someone else, and to be more likeable for him, but I was always okay with how he is. Nothing bothered me from his side, only that he did not do anything, but this also I believed will not stay like that always. And if it would have, I still loved him. Still do, and I always told him that I would love him in whatever and however situation. Did not receive the same answer back, since if I were a cripple, he would not be with me, was his answer some times.

    I cannot stop my mind going always there in these places and actually to everywhere my past. I have been to therapist so that I would understand myself, but it hurts me more, to see how much I have failed in life by being how I am/was and so much to change/improve.
    But the blame and guilt does not go away..

    1. Thank you for reaching out and I’m sorry to hear about this situation. Obviously and understandably this has been terribly painful for you, and I’m hearing that you feel S T U C K. I’m glad you’re looking into therapy but I fear that you’re having a common experience that happens when you’re looking for therapy with a therapist who doesn’t understand the science around toxic relationships and why they’re so difficult to recover from, and that therapy is making you feel worse about yourself instead of better. A story I hear too often, unfortunately.

      If you’d like a more positive and effective approach you might consider checking out a couple of breakup podcasts here at Growing Self as a starting point: Leaving a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity and The Stages of a Breakup. And of course, if you want ALL the info I invite you to check out my book, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love.” (Now available on Kindle too!) But please know that these resources are not “the answer.” These simply provide more information to help you understand what’s happening and why you’re having trouble getting over your breakup.

      But then, it’s time to get to work. Information and insight are helpful in providing direction, but what you’re dealing with is happening on a level that information doesn’t touch. (As you well know, I’m sure.)

      You’re not going to feel differently until you move through the stages of healing with a therapist or coach who really understands breakup recovery. If you’d like to do that work with Growing Self we have several options for you: Private breakup recovery coaching, an online breakup support group, and an on-demand online breakup recovery program.

      I hope you take advantage of these resources: They’re all here for you!

      Wishing you all the best,
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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  11. The main issue I have is how rare it is to find someone that:

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    I just don’t meet many compatible men, so when I have to walk away it is with the knowledge that the odds are against me and statistically I may never find anyone else.

    I’ve been alone for 7 years now, so that is looking more and more likely. I don’t want to spend my life alone, so I only have a few more years to find someone or I’ll call it quits.

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  13. Dr. Lisa, I want to thank you for your podcast. I only stumbled across it by chance as I was getting so desperate to move on from my break up six months ago. It was the first time anything that I was feeling made sense and I felt that excruciating anxiety starting to fade into the background just in case realising that I am not crazy, and there’s a reason I’m still ruminating about my ex. I have a lot of grief and insecurities to work through before I go into another relationship but I at last hope that I will actually move on from my last one.

  14. Dr. Lisa, I want to thank you for your podcast. I only stumbled across it by chance as I was getting so desperate to move on from my break up six months ago. It was the first time anything that I was feeling made sense and I felt that excruciating anxiety starting to fade into the background just in realising that I am not crazy, and there’s a reason I’m still ruminating about my ex. I have a lot of grief and insecurities to work through before I go into another relationship but I at last hope that I will actually move on from my last one.

  15. Kate, I’m so glad to hear that this was helpful to you. Welcome to our community! I hope that you take full advantage of all the articles and podcasts I have on the subject of breakup recovery. I know it’s so painful, but understanding why you feel the way you do is the first step in healing. I’m glad you found this, and I wish you all the best on our journey of growth and healing. — Dr. Lisa

  16. Such a helpful and encouraging podcast! Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is incredibly personable and well spoken. I will definitely be using the resources at growingself.com to help me finally get over my relationship that ended over a year ago. I’ve been frustrating myself with my own thoughts for so long but after listening to this I feel like I actually have hope 🙂

  17. I am so glad to hear that Krystopher. Thank you for sharing! I bet other people who are in the place you were a year ago reading this will feel hopeful hearing from you that it gets better. It sounds like you’ve done a ton of hard work, and that it’s paid off. Congratulations! All this growth is yours to keep from now until always. You earned it. xoxo, Lisa

  18. I feel this podcast is exactly what I needed, thank you very much for your work <3
    Do you mind leaving a quick list or summary of the 5 layers for reference?

  19. I feel like I’m being tortured when my ex randomly pops up in my mind even 4 years later, thought I had closure, and just right away hearing your words, knowing someone understands, is very relieving. I hope your podcast can help me move on with my life. Thank you.

  20. Hey Dr Lisa Marie Bobby I loved your podcast so inspiration. its exactly what i need I went through a really rough breakup like 5 mouths ago and I never really was able to let go of. We started off as best friends we were so close we would go to each other for everything and then we ended up liking each other and we were together for 4 months. The day that it happened and I saw the text saying “its over” I just couldn’t move, it felt like my soul left my body for a feel seconds. Then I got to that stage were I really thought I was over it and I started dating again with this really really great guy. The exact day we went on a date i had a meltdown about my ex and it just hurt cause i thought i was done with him i though I was over him. Even I still had those thought about my ex I still ended up dating the guy to see if I was able to push that aside and move on and I wasn’t it still hurt. Still today I still think about him and my brain keeps replaying all the memories and every time “our” song would come on I would still get sad and empty. He just mad me feel so happy so special. When he smiles I feel like I don’t have to worry about anything. The reason we broke up is because we got into a huge argument. I Feel like it not him that I miss its the relationship but I don’t know cause I still think about him. I was always, always with him. I hated when he left my whole mood just changed when he left the room. I was just so attached to him i never wanted to let go of him and even the thought of it made me so sad. There was something about him,I don’t know but he was just so special to me I would do anything for him. When he was in trouble I was always the first one there not him friends not him family. It just still hurts you know. I feel like there always gonna be that special spot for him in my heart, i’m always gonna care for him and look out for him or be there when hes in a rough situation. If he had something going on I would always still check up and make sure he all good.If you could wrote back I would really appreciate it.

  21. This was a great podcast. I’m at a point where I know missing my ex and feeling hurt about her having moved on has nothing to do with HER. I’ve been in and out of therapy since I started highschool and I know it comes down to the fact that my self esteem is at an all time low. My self esteem has been the crutch of every relationship I’ve had since as long as i can remember. It’s always been thin, but it’s crashed now for several reasons but my ex was the camel killer. I’m trying to do things to build my self esteem, to feel better about myself, to be happy with myself because I know that’s the key for me, but am I just doomed to be haunted by her until I build my esteem back up? Cause that could take me months even years! Am I just stuck in one of middle layers even though I know what it’s really about? Also I have no real human connections anymore so how am I supposed to make new ones with this last one haunting me?

  22. Is it possible to have this kind of treatment while the person is in a new relationship, and doing this to be able to marry?

  23. Lorena, I think what you’re asking is whether it’s okay to be working through these painful feelings about an Ex if you are also, simultaneously in a serious relationship with someone new? (A relationship serious enough to be heading towards marriage?) If that is the case, I would encourage you to consider the possibility that you are not currently emotionally available for your new partner right now, and it may be in both of your long-term best interests to hit “pause” on this new relationship until you are.

    I say this because, first of all, your future husband deserves to be with someone who is crazy about him, and not secretly pining away for another guy. I mean, really. How would you feel if you were getting married to someone who couldn’t stop thinking about an ex-girlfriend? It would break your heart.

    Furthermore, if you’re not completely “in the pool” so to speak, it increases the likelihood of conflict and unhappiness in your current relationship. If you’re secretly comparing your partner (unfavorably) to another person, it’s hard to have the commitment and respect required for a happy, healthy marriage. Also, if your partner feels your ambivalence (and trust me, he might not KNOW but he will still FEEL the truth) it can lead to anxiety in the relationship that will wind up pushing you further away, over time.

    If you’re serious about having a healthy marriage with someone you love, my advice would be to get serious about doing some growth and healing work on your own first. I recommend seeking out therapy or evidence-based coaching that’s focused on helping you break the attachment to your ex for good.

    Even though it feels impossible now there can come a time when your Ex is literally not even a though in your head. Just not important. But getting there takes intentional, strategic work. Time alone will not heal, and rehashing the past won’t either. Gotta do the work!

    I believe in you Lorena! xoxo, LMB

  24. Logan, thank you for reaching out. In reading your question I can’t help but think of another comment that came though on the blog recently from someone who had a persistent crush on a professor, despite her commitment to her marriage, and how to be able to move on from these persistent feelings.

    I’m linking to my response to her, (scroll down to my reply to “Anon.” Pay special attention to the part about the dangers (or at least futility) of buying in to “therapy” that involves a hyper-focus on all the things wrong with you, like low self esteem. I fear this may have happened to you, and it’s not helping you. I wonder if you too could benefit from a more active, positive, strengths-based approach that teaches you skills and strategies that support your wellness instead of your continued disempowerment?

    Also, NO: I do not agree that you “should not be alone until you feel better about yourself.” We humans are built to bond, and part of being healthy and happy is based on the quality of our connections. Relationships are the path of growth — not the destination.

    I believe you deserve more Logan, and I’m not sure you’ve been getting the guidance and support you need to move forward. Time to take action, and BE DONE with this pining / self-flagellation thing for good. xoxo, LMB

  25. Yazmin, I’m sorry that this has been so painful for you. I’m hearing that you hooked through the gills and that, like many, you are still suffering long after the relationship ended. I would recommend that you stop dating and instead, get serious about doing the work of growth and healing that will allow you to break your attachment to your Ex and not just move on but grow from the experience.

    I would recommend enlisting the support of a good therapist who really understands the addictive nature of love and who uses evidence-based approaches to breakup recovery that help you stop the obsessive thinking and take your power back.

    If you’d like to do that work with one of the breakup recovery coaches at Growing Self, the first step would be to schedule a free consultation meeting to discuss your hopes and see if it’s a good fit. Then you can begin to do the work of releasing this attachment and getting a handle on the thoughts and feelings that are keeping you stuck in the past. Once that work is done, THEN you will be emotionally available to begin a happy, healthy new relationship with someone who loves you back.

    Gotta do that work though Yazmin. Time does NOT heal, and these thoughts and feelings are unlikely to go away on their own.

    Wishing you all the best on your journey of growth and healing,
    Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  26. Thank you so much for your podcast. It has really shed some light on how and why I feel like I do.
    My ex and I were together for 11 years in a relationship that was never great from the start mainly due to my jealousy. I blame myself for the breakup because I was a very jealous, insecure and a paranoid partner. I would go as far as saying somewhat controlling, although I never intended to be or was aware of my behaviour being that way.
    We share two children and have to remain in contact for their benefit. During the 14 months we have been separated I have allowed my grief to completely take over, I accessed her social media accounts and found things I didn’t want to see (things she had done, guys she had been with, all whilst we were separated) and I made things really difficult for her. I acted out of anger and pain, and said and did things (foiled sexual messages between her and her friends partner) that I can’t take back. This has caused me to just push her further away. We have recently spent time together with both of our children, it was really nice and just made me feel like we were a family again. I think it just gave me hope that we could work things out, that there was still something there between us. After initially feeling like I had got through the worst of the grief having taken some time off work shortly after the relationship ended, I feel like I am back to square one following a conversation whereby I asked if there was ever a chance for us again, she has told me that there is no way back for us and she doesn’t really have any feelings anymore due to everything that has been said and done since we separated. I’m heartbroken and can’t shake the thought of her out kissing and moving on with other men. She has given me closure but even now I can’t let go. I guess I am still hoping she will change her mind and her and my children will come back to me so we can be a family again and do all the things we talked about doing as a family. The pain is so bad.
    Thank you again for your podcast, it’s helped me to understand why I feel like I do.

  27. Aaron, I’m so sorry to hear about all of this. It sounds like it’s been such a terrible, painful experience for you and I can understand why. I am glad to know that the podcast has helped you get perspective and compassion for yourself. I do hope that you continue to engage in the type of growth and healing work that will help you get closure, release the attachment, and move on emotionally. Sounds like you have a couple of kiddos there depending on you. I know that it’s hard to coparent with an Ex but I hope that your commitment to being a great dad provides you with motivation to continue working on yourself, and doing what you need to do to be healthy and well.

    You’re on your way — keep going!
    xoxo, Lisa

  28. This podcast was wonderful and hopeful. Thank you.
    My challenge has been in social media checking of an ex who ghosted me a couple years ago.
    I’ve since blocked his number and social media accounts but I still find myself occasionally combing the net for info on him. I didn’t get closure from him (dont need it) but I’m wondering why I have this obsession with checking the internet and going into a downward spiral until I’ve had enough and lick my wounds until the next time I start checking again.
    It’s a tough self destructive cycle and I’d love to be past it.

  29. Thank you so much Dr. Bobby! You really know your stuff. You literally listed EVERY thought and behavior I have done since my break up. It has officially been 1 year, but I’m still ruminating. I listened to your podcast before falling asleep and I woke up the next morning feeling great. The triggers were less intense.

    I believe I am at the longing, guilt and jealousy phase. I think that putting a label on it helps me understand what’s going on and helps me move through it.

    I have been very confused by my ex coming into my life to tell me she was in a relationship with this guy that we both worked with. We broke up last year in may but finally separated in September. She called me in December because her mother died and I helped her though it. I would stay on the phone with her until she feel asleep.

    Before helping her I did ask her was she talking to the guy and she said no. Fast forward she’s been contacting me all this year and I haven’t responded back. I did not respond until after July 9th. She told me she did have a relationship with the guy but he blocked her.

    She told me he was on a trip in December that’s why he didn’t talk to her when her mom died. I didn’t feel too bad I just hated allowing her to use me to fill her loneliness. She subconsciously took advantage of me and I allowed it.

    You helped me realized my anger was with myself and I had jealousy for that relationship because she stopped having sex with me a long time ago. And she brought him in before we finally separated but had the nerve to call.

    Your pod cast really help. Your voice is super soothing please don’t stop helping you’re really good at this.

  30. Hi Liam! Thank you for listening, and I’m so glad to know that this podcast was helpful to you. It sounds like you’re doing wonderful work around self-awareness, getting perspective, releasing your attachment, and in creating a new narrative to help you understand your relationship in a new way. This is fantastic. I’m so glad to hear that these ideas are helping to support you on your journey. Sounds like you’re doing a really good job — keep going! You’re doing it!

    Wishing you all the best,
    Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  31. I completely agree. It sounds like it’s difficult for you to control the compulsions to “check” even though you know you shouldn’t. This pattern is not something that is going to be resolved by me dropping one miraculous nugget of advice, however there is something that can help. I would recommend something called “cognitive behavioral therapy” which is a type of evidence-based therapy that focuses on helping you change your thoughts and get in control of your behaviors, so that you can feel better.

    Like any truly meaningful personal growth work, it’s going to take some new self-awareness and intentional effort to learn and incorporate these new skills. And, my hope for you is that through this effective therapy, you’ll get to a place where you feel much more in control and have good skills in place to NOT indulge the impulse to check.

    Then, when you get really good at that part, in time, your new cognitive skills will make it so that this person is just no longer a thought in your head. Then you’ll be free!

    Cognitive behavioral therapy. I hope you look into it, I think it could really help you.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  32. I listened to this podcast and really wished that it helped me somehow. Dr Bobby described exactly what I am going through but somehow I feel like from some fear or discomfort I do not want to accept that this is happening to me, as I have never been in such depression/state in my life. I always saw positive in negative, and never dwelled on negative too much.
    We were together with my ex for 8 years and then on/off 2 years. I have had really hard past three years, everything kind of started spiraling down since 2017 when my ex started treating me more aggressively (mentally) and on that time I did not see, that he was being like this only because his own problems and issues which he did not want to confront. So I had told him in our fights, crying, that he is really ripping my heart apart of how he is being – and he just had this satisfactory smile at him at that time. He never believed my tears, as I have my own issues of taking everything very personally and getting hurt quite easily because of my past. So on my birthday in May, I told him in the morning before work (he was unemployed all years) that maybe he could think of some place where we could go for a picnic (because it was a sunny and nice day for a long time) and go and get Falafel with us and come pick me up at work. So he did come, he also brought flowers then (I think it was second time in all relationship when he brought me flowers – and we were together then for 7 years) and we drove to very nice place at the beach. I really felt peace and calmness and nice inside to be with my partner, having this kind of bday and not party. And I enjoyed kind of silence as well, since at that time, I kind of was already getting more sad about life, but not much. And at one point he just snapped – told me that I am being boring, and I shouldn’t be forcing someone to be with me in such a boring place etc. It REALLY hurt me. And then he said he’d rather play Fallout Shelter at home (so PC games – which he was doing for all the years every day 24/7). I was so confused and hurt and no words came out of me, so we just went home, as I always was a people pleaser (I know now what to work on). He never did apologize for this.
    In the same year summer time we were in Sardignia, Italy – and we enjoyed there time with other pair – our friends. At one point I got message on my phone from my gamer friend (because I did play PC games as well) and because we got along good (he is from another part of the world) he had sent me his progress of him doing sports – so he sent me picture of his naked upper body and my bf then saw that and asked why does he send me these kind of pictures? He got really angry very fast. I explained to him that I was surprised myself that he had sent me this, because I was, but I didn’t take it as “hot” or serious and told him that I guess he just wanted to show me his progress – like friend to a friend. So he got so mad that in when it was night, he kicked me out of the bedroom, told me to sleep on sofa and also threw me with my heavy handbag which was in that room. I got so hurt and cried because I was thinking in the time – I did not do anything wrong.. or did I? I received picture from internet friend and it didn’t affect me in any ways because I loved my bf so much and the most of everyone! And adored him as well, although he treated me not very good sometimes, and then I was just so confused on the sofa – how come we are together for 7 years, I love him so much, and he doesn’t believe me at all when I am telling him the truth! Of course now I understand that he had his own issues and a low self-esteem but I NEVER gave him any doubt of him having the low self-esteem. I guess it got stuck with him since his ex, before me, cheated on him….
    Then few months later on same year, I had booked a trip for us together to neighboring country – our home country. I had free weekend and really wanted to enjoy spending time with him. We went by ship. So before going on a ship, we got in an argument at home, I don’t remember of what, because it was something really small and I didn’t think of it something big, something he took really personally again – maybe I did not laugh at one of his jokes he saw in internet or whatever. I was busy of cleaning the apartment before leaving. And so when we arrived at the ship, he told me “I regret being with you all these years” …. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I was shocked, sad, confused and everything together. Tears started to come out of my eyes a lot and he told me “Stop crying, why you are making drama here in front of everyone” … but this wasn’t me making drama, it was me hurting very deep inside. So I did not do anything on that day after to him.. I didn’t tell him if he is asshole or acting very bad or anything, because he wouldn’t listen and I was SO tired of all these pointless things. How come someone does not see or believe that other person loves him when she is next to him and doing everything and loving him for who he is?! So in the evening he apologized but I did not accept this apology in my heart and soul at all.. it did not seem real because every time he apologized he would act so agressive again. So I just let myself and my body be kind of used again, not standing up for myself. Because from early time of relationship I learned that it is pointless to stand up for myself, because I do not know nothing and am stupid (his words).
    So then after all this, I started to flirt with other guys on games, and also in same time trying to figure out what my bf future plans were – how does he see future like etc, because we rarely spoke of it, since he didn’t actually never seemed to be wanting to be with me, his mind changed more often than men change socks… in that time he told me things which no man, who loves his woman, tells.
    So after new year, I told him, you know what? You might be right that we don’t belong together, since the start of our relationship etc. And he started to cry – first time in our 8 years being together. <- for this part I still blame myself of not believing his tears, because I do believe he got hurt and let himself finally free, but I was cold then and did not let the tears affect me. How come NOW after all this time, he is allowing himself to cry in front of me?
    Then he kind of tried being the man for me but I had somehow started to loose interest in him and had someone else in mind from another country. So I told him that, honestly, because honesty is nr1 for me in relationship. And after that, he first accepted and told me hopefully other guy is nice and offers me something he couldn't and later he came visiting me many times (we lived apart for half a year) and took me snowboarding and on the mountain went on his knees and begged me not to go. <- also a part what I regret and blame myself SO MUCH now!!! because I was so blinded of what he had done to me and told me in the past, that I didn't see that he really meant being sorry and begging in front of me and so. I was crying then and told him that I have to do this and have to go and find out what it is… Basically I feel like ripping my heart and soul also in same time but also in a way enjoying that he suffered because he made me suffer so much <- I really really still am in tears when I think of all this.
    After I came back from the trip, I told him it was over between me and him. BUT again, I did not want it to be over, but his family started to call me and tell me stop torturing him and just leave him if you must or want etc. So I felt like noone is giving me time and I just again did for others to be satisfied. <- I feel big guilt of this and very deeply.
    After two weeks of being "separated" I told him to please meet me and to have a talk. Because I really felt that it was so wrong what I was doing and I love him and want to fix things with him but I would need time to heal from all this pain which he caused and which I caused for myself, so I would not want nothing sexual but just comfort for some time because I really was very fucked up (sorry for the language here) mentally. So yes, we got back together kind of, but he was not satisfied of giving me time to heal and not being sexually active as well and he told me he took advise of his friend and told me it will be "everything or nothing". So I said after giving thought of it all that ok everything, but I didn't expect him to be very suspicious, jealous, angry, that he'd spit on me, and didn't believe me that when I told him I did not have anything with this other guy…. In summer we went for a trip by car with Europe. We had our fun and nice times there, but I felt him being not at ease. Then I moved back to my home country (neighbor country) in the end of summer, because I had planned this after he had kicked me out in spring time (when I left him) from his friend's apartment (yes he told me to get out of the apartment, he did not want his friend to have me there etc). So when I moved back and started to work I felt like I am killing myself. Really killing the authentic me to be someone who I don't want to be at all, against all my worldviews etc with this company that I started to work for. So I booked us again a small cabin next to lake and inside woods in the country he is living in (I had many choices so I asked him as well which would be best one). I even borrowed money from friend for booking, because I did not get yet my first salary. So when we drove there – he asked me how much it cost and I told him that he shouldn't worry about it, but he got really angry and demanded to tell him. I already felt that it will not turn out good. And so I told him and he got angry and told me I am stupid to pay so much money for it etc.. I was kind of hurt again because really, for me, I don't care of money if I want to enjoy time with my loved one somewhere… But I did not say anything back, only that it is not at all his worry and I paid for it so he shouldn't care of it. I really dislike money talks.
    So when we were there at the cabin all was okay but then we went on small boat to go fishing on the lake, then at one point, I wanted to try the fishing as well, and the hook got stuck in my sleeve, and we tried to get it out, for 2 min or so, unsuccessfully. So he just gave up and told me that I am boring person to be with. So he paddled the boat to the shore and left me there, it took 5 minutes for me to get the hook off and I bled as well in the end. I was again so sad and just hurt of this situation. I went inside after that and saw him just sitting in his phone. I asked if he wanted to come out to the woods with me or not, I was so sad and hurt but I still wanted to spend time with him and cared for him. So all calmed down after that.
    But later in the winter time, he started to be angry with me again, telling me that I am boring, not doing anything, I can't even cartwheel since the time we were together and basically I am just pointless etc. I was really broken after getting such messages in Whatsapp for more than a week, I couldn't sleep good and work good. I understand all he wanted me to be was more courageous but he was mentally so agressive all the time as well, and I would need to write whole book of how he was with me when we started being together.
    So I again left him after new year of 2019 and told him that I think we really just don't fit because I guess you need someone else beside you and so.
    I was so hurt again after that time and because of that, I did not want to be alone, and I met someone and started to date and was even sleeping with him, after month of breakup. And I felt how wrong it is and I hurt myself even more. Really felt like ripping myself apart in all kinds of ways.
    So in spring 2019 I contacted him – he had blocked me from everywhere because he told me it will be easier for him. I contacted him to get some of my stuff and now I know that I was contacting too early because of a lot of things. But he really seemed to be more understanding and kind this time. In all the year he was keeping in touch with me and wanted to be nice to me and talk to me and I myself pushed him away because I thought I did not deserve it since I also slept with someone else in the time of when we were not together and so on. I still feel such big guilt and blame myself of being like a total bitch to him when he reached out to me in summer time and just wanted to talk to me and hear my voice. I was so suspicious and was thinking that I don't want anyone to change because of me or do something because of me but really for himself. That if he had changed then for himself. I had told him to not contact me so frequently and to leave me alone and try to be and handle your things alone and so. Now when writing this I feel like I deserve the worst in this world for being like that with him.
    So in the autumn, I finally understood, that it is all only in my head, and I should be more present and in moment and this is actually what I wanted always and all is good, I don't need to have this anger in me and all will be good if I also do work with myself – with my self-esteem, and with guilt and with everything else. So I really felt in the end of the year, and also he felt, that all is good and will be good, and in last day before all went down, I even talked about the dream I had and asked if he would agree also with it or what he thinks of it and I was reaaallly starting to feel happy and peace inside again! Only thing was that I couldn't be sexually active with him because I needed my time with it because I feel like women cannot enjoy or be sexually active when having emotionally hard times.
    So… we went to sleep, and in the morning when I woke up, he asked me – were you with someone in past 2 years? And I couldn't lie, so I told him yes I was, in the time when we weren't together. But that was it for him. And he asked me to leave the apartment. And I did not even try to fight for us because I felt like I deserve this pain and to go away and that I really did not want him to go through it, I felt guilt and blamed myself etc.
    And after that we never saw each other and only talks were only through Whatsapp – and they were quite painful – I tried , really tried to explain everything from purest heart and soul, and he just told me what he had always told me – "you women are all the same, worthless and hurting men" … So the year 2020 has been so rough – he told me all he thought of me – lot of bad things. He went to another part of the world and told me not to contact him at all, where I listened and did not take contact. And then he contacted me instead. I really should not have answered but I did and he said he is sorry and wishes me all good and we are not meant to be together etc and I told him that he first time in all 9 years treated me last year like he hadn't ever treated me before, and he is telling me these things like not meant to be together, while he was not willing to even try or listen to me.

    Anyways…I am so sorry of this long story, but I feel very guilty, in the same time very sad, I am crying almost every day still, since the start of the year, I had my nose bleeding randomly some times and seeing and hearing him doing things, he always wanted to do., without me (although I never stopped him, more like told him that he is the best, always) it all just breaks my heart so much, because I know relationship takes more to work, and if two people are together they both work together for supporting each other. And I never felt that, he wanted me to be someone else, and to be more likeable for him, but I was always okay with how he is. Nothing bothered me from his side, only that he did not do anything, but this also I believed will not stay like that always. And if it would have, I still loved him. Still do, and I always told him that I would love him in whatever and however situation. Did not receive the same answer back, since if I were a cripple, he would not be with me, was his answer some times.

    I cannot stop my mind going always there in these places and actually to everywhere my past. I have been to therapist so that I would understand myself, but it hurts me more, to see how much I have failed in life by being how I am/was and so much to change/improve.
    But the blame and guilt does not go away..

  33. I was in a serious relationship for 3 years and he broke up with me after we came back from a holiday.Then I found out he was dating a girl who was his friend and he is always posting her pictures on his social media as if he is trying to hurt me.I tried moving on but it has been difficult.I met a married guy who after a year just stopped all forms of communication.I sometimes feel as if I am cursed as nothing is working out.

  34. Thank you for reaching out and I’m sorry to hear about this situation. Obviously and understandably this has been terribly painful for you, and I’m hearing that you feel S T U C K. I’m glad you’re looking into therapy but I fear that you’re having a common experience that happens when you’re looking for therapy with a therapist who doesn’t understand the science around toxic relationships and why they’re so difficult to recover from, and that therapy is making you feel worse about yourself instead of better. A story I hear too often, unfortunately.

    If you’d like a more positive and effective approach you might consider checking out a couple of breakup podcasts here at Growing Self as a starting point: Leaving a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity and The Stages of a Breakup. And of course, if you want ALL the info I invite you to check out my book, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love.” (Now available on Kindle too!) But please know that these resources are not “the answer.” These simply provide more information to help you understand what’s happening and why you’re having trouble getting over your breakup.

    But then, it’s time to get to work. Information and insight are helpful in providing direction, but what you’re dealing with is happening on a level that information doesn’t touch. (As you well know, I’m sure.)

    You’re not going to feel differently until you move through the stages of healing with a therapist or coach who really understands breakup recovery. If you’d like to do that work with Growing Self we have several options for you: Private breakup recovery coaching, an online breakup support group, and an on-demand online breakup recovery program.

    I hope you take advantage of these resources: They’re all here for you!

    Wishing you all the best,
    Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  35. Dr. Lisa, I want to thank you for your podcast. I only stumbled across it by chance as I was getting so desperate to move on from my break up six months ago. It was the first time anything that I was feeling made sense and I felt that excruciating anxiety starting to fade into the background just in case realising that I am not crazy, and there’s a reason I’m still ruminating about my ex. I have a lot of grief and insecurities to work through before I go into another relationship but I at last hope that I will actually move on from my last one.

  36. Dr. Lisa, I want to thank you for your podcast. I only stumbled across it by chance as I was getting so desperate to move on from my break up six months ago. It was the first time anything that I was feeling made sense and I felt that excruciating anxiety starting to fade into the background just in realising that I am not crazy, and there’s a reason I’m still ruminating about my ex. I have a lot of grief and insecurities to work through before I go into another relationship but I at last hope that I will actually move on from my last one.

  37. Kate, I’m so glad to hear that this was helpful to you. Welcome to our community! I hope that you take full advantage of all the articles and podcasts I have on the subject of breakup recovery. I know it’s so painful, but understanding why you feel the way you do is the first step in healing. I’m glad you found this, and I wish you all the best on our journey of growth and healing. — Dr. Lisa

  38. I stumbled on this by accident and I’m glad I did. I am 4 years yes 4 years post divorce and still everything was going through my head daily. I was stuck. Everything you said made perfect sense and helped me understand why I am feeling like this. Finally I feel like I have some peace. I’m going to listen to your other podcasts. Thank you

  39. Hey I just listened to this podcast and I just wanted to say thank you so much it’s been a massive help. I believe I’ve already done a lot of my healing, in terms of feeling the emotions however since I also have ocd and have been still thinking about him a lot sometimes it gets too overwhelming that I break down and even the feelings come back but this has definitely given me a lot more insight on how to continue to go about it, so again thank you may God and the universe bless you!

  40. Dr.Lisa thank you so much, I stumbled on this podcast by chance because I want to put myself together as I am about to get married in a month and I am still thinking about my ex. I thought I am still in love with my ex. But the truth is I’m attached to them because I am seeking validation as you said, and because we never had an actual “break up” talk so we didn’t have a closure, I didn’t have a closure, I know my ex didn’t love me the way I loved him but I am ignoring what my heart wants, and thinking with my mind. I will go and have a closure talk with my ex before I get married because I need a clean clean page in my life.

  41. I just listened to your Podcast – very informative and full of so much great advice. I am recently divorced after almost 32 years of marriage to someone who was my high school sweetheart and really my only “love” – have never been physically intimate with anyone else. I initiated the divorce after discovering an affair with a female coworker that he continued even after I found out and we were going through counseling. This was not his first indiscretion – there was a “one night stand” almost 18 years ago, as well as online and emotional connections with other women. At 52, I am struggling to work through this – and feel stuck. It was good to hear that this is normal. I hope things improve with time and putting in the work needed to move forward.

  42. My best friend, who I care about more than anyone in the world went through a terrible breakup. About a year and a half ago. They still feel somewhat attached to them, and they hate it. They want to move into a new relationship with someone who is definitely healthy for them, but keep stopping themselves because they still think about their ex. They hate them, but they still feel some kind of attachment.

    Their ex cheated on them. Multiple times. And their ex broke up with them. They moved on immediately, looking for hookups, and after that, they’re currently in a relationship with someone else.

    My friend doesn’t want to be with him again, but she still compares herself to the girls he chooses now.

    She feels serious about marrying the person who is good for her. I think it would be beneficial for her to get into a relationship with them.

    Any advice or insight would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Sean

  43. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Listening to this this morning has helped me so much. You basically describe me and my situation perfectly. It’s such a long hard road. Not there yet. He’s moved on and I’m stuck. It’s so hard.

  44. Hello, Dr. Bobby I just listened to your podcast and it makes perfect sense. I was with my ex-wife for 25 yrs and then she found another man and cheated one me. Although she denies it and says they are just friends. She left about a year and a half ago and we have been officially divorced for about six months now. I believe I am over the initial shock. It took awhile, but I think that’s over. She wanted to be friends and I did that for about a year and a half. I guess I was thinking that if I was nice to her, she may come back. I don’t think that helped with breaking the attachment. She was always around and it felt like we were still married without the affection. We have two teenagers together and co-parent, so its hard to break it off entirely, but I’ve been doing a better job the last few months. I’ve been working on myself and I have met a good woman but I am always comparing her to my ex and still think about the past. Not so much about what’s she doing, but where it went wrong. She manipulated me, and maybe herself, into thinking that the affair was justified because of our bad marriage. If that was the case, why did she want to continue hanging out with me and the kids like nothing happened. Anyhow, your podcast really helped explain why I still think of her.

  45. I am 49 and in the same boat. Not high school sweethearts, but met at the age of a young 22. She cheated on me and it stings, real bad. Hope you are doing better. I notice this post is from about six months ago.

  46. Thank you, Dr. Lisa. This has built my confidence in overcoming my own situation. I really appreciate all the detail you went into with this. Thank you.

  47. Hello Dr. Lisa,

    I have been getting regular therapy through your services since my relationship ended in early January and it is helping me tremendously.

    My question is this.

    If two people fully move on from each other. Does this mean they will never get back together?

    When I state, fully move on, I mean they have each processed all their emotions, done all of the hard work, grown and self developed into a new better version of themselves while fostering healthy relationships with friends and family. They no longer have thoughts about each other and if they do, it’s basically someone that they used to know without any emotional connection.

    Andre

  48. Hi Dr. Lisa

    I was in a relationship for 2 years. She was my first absolute everything. I could tell that our relationship was ending but still held out hope for the possibility of a return. I tried to deny what was happening. In doing so it just caused me an entire summer or turmoil. She told me nothing would change after we broke up, yet of course everything did. She said even though we did we would only see each other. So the entire summer, I waited for her. Saved myself from getting into anything cause we were going to get back right. Only to find out that, that entire summer she has been hooking up with other people. That hurt more than anything. Because she filled me with so much hope and promise. And for her to just go and do that hurt. This experience happened just over a year ago. So I placed myself in grief counseling and have been in for about a year. Once I went to school in the fall, I dated around, was not really for me. About 9 months ago I met this beautiful girl who I got to know and be friends with and then get to a possible dating level. I thought that for a while I was okay. That the way, I would see my exes face at times would haunt me like a memory. It did not get this intense until recently. I no longer want my ex, and have no intentions on getting back together or ever really be involved again. But there are times when my mind will replace the face of the two of them. Knowing I made memories with a new girl and trying to almost combat placing my exes face in those memories. And it scares me. I am now dating this new girl and at first leading up to us dating it was great. My exes face would only pop up every once in a while. Then the consistency just continued to grow and grow. And I want to be able to keep growing with my new girlfriend, yet while continuing to finish working through all of these thoughts. Any advice would be appreciated for the comment!

  49. Hi Lisa, I listened to your podcast and is amazing.
    I recently broke up with my ex and I know was the best thing to do. I am not happy when I am around him, but the problem is
    I really like him still physically and he is totally my type
    we were best friends before dating and all my friends are his friends also
    is difficult for me to move on because since we have the same circle of friends, I get to see him every weekend when I hangout with our friends
    otherwise the alternative would be to stay close in the home
    I get jealous inside when I hear him talking in group about his new dates
    what is your recommendation to deal with his if I don’t want to give up on my friends but he is also there?
    would you recommend cultivating new friendships? do you believe in being friend with an ex?

    thank you in advance

  50. Hi, this is so incredibly difficult. Even when we know it’s time to move on, we can still have strong feelings for someone with whom we shared a strong attachment. This is why some distance and time apart is usually needed to fully get over someone, as attachment doesn’t turn off overnight. It just so happens I have an episode “Can You be Friends with Your Ex?” that might give you some insight into what’s best for you, personally, in this situation. Warmly, Dr. Lisa

  51. Hi there. First of all, congratulations on reaching out and getting support, and on working your way through breakup recovery. It’s a healing process that takes time and happens in stages, and it seems like you are making your way through those stages. Good for you! We are wired to attach and those bonds don’t break over night or all at once. The process of detangling that bond and healing can be complicated further if the attachment was a particularly powerful one, it was our first ‘big’ relationship, or the breakup was particularly hurtful (involving betrayal, or sudden or traumatic). The way you describe these intrusive thoughts you’re having now, despite not wanting to get back together with your ex, makes me wonder if you’re having guilt about moving on and finding love and attachment with someone new. Rest assured, it is completely normal, and healthy even, to make new memories. While we can’t forget the past, we can learn how to carry it with us in ways that are empowering and healing – and making new memories and having new relationship experiences is a part of that. I do hope you continue in counseling as you move forward with your journey of growth! Best, Lisa

  52. Hi Andre, I’m so glad to hear you’ve gotten support, are prioritizing your healing, and finding that work rewarding and fulfilling! That’s awesome! As for your question, of course I can’t predict the future (man, wouldn’t that be great!) and every situation is unique. I suppose we can’t truly say ‘never’ about anything. But what strikes me is that, if we’re truly ‘moved on,’ we aren’t really thinking about whether we’ll get back together. We’re focused, instead, on the life we’re creating for ourselves in the present, and the potential of the future and new, future partners. It’s important to consider, too, that there was likely a good reason the relationship ended in the first place. You might find my interview with Ana Farris, “Should You Get Back Together with Your Ex?,” or the episodes “Getting Back with an Ex” and “Why Your Breakup Was Probably a Good Thing,” good food for thought. Best to you, Dr. Lisa

  53. Thomas, I’m glad you found the episode helpful, and validating. You’re certainly not alone in still thinking of your ex, which is so understandable, especially given what you describe. I hope you are getting support as you continue to heal and work through the recovery process. In fact, you may be interested in our divorce and breakup recovery support group. All the best, Dr. Lisa

  54. Sean, they’re lucky to have you as a friend. Because we are hard-wired to attach, it can be tough and take quite some time (there’s no schedule) to get over someone, even more so if we were particularly hurt or traumatized by them or the breakup. Because of this, it’s important we practice strict boundaries with ourselves around what thoughts we practice in regard to the ex, or their new partners. My advice would be for her to add the help of a breakup recovery expert, if she hasn’t already. We also have an amazing breakup recovery support group. We offer gift cards, too, if you want to help her get support. And it just so happens, I’ve also written a book on what she’s experiencing, that she might find comforting and informative. Thank you for reaching out. Warmest regards, Dr. Lisa

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