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Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex? How to Let Go…

Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex? How to Let Go…

Breakup Recovery

Break Your Attachment To Your Ex

Have you ever found yourself saying (or thinking) “How do I stop caring about my Ex? Why am I still thinking about my Ex? 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.

But —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.

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 whey 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 want desperately 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.

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 your 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 come roaring back. 

If these feelings are strong enough, they can get in the way of your 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, 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 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

Your partner in growth,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Ps: 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. Do you have follow up questions? Get in touch through Instagram, or leave them for me in the comments below! LMB

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Can't Stop Thinking About Your Ex? How to Let Go and Move On...

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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More Breakup Recovery Advice on The Blog + Podcast

Why Friendships End

Why Friendships End

Breakup Recovery

Friends Break Up, Too…

WHY FRIENDSHIPS END • Many people get involved with therapy or life coaching here at Growing Self in order to improve all their relationships — not just their romantic partnerships or marriages. Let’s face it: Friendships can present their own unique challenges.

Many people find themselves struggling in their friendships. Perhaps they’re dealing with the end of a valued friendship, aka a “friend breakup.” Maybe they’ve gotten entangled with a friend who is becoming increasingly toxic. Others are struggling with how to set boundaries with a friend. Still others are wanting to have more and healthier friendships in their lives. Friendships are complex, and just as important to most people as their romantic relationships, yet there’s very little good advice for how to deal with issues with your friends. 

All relationships have ups and downs. All long term relationships — romantic or friendships — require energy and work to thrive and evolve as we change and grow. However, because many people genuinely do not know how to resolve issues with a friend, they simply withdraw from the friendship. While breaking up with a friend can seem like the only way to resolve a conflict, often, it’s not.

Why Friendships End

People who have been “ghosted” or broken up with by a friend — oftentimes by someone they considered a very good friend — often feel heartbroken over it. They don’t know why their friendship ended. They have sleepless nights, and feel the loss intensely. There can be a gaping hole in your life where your good friend used to be that feels hard to fill. If you’ve lost a friend, the process of healing and recovery can be very much like that of healing after a bad breakup. This is often a situation that we address in our therapy and life coaching work.

Friendships end for many reasons. Friends break up. Just like the wonderful growth work that can arise after dealing with any other bad breakup, understanding why your particular friendship ended can also be a powerful growth opportunity. It gives you the opportunity to understand yourself better, learn more about how people work, and the chance to develop healthier friendships going forward. 

How to End a Friendship

On the other side of this, there are situations where people feel compelled to end their friendships for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they feel that they need to end a toxic relationship with a friend. Other times people feel that it’s just too hard to address the issues and work on things with their friend the same way they would with a romantic partner. Other times, it just feels like they and their friend have grown apart. They want to have more distance between them and their former close friend, but don’t know how to achieve it compassionately. 

Navigating The Ups and Downs of Friendships

On this episode of the Love, Happiness  and Success Podcast, we’re talking all about friendships. Specifically, we’ll be discussing:

  • Why friendships end
  • How the dynamics of friendships are similar to and different from romantic relationships
  • How to mend a friendship that has been feeling strained
  • What to do about toxic friendships
  • How to cope if you’ve been ghosted by a friend
  • The path of healing after an unexpected friendship loss
  • How to end a friendship compassionately
  • How to change a friendship if you need different boundaries with a friend

All that and more, on this episode.

xoxo, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, LMFT, LP, BCC

 

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Why Friendships End

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Wimps, “Vampire”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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More Love, Happiness and Success Advice on the Blog

How to Let Go of Anger

How to Let Go of Anger

Breakup Recovery

Release Anger + Reclaim Yourself

 

How to Let Go of Anger

Not to long ago I was talking with one of my life coaching clients about a regrettable situation that he experienced with a family member. There was a bad argument that actually became physical, and an already strained relationship felt like it was broken beyond repair.

He was okay with that: This family member was so toxic that it was probably in the best interests of all to not attempt to mend that particular relationship, but rather focus on healthy boundaries.

In our coaching session we talked about the event itself, and we both agreed that he handled himself as well as possible under very difficult circumstances.

But, as is so often the case, even though the event itself was in the past, he still found himself having intrusive thoughts and feelings about it. Specifically, he felt angry. He felt angry at his family member for being so horrible. He felt angry that he’d been assaulted. He felt angry that this person had been so disrespectful and hurtful to other family members. He felt angry that a holiday gathering that should have been a happy time for his family had been spoiled.

His question to me, “How do I let go of anger?” was such a good one that I thought I’d share the answer(s) with you, too. Why? Because I bet that you, like so many of our life coaching and therapy clients here at Growing Self, might also be harboring some anger that it’s high time to release.

Anger: When The Past Is Emotionally In The Present

There are many different types of anger that often impact our life coaching, therapy, and couples counseling clients here at Growing Self. All are different in some way, and similar in others. All are important, and deserve attention.

Anger After Being Mistreated

Many people harbor feelings of anger after being mistreated in the past. Perhaps they were wronged by a parent, or a sibling, or a friend, or a co-worker, or in a former relationship. They have the right to their pain, and often the anger itself is entirely legitimate and justifiable: They were treated badly and have a right to be angry.

The issue arises when they are feeling angry, now, in the present moment, months or years after the event occurred. The anger attached to the past event is still very much alive inside of them and impacting the way they feel, as well as their sleep or even their physical health.

Having unresolved anger from the past can also impact your current relationships. Until you’ve worked through your anger, it’s likely that you will be triggered by situations in your current relationship and that can lead to problems. If you find yourself having feelings about things that seem out of proportion to what is actually happening, it may be helpful to do some exploration around whether you have lingering feelings of unresolved anger from past experiences.

Anger After Infidelity

It’s extremely difficult for many people to release anger after infidelity or betrayal. One of the biggest hurdles to many of our marriage counseling or couples therapy clients who are trying to repair their relationships after an affair is helping them let go of anger after infidelity or betrayal.

Feeling so angry with your partner after a betrayal is very common, but unless you’re getting support in how to work through that anger constructively, anger can also be extremely destructive to the relationship. While there is a place and time for anger, if you don’t find a way to work through it, ongoing anger after an affair can sabotage your efforts to rebuild your relationship. 

Anger After a Divorce or Breakup

Similarly, many of our breakup recovery coaching clients are dealing with massive amounts of anger after a breakup or divorce. While it is absolutely normal to be angry after a divorce or breakup, anger is also one of those emotions that can keep you stuck in the past for much longer than is healthy for you.

Many people find that working through the anger about their breakup or divorce is an essential step in their healing process.

Feeling Angry With Yourself

It’s also not uncommon for people to be carrying anger towards themselves. This is often (paradoxically) true for people who have done a lot of wonderful personal growth work and are very different people than they were years ago. As they evolve personally, they may become aware that they did things in the past that they would never do now — and they feel angry with themselves for it. Learning constructive ways to deal with feelings of regret, or forgiving yourself for behaving badly or betraying yourself in the past is often a crucial step towards ultimate growth and healing.

Why You Need to Let Go of Anger (Eventually)

If you’ve had bad things done to you, you will understandably feel angry. And sometimes, in certain circumstances, anger is actually a very healthy, helpful emotion. Anger protects you, it warns you, and it gives you the energy to defend yourself. But at some point, anger no longer serves its original purpose of protecting you.

However, unresolved anger simmers inside of you, creating a physiological stress response that over time, damages your body. Furthermore, unresolved anger leads to thoughts and emotions that constrict your ability to feel positive emotions. Worst of all, unresolved anger can trap you: Tarnishing the present moment, taking up all the space in your relationships, and coming out in ways that are destructive to you or others.

Letting Go of Anger

So on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m going to be sharing my best advice for how to let go of anger. We’ll be discussing:

  • Different types of anger
  • How holding on to anger harms you, ultimately
  • Strategies to work through anger, productively
  • Ways to maintain a more positive emotional equilibrium
  • How to find forgiveness (and still have boundaries)

I hope this podcast helps you on your path of growth and healing.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Letting Go of Anger

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: The  Golden Dawn, “Let The Sunshine In”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

How to Break Up With Someone You Love

How to Break Up With Someone You Love

Breakup Recovery

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye…

 

In my role as a therapist, life coach and breakup recovery coach here at Growing Self, I have had the honor and privilege to walk along side many people as they make agonizing decisions about whether or not to stay in a relationship. They often have deep ambivalence about the relationship: They love their person, and they acknowledge that the relationship has many good aspects, and yet they simply feel in their heart that it is not the right relationship for them.

So they stay. Sometimes, for years.

Can you relate? If so, you know how difficult it is. I bet, if you’re like most people currently in a relationship that you would like to end, you can feel pretty stuck. On the one hand, you care for your partner and don’t want to hurt them. On the other hand, you know that sooner or later, this needs to end.

But how? When? How do you breakup with someone you still love, especially if they don’t want the relationship to end?

Can You Care About Someone and Still Want to Break Up?

It’s actually very normal to care about someone, and yet want to end the relationship. In fact, having compassion for your partner as a human being is one of the things that can make a breakup so difficult.

I actually had someone write in with this exact question, asking about how he’s actually tried to break up a number of times, but his partner essentially convinces him that things can get better. He acquiesces, and things do get better for a little while, but then things go back to the way they were. He feels that they are not right for each other, but gets talked back into trying again every time he tries to break up.

This has been going on now for… ready? … Eight years.

He know it needs to end. They’re actually engaged now. He wants to break off the engagement but doesn’t know how. He doesn’t want to be the “bad guy.” He feels that he’s hurt her enough already, and doesn’t want to cause her more pain. But… he also wants to be out of the relationship.

Hear Henry’s whole question, and my response, on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. I’m addressing:

  • Why people get stuck in unhappy relationship
  • Why (and when) breaking up can be the most compassionate thing for all parties
  • How to break up with someone you care about (especially if they argue with you about it)
  • Underlying factors that can contribute to people having “commitment issues”
  • What relationship patterns need to be addressed, lest they follow you into your next relationship
  • What to discuss in couple’ counseling if you want to give it one more shot

I hope this perspective helps!

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

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How to Break Up With Someone You Care About

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Please rate and review the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex? How to Let Go…

Are you still thinking about your Ex months, or even years after the relationship ended? Breakup and divorce recovery coach Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby shares how to release the past and heal your heart so you can move on with your life, on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. Read More
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Why Friendships End

Have you lost a cherished friend? Or are you struggling with an increasingly toxic friendship? Learn why, and what to do about it, on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. Read More
why friendships end denver therapy online life coach denver therapist online relationship advice podcast coach lost friend breakup with a friend

How to Let Go of Anger

There is a time and place for healthy anger, and getting stuck in anger can keep you anchored to a painful past. Learn how to release anger and reclaim yourself, on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. Read More
Letting-Go-of-Anger-Let-Go-Of-Anger-Denver-Therapy-Online-Life-Coach-Denver-Anger-After-Infidelity-Anger-Breakup-Divorce

Should You Have Sex With Your Ex?

Should You Have Sex With Your Ex?

Breakup Recovery

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

It’s so hard to let go…

 

It would be so much easier for people if, when a relationship ended it came to a full stop and everyone got out of the car and went their separate ways. That is not what happens though. Very often, couples continue to coast along for months after the engine stops turning. Sometimes years. They hook up, hang out, and sometimes even cohabitate, all while officially broken up.

Let’s face it: Even after you break up or divorce, your Ex still feels like your person even though you know in your head the relationship is over. Everything about them is familiar, and it can be very easy to fall back into old patterns… or fall into bed.

In the aftermath of a breakup, many people continue on with their Ex in quasi-relationship “situationships.” Living with their Ex, having sex with an Ex, being hang-out buddies with an Ex, or texting back and forth with an Ex are all common.

Sex With Your Ex is Understandable

When your heart is broken, maintaining contact with your Ex — sexual or otherwise — feels like the only thing that will stop the pain, even for a moment.

Especially if you’re not the one who initiated the breakup, any time spent with your Ex is the only thing that feels normal. The rest is just a nightmare you can’t wake up from. 

Human beings are built to bond, and these attachments don’t turn on and off at the flip of a switch. When you are hoping for reunion, any sign that your Ex still cares is what you live for. If your Ex invites you over, texts you, or is okay with you still living there, it feels like hope is possible.

Sex With Your Ex is Always Destructive… To One of You

However, hanging around in extended post-relationship limbo, or having sex with your Ex is almost never a good idea. As a therapist, marriage counselor, and breakup recovery expert, I have had a ring-side seat to many, many relationships, divorces and breakup recovery situations. I’ve spoken to the broken hearted, as well as to their Exes and have learned a lot about why.

On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m sharing my perspective on:

  • Why people going through breakups often do self-destructive things in order to maintain their connection with their Ex
  • Why having sex with an Ex is always damaging (but only to one of you)
  • The power dynamics at work in every breakup
  • How your Ex really feels about hooking up with you
  • What post-breakup purgatory is really about… and what it does to your self esteem
  • The magical thinking that people going through breakups are vulnerable to
  • How to cut the cord and set yourself free

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Ps: We discussed a number of resources in this episode. Here are the links to learn more:

 

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Should You Have Sex With Your Ex?

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Moushumi, “Stay”

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Please rate and review the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Dating After Divorce

Dating After Divorce

Breakup Recovery

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC is a therapist, life coach and dating coach whose mission is to help you create authentic happiness and satisfaction in your life especially when it comes to dating after divorce. She supports you to create a deeper connection with others, as well as actualize your life’s purpose.

 

Ready to find love again?

I often hear the question, “When is someone ready to start dating after divorce?” That’s a hard question to answer, but those who are newly divorced give dating a lot more consideration than the majority of single folks out there.

Their hesitation to jump back into the dating pool makes sense; the reason being is that divorce shakes our confidence in our ability to connect. When you’ve gone through a traumatic relationship loss or breakup it can make you question your ability to trust others but also your ability to trust your decisions on choosing a partner. Dating after a divorce feels much riskier.

So, if you are lost with no idea where to even start with dating after divorce, don’t worry, you are not alone and there are ways in which you can help yourself. Here are some guidelines to help you recover and get back out there.

Tips For Dating After Divorce

  • Revise your self-talk to support your success

Confidence plays a major role in the healing process of divorce. Some relationships can be similar to an addiction to another person. Addicts don’t believe that they’ll ever be able to survive without their drug. Divorcees can sometimes feel like they’ll never be able to find love again.

This is a negative thinking pattern that can lead to more than just lack of confidence but isolation, anxiety, and depression. So be in-tune with what you are telling yourself, and try to create a more empowering narrative. Chances are a good dose of loving self-talk could help your situation. For more on how to do this, check out our Happiness Class.

  • Assess whether you are you really ready

You may not be ready to date if you’re still, in your heart of hearts, privately carrying a torch for your Ex. Like an addiction, when a relationship ends we can be ambivalent and question whether or not we’ll go back into that relationship again. Many people spend months after a breakup or divorce half hoping your partner may change their mind and realize they made a huge mistake. If that’s the case, you then are putting your healing process in their hands. Furthermore, any new relationship you attempt is likely to spin its wheels.

Take back control by committing to moving yourself forward. It may be helpful to get clarity and closure about why your breakup or divorce was a good thing. For example, recognizing that your past relationship wasn’t meeting all of your needs and working on clarity and closure for yourself. This may mean you keep distance from this person and take every precaution not to slip back into the purgatory of waiting and hoping. For many people, getting the support of a great breakup recovery coach or participating in a breakup recovery group can help them heal and grow, as opposed to wallpaper over the pain by dating prematurely.

Only then will you be genuinely emotionally available to begin a healthy new relationship with someone else.

  • Make a needs list

Many times in failed relationships we were not getting our needs met before they ended. Maybe you don’t even know what your needs are in a relationship because they have been on the back burner for so long. Take your time to write out a list of what you NEED in a relationship. This list could include, honesty, trust, quality time, etc. This list will help guide you in the dating process to be honest with you and your future partner of whether or not this relationship will work for you.

I also encourage my dating coaching clients to ask themselves, ‘What do I need to be able to come to a new relationship the way I want to?’ This way you are also looking at what you need to be able to provide in order to connect back to others in a way that isn’t compromised by manipulation or feelings of inadequacy.

  • Let go of the pressure to heal  

Depending on what the reasons were for the divorce, it could take days, or it could take years to grieve this relationship trauma. Don’t let a time frame determine your journey towards love. Feeling pressured by time or other people doesn’t help us grow into the person we want to be. I encourage divorcees who are not ready to enter back into the dating world to engage your support network and surround yourself with people you can rely on.

  • Focus on self-care

Lastly, I’d suggest making time for self-care. Surround yourself with people who support you, do things that are fun, and make sure you invest in rest, nutrition, exercise, and your healing process. When you put energy into your self and your own wellness, you’ll exude the confidence and self respect that’s so attractive to potential new partners.

Dating after divorce can feel challenging, but you have a lot of power. Remind yourself that although your mind may be trying to trick you that the rest of your life is going to be an uphill battle, it doesn’t have to be. Using some of these different approaches I’ve described, like revising your self talk, working through the past before moving forward, prioritizing your needs, honoring your own timeline, and practicing good self care can arm you with a set of tools to help you feel genuinely able to move forward, and challenge yourself to be open to finding love again.

All the best to you,

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC

Ps: If you’re ready to jump back in the pool, here are more ideas to support you in this podcast: The New Rules of Modern Dating — check it out!

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
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