ex kissing another woman in the background. woman looking the other way with her arms crossed. How to stop obsessing about your ex's new relationship.

Thinking of Your Ex with Someone Else?

Until now you’ve been handling your divorce or break-up process well. You’ve gone through the confusion of whether to stay or go and all the angst and hard decisions that come with leaving – but just been coping.

Then you found out that your Ex is sleeping with someone new.

Now, waves of rage, pain, self-doubt, and resentment are crashing over you. “Coping” has been overwhelmed by a storm of emotion. It feels like your blood has been replaced with Arctic seawater: frozen and stinging at the same time.

What’s worse? It. Is. All. You. Can. Think. About.

“Are they on the motorcycle right now? He’s probably taking her to that restaurant I always wanted to go to that he said was too expensive. Are they holding hands right now? I bet they’re kissing. Maybe they are having sex right this very second. They probably skipped the motorcycle ride and decided to spend the day in bed. We used to do that…”

In your mind’s eye, you play out scenes from your life together. Except your role is being played by someone who might be sexier, more fun, or more interesting. You see your Ex — the happy, sweet, fun one you first fell in love with — sharing the best parts of themselves (and hiding the rest).

It’s worse at night when there are no distractions. The joy and passion you envision for them are made all the crueler by the stark contrast to your own silent bed. You lay sleepless, writhing in agony at the injustice. You want to stop thinking about it but you can’t. You feel trapped in your own head.

Believe it or not, the part of your brain that sees things in your mind’s eye cannot differentiate between something that you’re thinking about and something that is actually happening. So when you’re imagining your Ex and their new sex partner making out on the couch, you react to it emotionally (and physically) like you were seeing it happen right in front of you: your heart starts racing, you feel nauseous, and you are filled with pain and rage.

Being victimized by these intrusive images is incredibly traumatizing. Ruminating does not bring any value to your healing process. Instead, it keeps you from moving forward. Trust me on this one: I’ve been working as a divorce counselor and breakup therapist for a long time, and even wrote a book all about the recovery process — Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love; if you’re interested in learning more.

I know from walking with countless broken-hearted people who are suffering the same way that you are, that time alone does NOT heal this. (Nor does forcing yourself to date again, or getting into therapy to “heal your self-esteem” or any of those things.) If you don’t take deliberate action to take control over what’s going on in your head and your heart, you can stay stuck in this place for a really long time.

In order to rescue yourself from the impotent madness of this obsession, in addition to moving through some very specific stages of healing, you must learn and practice three new cognitive skills very deliberately, every day, until you’re in the clear: Self-Awareness, Mindfulness, and Shifting.

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5 Ways to Deal with Your Ex Being with Someone Else

1. Self Awareness

Self Awareness is the ability to think about what you’re thinking about, and the fact that you are having an internal experience—not an actual experience. It sounds simple, but it’s very easy to get swept away in our thoughts without even noticing what’s happening.

The practice: As soon as you become aware that you are thinking about your Ex, say, (out loud, if necessary) “I am thinking about something that is not happening right now.”

2. Mindfulness

Recognize that your vivid thoughts are activating all these scary, painful feelings, but in reality, nothing bad is actually happening to you right now. You are sitting at a table, eating a bowl of cereal. You are breathing. Anchoring yourself to the reality of the present moment by using your senses creates a protective barrier between you and intrusive thoughts.

The practice: Look: Notice what your phone / tablet / laptop looks like right now. Notice the colors, shapes, and things you can see in the room around you.

Hear: What are you aware of hearing, right now? Yammering in a coffee shop. Music through your headphones. The hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen.

Feel: The chair under your butt. Your feet on the floor. The breath in your nostrils. The aching feeling of heartbreak in your core. Emotions are really just physical sensations. That’s why they are called feelings. Notice how your body feels, in the present moment, without judgment.

3. Thought Shifting

You’ve broken the obsession, and are in the safe space of reality. The third step to stop intrusive thoughts about your Ex is to shift your attention to something positive or pleasurable intentionally.

The practice: Shift to thinking about going to lunch with a friend this afternoon, or weekend plans. If shifting mentally is too hard you can also shift your attention to something that is happening in the present moment: watching a movie, listening to music, or petting your dog.

Shifting is important because the thoughts we habitually think about getting stronger. When you practice shifting, the intrusive thoughts about your Ex will get weaker.

4. Putting It All Together

You get stabbed in the brain with the image of your Ex having hot sex with the new person.

  1. Become aware that you are having a thought about something that isn’t happening right now.
  2. Shift your attention to physical reality: the color of the table, the taste of your tea, your heart pounding in your chest.
  3. Then, very deliberately, think about going skiing with your friend this weekend.
  4. Repeat as needed and plan on doing this many times a day at first.

Shifting your awareness or distracting yourself does not mean that you are avoiding or stuffing your feelings. “Obsessing” is not the same thing as “Processing.” It’s mentally picking at a scab that you are not allowing to heal. You have to get unstuck from the obsession phase in order for healthy new growth to occur.

5. Get Real Help

I will also add that, in my experience in working with people going through this (and in my own personal horrible breakup experience) these steps and strategies are easy to talk about, and much harder to do. Many, if not most people going through what you’re going through need support to move forward and get unstuck from this incredibly painful space.

Pro tip: Most therapists have not been introduced to the research around the biologically based reasons we get profoundly stuck on Exes and have a really hard time moving on. As such, many standard-issue therapists will attempt to “help” by getting you to talk about your family of origin, or challenging life experiences, your unusually low self-esteem, etcetera.

These therapists are so well-meaning, but really do not understand that their attempt to connect your “stuckness” to some unresolved emotional pain or psychological disorder is not just misguided and unhelpful: it makes it worse instead of better. (When you’re already feeling low, the last thing you need is a therapist making you feel like this is happening because you’re inherently disordered or broken in some way.)

This is NOT why you’re feeling the way you are. You’re feeling this way because you are a human being who, just like the rest  of us, is built to bond. These bonds are fierce and enduring and are not affected by logic or reason. To begin releasing your attachment you need to be addressing it from an evidence-based, biologically-informed attachment perspective.

This approach is a “whole enchilada.” The five cognitive skills I shared with you are just one part of a much larger set of skills and experiences that the healing process requires. It’s the system of healing I made available for you in my online Heal Your Broken Heart breakup recovery program, and the type of breakup recovery coaching that we practice here at Growing Self. 

If you are interested in doing meaningful breakup recovery counseling with one of the coaches on our team, I invite you to schedule a free consultation call to discuss your goals and how we can help you move forward.

That said, these techniques are powerful tools, and I hope that they are helpful to you. I’d like to hear your thoughts about them. If you have other practices that you’ve used successfully, please share your strategies in the comments so that others who may be hurting can benefit from your wisdom.

— Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Growing Self Counseling and Coaching

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If you’re ready to grow, we’re here to help. Connect with us, and let us know your hopes and goals. We’ll follow up with recommendations, and will help you schedule a first, free consultation.

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380 Comments

  1. I want to stop obessing about my ex. i have to see her daily in office as she sits just beside me. please help me out.

    1. Hi Mukul,
      I’m so sorry to hear of your situation. That must be extremely difficult. Being in such close proximity to an Ex makes it difficult to hear. I would encourage you to see if there are opportunities to get some physical distance from her. Second I would advise that you build healthy distractions in to your day: Planning to have lunch with other co-workers, taking frequent breaks to walk around, and if possible listening to music or podcasts while you are at your desk. Planning interesting after-work activities may help as well. Then your job is to shift your attention to the positive things you have planned, whenever intrusive thoughts about your ex come up. Good luck!

      1. Hello, I’ve been in a long distance relationship with him for the past year. Things got bad and i eventually moved on to someone in my town, someone i actually love. But when the long distance ex got a new girlfriend it is all i can think about, everything mentioned above, I can’t stop feeling betrayed because she’s getting the version of him i never had. And i feel horrible because i do love my current boyfriend, but the obsession needs to stop and I don’t know where to start. Lond distance ex wants to stay friends, said it’s okay that we’re both happy now with the people who can actually be there for us, but I’m not happy when i see her with him in photos or videos, it makes me hurt and I don’t know why…

        1. Anna. Thanks for reaching out. You know, it’s tempting to imagine that the “we can still be friends” thing is a good idea. We’re mature adults, right? Unfortunately, that is not the way we are wired. Everyone in the aftermath of a breakup is vulnerable to idealization, and when you are confronted with new information about him and his new flame, it maintains the attachment to him in an unhealthy way. Remind yourself that you broke up for a reason, and focus on your new relationship. And… (sorry, deep breath here!)… block him. It’s time to cut off contact. You can’t be friends with him. If you could be, you wouldn’t be feeling the way you do. When something hurts, it’s a good sign you should stop doing it. In this case, continued contact with him hurts. It’s keeping you stuck in painful obsessions that are preventing you from moving forward / being fully emotionally present in what sounds like a nice relationship. Cut the cord Anna! xoxo, Lisa

          1. Hi,

            Me and my ex broke up because I felt like I couldn’t be with her for many reasons around me that felt like it was too much to handle. Months passed by and she handled the pain and tried to get back with me but I pushed it away because I felt like even tho I liked her it was better to maintain some distance. Also during this time I felt like clueless and also naive about anything and everything I did. Now that she started to have a new partner I feel regret and very deep pain of her and him Together. Plz give me any advice for this I feel like I’ve been betrayed and I want to get back with her but I don’t know if this is true to an extent. Thank you

          2. Hi Roy. It sounds like you have a lot of ambivalence about this relationship: While it was happening, you felt like it wasn’t the right situation for you. But now that you feel like you’ve lost her, you’re feeling regret. Fear of loss and jealousy is not a great reason to pursue a relationship. Let’s consider the possibility that if you did get back together, you might feel just as “meh” as you did the last time? My recommendation to you is that it might be more beneficial to get involved in individual therapy or coaching to figure out what YOUR patterns are in relationships, and why you push people away. You might check out this article about attachment styles as a starting point. All the best to you, Lisa Marie Bobby

      2. I feel silly for saying this but my ex and I broke up over a year ago. A year after we broke up because of long distance he’s with someone else however him and I remained friends after the breakup which I thought would make things easier. When I saw a picture of him with someone else a few months ago I immediately started tearing up and crying. I can’t help but think, I REALLY wanted that to be me. He was such a great guy and I’ve never genuinely connected with someone like that before. Feelings of loneliness and jealousy set in and I can’t help but look at some of their social media. Shes so pretty and looks great for him and he looks happy. I started to doubt everything we had and all the good things he’s said and did for me while we were together. I do want to meet someone, and I’ve dated a couple people but haven’t found that right person yet. I’m kinda upset that he has. Any advice ?

        1. Hey DR. First of all, you’re not silly at all. You do what a lot of people do, which is to take what feels like the noble path and attempt to remain friends and stay connected on social media. I know there are many rationals for this, but you’re currently experiencing the biggest drawback of this choice: Feeling absolutely terrible when confronted with your Ex moving on.

          My advice: Cut the cord. Go cold turkey. Block, unfollow, do whatever you have to do to protect yourself from new, painful information. This will allow you to begin doing the work of grieving and healing that sounds like may have been pushed off for the last year. It’s tempting to try to avoid full-strength grief by staying connected, staying friends, etc but it never really works.

          If you need support in working through the stages of healing you might consider checking out our Heal Your Broken Heart online breakup recovery program, our Online Breakup Support group, or at the very least our breakup Facebook group. (It’s a private Facebook group so you have to request to be added via my FB page). You’re not alone, and there is a path forward. I hope that getting involved in some good, breakup-specific growth work helps you work through the grief you’re experiencing, find closure around this relationship, and design a happy new life for yourself.

          But churning in pain, anxiety and fear, and looking at photos of them online is getting in the way of that right now. Delete the app off your phone if you have to: It’s only prolonging your misery.

          1. I only dated my ex for a short time (4-5months) but we have remained good friends for the last 8-9 months. He tells me I’m his #1 priority, best friends, never wants me to be out of his life. Things are further complicated because I’m his roommate. How that came about is a long story so I’ll spare the details, but it’s a mutually financially beneficial situation and had been working pretty well until he decided to try to find a girlfriend through online dating. Of course he met someone (I was unaware) and all of a sudden he was going out and doing things we usually do together without me. He became less available, and was dropping not so subtle hints about ‘having friends’ he was hanging out with.
            An innocent glance at his phone while he was texting showed an ‘I wish you were here’ message from a woman. I asked him about it and he said that she’s someone he met, trying to help because she’s in a tough place in life etc. They’re not dating, he’s told her about me being his best friend and that she’d have to accept that if she wants to be a part of his life. Vehemently states that they are just friends which is actually tougher for me than if they were dating. I feel that now she’s partially taken my place as his friend. He tells me everything about his life with the exception of when he’s meeting up with her. I’ve told him I can handle things better if he would just let me know he’s going to hang out with her, he promised he would, but hasn’t kept that promise, and now it causes arguments because I find out and I’m incensed.
            I don’t know why I react the way I do. I do not have a romantic interest in him, so why can’t I accept that he has another ‘friend’ to hang out with. They do all the things we do…go to the same places we go. It’s like I’m being replaced in his life, part-time, but he still wants me around the rest of the time so we can do all the things we’ve always done. Of course, I always want to spend that time with him so for those times it’s business as usual.
            When I suspect he’s out with her, and I’m at home, I dwell on it and sometimes drink a few beers to try to switch my brain off. That, of course, just inflames the situation when he comes home because then I’m highly confrontational.
            What should I do? I don’t want to lose my one and only real friend.

      3. Im 35f my ex 31m is now living with two teenagers 19fs in a newly formed threesome in a studio apt sized area and they expect me to send my kid for visits there. I am murderous.

        1. Yuck! I can understand why you would feel that way. If you have any possibility that your children would be exposed to dangerous or damaging conditions while there, you may want to run that one past a family law attorney or mediatory and see if you can get some legal backing in establishing a parenting plan. Good luck!

      4. Help I’m obsessed with my ex’s happy, go lucky, new life with Gf and beautiful baby and financial success. I’m still stuck unable to get pregnant and broke. I think I’m starting to feel jealousy to there perfect relationship and I put myself down by comparing. It’s all I think about.

    2. Thank you. This has been so helpful. It has never occurred to me that I had physiological responses to thoughts just as if things were occurring in the present. Stopping to tell myself that the thoughts are not happening gives me peace. I can move on. My imagination was getting the better of me. Thank you.

        1. Thank you for this truly wonderful article. I am in my fourth month of separation after a 21 year marriage. These steps for recovery and healing are insightful and much needed right now.
          I am trying to minimize contact with my ex because it always ends painfully. We’re still unraveling all of our connections and proceeding with the divorce. But I find myself spiraling downward when we do have contact. That’s only been made worse sense he has moved on quickly and already has a girlfriend.
          One of the most painful things that I’m experiencing is my relationship with my stepson whom has been in my life since he was 16, is now a grown man married, with two small children whom know me as grandma. They want me to continue to be in their lives, live just five minutes down the road and stay in contact with me frequently. I too want this. However, every time I talk with them or go for a visit, I am feeling like I’m doing something wrong and intruding on his family My ex has had little communication with him in the past months. But, I know that eventually he will be back in their lives. I just don’t know how to navigate this.

    3. Hello, im Wesley i stared dating my ex wife when we were 16 and we got married at 22 and were married 2 years. I got addicted to drugs and did things to hurt my wife i thought i would never do. During our separation within a week or so she got on a dating app and meant someone else and in no time had sex with him. They are currently dating and its been about 3 months they been seeing each other. I did some things i regret that hurt my wife but i dont understand how she could move on so quick when we were in love for so long and i was the first guy thats been with her sexually. It breaks my heart still that she moved so quick and theres be times ive tried reaching out to her and her new boyfriend text me back hateful things when all i would tell her how much i love her and miss her

  2. Hi,
    Thank you for the article, it has helped me put things into perspective. I have two questions:
    How long will it take to stop obsessing? I broke all contact to my ex recently and the pain is excruciating.
    Second question: how should I stop intrusive memories? We’ve been together for a very long time and all I can think of are snapshots of our past – the good parts, of course. I tried to apply the methods you describe, but it’s like fighting an impossible battle. All those memories that haunt me are not my imagination, they actually happened to me!
    Thank you

    1. Hi Ana,
      I’m glad that the article helped you, and I’m so sorry for your loss. Congratulations on breaking things off completely. In my experience doing that is often the first step of healing. I would expect that your intense obsessions will continue for at least several weeks. However if you stay firm in your commitment to “stay away” they will get better. In the meantime I would suggest practicing mindfulness skills, shifting your thoughts, and also allowing yourself to grieve. You might want to check out my “How to Get Over It” podcast. All the best to you– Lisa

  3. I was with a narcissist and after 8 weeks I am still waking up depressed with the feelings of frustration , as I put my all into the relationship and was just dropped off with my things as if I had bags of shopping ,he drove away and I had no explanation of why .. He was emotionless ,cold when I was with him , but for the first few months all over me and really loving then slowly it all changed ..When I txt to ask I was just told ,I think we came together when we needed each other and I dont regret a thing ,but for me I didnt feel this that I needed someone ,so I think I was used to help them get over their previous relationship as that’s all they talked about in the beginning ..I am now left with depression that the dr wont give me tablets for and this feeling of hopelessness even when I am out with friends ,whatever I am doing …I cant afford a councillor …I think your advice is amazing thank you for article .

    1. Maureen, so sorry to hear that you got tangled up with a narcissist. Totally understandable that after everything you’ve been through you’d have an “emotional hangover.” FYI, I think you’re totally right: The way that narcissists typically operate is to find a gratifying “supply source” (aka, you) that they basically suck dry. Then, they move on. And, as you know so well, that leaves you sitting in the rubble of your life trying to figure out what the heck happened. (And as I write this it just occurred to me that I have not yet done a podcast on the subject of narcissists — it’s now on the list!)

      I’m sorry too that it’s feeling like there’s not much available help for you. As for the medication question, I can’t speak for your doctor’s decision, but I do know that there is a difference between clinical depression and situational grief. While medication can be very helpful for people who have a tendency towards biologically based depressive disorders, for many people going what you’re going through the best, healthiest way to heal is to work through the feelings. (Not necessarily the fastest thing, but at least you don’t have to deal with the side-effects of medication!)

      As for how to accomplish that: I know that private counseling and coaching can be expensive although many practitioners (even at Growing Self) do offer sliding scale rates. That might be an option to consider if you’d like to partner with a supportive guide who can walk you through this.

      If you’d prefer to explore self-help options you might also check out some of the low-cost resources I’ve developed to help people just like you navigate this sort of thing. There’s my “Exaholics” book, my Heal Your Broken Heart online breakup recovery program, and you might also consider checking out The Happiness Class. Hope those ideas help you find your way through this Maureen… LMB

    2. Hi, I started dating a guy 8.5 months ago, we were 2.5 hours apart but we really liked each other and saw each other every weekend for 3 months. Then I got a job offer and I had to move to another place almost 7 hours apart. He kept saying that we can do this and we can figure it out. I moved to the new place and he helped me with moving and I fell in love with him. but I was anxious about our relationship. we kept seeing each other for 4 more months before he breaks up with me on my birthday. before the breakup, it was his niece birthday somewhere 6 hours far from me and he asked me to go there. We stayed in his sister place and I met all his family and they all loved me. The last night we were there he kept saying that he loves me and all his family love me and told him not to f..k up this relationship! I was happy and I came back home and it was my birthday 2 weeks later, in this 2 weeks I felt like he is a little distant but still, he was going to drive up there and I was waiting for him. suddenly he texts me around noon saying something has happened at work and he wanted to facetime. I felt something is wrong and when he facetimed I was mad and told him that he is making excuses and he should come over for my birthday, we both were crying and he said he does not think that it is a good idea for him to come after 2 days of drama he broke up with me again we both were crying but he said this long distance is very difficult and stressful for him, however he promised me that he will come and see me for one more time! after 2 weeks he said he weel come on Saturday morning then at midnight he texted and said he can’t come and he does not have gas money! I said we can share it! but he still refused to come! I drove to his town he was so affectionate and said he is happy to see me and he was kissing all my tears but still did not want the relationship when I was there I realized a girl is texting her! and he said he started talking to her 1 week ago! when I came back I realized he was seeing the girl before our breakup! Now I feel horrible, I can’t get back to my normal life, I keep obsessing thinking about them together and it was so quick that I can’t handle all these things at the same time! I was expecting him to propose me on my birthday, He did not show up, broke up with me, wanted to see me and then said he got no money which was very insulting, and finally, I realized he lied to me and he was already cheating on me! I just can’t digest it and I feel worse every day specially when I saw some posts of that girl on Instagram with him in the pictures! BTW he kept texting me after the breakup and even said that he is still attracted to me and he wanted to have sex with me and he sent nudes and asked me to send him something back, but then he stopped and said this is not a good idea and bring the emotions back! I just don’t understand and I wanna throw up everything and forget about him but I can’t!

  4. I need help in moving on from my ex. We were on and off for a couple of years and I loved him very much but he looked at me as an option, which is why we never went official. He would lose feelings from time to time and the last time we were “on” he started liking another girl and distancing himself from me. I found out from his friends and he lied to my face about it. I told him I needed time and space to get over him because he could never be serious and he respected that. We haven’t talked in months and I have to see him everyday at school and I think he’s with that girl now. She sits beside me in class and I have to hear her talk about him to her friend, I feel like she does it on purpose to hurt me. The things she says about him and stories she tells her friends are very similar to memories I shared with him, and I feel like I’ve been replaced. It’s hard to stop caring for him because i spent years being in love with him. And he replaced me so easily. She hangs out with him everyday and texts him for hours and I hate that it used to be and him, but now we don’t even talk. The anxiety of going to that class now has built up to the point where I’ve been skipping the class for weeks. I really don’t know what to do. Please give me advice on dealing with this and how to just move on. It’s painful hearing her talk about him in front of me daily and knowing he likes her now. I fear I’ll become depressed over this situation, or end up trying to get him back. I just want to forget him and be happy but it never seems to work.

    1. Betty. Ugh. What you’re describing sounds so terrible. I’m inferring from your story that you’re pretty young. (High school?) I have so much empathy for what you’re going through, as I lived through something similar when I was in high school. Here’s my story. The hardest part for me was exactly what it sounds like you’re struggling with the most: the lack of power to protect yourself. If you were older, you’d have more control over your schedule, and could avoid these people. But you’re forced to be so close to them every day, and just re-traumatizes you over and over again. I’m so sorry that this is happening.

      Here’s my advice: Do everything you can to set some boundaries and invest energy in building up other parts of your life. Talk to your parents or school guidance counselor to see if you can change your class schedule. Get some new friends. Join a club or team, or take up a new hobby that has absolutely nothing to do with them. I know it’s not the same, but it’s something. Do everything you can to fill your life up with positive new things.

      AND this experience might be great motivation to buckle down, study your butt off, volunteer for an admirable cause, etc so that when it comes time to applying for college you will be the STAR APPLICANT that they all want. You can get into some amazing university, perhaps with a scholarship, and leave all those a–holes coughing in your dust.

      In the meantime, you might also consider talking to your parents or school guidance counselor about getting into some counseling. NOT that there is anything wrong with you, but having a supportive person to talk to about all these feelings might be really helpful. (Just make sure they can be supportive and patient and non-judgmental). If you’re interested you can also join our free online breakup recovery group through Facebook. Its not a therapy group or anything like that, just a place to connect with a community of people struggling with similar feelings. It’s a private, secret group and the only way to join is by messaging me on Facebook (which you are welcome to do: https://www.facebook.com/drlisabobby/). Take care of yourself Betty — in just a few years things will be totally different than it is now, and you’ll have so much more power and control over the amazing life that YOU design. xoxo, Lisa

  5. Hello! My ex of 7 months was perfect and everything was great. Within the last month or so we were fighting a lot about going out. He always wanted to, and it was never my thing. He ended it, and out of no where. He didn’t give me any time to figure out how to make it better or help. There is no way he really cared if he just dropped me like this??? He was so real and perfect and all of a sudden he changed. My therapist said he is a narcissist and used my anxiety to have power over me. I found out the day after we broke up, he started sleeping with someone else. I think he wants to be single so he’s only using her for sex. All I think of is how this isn’t the same person and I want nothing to do with him. But it’s my anxiety and my thoughts that sit and obsess and think of him and think of him having sex with her and it makes me feel so worthless and sick. I just don’t know what to do.

    1. Oh Elaine! What a hard, hard situation. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I think that you share feelings that are common to so many people in this situation, like the anxiety, and the “What the h*ll happened” thoughts that are so confusing. I am really glad that you are in a relationship with a therapist so that you have support, and a place to go to process all of this.

      Things that will help: There are a few key points that I’ve addressed in numerous breakup podcasts, my book, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love,” and my breakup recovery program, “Heal Your Broken Heart” that might be helpful to you right now. Namely, that early stage romantic love (the intense stage of love that sweeps you off your feet) is NOT the same thing as “true love” and attachment. It also takes a long time to really get to know people. What you ultimately learned about your Ex was very different than the information you had about him at the beginning, and that’s really, really confusing.

      In terms of your question, “What do I do with this?” I would recommend that you work with your therapist on how to set healthy boundaries around the obsessive thoughts themselves, as you continue to work through the grieving, meaning-making and anger-releasing aspects of your healing work. Any good therapist who practices evidence-based forms of counseling and coaching will be well-versed in strategies like mindfulness skills, cognitive behavioral strategies, and “stop and replace” techniques that are the gold-standard in managing the thoughts and anxieties that you’re describing.

      You might also consider joining our free online breakup support group on Facebook. To protect everyone’s privacy this is a “hidden” group so the only way to be included is to message me on Facebook and ask to become a member. I hope that you do — It’s a great group! Hope to see you there Elaine…. Lisa

  6. I am going through a really tough time. My boyfriend and I broke up a year ago. But since we were from the same office, same process and same floor, we still get to see each other. It was hard moving on because of that. At times we would talk and quite get far from just talking. But we never really got back together. I would cry most of the time because I see him and miss him but can’t be with him anymore. Recently I saw him with a new girl who happened to be from his team. He was flirting with her and it was so hard to bear seeing them everyday. I would cry every night dreading the fact that I get to see them the next day. The worst thing is he doesn’t care if I see him getting close to her. I couldn’t accept the fact that he moved on to a new girl It drives me crazy to think that she could be the one for him. I feel unworthy. It’s so traumatic to see him doing things for another girl that he used to do for me. I looked for another job but haven’t had luck yet. I tried to avoid them. But now I think I am developing anxiety, panics and depression. I can’t eat and sleep. And I just cry at home after work. I am so tired trying and don’t know what else to do.

    1. Kayes, I’m so sorry to hear about this difficult situation. I don’t know if hearing this makes it feel better or worse, but from my perspective you’re currently going through one of THE most challenging “perfect storms” of a bad breakup — being in a situation where you have to have contact with this person AND he’s dating someone else in your group, so you have to see that too! This is just so painful. I think that your question of “how to cope” with this situation deserves a better answer than I can provide here, and so I’m going to include it in a new upcoming breakup-questions themed podcast that will be posting soon. Look for it on or around 1/15. In the meantime please find small ways to take care of yourself, and if you can, limit your exposure to these painful / triggering situations. Also, if you do not currently have a supportive relationship with a counselor or coach I would strongly recommend that you seek one out, just to have more support during this terrible time. Also, if you’d like to, please join our free (hidden, completely private) online breakup support group via Facebook. (While you can’t join yourself because it’s hidden, you can connect with me @ http://www.facebook.com/drlisabobby to request to be added, and once we’re “friends” we can add you manually to the group). Hang in there Kayes….

  7. Hi Dr. Lisa,

    Thank you for your response. To know that my situation is one of the most challenging “perfect storms” of a bad break up helps me understand that what I am feeling is reasonable or understandable. I have been asking myself what is wrong with me because i feel like my feelings and pain haven’t diminished since we broke up. To know that my feelings are valid makes me realize that I should be a little more gentle with myself. I am really looking forward to the podcast for this. It would be of great help as I have been trying my best to be accountable for my situation and my hardest to cope and to prove myself that I am not a damsel in distress. But this is really a tough time for me. As of now I have been scheduling travels every month just so I could take a little break and have time for peace since I haven’t found a permanent escape from this situation yet. I am really excited for the podcast!! Thank you so much!!!

    1. Kayes, you bring up such a good point. SO many people beat themselves up for how terrible they feel after a bad breakup. Then they are heartbroken AND ashamed of the way they feel. I’m glad hearing that this is really, actually, objectively awful helped you feel validated in your experience. (I really needed that too, when I was going through my own personal hell). And I think it is so wonderful that you are getting out of town regularly — so smart of you to do that. I will post the link to the podcast here when it’s up. Soon! LMB

  8. Hi I need some help I’m a junior in School and Me and ex broke up, I broke it off. I’m a Christian, and you know we had some fun in my relationship. But he always tried to get me to do stuff against what I believed in. He chose his days when to treat me good, and how to treat me. He always thought he was just too tough to even call me names like baby and etc. Now I feel bad for breaking up with him, but I felt like I did what is best for me. I love him still, but not like I use to like a friendly way. Now he hates me, no text messages, no talking at school. Spreading lies about me all around the school saying I broke up with him from something he made up but the truth is he was all on my phone saying it hurts but he try to act tuff at school. I want to be friends with him no other all, I don’t us holding grudges against each other cause it’s stupid and childish. But why does it hurt. He always try to make me jealous, everytime we break up, he want to jump into a new relationship, and do stuff to make me jealous, and I always just keep my distance from him… Any advice anyone it hurts?

    1. Kayla, it sounds like you are doing a super job of setting healthy boundaries for yourself. Yes, some people don’t like it when you set limits with them, and may even try to “punish” you for it. (Particularly very immature people). I would encourage you to listen to your inner wisdom that’s telling you that you really don’t need “friends” like this in your life. I hope that you put time and energy into relationships that feel more respectful fulfilling for you, going forward. I’d also encourage you to remind yourself that it is not “stupid and childish” but rather “healthy and wise” to keep your distance from people who have shown you that they are not honorable, honest, or safe for you. You can trust yourself. You might consider connecting with your school guidance counselor for additional support in feeling confident in sticking to your guns. You’re doing a good job! LMB

  9. My story is that in 2016 I met a Lady on a night out. I had initially made plans with her cousin who i am pretty close with and turns out she was there too. Now the Lady I knew from my childhood, our parents were very close but we had lost contact over the years. We hit it off that night had alot of fun and after visiting a few pubs she hit on me and proceeded to make out with me. I did not decline i was very happy to as i found her attractive. Thing is i some how always knew that I was interested in women as well but have never had the guts to act on it. We slept together that night too. This went on for about 8 months or so. Granted she lives in a neighbouring country we couldnt see each other as often but i did make a trip up there and we were in constant contact from the day we met. We build a quite a relationship. I have opened up in ways to her that i never have before. I went to visit her over new years 2016-2017 and we rekindled physically had a great time together got to spend alot of quality time. May I add that i was her first experience with a woman. The problem started as i revealed to her a few months after seeing in her home town, that I was in love with her.

    She laughed it off and said i was mad which was our usual crazy talk but i then revealed it again after a month or two and stating that i didnt need her to feel the same i was just saying how i felt. Soon after that i got a message saying that she has been doing some thinking and she cant be what i need right now. That she loves me but is not inlove with me and we should just try to be friends. I replied to it there was no nastiness from either side and we just stopped chatting for a while. I get that i was needy and temperamental i apologised for that. I just said that all i wished was that she would have been abit more emotionally available. We didnt chat for about a month and i initiated contact. We started chatting slowly again, and after about a month or so asked if she would come down to visit as she has family here too. She agreed and spent two days with me. We did end up getting physical on both times and she left. Our relationship kind of got weird as in i didnt know where we were and didnt want to ask incase it made things even more weird. I then sent her a video she send me in the early days and captioned it ” i miss her” i teased her about her reply as there was no emotion as usual when i called her on it she says i dont do emotion. She then told me that she has met someone and is very happy. I hit the floor i was burning inside but i replied i figured as much it was inevitable and im happy for you and. She tried to message me on a neutral basis that evening but i told her i needed time its great that she found love but hearing about it is another thing. We didnt chat again for about a month and out of the blue i messaged her and turns out she as home for xmas. SHe called soon after the message and we chatted for abit. We bumped into each other that night i was with people and so was she (we are not out). During ehr stay here we went hiking with her cousin and i , to the movies just her and i last minute and i picked her up to join my friends and i to go to the new years eve party together. After a few drinks we had a bit of time to chat and she just said meeting him wasnt planned it just happened and what we did was a phase she is happy but she absolutely wants me in her life still. I told her it was hard and i needed time but i am happy that she has found happiness. We had quite a deep convo under the influence. She told me a few times that night that she loves me . I had never heard her say it before. She came home with me and had an old boyfriend with us and her cousin in the car and she was rubbing my leg and laying on my shoulder whilst i was driving turns out after we dropped everyone off that she told me she is not a jealous person but was very jealous that he was around me and didnt like it. Then she asked me if we could spend the morning together as in sleep together without doing anything as she does not cheat she just wanted me to hold her. She asked if we would share a bed with her cousin to be safe. And we did I we slept half naked and just held each other. there was a biit of play but it didnt end up serious. I went to see her before she left the country we have been in contact but not as much as when she was here.

    If i managed to start letting and already in the understanding that she isnt single why do i feel so left. I also didnt want her to cheat that why i agreed that we shouldnt be alone. I am feeling abit hurt and alone but i think its due to my sensative nature. I truly want her to be happy but why does it hurt me still. I love her and i waited so long to hear something from her but did it have to be when under the influence? I am also sooooo greatful that I messaged her when i did and that she replied at least i got to see her again and we made some really awesome memories! I am just struggling abit as to how i am going to cope with the future and progress. I love her with all my heart especially after what she shared with me about her past. SHe means so much to me. Please help me .

    I am finding myself stressing about things that havent happened yet and what ill do when she totally moves on e.g. marriage.
    I have decided that im more at peace being a friend to her and keeping intouch with her than not. And im normally ok just at times i do have a setback. I have to learn how to cope. I am learning to focus more on myself etc learn new thinkings focus on what i want build my own life but i do slip and today is one of those days,

    Thank you in advance Sarah

    1. Sarah, what a hard situation. It sounds like you got involved with someone who doesn’t share your feelings, yet who is still sending you very mixed messages that keep you hanging on. Anyone would be confused in your position. I would recommend that you take your power back, and decide that relationships that make you feel like this one does (i.e., agonized and anxious) are not good for you, and that you’re not going to participate in them any more. This article might be helpful to you: Are You Addicted to a Toxic Relationship? Good luck… LMB

  10. Thank you so much for this article. I felt like you were talking directly to me, describing exactly what I’ve been thinking and feeling. I will practice the things you suggested in your article. Also going to check out ‘Are you addicted to a toxic relationship’, because this really does feel like an addiction, and I’m in withdrawal.

      1. Hi,

        So, first off, I’d like to thank you for your amazing eye-opening post. It has definitely helped.
        My story is, one day while I was at work, I received a text from my current ex saying, “Travis, I’m sorry for acting weird all day today, but when you get home we need to talk”. (I noticed her weird body language and lack of communication earlier in the day and said something about it) We we’re together for 2 years and things were great. Then, that day I received the text, I went home and she broke up with me and said she doesn’t love me anymore. I know for a fact she’s not cheating or anything like that, but I still can’t help to wonder why she fell out of love with me. We had our arguments like every couple does, but never anything terribly serious. Like I said, things were good. We just understood each other. So, I live with her still and I’m searching for a new place to live. We broke up about 3 weeks ago and we’ve been acting like friends ever since. Not sleeping in the same bed or having any physical affection besides hugging (which I know needs to stop). We have all the benefits of dating but without any title. I’m still helping her out financially because she had an injury and I told her I would always be there to help her. I’ve always been true to my word. But now, I’m wondering if I just need to get out when I find a place. I love her so much and with all of our fun nights together, it’s hard for me to commit to the move and leaving our dog. We still laugh together and hug, but nothing more. Even when I want to kiss her, I can’t and it kills me. I respect her and I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable. I noticed that someone messaged her on Facebook and they talk to one another ever so often throughout the week and I can’t help but think to myself, “is he my replacement when I leave?” I’m just stuck in an unrealistic dream. I want her back, but I think time will only tell if we were meant to be. I’m asking you to guide me in the right path of moving on and moving out. Please get back with me because as much as I love these nights with her, I need to take care of my feelings. If you have any advice on my messed up situation, please contact me. Thank you!

        1. Travis, great question you bring up. I hear similar questions all the time from people like you who get caught in post-breakup purgatory; either living together after a breakup, or having sex after a breakup. I thought it was a question that deserved an in-depth discussion, so I answered it on an episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast: “Should You Have Sex With Your Ex?” (I certainly discuss living together after breakups too). I hope that this helps you. All the best to you, Lisa Marie Bobby

  11. I was married for 18 years to a man with incredible anger issues and who was verbally and emotionally abusive. We spent the last two and a half years of our marriage in counseling and made great progress. Just when I finally had forgiven him and felt very hopeful for our future, I found out that he had been lying and keeping from me that he had spent over $7,000 on scratch tickets in 3 months while making no financial contribution (his underemployment and taking advantage of my work ethic had been a problem for years). It was such a betrayal after all the work we had done in counseling that I knew I’d never trust him again, so I divorced him.

    That was 19 months ago. The worst of it was that I had worked so hard to trust him again and I had fallen in love with him and felt that we were stronger than ever. We stayed in contact, believing that we could still be friends in some way. For me, I moved halfway across the country when I left him and I think I just couldn’t face him not being a part of my life.

    He told me he occasionally sees a woman but that it’s not serious, just something to occupy his time. But I found out from others that he had been seeing her exclusively for 8 months! More dishonesty and the pain that he had obviously moved on much farther than I had was excrutiating.

    I finally cut off contact with him. I deleted our text message conversation (which went back many, many years). But for weeks, I would find myself miserable and unable to stop the painful, destructive obsessive thoughts about him and her. It has been very hard but now every time I have a thought about him (whether it’s about him with his girlfriend or just about him), I remind myself that allowing him into my life in any way means allowing all of his drama, dishonesty, judgment and pain into my life.

    I visualize that I have a box which has a start date of the day we met and an end date of the day I decided I have to move on and in that box is where I keep him and our marriage (the good, the bad and the ugly) and I keep that box high up on a shelf. I remind myself that to open that box gives him life and power and an opening to bring all of that pain, abuse and betrayal back into my life. It has helped me so much to remind myself that all of the bad stuff is not my problem anymore. I know that no matter how well he’s hiding all of his bad stuff from her now, eventually he will show the real him. And I never have to deal with it again.

    All of this happens very quickly. A thought about him pops into my head; I stop and remind myself that he and all his crap belongs in that box and isn’t my problem anymore; I tell myself that thinking about him does nothing but hurt me; i refuse to give him power to cause me pain; and I change my focus to what I’m going to wear that day or what I need to pick up at the store, etc.

    The best part is that every day puts me that much farther away from the pain and that much farther on my path of moving on. If we got chips for being “clean and sober” from our exaholism, I’d be approaching my 30-day chip!

    1. Susan, wow – what a roller coaster. Thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like you’re committed to ending this toxic relationship, and I’m glad for you. I’m also glad to hear that you’re using some of the techniques I suggest in this article and in my Breakup Recovery program, and that they’re working for you. Well done! I hereby grant you a “chip!” 🙂 LMB

  12. My ex broke up with me after 3 years on and off relationship. The last 6mths of which we lived togeather with her 7yrs old daughter. I found out I had an illness which resulted in our relationship becoming strained. She’d told me she never loved any man like myself. She was always very fixated on getting married (she’s divorced). She broke up with me 3mths later met someone knew and after 6 mths they are now engaged. What you recommend makes sense but it’s not working and s frustrating that I’m not moving in fast enough and these obsessive thought are interfering with my day to day life and sleep.

    1. So sorry to hear about this situation Nathan. It sounds like this has been a very traumatic loss for you, and I can understand why. Are you currently doing any kind of therapy, or personal growth work around this? I ask because, while “techniques” can helpful, many times (most of the time, actually) they’re not really enough to help you heal on a deep level. If you’re not already, I would recommend that you engage the support of a good counselor or coach with specific experience in helping people move through breakups. If you’re looking for a more affordable option than private counseling or coaching, I’d recommend my online breakup recovery program. It can walk you through the same growth experiences that we teach our private clients for how to let go, and move on. Just remember, healing is not an “event.” It’s a “process.” I know that is probably so annoying to hear, but it’s true. Without the growth work, people can stay stuck in this for a loooooonnnng time. But do the work, and you’ll move through it. All the best, LMB

  13. Hi Lisa,

    Last summer I was involved in a really complicated and intense relationship with a man that was a lot older than me. I met him when I was 18 and he was in his 30s, and despite the problems in our relationship he claimed to have loved me and to this day I’ve never been happier than when I was with him. I knew it was a bad idea from beginning to end but it was my first time being in love and I was so attached to him that I couldn’t leave even when I knew I should have. The relationship eventually ended after a few months and he immediately cut off all contact with me. The distance should have made it easier to get over him, but the aftermath of this relationship has sent me into a downward spiral of self-doubt, depression, and also obsession. This next part is hard to admit, but a few months after the breakup and still being torn up about it I managed to figure out the password to a lot of his social media and personal accounts. Since then I’ve been obsessively looking through his information and checking up on his daily life, including keeping tabs on the new girl that he seems to be dating. I know that all this information is incredibly damaging to my mental health and keeping me from moving on but I can’t seem to stop myself from doing it no matter how hard I try. Now it’s been 7 months since the break up and I still can’t seem to break free of this prison I’ve seemed to set up for myself. I haven’t seen him in months but I still think about him every day and the thought of him with this new girl makes me feel physically ill, especially when I can see the messages they send each other. I think on top of hurting over losing him a lot of this obsession is rooted in my lack of self-worth and self-esteem, as this new girl is a lot more attractive than I am as well as being older and more accomplished. I know I am only hurting myself by stalking him but this feels like an addiction I can’t kick…this may make me seem like a terrible person but if you have any insight at all that might help I would be incredibly grateful.

    1. Emily thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your story. I think that all of us going through a really terrible breakup have done things that feel out of character. It’s part of the experience to “lose it” a little when our primary attachment is disrupted. (For more on this topic I’d encourage you to check out my story, “The First Step in Recovering From a Breakup”, or the Exaholic: Breaking your addiction to an Ex love book — I think that you’ll get a lot out of the latter, in terms of understanding and self-compassion).

      While I can’t tell you what you should do, I would encourage you to make use of some of the other resources available to you on our site as you work towards liberating yourself emotionally from what sounds like a very painful situation. There are a number of episodes of the Love, Happiness and Success podcast about breakup recovery. Here’s another good one about “What to do when your Ex has moved on” that might help. I know from experience as a therapist who specializes in breakup recovery, that most people are not able to move on until they have stopped seeking out information about their Ex. While they often have a compulsion to do it in the moment, like scratching poison ivy, it invariably makes things worse and only prolongs the pain.

      Other great resources for you: I’m officially inviting you to join our private (free) breakup recovery group on Facebook. This is a “hidden” group so you can’t find it online. Please message me through my Facebook page and once we’re connected we can add you. This is a private group so your enrollment will not be seen, and your comments and posts can only be seen by other members of the group. Lastly, you might consider either my online breakup recovery program, or possibly some private breakup recovery coaching / counseling if you could use some extra support. This is such a hard, hard thing to deal with, and the key to recovery is support. I hope you make use of all the support available for you here Emily. All the best to you on your journey of growth… Lisa

  14. Hi, if you could please reply that would be a great first step.

    My ex has left me 3 weeks ago now, we have two young daughters (4 and 2)
    All the happy memories off being at the births, holiday even going to the local park and having a picnic. I just can’t stop thinking about her! It dose not help that I have to see her when I see my kids! I don’t know if we will get back together this time and the thought of another man with my ex plus around my kids is killing me!
    I love her to bits and I can’t stop thinking about her!
    What can I do as like I said “it’s driving me insane thinking about another man with my ex.

    I need to let go as soon as I know that it’s done for good but I need help. It’s a bloody addiction!
    Thank you

    1. Lee, such a terrible situation. I’m so sorry this is happening. My first piece of advice for you would be to listsen to this podcast, “How to Stop a Divorce and Save Your Marriage.” Three weeks is not that long in the big scheme of things. If I were in your shoes I would want to do everything in my power to see about mending your marriage, both for your sake and for that of your children. Have you two done any kind of couples counseling together? It may be worth trying to see a good marriage counselor together, to see if there is any opportunity for repair. On that note, many, many therapists offer marriage counseling but do not have specialized training or experience in this area. It does NOT go well, particularly when people have serious issues in their relationship. Look for a “Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist” and make sure that they specialize in couples counseling. And for the love of God, please stay away from any “relationship coach” who does not have at least a master’s degree or a doctorate in counseling. Your marriage, and your future are on the line and the last thing you need is someone who has “a lot of life experience” and a weekend seminar under their belt trying to guide you. I don’t mean to be a marriage counseling snob, but at most you have one chance to fix this, and I’d so hate for you to go to some hack who doesn’t know what they’re doing…. and then have this repair attempt fail. I’ll get off my soap-box now.

      If you find that this is absolutely not salvageable, then you can begin the work of breakup recovery. But it doesn’t sound like you’re there yet! I will keep my fingers crossed for you. Yours sincerely, Lisa

  15. Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for your advice. I really really want to stop these hurtfull thought about my ex and his new girl, me being kept out and not being good enough…
    My problem is, I have such a hard time with step 1, the self awareness. It is about saying to yourself that you are thinking about something that is not really happening in the moment. However, my mind keeps on saying: how do you know? it might actually be happening right now! It’s saturday morning and they will probably in bed together right now.
    Can you help with this?
    Thank you

    1. Stefanie, you bring up such a great point. It is much, much easier to talk (or write, for that matter) about “self awareness”or “mindfulness” than it is to practice it. There are many self help resources available to help you learn how to build mindfulness skills and get in control of your “time traveling thoughts.” You might start by checking out the first unit of the Happiness Class, “Happy Mind” in which I teach mindfulness and “metacognition”skills. (i.e. learning how to think about what you’re thinking about, and redirect your mind.) I’ve also done a number of podcasts on the subject of mindfulness (check out the list on iTunes). Here’s another new article from one of my breakup recovery colleagues, Markie K: How to Deal When Your Ex Moves On.

      But… I’m going to be totally real with you here, and give you the same advice I would if you were my younger sister: Self help might not be enough to help you get the upper hand with this. Intrusive thoughts about your Ex are fueled by the unresolved emotions and pain underneath it, and it is very, very hard to muscle them into submission on your own. “Tools” are great, but nothing can replace a supportive relationship with a good counselor or coach who knows you and cares about you, and who can also reflect back to you things that you might not even be aware that you’re doing. Great therapy and coaching always balances emotional safety with challenge to see things differently, and do things differently. We all have blindspots — things we think and do without even being aware of it. That is so, so true when it comes to breakup recovery. Ferreting out the thinking patterns and distortions that are causing you so much pain can be really hard to do with self help alone.

      If you’re not currently in a supportive relationship with a therapist who is both patient, and able to challenge you when and where you need it, I strongly suggest that you find one. Do yourself a favor and try to find a counselor or coach who really understands breakup recovery. There’s a difference…. All the best, LMB

  16. Dear Lisa,
    Thank you for this fantastic blog, your podcasts and all words – all scenarios, emotions and behaviours resonate with my so much!!!
    Over 8 months ago I broke up with my boyfriend of 7 years. Officially we broke up because it has not been good between us for months and we were both frustrated I guess. But the truth was that he left me for another women who he works with and had an affair for months. I also discovered that he cheated in the past. This has literally crushed my world, I trusted him unconditionally and had never thought that he could hurt me like this.
    I still cannot swallow this betrayal and all lies which I could clearly see only after I found out the real reason for our break up.  My self esteem is in pieces, she works as a model, is much younger than me (and him), her life and all other achievments remind me of my own passions and goals which I have never accomplished. I know this constant comparing is unhealthy…..
    What crushes me even more is that it has been over 7 months and I thought that in my own way I have been processing it and getting out of the darkness….but after listening to your podcasts I realised that I have not even moved through the first stage! Instead of this being a linear process it feels like going in circles, like it is actually getting worse. One day I feel that I have processed it all, another it hurts so much that I want to rip my heart out. I cut off all contacts with him as soon as I discovered that he had moved on before we broke up, and he has not been trying to reach out either ( which also hurts as it feels that he has happily moved on once the main baggage i.e. me was off the picture). So from us breaking up to me cuting it all off was 1 week, it all happened so fast that it took me 2 months to actually realise what had happened.
    I have been searching for information on social media in search for some closure and validation. I have been in totally self destructive mode for months and I know this but I just cannot jump over this fence, their “grass looks so much greener”…
    I blocked everything and deactivated my social media accounts only 2 days ago, as I realised that I am thinking about them literally 24/7 and this just has to end!
    I find it so difficult to forgive, especially to forgive myself, and to find out who I am now after past 7 years….
    I am wondering whether it is this lack of clousure….because I literally sent one msg and dissapeared (he wanted to clarify things, but I would not have been able to trust his words and thought these potential lies would have hurt me even more….so I did not respond).
    I have just bought your book and have been listening to your wonderful podcasts. Though I don’t wish anyone to experience all these emotions it is actually good to know that I am not alone and all these feelings and behaviours are ‘normal’ in a way.
    Thank you Lisa.

    1. Angie, thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad to hear that the podcasts and articles about breakups you’ve found here have been helpful for you as you’re going through this difficult time. I’m sorry that this is happening. You’ve done the right thing in protecting yourself from contact, but I know that it still hurts. It sounds like you’re in that ultra-painful space of loss, grief, and anger, and that this experience has done a number on your self esteem too. (Understandably). If you’ve been listening to my podcasts and reading things from me, I know that you know this already but I’m going to say it anyway: This is normal. You are having a totally normal (though terrible) reaction to losing your primary attachment. I hope that you maintain compassion for yourself as you move through this process.

      With regards to the process itself, I’m also hearing you say that you’re feeling “stuck” in the early stages. This too, is normal, believe it or not. Many (most!) people need support to move past the ultra-painful stage and into the deeper levels of healing. Without a roadmap, it’s really easy to just spin, and spin, in the same painful thoughts and feelings for a very long time. I hope that the “Breaking your addiction to an Ex love” book supports you in moving forward. I also hope that you find other ways of supporting your healing work. Healing from heartbreak doesn’t just happen: It’s an active process. You might consider checking out our “Heal Your Broken Heart” online breakup recovery program, which has various exercises to help you move through the steps of healing. You might also consider enlisting the support of a good counselor or coach who can help you work through all these feelings, and guide you through the process of healing. (Here’s more informaiton about our breakup recovery experts, if you’re interested in working with someone from Growing Self).

      At the very least, I sincerely hope that you join our free online breakup recovery support group. This is a peer-to-peer private (secret!) group on Facebook, where you can just share your feelings and experiences with other people who are going through similar things. Because this is a hidden Facebook group, we need to be connected as friends before we can add you. If you’d like to be included in the group, please get in touch with me on Facebook so that I can add you. Hope to see you in our group!

      All the best, LMB

  17. Thank you so much for all the advise however unfortunately I’m in a really bad way. My ex broke up with me last Aug after 3 1/2 years and sadly I’m still 24/7 obsessed. I thought she was the love of my life, our kids and very beings were fully intergraded. She was the first person i spoke to in the morning and the last at night until one day with no warning a phone call ending it. No closure and all existence of us on social media gone. It wasn’t another guy( although now she has one) and yes I acted desperately afterwards seeking answers but was blocked and have got none. This obsession is preventing me from being the best person/father I can and want to be. I’ve started seeing a professional but it’s yet to help. I would love and really appreciate your advice… thank you.

    1. Hi Peter, thanks for reaching out about such a terrible situation. I think I’m hearing from your story that you’re in the first stage of breakup recovery. (The first, most horrible stage where you’re just in terrible pain all the time, obsessing, can’t think about anything else, and feeling kind of out of control). First of all I want you to know that this is really normal. If it would be helpful for you to learn more about what’s going on in you physiologically and emotionally to make you feel this way, I’d encourage you to read the first couple of chapters of my book, Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love. For me, knowing what’s going on is enormously comforting, and I hope that this information provides you with the same.

      In terms of your question, “What do I do?” I hope that you took a few tips from this article, and other articles and podcasts I’ve done on the subject about using mindfulness, thought shifting, etc to help you get through the hardest parts. But truthfully Peter, the path to healing is not an “event” or something that can be changed with a few words of advice, or a technique. Rather, you have to work through the steps of healing. (And no, time alone will not heal, nor will just talking to a therapist who may not be familiar with the actual healing and recovery process). This is active work. Check out our online breakup recovery program, “Heal Your Broken Heart” to learn more about the healing process, and to get a step by step guide that will move you along this path.

      Furthermore, this space can be so isolating and many people benefit enormously from having support as they’re going through it. I hope you consider joining our free online breakup support group. (Not a therapy group, just a peer support group made up of people going through similar situations). This is a private, hidden Facebook group so you’ll need to message me on Facebook in order to be added. I hope that you do.

      All the best to you in your recovery…. LMB

  18. Hi Lisa! I’ve been with my ex off but mostly on for the past 5 years. During this time, even when we were “off”, we were still intimate on a very regular basis. Right now we’re off but he still spent the night at my house 3 nights in a row last week. The 4th day, I noticed he was acting strangely and I had been suspecting he had been seeing his daughters mother again. She and I live in the same neighborhood so I rode by her house and of course, his car was there. He tried to park it off to the side, I’m assuming thinking I might not see it. He’s told me time and time again they are just friends, not sleeping together and he would never be back with her. She’s not very well liked so he won’t even admit to his friends that he’s friends with her. Well after seeing his truck, I call her and we talk. Everything comes out at that point and she makes him leave. Not a pretty scene for any of us because he had been lying to us both. Well I have to pass her house on the way out but mine is further back so she doesn’t have to pass mine. I cut off all contact with him. Not because I wanted to but because I deserve better than to be lied to. But I’m devastated. Now to top it off, he’s spending the night at her house and I have no choice but to see it. I don’t believe he wants to be with her anymore than he wants to be with me. I truly think this choice is due to a child support hearing they have coming up. Their daughter is 13 but when his ex doesn’t get her way, she drags him back into court for more money. His own mother agrees that she feels that’s why he’s seeing her again. But that doesn’t make me hurt any less. How do I stop the pain when it’s literally in my face? In your article, you speak on Self Awareness and knowing what you’re thinking isn’t real. But in my situation, it might not be as romantic and heartfelt as what’s going through my head but it’s certainly real that they’re sleeping together. And just right down the road, right this minute. I’ve read so many self help books and articles on moving on and doing this and that but most read like they’re written by someone that’s never lived it. Some things are impossible to get out of your head when you’re hurting. I just don’t know what to do. Help me…Any advice is appreciated.

    1. Oh Sam. I’m so, so sorry you’re going through this. This is NOT in your head. In my opinion, what you are living through right now is on of the absolutely hardest things that you can deal with in a breakup — having to see your Ex with someone else. I know, I’ve lived it. (Different phase of life, but I can assure you that the pain was very real.) I am not sure that I can do your question justice in this format, but I am in the process of compiling questions for another podcast on the subject of how to cope with a breakup and I will address it at more length there. I will be sure to ping you when it’s up and running.

      BUT: My advice to you now, is 1) get as much physical distance as you possibly can. Do you HAVE to drive by her house? Or can you take another route? Anything you can do to prevent being triggered by the in-your-face-ness of it all would help. 2) This will feel much less agonizing for you if YOU decide that YOU don’t want to have anything to do with this person any more. When you’re feeling hurt, discarded and rejected, the pain is enormous. But if you can decide that this is not good enough for YOU, you can start to take your power back. 3) If you do not have a person in your corner to support you in this grief and the hard work of taking your power back (i.e., a great therapist or coach) I would strongly encourage you to get one.

      This is just too much for anyone to go through alone. We have some amazingly smart and compassionate coaches here at Growing Self and I hope that you consider scheduling a consultation with one of them. You’re also officially invited to join our free online breakup support group. (Not a therapy group or anything, just a peer support group on Facebook for people going through situations like this.) Message me on Facebook and we’ll add you.

  19. Hi. My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 years. We broke up recently for a couple of months and I slept with someone else. He also got in a relationship with someone else. His relationship ended and we decided to give us another chance. We’ve been back together for 3 months now and he’s struggling with the fact that I was intimate with somebody else. Would the above steps help him move on from this?
    Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Hi Rachel, thanks for getting in touch with your question. The situation you’re describing is a common one: When couples take “breaks” and in the interim connect with other people, and then get back together again, often there are lingering feelings of jealousy or pain that stem from the sexual or intimate encounters that partners had during the break.

      While I think that all the strategies in this article are great for helping one to manage anxiety, and redirect attention, when it comes to intrusive thoughts, these are just basic skills. I don’t know that they are truly helpful for the deeper work that often needs to be done in cases like yours, which is often centered around working through feelings and coming to terms with what has happened. (Finding forgiveness, addressing feelings of jealousy, regret, and often much more). For this kind of work, I think that couples counseling is in order. I say that because, in my experience, this can be challenging work for couples to do. Many times the feelings that get triggered when couples try to have productive conversations around these topics can wind up being so big that they shut down communication or lead to conflict rather than connection. To meet with a third party who can help you manage the feelings and have positive, productive conversations that move you forward (instead of a fight) can make all the difference in helping you heal as a couple so that you can both put this behind you.

      Also, in this case (I hope that it is okay for me to say this!) you’re describing a situation where there was a breakup, and then a reunion. I don’t know if the things that led you to break up in the first place were addressed and successfully resolved. If not, that “unfinished business” could be another factor that may be contributing to the current state of affairs. Meeting with a relationship expert to talk about the dynamics that led you to break up in the first place can also be extremely helpful, because when you both are actively working on making positive changes in your relationship it strengthens your bond and your commitment to each other. This in itself can be a very healing experience for couples, and makes it much easier to move past the past.

      So, to sum up, I think that if this relationship is important to you and you want it to endure, it would be worthwhile to get involved in effective couples counseling for both the immediate issue of lingering feelings around the things that transpired during the breakup, as well as the underlying issues that may need to be addressed for both of you to move confidently forward together long-term. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation session to meet with one of the relationship experts on our team, here’s the link: https://bit.ly/2hz5nFX

      Wishing you all the best Rachel… LMB

  20. I’m 22 & M. Three months ago, my first girlfriend of 2 1/2 years broke up with me. Although it was rough for me at that time, I was able to get through it somehow. But recently I got to know from her that she is now with another guy. The guy who was the shoulder to cry on. This made me very very uncomfortable. And she specifically told me the things he does which I didn’t do when we were together. Which could’ve saved our relationship if I did those.

    Now I’m so much hurt and there’s this pain in my chest all the time where I think about what I have done. I have made so much commitments to get/keep her and it just breaks my heart into a million pieces the fact that some other guy got her love by just hearing what I did wrong off from her and then showing her that he won’t do those. And that he should’ve not made the 1% of the effort I made to be with her. When we were together we were taking different life paths, we were at different collages and it was a big challenge for me. We met only like once a month and we were close only by texting and calling for those 2 1/2 years. But this new guy is from her same college and they get to meet everyday. So it must’ve been easier for him which makes me feel so angry inside my heart.

    Enough about her new guy, the other thing is that I don’t see me moving on anytime soon. When I was with her I took a really bad decision. I decided not to be make other female friends cause I thought it would cause drama and would ruin our relationship. I know that decision was immature but at that time I did it by my heart to keep her forever and I don’t regret it now. It’s just that now I don’t have any female friends that I talk with which makes me feel like I’m a loser compared to her.

    Now I feel very isolated, I only have my family. I do have some friends from a long time but I don’t get the chance to hang out or talk with them much as we are in different collages. What should I do by myself to feel less isolated and unloved. Ever since I heard this news I’ve been waking up every morning thinking about it. Which puts me in a very bad situation throughout the day and affects my daily life in a bad way. What should I do in order to get this pain off my chest?

    1. Hey there. First of all, I’m so sorry you’re going through such a painful situation. In my opinion, both professionally and personally, there is no worse feeling than regret. Knowing that you made a mistake that led to consequences that you can’t fix is just terrible. We’ve all lived it, but it’s awful. In order to move forward emotionally, my recommendation to you would be to cultivate a “growth mindset” meaning that you focus on the fact that you learned a great deal about yourself and relationships from this experience, and that you’re committed to not replicating the same mistakes in the future. Here’s a podcast that might support you in this: How to Cope With Disappointment. My online breakup recovery program, “Heal Your Broken Heart” also devotes a lot of time to walking you through exercises where you can 1) work towards forgiving yourself and 2) harvest the life-lessons from this experience.

      You also bring up a great point about your feelings of isolation. It’s so easy to neglect other relationships when you’re partnered, and many people feel the sting of lonliness when they lose their primary relationship. I completely agree that it would be a great idea for you to be investing time and energy in other connections right now. They don’t need to just be with women. Look for opportunities to create meaningful connections with others. Here’s a podcast to support you with that: How to Find True Friendship in a Frantic World.

      Lastly, it’s one thing to have friends for companionship, connection, and fun, but I kind of get the sense from your question that you’re looking for someone that you can talk to at length about how badly you’re feeling in order to “get the pain off your chest.” I wholeheartedly agree that would be helpful for you, but if you’re looking for friends it’s a bad idea to put “civilians” in the role of your therapist or coach! I sincerely hope that you seek support from a professional helper who can listen to you and walk you through the path of healing and recovery. If you’re in college you probably have access to a number of free counseling sessions from your college counseling center, so you might want to start there.

      I know this hurts, but it’s through these life experience that we grow and evolve (IF you use them as opportunities). Promise!

      All the best to you…

      Lisa

  21. I got broke up with a girl who really loved me but i always hurted her by flirting girls now she is committed with my friend and i am depressed i can’t eat my meals properly i keep thinking about things that i did to her the guy must be doing now.How can i get over it as soon as possible

    1. Hey Shourya, sorry to hear about this situation. Here’s my best advice for how to get over a relationship as soon as possible: The Stages of a Breakup.

      The punchline: Healing a broken heart is a very active process, and in order to heal and grow you can’t skip over any steps. This breakup podcast will give you some guidance for how to do that.

      It sounds like you have regrets about some of the things that you did in this relationship. In this case, the steps that might be the most important or meaningful for you is step 6 which is the, “What did I learn from this relationship?” part. (In addition to step 3, which is, “Releasing anger and guilt, and finding forgiveness.” — In this case, you need to forgive yourself.) I know that is painful to embrace, but when we take wisdom and guidance from our mistakes we can then go on to create a better future for ourselves. I sincerely hope that is ahead of you Shouyra.

  22. Hi Dr. Lisa thanks so much for the brilliant wisdom shared to help helpless situations.

    My question is, my girlfriend broke up with me on my birthday after ignoring for 2weeks prior to my birthday.
    She told me a lie that her father was not in support of the relationship when apparently she had found herself a new boyfriend from her office. I was so broken when I had to find out all of these things by myself. She asked for us to be friends but I refused. Cut all contacts with her and at least there are times i wake up feeling all good and seeing quite an impressive improvement but there are times that the situation is bad.

    Unfortunately for me, I had to resign from my job so that could pursue my vision and plan and I lost my investment which obviously has hypnotized me in financially and that is the time she also decided to leave.

    I have tried many times to break away from any emotional attachment with her by cutting all forms of contacts with her but my greatest challenge now has to do with our mutual friends. Sometimes they post pictures of hers on social media and I am hurting deeply. How do handle that?

    1. Oh my gosh Bernard, it sounds like you were totally blindsided with this situation not to mention betrayed in numerous ways. What a painful situation! I recently recorded a new breakup podcast, “The Stages of a Breakup: How to Heal a Broken Heart.” I hope that you find both comfort and guidance from it. If you feel like you could use more support, please check out some of our other breakup counseling resources:

      Our Online Breakup Support Group
      Our Breakup Facebook Group
      Our Heal Your Broken Heart Online Breakup Recovery Class
      And of course, we’re always here to support you through individual breakup counseling or breakup coaching.

      I know this hurts so badly right now, but I want you to know that you CAN work through this and come out the other side. I know this from personal experience, as well as having helped hundreds of people get over a breakup. The only thing that will keep you from moving forward is not doing anything, but expecting time to take it away. Recovering from a bad breakup, and the kind of relational trauma that you have experienced is an ACTIVE process. I hope that the resources you find here help you take positive action on your own behalf, so that you can take your power back, and go on to develop a positive new chapter of your life.

      Your recovery is going to have many stages and moving parts, but to address your specific question, yes one of them is going to be learning how to protect yourself from intrusive information about your Ex on social media. Consider using the “blocking” feature of any app you use, to prevent posts containing your Ex from showing up in your feed. If your platform-of-choice doesn’t contain that, you may consider taking a break or limiting your use of the ones that are most triggering for you right now. My hope for you is that when your breakup recovery process is complete, whether or not she makes an appearance in your timeline is just not really that important to you either way. Even though that might feel impossible now, it’s in your future if you do the work Bernard!

      All the best, Lisa Marie Bobby

  23. Hi Lisa,

    I have to say that I love this article. It gives so many good pointers. I was in a relationship with a man who has a small child (not even 2). While I can’t believe I let myself do this, everyone in his life knew about me including his family and friends, all except the mother of his child and I allowed that to continue. I asked him why she couldn’t know and he said he wasn’t sure what her reaction would be and he didn’t want to risk not seeing his child. Well we were not even together a year so it could be worse, but I did think he could be the love of my life. I spent lots of time with him and his daughter, and his friends off the bat. Sometimes things would throw me off, especially when he started doing more things with his ex and child together, but I didn’t want to rock the boat, mostly because he has a child and I didn’t want to be taken as misunderstanding. Also, he was entirely open about when they did things, so I felt somewhat ok about it.

    Things were great, until they weren’t. He made less and less effort, though just the minimum and deep down I had this sinking feeling it was because his ex was being nicer. She was the one who instigated the dumping and people told me they were so bad together, including my cousins which is how we met, so I didn’t dream it was possible. And he was like a puppy in love with me for awhile.

    Getting to the point, he did end up breaking up with me and wanting to work things out with his ex because he said that if they worked hard enough it could work and also learned that he had been leaning this direction for a little while. While this hurt, I understood the logic that it would be best for their daughter, especially if they were able to get along as parents. At the same time, I realized that he had started just keeping me around as a backup plan and he owned he would have gone back to her even when things were awful between them, if his ex had wanted it. I felt lied to and used, so I ended up telling his ex, mostly because I felt she should know, especially since I was around her daughter a lot and she never knew, and also because I couldn’t bear the fact of just being swept under the rug like I had never existed. Most dramatic things I have ever done!

    Through this, I found out they had gotten back together while we were still together, even if it was just 2-3 weeks before we broke up. So as if being left for another woman wasn’t enough, being cheated on on top of that has been very difficult.

    It was only 2 months ago and I have never been a person to ruminate or mope about things often. While I know that my actions lead to a huge rift in their relationship, and maybe they’re not even together at the moment, I am sure they will be. They both live somewhat close to me, even if in separate apartments, and I have not been able to stop thinking about all the anxiety I had in that relationship, especially when I felt he might get back with his ex. I then think of them being together. In after sight, I realized that this is not the type of man I want to be with, but it’s just the feeling of having been replaced by someone who more than one person said didn’t make him happy, and then the feeling of betrayal and being used. Also…the feeling that he would make passionate love to me, but perhaps be thinking of her, or had maybe even gone home to her. It’s really possibly one of the worst relationship traumas I’ve dealt with!!

    Kids make it different and no I never want to be with this man again. I think it’s just being replaced before being dumped. Ouch. Nonetheless, I have written down your pointers and am going to employ them because no matter how distracted I get, it’s like I can’t stop thinking about it, so I need something like these tips to use as kind of a system.

    I appreciate it. Best ones I’ve come across so far.

    Thank you!

    Rachel

  24. Hi Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby,

    I’m 45 years old, and seven weeks into a split from a woman I thought was ‘the one,’ in terms of our connection, (mostly) shared values and her wit, kindness and love for my two sons.
    The relationship fell apart because – in the early stages – she divulged intimate information about her past, and – though I warned her I was uncomfortable/have certain issues about this she never held the reins on letting slip little bits and pieces about her sexual past (admittedly not a high figure, but there were discrepancies and doubts and little tid-bits I really didn’t need to know). She lost her virginity at a pre-teen age, and – shortly before me – had been single for 5 years but used to used to sleep (naked, but apparently non-sexually) with men on a regular basis. It all confused the hell out of me. She seemed so together but she was so crude and over-liberal sometimes. In the end, once all this had percolated inside my head for months the strain became too much (we were together for 9 months but at least 4 of these were toxic).
    I loved her, I never hurt her (not physically anyway), but now I have huge feelings of guilt and regret. I saw a life together, a real future for her and my kids. She’s currently selling her house and moving on and occasionally mails me passive-aggressive articles about ‘learning to trust,’ or sending articles for things my youngest boy might like – all of which dig the knife in deeper as I know how close their relationship was.
    I bumped into her yesterday for the first time in weeks. She said ‘hello,’ and I made the mistake (partly a consequence of being caught off-guard but I also in that split second rationalised that me just replying ‘hello’ and her walking away would upset me more) I ignored her. I texted her later to apologise and explain, then she called me later but I didn’t pick up (I knew that all it would be was a tirade accusing me of being heartless, etc). Also, she was smiling and texting someone at the time and all I could think was that it was some guy she was contacting to share her bed later!
    I think about her all day, every day. I have bored my friends to death talking about her, I’m disregarding people in my life with real problems and losing focus at work (spend all day trawling ‘heartbreak therapy’ sites/articles).
    I’m trying to stop the patterns but they seem too intrusive. I cancelled social media contact (to her severe consternation as she says she can handle seeing what I’m up to regardless) and all reminders of her almost on the first day of the split but it hasn’t seemed to help.
    I want to go see her EVERY single day and tell her I still love her and that we can work things out, but (despite being very upset in the early stages) she now seems to have moved on (she’s a very mature/immature woman and has great strength of will).
    I’m getting very depressed. I feel I have no future anymore other than one of being shunned by women (this has long been my belief when it comes to relationships) in favour of men who are far worse. I need help. I’m trying CBT through a doctor referral but I worry my brain is too fixated to shift these patterns.
    I’ve been trawling your pages all morning and I appreciate the fact you seem to reply to every message. You seem like a genuinely caring, understanding person. I hope you reply to this.
    Regards,

    James

    1. Hi there James, thanks for sharing your story with our community here. I am glad that you’re getting support to help yourself through this difficult time. It sounds like you are still very attached to this person, despite all that has happened. I’m hearing that the work ahead of you may involve getting straight in your own mind about why this relationship wasn’t really a good fit for you, and deciding for yourself that it needs to be over. Right now it seems like you’re longing for reunion, and you will continue to be in pain until you can turn away from this and take your power back.

      I’m also hearing that your core belief about “not being good enough” may have contributed both to your anxiety while in the relationship, as well as your pain and sense of hopelessness now that it’s over. That’s a great insight. Please do continue your therapy and look for every opportunity to focus on your self esteem in particular. I bet that putting your energy into loving yourself, and feeling more confident about your worth, will help you both let go of this relationship and also cultivate a healthy new one in the future.

      If you’d like more support from Growing Self in addition to what you’re already doing, we have a couple of groups that might help you. Our online breakup support group may be very helpful to you. We also have an online personal growth group that is all about improving your confidence, strengthening your sense of self, and helping you have healthier relationships. It’s not breakup-specific, but more around general personal growth. Here’s the link if you want to check out our online personal growth group too.

      Lastly, please don’t hesitate to join our private Facebook breakup support group if you’d like some company. (Message me on FB if you’d like to be added: https://www.facebook.com/drlisabobby). We’re all here for you James!! xo, LMB

    2. Hello James,

      How are you ? I can understand your pain because I am going through a similar situation. Try to see life from a different perspective. I know it is hard but you can do it.

  25. I’m just 24 yrs old & my ex and I have been together for 4 yrs. We then had a child together, into thinking that we were going to be together forever. But then she broke up with me a year ago, & now we’re just having each other switch for our time to spend with our child. Now I saw that she was actually seeing someone after a month of us broken up, & this is a year later.
    Is it ok for me to accept that our child is around many guys she’s with even though I feel uncomfortable about it?
    I’ve loved her a lot and knowing these things just.. like you said everything just started rushing back into me again. Rage, anger, pain, etc.
    What do you think I should do in this situation?

    1. Hi Conrad. Sorry to hear about the breakup. I think that these things are so especially painful when there is a child involved. In my experience, in a divorce or breakup with kids, one of the hardest things to deal with is the fact that you no longer have control over what your Ex does with the children: They way they parent, who they allow around the kids, and whether or not they bring a new step-parent into their lives.

      It sounds like you have a lot of big feelings coming up around this since you learned of your Exes new relationship. (Totally normal, btw). I would recommend that you do some breakup-specific growth work to help you process the feelings you described, and find a way to move forward peacefully. If you’re not already, I would strongly recommend that you get involved in some breakup counseling. You can work with one of the breakup therapists / coaches at Growing Self, or find someone locally.

      If you’re interested, we also have a new online breakup support group that will walk you through the steps of healing as well as provide you with community and emotional support. Here’s the link to the online breakup support group if you want to check it out. Other resources are our free online breakup support Facebook group (ping me on Facebook to be added). We do also have our “Heal Your Broken Heart” online class that can be helpful in working through some of the feelings, etc.

      However your situation is more complex, given the need for you to develop / maintain a coparenting relationship with your Ex. For that reason it may be more helpful for you to get guidance and support as you do that because it can be really challenging.

      I wish you all the best Conrad. I hope that you keep in touch and let us know how things evolve for you. Come back to the blog in a few months and give us an update!

  26. I came across this page in an attempt to let go of my ex that I was with for 15 years. The relationship had deteriorated in the last year or so due to his mothers illness and me taking care of my mom but had never heard any complaints or issues from him with time we spent together and was hoping we would be able to work things out. In the month of July I noticed he had become very aloof but yet still was offering to help me with things such as my move and issues with my new place. I finally confronted him and he admitted he was seeing someone else. But yet said I was the best person he has ever known and he still loved me but needed to let me go. He even had the audacity to ask me to not delete him from Facebook and hoped we could remain friends. Because apparently what I need in my life is happy pictures of him and his new life. Apparently he was hanging onto our relationship until he secured another. I found out from the other woman (because he would give me no answers) that he told her we broke up eight months prior to July which was certainly not true and I let her know that. She said she would have never gotten involved with him if that was the case. And that the way he broke up with me (via text) was awful and she was shocked. I Thought I was fine and healing until I found out that even with him lying to her she stayed with him. I am again consumed with thoughts that he should not be allowed to be happy with her after betraying me. I want to move past it and enjoy my life again but feel like I just got gut punched again. I have to admit to taking a certain satisfaction in knowing she must have very little respect for herself if she would stay with him knowing he lied to her this early in the relationship. I heard from mutual friends he wiped out all trace of me on his social media as though I didn’t exist which I have to admit hurt a little too. I suspect that was her condition for staying with him. Like the 15 years meant nothing and he could just move on easily. Knowing his friends and family are happy for him bothers me as well because I have to wonder what awful things he has said about me for them to just accept he cheated and allow the new one into the fold.

    1. I am so sorry this happened to you Tracy. That is awful. Fifteen years is a long time, and I can completely understand how all of this would have been incredibly traumatizing. I am glad that you are in a place of anger (really!) because that is a healthy emotion when someone has hurt and mistreated you. I have every confidence you will continue to move forward. Sometimes, when we do private counseling or coaching around breakup recovery, we encourage our clients to have imaginary conversations with their Exes either in their sessions, or through letter writing / journaling. This can help you answer these questions for yourself, and achieve emotional closure. I would encourage you to get involved in this type of experiential personal growth work, as I believe it would help you make sense of what happened, process your anger, and find the answers that help you heal, grow, and move on. All the best to you…. Lisa

  27. My ex and I have been broken up for a year and half. however every 5-6 months we chat and the last 2 have been very emotional. we both miss each other but I think ultimately know we aren’t great for each other. aside from this whenever i see him liking other girls photos or creating these relationships in my mind that i think he may be in I get a pit in my stomach. I’m constantly checking his accounts and i’m so afraid of him moving on. I just want to stop thinking ab that bc ultimately I know we didn’t bring out the best. I wasn’t in love at the end so why do I still care so much?

    1. Meg. thanks for getting in touch with your question. I think that this is a situation where it would be helpful for you to trust your head and not your heart. I wonder if part of the reason you are feeling so badly is because you are checking on him online? I know that “checking” feels, momentarily, like it eases anxiety. But the reality is that it prolongs (and increases!) anxiety, unhealthy attachment, obsessive thoughts, and emotional distress.

      We often advise our private counseling or coaching clients dealing with this type of thing to do whatever it takes to block their exes so they don’t have intrusive information about them popping up…. or making it too easy to “spy” on them. I know it can be hard to do, but you might even consider taking a break from social media entirely — even deleting your apps if you have to. An alcoholic can’t have booze in the fridge, and an Exaholic can’t have instant access to whatever their Ex is doing in real time. Pour it down the sink kiddo!

  28. Hi Dr. Lisa. I was dated a guy for 1 year and then I said we needed to stop seeing each other, because I could tell he was getting more emotionally involved than what I felt. During that time , I went back and forth on whether I should quit it or not and finally decided it wasn’t best for me to be with him if I didn’t feel like he was my soul mate. Any way, flash forward 2 years later and I find out he has a girlfriend (although he has still been flirting with me). I am devastated. I have had panic attacks, I have went by his desk multiple times everyday (he works in my building), I look for his car in the parking lot and I have sent text to him that I really don’t want to send, but I can’t help it. I feel like my husband got away. During the 2 years we were apart I missed him, but I never felt like dying. I was in so much pain, yesterday, I slept with an ex (from 5 years ago) thinking that would help me stop obsessing….Well, that was a bad idea because now I feel like I am slightly obsessing over him too….even though I don’t want to be with him. DO you think I have a mental illness? I have never experience obsessive behavior before.

    1. Hey Lisa,

      You bring up such an excellent question. I’ve addressed aspects of this “why do I feel like I’m going insane?” question on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast before, but it’s probably time to do an episode all about this. Stay tuned for that. However, for now, I will share that any time an attachment bond is threatened, it triggers very primal “monkey mind” reactions in us that are related to survival drives. Obsessive thinking, craving, and bids for contact ensue.

      My guess is that when you felt in control of the situation (i.e. you were the one doing the rejecting) and he was still flirting with you, he still felt “there.” Now that he’s moved on… he’s not there any more, and this primal panic is rising up. This obsessive thinking is not necessarily a mental illness, (a “bug” if you will), but rather a feature of the human attachment and loss experience.

      Now, I will say that if this type of obsessive thinking is very familiar to you and happens in different areas of your life, you should definitely talk to someone about that. In the meantime I would suggest that it may be helpful for you to do some growth work around either releasing this attachment, or figuring out if this really is “your husband” (and if so, what to do about that now), as well as some exploration of your patterns in relationships and how you connect with others. That last one especially, may be really helpful to you long term no matter what happens with this situation.

      That is all for now, but I’m making a note to myself to discuss this on a podcast episode soon. Check back on our blog!

      All the best,
      Lisa

  29. I feel silly for even saying this but my ex and I broke up over a year ago because he didn’t want to do long distance after he was the one who told me he wanted us to be together. We remained friends after the breakup. But a few months ago I saw him in a picture with someone else. I immediately started crying. I felt awful. I couldn’t help but think I really wanted that to be me. She looks so pretty and good for him, and he’s looks happy. I can’t help but look at their social media sometimes. Recently a trigger (his birthday) prompted me to look at his photos. Now that he’s with someone else it makes me question and doubt everything thing that we did together and every good thing he said and did for me. I just don’t know if any of it was real. It’s hard to stop checking the photos because I really wish we were both a part of each other’s lives. He was such a great friend and good boyfriend. I’ve dated since him, but I haven’t found anyone who I have a genuine connection with that him and I had. A few months after the break up he said we would both find other people, but it wouldn’t be the same. I don’t even know if that’s still true. Any advice? I really do want to find someone but it seems like in every relationship I’ve been in, the guy always seems to decide to be with another girl.

  30. Thank you for the article. I’m trapped by images of someone I never actually dated but developed strong feelings for. Now she’s broke contact with me, told me we will never be together and didn’t give me a chance for closure. Now all I think of is her with other people and it’s like being punched in the stomach…even though I know it isn’t real a little keeps saying ‘but it might be’. How do you stop this from happening?

    1. Hi John. My guess is that you are a very intelligent and creative person who has an ability to visualize things vividly in your mind. There are many advantages to these gifts, but one of the drawbacks is that, unfortunately, the emotional part of our brain cannot tell the difference between things that you envision and objective reality. So every time you imagine her, you strengthen your emotional attachment to her through the intensity of the feelings you experience. Much more detail about this cognitive / emotional / addictive process in the book Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love, if you’re interested.

      In the meantime, I would encourage you to consider working through some strategic activities that will help you release this attachment and cultivate the cognitive skills that will help you put it to rest. Specifically, how to create a new narrative that provides you with closure as well as the mindfulness skills necessary to stop triggering yourself over and over with thoughts of her.

      Teaching those skills is obviously beyond the scope of a blog comment, but that’s why I put together my online breakup recovery program. I think class two (severing your attachment and finding closure) and class five (regaining your emotional freedom) will be particularly helpful to you. All the best, Lisa

  31. After 9 years with a control freak, cheater, liar whom I grew to dispise. I moved in with her best friend whom she cheated on me with. Fell in love hard. Only to be discarded for my ex. So now I’m flooded with anxiety all I can see is them fucking and feeling tossed aside unchoosen I feel like she never loved me the same way I did her, instead feels love for my ex. I feel so betrayed by them both and used and stupid for allowing myself to have those feelings. And they rub it in my face with tiny comments and just the senses that I have of them being so equally in love my heart is broke and I can’t move on. Should I give up trying to remain friends with this women I still love cause the pain is just too much?

    1. Yes. These people are not your friends. This is not love. I think you’re addicted to a toxic relationship. I’m in the process of putting together a new podcast on this very subject, and am going to use your question as an example. I’ll try to remember to ping your comment here when I post it but just in case check the blog sometime next week! xoxo, Lisa

  32. Hi Dr. Lisa,
    I’m divorced from my high school sweetheart whom I was married to for 4 years and together with for 12 years.
    Somewhere along the way things changed and he became emotionally withdrawn and unhappy. Our relationship became volatile & unhealthy, largely due to a lack of communication, despite separations & marriage counseling and I finally hit a breaking point and divorced him several years ago. Intially I felt relief & after a couple of years of no contact with him, unblocked him from social media and we began to communicate with each other on a more regular basis (text and phone calls), where. He expressed that he’d like to go back to being friends like before we were married & for the last few years we’ve been communicating (well I might add) on a regular basis (he usually calls/texts) & see each other on occasion (& still lean on each other for emotional support) only lately he’s more emotionally withdrawn & seems less interested in hanging out. Also, from social media, I’ve gathered he’s moving on & starting to date again & it hurts 1) because he started dating while we were still being intimate as “friends with benefits” & 2) Because he’s doing activities that we used to do together, as well as activities he wouldn’t even thought of trying before. I feel jealous, hurt, replaced & I’m finding myself becoming more anxious & neurotic (which I think is pushing him away). I know he’s moving on & I need to also, but my heart aches as I when I divorced him, I still loved him but felt like it was my only choice. We’re both improving ourselves & I almost wish we could sort out our issues & start over. I grieve the loss of the good times we had together & his companionship, physical embrace & emotional support, as well as the future we could of had together. I’m not ready to say goodbye but I’m not sure he is either, although it looks like he’s moving thay way. It just feels like there’s going to be a gaping hole in my heart where he was 🙁

    1. I’m so sorry that this happened. I always find it so tragic when couples divorce as a way of “solving the problems” in their relationship, but still actually have a lot of relationship left. I know we cannot go back in time, but if we could, I wish you could have gotten some good marriage counseling!

      Anyway. Here we are. The way you described your relationship to me post-divorce (lots of communication, hanging out, emotional support, sexual intimacy) makes me wonder if there is still opportunity to work through your issues and get back together. Do you think he’d be willing to try couples counseling with you? In my experience it rarely makes things like this worse to share your feelings and hopes, and at least ask if reparation is possible.

      If the answer is a firm “no” my suggestion to you would be to stop all of this. Block him on social media, stop texting, stop getting together, and please for the love of God stop having sex with him! Focus, instead, on grieving this relationship and doing the work of healing through some sore of personal growth work. Options at Growing Self include private breakup recovery counseling, our online breakup recovery class, and our online breakup support group.

      I hope, for you, that this relationship can be salvaged. But if not, it’s time for YOU to move on and get support to move you forward. It’s time.

      All my best,
      Lisa Marie Bobby

  33. My 32 year relationship ended 4 months ago with betrayal where he moved out to live with her. After a month of him leaving he contacted me apologizing in where he stated he wanted to work things out but while him still being with her. Of course I rejected, he continued texting me but his attitude changed to having anger against me. Everything he had to say was negative and threats of never coming back home. I finally got tired of it so I blocked him. He then came by my house about a few weeks later to talk but nothing different was said than what we had already talked about he said to give him a chance to make things better. A few weeks after we talked again in which he mentioned he loved me and missies me and that he would be coming home soon. He lied so much it was pathetic. He always told me he was out of town working not sure why he would lie so much when I new he wasn’t. He blames me for him not having a relationship with his adult children and grandchildren. He went as far as putting me down as a mother and trying to control who I can have in my home . It just got awful to where I wasn’t getting any better. I finally blocked him and have made the decision to remove him from my life. He was my one and only, my first boyfriend and the father of my children. We met when we were 14 yrs old , it’s jus been so hard to move on. I’m having so much trouble obsessing about him and overthinking so much about what we had.how can I move on

    1. It sounds like putting a firm stop to this was an excellent call on your part. That’s just the first step though: Now it’s time for you to grieve, heal and grow. Your question, “How can I move on?” does not have a simple answer. Particularly in the context of having a THIRTY-TWO YEAR RELATIONSHIP that ended in such a traumatic way.

      Please: get involved in some high quality personal growth work that supports you through your grief and all the complex feelings I’m sure must be swirling inside you right now. My hope is that you learn and grow from this experience and that you emerge from this painful time in a healthy, strong place. From that point, you’ll be able to create a positive new chapter in your life. But we can’t flip a switch and jump over all the hard stuff. The only way out, is through. You can do this – just get some support.

      Given what you described, with such an extensive history, and such a horrible ending, I’d advise you to look into private breakup recovery counseling (possibly in conjunction with a breakup support group or breakup recovery program, for additional structure). Here are some options for breakup counselors at Growing Self, but you can also look for a good therapist locally. Just make sure that he or she has experience in breakup / divorce recovery, so you don’t spin your wheels — you have done enough time, and the last thing you need is an ineffective therapist.

      Wishing you all the best on your journey of growth…
      Lisa Marie Bobby

  34. I have been on and off with my girlfriend for 7 years, and for all of 2018 it was just me and her having fun and dating. I got the feeling throughout 2018 that she was not the one, a harsh gut feeling that its time to move on and find your wife, someone you will want to marry and someone that you wont have to second guess if you should marry. So I broke up with her on December 15th Saturday, and blocked all communications with her, it was tough but it was getting a bit better each day. Then, towards the end of the week, i started obsessing over who she was talking to and who she might be with and it consumed me. and then i hit her up and we recently have been talking and hanging out, but i still feel like shes not the one. I need to break up with her again now (sometime soon) but I dont know how to get over the fact that shell be with someone else, and what makes it harder is she always takes me back and she only lives 30 mins away. Help me get over these thoughts !

  35. Hi
    I’m in the middle of getting divorced after being together for 22 years, I would rather try to fix things than get divorced, but she doesn’t want to know, I’m okay most of the time, but when I think about her moving on, and especially her sleeping with someone new, I just hurt deep inside and can’t stop crying, it’s got to the point that I am staying in bed all day every day, except from taking the kids to and from school. I have even been contemplating overdosing just to get rid of the pain.

    1. Chris,

      Thank you for reaching out. Your note is concerning to me because you are describing symptoms of a major depressive episode and you seem to be implying that you are feeling suicidal, and are considering suicide to cope with the pain of your breakup. (I am not “diagnosing” you, but rather reflecting.)

      My advice to you: You are experiencing a psychiatric emergency and it is imperative that you seek professional psychiatric help immediately. Growing Self is not the right place for you do get help at this time. You need to find a mental health services provider locally who is able to see you within the next 24 hours. If you can’t find someone asap, please go to your local hospital emergency room and let them know that you are thinking of killing yourself. They will be able to help you.

      In the meantime, please take this with you: What you are feeling is TEMPORARY. I have never talked to anyone going through a breakup who has not come out the other side sooner or later. The road may be long, but you will arrive. It would be a tragedy for you to kill yourself as a “solution” to temporary pain. In a few months (or even weeks) you may be feeling very differently, particularly if you get the help you need and deserve. You owe it to yourself and all of the people who care about you. Please don’t break THEIR hearts.

      Make the call right now Chris!

      Lisa Marie Bobby

  36. Not really an ex but… there is this older man whom I’ve known for several years and whom I got really attracted to. However, the only times we ever met was during some family parties since he is a good friend of some of my close family members. For a long while we had this drunk flirting game going on between us until one night we crossed the line.

    A surprise for both next morning. At next party he was outright avoiding me but I took a risk and messaged him later if he wanted to meet and maybe grab a bite or do something. Reply was that he is not ready so I took this whole thing as one night stand. Sad, but I could accept it.

    All was cool until months later when he suddenly out of a blue started to openly flirt with me and then try and sleep with me again. I was shocked, pleased but shocked. Very tempted to give in but after remembering how he ignored me for half a year after last time, I decided to withhold and try and talk to him instead. To understand what he is after.

    He appeared like he was really into me but something kept holding him back. He kept saying that there is nothing to really talk about and that he is not a nice person and I should not get involved with him and that basically everything that is happening is my fault… What?

    The thing is, this whole fling is a secret. None of our friends know about it and yet at every party I was being told that he really likes me but is scared and that I should show him that I like him and so on… As a result I decided to put an effort this time. I tried messaging him. Complimenting when I could, trying to be near by, land him an ear when he seemed upset, light touches, kisses on a check as hello, goodbye, thank you. I even met his children at a joined event with him and other common friends!

    And yet… nothing. He just kept playing this silent hot and cold game with me. One moment he seemed into it, another he was avoiding me once again. He never bothered to tell me what it is he wants and I am no mind reader and in the end I just gave up and silently moved onto someone else. Great, lovely guy whom I really appreciate and who deserves full attention.

    All seemed well at first until I recently found out that “ex” is officially seeing someone… that hurt. That hurt far more than I thought it would.

    For almost whole year he kept playing this weird game with me and saying he is not a good person or he is not ready or our age difference bothers him or whatever else and NOW, all of sudden none of that is a problem anymore. Not with her! To make it worse, she is apparently same age as me.

    And to put final nail into a coffin, he decided to officially introduce her to all our common friends at an important event of MY family. Not his family but mine! An important event for me, an event he knows I’ll be 100% attending and yet he plans to bring her there for a first meet up!

    I feel outright insulted right now and have no idea what to do.

    On one hand I should just leave it as it is since we never were actually together neither does anyone know of our connected past but on another I really want to make my “ex” realise just how much this whole situation is not ok with me and that his behaviour really hurt me.

    At the same time all I can think about is what it is I did wrong. Could we have been together if I have done things differently back then or was it a lost cause from the start? And all of these thoughts make me feel extremely guilty towards my current boyfriend because it feels like I don’t appreciate him and want to replace him with “ex” and… I’m just so messed up right now… I feel like I’m about to lose both and I don’t want that.

  37. Hi Dr. Lisa,

    I have borderline personality disorder and am going through a really painful breakup. I broke up with him so many times and ended up always going back, till this last time he decided to end it with me, we were traveling together in Asia, as a result from all the break ups i ended up traveling so much by myself which outwardly seemed strong and rewarding but realistically it was so so painful, unbearable, i drank every day. I keep trying to block him from my phone, i know he won’t contact me, he has too much pride to do that but every time i try to block him i end up having a panic attack. He was a lot older than me, around the same age as my dad was when he killed himself when i was a child, i keep thinking maybe subconsciously that losing him feels like i’m being abandoned by my dad again? My friends all felt like the relationship was abusive – it wasn’t, but he was a massive chauvinist. I know that’s a negative quality but i am hugely attracted to dominant men who are somewhat misogynistic, macho and alpha – want to completely own me and take control. I can’t help that that’s what i’m attracted to, although i’m aware it damages me, i just don’t seem to be attracted to ‘nice guys’. Due to his chauvinistic nature i know that he’ll be running around Asia right now acting completely indifferent to me, his ‘craxy ex gf’ to any traveler he encompasses and sleeping around as much as he can to get over me. It feels completely debilitating, particularly as i know that if i submitted to him completely he would take me back, i know that his chauvinistic, controlling behaviour ultimately makes me unhappy because we inevitably fight but at the same time, i am intrinsically obsessed with it, with him, it feels like withdrawal from a drug and i don’t know how to make myself hold out to the part where i’ll get to ‘clean.’ Do you have any advice for me? x

    1. Emilie, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. You bravely shared that you have a BPD diagnosis. Under those circumstances I can understand how the loss would trigger feelings of abandonment, and even obsession. If you are not already, I would recommend that you seek in-person therapy from someone locally who specializes in a form of therapy called DBT. I think that it will help you heal, and learn how to manage these tendencies so that you can cultivate healthier relationships in the future.

      All the best to you,
      Lisa Marie Bobby

  38. Was with my partner for 12 years. Whilst we had some issues which stemmed mostly from his own unhappiness and I helped in the best way I could, we had been discussing marriage and kids. All of a sudden out of the blue he ends it and tells me he has a crush on someone else. And that he wants to keep her in his sights and on social media (he added her while we were still together and started asking mutual friends about her – he had only heard her speak about common topics and was interested). We’ve been apart for a month and meanwhile she has ended things with her bf for other reasons and they have spoken to each other a couple of times on social media. He admitted to me that he wants to find himself before pursuing her, which leads me to believe it’s not just a rebound. He would never find himself or take care of his mental well being for me, but started to do this as soon as he left for her. I find this incredibly insulting and it’s just not like him. How did he go from mentioning marriage, even knowing how he was going to propose, to breaking up in two weeks? Did he panic? He said he lost romantic feelings for me but I know this is not entirely true, and that when he takes a decision whether it’s wrong or right he wants to see it through. So confused and hurt. He told me that if we ever get back together, he will come back with a ring and it will be serious, but I will not be on the side while he goes to explore other women just in case it doesn’t work.

  39. I am still living with my ex. We split about 2 months ago; as often happens, she began a new relationship before ending ours. We have children together and it may be months before i/she can find separate homes. She is constantly in contact with her new bf and I see evidence of their sexual relationship all over; from sex toys to condoms and other contraceptives, lingerie, letters to him. I know entirely TOO much about her new sexual relationship. I know the most intimate details of their sexual activity. What advice can you give with regards to coping in my living situation?

    1. Chris. How on earth are you seeing her sex toys, condoms, lingered and letters unless you are still sleeping in the same bedroom, opening the nightstand drawers, and her mail, for that matter? If she’s leaving that s**t out on the coffee table you have a bigger issue because, as you say, you have kids in the house. If that is that case, take yourself and your kids and get out of there. It may not be a new “home” but it will be a healthier (and by healthier I mean non-sexualized) environment for your children.

      Of course if your intimate knowledge of your Ex’s sex life is due to your still sharing a room with her and / or snooping… that’s on you. If you must live with her, either stay in the basement / spare room / wherever your place is and respect hers. If space is an issue and you have no new defined area to sleep and keep your things get yourself an air-mattress for the floor of your kid’s room.

      Does this suck? Yes. But there is a really good reason why it’s a bad idea to cohabitate after a breakup with someone who is inviting new sex partners over. Pain is motivation Chris! I sincerely hope that you use it to get yourself and your children to a more sane environment. LMB

  40. Hello,

    How are you ?

    I have separated from my wife since October. I was leaving in a very toxic relationship where jelaousy and control were part of it to the extreme. This is her second marriage that fall aparts. She was neglected and mistreated when she was a child. After our separation she went wild and started going to stripper events and posting pictures of her in facebook with hot guys so that way i would see it. I was very impressed by her attitude. I was hoping we were going to talk about our relationship in a mature way and if we were willing to work on the issues. I cut off contact with her becuase she was hurting so much and now she has reached to me that she will file the paperwork for the divorce. After she tells me that news she asks me how my life is going. I really want to be happy again and stop thinking about this relationship. I have been taking care of myself a lot becuase i felt i stopped doing it while i was with her. It is hard very hard but i do not know if she would ever admit her mistakes and improve for the better. I am the first one to accept mines and work on them. I do habe those thoughts of her being with other men which is hard but i know i had to let it go and heal. Whats the best way to cope with my pain?

    1. Carlos, you know what to do: Let go and heal. This sounds like a very bad situation and one that is not likely to improve. Are you in any type of recovery work? If not, please consider getting involved in some. We have private breakup recovery counseling, as well as a super online breakup recovery group, and a breakup program. You deserve to heal Carlos. And yes, your instinct is right: As hard as it might be the first step in letting go is to remove contact. It will only make you feel terrible, and drag you back into pain and confusion. Rip off the band-aid! LMB

  41. Dr. Lisa,

    I am going on week 3 of our separation from my wife. Three weeks ago she told me she wanted some space and didn’t know if she still wanted to be married to me. That she was emotionally detached from our marriage. I finally got it out of her that night she cheated on me a couple week before with a person on her team. That night they decided they was going to see where their relationship was going to go. He left his relationship of 4 years. This would be his 3rd time cheating on his girlfriend. I left the house after telling her that she cheated on me. That she was using the excuse of my problems as the easy way out of this marriage. So I reached out asking her to stop this relationship so we can figure things out and see if we can salvage this marriage of 10 years. She basically said no and is now opening dating him. He is 12 years older than her and has very little to offer her. At his old age of 46 still lives at home with his parents. Every day I have to see here because we have 3 kids and I need to at the house to get them off the bus until she gets home. We recently have decided to do 50-50 time with the kids. Every free moment she has been devoted to him and their new relationship. Going on overnight trips and all I can do is think about them. It is killing me having to deal with a marriage which I thought was good. Then one day she dropped the bomb on me wanting a divorce. Then starts dating this guy same day!. I cant take this pain and thinking about what they are doing! She is dealing with this breakup like it is nothing to her. I used every life line I had to try and save our marriage and have none left. Now she is blaming me for everything in our marriage and she is unhappy. Everyone tells me this won’t last as they in their honeymoon stage and he is a known cheater. He will either cheat or get tired of her constantly being by his side. The nights I have the kids is when it is at worst, because I know they are together doing something

    1. Tom, so, so sorry this has happened. I am hearing that you’re in the phase of recovery where you’re really focused on her, and what she’s doing or not doing. I hear that this has been extremely hurtful, and that you’re trying to make sense of something that absolutely does not make sense. (And I agree – it sounds like she is not making great decisions.)

      BUT. Now, your job is to focus back on yourself and on your kids, and work through your own healing process. Have you gotten connected with a breakup recovery counselor yet? I would strongly encourage you to. You deserve to have a place where you can talk through all these feelings, and get guidance and support that will help you grieve, heal, and move on. (And rebuild a life for you and your children).

      I wish there was simple advice that I could give you that would somehow make this better. There is not. The only way out of this mess is to go through it, but you don’t have to do it alone. I am glad you reached out Tom and I hope you let us help you.

    2. Hey Tom. This broke my heart. I’m really sorry this happened to you and your family. Just wanted to be a voice in the void sending thoughts of peace and encouragement.

      You are very brave and the thoughts and feelings you are having are normal and expected. I know things will get better for you, I’ve seen it happen. Don’t lose yourself in all of this. If you make it through this okay, then you’ll be setting one hell of an example for your kids and friends, who might also find themselves in this situation one day. Respond, don’t react, and be someone you are proud of, like I am of you.

      All the love.

  42. Just want to thank you. I think this technique applies to a lot of situations, and the first step of realizing that my intrusive thoughts are not reality was a huge turning moment for me. I’ve always struggled with mindfulness, and I think it’s because I never knew that I had to separate obsessive thoughts from reality. Also helps to realize that I am not in danger—the physical effects of anxiety make you think that you are. So thank you! I’ve shared this article with friends and they have been helped too. It feels like magic!

  43. My now ex wife left me about a month ago and 2 weeks after leaving she was having sex with another man. I have been feeling so lost and insecure about everything. I had to see her yesterday and for whatever reason she told me that the sex is way better with her new man and everything. And I don’t know how to take it or anything. I’m trying to move on, but she made me push away everyone so all I do is work and come home to do nothing. So I’m sitting here thinking the rest of the day. I’m just still hurt and dying inside.

    1. How awful! That was really unkind of her to have said that. So hurtful. (I cannot stand intentional cruelty).

      I hope that you 1) do everything in your power to never have to see her again and 2) get involved in some healing work, ideally with a group. There are so many things you can do to start the healing process. Please check out our breakup recovery program and you also might consider our online breakup recovery group. That way you get action-oriented assignments to work through this, put this relationship behind you, start rebuilding yourself esteem, and learning and growing. If you combine this program with joining a group, you’ll also get support and affirmation that will help you begin to rebuild emotionally. I hope you consider it Billy — you’ve been through so much, you deserve some support.

      All the best,
      Lisa

  44. Hello,

    Me and my girlfriend met at work last year and started dating shortly after talking. I broke up with her before I left for college because I did not think the long distance was going to work. I hurt her a lot and felt bad and regret it so a few months later we talked about getting back together and making the long distance work and we would talk about it when I came back for the summer. When I got back I found out she was talking to someone and I mentioned to her how we talked about getting back together and she said she was scared that I would hurt her again and would think about it but now they are officially dating and I have to see her and her new boyfriend at work every single day and it eats me away inside. I get so much anxiety and can’t stop thinking about her with him all day. I really want to wait to see if the relationship doesn’t work so I can get my chance again but don’t want to feel like this. She brushes me off all the time and i don’t know if it’s just a show because she has a new boyfriend or if it is because she hates me. I feel terrible everyday and can’t eat or sleep or do my job properly. I am not sure on what to do and want to stop feeling like this.

    1. Oh Chris, how hard. I’m so sorry. I’m hearing that you broke things off for what felt like very reasonable reasons and now you’re regretting it because it feels like you’re losing her. My advice to you is, first of all, to respect her boundaries. I know it’s so hard, but not only is giving her space the most respectful and honorable thing for her benefit, it also shows her that you are listening to her, that you care about her feelings, and that you are trustworthy. People who don’t listen and keep pushing wind up shooting themselves in the foot, because it makes it appear that the anxiety and pain you’re feeling about the breakup is more important than what she is feeling (not sure if she can trust you, and wanting to explore other options). She has your number Chris, and you’ve made it clear that the door is open if she’d ever like to reconnect with you. She will if she wants to. (And if you keep reaching out to her you’re going to be the “pushy stalker-guy,” so just don’t.)

      In the meantime, if at all possible, I would strongly encourage you to find a different job. It’s way too triggering to be around your Ex’s new boyfriend every day, and it makes it very hard to heal when you’re feeling flooded and triggered all the time. Also, what are you doing to work through this? It sounds like you might be stuck in the “really really really wanting to get back together” phase of this, and that’s a very painful place to be in. I hope that you explore some good breakup recovery coaching or get involved in one of our breakup recovery programs in order to start letting go of this and moving on emotionally.

      Wishing you all the best Chris!

  45. Dr. Bobby,

    My ex and I broke up about a year ago. I found out he wasn’t being honest/loyal about things, but wasn’t aware the extent to which it was happening. He told me it was just a few flirty texts. We stopped officially dating after that, but did agree to try to potentially work through things and we went to one couples counseling session together. About a week after that my friend saw him and another woman out together. I eventually found out this was the same woman he had initially sent the texts to and he had been seeing her for at least 6 months during the year we dated. I reached out and told the other woman what had happened. She wasn’t aware he had a girlfriend, but decided to stay with him. This definitely stung, but I did my best to try and move on. She reached back out to me about a month later, and said her friend saw him with another woman at her friends apartment complex and thanked me for initially telling her what he was capable of. I found out who this third woman was and recently anonymously told her that he was cheating (it has been about 10 months since we have broken up). I feel slightly ashamed that I did this, but also did feel it was her right to know. Although, I’m sure part of me did this because I still feel anger about what he did to me.
    Even after almost a year, I continue to find myself constantly thinking about him. I found out that him and this most recent new girl moved in together. Even though I know what he did, I keep thinking once he settles down/marries, he will stop cheating. Also, the new girl is beautiful it makes me jealous in a very weird way. I am almost 30 and he was my first serious relationship and the first guy I truly loved. I feel like these constant obsessions and thoughts about what we could have been are taking over and it worries me that I am still thinking this way. He is a neurosurgeon and promised me a great life, wanted a family, similar values, etc. I’ve gone on dates with nearly 50 guys since this has happened and can’t seem to find anyone I connect with as well as him. I am worried that my age is going to also prohibit me from being able to start a family one day.

    I know that was a lot of information, but if you have any any advice, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank you so much.

    1. Taylor, thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like you became very enamored with the idea of what or who this guy COULD be, when the reality of how he rolls is, frankly, chilling. I’m glad that you feel angry: Your emotional guidance system is working well in warning you about this person. I’m so glad that you didn’t make a life with this person!

      It sounds to me like the work ahead of you now is really working on the getting back into cognitive congruence about what you want, who this person was (and wasn’t) and making peace with this being over. Finding gratitude for it, even. I’m hearing too that there is anxiety about your future, and that may be contributing to the “obsessing” about this fella.

      I would strongly recommend, if you haven’t already, in getting involved with a great breakup recovery coach who can help you do the internal work to break free of this attachment, and also who can help you create a great relationship with someone you feel excited about.

      On our team, I’d recommend Markie Keelan: She is an excellent therapist, breakup recovery coach AND dating coach. I think you could benefit from speaking with her. Here’s the link to schedule a free consultation with her, if it’s something you’d like to try.

      All the best Taylor!
      LMB

  46. Hi, my ex and I broke up almost a year ago, because he moved away for an internship, and we were planning on long distance but he cut off communication, and later on I discovered he had cheated. During the last year we were never fully stopped talking. He went from being with me for three years, to cheating with someone he met at his job, then he and I were talking again, then when I said I was not ready to try things he went back to the girl he cheated with. Then a month later after I still wasn’t ready to try things, he found a new girlfriend. After about o month of them dating, I saw him in person to finally get closure over all that had happened, and we decided to work on being friends because we were best friends before dating and we missed that. So we were “talking” or sort of dating I guess you could say from the beginning of November through the second week of December. During this time he was still in Florida and I was in NJ, and he reached out to my parents begging them for forgivenesses, and saying he loved me and wasn’t going anywhere. He also bought me a plane ticket to visit him in January, after my mission trip to Africa. Then around the first week of December he started acting the way he did last May, the lack of communication and the shady behavior. Which to me screamed “he met someone new again”. He then told everyone in NJ he was leaving Florida and coming home, which was a huge shock because his plan was to stay in FL permanently. So after this news was dropped, we were sort of fighting about how he just made this decision out of nowhere and seemed like there was no thought. Then before I left for Africa the second week of December we were not in a good place and he was saying he didn’t know where to go from here. Then on Christmas Eve, my birthday we spoke but he was very distant. And on actual Christmas he pretty much told me “he never meant to hurt me, but his feelings have changed, and he wants to stay friends, and wishes me the best”. I was of course so confused and hurt, and then found out when I came home he was already dating someone new, and she lived in NJ and came home from FL as well, so I guess he came home with her or for her. And I know I’m the fool for believing him in November with emailing my family, and buying the plane ticket, and all of his promises and “I love you’s” but it still hurt just as much as the first time. And now they’ve been dating longer than any of his other relationships this past year, aside from our 3 year relationship. And I can’t stop obsessing over them, and if they will last and why he chose her over me, and it’s just so hard to move on and let go.

    1. Brittany, I’m sorry you’re going through all of this. I think I’m hearing that as upset and angry as you are with him, that you’re feeling upset and angry with yourself: You knew, deep down, what was happening. I think that the sticking point for you may be around anger and forgiveness. You might consider checking out our Online Breakup Recovery class for help with this: There are a number of exercises in there designed to help you move through anger and find forgiveness. Once you do, I bet it will become easier to shift out of obsessive thinking.

      If you try the online class and it doesn’t feel like it’s quite enough to move the needle, the next level of work would be to do some breakup recovery coaching with someone who can help you find that forgiveness, grow from the experience, and put this behind you. On the Growing Self team we have a number of great options: Here’s a link to scroll through our team members and see if there is anyone you feel a connection with. You KNOW that it’s not a good situation for you and that it never really was: We just need to get your heart on the same page as your head!

      Good luck with things Brittany…
      Lisa

  47. Dr. Bobby,
    I’m married and I had an affair with a much younger woman. This woman and I had the most amazing time, we connected both mental and physically like I’ve never before. it was very discrete and we both ended it because we both new it wasn’t going any where and the fact that I was married. I love my wife dearly, but this woman just understood me and made me feel young and alive again. She is out of the country and I tried to cut ties, but we always seem to find each other….I get that she may be over me emotionally, but she still wants to remain close friends as we both share a very unique bond. I’m still emotionally attached as I just can’t seem to stop thinking about what she’s doing…not all sexual, just in general…I see myself with her and she could see herself with me, but for the obvious of me being married and me being so much older than she is…there are things I can’t give her even if I was single…that I know generally younger women want to ultimately experience. I keep telling myself it was a good that that we mutually parted ways, but I just can’t seem to stop thinking about the “experience of 2 years” we’ve had…I feel horrible that I cheated, however, I just can’t get her out of my mind….I’m doing all I can to focus on my present and future…but it’s hard…I understand that eventually she will move on and date others, but living in that reality and being happy for any good that happens in her life is hard….I do love her and loving someone means letting them go, and truly being happy for them in their lives…but just being with another man is hard for me…crazy, but I just can’t seem to shake it…We both just fit and I wish things were different…

    1. Henry, I am so sorry that this happened. It sounds like this affair, while an exciting and gratifying experience for you, now feels like a drug you’re addicted to, and that you’re craving (even though you know it’s not good for either of you to continue “using.”) I wonder if it’s time for you to get some focused help that can assist you in both breaking your addiction to an unhelpful attachment and — if this is okay for me to say — explore the possibility of creating a new, meaningful, and healthy chapter in your marriage to your wife.

      If anything I mentioned about the idea of being “addicted” to a relationship surprises you, you might want to check out my book, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love.”

      Illicit affairs are among the most addictive types of relationships, due to their unique impact on your emotions. They can be hard to get past. I’m hearing that you are idealizing this person and would probably not want to let go of this attachment. However, your idealizing and craving this relationship for years to come is the likely alternative to letting go… which is not awesome either.

      I hope that this exploration, and the work to follow, leads you down a path of personal growth that results in your creating and maintaining a relationship (perhaps even with your wife) that feels authentic, sustainable, gratifying, and also in line with your values Henry. Wishing you all the best, Lisa

  48. Dear Dr Lisa,
    I was led to this page after googling “why do I keep obsessing about my ex and his new gf when I DO NOT WANT HIM?!” I’ve read through a lot of your feedback here and also found your podcast – excellent work and thank you so much for all you do!! I got myself into a ridiculous situation that I’ve just been sitting in for 5 years. And I’m fed up!!!
    I dated my ex for 1’year. We were talking marriage but at that point I guess I started to see the light of a lot of personality/abusive traits he had towards me that I wouldn’t want to live with permanently. I’ll spare you the details but I LIKED him so much (we have the exact same humor, I’m very comfortable with him, etc. and that grew to romantic love) i genuinely wanted to stay friends when I eventually broke it off. Well. I can admit to myself now that when I broke up with him in 2016 it was in hopes he’d miss me, realize I wasn’t the awful person he picked on me about, and would come back accepting me for who I am. Or stay away and we’d both move on. Neither happened. The last four years we have been on and off again, always facilitated by him. Around 3 years ago I realized that I really don’t want him as a partner anymore (after I found out he had been lying to me about a number of things) and I completely cut contact for about 9’months. He never stopped finding ways to contact me (oh and did I mention we WORK together. Ugh) But finding no success elsewhere in the dating world (and now almost 40) eventually got over my anger and let him back in my life. I guess I was content knowing I’d always hear from him eventually and we’d do the whole “situationship” thing. That has recently changed. He has suddenly dropped me in a way he never has before (even when he was dating new women). I haven’t heard from him in 3 months, and he doesn’t acknowledge me at work which is so awkward and childish and makes people talkneven more. I found out recently it’s because he met someone. I’m assuming that he must REALLY like her if he’s actually been able to leave me alone and not text/email/show up at my house all the time. And for some reason this kills me. What makes it worse: SHE IS MY NEIGHBOR. I am still so very single even tho I try. And so lonely. I feel like I have to constantly be in guard at work and now even in my own neighborhood because I’m so afraid of running into them both and I look like a troll while he has this perfect Barbie on his arm. I know she’s prob an awesome girl (I mean I was, and so was his ex before me). I just can’t get over how someone as mean as him has no problem finding new exciting and pretty women and I’m just so…stuck. Please help!! Why is this bothering me so much when I know I deserve better than him?? I can’t stand the idea of him being with someone before I am. What can I do to get to the bottom of why this is hurting me so much and solve it???

  49. last week my husband has presented me with divorce papers, It was the greatest shock of my life. I almost lost my life to alcohol… I lost my job, I got sick and was admitted into the hospital emergency ward, Two days later when I opened my eyes I saw my mom and my husband beside me holding my hands, I was shocked again and confused to see my husband.

  50. we’ve had many fights before but for some reason this ended everything. we planned on Saturday to meet Monday to get back tougher he texted me Monday morning that that he loves and misses me to have a great day I said you too he said where are we meeting and we figured out a place and I said I have everything written down and that i need from his and the relationship. then he texted me he can’t do this he doesn’t want it anymore. im just so confused he we were planning a vacation and to move in together he always said no matter what he’ll always be mine forever. all he talked about was how he was excited to start a family with me and then just like that is over, and im just so stuck of can you go from that to not anything anything from the person. I don’t have a reason why it ended im so stuck and don’t know how or what to do to move on. he removed me from all social media and everything else but still has my pictures posted not a second goes by that I don’t think of him

  51. Hi Dr. Bobby
    I was married to a sex addict and narcissist for over 23 years. I found out in August of 2016 and divorced in May of 2017. I found out he was cheating on me even before we married..this all came out in August of 2016 when by accident he sent me a file with naked pics of him and others. He posted pics of himself on gay websites as well as joining swinger clubs in our area. When I thought he was out bike riding or st the gym, he was meeting these people for one on one or threesomes. I was and still am devasted…But I did file immediately upon finding out. His narcissistic ways almost drove me to suicide. Now 2 years later I find he is befriending a much younger woman who just lost her husband..a woman we both knew…except he worked very closely with her. She is extremely attractive..now even though I feel lucky to be away from him..and out of his life…all I can think about is his being with her…and wining and dining her like he once did for me when we were going together. He is also spreading lies saying I had problems and I filed for divorce out of spite and that he was completely blindsided. But all I can think about is the wonderful life she can provide for him and they just go off into the sunset and live happily ever after…so strange since I wouldn’t take him back if my life depended on it…but yet I feel so betrayed and useless and unattractive and so so so sad. What is wrong with me? Thank you.

    1. So hard Angela. Are you getting any therapy or breakup recovery coaching around this? I hope so, it sounds like you’ve been through a lot. I recently did a podcast around “Why you’re still thinking about your Ex (and how to stop).” I hope you check it out and that it helps you find your way forward. I had another listener ask a similar question that I answered on IGTV too. Here’s the post, if you’re interested: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B3Ft-X6nWsf/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

      I hope these resources help you…

      Lisa Marie Bobby

  52. Hi Lisa,

    I have read you article and a lot of it resonates with how I’m currently feeling and thinking.

    My husband has ended our marriage of 10 years a couple of months ago. We have had our fair share of issues and then some. I made so financially fatal mistakes which I then weren’t very truthful about afterwards. All of this occurred a few years ago and I sought some counselling for myself to change my way of thinking and ultimately improve our relationship.

    Despite this my husband dropped the bombshell on me in August that he wants to end the marriage and sell our marital home so we can move forward separately. We have two children together and he wants to do everything amicably for their sakes and would like to remain good friends going forward. To me that’s a hard pill swallow; especially when we have been in a relationship together for 12-13 years.

    I found out a few weeks afterwards that he had developed feelings for another woman. I had suspected it but this was the first time he had told me. This hit me like you cannot imagine. Ever since that day I cant get images of them out of mind. He has said that he hasn’t acted on his feelings just yet but can see himself in a long term relationship with her. He has emotionally invested in her. This had made things worse for me as this woman has taken my position in every way possible.

    I’m struggling to sleep at night as I imagine he is in the bedroom next to me sexting this other woman. Whenever he is not at home nor at work; I imagine he is with her kissing and cuddling.

    It’s all driving me crazy. I’ve had panic attacks thinking about them. I dont know what to do.

    1. Oh Sharan, such a hard situation. I am glad that you are seeking out some supportive counseling for yourself as you work through all of this — particularly if it’s getting to the point where you’re having panic attacks. There are many different ways to cope with intrusive thoughts and anxieties in this situation, many of which I teach in my “Heal Your Broken Heart” online breakup recovery program, and which I describe in my book, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love.” But I’ve also found that everyone tends to find the strategies that work best for them, so let’s open your question up to the community here.

      Group? What has helped YOU the most, when you’re feeling tormented by intrusive thoughts about your Ex? I’m interested to hear everyone’s suggestions! LMB

  53. It has been a year since my soon to be ex husband ( we are going through a divorce right now) have been separated. We have a 10 year old daughter together, i have done some major work on healing over the past year. i have made peace with us not being together and after some of the stunts he has pulled during this separation i will not want to be with him. He has showed me his character. I do still struggle with knowing he is with someone else. He started dating her soon after the separation but it was not confirmed until about 6 months after we separated. I find that i get these urges to stalk his social media but the crazy thing is i already know he is with her so i dont know why i continually want to know what they have going on. I feel very betrayed and want nothing more than for their relationship to blow up in his face and expose him for who he truly is. I dont discuss the demise of our relationship on social media or even how it has made me feel because i dont believe thats where it should be done, but he puts up this fake persona to the world like he is the great individual and he is not. I struggle with wanting to expose him for who he truly is and what he has truly done. i feel this is the area i need the most help.

  54. Dear Lisa Marie,

    I just found your blogs and podcast, and I just wanted to say it has made me cry because I finally feel understood and validated. I’ve been going through, basically a year long, breakup after a relationship of four years that turned out to be very codependent. He was the one to end this in-between fase a month ago, as he met someone else that he immediately was crazy for (as in: planning weekend trips with this girl after the first date). As someone with an anxiety disorder, OCD and an obsessive-compulsive personality, this ‘obsession fase’ has been incredibly challenging. (I do have professional help for these issues).

    This paragraph made me cry of relief: “Shifting your awareness or distracting yourself does not mean that you are avoiding or stuffing your feelings. “Obsessing” is not the same thing as “Processing.” It’s mentally picking at a scab that you are not allowing to heal. You have to get unstuck from the obsession phase in order for healthy new growth to occur.”

    I really needed to hear this To allow myself to stop obsessing, to stop treating my obsession as “processing”. Because every single minute I am not obsessing, I feel like I am not processing. Thank you so much for your work. For the first time in an incredibly challenging month, I feel somewhat hopeful that I, in fact, can handle this.

    Best,

    Laurie

  55. We have 5 children together. They are teenagers with the exception of a 1 year old. We met when we were both young. The relationship was like a fairytale until he got into the wrong lifestyle. There was a lot of drama and break ups thought the relationship. Two of my children have severe behavioral issues. He has a very strained relationship with those children but idolize the other 3. This has caused bad relationships between the children. For the past 2 yrs I have been really depressed due to stress of work and caring for the children. He was absent from the home 95% of them because he said I was often miserable and the kids were too much. I always carried most of the financial support because he refused to get a on the books job and I had a very good job. He also did not help me with the children when I was overwhelmed. My sex drive diminished a lot as time went on. My children were in and out of the hospital and his focus was on the lack of sex. I had to stop working due the stress and high risk pregnancy. He showed little to no support when I needed him the most. Eventually we faced eviction and had to move to a new apartment. During the transition of the move he continued to be absent and for a whole month continued to live in the old apartment while the rest of us lived in the new one. The first week we moved my daughter was discharged from a mental hospital. One of the conditions of her coming home was that she had close supervision. He still did come to the new apartment. The only friend of mine who happens to be a lesbian offered to help supervise my daughter sometimes. When he was no longer able to stay at the old apartment he contacted me and I told him to find somewhere else to stay out of frustration and felt I was being used. I did not contact him for a period of time because I had the help and support I needed and everything seemed to be going well. Then one day my emotions got the best of me and reached out to him. He was angry and told me I put him out and our oldest children twin girls told him I moved on with my friend which is far from the truth amongst other things. He implied he has moved on and his happy. It’s been around 5 months since we moved. He has said and done things around my children to make it seem as it’s true. It’s hard to tell because he has lied about moving on in the past to make me jealous and we would get back together. My children are acting out again and out of frustration and desperation I kept calling him. There’s were time he was willing to talk to me nice and promise to come and see the kids. I had my hopes up and the next minute he would be angry on the phone and not come. My mind can’t stop wondering if he has someone new and if he’s really turned his back on me and the kids except for the twins. Its become an obsession for me as well as my son. He reports things to me that he suspects his dad has moved on. On the other hand the twins does things to sabotage the relationship since they get the most attention from him in this situation. Due to my obsession I get emotional when I try to put pieces together and assume things. It’s like my mind is playing games on me. I have panic attacks to the point my body crashes. I desperately want him back because I’ve seen the good side of him and can’t help but remember the happy times when all my children were happy with no issues. Right now he hates me but does not understand why I did and said certain things. He doesn’t see he pushed me away first.

    1. Trudy, it sounds like you’ve been through an awful lot and I’m hearing that the level of anxiety you have about this situation feels overwhelming. Your healing is likely going to require connecting with a good therapist who can help you break your unhealthy attachment to your Ex, and begin to nourish yourself and your children with health and happiness. You’re describing being impacted to the point of having panic attacks: This would be an indication that you would be best served by seeking the services of a licensed mental health provider in your community. I hope you do — you and your children deserve to live in peace.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Lisa

  56. My boyfriend of 2 years recently turned 50 (17 year age gap, I’m 32) and as we approached this milestone in his life, things started shifting. Previous to this, our relationship was very loving and communicative, with many obvious Hurdles to face, but with the confidence that we loved each other deeply and were invested in the relationship. As we closed in on the birthday, I no longer felt like a priority in his life, his temper and patience with me was dwindling, and our relationship began to suffer. We were on a path to healing and were seeking counseling but during this time I also lost my job and had an injury that didn’t allow me to leave the house for a few weeks. This seemed to trigger his anxiety over the reality of his age, his lack of career prospects and lack of financial stability all mixed with severe PTSD from his previous work. I counted myself as one of the few bright spots in his life and just a few weeks ago during his birthday festivities, this seemed to be true to everyone around us. Just two weeks later, we get into a minor argument and he decides to leave our shared home and tells me he sees no future with me and doesn’t love me anymore. I’m still in shock. It’s been a few weeks and I’m not processing the emotions well. I’m reminded of the endings in my previous relationships and knowing how I have the tendency to fall into unstable thought patterns. I obsessively think of what his family and friends, who we were close to, might be thinking of his change. I worry about him, and I create stories in my mind about how he must be focused on a new relationship with someone older, more stable and with maturity that fits better with his age and experiences. I’m living in fear of who that woman could be as we work in similar fields and have the same education background. I found your article very helpful and have been trying to seek counseling, but with no job and insurance, it has been difficult. I know I should be focused on what my next steps are, finding a new home, job and possibly relocating to a new city. All with pervasive anxiety and depression I have been battling as well. It all seems like too much, and my mind obsesses over what it would feel like to see him move on with someone better. Please help.

    1. Christy, I’m so sorry this happened. It sounds like this has been very traumatic for you, and that there is a lot to work through here.

      Unfortunately there is no “quick fix” type of advice I can offer to make any of this better. The path of healing is a process, and your getting to a better place is going to involve you working through the specific steps of recovery one by one.

      If you are not able to do this work with a good therapist or coach who understands breakup recovery and who can walk you through this process, you might consider taking my online breakup recovery program. It is a collection of powerful experiential activities that are the essence of what I do with my private clients. It is powerful stuff, and can help you move through the healing process. I am also hearing though that you struggle with depression and anxiety, and if you’re dealing with those types of mental health symptoms at the same time it can complicate recovery. It may be necessary to treat the mental health symptoms first, so that you’re feeling strong enough to do the work of recovery. (Which can be intense!) You might consider looking into low cost options for counseling through a community mental heath center, or even through a university counseling center if you don’t have other options. (You can also do a search for “sliding scale therapy” as many practitioners — even many people on the team here at Growing Self) can offer income based rates. So you do have options!

      But for sure, the online class is an extremely inexpensive alternative to private counseling or coaching. I hope you check it out and that it helps you.

      Sincerely,
      Lisa

  57. My husband of many years broke up with me a year and a half ago. We have a small child together. The breakup was terrible, he yelled for many days, he said it was all my fault, that I was a horrible person, that I disgusted him, that I was unreliable; the works. All this was made worse by the fact that at the time I was waiting for test results to find out whether I had cancer (fortunately not). He even tried to make me leave the house — my house, where we were living! I think that if he had behaved respectfully it would all have been different.
    Two weeks later he told me there was another person, that he had moved in with her. Another two weeks gone by he took our child to stay with them for a few days, which continued to happen whenever the child was with him.
    This meant that I not only imagined them together, but received the full reporting: how they hugged in a special way, what they said to each other, the loving moments, how they were making out on the couch and the dog jumped on top of them, how my daughter cuddled in bed with them on weekend mornings…
    Six months later he broke up with her and came to me, apologising, saying he had gone mad, that he now saw it all, I was the woman he truly loved, and we began a lengthy conversation before I made any decision. Two months in and he told me he had been seeing her. Since I did not have an answer for him, “he had to give her something, otherwise he might end up alone.” Needless to say, that ended things on my side, and when a year on the same happened — they broke up again — and again he came to me, I was immediately definitive: NO WAY.
    I do have feelings for him, though, which must mean I’m hopeless. He went back to her and they are now settling next door, which makes me very uncomfortable. However, now when I imagine them together I try to rationalise. Often I don’t imagine happy episodes, but sad ones, based on the story that I know of (but she, on the other hand, doesn’t, both times he broke up he told her he needed some time off). Of course like most lives, theirs will have moments of joy, hot sex and laughter, but I cannot imagine a healthy relationship coming out of this mess. Therefore, even if it still stings many times, most of the time I pity them both — which shows me I have rediscovered my true self — a caring, compassionate person. Yay.

  58. Sorry, I forgot the actually important part, what I have found helps the most:
    1. Stopping the rumination and do something for myself, while focusing hard on every step, as if I’m handling dangerous machinery. Depending on the time of day and how much time I have it could be different stuff – going to the gym, eating a raw carrot, go out for a walk, watch a show or film, get the vibrator into action;
    2. Think about all the bad things that happened between him and me and imagine that these could be happening to him with this other person. Not very nice of me, but whatever works is good.

  59. So it was decided between my ex and I that I move out so we could take some time and before I moved out I found another mans wallet in our car. She told me it’s just someone at work that hangs out with her on her break and he mush have dropped it ( in the back seat). Our plan was to work on things and eventually get back together but then after I moved out she said we were done and 2 weeks later fully moved that man into the house and they have been a couple of coconuts ever since. I don’t get how she could just move another man in so quick after we were together for so long and just had a child. I have asked her how long they have been going behind my back but can never get an answer. This new man wants to fight me “just cuz” and is making my life a living hell because he HAS to be around when I pick up or drop off my son.. i Can’t get how they had been going behind my back and are now a happy little family so quick. I think about it every day and when I do I try and think about something else. It’s been 3 months since he’s moved in and every day sucks!! And advise would be awesome! I feel so betrayed and it’s keeping me from really moving on.

  60. hi Lisa. My ex and I were not on bad terms at all. we actually still have alot of feelings for each other. I recently got this feeling that she has been loosing herself and doing things that she normally would not do(it was just a gut feeling) she came to visit me yesterday and everything was amazing as it uasaly is. when she went home my cousin contacted me and informed me that while she was away with friends she went out a hooked up with a guy who is still in school. worst of all is they went outside and at the entrance of the club he started fingering her and she gave him a blowjob. everybody who left the place saw them. she lied to my face about it. I have looked after her for 2 years even when we were not together anymore. I was always there for her in her good and bad times I took care of her when she gave me every reason to walk away. I have never been this hurt and I have no idea what to do next.

  61. my ex boyfriend cheated on me 5 times, he’s treated me badly and done unforgivable things. he recently was the one who broke up with me and has a new girlfriend in one day which is really affecting me. today his very close relative died and he called me and I’ve spoken to him. I want to move on. I want to get over him but the thought of him being good and kind and an overall better person for someone else physically kills me. ii have a very important series of assessments coming up and I don’t have much time I need to focus but I’m somehow still attached to him
    Regards

  62. My ex and I broke up over a year ago and it has been hard for me. We share 3 kids together so we have to speak an see each other. I have been having a hard time dealing with the break up and processing my emotions as he still tells me that he loves me and has feelings for me but he doesn’t want a relationship right now. I cut off physical contact and communication except for when it pertains to the kids. While we were together he was getting close to a female co worker of his and they were spending time with our kids together. He kept telling me they were just friends but I always felt in my gut it was more than a friendship. I couldn’t get an answer from her and he just kept telling me the same thing they are just friends. After we broke up we finished the 4 months of our lease and I moved into my own place with the kids. He stayed with me for 3 weeks until he got his apartment. After he moved they were hanging a lot more and still doing things with our kids together. I talked to him about how I felt about what he was doing and he told me he didn’t care about how I felt. He also told me that she was helping him look for a place while we were still living together after he told her we broke up and he was moving. I was extremely devastated to hear this I became very upset and found myself acting out of character. I loved him and spent 14 years of my life with him. I feel like I wasn’t god enough and like I was stupid for continuing to believe that he would change.He has cheated on me before with a co worker of his. I really wanted my family to be together and happy. He has told me he can’t be with me because I eventually filed for child support. Although our break up had nothing to do with my decisions but as he told me he didn’t want to financially help out. But he is convinced that I purposely filed because our relationship ended. He would text me I love you and I miss you and the kids. He would show up at my house unannounced but he only wanted sex. He would still tell me I love you and I still have feeling for you and we will be a family again. It has really got me messed up emotionally as I feel like I’m being used and manipulated. There are times when I just cry at the thought of me being emotionally weak and accepting his behavior. I just on’t know how to get past this and be genuinely happy. I don’t want him with anyone else but I know that I can’t control that. But I also fear that I won’t find someone that I truly deserve although I am focusing on trying to be happy but I can’t let go of my kids father. I do want to be with him and I feel crazy for still wanting to. I just don’t don’t know how to let go or what to do.

  63. So this past relationship was my longest relationship I’ve had (2yrs) and my ex broke up with me because they did not want to be committed anymore and it was a shocker for me. Its been complicated for me like i think i’m doing fine but when i see a comment or a post on social media of my ex calling every girl shes become close with their “boo” and “gf” it makes me feel sick and disgusted. They said they are cool to stay as friends and they make it seem like nothing really happened between us and they are perfectly fine. Also when we were together we had the same friends and since the breakup its like my ex took custody over them and feels like they dont know me anymore. I just dont get the same recognition as i used to and it doesnt feel helpful to me.

  64. This happened on valentine’s day, I caught my husband with his ex wife at a dinner party in a restaurant in Cornwall, I cried home and almost hit a truck. I actually has concluded that we are done from this marriage, but I took a second thought when I got home, I REALIZED THAT IF i SHOULD LEAVE, THEN MY HUSBAND WOULD NOT HESITATE TO GET MARRIED BACK TO HIS EX WIFE.

  65. It has been a month since my ex of 13 years decided to break it off. She said she didn’t know who she was anymore it wasn’t sure if she felt the same anymore. I’ve been focusing on myself trying to make myself better but I find myself slipping back into self-doubt. I feel as though I failed, it’s hard for me for the simple fact that I still have to see her a couple times a week because we coparent our daughter. Though it wasn’t a bad break up and we’ve been very amicable with each other, I still feel so empty no matter what I do. I am trying to be empathetic to what she needs but I feel as though it’s a one-way street. I don’t want to think negatively about what she may or may not want but I’m finding that very hard. I just want my family back. Any advice would be very much appreciated

  66. Reading all of these post has helped me realized I’m not alone with my heartbreak. Me and my ex fiancé broke in August 2019.. i kinda pushed him away being overposseive and constantly asking him who girls are on his IG and FB. We would also bump heads because he was the neater one and i was messier. We started off long distance but when i moved bk to him we started having arguments. So he dumped me and has let me know we’re never getting back together. He’s dating now and I’m miserable I’m still in love with Him. We saw each other on Vday at a party he was very drunk and we started making out right in the middle of the party but of course he doesn’t remember none of it and still remains not wanting to try again. I’m just a heartbroken girl dreading this Chicago summer scared of running into him😩

  67. Hello,
    six months ago I have broken up with my ex bf who has a non-diagnosed borderline syndrome. Being with him could be amazing and suffocating at the same time, it was a very emotionally intense but it felt like being on a rollercoaster. He was unstable, one moment he adored you and one later he could not stand you, very self-centered, everything revolved around his needs and problems, and anxious, so every single thing could be a problem or became a performance, something he needed to prove to people and to himself. I was his savior, he adored me as I filled the huge void inside him and gave him the kind of validation he craved for, but I felt trapped in a golden cage. I loved him as I thought of him as nice and tender but didn’t want to be his caregiver. He always claimed he did not want a real relationship but in the end that’s what we had. Being a womanizer, he had stopped seeing other women because he was happy with me and started relying on me more and more. After almost one year, when things went intense he attacked me: it was my birthday and I was sick, I went visiting him at his place on the seaside and he literally treated me like shit. He ignored me for days, ignored all my questions and treated me like an annoyance; then, casually I found that while I was waiting for him at his house he was around seeing other girls. I confronted him, he wanted to ask me a break of two months but begged me not to leave him which I did. After that he started accusing me of the strangest things, he started claiming he was the one who wanted to break up, he accused me of stalking and of trying to get back to him. I tried to calm him down but he stopped listening to my messages. After few months we met again, we had friends in common, and in order to estrange me from his friends he defamed me with them. A friend of both told me the kind of accusations he was spreading, absolutely fake and invented, while he was pretending to still care about me. That’s when I understood how fake and manipulative he could be and went no contact. Now I see he’s posting so much about his new girlfriend, an official one this time, not like me…and I feel awful! I am over him, I despise him and I am the one who interrupted the relationship and I am also into someone else now, but seeing him with her and seeing he’s giving her what he never gave to me is destroying and obsessing me. WHY? I cannot understand why? Which power does he still have over me? What can I do?

    1. It sounds like you may be addicted to a toxic relationship. Did you catch this podcast I did about leaving a toxic relationship? There’s the physical leaving part, but the emotional letting go is quite a different thing. If you’re like many people, you may need support to get through this process of emotional recovery.

      What you’ve been through sounds incredibly traumatic. I hope that you are able to get connected with the support you may need to heal from this experience, and go on to create a healthy relationship in the future. You deserve to be happy, and to be loved. Wishing you all the best, Lisa Marie Bobby

  68. I split up with my husband around 9months ago and it was the best thing I ever did. I felt so much more relaxed and happy until he met someone else. I’m angry because it was someone I knew and it’s so hard, I know I don’t want him back, just makes me angry he’s happy and he put me threw hell.

    1. It’s so interesting isn’t it? I hear that from a lot of people: You feel in a good place about the breakup until your Ex moves on and then it brings up ALL KINDS of feelings. This is normal and expected. It shows you where your “growing edges” are. It sounds like, for you, there is opportunity here to process anger. Not for his sake (you do NOT have to forgive anything) but for your own inner peace. I hope that the tools and resources we have here at GrowingSelf.com are helpful to you in doing that — you deserve it!

  69. Hey,

    Thank you so much for this article. I’m having an extremely hard time dealing with my lesbian best friend now dating my ex boyfriend whom I adore. I confronted her a month ago but just yesterday I caught myself driving by her apartment just to see his car. I feel like I need some tools to cope now or I’m going to lose my mind. I’ve never felt this sadness before.

    1. Yes. Correct. You need tools to cope. I would highly recommend you get involved with high quality, breakup-recovery informed, evidence-based coaching or therapy that emphasizes cognitive-behavioral skills. This can help you get these compulsions under control, as well as reduce the obsessive thoughts. Once you feel more in control, then you can work on the rest of it: Grief, anger, growth and more.

      Pro Tip: Please avoid getting involved with a therapist who does not have expertise in how to help resolve the biologically-based “withdrawal” symptoms you’re experiencing. The last thing you need right now is a therapist who is going to pathologize you or who really wants to talk about your emotionally unavailable father or your parents divorce or your unusually low self esteem (or whatever). This is not helpful.

      What may be helpful (not the solution, but helpful nonetheless) is to check out the book, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love.” so that you understand what’s going on and why you feel the way you do. That in itself won’t make it all better, but it will begin to provide the understanding and strategies that will illuminate the path to recovery.

      Personally, I think it’s helpful to understand WHY you feel like you’re going crazy, and why your obsessing, and compulsively driving by someone’s house. It’s actually normal under the circumstances. I felt crazy too when I was doing these things after my traumatic breakup.

      But really, learning the skills for how to regulate yourself, stop intrusive thoughts, and manage the big feelings is the first step. Then comes the healing.

      I know this is a really painful place to be in and that you probably feel pretty helpless right now. I’m sorry for that. I hope that this information helps you find your way forward.

      Wishing you all good things,
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  70. She has a new bf that’s taking my son fishing and posting pictures of it. For the rest of my life I have to watch some other man live my life with the woman I love and my kids. All I can picture are those 2 banging. I miss her face and her smile. Things were bad at the end and I didn’t operate out of love. I know what I was doing wrong and think constantly about how I know I can make her happy again but she’s given up. I remember teaching my son about everything so when I see a train, a truck just about anything I obsess about not being with him. It never stops and I don’t get a break from these thoughts. It’s been a month and I’m so exhausted from it. I just want it to stop and I don’t know what to do. This is a very rushed and highlighted part of the story but this is severely impacting my will to even live. I mean that

    1. First things first Chris: You mentioned that this situation is impacting “your will to live.” Even transient thoughts about killing yourself are extremely serious, and you need to get into local mental health treatment immediately. Consider Googling “community mental health center near me” in order to find an agency that is able to provide the level of support that you need if you’re dealing with suicidal thoughts and feelings. You can also dial “2-1-1” to get connected to a local United Way caseworker who can help connect you to local services. Also, here is a link to the national suicide hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ They are staffed with trained counselors ready to speak or chat with you 24/7. Use it!

      Down the road, and with the support of your therapist, it will likely be really important for you to block, unfriend, and unfollow. You are torturing yourself with social media and need to stop. Start using a very professional, third party system to coordinate parenting plans and schedules, and no contact otherwise. I like “OurFamilyWizard.com” but there are others.

      Once you’re feeling stable mentally, and have good boundaries in place, THEN it’s time for you to get into some serious personal growth work that helps you heal from this, so that you can have peace and hope in your life again. You deserve this and YOUR SON DESERVES THIS. His life just got blown apart too. Be the guy he can count on. Whether or not he’s doing the “fake-smile-with-mom-and-Chad-on-the-boat” in the photos you’re torturing yourself with, trust me, he needs you. Get your oxygen mask on first, so that you can help him.

      Wishing you all the best Chris, take care.

      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  71. My ex never had much interest in sex in the ten years together, I tried to talk to her about it but she always seemed awkward so I just got on with it. Last year things got worse and by Christmas it was all but over, an Instagram comment alerted me to a guy that she had met about singing in a band, she claimed it was nothing. This year with the virus and our situation we decided to work at things with the time we had. She would stay out for weekends and say it was just a friend this occasionally happened during lock down. If I questioned her she reminded me we was not officially together and I was acting jealous. I checked her phone and it was that same guy and it was clear from her messages she was into rough sex and dirty talk, I am shocked beyond belief and angry at the years of sexual neglect I suffered, it is over but I can’t help but think of her with this guy and how much she is given him sexually, it drives me mad.

  72. Hi, I have been broken up with my ex for 5 months now and she is now in a relationship with someone new. Is it a normal reaction to have feelings of grief and pain and to also punish myself with imagining the sexual intimacy of their relationship? I do believe I am over my ex, but since finding out about her new partner I have not been able to shift the feelings I described above. Is this a normal reaction? Thanks

  73. This is the 1st time I’ve written anything, but feel like I need help and advice please. My wife and i were together for 14 years. We met, fell in love, had our son and life was good. We got married. And then after 7 years she cheated on me with a work colleague. Ill be honest, I can picture her telling me and the pain I felt like it was yesterday. I forgave her, but it felt like the thread had been picked and after another 7 years and the birth of our daughter our marriage had come apart. We weren’t a bad couple, rarely argued, gave our kids a great home and life, but we just seemed to drift apart. It also didn’t help that she was messy and I’m very clean, and after 14 years it ends up becoming an issue. After being forced to sleep on the sofa for 6 months, I moved out and bought a house just before lockdown and left her with everything – the kids, the house, tge dog, the car whilst I started from scratch. I wanted the kids to come 1st and have minimal disruption. We are still friends as we have to co parent, but the truth is I still love her and it breaks my heart that she doesn’t feel the same. I have also noticed her losing weight, fake tanning which I know gives her confidence, updating her WhatsApp pics every other day (usually shouldering selfies), chatting online till early hours where she used to be asleep by 9pm most nights with me due to exhaustion from working. In my mind she’s met someone else and I’ll be honest these thoughts are making me feel sick. We used to talk about being soul mates and growing old together, and now she’ll probably fulfill that dream with another man. Plus the thought of someone I don’t know around my kids also makes my feel ill, angry and upset. I just sit at home or lay in bed with all these thoughts and I can’t cope. I don’t want anyone else, the thought of dating again feels me with dread, and I’m not at all ready. Add to the fact we moved after our son was born to be closer to her family meaning im here alone, no one close by to help. Can’t sleep, mind races all day, feel sick, just aaaaaggggggghhhhhhhhh.

    1. Mike, thanks for reaching out. This is actually a really common experience: Even if the relationship is patently not good for you and extremely over, it does something to us when our Ex moves on. This is not a “Mike thing” this is something that happens to all humans when our attachment is threatened, and it happens on an absolutely irrational, biologically based level that is connected to our survival drives. I wrote ALL about this at exhaustive length in my Exaholics book, if you’re a nerd like me and interested in finding out why all this makes sense.

      But the good news here is that I’m hearing you have a lot of great self awareness and are feeling extremely motivated to stop feeling this pain and anxiety, and be rid of these obsessive and intrusive thoughts about your Ex. This is great: This type of motivation can carry you forward through a meaningful, action oriented breakup recovery process where you’ll get to do all the work in each stage of healing. And once you do, you will be done with this and will be able to move on with your life.

      What you should NOT do, is what many people do: Assume that the painful feelings and obsessive thoughts are an indication that this was a good relationship and that you should try really hard to get back together with her. It’s so, so easy to get tricked into believing that these feelings of obsession and craving are a sign of love. The way you described this relationship it sounds like it was a painful and challenging one for you in many ways, and that it’s probably just as well that it ended. (Even though your feelings might try to trick you into believing otherwise).

      Keep going Mike! Don’t look back — look forward. If you haven’t already, consider connecting with a good breakup recovery coach who can help you release all this and start a healthy new chapter (and, eventually, when you have healed fully and not before that, a healthy new relationship).

      Wishing you all the best on your journey…
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  74. I found out from my kids that my ex has been seeing someone for 6 months. He walked out of our marriage 9 months ago. He tells me that I’m an unfortunate person that he has to deal with. Our marriage was 16 years long, he snapped and left. I don’t want to be a victim. I send him angry upset texts. I hate what this is doing to my insides.

    1. Totally understandable! Anyone in this situation would be angry. And… I know you know this… your seething on the inside is only going to hurt you and keep you stuck in the pain. One really important stage of healing from this kind of thing is doing really intentional work around the big, yucky, dark feelings like anger, shame, and guilt that can keep us (believe it or not) attached to an Ex. Love and hate are flip sides of exactly the same experience (and come from the same little patch of your brain). The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. So even if you’re obsessively thinking about how much you hate him… you’re still obsessively thinking about him and it’s going to keep you stuck here until you do productive work to move through it.

      Feeling angry all the time is understandable but it’s not good for you mentally, emotionally, or physically. Have you begun the work of healing from all this yet? If you’re not, maybe it’s time? You might consider enlisting the support of a good breakup recovery counselor to help you move forward, rather than churning in all the yuck. It sounds like you have kiddos that need you to be at your best. If not for you, do it for them!

      With love,
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  75. So I was with my ex for 3 years. He cheated constantly but I always found it on my heart to stay because we had a daughter and I completely uprooted my life to be with him. We were going back and forth about working things out then boom!! He blocked me on social media and low and behold he was dating someone else, but coming home to me and our baby. When I confronted him about it he got physical with me in front of our daughter. (Not the first time, and he says I bring out the worst in him and that’s why he hits me) Now he’s leaving for military training for 3 months and his girlfriend says he’s the love of her life! I’m devastated! I know we don’t belong together, but I can’t get off his social media seeing him spend all his time with her and not spending any time with our daughter.

    It hurts me so much because 1. His daughter didn’t do anything to deserve her dad neglecting her. 2. How the heck did he move on so fast. 3 what’s wrong with me, I’m working on me, going to therapy, why am I not good enough. 4. Will I ever get over this and be able to find love

    1. Oh my dear, dear Danielle. What you’re describing is so much more than “how do I get over my Ex.” What you’re describing sounds to my ear like an incredibly toxic relationship, and one that’s hooked you through the gills. (As the most horrible and toxic relationships so often do, unfortunately).

      Here are some resources for you:

    2. – Article: Are you addicted to a toxic relationship?
    3. – Podcast: Cutting Cords to Toxic Relationship

      – So much more on this site — just type “toxic” into the search bar and you’ll get a face-full of articles, podcasts, and more.

      I also want to say very clearly and explicitly: Reading these articles and listening to these podcasts WILL NOT FIX THIS. I offer you these resources for the purpose of helping you get new understanding of what’s been going on, why you feel so bad, and (hopefully) some clarity about the path forward. You have been through the wringer, and healing from this type of relational trauma requires professional support.

      On that note, you mention “being in therapy” but that it’s not helping and that you feel “not good enough” and “what’s wrong with me.” Please know that not all approaches to therapy are the same, and if you’re working with someone who’s really trying to make this about your “low self esteem” or something, and it’s making you feel worse instead of better — listen to that, and consider trying a different approach.

      I know from experience that healing from this type of thing requires a really active, intentional approach to changing the way you think, feel and behave. The fact that you’re still lurking around on this guys social media is making you think your therapist is not providing you with the type of direction or guidance or (honestly) loving challenge you need to heal and grow.

      Research into evidence based therapy shows us that if you’re not feeling at least moderately better in 10 sessions, your therapist’s approach is not effective. (Or not the right one for YOU). I would recommend speaking with your therapist about how you’re feeling super-stuck, and ask them to articulate specifically, what their plan is for helping you heal and grow. If they can’t do that, or what they say doesn’t make sense to you (or includes the word “processing!”) you might want to get a second opinion.

      You deserve SO much better. And your baby girl needs you to be healthy and strong. Get really serious about doing some intense work to heal and grow, and there will come a day where you won’t think about him at all. I know it sounds unbelievable now but I’ve seen it happen so many times, and I know that this type of peace is possible for you too.

      I hope those ideas are helpful to you, and that they assist you in finding path out of this.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  76. Hi Dr. Lisa,

    Thank you for proving these amazing insights and helpful tips in regards to exes and emotions. I just stumbled upon this article by accident after attempting to distract myself from painful and intrusive thoughts involving my ex.

    He and I have recently reconnected after almost two years of no communication. We have the same friend group, go to the same church, and are involved in each other’s lives more than your average couple of exes. Needless to say, it’s been difficult. We have reconciled and have been attempting to be friends, unfortunately, the only feelings never truly left for me and I’ve been struggling for quite some time. He’s been supportive and understanding, which has been more confusing than not. We know each other very very well and make fantastic friends, but the reality of the matter is that I’m hurting still, even after so long. I’m hoping and praying that I’ll be able to use these tips for when I’m laying away at night, like right now, missing him and what used to be.

    1. Rebekah, I’m so incredibly sorry to hear about this. Bad breakups are hard enough, but even worse when you’re in a situation where you’re interacting with your Ex on a day-to-day basis when you’ve not yet healed.

      I hear you wishing that “you could get these feelings to go away” and I completely understand that. But take it from me: We need to listen to pain, not push it away. I wonder if it might be more helpful for you to take important communication from your emotional guidance system (aka, “pain”) and take influence from it.

      For example, pain is a sign that we’re hurting ourselves. In this case, it’s probably not a good idea for you to be spending time with your Ex, and continuing to invest lots of time in the same friend group. Your pain may be telling you that it’s time to start actively creating a new life for yourself: New friends, and perhaps a new church.

      Your pain may also be telling you that it’s time to do more about this than trying to distract yourself, go on about your life and act like you’re not still hurting. Have you considered doing some very active and intentional personal growth work to help you heal and release this attachment? (NOT ambiguous talk therapy where you just rehash the past and talk about how bad you feel every time, that’s just going to keep you stuck). I mention this because it sounds like there’s a lot here that is extremely present for you, has NOT been processed effectively, and is continuing to impact your day to day.

      I know from experience that these feelings do not just go away. If you want to feel better and be free of this for good, you have to take meaningful action. Do the work Rebekah! There is so much more life and happiness for you on the other side of this pain. Promise! (But the only way out, is through). xoxo, Dr. Lisa

  77. Hi Dr. Bobby,

    I’ve been divorced eight years and have two amazing kids with my ex-wife. We are fantastic parents and do a great job of coparenting. My ex wife dated a few people not too long after we divorced but nothing ever came of it. I have been on a few dates but nothing serious. It’s hard to date for me because my work requires a lot of my time And travel. Also my kids activities are my first priority. We get along around each other so well that a lot of people comment about how we get along. In fact sometimes we would still do things together with our kids like go to a movie or have dinner etc. She hadn’t dated for 4 to 5 years and recently told me that she was dating somebody. It really was like a punch in the gut. I realized that over the years people ranging from friends to coworkers to my barber had asked about if either one of us had gotten remarried. When I would say that neither of us had after all of these years people would start to say that perhaps we might get back together. I think I started to let a bit of hope sink in and so I have been pretty down since hearing this news. She has basically admitted that it was more of her fault that the marriage didn’t work. She was the one who wanted a divorce from me but honestly nothing that I did warranted a divorce according to basically every single person I’ve ever talk to about it. I decided I wanted to get the idea out of my head that she had ever thought about getting back together so I recently asked her if she had over the years ever thought about getting back together with me anticipating that the answer would be no and I could just move on. However she admitted that she had thought about it from time to time. But she said that she was now dating this guy. Now I almost feel worse and more depressed. Part of me wants to tell her that both she and I should get these thoughts out of our head and never think think about them again mainly for my benefit. Because I’m kind of agonizing over thinking there might be a chance to get back together and at the same time now and she is dating somebody. It really stinks. I’m trying to get back into the dating game but is very hard because of lack of time and also because I am very very picky. My ex-wife was my dream girl and I have a hard time imagining meeting somebody like that again. I know I need to move on, but it’s just really hard. I’m mad at myself for feeling this way. I welcome any advice that you have in dealing with this.

    1. Kirk, what a difficult situation. I’m so sorry.

      What I think I’m hearing in your story is that, even though you and your ex-wife have been broken up for quite a while, she has remained your primary attachment. You have not even begun to separate from her on a psychological or emotional level, even though intellectually you know you’re broken up.

      This is really common: Many, many people can spend months and even years in a hopeful, ambiguous, “We’re still hanging out! Can we get back together?” type of purgatory that is agonizing. Often, just like you, they only get slapped out of that space when their Ex gets involved with someone else. Only at that point does it start to feel like the relationship is truly threatened, and I’m afraid that is what is happening to you.

      It is not for me to decide whether or not it’s time to call it quits in your relationship, or whether or not you can get back with your Ex. But until YOU have determined that, you will have a really hard time moving on.

      I’d first recommend exploring whether or not your Ex wife would be willing to attend online couples counseling with you to see if there’s any “there” there. If not, the path forward for you will be to work with a breakup recovery coach or get involved in some divorce therapy in order to grieve this loss, release your attachment, heal and grow, and move on.

      We do offer additional resources here at Growing Self in addition to private breakup recovery coaching and divorce therapy including an online breakup support group, and an on demand breakup recovery course.

      However, my sense from your questions is that it would be more helpful for you to work one on one with a breakup recovery coach (who is also a licensed marriage and family therapist, BTW) in order to begin the process of healing and hopefully develop a strong coparenting relationship with your ex-wife that you feel good about, and that effectively supports the needs of your children too.

      I know it must feel weird to hear me saying that even though it’s already felt like such a long road, you haven’t truly started the process of “attachment detachment” and healing after a breakup, yet because I’m sure from your perspective you feel like you have. I hope that my saying this isn’t jarring for you. I hope that as you begin moving along this path and begin doing the work, moving through the stages of a breakup, and experiencing the difference in how you feel, it will all make more sense to you in time.

      Wishing you all the very best on your journey…
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  78. I’m having a very hard time letting go of pain and anger right now. My ex and I were living together just weeks ago. He always was the one pushng the relationship to being more committed. He said, I want kids, I want a future, I want to live with you build a life. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he said he really needed to work on himself. It was always something that I thought he needed, as he is recently sober person with no recovery community. So I accepted his tearful admission that he wasn’t able to be a good partner to me and he needed to be alone.
    I accepted and gracefully moved out, though it was painful for us both.
    However, he then stopped bein in contact after about a week after I moved out and I came to find out he started dating someone. DAYS after this whole speech of needing to be alone and being soooo sorry that he couldnt be a partner to me. How am I supposed to reason with this in my head? I sent him some messages about how hurt I was by this, and how disrepected I feel. How he acted dishonestly. He has not apologized or acted accountable. His response was that he swore he only met this person after we broke up (which checks out) and that basically I need to recognize that I knew I was dating an emotionally vulerable person. So it’s my fault? How do I justify the version of him that was the one who wanted me to be his wife, one week, dumps me the next, and immediately jumps into something with someone the next.
    I feel insane! Like reality is all messed up. And the girl he’s seeing is exactly his type. I know that within months he will be wanting her to move in, and do the same pattern again. I feel so used, because I don’t trust easily. Now I see that he can fall in love and commit to someone on a dime, and therefore be able to do a 180 just as easily. I cant stand this feeling. I’m having obsessive thoughts, and looking at pictures of his new girlfriend and wanting so badly to send him messages just ripping him apart. I know thats not going to help. I’m fairly self aware and have good self esteem but this is just impossible to reckon with for me.

    1. Oh dear, this is the worst of the worst. Not JUST were you blindsided by a breakup, you are having to simultaneously deal with your ex moving on. It is 100% normal to feel “insane” right now, as you said, and completely understandable, under the circumstances.

      It’s like you just found out that the relationship you had with this person for so long was not a lie necessarily, but much different than you thought in terms of his commitment to you, his capacity to love you, and even that he was telling you the truth. Its even harder when it’s difficult to for you trust people to begin with, and then something like this happens. This is a straight up relational trauma.

      Are you working with a breakup therapist or breakup recovery coach right now? If not, I would recommend that you get some support with this. But make it good, legitimate help please. Anyone who tells you that ___ specific thing is going to magically make you feel better and move past this is either misinformed or does not have your best intentions at heart.

      You have been traumatized, and you need to heal. What lies ahead of you is going to be a process, that will occur slowly, probably over months, and will involve a series of important, experiential growth “moments” including (but not limited to!):

      – making sense of what the hell happened
      – rewriting your narrative about who this person was
      – working through the anger all the way down into the hurt, grief and fear,
      – grieving this loss (not just of the relationship, but of your sense of safety and trust with other humans),
      – and beginning to release your attachment.

      That is just the first stage. Then, the time will come for you to go back through and figure out:

      – what you learned about yourself through this experience,
      – what you need to do to heal from this emotional trauma,
      – how rebuild your life and your sense of interpersonal security,
      – how to build yourself back up,
      – and then (perhaps and only if you want to) dip your toe back into the pool of finding a new and worthy love.

      And when you start dating and putting yourself out there, you can expect to get triggered and scared all over again and will have new layers of growth and healing that only emerge when you become vulnerable again.

      This is a long process. So 1) please don’t beat yourself up because you feel the way you do right now. Of course you do. And also 2) don’t beat yourself up for not being able to change this immediately. The path of authentic healing is long and multidimensional.

      But, hear this, as you move through the stages of healing you will be strengthened and you will grow and develop in ways that you would not have, had this terrible thing not occurred. I know that probably sounds hard to hear (and may not feel particularly helpful right now) but I will hold the faith that, years from now, when you’re in a healthy, committed, authentic, honest relationship that YOU created because of all that you wound up learning through this experience, you will have a quiet moment where you will suddenly feel gratitude for the opportunity to grow in the way you did. That the good healthy relationship you love so much would not have been possible, without you having done the work to attain it.

      No one gives these things to us. There is no advice. There is no blog post or podcast or therapist who has some “tip” or “strategy” can sling you over the slog of the growth process and arrive, triumphant, into the new state of being that awaits you on the other side of this journey. That is not how growth and healing happens. We have to earn it the hard way. The only way out is through. But once you have it, it’s yours to keep.

      SO: Connect with a good breakup recovery coach, do an experiential breakup recovery program that walks you through the steps, join a breakup support group, read some breakup recovery books…. basically, get to work. When you’re ready.

      Side-note: It is also 100% okay to spend as much time as you want to lay on the floor and cry and scream and send send hateful texts to the person who hurt you so terribly. Go for it. But sooner or later you’re going to get tired of feeling insane so at that point you’ll get up, and you’ll make the appointment, and you’ll join the group, and read the book, and you’ll do the things, and you’ll put one foot in front of the other and it will get better, in direct proportion to the efforts you make to heal.

      Not sure if this level of “radical honesty” is helpful or not, but it is the truth that I hold after years as a therapist and coach specializing in assisting people as they recover from this type of thing. My clients have done it. I’ve done it. You can do it too.

      Wishing you all the best my dear… Dr. Lisa

  79. Hi Doctor, Is it normal to be in a happy relationship with a man who treats you like gold and still think about a particular ex and feel weird when you see him moved on with someone else on social media? Help me, I feel stuck in the past and guilty. This particular ex ghosted me and came back a couple of times, and I think I never fully recovered from it before moving on. I always wondered well, if the timing was right maybe that relationship would have worked out and my life would be so different (not that I want it to be). Just want to know if you’ve seen this before and have any initial advice. Thank you!

    1. Unfortunately, I have. It sounds like you have maintained your fantasy-based emotional attachment to a person who mistreated you. Listen, toxic relationships are always more addictive than healthy ones. I think it’s probably time for you to make a decision about this past relationship, namely that it wasn’t a good situation for you and not one that would have worked out anyway. I can assure you that someone who ghosted you on multiple occasions only to resurface and leave again would not have suddenly become a person loved you and treated you well. What you experienced actually *was* the relationship experience with that person. (Let that sink in for a minute).

      It’s time to let go of whatever fantasies you’re harboring about what could have been, and block that person from your life for good. Only then will you be able to release that unhealthy attachment and turn all of your mental and emotional energy to the person who deserves it: your extremely kind and loving partner.

      Good luck!
      Dr. Lisa

  80. my husband of 20 years left me with kids. all i do is cry. i imagine him being constantly with her and i cannot move forward because we need to be in touch because of the kids. when kids called me this afternoon from his place i noticed he hung new pictures on the wall and i am more than sure these are her choices of art and she distributed them on the wall (he’s not very capable and creative). i am heartbroken. it’s been 4 months and i’m still crying like a baby….

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  82. I live with my x wife, because we have an autistic boy together. He would not understand if I moved out. He would never adjust to me leaving the house. My x has a boyfriend, and I can’t stand the thought of indirectly touching him. She touches him then brings his nasty germs home with her. How do I stop feeling like I’m touching him. I want to move out. I can’t do that to my son. If I don’t move, I feel like I will harm myself or my x. Very depressing.

  83. I live with my x wife, because we have an autistic boy together. He would not understand if I moved out. He would never adjust to me leaving the house. My x has a boyfriend, and I can’t stand the thought of indirectly touching him. She touches him then brings his nasty germs home with her. How do I stop feeling like I’m touching him. I want to move out. I can’t do that to my son. If I don’t move, I feel like I will harm myself or my x. Very depressing.

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  86. Me and my ex broke up a month ago she had a rebound we also were together 3 years and planned life together as we chat she would say her new man is making breakfast or he has already met the child and that’s somthing she would never be letting happen so fast I love her but she has this rebound and teases me about her new man

  87. Hi i was with my boyfriend for just over a year i recently was dumped by him who got another woman pregnant while we were on a break he is now acting really strange with me as if he never knew me the relationship wasn’t a healthy one but i really do love him and we have 2 kids together i am ready physically to let him go but emotionally i am struggling which effects everything else there is someone i am interested in but i want to be able to stop obsessing over him and this new woman who is now going to be apart of my children’s lives he has shown no remorse for his actions and i just want to be able to break the attachment and move on and never look back how can i do this?!

  88. Hi, Dr. Lisa. My name is Samuel and I’m so obsessed about my ex’s new relationship, to the point where I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t think, I’m basically a walking dead. We broke up three years ago (I can’t remember why, but I think it’s cause we thought maybe we were too young and we needed a little bit of time to think about what relationships are all about) and we’ve been friends ever since. Even then, we would always share a kiss, go out and have fun together, it somewhat felt like we never broke up but then we just occasionally remind ourselves that we’re not a couple. This has been going on for the past three years since we broke up, three years is long enough for anyone to move on but we just couldn’t. I grew even more fond of her and she felt the same way. For three long years, I don’t know why I couldn’t say anything about it and obviously, she was waiting for me to make a move and tell her I wanna get back together but I didn’t. On April 28th, this year, my birthday, it was the day I also planned to do what I’ve been meaning to do for the past three years, I wanted to tell her how I feel, how I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her every second of the day and hopefully get back together with her. I threw a little house party and invited her over. We shared a really long hug and that moment I just knew that I’ve been really dumb not to realize that she is the love of my life and it’s near impossible for me to move on. I went for a kiss, which right after I planned to tell her everything, but she pulled away and told me she’s seeing someone. What hurts the most is the fact that she said it’s all my fault, she said I made her wait for way too long and she’s unsure about her feelings for the new guy. I can’t think, I can’t sleep, my imagination isn’t helping at all, everything reminds me of her and her words keep ringing in my head. I really don’t know what to do.

  89. I want to stop obessing about my ex. i have to see her daily in office as she sits just beside me. please help me out.

  90. Hi Mukul,
    I’m so sorry to hear of your situation. That must be extremely difficult. Being in such close proximity to an Ex makes it difficult to hear. I would encourage you to see if there are opportunities to get some physical distance from her. Second I would advise that you build healthy distractions in to your day: Planning to have lunch with other co-workers, taking frequent breaks to walk around, and if possible listening to music or podcasts while you are at your desk. Planning interesting after-work activities may help as well. Then your job is to shift your attention to the positive things you have planned, whenever intrusive thoughts about your ex come up. Good luck!

  91. Hi,
    Thank you for the article, it has helped me put things into perspective. I have two questions:
    How long will it take to stop obsessing? I broke all contact to my ex recently and the pain is excruciating.
    Second question: how should I stop intrusive memories? We’ve been together for a very long time and all I can think of are snapshots of our past – the good parts, of course. I tried to apply the methods you describe, but it’s like fighting an impossible battle. All those memories that haunt me are not my imagination, they actually happened to me!
    Thank you

  92. Hi Ana,
    I’m glad that the article helped you, and I’m so sorry for your loss. Congratulations on breaking things off completely. In my experience doing that is often the first step of healing. I would expect that your intense obsessions will continue for at least several weeks. However if you stay firm in your commitment to “stay away” they will get better. In the meantime I would suggest practicing mindfulness skills, shifting your thoughts, and also allowing yourself to grieve. You might want to check out my “How to Get Over It” podcast. All the best to you– Lisa

  93. I was with a narcissist and after 8 weeks I am still waking up depressed with the feelings of frustration , as I put my all into the relationship and was just dropped off with my things as if I had bags of shopping ,he drove away and I had no explanation of why .. He was emotionless ,cold when I was with him , but for the first few months all over me and really loving then slowly it all changed ..When I txt to ask I was just told ,I think we came together when we needed each other and I dont regret a thing ,but for me I didnt feel this that I needed someone ,so I think I was used to help them get over their previous relationship as that’s all they talked about in the beginning ..I am now left with depression that the dr wont give me tablets for and this feeling of hopelessness even when I am out with friends ,whatever I am doing …I cant afford a councillor …I think your advice is amazing thank you for article .

  94. Maureen, so sorry to hear that you got tangled up with a narcissist. Totally understandable that after everything you’ve been through you’d have an “emotional hangover.” FYI, I think you’re totally right: The way that narcissists typically operate is to find a gratifying “supply source” (aka, you) that they basically suck dry. Then, they move on. And, as you know so well, that leaves you sitting in the rubble of your life trying to figure out what the heck happened. (And as I write this it just occurred to me that I have not yet done a podcast on the subject of narcissists — it’s now on the list!)

    I’m sorry too that it’s feeling like there’s not much available help for you. As for the medication question, I can’t speak for your doctor’s decision, but I do know that there is a difference between clinical depression and situational grief. While medication can be very helpful for people who have a tendency towards biologically based depressive disorders, for many people going what you’re going through the best, healthiest way to heal is to work through the feelings. (Not necessarily the fastest thing, but at least you don’t have to deal with the side-effects of medication!)

    As for how to accomplish that: I know that private counseling and coaching can be expensive although many practitioners (even at Growing Self) do offer sliding scale rates. That might be an option to consider if you’d like to partner with a supportive guide who can walk you through this.

    If you’d prefer to explore self-help options you might also check out some of the low-cost resources I’ve developed to help people just like you navigate this sort of thing. There’s my “Exaholics” book, my Heal Your Broken Heart online breakup recovery program, and you might also consider checking out The Happiness Class. Hope those ideas help you find your way through this Maureen… LMB

  95. I need help in moving on from my ex. We were on and off for a couple of years and I loved him very much but he looked at me as an option, which is why we never went official. He would lose feelings from time to time and the last time we were “on” he started liking another girl and distancing himself from me. I found out from his friends and he lied to my face about it. I told him I needed time and space to get over him because he could never be serious and he respected that. We haven’t talked in months and I have to see him everyday at school and I think he’s with that girl now. She sits beside me in class and I have to hear her talk about him to her friend, I feel like she does it on purpose to hurt me. The things she says about him and stories she tells her friends are very similar to memories I shared with him, and I feel like I’ve been replaced. It’s hard to stop caring for him because i spent years being in love with him. And he replaced me so easily. She hangs out with him everyday and texts him for hours and I hate that it used to be and him, but now we don’t even talk. The anxiety of going to that class now has built up to the point where I’ve been skipping the class for weeks. I really don’t know what to do. Please give me advice on dealing with this and how to just move on. It’s painful hearing her talk about him in front of me daily and knowing he likes her now. I fear I’ll become depressed over this situation, or end up trying to get him back. I just want to forget him and be happy but it never seems to work.

  96. Betty. Ugh. What you’re describing sounds so terrible. I’m inferring from your story that you’re pretty young. (High school?) I have so much empathy for what you’re going through, as I lived through something similar when I was in high school. Here’s my story. The hardest part for me was exactly what it sounds like you’re struggling with the most: the lack of power to protect yourself. If you were older, you’d have more control over your schedule, and could avoid these people. But you’re forced to be so close to them every day, and just re-traumatizes you over and over again. I’m so sorry that this is happening.

    Here’s my advice: Do everything you can to set some boundaries and invest energy in building up other parts of your life. Talk to your parents or school guidance counselor to see if you can change your class schedule. Get some new friends. Join a club or team, or take up a new hobby that has absolutely nothing to do with them. I know it’s not the same, but it’s something. Do everything you can to fill your life up with positive new things.

    AND this experience might be great motivation to buckle down, study your butt off, volunteer for an admirable cause, etc so that when it comes time to applying for college you will be the STAR APPLICANT that they all want. You can get into some amazing university, perhaps with a scholarship, and leave all those a–holes coughing in your dust.

    In the meantime, you might also consider talking to your parents or school guidance counselor about getting into some counseling. NOT that there is anything wrong with you, but having a supportive person to talk to about all these feelings might be really helpful. (Just make sure they can be supportive and patient and non-judgmental). If you’re interested you can also join our free online breakup recovery group through Facebook. Its not a therapy group or anything like that, just a place to connect with a community of people struggling with similar feelings. It’s a private, secret group and the only way to join is by messaging me on Facebook (which you are welcome to do: https://www.facebook.com/drlisabobby/). Take care of yourself Betty — in just a few years things will be totally different than it is now, and you’ll have so much more power and control over the amazing life that YOU design. xoxo, Lisa

  97. Hello! My ex of 7 months was perfect and everything was great. Within the last month or so we were fighting a lot about going out. He always wanted to, and it was never my thing. He ended it, and out of no where. He didn’t give me any time to figure out how to make it better or help. There is no way he really cared if he just dropped me like this??? He was so real and perfect and all of a sudden he changed. My therapist said he is a narcissist and used my anxiety to have power over me. I found out the day after we broke up, he started sleeping with someone else. I think he wants to be single so he’s only using her for sex. All I think of is how this isn’t the same person and I want nothing to do with him. But it’s my anxiety and my thoughts that sit and obsess and think of him and think of him having sex with her and it makes me feel so worthless and sick. I just don’t know what to do.

  98. Oh Elaine! What a hard, hard situation. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I think that you share feelings that are common to so many people in this situation, like the anxiety, and the “What the h*ll happened” thoughts that are so confusing. I am really glad that you are in a relationship with a therapist so that you have support, and a place to go to process all of this.

    Things that will help: There are a few key points that I’ve addressed in numerous breakup podcasts, my book, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love,” and my breakup recovery program, “Heal Your Broken Heart” that might be helpful to you right now. Namely, that early stage romantic love (the intense stage of love that sweeps you off your feet) is NOT the same thing as “true love” and attachment. It also takes a long time to really get to know people. What you ultimately learned about your Ex was very different than the information you had about him at the beginning, and that’s really, really confusing.

    In terms of your question, “What do I do with this?” I would recommend that you work with your therapist on how to set healthy boundaries around the obsessive thoughts themselves, as you continue to work through the grieving, meaning-making and anger-releasing aspects of your healing work. Any good therapist who practices evidence-based forms of counseling and coaching will be well-versed in strategies like mindfulness skills, cognitive behavioral strategies, and “stop and replace” techniques that are the gold-standard in managing the thoughts and anxieties that you’re describing.

    You might also consider joining our free online breakup support group on Facebook. To protect everyone’s privacy this is a “hidden” group so the only way to be included is to message me on Facebook and ask to become a member. I hope that you do — It’s a great group! Hope to see you there Elaine…. Lisa

  99. I am going through a really tough time. My boyfriend and I broke up a year ago. But since we were from the same office, same process and same floor, we still get to see each other. It was hard moving on because of that. At times we would talk and quite get far from just talking. But we never really got back together. I would cry most of the time because I see him and miss him but can’t be with him anymore. Recently I saw him with a new girl who happened to be from his team. He was flirting with her and it was so hard to bear seeing them everyday. I would cry every night dreading the fact that I get to see them the next day. The worst thing is he doesn’t care if I see him getting close to her. I couldn’t accept the fact that he moved on to a new girl It drives me crazy to think that she could be the one for him. I feel unworthy. It’s so traumatic to see him doing things for another girl that he used to do for me. I looked for another job but haven’t had luck yet. I tried to avoid them. But now I think I am developing anxiety, panics and depression. I can’t eat and sleep. And I just cry at home after work. I am so tired trying and don’t know what else to do.

  100. Kayes, I’m so sorry to hear about this difficult situation. I don’t know if hearing this makes it feel better or worse, but from my perspective you’re currently going through one of THE most challenging “perfect storms” of a bad breakup — being in a situation where you have to have contact with this person AND he’s dating someone else in your group, so you have to see that too! This is just so painful. I think that your question of “how to cope” with this situation deserves a better answer than I can provide here, and so I’m going to include it in a new upcoming breakup-questions themed podcast that will be posting soon. Look for it on or around 1/15. In the meantime please find small ways to take care of yourself, and if you can, limit your exposure to these painful / triggering situations. Also, if you do not currently have a supportive relationship with a counselor or coach I would strongly recommend that you seek one out, just to have more support during this terrible time. Also, if you’d like to, please join our free (hidden, completely private) online breakup support group via Facebook. (While you can’t join yourself because it’s hidden, you can connect with me @ http://www.facebook.com/drlisabobby to request to be added, and once we’re “friends” we can add you manually to the group). Hang in there Kayes….

  101. Hi Dr. Lisa,

    Thank you for your response. To know that my situation is one of the most challenging “perfect storms” of a bad break up helps me understand that what I am feeling is reasonable or understandable. I have been asking myself what is wrong with me because i feel like my feelings and pain haven’t diminished since we broke up. To know that my feelings are valid makes me realize that I should be a little more gentle with myself. I am really looking forward to the podcast for this. It would be of great help as I have been trying my best to be accountable for my situation and my hardest to cope and to prove myself that I am not a damsel in distress. But this is really a tough time for me. As of now I have been scheduling travels every month just so I could take a little break and have time for peace since I haven’t found a permanent escape from this situation yet. I am really excited for the podcast!! Thank you so much!!!

  102. Kayes, you bring up such a good point. SO many people beat themselves up for how terrible they feel after a bad breakup. Then they are heartbroken AND ashamed of the way they feel. I’m glad hearing that this is really, actually, objectively awful helped you feel validated in your experience. (I really needed that too, when I was going through my own personal hell). And I think it is so wonderful that you are getting out of town regularly — so smart of you to do that. I will post the link to the podcast here when it’s up. Soon! LMB

  103. Hi I need some help I’m a junior in School and Me and ex broke up, I broke it off. I’m a Christian, and you know we had some fun in my relationship. But he always tried to get me to do stuff against what I believed in. He chose his days when to treat me good, and how to treat me. He always thought he was just too tough to even call me names like baby and etc. Now I feel bad for breaking up with him, but I felt like I did what is best for me. I love him still, but not like I use to like a friendly way. Now he hates me, no text messages, no talking at school. Spreading lies about me all around the school saying I broke up with him from something he made up but the truth is he was all on my phone saying it hurts but he try to act tuff at school. I want to be friends with him no other all, I don’t us holding grudges against each other cause it’s stupid and childish. But why does it hurt. He always try to make me jealous, everytime we break up, he want to jump into a new relationship, and do stuff to make me jealous, and I always just keep my distance from him… Any advice anyone it hurts?

  104. My story is that in 2016 I met a Lady on a night out. I had initially made plans with her cousin who i am pretty close with and turns out she was there too. Now the Lady I knew from my childhood, our parents were very close but we had lost contact over the years. We hit it off that night had alot of fun and after visiting a few pubs she hit on me and proceeded to make out with me. I did not decline i was very happy to as i found her attractive. Thing is i some how always knew that I was interested in women as well but have never had the guts to act on it. We slept together that night too. This went on for about 8 months or so. Granted she lives in a neighbouring country we couldnt see each other as often but i did make a trip up there and we were in constant contact from the day we met. We build a quite a relationship. I have opened up in ways to her that i never have before. I went to visit her over new years 2016-2017 and we rekindled physically had a great time together got to spend alot of quality time. May I add that i was her first experience with a woman. The problem started as i revealed to her a few months after seeing in her home town, that I was in love with her.

    She laughed it off and said i was mad which was our usual crazy talk but i then revealed it again after a month or two and stating that i didnt need her to feel the same i was just saying how i felt. Soon after that i got a message saying that she has been doing some thinking and she cant be what i need right now. That she loves me but is not inlove with me and we should just try to be friends. I replied to it there was no nastiness from either side and we just stopped chatting for a while. I get that i was needy and temperamental i apologised for that. I just said that all i wished was that she would have been abit more emotionally available. We didnt chat for about a month and i initiated contact. We started chatting slowly again, and after about a month or so asked if she would come down to visit as she has family here too. She agreed and spent two days with me. We did end up getting physical on both times and she left. Our relationship kind of got weird as in i didnt know where we were and didnt want to ask incase it made things even more weird. I then sent her a video she send me in the early days and captioned it ” i miss her” i teased her about her reply as there was no emotion as usual when i called her on it she says i dont do emotion. She then told me that she has met someone and is very happy. I hit the floor i was burning inside but i replied i figured as much it was inevitable and im happy for you and. She tried to message me on a neutral basis that evening but i told her i needed time its great that she found love but hearing about it is another thing. We didnt chat again for about a month and out of the blue i messaged her and turns out she as home for xmas. SHe called soon after the message and we chatted for abit. We bumped into each other that night i was with people and so was she (we are not out). During ehr stay here we went hiking with her cousin and i , to the movies just her and i last minute and i picked her up to join my friends and i to go to the new years eve party together. After a few drinks we had a bit of time to chat and she just said meeting him wasnt planned it just happened and what we did was a phase she is happy but she absolutely wants me in her life still. I told her it was hard and i needed time but i am happy that she has found happiness. We had quite a deep convo under the influence. She told me a few times that night that she loves me . I had never heard her say it before. She came home with me and had an old boyfriend with us and her cousin in the car and she was rubbing my leg and laying on my shoulder whilst i was driving turns out after we dropped everyone off that she told me she is not a jealous person but was very jealous that he was around me and didnt like it. Then she asked me if we could spend the morning together as in sleep together without doing anything as she does not cheat she just wanted me to hold her. She asked if we would share a bed with her cousin to be safe. And we did I we slept half naked and just held each other. there was a biit of play but it didnt end up serious. I went to see her before she left the country we have been in contact but not as much as when she was here.

    If i managed to start letting and already in the understanding that she isnt single why do i feel so left. I also didnt want her to cheat that why i agreed that we shouldnt be alone. I am feeling abit hurt and alone but i think its due to my sensative nature. I truly want her to be happy but why does it hurt me still. I love her and i waited so long to hear something from her but did it have to be when under the influence? I am also sooooo greatful that I messaged her when i did and that she replied at least i got to see her again and we made some really awesome memories! I am just struggling abit as to how i am going to cope with the future and progress. I love her with all my heart especially after what she shared with me about her past. SHe means so much to me. Please help me .

    I am finding myself stressing about things that havent happened yet and what ill do when she totally moves on e.g. marriage.
    I have decided that im more at peace being a friend to her and keeping intouch with her than not. And im normally ok just at times i do have a setback. I have to learn how to cope. I am learning to focus more on myself etc learn new thinkings focus on what i want build my own life but i do slip and today is one of those days,

    Thank you in advance Sarah

  105. Sarah, what a hard situation. It sounds like you got involved with someone who doesn’t share your feelings, yet who is still sending you very mixed messages that keep you hanging on. Anyone would be confused in your position. I would recommend that you take your power back, and decide that relationships that make you feel like this one does (i.e., agonized and anxious) are not good for you, and that you’re not going to participate in them any more. This article might be helpful to you: Are You Addicted to a Toxic Relationship? Good luck… LMB

  106. Kayla, it sounds like you are doing a super job of setting healthy boundaries for yourself. Yes, some people don’t like it when you set limits with them, and may even try to “punish” you for it. (Particularly very immature people). I would encourage you to listen to your inner wisdom that’s telling you that you really don’t need “friends” like this in your life. I hope that you put time and energy into relationships that feel more respectful fulfilling for you, going forward. I’d also encourage you to remind yourself that it is not “stupid and childish” but rather “healthy and wise” to keep your distance from people who have shown you that they are not honorable, honest, or safe for you. You can trust yourself. You might consider connecting with your school guidance counselor for additional support in feeling confident in sticking to your guns. You’re doing a good job! LMB

  107. Thank you so much for this article. I felt like you were talking directly to me, describing exactly what I’ve been thinking and feeling. I will practice the things you suggested in your article. Also going to check out ‘Are you addicted to a toxic relationship’, because this really does feel like an addiction, and I’m in withdrawal.

  108. I was married for 18 years to a man with incredible anger issues and who was verbally and emotionally abusive. We spent the last two and a half years of our marriage in counseling and made great progress. Just when I finally had forgiven him and felt very hopeful for our future, I found out that he had been lying and keeping from me that he had spent over $7,000 on scratch tickets in 3 months while making no financial contribution (his underemployment and taking advantage of my work ethic had been a problem for years). It was such a betrayal after all the work we had done in counseling that I knew I’d never trust him again, so I divorced him.

    That was 19 months ago. The worst of it was that I had worked so hard to trust him again and I had fallen in love with him and felt that we were stronger than ever. We stayed in contact, believing that we could still be friends in some way. For me, I moved halfway across the country when I left him and I think I just couldn’t face him not being a part of my life.

    He told me he occasionally sees a woman but that it’s not serious, just something to occupy his time. But I found out from others that he had been seeing her exclusively for 8 months! More dishonesty and the pain that he had obviously moved on much farther than I had was excrutiating.

    I finally cut off contact with him. I deleted our text message conversation (which went back many, many years). But for weeks, I would find myself miserable and unable to stop the painful, destructive obsessive thoughts about him and her. It has been very hard but now every time I have a thought about him (whether it’s about him with his girlfriend or just about him), I remind myself that allowing him into my life in any way means allowing all of his drama, dishonesty, judgment and pain into my life.

    I visualize that I have a box which has a start date of the day we met and an end date of the day I decided I have to move on and in that box is where I keep him and our marriage (the good, the bad and the ugly) and I keep that box high up on a shelf. I remind myself that to open that box gives him life and power and an opening to bring all of that pain, abuse and betrayal back into my life. It has helped me so much to remind myself that all of the bad stuff is not my problem anymore. I know that no matter how well he’s hiding all of his bad stuff from her now, eventually he will show the real him. And I never have to deal with it again.

    All of this happens very quickly. A thought about him pops into my head; I stop and remind myself that he and all his crap belongs in that box and isn’t my problem anymore; I tell myself that thinking about him does nothing but hurt me; i refuse to give him power to cause me pain; and I change my focus to what I’m going to wear that day or what I need to pick up at the store, etc.

    The best part is that every day puts me that much farther away from the pain and that much farther on my path of moving on. If we got chips for being “clean and sober” from our exaholism, I’d be approaching my 30-day chip!

  109. I am glad to hear that this was helpful to you Tiffany. All the best to you in your recovery…

  110. Susan, wow – what a roller coaster. Thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like you’re committed to ending this toxic relationship, and I’m glad for you. I’m also glad to hear that you’re using some of the techniques I suggest in this article and in my Breakup Recovery program, and that they’re working for you. Well done! I hereby grant you a “chip!” 🙂 LMB

  111. My ex broke up with me after 3 years on and off relationship. The last 6mths of which we lived togeather with her 7yrs old daughter. I found out I had an illness which resulted in our relationship becoming strained. She’d told me she never loved any man like myself. She was always very fixated on getting married (she’s divorced). She broke up with me 3mths later met someone knew and after 6 mths they are now engaged. What you recommend makes sense but it’s not working and s frustrating that I’m not moving in fast enough and these obsessive thought are interfering with my day to day life and sleep.

  112. So sorry to hear about this situation Nathan. It sounds like this has been a very traumatic loss for you, and I can understand why. Are you currently doing any kind of therapy, or personal growth work around this? I ask because, while “techniques” can helpful, many times (most of the time, actually) they’re not really enough to help you heal on a deep level. If you’re not already, I would recommend that you engage the support of a good counselor or coach with specific experience in helping people move through breakups. If you’re looking for a more affordable option than private counseling or coaching, I’d recommend my online breakup recovery program. It can walk you through the same growth experiences that we teach our private clients for how to let go, and move on. Just remember, healing is not an “event.” It’s a “process.” I know that is probably so annoying to hear, but it’s true. Without the growth work, people can stay stuck in this for a loooooonnnng time. But do the work, and you’ll move through it. All the best, LMB

  113. Thankyou Dr. some sound advice, which I will pursue. Thanks for taking the time to respond and understanding.

  114. Hi Lisa,

    Last summer I was involved in a really complicated and intense relationship with a man that was a lot older than me. I met him when I was 18 and he was in his 30s, and despite the problems in our relationship he claimed to have loved me and to this day I’ve never been happier than when I was with him. I knew it was a bad idea from beginning to end but it was my first time being in love and I was so attached to him that I couldn’t leave even when I knew I should have. The relationship eventually ended after a few months and he immediately cut off all contact with me. The distance should have made it easier to get over him, but the aftermath of this relationship has sent me into a downward spiral of self-doubt, depression, and also obsession. This next part is hard to admit, but a few months after the breakup and still being torn up about it I managed to figure out the password to a lot of his social media and personal accounts. Since then I’ve been obsessively looking through his information and checking up on his daily life, including keeping tabs on the new girl that he seems to be dating. I know that all this information is incredibly damaging to my mental health and keeping me from moving on but I can’t seem to stop myself from doing it no matter how hard I try. Now it’s been 7 months since the break up and I still can’t seem to break free of this prison I’ve seemed to set up for myself. I haven’t seen him in months but I still think about him every day and the thought of him with this new girl makes me feel physically ill, especially when I can see the messages they send each other. I think on top of hurting over losing him a lot of this obsession is rooted in my lack of self-worth and self-esteem, as this new girl is a lot more attractive than I am as well as being older and more accomplished. I know I am only hurting myself by stalking him but this feels like an addiction I can’t kick…this may make me seem like a terrible person but if you have any insight at all that might help I would be incredibly grateful.

  115. Hi, if you could please reply that would be a great first step.

    My ex has left me 3 weeks ago now, we have two young daughters (4 and 2)
    All the happy memories off being at the births, holiday even going to the local park and having a picnic. I just can’t stop thinking about her! It dose not help that I have to see her when I see my kids! I don’t know if we will get back together this time and the thought of another man with my ex plus around my kids is killing me!
    I love her to bits and I can’t stop thinking about her!
    What can I do as like I said “it’s driving me insane thinking about another man with my ex.

    I need to let go as soon as I know that it’s done for good but I need help. It’s a bloody addiction!
    Thank you

  116. Emily thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your story. I think that all of us going through a really terrible breakup have done things that feel out of character. It’s part of the experience to “lose it” a little when our primary attachment is disrupted. (For more on this topic I’d encourage you to check out my story, “The First Step in Recovering From a Breakup”, or the Exaholic: Breaking your addiction to an Ex love book — I think that you’ll get a lot out of the latter, in terms of understanding and self-compassion).

    While I can’t tell you what you should do, I would encourage you to make use of some of the other resources available to you on our site as you work towards liberating yourself emotionally from what sounds like a very painful situation. There are a number of episodes of the Love, Happiness and Success podcast about breakup recovery. Here’s another good one about “What to do when your Ex has moved on” that might help. I know from experience as a therapist who specializes in breakup recovery, that most people are not able to move on until they have stopped seeking out information about their Ex. While they often have a compulsion to do it in the moment, like scratching poison ivy, it invariably makes things worse and only prolongs the pain.

    Other great resources for you: I’m officially inviting you to join our private (free) breakup recovery group on Facebook. This is a “hidden” group so you can’t find it online. Please message me through my Facebook page and once we’re connected we can add you. This is a private group so your enrollment will not be seen, and your comments and posts can only be seen by other members of the group. Lastly, you might consider either my online breakup recovery program, or possibly some private breakup recovery coaching / counseling if you could use some extra support. This is such a hard, hard thing to deal with, and the key to recovery is support. I hope you make use of all the support available for you here Emily. All the best to you on your journey of growth… Lisa

  117. Lee, such a terrible situation. I’m so sorry this is happening. My first piece of advice for you would be to listsen to this podcast, “How to Stop a Divorce and Save Your Marriage.” Three weeks is not that long in the big scheme of things. If I were in your shoes I would want to do everything in my power to see about mending your marriage, both for your sake and for that of your children. Have you two done any kind of couples counseling together? It may be worth trying to see a good marriage counselor together, to see if there is any opportunity for repair. On that note, many, many therapists offer marriage counseling but do not have specialized training or experience in this area. It does NOT go well, particularly when people have serious issues in their relationship. Look for a “Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist” and make sure that they specialize in couples counseling. And for the love of God, please stay away from any “relationship coach” who does not have at least a master’s degree or a doctorate in counseling. Your marriage, and your future are on the line and the last thing you need is someone who has “a lot of life experience” and a weekend seminar under their belt trying to guide you. I don’t mean to be a marriage counseling snob, but at most you have one chance to fix this, and I’d so hate for you to go to some hack who doesn’t know what they’re doing…. and then have this repair attempt fail. I’ll get off my soap-box now.

    If you find that this is absolutely not salvageable, then you can begin the work of breakup recovery. But it doesn’t sound like you’re there yet! I will keep my fingers crossed for you. Yours sincerely, Lisa

  118. Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for your advice. I really really want to stop these hurtfull thought about my ex and his new girl, me being kept out and not being good enough…
    My problem is, I have such a hard time with step 1, the self awareness. It is about saying to yourself that you are thinking about something that is not really happening in the moment. However, my mind keeps on saying: how do you know? it might actually be happening right now! It’s saturday morning and they will probably in bed together right now.
    Can you help with this?
    Thank you

  119. Stefanie, you bring up such a great point. It is much, much easier to talk (or write, for that matter) about “self awareness”or “mindfulness” than it is to practice it. There are many self help resources available to help you learn how to build mindfulness skills and get in control of your “time traveling thoughts.” You might start by checking out the first unit of the Happiness Class, “Happy Mind” in which I teach mindfulness and “metacognition”skills. (i.e. learning how to think about what you’re thinking about, and redirect your mind.) I’ve also done a number of podcasts on the subject of mindfulness (check out the list on iTunes). Here’s another new article from one of my breakup recovery colleagues, Markie K: How to Deal When Your Ex Moves On.

    But… I’m going to be totally real with you here, and give you the same advice I would if you were my younger sister: Self help might not be enough to help you get the upper hand with this. Intrusive thoughts about your Ex are fueled by the unresolved emotions and pain underneath it, and it is very, very hard to muscle them into submission on your own. “Tools” are great, but nothing can replace a supportive relationship with a good counselor or coach who knows you and cares about you, and who can also reflect back to you things that you might not even be aware that you’re doing. Great therapy and coaching always balances emotional safety with challenge to see things differently, and do things differently. We all have blindspots — things we think and do without even being aware of it. That is so, so true when it comes to breakup recovery. Ferreting out the thinking patterns and distortions that are causing you so much pain can be really hard to do with self help alone.

    If you’re not currently in a supportive relationship with a therapist who is both patient, and able to challenge you when and where you need it, I strongly suggest that you find one. Do yourself a favor and try to find a counselor or coach who really understands breakup recovery. There’s a difference…. All the best, LMB

  120. Dear Lisa,
    Thank you for this fantastic blog, your podcasts and all words – all scenarios, emotions and behaviours resonate with my so much!!!
    Over 8 months ago I broke up with my boyfriend of 7 years. Officially we broke up because it has not been good between us for months and we were both frustrated I guess. But the truth was that he left me for another women who he works with and had an affair for months. I also discovered that he cheated in the past. This has literally crushed my world, I trusted him unconditionally and had never thought that he could hurt me like this.
    I still cannot swallow this betrayal and all lies which I could clearly see only after I found out the real reason for our break up.  My self esteem is in pieces, she works as a model, is much younger than me (and him), her life and all other achievments remind me of my own passions and goals which I have never accomplished. I know this constant comparing is unhealthy…..
    What crushes me even more is that it has been over 7 months and I thought that in my own way I have been processing it and getting out of the darkness….but after listening to your podcasts I realised that I have not even moved through the first stage! Instead of this being a linear process it feels like going in circles, like it is actually getting worse. One day I feel that I have processed it all, another it hurts so much that I want to rip my heart out. I cut off all contacts with him as soon as I discovered that he had moved on before we broke up, and he has not been trying to reach out either ( which also hurts as it feels that he has happily moved on once the main baggage i.e. me was off the picture). So from us breaking up to me cuting it all off was 1 week, it all happened so fast that it took me 2 months to actually realise what had happened.
    I have been searching for information on social media in search for some closure and validation. I have been in totally self destructive mode for months and I know this but I just cannot jump over this fence, their “grass looks so much greener”…
    I blocked everything and deactivated my social media accounts only 2 days ago, as I realised that I am thinking about them literally 24/7 and this just has to end!
    I find it so difficult to forgive, especially to forgive myself, and to find out who I am now after past 7 years….
    I am wondering whether it is this lack of clousure….because I literally sent one msg and dissapeared (he wanted to clarify things, but I would not have been able to trust his words and thought these potential lies would have hurt me even more….so I did not respond).
    I have just bought your book and have been listening to your wonderful podcasts. Though I don’t wish anyone to experience all these emotions it is actually good to know that I am not alone and all these feelings and behaviours are ‘normal’ in a way.
    Thank you Lisa.

  121. Angie, thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad to hear that the podcasts and articles about breakups you’ve found here have been helpful for you as you’re going through this difficult time. I’m sorry that this is happening. You’ve done the right thing in protecting yourself from contact, but I know that it still hurts. It sounds like you’re in that ultra-painful space of loss, grief, and anger, and that this experience has done a number on your self esteem too. (Understandably). If you’ve been listening to my podcasts and reading things from me, I know that you know this already but I’m going to say it anyway: This is normal. You are having a totally normal (though terrible) reaction to losing your primary attachment. I hope that you maintain compassion for yourself as you move through this process.

    With regards to the process itself, I’m also hearing you say that you’re feeling “stuck” in the early stages. This too, is normal, believe it or not. Many (most!) people need support to move past the ultra-painful stage and into the deeper levels of healing. Without a roadmap, it’s really easy to just spin, and spin, in the same painful thoughts and feelings for a very long time. I hope that the “Breaking your addiction to an Ex love” book supports you in moving forward. I also hope that you find other ways of supporting your healing work. Healing from heartbreak doesn’t just happen: It’s an active process. You might consider checking out our “Heal Your Broken Heart” online breakup recovery program, which has various exercises to help you move through the steps of healing. You might also consider enlisting the support of a good counselor or coach who can help you work through all these feelings, and guide you through the process of healing. (Here’s more informaiton about our breakup recovery experts, if you’re interested in working with someone from Growing Self).

    At the very least, I sincerely hope that you join our free online breakup recovery support group. This is a peer-to-peer private (secret!) group on Facebook, where you can just share your feelings and experiences with other people who are going through similar things. Because this is a hidden Facebook group, we need to be connected as friends before we can add you. If you’d like to be included in the group, please get in touch with me on Facebook so that I can add you. Hope to see you in our group!

    All the best, LMB

  122. Thank you so much for all the advise however unfortunately I’m in a really bad way. My ex broke up with me last Aug after 3 1/2 years and sadly I’m still 24/7 obsessed. I thought she was the love of my life, our kids and very beings were fully intergraded. She was the first person i spoke to in the morning and the last at night until one day with no warning a phone call ending it. No closure and all existence of us on social media gone. It wasn’t another guy( although now she has one) and yes I acted desperately afterwards seeking answers but was blocked and have got none. This obsession is preventing me from being the best person/father I can and want to be. I’ve started seeing a professional but it’s yet to help. I would love and really appreciate your advice… thank you.

  123. Thank you. This has been so helpful. It has never occurred to me that I had physiological responses to thoughts just as if things were occurring in the present. Stopping to tell myself that the thoughts are not happening gives me peace. I can move on. My imagination was getting the better of me. Thank you.

  124. Hi Lisa! I’ve been with my ex off but mostly on for the past 5 years. During this time, even when we were “off”, we were still intimate on a very regular basis. Right now we’re off but he still spent the night at my house 3 nights in a row last week. The 4th day, I noticed he was acting strangely and I had been suspecting he had been seeing his daughters mother again. She and I live in the same neighborhood so I rode by her house and of course, his car was there. He tried to park it off to the side, I’m assuming thinking I might not see it. He’s told me time and time again they are just friends, not sleeping together and he would never be back with her. She’s not very well liked so he won’t even admit to his friends that he’s friends with her. Well after seeing his truck, I call her and we talk. Everything comes out at that point and she makes him leave. Not a pretty scene for any of us because he had been lying to us both. Well I have to pass her house on the way out but mine is further back so she doesn’t have to pass mine. I cut off all contact with him. Not because I wanted to but because I deserve better than to be lied to. But I’m devastated. Now to top it off, he’s spending the night at her house and I have no choice but to see it. I don’t believe he wants to be with her anymore than he wants to be with me. I truly think this choice is due to a child support hearing they have coming up. Their daughter is 13 but when his ex doesn’t get her way, she drags him back into court for more money. His own mother agrees that she feels that’s why he’s seeing her again. But that doesn’t make me hurt any less. How do I stop the pain when it’s literally in my face? In your article, you speak on Self Awareness and knowing what you’re thinking isn’t real. But in my situation, it might not be as romantic and heartfelt as what’s going through my head but it’s certainly real that they’re sleeping together. And just right down the road, right this minute. I’ve read so many self help books and articles on moving on and doing this and that but most read like they’re written by someone that’s never lived it. Some things are impossible to get out of your head when you’re hurting. I just don’t know what to do. Help me…Any advice is appreciated.

  125. Oh Sam. I’m so, so sorry you’re going through this. This is NOT in your head. In my opinion, what you are living through right now is on of the absolutely hardest things that you can deal with in a breakup — having to see your Ex with someone else. I know, I’ve lived it. (Different phase of life, but I can assure you that the pain was very real.) I am not sure that I can do your question justice in this format, but I am in the process of compiling questions for another podcast on the subject of how to cope with a breakup and I will address it at more length there. I will be sure to ping you when it’s up and running.

    BUT: My advice to you now, is 1) get as much physical distance as you possibly can. Do you HAVE to drive by her house? Or can you take another route? Anything you can do to prevent being triggered by the in-your-face-ness of it all would help. 2) This will feel much less agonizing for you if YOU decide that YOU don’t want to have anything to do with this person any more. When you’re feeling hurt, discarded and rejected, the pain is enormous. But if you can decide that this is not good enough for YOU, you can start to take your power back. 3) If you do not have a person in your corner to support you in this grief and the hard work of taking your power back (i.e., a great therapist or coach) I would strongly encourage you to get one.

    This is just too much for anyone to go through alone. We have some amazingly smart and compassionate coaches here at Growing Self and I hope that you consider scheduling a consultation with one of them. You’re also officially invited to join our free online breakup support group. (Not a therapy group or anything, just a peer support group on Facebook for people going through situations like this.) Message me on Facebook and we’ll add you.

  126. Hi Peter, thanks for reaching out about such a terrible situation. I think I’m hearing from your story that you’re in the first stage of breakup recovery. (The first, most horrible stage where you’re just in terrible pain all the time, obsessing, can’t think about anything else, and feeling kind of out of control). First of all I want you to know that this is really normal. If it would be helpful for you to learn more about what’s going on in you physiologically and emotionally to make you feel this way, I’d encourage you to read the first couple of chapters of my book, Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love. For me, knowing what’s going on is enormously comforting, and I hope that this information provides you with the same.

    In terms of your question, “What do I do?” I hope that you took a few tips from this article, and other articles and podcasts I’ve done on the subject about using mindfulness, thought shifting, etc to help you get through the hardest parts. But truthfully Peter, the path to healing is not an “event” or something that can be changed with a few words of advice, or a technique. Rather, you have to work through the steps of healing. (And no, time alone will not heal, nor will just talking to a therapist who may not be familiar with the actual healing and recovery process). This is active work. Check out our online breakup recovery program, “Heal Your Broken Heart” to learn more about the healing process, and to get a step by step guide that will move you along this path.

    Furthermore, this space can be so isolating and many people benefit enormously from having support as they’re going through it. I hope you consider joining our free online breakup support group. (Not a therapy group, just a peer support group made up of people going through similar situations). This is a private, hidden Facebook group so you’ll need to message me on Facebook in order to be added. I hope that you do.

    All the best to you in your recovery…. LMB

  127. Hi. My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 years. We broke up recently for a couple of months and I slept with someone else. He also got in a relationship with someone else. His relationship ended and we decided to give us another chance. We’ve been back together for 3 months now and he’s struggling with the fact that I was intimate with somebody else. Would the above steps help him move on from this?
    Thank you in advance 🙂

  128. Hi Rachel, thanks for getting in touch with your question. The situation you’re describing is a common one: When couples take “breaks” and in the interim connect with other people, and then get back together again, often there are lingering feelings of jealousy or pain that stem from the sexual or intimate encounters that partners had during the break.

    While I think that all the strategies in this article are great for helping one to manage anxiety, and redirect attention, when it comes to intrusive thoughts, these are just basic skills. I don’t know that they are truly helpful for the deeper work that often needs to be done in cases like yours, which is often centered around working through feelings and coming to terms with what has happened. (Finding forgiveness, addressing feelings of jealousy, regret, and often much more). For this kind of work, I think that couples counseling is in order. I say that because, in my experience, this can be challenging work for couples to do. Many times the feelings that get triggered when couples try to have productive conversations around these topics can wind up being so big that they shut down communication or lead to conflict rather than connection. To meet with a third party who can help you manage the feelings and have positive, productive conversations that move you forward (instead of a fight) can make all the difference in helping you heal as a couple so that you can both put this behind you.

    Also, in this case (I hope that it is okay for me to say this!) you’re describing a situation where there was a breakup, and then a reunion. I don’t know if the things that led you to break up in the first place were addressed and successfully resolved. If not, that “unfinished business” could be another factor that may be contributing to the current state of affairs. Meeting with a relationship expert to talk about the dynamics that led you to break up in the first place can also be extremely helpful, because when you both are actively working on making positive changes in your relationship it strengthens your bond and your commitment to each other. This in itself can be a very healing experience for couples, and makes it much easier to move past the past.

    So, to sum up, I think that if this relationship is important to you and you want it to endure, it would be worthwhile to get involved in effective couples counseling for both the immediate issue of lingering feelings around the things that transpired during the breakup, as well as the underlying issues that may need to be addressed for both of you to move confidently forward together long-term. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation session to meet with one of the relationship experts on our team, here’s the link: https://bit.ly/2hz5nFX

    Wishing you all the best Rachel… LMB

  129. I’m 22 & M. Three months ago, my first girlfriend of 2 1/2 years broke up with me. Although it was rough for me at that time, I was able to get through it somehow. But recently I got to know from her that she is now with another guy. The guy who was the shoulder to cry on. This made me very very uncomfortable. And she specifically told me the things he does which I didn’t do when we were together. Which could’ve saved our relationship if I did those.

    Now I’m so much hurt and there’s this pain in my chest all the time where I think about what I have done. I have made so much commitments to get/keep her and it just breaks my heart into a million pieces the fact that some other guy got her love by just hearing what I did wrong off from her and then showing her that he won’t do those. And that he should’ve not made the 1% of the effort I made to be with her. When we were together we were taking different life paths, we were at different collages and it was a big challenge for me. We met only like once a month and we were close only by texting and calling for those 2 1/2 years. But this new guy is from her same college and they get to meet everyday. So it must’ve been easier for him which makes me feel so angry inside my heart.

    Enough about her new guy, the other thing is that I don’t see me moving on anytime soon. When I was with her I took a really bad decision. I decided not to be make other female friends cause I thought it would cause drama and would ruin our relationship. I know that decision was immature but at that time I did it by my heart to keep her forever and I don’t regret it now. It’s just that now I don’t have any female friends that I talk with which makes me feel like I’m a loser compared to her.

    Now I feel very isolated, I only have my family. I do have some friends from a long time but I don’t get the chance to hang out or talk with them much as we are in different collages. What should I do by myself to feel less isolated and unloved. Ever since I heard this news I’ve been waking up every morning thinking about it. Which puts me in a very bad situation throughout the day and affects my daily life in a bad way. What should I do in order to get this pain off my chest?

  130. I got broke up with a girl who really loved me but i always hurted her by flirting girls now she is committed with my friend and i am depressed i can’t eat my meals properly i keep thinking about things that i did to her the guy must be doing now.How can i get over it as soon as possible

  131. Hi Dr. Lisa thanks so much for the brilliant wisdom shared to help helpless situations.

    My question is, my girlfriend broke up with me on my birthday after ignoring for 2weeks prior to my birthday.
    She told me a lie that her father was not in support of the relationship when apparently she had found herself a new boyfriend from her office. I was so broken when I had to find out all of these things by myself. She asked for us to be friends but I refused. Cut all contacts with her and at least there are times i wake up feeling all good and seeing quite an impressive improvement but there are times that the situation is bad.

    Unfortunately for me, I had to resign from my job so that could pursue my vision and plan and I lost my investment which obviously has hypnotized me in financially and that is the time she also decided to leave.

    I have tried many times to break away from any emotional attachment with her by cutting all forms of contacts with her but my greatest challenge now has to do with our mutual friends. Sometimes they post pictures of hers on social media and I am hurting deeply. How do handle that?

  132. Hey there. First of all, I’m so sorry you’re going through such a painful situation. In my opinion, both professionally and personally, there is no worse feeling than regret. Knowing that you made a mistake that led to consequences that you can’t fix is just terrible. We’ve all lived it, but it’s awful. In order to move forward emotionally, my recommendation to you would be to cultivate a “growth mindset” meaning that you focus on the fact that you learned a great deal about yourself and relationships from this experience, and that you’re committed to not replicating the same mistakes in the future. Here’s a podcast that might support you in this: How to Cope With Disappointment. My online breakup recovery program, “Heal Your Broken Heart” also devotes a lot of time to walking you through exercises where you can 1) work towards forgiving yourself and 2) harvest the life-lessons from this experience.

    You also bring up a great point about your feelings of isolation. It’s so easy to neglect other relationships when you’re partnered, and many people feel the sting of lonliness when they lose their primary relationship. I completely agree that it would be a great idea for you to be investing time and energy in other connections right now. They don’t need to just be with women. Look for opportunities to create meaningful connections with others. Here’s a podcast to support you with that: How to Find True Friendship in a Frantic World.

    Lastly, it’s one thing to have friends for companionship, connection, and fun, but I kind of get the sense from your question that you’re looking for someone that you can talk to at length about how badly you’re feeling in order to “get the pain off your chest.” I wholeheartedly agree that would be helpful for you, but if you’re looking for friends it’s a bad idea to put “civilians” in the role of your therapist or coach! I sincerely hope that you seek support from a professional helper who can listen to you and walk you through the path of healing and recovery. If you’re in college you probably have access to a number of free counseling sessions from your college counseling center, so you might want to start there.

    I know this hurts, but it’s through these life experience that we grow and evolve (IF you use them as opportunities). Promise!

    All the best to you…

    Lisa

  133. Hi Lisa,

    I have to say that I love this article. It gives so many good pointers. I was in a relationship with a man who has a small child (not even 2). While I can’t believe I let myself do this, everyone in his life knew about me including his family and friends, all except the mother of his child and I allowed that to continue. I asked him why she couldn’t know and he said he wasn’t sure what her reaction would be and he didn’t want to risk not seeing his child. Well we were not even together a year so it could be worse, but I did think he could be the love of my life. I spent lots of time with him and his daughter, and his friends off the bat. Sometimes things would throw me off, especially when he started doing more things with his ex and child together, but I didn’t want to rock the boat, mostly because he has a child and I didn’t want to be taken as misunderstanding. Also, he was entirely open about when they did things, so I felt somewhat ok about it.

    Things were great, until they weren’t. He made less and less effort, though just the minimum and deep down I had this sinking feeling it was because his ex was being nicer. She was the one who instigated the dumping and people told me they were so bad together, including my cousins which is how we met, so I didn’t dream it was possible. And he was like a puppy in love with me for awhile.

    Getting to the point, he did end up breaking up with me and wanting to work things out with his ex because he said that if they worked hard enough it could work and also learned that he had been leaning this direction for a little while. While this hurt, I understood the logic that it would be best for their daughter, especially if they were able to get along as parents. At the same time, I realized that he had started just keeping me around as a backup plan and he owned he would have gone back to her even when things were awful between them, if his ex had wanted it. I felt lied to and used, so I ended up telling his ex, mostly because I felt she should know, especially since I was around her daughter a lot and she never knew, and also because I couldn’t bear the fact of just being swept under the rug like I had never existed. Most dramatic things I have ever done!

    Through this, I found out they had gotten back together while we were still together, even if it was just 2-3 weeks before we broke up. So as if being left for another woman wasn’t enough, being cheated on on top of that has been very difficult.

    It was only 2 months ago and I have never been a person to ruminate or mope about things often. While I know that my actions lead to a huge rift in their relationship, and maybe they’re not even together at the moment, I am sure they will be. They both live somewhat close to me, even if in separate apartments, and I have not been able to stop thinking about all the anxiety I had in that relationship, especially when I felt he might get back with his ex. I then think of them being together. In after sight, I realized that this is not the type of man I want to be with, but it’s just the feeling of having been replaced by someone who more than one person said didn’t make him happy, and then the feeling of betrayal and being used. Also…the feeling that he would make passionate love to me, but perhaps be thinking of her, or had maybe even gone home to her. It’s really possibly one of the worst relationship traumas I’ve dealt with!!

    Kids make it different and no I never want to be with this man again. I think it’s just being replaced before being dumped. Ouch. Nonetheless, I have written down your pointers and am going to employ them because no matter how distracted I get, it’s like I can’t stop thinking about it, so I need something like these tips to use as kind of a system.

    I appreciate it. Best ones I’ve come across so far.

    Thank you!

    Rachel

  134. Hi Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby,

    I’m 45 years old, and seven weeks into a split from a woman I thought was ‘the one,’ in terms of our connection, (mostly) shared values and her wit, kindness and love for my two sons.
    The relationship fell apart because – in the early stages – she divulged intimate information about her past, and – though I warned her I was uncomfortable/have certain issues about this she never held the reins on letting slip little bits and pieces about her sexual past (admittedly not a high figure, but there were discrepancies and doubts and little tid-bits I really didn’t need to know). She lost her virginity at a pre-teen age, and – shortly before me – had been single for 5 years but used to used to sleep (naked, but apparently non-sexually) with men on a regular basis. It all confused the hell out of me. She seemed so together but she was so crude and over-liberal sometimes. In the end, once all this had percolated inside my head for months the strain became too much (we were together for 9 months but at least 4 of these were toxic).
    I loved her, I never hurt her (not physically anyway), but now I have huge feelings of guilt and regret. I saw a life together, a real future for her and my kids. She’s currently selling her house and moving on and occasionally mails me passive-aggressive articles about ‘learning to trust,’ or sending articles for things my youngest boy might like – all of which dig the knife in deeper as I know how close their relationship was.
    I bumped into her yesterday for the first time in weeks. She said ‘hello,’ and I made the mistake (partly a consequence of being caught off-guard but I also in that split second rationalised that me just replying ‘hello’ and her walking away would upset me more) I ignored her. I texted her later to apologise and explain, then she called me later but I didn’t pick up (I knew that all it would be was a tirade accusing me of being heartless, etc). Also, she was smiling and texting someone at the time and all I could think was that it was some guy she was contacting to share her bed later!
    I think about her all day, every day. I have bored my friends to death talking about her, I’m disregarding people in my life with real problems and losing focus at work (spend all day trawling ‘heartbreak therapy’ sites/articles).
    I’m trying to stop the patterns but they seem too intrusive. I cancelled social media contact (to her severe consternation as she says she can handle seeing what I’m up to regardless) and all reminders of her almost on the first day of the split but it hasn’t seemed to help.
    I want to go see her EVERY single day and tell her I still love her and that we can work things out, but (despite being very upset in the early stages) she now seems to have moved on (she’s a very mature/immature woman and has great strength of will).
    I’m getting very depressed. I feel I have no future anymore other than one of being shunned by women (this has long been my belief when it comes to relationships) in favour of men who are far worse. I need help. I’m trying CBT through a doctor referral but I worry my brain is too fixated to shift these patterns.
    I’ve been trawling your pages all morning and I appreciate the fact you seem to reply to every message. You seem like a genuinely caring, understanding person. I hope you reply to this.
    Regards,

    James

  135. I’m just 24 yrs old & my ex and I have been together for 4 yrs. We then had a child together, into thinking that we were going to be together forever. But then she broke up with me a year ago, & now we’re just having each other switch for our time to spend with our child. Now I saw that she was actually seeing someone after a month of us broken up, & this is a year later.
    Is it ok for me to accept that our child is around many guys she’s with even though I feel uncomfortable about it?
    I’ve loved her a lot and knowing these things just.. like you said everything just started rushing back into me again. Rage, anger, pain, etc.
    What do you think I should do in this situation?

  136. Hi Conrad. Sorry to hear about the breakup. I think that these things are so especially painful when there is a child involved. In my experience, in a divorce or breakup with kids, one of the hardest things to deal with is the fact that you no longer have control over what your Ex does with the children: They way they parent, who they allow around the kids, and whether or not they bring a new step-parent into their lives.

    It sounds like you have a lot of big feelings coming up around this since you learned of your Exes new relationship. (Totally normal, btw). I would recommend that you do some breakup-specific growth work to help you process the feelings you described, and find a way to move forward peacefully. If you’re not already, I would strongly recommend that you get involved in some breakup counseling. You can work with one of the breakup therapists / coaches at Growing Self, or find someone locally.

    If you’re interested, we also have a new online breakup support group that will walk you through the steps of healing as well as provide you with community and emotional support. Here’s the link to the online breakup support group if you want to check it out. Other resources are our free online breakup support Facebook group (ping me on Facebook to be added). We do also have our “Heal Your Broken Heart” online class that can be helpful in working through some of the feelings, etc.

    However your situation is more complex, given the need for you to develop / maintain a coparenting relationship with your Ex. For that reason it may be more helpful for you to get guidance and support as you do that because it can be really challenging.

    I wish you all the best Conrad. I hope that you keep in touch and let us know how things evolve for you. Come back to the blog in a few months and give us an update!

  137. Hi there James, thanks for sharing your story with our community here. I am glad that you’re getting support to help yourself through this difficult time. It sounds like you are still very attached to this person, despite all that has happened. I’m hearing that the work ahead of you may involve getting straight in your own mind about why this relationship wasn’t really a good fit for you, and deciding for yourself that it needs to be over. Right now it seems like you’re longing for reunion, and you will continue to be in pain until you can turn away from this and take your power back.

    I’m also hearing that your core belief about “not being good enough” may have contributed both to your anxiety while in the relationship, as well as your pain and sense of hopelessness now that it’s over. That’s a great insight. Please do continue your therapy and look for every opportunity to focus on your self esteem in particular. I bet that putting your energy into loving yourself, and feeling more confident about your worth, will help you both let go of this relationship and also cultivate a healthy new one in the future.

    If you’d like more support from Growing Self in addition to what you’re already doing, we have a couple of groups that might help you. Our online breakup support group may be very helpful to you. We also have an online personal growth group that is all about improving your confidence, strengthening your sense of self, and helping you have healthier relationships. It’s not breakup-specific, but more around general personal growth. Here’s the link if you want to check out our online personal growth group too.

    Lastly, please don’t hesitate to join our private Facebook breakup support group if you’d like some company. (Message me on FB if you’d like to be added: https://www.facebook.com/drlisabobby). We’re all here for you James!! xo, LMB

  138. Oh my gosh Bernard, it sounds like you were totally blindsided with this situation not to mention betrayed in numerous ways. What a painful situation! I recently recorded a new breakup podcast, “The Stages of a Breakup: How to Heal a Broken Heart.” I hope that you find both comfort and guidance from it. If you feel like you could use more support, please check out some of our other breakup counseling resources:

    Our Online Breakup Support Group
    Our Breakup Facebook Group
    Our Heal Your Broken Heart Online Breakup Recovery Class
    And of course, we’re always here to support you through individual breakup counseling or breakup coaching.

    I know this hurts so badly right now, but I want you to know that you CAN work through this and come out the other side. I know this from personal experience, as well as having helped hundreds of people get over a breakup. The only thing that will keep you from moving forward is not doing anything, but expecting time to take it away. Recovering from a bad breakup, and the kind of relational trauma that you have experienced is an ACTIVE process. I hope that the resources you find here help you take positive action on your own behalf, so that you can take your power back, and go on to develop a positive new chapter of your life.

    Your recovery is going to have many stages and moving parts, but to address your specific question, yes one of them is going to be learning how to protect yourself from intrusive information about your Ex on social media. Consider using the “blocking” feature of any app you use, to prevent posts containing your Ex from showing up in your feed. If your platform-of-choice doesn’t contain that, you may consider taking a break or limiting your use of the ones that are most triggering for you right now. My hope for you is that when your breakup recovery process is complete, whether or not she makes an appearance in your timeline is just not really that important to you either way. Even though that might feel impossible now, it’s in your future if you do the work Bernard!

    All the best, Lisa Marie Bobby

  139. Hey Shourya, sorry to hear about this situation. Here’s my best advice for how to get over a relationship as soon as possible: The Stages of a Breakup.

    The punchline: Healing a broken heart is a very active process, and in order to heal and grow you can’t skip over any steps. This breakup podcast will give you some guidance for how to do that.

    It sounds like you have regrets about some of the things that you did in this relationship. In this case, the steps that might be the most important or meaningful for you is step 6 which is the, “What did I learn from this relationship?” part. (In addition to step 3, which is, “Releasing anger and guilt, and finding forgiveness.” — In this case, you need to forgive yourself.) I know that is painful to embrace, but when we take wisdom and guidance from our mistakes we can then go on to create a better future for ourselves. I sincerely hope that is ahead of you Shouyra.

  140. I came across this page in an attempt to let go of my ex that I was with for 15 years. The relationship had deteriorated in the last year or so due to his mothers illness and me taking care of my mom but had never heard any complaints or issues from him with time we spent together and was hoping we would be able to work things out. In the month of July I noticed he had become very aloof but yet still was offering to help me with things such as my move and issues with my new place. I finally confronted him and he admitted he was seeing someone else. But yet said I was the best person he has ever known and he still loved me but needed to let me go. He even had the audacity to ask me to not delete him from Facebook and hoped we could remain friends. Because apparently what I need in my life is happy pictures of him and his new life. Apparently he was hanging onto our relationship until he secured another. I found out from the other woman (because he would give me no answers) that he told her we broke up eight months prior to July which was certainly not true and I let her know that. She said she would have never gotten involved with him if that was the case. And that the way he broke up with me (via text) was awful and she was shocked. I Thought I was fine and healing until I found out that even with him lying to her she stayed with him. I am again consumed with thoughts that he should not be allowed to be happy with her after betraying me. I want to move past it and enjoy my life again but feel like I just got gut punched again. I have to admit to taking a certain satisfaction in knowing she must have very little respect for herself if she would stay with him knowing he lied to her this early in the relationship. I heard from mutual friends he wiped out all trace of me on his social media as though I didn’t exist which I have to admit hurt a little too. I suspect that was her condition for staying with him. Like the 15 years meant nothing and he could just move on easily. Knowing his friends and family are happy for him bothers me as well because I have to wonder what awful things he has said about me for them to just accept he cheated and allow the new one into the fold.

  141. My ex and I have been broken up for a year and half. however every 5-6 months we chat and the last 2 have been very emotional. we both miss each other but I think ultimately know we aren’t great for each other. aside from this whenever i see him liking other girls photos or creating these relationships in my mind that i think he may be in I get a pit in my stomach. I’m constantly checking his accounts and i’m so afraid of him moving on. I just want to stop thinking ab that bc ultimately I know we didn’t bring out the best. I wasn’t in love at the end so why do I still care so much?

  142. Hello, I’ve been in a long distance relationship with him for the past year. Things got bad and i eventually moved on to someone in my town, someone i actually love. But when the long distance ex got a new girlfriend it is all i can think about, everything mentioned above, I can’t stop feeling betrayed because she’s getting the version of him i never had. And i feel horrible because i do love my current boyfriend, but the obsession needs to stop and I don’t know where to start. Lond distance ex wants to stay friends, said it’s okay that we’re both happy now with the people who can actually be there for us, but I’m not happy when i see her with him in photos or videos, it makes me hurt and I don’t know why…

  143. Hi Dr. Lisa. I was dated a guy for 1 year and then I said we needed to stop seeing each other, because I could tell he was getting more emotionally involved than what I felt. During that time , I went back and forth on whether I should quit it or not and finally decided it wasn’t best for me to be with him if I didn’t feel like he was my soul mate. Any way, flash forward 2 years later and I find out he has a girlfriend (although he has still been flirting with me). I am devastated. I have had panic attacks, I have went by his desk multiple times everyday (he works in my building), I look for his car in the parking lot and I have sent text to him that I really don’t want to send, but I can’t help it. I feel like my husband got away. During the 2 years we were apart I missed him, but I never felt like dying. I was in so much pain, yesterday, I slept with an ex (from 5 years ago) thinking that would help me stop obsessing….Well, that was a bad idea because now I feel like I am slightly obsessing over him too….even though I don’t want to be with him. DO you think I have a mental illness? I have never experience obsessive behavior before.

  144. I am so sorry this happened to you Tracy. That is awful. Fifteen years is a long time, and I can completely understand how all of this would have been incredibly traumatizing. I am glad that you are in a place of anger (really!) because that is a healthy emotion when someone has hurt and mistreated you. I have every confidence you will continue to move forward. Sometimes, when we do private counseling or coaching around breakup recovery, we encourage our clients to have imaginary conversations with their Exes either in their sessions, or through letter writing / journaling. This can help you answer these questions for yourself, and achieve emotional closure. I would encourage you to get involved in this type of experiential personal growth work, as I believe it would help you make sense of what happened, process your anger, and find the answers that help you heal, grow, and move on. All the best to you…. Lisa

  145. Meg. thanks for getting in touch with your question. I think that this is a situation where it would be helpful for you to trust your head and not your heart. I wonder if part of the reason you are feeling so badly is because you are checking on him online? I know that “checking” feels, momentarily, like it eases anxiety. But the reality is that it prolongs (and increases!) anxiety, unhealthy attachment, obsessive thoughts, and emotional distress.

    We often advise our private counseling or coaching clients dealing with this type of thing to do whatever it takes to block their exes so they don’t have intrusive information about them popping up…. or making it too easy to “spy” on them. I know it can be hard to do, but you might even consider taking a break from social media entirely — even deleting your apps if you have to. An alcoholic can’t have booze in the fridge, and an Exaholic can’t have instant access to whatever their Ex is doing in real time. Pour it down the sink kiddo!

  146. Anna. Thanks for reaching out. You know, it’s tempting to imagine that the “we can still be friends” thing is a good idea. We’re mature adults, right? Unfortunately, that is not the way we are wired. Everyone in the aftermath of a breakup is vulnerable to idealization, and when you are confronted with new information about him and his new flame, it maintains the attachment to him in an unhealthy way. Remind yourself that you broke up for a reason, and focus on your new relationship. And… (sorry, deep breath here!)… block him. It’s time to cut off contact. You can’t be friends with him. If you could be, you wouldn’t be feeling the way you do. When something hurts, it’s a good sign you should stop doing it. In this case, continued contact with him hurts. It’s keeping you stuck in painful obsessions that are preventing you from moving forward / being fully emotionally present in what sounds like a nice relationship. Cut the cord Anna! xoxo, Lisa

  147. I feel silly for saying this but my ex and I broke up over a year ago. A year after we broke up because of long distance he’s with someone else however him and I remained friends after the breakup which I thought would make things easier. When I saw a picture of him with someone else a few months ago I immediately started tearing up and crying. I can’t help but think, I REALLY wanted that to be me. He was such a great guy and I’ve never genuinely connected with someone like that before. Feelings of loneliness and jealousy set in and I can’t help but look at some of their social media. Shes so pretty and looks great for him and he looks happy. I started to doubt everything we had and all the good things he’s said and did for me while we were together. I do want to meet someone, and I’ve dated a couple people but haven’t found that right person yet. I’m kinda upset that he has. Any advice ?

  148. I feel silly for even saying this but my ex and I broke up over a year ago because he didn’t want to do long distance after he was the one who told me he wanted us to be together. We remained friends after the breakup. But a few months ago I saw him in a picture with someone else. I immediately started crying. I felt awful. I couldn’t help but think I really wanted that to be me. She looks so pretty and good for him, and he’s looks happy. I can’t help but look at their social media sometimes. Recently a trigger (his birthday) prompted me to look at his photos. Now that he’s with someone else it makes me question and doubt everything thing that we did together and every good thing he said and did for me. I just don’t know if any of it was real. It’s hard to stop checking the photos because I really wish we were both a part of each other’s lives. He was such a great friend and good boyfriend. I’ve dated since him, but I haven’t found anyone who I have a genuine connection with that him and I had. A few months after the break up he said we would both find other people, but it wouldn’t be the same. I don’t even know if that’s still true. Any advice? I really do want to find someone but it seems like in every relationship I’ve been in, the guy always seems to decide to be with another girl.

  149. Hi,

    Me and my ex broke up because I felt like I couldn’t be with her for many reasons around me that felt like it was too much to handle. Months passed by and she handled the pain and tried to get back with me but I pushed it away because I felt like even tho I liked her it was better to maintain some distance. Also during this time I felt like clueless and also naive about anything and everything I did. Now that she started to have a new partner I feel regret and very deep pain of her and him Together. Plz give me any advice for this I feel like I’ve been betrayed and I want to get back with her but I don’t know if this is true to an extent. Thank you

  150. Thank you for the article. I’m trapped by images of someone I never actually dated but developed strong feelings for. Now she’s broke contact with me, told me we will never be together and didn’t give me a chance for closure. Now all I think of is her with other people and it’s like being punched in the stomach…even though I know it isn’t real a little keeps saying ‘but it might be’. How do you stop this from happening?

  151. Hey Lisa,

    You bring up such an excellent question. I’ve addressed aspects of this “why do I feel like I’m going insane?” question on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast before, but it’s probably time to do an episode all about this. Stay tuned for that. However, for now, I will share that any time an attachment bond is threatened, it triggers very primal “monkey mind” reactions in us that are related to survival drives. Obsessive thinking, craving, and bids for contact ensue.

    My guess is that when you felt in control of the situation (i.e. you were the one doing the rejecting) and he was still flirting with you, he still felt “there.” Now that he’s moved on… he’s not there any more, and this primal panic is rising up. This obsessive thinking is not necessarily a mental illness, (a “bug” if you will), but rather a feature of the human attachment and loss experience.

    Now, I will say that if this type of obsessive thinking is very familiar to you and happens in different areas of your life, you should definitely talk to someone about that. In the meantime I would suggest that it may be helpful for you to do some growth work around either releasing this attachment, or figuring out if this really is “your husband” (and if so, what to do about that now), as well as some exploration of your patterns in relationships and how you connect with others. That last one especially, may be really helpful to you long term no matter what happens with this situation.

    That is all for now, but I’m making a note to myself to discuss this on a podcast episode soon. Check back on our blog!

    All the best,
    Lisa