Getting Back With An Ex

Getting Back With An Ex

Getting Back With An Ex

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

Getting Back With An Ex

If you’ve ever wondered about getting back with an Ex, you’re in good company. It’s very common to fantasize about reconnecting with an Ex. You might be looking for signs that you and your Ex will get back together, finding reasons to see them (do you really need that old toothbrush you left at their place?), or might be trying to figure out if you can be friends with your Ex. 

Attachment Bonds Endure

Even if, in your heart of hearts, you know that the relationship had issues (or was even toxic) it’s very hard to break your attachment bond. We don’t flip off our feelings for someone like turning out a light. What does it mean that you still have feelings for your Ex? Or that you want to stay friends with your Ex? Is that a sign that you should get back together? 

Stages of Healing After a Breakup

I’ve worked with many people as a divorce counselor and breakup therapist through their journey of healing from a broken heart, and heck, I’ve even written a book about it. (Here’s the link to Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love, if you’re interested.) Because of this, I know that one of the stages of healing after a breakup is missing your Ex, thinking about your Ex all the time, wondering if you’ll get back together, and trying to maintain your attachment to them — even if it’s just “being friends.” Nearly everyone goes through this, whether or not the relationship is salvageable (or even healthy).

These feelings are confusing, and it can be difficult to know what to do. And, frankly, they can cause problems.

This swirl of painful feelings can lead people to cling to an Ex under the guise of “just being friends” (or worse, “friends with benefits”) which makes it difficult for them to heal, grow and move on emotionally. Similarly, I’ve seen couples spend way too long breaking up and getting back together, over and over, until someone wisely calls it quits for the last time. 

But (and here’s the extremely confusing part) sometimes couples DO successfully get back together after taking a break and can go on to have a positive new chapter in their relationship with each other. In these cases, the separation was a catalyst of personal growth for both of them. It helped them make positive changes in themselves, which allowed them to have a better relationship with each other. 

It’s also true that some former partners CAN go on to have grand friendships with each other that they describe as being even better and more fulfilling than their romantic relationship ever was. 

Can You Get Back With The Ex? Should You Be Friends With An Ex?

So how do you know whether or not you should trust those feelings that are making you wonder if you should get back with your Ex? Or stay friends with your Ex? And how do you know when those feelings are keeping you stuck in an unhealthy attachment, or leading you into another round of eventual broken-hearted misery?

That is the zillion dollar question, and that is why we’re devoting a whole episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to helping you work through it. My guest today is expert breakup counselor and divorce therapist Kensington O., M.A., MFT-C. Kensington is an experienced breakup coach who, among other things, runs our online breakup support group here at Growing Self. 

She has worked with many people grappling with these questions and has helped them figure out whether to get back together, be friends, or just work through the grief of relationship loss and move on. Today she’s sharing her advice with you so that you can get clarity and direction too.

Expert Breakup Advice Podcast

Should you get back with the Ex? Is reconnecting with an Ex a good idea? Can you be friends with an Ex? That’s what we’re discussing! You can listen to this episode right here, or find it on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Show-notes are below, and you can find a full transcript at the bottom of this post. 

What’s your story? Did you get back with an Ex? Or try to be friends with an Ex? If not, how did you get over your Ex and move on emotionally? Share your advice with our community, or ask Kensington and me a follow-up question in the comments section below.

Wishing you all the best, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Getting Back With An Ex

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

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Getting Back With An Ex: Episode Highlights

Questioning whether or not ending a relationship was the right choice is a natural stage of any breakup. As breakup recovery counselors and coaches, we see this all the time at Growing Self. Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love” explains that it’s normal to question whether ending the relationship was right, or whether or not you and your Ex can get back together or at least stay friends.

This uncertainty and confusion around your relationship with an Ex can be especially intense in the winter, particularly during the holidays. You may have holiday memories that trigger longing for your Ex. You may have less to do in the winter, you may spend more time alone, and your thoughts may turn to an old relationship.

These questions are hard to answer, and the mix of lingering feelings for your Ex can make them even harder. After a breakup, it’s normal to not be able to stop thinking about your Ex. You may wonder if all that mental energy means something is unresolved. 

To help you sort through the confusion, Dr. Bobby is joined by Kensington Osmond, a fellow MFT, divorce counselor, and breakup therapist at Growing Self.

Getting Back With An Ex

Kensington explains that losing an important relationship naturally triggers grief, and a normal part of the grieving process is questioning whether ending the relationship is really the right choice for you.

These feelings can be especially confusing when the relationship was toxic or just not entirely positive, as rationally, you likely know that the breakup was for the best. You can be addicted to a toxic relationship, or an unhealthy one and powerful attachment bonds will keep you missing your Ex, despite what you know rationally.

Dr. Bobby acknowledges that some “breakups” really do transform into breaks, and couples reconnect and resume their relationship, hopefully having learned new things about themselves and each other in the process.

The key to knowing whether to listen to these feelings telling you to reconnect with your Ex, or dismiss them, is assessing whether you’re simply grieving and missing the person, or whether there are compelling reasons that the relationship may actually be right for you. Think through why the relationship ended and whether anything can be improved or resolved, says Kensington.

Missing Your Ex When You Were the Dumper

Normally the partner who ended the relationship had some time to disconnect emotionally before the breakup, and weigh out the pros and cons of staying together or calling it quits in the relationship. The partner who didn’t choose the breakup may be forced to wrestle with letting go of that attachment when it wasn’t their choice.

Still, even if you were the one to end your relationship, it’s natural to miss your Ex and wonder whether you made the right choice, Kensington says.

Growing Self hosts a breakup recovery group for people working through the ends of their relationships, where other people grieving a breakup can offer empathy and support. Sometimes, these groups offer better support than family and friends, who may not understand how profoundly painful a breakup can be if they aren’t currently experiencing it themselves.

Can You Be Friends With Your Ex?

According to Dr. Bobby, the desire to remain friends with an Ex is often just the desire to not fully release the attachment. There may be a hidden agenda, or a clinging to the hope that if you remain friends, you’ll reconnect romantically at some point.

While there is no hard rule around being friends with an Ex, Kensington points out that it rarely works to shift from an intense romantic attachment to a friendship. The romantic element of a relationship needs time to fade away before a friendship can be formed.

Being Friends With an Ex

If you’re co-parenting or sharing a pet, you may have to be friends, or at least friendly, with an Ex. Or you may simply want to keep your Ex in your life as a friend. 

Whatever a friendship with an Ex means to you, it’s important to think through what those friendship boundaries would look like and how close you want the relationship to be, Kensington says. It’s also important to think about whether holding on to your Ex will keep you from forming new romantic connections with someone else. This may not be a tradeoff you would make intentionally, but not wanting to let go of the attachment could influence you more than you realize, she says.

How to Be Friends With an Ex

People want to stay friends for different reasons after a breakup. The dumper may feel less guilty if they offer to remain friends, for example. They may also simply be hoping that they can continue seeing their former partner, without the commitment of a relationship.

This leaves the grieving/still attached partner in a very vulnerable place, says Dr. Bobby, because they may be willing to accept this “friendship,” rather than let go, which could slow down their healing.

The key to navigating this, says Kensington, is developing self-compassion, which will allow you to advocate for yourself and set healthy boundaries with an Ex. If you can be kind to yourself and put your own well-being first, you can avoid connecting with your Ex in ways that won’t be healthy for you.

Kensington emphasizes that this is a journey, not a one-step process and that it takes time to release your attachment and establish a healthy friendship with an Ex if that is your goal.

Staying Friends With An Ex

Social media can be particularly triggering for people getting over an Ex. Seeing a post from a former lover can feel a lot like relapsing from addiction, according to Kensington. A picture of your Ex can put you back into a mindset that you’ve been working to escape. For that reason, consider unfollowing or even blocking your Ex, Kensington says.

Once your attachment system has died down a bit, it will be easier for you to assess from a rational place whether or not a friendship with your Ex is healthy for you. In the meantime, focus on letting go.

Reconnecting With Your Ex

There are certain situations when reconsidering a relationship is a perfectly reasonable choice, according to Kensington.

This may happen when the circumstances in you or your former partner’s life during your relationship prevented you from showing up in the way you wanted to show up. You or your partner may have since been able to do some growth work that could make another try worthwhile.

It’s important to remember you can only control your own growth work, and not your former partner’s, however. If they’re not interested in growing or changing, you can’t force them.

The key is thinking through these things intentionally together, and not just jumping back into bed on a whim.

Signs You and Your Ex Will Get Back Together

Before getting back with an Ex, look for real, tangible signs that something has changed for the positive, Kensington says. Think through the problems in your former relationship, and assess how they may have shifted since the breakup.

You may have a conversation with your Ex about what you’d like to be different in the relationship, and what has changed to bring that difference about.

Seeing real, intentional effort from your Ex (and yourself) to bring about positive change is a good sign your relationship may deserve a second try.

Back With Your Ex

If you do get back with your Ex, it’s important to take it slow, and really assess how the relationship feels this time around, as if it was a new relationship. There are stages to getting back together with an Ex — pay attention to where you and your partner are at. 

Look for red flags and green flags that the relationship is struggling, or going well. Follow up on the problems you’ve run into in the past, and how they may have changed since your first experience with this person, Kensington says.

One of the most important things you can do to improve your own relationships is learning about your attachment style, according to Kensington, and how it affects your relationships with others. This can change how you respond to your partners, and create healthier relationship patterns going forward.

People fall into a few different categories when it comes to attachment styles, with some of us having a deep, driving need for intimacy and closeness, and others feeling uncomfortable with intimacy and closeness. “Secure attachers” tend to be pretty comfortable with closeness, and to not feel too preoccupied about their relationships.

The ways we attach to our partners affect how we respond to them, and becoming aware of your own attachment style can help you step back and respond with intention, rather than simply reacting.

Building emotional intelligence is another great way to grow before re-entering an old relationship (or a new one). Close relationships require talking about feelings. Learning to be more in touch with your own and aware of those of others can make those conversations easier for you. It can also help you manage your feelings in a way that’s better for you and your partner.

Getting Back Together After a Breakup

Unless you’ve done some work on yourself, and your partner has as well, the relationship is unlikely to feel much different from the first time around, according to Dr. Bobby. Good intentions and big promises simply aren’t enough to change old patterns for the better, unfortunately.

When people breakup, get back together, and breakup again, it’s likely because they haven’t found the tools to change deeply ingrained patterns — either theirs or their partner’s — that keep the relationship from functioning in a healthy way.

The most important thing to remember if you’re going through a breakup and thinking about getting back together with an Ex, according to Kensington, is that you’re not alone. This is a very common response to releasing a powerful attachment bond, and it can feel very difficult and intense. Listen to podcasts like this one, read about breakup recovery, and join groups of people going through what you’re going through who can offer you real empathy and support as you heal.

[Intro song: Nothing to Hide by Allah-Las]

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby : Anyone going through a hard breakup, or divorce has gone through this horrible purgatory stage of ending a relationship where you're not together, but it is definitely not over emotionally. And this is such a confusing place, you might be questioning yourself—did you make the right choice? Thinking about maybe getting back together with an ex and trying to figure out if that's possible, or maybe just trying to figure out if you can be friends with your ex, and what that might look like. 

These boundaries can get very weird, and it's just an incredibly confusing time. And this is often true anytime a relationship ends, but in my experience, this ambivalence and desire for connection can be more powerful at certain times of year. For example, around the holidays, many people have memories about their relationship, miss their exes, a little more than usual, can be a triggering time. 

But I think even just in wintertime, in general, there's less going on, you're by yourself and your house more. It can really lead you to miss your ex and think about the relationship, and it's really a vulnerable time. You might be idealizing good parts of the relationship and more prone to thinking about trying to reconnect with your ex. And whether or not that's a good idea.

It can be so hard to figure out what your truth is, when you're dealing with these emotions. It can be hard to figure out your truth, that much harder even to figure out your boundaries, right? Can you be friends with your ex? Is reconnecting with your ex possible? If it is, is that a good idea for you? So many big questions. And it's such a hard space to be in. And I think anybody in this place needs some guidance and support. 

So today, that's what we're going to be talking about on our show. And to help you with this. I have asked my colleague Kensington to come on this episode with me and share her advice and perspective with you because she is a real expert on this subject. Thank you Kensington for joining me.

Kensington: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me, Lisa.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Well, I'm so glad we're talking about this, particularly with your expertise. I mean, of all, there are many people on our team, obviously here at Growing Self who do a lot of coaching with people going through divorce and breakup recovery kinds of work. But you also have a ton of experience — when you were getting your degree in marriage and family therapy at BYU, you ran a group for people working through breakups. Here at Growing Self, you lead our online breakup support group. And so every week, you're talking to people just in the trenches of this experience. And I know that you have so much insight to share, you've written blog posts at growingself.com on this topic. 

Maybe we can just open this up — I'd love to hear your thoughts about how, I guess, common it is for people like, particularly in those beginning stages of a breakup, to be grappling with these kinds of feelings and ambivalence about the relationship, even after it's officially over. Do you hear that a lot? 

Getting Back With an Ex

Kensington: Yeah, that's a great question, Lisa. And I would say almost everyone is grappling with that. I think, after someone who's been such a significant part of your life is no longer in your life in that same way, it's really normal to go through grief. Right? It's normal to miss that person and that friendship. And so I think it's really natural to be grappling with these kinds of questions.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. And that, I think, I think what's so confusing for people is that those kinds of feelings can come up, you know, that when, when an attachment bond is ruptured, we have these feelings, we have this grief, we miss people, whether or not it was a good relationship. 

Kensington: Absolutely, and I will say that's one of the things that I've seen my clients find the most confusing is that, they can look back and even if it was, worst case scenario, a really unhealthy toxic relationship. They'll still find themselves missing that person and, missing all of the good parts, but also missing just having someone around to share their life with. 

So, I think that it can be really confusing to hold both like, “I know this relationship wasn't right for me.” And also, “I really miss this person,” and holding both of those things at the same time.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, that it's like that head versus heart kind of split. Like, intellectually, I know that this person was not good for me, it wasn't going to end well, but I just can't help myself. I think about them all the time. They miss them. Yeah. Yeah. So, and I think I think the hard part, and the confounding part is that sometimes relationships do go through ups and downs and relationships. 

People take a break, and then do actually wind up reconnecting and getting back together again. And I think many times when people are having these feelings of like missing someone, they take that as, “because I feel this way, I should try to reconnect with my ex.”

Kensington: Yeah. And I think that, you know, I think that there are absolutely situations where you should think about maybe getting back together and explore that option. But I think that there's, there's other reasons at play, aside from just missing your partner, right? 

I think, kind of like we said, really, no matter, no matter how good or bad the relationship was, you're going to go through that grief process. And so the grief and the missing that person, on its own, maybe isn't a good enough reason to get back together with somebody. But, certainly sometimes there are good reasons to explore that possibility.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Well, if you could, let's just start right there. And I mean, now, this is a podcast episode, and I know that you spend many, many, many sessions and groups like helping people work, work through these and like, you know, find their own truth. But, but I am curious, like, just for the benefit of our listeners, what, what would let me ask a better question like, what, what would you advise? 

What kind of questions would you even ask somebody to sort of help them sort through that and figure out what to listen to somebody who, mixed bag of a relationship, but they still really miss this person. How do you help them get that clarity around? Are these just like normal feelings of missing somebody that everybody has, and you should still keep moving away? Or when is this a sign that you should? Maybe try to reconnect somehow?

Kensington: Yeah, that's a great question. And I think that one of the first, when I'm talking about this with clients, one of the first places where we start is—why did the relationship end? And I think, in that question, sometimes I'll get just kind of the official reason for the breakup from clients. 

But a lot of the time there's, there's more to the story than just whatever the official reason was that you share with family and friends that you decided on together. So really going through all of those reasons why your relationship really just wasn't working, and wasn't fulfilling, your needs and your partner's needs. 

I think that that's a really important place to explore, because it can help you figure out okay, are those things changeable, and resolvable? Or if they're not changeable and resolvable, are they things that maybe are okay to accept about the person and about the relationship.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Like, what was the relationship actually, like, for you? Yeah. And kind of digging into that a little bit to help people, just the experience the reality. Now, but there's, okay, let me ask you this. Because many times when a relationship ends, it's, it's kind of one person that's like, “I don't want to do this anymore.” 

That person has often had the opportunity to work through some things prior to that, like they've kind of been disconnecting for a while, whether or not their partner knew that — which is awful. But have you found it different for partners who were broken up with, and maybe even like, surprised that the relationship ended? Do they sort of miss the relationship in a different way, then people who were the ones who initiated the breakup or divorce, and who also can still really miss their partner and second guess themselves at how do you experience that differently?

Kensington: Yeah, that's a great question. And so I think that there are no hard and fast rules, but what I've seen most of the time is that, the partner who maybe initiated the end of the relationship, kind of like you've said they've, they've had some time to disconnect emotionally. Right. 

They've had the time to kind of weigh in their mind, “Okay, what am I going to be giving up? Am I sure I want to do this?” And so then the partner who, you know, wasn't their choice for the relationship and often gets stuck doing that kind of work after the relationship is already over. Yeah. So having to go back and figure out how to disconnect from an attachment that for them is still very real and very much there. 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: It's so hard. 

Kensington: Absolutely. Yeah.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Because then, they, I think when somebody kind of like works through it, and sort of eases themselves out of a relationship emotionally, like before it officially ends, even though they can have some regrets. I want to just honor what a difficult situation that is for people who are going through that, just like ruptured attachment, and like just the panic. 

I mean, that like physiologically based like, attachment, withdrawal that goes along with that, and then also having to kind of sort through what their relationship was like for them, because you idealize a relationship when you're in that, that space.

Kensington: Yeah, no, it, it's so hard. And, not to, not to plug the group too much. But I think that's, that's what you know, is so I've seen be really helpful about the breakup group that I run is just helping people connect with others who are going through that attachment, withdrawal, and that really painful, painful place that sometimes your family or your friends just, they see all the reasons why the relationship wasn't working, but they're not going through that actual attachment withdrawal themselves.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Okay, well, then, and I, we are not here to make an infomercial for the group for sure. But I am curious, what, how do you experience the way that group members respond to each other, that is different than what somebody is friends or family makes it. 

Because it's really easy, like when you're not in that place, and you see somebody who's like really suffering with this attachment, loss, and just the pain of that, but like, your friend can say that, “He was not nice to you. He was mean to you. I saw it, he cheated on you,” like, reminding friends have all these things, but the person is going through it is like, “You don't understand.” Right? 

So what, what do you see that's different with the people in the group? Like, did they also say now that, “He was actually really mean to you,” or are they like, what's the difference?

Kensington: Yeah, great question. So I think, really, what, what feels to me, like, the biggest difference is just empathy. Right? Because they're, they're able to still provide that feedback to each other around, like, what, “These are all the reasons why this relationship wasn't right for you, right? These are all the reasons why it needed to end.” But also have that really deep sense of empathy for, all of that is true. 

Also, this is really painful and really hard and you're not crazy or messed up or broken. For, for being in pain, about the loss of something that, that may be ultimately wasn't in your best interest.

Can You Be Friends With Your Ex?

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, yeah, I could hear that, like coming from somebody who knows what that pain feels like and struggling with that own attachment. Like it just lands differently because of that empathy. That's, that's a good point. Okay, well, such a confusing time. 

But just, just to have that message that that that pain, that longing has, oftentimes is not an indicator of how healthy or good that relationship was, it means that you're going through that, that emotional separation thing, which is which is different. But now, let's let's talk about the other piece of this. Because while somebody is going through that emotional phase of like, missing someone, longing for contact, that's part of it. 

Sometimes what I have seen is like, people wanting to be friends with their ex, right? can sometimes be a manifestation of like, wanting to stay connected. It's almost like that, that bargaining phase like, “I'm maintaining my connection to this person.” And if the person is in a lot of pain and missing someone, sometimes it can be like, “Because if we're friends, I might have an opportunity. And if we're hanging out sooner or later, we're gonna fall into bed again.” 

So there's like a little bit of a hidden agenda there. So, the question for you is, in your experience, to what degree is that like, usually what's happening when somebody wants to be friends with their ex? Or have you also seen someone who is in that space of longing really shift into having an actual legitimate friendship with an ex? That's just maintaining good parts of the attachment, but releasing the attachment to the romantic relationship? 

Have you seen that work?

Kensington: Yeah, that's a great question. So I think, again, like for all of these questions, there's not like a hard and fast like, “Absolutely, yes” or “Absolutely, no.” But I will say, I think if you're still in that phase, where you feel this longing for closeness and attachment to somebody, it's really, really hard to then shift into that friends only mindset. It also kind of depends on what, what friends means to you. Right?

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Kensington just made air quotes, to those of you who are not watching the video right now. What “friends” mean. Yeah.

Kensington: Yeah. I think that there, obviously, there's situations where you're going to still need to be acquaintances, or friendly with your ex, right? 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Co-parenting. 

Kensington: Co-parenting, right? Or sharing a pet.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Working together.

Being Friends With an Ex

Kensington: Absolutely, yeah. And so, I think that it's, when I, when I hear my clients say they want to be friends with their ex, there's lots of questions that come up from me, but one of the first ones is, “Okay, well, what does? What does friendship mean to you? Like, what? You know, are you looking for a best friend where it's still, feels like the relationship? Just minus a few things? Or, are we talking more of like, being acquaintances, but being like, cordial and friendly when you see each other?”

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, yeah. Well, what I, what I think I'm hearing is that you're spending a lot of time helping people get real clear about what those boundaries are, and like, a different picture of, like, a very different kind of relationship.

Kensington: Absolutely. And I think,  it's also, it's also important for people to evaluate really like, why they want that connection with that person, right? Does it feel like there's, there's something that that person can still add to your life, and you can add to their life in some way, that's not going to limit you in terms of, moving on and creating romantic connections with people? 

Or, is it really like, if you're really honest with yourself, is it really about just trying to hold on to that attachment, that you're losing in any way that you can, even if it's not in your own best interest?

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: That's a great point. Is it? Is it a way of trying to prevent pain? Is it like methadone? 

Kensington: Right! Yeah, pretty much. 

How to Be Friends With Your Ex

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, yeah. Well, okay, a couple other other things related to this. One thing that I know both of us have experienced around this, is that it can be super hard for somebody who's like really, in that pain place, and like suffering, when their ex may want to be trying to air quote, be friends. 

But sometimes for different reasons. Like, in my experience, sometimes a person who has initiated a breakup will feel guilty about that. And like, “Oh, we can be friends.” And, or, and this is much less charitable. But I think it's also true that the person that initiated the break up, it's pretty sure that they don't want to like be in a capital R relationship like this is not my person, but it's Saturday and I don’t have anything better to do. 

So do you want to, like come over and hang out and like, kind of like meeting their own needs through this friendship, that the person on the other side who's going through this attachment withdrawal is super vulnerable? And like, it's hard to set boundaries? And like, can you speak a little bit to that and what you've seen because I think that that is just this layer of complexity, like somebody is minding their own business and then they get that text from their ex and they're like, “What's up? You want to come over?” 

You know, like that thing?

Kensington: Absolutely, no, that's, that's a great question. And I think that this is something that I see a lot. And this is, it's really hard when someone has decided, “You know what? The best thing for me right now is to not really have a connection with this person while I'm healing and trying to move on.” But then the other side is still reaching out to them and trying to maintain that connection. 

That's where I think you've got to get really clear about your boundaries and really be comfortable advocating for yourself. So, in my work with clients, going through the end of a relationship, we talk a lot about self-compassion. And one of the pieces of self-compassion is really learning to advocate for yourself. Almost being like your own big brother, big sister, parents, to really have your own back. 

I think that this is one of those situations. And it's not easy, and it helps if you can have supportive people to talk through this with but really important to have your own back. Yeah, and set some of those boundaries. But it is so, so hard, especially when you're still you're grappling with missing this attachment so much hard to say no to it.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Oh, that's great advice, Kensington, that to have your own, own back. But also, do just want to acknowledge how difficult it is to come to that clarity. Like for yourself to say, this is not good for me then. So I need to not do this with you. Because that emotional part is like, “Yes, this is exactly what I want to be doing.” That is I mean, and that doesn't happen overnight. That's a journey.

Kensington: Oh, no, yeah. And I think, with all of these things that we're talking about today, like I, I really never see anyone who like, we talk about it once, and then they do it perfectly from here on out. It's a process. And it's a journey. And that's part of why, you know, the self compassion piece is so important, because it's so crucial to be gentle with yourself as you're trying to navigate. 

You know, setting boundaries and creating new skills and doing what's best for you.

Staying Friends With an Ex

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, yeah. Well, and I'm just thinking too that I think people have to, like, go around that merry go round. Sometimes it's almost like, like drinking way too much and having a horrible hangover. And then okay, I can't do that anymore. And then you do it again, you're like, “Yeah, I can't do that anymore.” 

You have to sometimes that, that old idea that relapse is part of recovery is just like noticing how you feel after you have contact with this person. And on that note, okay, this is a question that comes up all the time, I'm sure comes up all the time for you. But that idea around staying connected on social media, because that's a different order of friendship, right, but can be incredibly difficult and triggering for people. 

So and that's, that's sort of a level of friendship in the sense of maintaining a connection. What have you seen as being the impact of that social media connection? Or? And how do you help people grapple with that very real aspect of our lives?

Kensington: Yeah, that's a great question. I think, first of all, yes, I see this all the time. And I think, again, there's no like, hard or fast rule about what you have to do. But what I've seen a lot of the time is that social media can almost act like, man, it's like really, when you're in recovery from a substance abuse, you know, disorder, right? And every so often, you get, like, sent like a little hit.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: The vodka ad.

Kensington: Yeah, absolutely. It's a similar situation, when you are just scrolling on social media, minding your own business, right? Like, trying to have your own back and like, do all these great things, and boom! All of a sudden, you see this picture of your ex doing something and it, it puts you into this headspace that you've been working so hard to get out of. 

I think that's one of the reasons by a lot of my clients will choose as a way to continue having your own back to either disconnect on social media from this person, or at the very least, maybe mute them, right, so maybe you're not unfollowing each other but you're not seeing their stuff anymore, or even blocking them. Right? 

That can sound extreme, but I think that it's really, it can be really, really helpful so that you're not constantly getting these extra triggers.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. And I think I think what I'm hearing you say, in between the lines, as we're talking about all of this, too, it's like that, perhaps part of getting that clarity around, that basic question, “Is it actually healthy for me to try to have a friendship with like, a real friendship with this person? Or is it healthy for me to try to reconnect with this person?” 

I think what I'm hearing you say it's like, you have to lower the the static, the noise, like the emotional storm and triggering in order to kind of connect with your authentic feelings to think about the relationship in a more — I hate to use this word, but I don't know what other words to use — like a rational sense. It's like, but all the social media stuff and the, like, it contributes to the emotional confusion that.

Kensington: Absolutely. Yes. Yeah, I think that there's just there. Anything you can do to minimize the triggers and the bombardment, that's going to just like really hurt and kind of, yeah, I guess trigger like this, this attachment pain over and over again. 

Anything you can do to limit that is going to help you just feel a little bit more clarity about, “Okay, how much of this is just me going through the attachment withdrawal process? And, and how much of this is maybe something else that I should work through?”

Reconnecting With an Ex

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Well, let's talk about that piece. Yeah. So I think we've, we've been talking about how, when you're in pain, that is the hope that is the fantasy that, “This is all a terrible mistake, they're going to realize they love me, and everything's gonna be different, we're gonna get back together.” Like, that's, that's the fantasy that pain is telling us, right? 

That needs to be worked through, or, but there are also cases where people work through and really in a healthy, sort of rational way, reconsider their relationship. And there are actually opportunities to try again. Can you talk us through what you've seen that look like, when it is actually legitimately healthy and positive for everybody involved? Like, why would, why would a breakup even occur in the first place? If that were true? 

Kensington: Yeah, great, great question, Lisa. So I think, one thing that I've seen a lot of the time is that a breakup will occur when, when both people are just really not in a place to be the their best selves, right. And then, after taking some time apart, and both going to therapy or doing other kinds of personal growth activities, really become in a better place and more able to step into their best selves and be their best self for a new relationship.

Then, it can be a great idea to reconsider getting back together with somebody. So that's, that's one situation where I've seen that really work that I would say, like, the biggest caveat is that some of this is out of your control. True, and you can only control yourself and the personal growth that you do. But ultimately, you deserve to be with a partner who is also working on themselves, and who wants to bring their best self to the relationship. 

If you see them working on themselves, again, whether that's through like, self help stuff, therapy, coaching, whatever it is, right? Those can all be great signs that they are taking personal growth seriously, and it could be a good idea to maybe just reconsider when reentering the relationship, if you like.

Stages of Getting Back Together With an Ex

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, well, that sounds like a process in itself. I mean, I'm sure you've worked with people who are reconsidering, but I mean, even just that word implies, like a lot of thoughtfulness. It's not like you, you go out, you go out for drinks and your hookup and now you're back together again. So not that. What does this reconsidering involve, from your perspective, when people are really being intentional about it?

Kensington: Yeah, I think it you know, it involves, obviously, like a lot of personal growth on the side of each person, but a lot of conversations with each other. So spending time together kind of testing the waters to see if, if things really could be different, maybe going and talking with a relationship counselor together. But really taking it slow, I think is one of the biggest things here, right? 

Where we're not immediately just jumping back into bed together, right? But, but really trying to be mindful and intentional about, okay, these are the things that were our issues before. Like, this is what I've tried to do to work on these things. This is what you've tried to do to work on these things. But kind of test out some of these dynamics and see where we're at.

Signs You and Your Ex Will Get Back Together

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, yeah, I'm thinking right now, this wonderful article that you wrote for our blog, I think it was stages of getting back together, I believe was the title. And in it, I think you, you talked about what I thought was just such a great point, which was—what's going to be different this time around? And like, why would it be different, right? And that can be hard to figure out. 

Because I think sometimes people want things to be different in terms of the way they relate or communicate. And they also have intentions that it will be different. Yeah. But there's almost like, what, what would literally have changed that we make it be different? And so for somebody who's in that space, what would be your recommendations of like, things, things to look for, like, if say, communication was a problem, or emotional invalidation, or even trust can be an ongoing problem, right? 

What would be actual signs that something has changed, versus somebody telling you that they intend for it to be different? That's a big question. And I hope that's not too much.

Kensington: Great question. Yeah. I mean, I think that this is where, again, if you and this person have had some conversations and talks about, “I've changed in these ways, and this is my plan on how I want to do things differently.” This is where like, the taking it slow, and getting to know each other again, process becomes really important. 

If it's emotional invalidation, for example, that was really hard in the relationship trying to set time on a regular basis to even just talk about your day or talk about something hard that happened recently, and, and see, right? Like, does this conversation feel different from how you feel in the past? 

I think that those actually seeing some behavioral changes, and maybe it's not going to be perfect every time. But then, you know, like, like seeing some of those efforts to make those changes, I think, I think those can be really good.

Back With the Ex

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby : Yeah. Well, this, this is my own nerdy way of saying it, but you're talking about observational data. Yeah, like I like, okay, so we have like a pond, it's sort of covered with ice. And I'm going to walk out on this four inches with you and see if that holds. And if it does, then we'll go a little bit further. But you're saying that when going slow, it's how does this feel? Is this different? 

Can I trust, right, that this is going to be the relationship that I want it to be this time? But I also think too, that personal responsibility, like what, who am I as time around? Is that the right way to say it?

Kensington: Absolutely, yeah, I think that, you know, and it's almost like getting to know, and a new person where, you know, if you're entering a new relationship, you know, if you're trying to be intentional about it, and you're gonna take it slow, and get to know each other and, you know, be looking out for red flags, but also green flags and signs that things are going well.

I think it's the same when considering getting back together with an ex, right? I think, again, since we have a history, it's so tempting to just like, jump right back in and pick up where we left off. But if we want to create a new pattern, it can really require going slow and being deliberate, trying new patterns, seeing if they work, right? And looking for all of those signs that like you said this really would be different.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Yeah, got it. Yeah. Well, it's just that, that same idea, that having an attachment bond to somebody is not the same thing as having a healthy relationship to somebody and that’s something that you need to create on a different level. 

So related to that, and again, this may be too hard of a question, because I'm sure it looks different with every client that you've ever had in some ways, but would, can you identify any sort of patterns or themes, like when you've worked with clients who have done work on themselves, and maybe after a separation, and then go back into a previous relationship, or even a new relationship for that matter. 

What have you noticed being the most important things for people to be gaining self awareness around in terms of their own patterns? Emotional intelligence, reactivity, ways of relating to other people that you've seen being key to having a different outcome when they go back in again, because the personal responsibility piece is so important, right? What have you seen?

Kensington: Absolutely. So I think one of the big pieces of self awareness that I've seen be really helpful for people is understanding their attachment style, and how that comes out when they relate to other people. And so I think, just understanding that, and then being cognizant of, “Okay, what's coming up for me in this interaction with this new person? And, how can I respond deliberately, instead of just reacting,” right? That can be  a great, like, really tangible place for people to start.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: If we could stay there for a minute, just just for the benefit of our listeners who may not be really, or maybe have heard the term attachment styles, but don't really know what that means. What can you say a little bit more about what, what you're talking about there?

Kensington: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, attachment theory, talks about really like, what we, what we need in a relationship in order to feel safe, and how we respond to closeness and other people. And so there's, and I'll let people do some of their own research. But there's, there's a few different main categories of attachment type. 

There's a secure attachment, which is what we're all working toward. There is an anxious attachment, which means that we tend to really desire that closeness with others and feel really nervous and be reactive, when we feel like we're not getting that from someone else. And a more avoidant attachment style, where kind of that vulnerability or closeness in a relationship feels really scary, and can react based off of that. 

That's, that's just like a very brief overview. But really, I've seen for people to understand what some of their tendencies are, with how they attach in romantic relationships. I've seen that be really transformational and how they, then attach to new partners moving forward.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Definitely, it's easy to say, “Okay, I know that I tend to feel really nervous when somebody isn't like, calling me every day or texting me at certain times. And then I tend to get angry and lash out,” and just like, knowing that, “Okay, this is what I do.” And then developing ways of managing those feelings can really change outcomes in a relationship and so that to have a different experience.

If you're getting back with an ex, that's going to be something important to think about inside of yourself, as well as maybe your exes and whether they've done work on that area. Are there other things or that you've seen being important for people?

Kensington: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I was — the attachment styles is a big one. I think another one that I've seen be really important is just emotional intelligence. So being able — one of the really important pieces of a relationship is emotional intimacy and closeness, and that involves being able to talk about our feelings. 

Really, in order to talk about our feelings, we have to know what they are. And so gaining kind of this emotional intelligence piece around “Okay, what are the feelings that I'm experiencing on a regular basis? Where do I feel them in my body? How do I experience them? What are their names?” Right? That can be really, really important work to then be able to share that with other people.

But also create new patterns around okay, well, when anger comes up for me, I can know, because of X, Y, and Z, and here are some things that I know that I can do to help me with my anger, so that I'm expressing it in an appropriate way, instead of lashing out against my partner.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Okay. So attachment styles, emotional intelligence work. I mean, that's a lot right there.

Kensington: Absolutely.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Is there anything else? Are those the biggest ones? Would you say?

Kensington: I think the, I mean, some of the two main ones coming to mind for me, and I think that you could certainly spend several months or even years, right? Like working on those in yourself. But I think that, yeah, for most clients, those are two good places to start.

Getting Back Together After a Breakup

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, definitely. Well, and this is so helpful, because this is a very, like, concrete, tangible thing. And I think my takeaway from this is that if you want to get back with an ex, and if it is going to be a positive and better experience for both of you, the work that you're describing needs to have happened or, or that there is a plan to maybe do some of that together, like through couples counseling. 

But unless there's that real reflection on your part, and your partner's part, it's probably not going to feel that different, even if you do get back together again, right?

Kensington: Absolutely. I think that, again, when two people get back together, and I heard this so many times, they have the best of intentions, and there's so many promises made around, “We're going to do things differently. And I'm not going to do this anymore.” And I think that those promises are wonderful. And, I believe that for most people, they're coming from a good place, and they're genuine. 

But if there's not some of that work, both like the insight based work, as well as the behavioral change, work to support those promises, even the most well-intentioned people are going to fall back into old patterns, not because they want to do that necessarily, but just because patterns are really hard to break out.

Breaking Up and Getting Back Together

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: They are, they're comfy, they're strong, they happen automatically, without anybody even noticing it takes a lot of intention to break out of them. Is that what you think is happening when you see, like partners, breaking up and then getting back together again, and breaking up? Is that what's going on? Is that people like want to be together, but they haven't done the work on these old patterns?

Kensington: Yeah, yeah, great question. So I think, yeah, nine times out of 10. I think that's what's going on. And, again, it's all good intentions, and people wanting to do better and be their best selves. But it's really hard to do that when there's some underlying things that haven't haven't been addressed, such as patterns or not knowing your attachment style.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: So much good stuff, Kensington. You share just so much fantastic information with us today. I'm so grateful. And I'm sure our listeners are to people who are struggling with just the enormity of all this. Any, any last words that you might have for them? I know you spend a lot of time with people who are in this emotional place, but what do you want them to know?

Kensington: Yeah, I think first, first and foremost, just know that you're not going crazy. And you're not alone! I think that going through the end of a relationship is such an isolating experience, and especially if the people who we're sharing with again, is, well-intentioned as they are, just either haven't been there, it's been a really long time since they've been there. 

There can be some pretty invalidating things that are set. And really if, if there's anything that I've seen from my work in this area is that, this intense missing of this person. Even if, again, even if, you know it wasn't a great relationship and it needed to end. You're, you're really not going crazy, like it's normal. It has an explanation, and I know that so many of your podcasts listen. In your book, EXaholics, you talked about the biological component of losing that attachment.

I think that understanding that is really helpful for people. So yeah, you're not alone. And, all of your feelings have a very rational explanation.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. That's, that's such a nice note to end on that it's legitimate. It is normal. There's nothing wrong with you. Yeah, and that, that people do understand. Well, thank you again for sharing your understanding today, Kensington. This is wonderful.

Kensington: Thank you so much for having me, Lisa.

[Outro song: Nothing to Hide by Allah-Las]


Your Relationship Questions, Answered

Your Relationship Questions, Answered

Your Relationship Questions, Answered

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

Relationship Help

As a marriage counselor and couples therapist, I know that relationships can be confusing sometimes, and lots of people have relationship questions. We have listeners of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast and readers of our blog get in touch frequently asking questions about how they can connect with their partners, improve their communication, or create positive change in their marriages. (As well as asking questions about how to grow personally, or create positive changes in different areas of their life). But today's podcast is all about relationships – specifically, your relationship questions.

Your Relationship Questions, Answered.

Today, we're answering your relationship questions in order to give you some direction, and real help for your relationship. Here are some of the relationship questions I'm answering today:

“How do I know whether my relationship is worth saving, or if I should let this go and move on?”

“Should I stay friends with my Ex?”

“I'm shutting down with my partner. How do I stop?”

“I'm afraid that my boyfriend is emotionally unavailable due to his own issues. What do I do?”

  • We talked about the realities of having a partner with unaddressed emotional issues, and who is not interested in working on themselves. We discussed her points of power, and her opportunities for changing the situation, as well as how to move forward with a partner who is unwilling. Resources mentioned included, What to Do When Your Partner Has a Problem.

Do you have relationship advice for these questioners or personal experiences that you can relate? Perhaps you have your own relationship questions, self-improvement questions, breakup questions, or career questions for an upcoming episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast? If so, please leave them in the comments!

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

P.S. Pro Tip: One very simple, low key way to start making positive changes in your relationship today is to get your partner to listen to this podcast episode with you. (Yes! Trap them in the car!) Joking aside, listening to relationship advice like that offered here can stimulate productive conversations and lead to growth. Try it and let me know what happens! LMB

 

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Relationship Advice: Listener's Relationship Questions, Answered

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

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Let's  Talk

If you're looking for guidance about how to handle a specific situation in your relationship, you can have a “Solution Session” with an expert relationship coach to discuss your concerns and get their help in making a plan of action.

If you're looking to make real and lasting change in your partnership, consider investing in a few months of expert relationship coaching that teaches you both how to have a strong, healthy relationship, and show each other the love and respect you both deserve.

 

 

Meet a Few Of Our Relationship Experts

The marriage counselors, couples therapists and premarital counselors of Growing Self have specialized training and years of experience in helping couples reconnect. We use only evidence based strategies that have been proven by research to help you restore your strong bond, and love your relationship again.

 

 

 

Meagan T.

Meagan T.

M.A., LMFT

Meagan is a relationship specialist. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over nine years of experience in helping couples reconnect, and enjoy each other again. She specializes in Denver marriage counseling, Denver premarital counseling, and online relationship coaching.

Meagan uses effective, evidence based forms of marriage counseling including Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy and The Gottman Method. In addition to working one-on-one with couples, she teaches our Lifetime of Love premarital and relationship class. Meagan is available to meet with you for marriage counseling or couples therapy in Denver, and for relationship coaching and premarital counseling online.

 

Anastacia S.

Anastacia S.

M.A., N.C.C., LMFT

I’m Anastacia: a licensed therapist, life coach, and marriage counselor who is all about helping you create the very best life for yourself and for your relationships. I specialize in a type of evidence-based marriage counseling called Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, that helps you rebuild your secure, strong bond.

I’ve been told that my warm, gentle style immediately sets people at ease. Working with me, you’ll feel safe, cared for, and understood. And through that non-judgmental understanding, you will heal, grow, and — most importantly — understand yourself.”

Silas H.

Silas H.

M. S., MFT-C

Silas is a marriage counselor and relationship coach with specialized training and experience in helping couples heal their relationships, improve communication, release resentments, and achieve new levels of enjoyment and fulfillment with each other. He has a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, plus  Gottman Method marriage counseling training (Levels 1 and 2), and is a Colorado-based therapist.

His warm, insightful and solution-focused style helps you understand each other, strengthen your foundation, and take positive action to improve your relationship. He's available to meet with you for couples therapy, premarital counseling and marriage counseling in our Broomfield, Colorado office and for relationship coaching online. 

Dr. Georgiana S.

Dr. Georgiana S.

PhD, MFT

Dr. Georgiana is a couples counselor and relationship coach with a "tough love" style. Her no-nonsense approach and direct feedback can help you get clarity about what's creating issues in your relationship, develop emotional intelligence skills, change the way you interact with each other, and negotiate your differences in order to build bridges to the center.

Dr. Georgiana is a certified coach as well as a licensed as a marriage and family therapist in California but she specializes in online relationship coaching. She divides her time between San Francisco and Buenos Aires. She is fluent in English, Spanish and French.

Lisa J.

Lisa J.

M.A., LPC

Lisa is a warm, thoughtful and experienced couples counselor, therapist and coach. She has extensive post-graduate training in evidence-based couples therapy (Gottman Method Levels 1 & 2). Her approach helps you rebuild empathy, and restore your strong foundation through healthy communication and compassionate connection. Lisa is licensed as a therapist in Chicago, Illinois but serves couples across the US and around the world as a relationship coach.

Hunter T.

Hunter T.

M.S., LMFT

Hunter is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, couples therapist, and parenting coach who believes in love, and that strong marriages create strong families. He practices Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, which is an evidence-based form of marriage counseling that focuses on helping you create a strong, secure attachment built on trust and empathy.

His gentle, but effective approach can help you open up with each other, and have healing conversations that repair your bond and allow you both to consistently show each other the love and respect you both deserve. Hunter's roots are in Utah, but he is currently based in Colorado. He can serve you as a couples therapist or marriage counselor in Fort Collins, CO and Broomfield, CO, and he provides online marriage counseling & relationship coaching to couples across the US and around the world.

Neha P.

Neha P.

M.S., MFTC

Neha is an open-minded relationship therapist and life coach with an authentic approach. She believes you are the agent of change, and she can help you activate systems that lead to achieving your goals. She is a strength-based and solution-focused therapist and coach in her work with couples and individuals. Neha believes that to experience personal growth, you must build from what works best for you. In her work as a life coach, therapist, and marriage counselor she help clients to understand their identity, establish strengths, and feel empowered.

Why You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex

Why You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex

Why You Can't Stop Thinking About Your Ex

Thinking about your Ex ALL the time? Here's why, and how to stop.

[social_warfare]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why You're Still Thinking About Your Ex

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

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

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

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

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

Let's Talk. Schedule a Free Consultation Today.

Dating While You're Still Thinking About Your Ex

Continuing to have feelings for an Ex is not just frustrating, it can also limit your ability to move on and start a new, healthy relationship with someone else. When you're dating while you still have feelings for your Ex, it can interfere with your ability to form a new attachment. Comparing your new love interests to your Ex can also lead to your breaking things off with someone who could be great for you. If you're officially broken up but still sleeping with your Ex? No judgment (this is surprisingly common) but you're going to be stuck for a long time unless you make some changes.

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

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

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

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

How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex, For Good

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

On today's episode we'll be discussing:

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

Your partner in growth,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

P.S: Some of the resources I mentioned on this podcast refer to other past episodes, other articles on the blog, and also some listener questions about breakups I answered on IGTV. I've sprinkled links to them through this article, but here's one more: Our “How Healthy is Your Self Esteem” quiz. 

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

[social_warfare]

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

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

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

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

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

More Breakup Recovery Advice on The Blog + Podcast

Navigating the Post-Divorce Stages of Grief

Breakup Recovery is a process that involves very real stages of healing and big, uncomfortable emotions. It's not uncommon to go through the seven stages of grief when healing after a breakup or divorce. Online life coach and breakup recovery counselor, Sharmishtha Gupta shares the grief recovery stages and helpful actionable tips that you can use to work through your healing journey. Read here…

Letting Go Of Resentment

Are you holding on to resentment about hurtful things that have happened in the past? Is your partner? In today's relationship podcast, we’re talking about letting go of resentment in your relationship so that you can both move forward, put the past behind you, and start enjoying each other again.

Let’s Talk About YOU

Let’s Talk About YOU

Let's Talk About YOU

Your Questions, Answered.

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The latest episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast was absolutely devoted to YOUR questions. Your relationship questions, dating questions, dating questions, communication questions, therapy questions were all answered. If you've left a question in the comments section on the blog lately, or through Facebook or Instagram (or via one of our quizzes) you'll want to turn in and hear the answers!

Specifically, we discussed: 

  • What if you're having an argument with your partner and need to take a break to calm down, and they keep pursuing you?
  • How to handle it when you're married and have a crush on someone else? What if you have a crush on an EMPLOYEE? 
  • Are you dating and hearing, “I like you but just as friends” a lot? We're talking about what that might mean! 
  • What are some tips to handle a hard breakup or divorce when you coparent with your Ex and have to see your Ex?
  • What should you do if your family members are fighting with each other and you keep getting dragged into it?
  • Can you do couples therapy by video if you're in a long-distance relationship? Why might that be a good idea?
  • How should you approach your partner if you think they would really benefit from individual therapy or couples counseling, but they won't go?
  • And so. Much. More.

Listen now, using the podcast player below, or WATCH the discussion on YouTube below! (FYI, this podcast was recorded LIVE on Instagram — if you'd ever like to join, tune in (most) Mondays at 12pm Mountain. 

Your partner in growth, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

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Let's Talk About YOU: Your Questions, Answered.

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

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

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Related Post

Healing After Loss

Healing After Loss

Healing After Loss

Grief: The Price Paid For Love

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As a therapist and life coach, I help people through many different forms of loss. One of the most common that I see is “ambiguous loss,” or a loss that happens without closure or understanding such as a breakup, a move/huge transition, a miscarriage, or lost dreams. I also help people mourn the death of a loved one.

Grief can take many different forms and it looks different for different people, but today I hope to give you a strategy to help you work through grief – in all its forms.

Types of Grief

There is no right way to grieve. Sometimes it results in an overwhelming sadness that is accompanied by loss of motivation, difficulty sleeping, or loss of appetite. It can also take the form of irritability, anger, or numbness.

Sometimes it feels scary to face the feelings accompanied with grief. There may be the fear that you will never stop feeling the pain, so it seems easier to ignore it. Choosing to not deal with the sadness, hurt, and anger that often accompanies grief, however, may leave you feeling lost, lonely, and overwhelmed. I often view the grieving experience as “waves”.

When you “ride the wave” by allowing yourself to feel and deal with your emotions, you will experience some relief from the pain faster than if you choose to “fight the wave.”

The Stages of Grief

The stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, sadness, and acceptance are very true experiences for those who are grieving and are true for ambiguous loss as well. I used to believe that these stages were linear, but they certainly are not.

Typically, when you go through these stages it tends to be “out of order” in the sense that you can be angry and sad at the same time. Or maybe you feel acceptance one day but anger the next.

While these stages are a great reference point, it’s important to give yourself the space to feel your emotions without judgment. Everyone grieves differently and for different periods of time. If you're working through grief in the aftermath of a loss, here are a few strategies that might be helpful to you:

Strategies for Healing After Loss

  • Talk About It: Finding a safe space, either with friends, family, or a grief and loss group to talk about your loss. If the loss is of a loved one, it can be helpful to share memories about them in a place that you feel emotionally safe.

  • Make Space For The Feelings: The emotions often come in waves, so try not to suppress the emotions but allow yourself to “ride the wave” when it comes. Some helpful ways to do this is by journaling what you are feeling or expressing what your feeling to someone you trust.

  • Practice Self Care: Do something that you enjoy. As difficult as it is, engaging in self-care activities like exercising, spending time with friends, or enjoying other hobbies often provides a moment of relief from the heavy emotions that come with grief. This is probably one of the most difficult things to do when you’re grieving, so finding someone to engage in these activities with can be helpful as well!
  • Get Support: Connecting with a caring grief counselor can help you process through all of the emotions that you are feeling in a way that helps to promote healing from the grief and normalize your experience. If you are experiencing grief in any form, it helps to have a caring professional to help you navigate the painful journey of grief.

Light at The End of The Tunnel

In the long run, it is better to go through the grief than to suppress it, although in the moment it is much more difficult to allow yourself to feel it. By going through the grief, you will allow yourself to process in a way that allows you to heal. As difficult as this process is to experience, giving yourself the time and space to work through your emotions helps to alleviate your pain and allow you to feel like yourself again.

Wishing you grace through your healing.

Warmly, 
Anastacia Sams, M.A., LMFT-C

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Anastacia Sams, M.A., LMFT-C helps her clients create their very best life. She has a warm, compassionate, and gentle yet highly effective approach to personal growth work. She specializes in helping couples create healthy, happy partnerships, and assisting individuals to heal from past hurts in order to create fulfillment and joy.

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