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time heals all wounds, but I don't have all fucking day
October 10, 2011 9:04 AM   Subscribe

How do you get over someone when time is really, really not working?

I had written up a ridiculously detailed explanation of my own special little story until I realized it was irrelevant; the crux of it all is:

I dated someone incredible for a significant amount of time; we broke up only because we were moving to different places and were stupid and young and didn't feel in control of our own lives. This was almost three fucking years ago and I'm still not over it. I feel utterly pathetic-- I'm otherwise happy and successful in my life-- yet it still feels viscerally, physically painful that we're not together. I've tried to cut her out of my life completely but that feels, truly, even worse. She currently has a serious-seeming partner.

I can intellectualize that there are other people out there, that I'll fall in love again, that it just takes time-- I KNOW these things-- but I can't make them resonate. I've since been with others briefly but it always felt like either horniness or friendship, never again that amazing melding of both.

What the fuck is wrong with me? I dearly want to stop hoping with all my heart that we'll get back together because, as the great Magic 8 Ball once said, "outlook not so good". I would be truly overjoyed to just move on. But I haven't. I know it takes time, but it's been time and I don't want to wait until I'm 50. Wtf is wrong with me?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (35 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've tried to cut her out of my life completely but that feels, truly, even worse. She currently has a serious-seeming partner.


It feels worse right away, sure, but you have to do it. You're clearly driving yourself nuts over this.
posted by Oktober at 9:06 AM on October 10, 2011 [14 favorites]


Seconding Oktober. You're not over her, and you won't get over her, if you keep hoping you'll get back together. You need to put a stop to all contact. For your own good.
posted by trogdole at 9:10 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel like you need to grieve over it. Cut the cord and let the realization sink in that the relationship is dead.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 9:13 AM on October 10, 2011


I suspect that until you're over your ex, you're going to have barriers up to achieving the kind of relationship you're after. I agree that you need to stop contact with her to give yourself time to get over her. It doesn't necessarily need to be forever, but it needs to be for a good long time - six months, maybe longer. You need to go through the grieving process for the relationship in order to accept that it's changed.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:16 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've had similar thoughts about my ex. A different situation for sure, but that "why can't I just get over him?" feeling remained. My best conclusion was that a) I had to be okay with getting over him at my own pace, b) contact with him was out of the question, and c) the most likely reason I hadn't fallen in love again was because I hadn't met a guy that was right for me to fall in love with. Take some time off from dating if you need to. Date when it feels right. Have faith that you will find another girl where you get that combination of physical attraction and companionship.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:21 AM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


You're dwelling on what might have been, and I think part of you probably envisions an alternate-reality life the two of you could be sharing had you not split up. But over here in the real world, you did split up. Three whole years ago.

It may help you to think about how much you have changed in those last three years. You moved to a new place. You grew up. You're "happy and successful." In what ways did you grow? How might you be different if the two of you had tried to stay together? Are you a different person now than you were before?

I think you need to spend more time focusing on who you are now and what things you can do now in your happy and successful life. Don't allow yourself to think too much about your past with her or any sort of life the two of you might have had together, because that's all make-believe. Cease all contact, block her on facebook so you can't be tempted to visit her profile, and focus your efforts on living a good life and bettering yourself.
posted by phunniemee at 9:22 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nothing's wrong with you, and you're not pathetic. The mistake you're making is not cutting off all contact. You have to do this. It's critical. That's how the 'time' thing works, anyway. I know it sucks and she won't like it and all that -- but you have to, have to do it. I also think you shouldn't set any kind of limit on it ( after six months you'll call or whatever) -- contact again when YOU feel better. Which you will.
posted by sweetkid at 9:24 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Echoing cutting off all contact.

If you're on good terms with her then it shouldn't be a terrible thing to be able to say - hey, listen, I am really not over this and I don't want to make that your problem so I need to be out of touch for a while.

Basically you won't be able to have another, fulfilling relationship until your yardstick for a successful relationship is how much it resembles the one you miss so much. That takes not only time but space. You need space to start reasserting your own sense of self and become reacquainted with yourself on your own terms, not in terms of the relationship you used to have.

It seems nightmarish to break off contact but what we have here is a bone which did not set right and needs to be broken clean so it can heal. That's not fun and it's going to hurt and it might feel like you're going through an awful breakup all over again - but you'll survive. And this time around, time will actually help.

It will be hard but it will be worth it, and you can do this. Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:29 AM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


Date other people. Even if you don't think there's any long term potential there (and more than likely, there won't be for a while), it's ALWAYS helped me stop dwelling on the person I couldn't get over.

Eventually, you've stopped thinking about them long enough that you actually don't think about them anymore.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 9:30 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had to repeat the "cut all contact, no matter how hard it is". Solutions that are simple but not easy - because I know it's very, very difficult to do this - have been endemic to my and my good friends situations lately.

And just as another data point for "it will get better" - I felt like I was never going to get over my ex. We were staying in contact, and I knew we weren't going to get back together, but it just never stopped hurting. I finally cut all contact for a year or so, and in that time was able to actually move on, and she is now one of my best friends, with no residual pain or awkwardness. And she is also a great friend to my new, wonderful girlfriend, who is better for me than any of the people I've mourned for exactly like you are doing now. I thoroughly believe that this never could have happened if I had stayed in contact the whole time.
posted by flaterik at 9:38 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oops! Ah, I mistyped something.

Basically you won't be able to have another, fulfilling relationship until your yardstick for a successful relationship is how much it resembles the one you miss so much.

This should read:

Basically you won't be able to have another, fulfilling relationship as long as your yardstick for a successful relationship is how much it resembles the one you miss so much.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:40 AM on October 10, 2011


I've tried to cut her out of my life completely but that feels, truly, even worse. She currently has a serious-seeming partner.

Sounds like you didn't try to cut her out of your life if you know she has a partner and you know how serious it might be. You should try harder to really cut her out of your life.
posted by fuq at 9:47 AM on October 10, 2011


There is a clock inside your head that counts down until the point at which you're over someone. Nobody knows how long the clock has to tick for. It just has to go on and on until it's done.

Every time you have contact with your ex, you reset this clock. And it has to go through the ticking down process all over again, right from the beginning.

Cut off all contact until the clock has ticked down. Time does work, you just aren't giving it a chance to.
posted by Solomon at 9:51 AM on October 10, 2011 [31 favorites]


How many years of dating did it take you to find her? 3? 5? 7? Whatever that number is, don't be surprised if it takes you at least that long to find the next one. Keep things in perspective. I went through a similar thing almost 2 years ago. It took me over a year to get past my ex and really start dating again. And no, I haven't found anyone (yet) that makes me feel like she did (the good times anyway), but it's still fun. For me, at this point, I'm SO glad I'm not with her anymore and am really enjoying dating and the freedom that comes with it. You'll get there.

Keep reminding yourself that there are very significant and legitimate reasons that you're not with her anymore. It's easy to think about the good times. Remember the reasons you broke up and move on. There's probably more to it than "we just wanted to go in different directions". That's what my ex and I told ourselves, too, but in hindsight there were other reasons we weren't a great match in the long run.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 9:53 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since seeing other people hasn't worked for you, have you tried being celibate for a while? Maybe celibate isn't the right word, but abstaining from dating/hooking up altogether for six months or so? It seems like a lot of people get in this vicious cycle after a big breakup of jumping into relationships and hookup situations that aren't right for them, just because being alone is too scary. These relationships inevitably fail, and then you end up thinking it's because you're still in love with your ex.

I bet that when you met this girl you can't get over you weren't comparing her to your past lovers-- you were in a place where you could take her for who she was and take your relationship for what it was. You need to get back in touch with yourself (and be okay with the idea of really, truly being alone) before you can even consider having a real relationship with someone else. Getting over this first girl will happen naturally when you're able to really assess the needs of the person you are right now.
posted by oinopaponton at 9:53 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


How about the old "pretend until it's real" trick?

Like chrisfromthelc says, dating is pretty great at filling the gap of a painful breakup, but the first step of getting back on the scene is HARD. So can you try pretending you're over her? Say to yourself, tomorrow I will wake up single for the first time in three years. In this movie in which I am the main actor, I am a desirable, sociable individual, with a passion for life and a need to get out there and meet people. Get online, go to local meet-ups, and pretend, for a while, to be like, Russell Brand, or Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love.

See how it works out. Maybe it's just a change for a while, maybe that character becomes a part of you. But I think you need to break away from your old self, which is still not over this girl. Put that self away for a while, somewhere you can come back to it when you're ready.
posted by greenish at 9:55 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nthing cutting off contact and getting rid of all reminders of her in your life - pics, email address, facebook friendship, etc. Out of sight, out of mind. Go on some dates. Get caught up in your passions and don't look back.
posted by sunnychef88 at 10:10 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've tried to cut her out of my life completely but that feels, truly, even worse.

You've stayed in touch and you're miserable. How's that staying-in-touch working for you? Sounds like it isn't.

Nthing all the no-contact advice - and really, no contact. Block her on social networks, filter her email so you never see it, delete her number from your phone. When you tried to cut her out of you life before, how hard did you try? How long did you last before you gave in? Try harder.

Tell her this is what you need to do and then do it. Since you've been so unhappy over this for so long, I'd say do the no-contact thing for at least a year. And in the meantime, throw yourself into something new - learn a new language or other skill. Dating hasn't been successful I'd guess because you don't think of yourself as single. You are. That is the reality. Even if you don't really believe that, suck it up and act as if.
posted by rtha at 10:10 AM on October 10, 2011


My heart lingers a long time over exes, and the only thing that has ever worked for me to totally clear my mind of them is to fall in love with someone else. I know you can't just decide to do that, but the longer you hold yourself back from dating other people--or, more importantly, from giving other people a shot--the longer you're holding yourself in suspended misery. Personally, I've come to the conclusion that time by itself heals nothing. It's what you do with that time that makes a difference.
posted by colfax at 10:26 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


One thing that I try to tell myself is that how long it takes you to get over someone and how much you miss them is NO barometer of how good the relationship was or could have been for you, or even of how much you loved them.

People take years to get over abusive partners, or end up bickering over divorces with people they say they hate but keep entangling their lives with emotionally.

People lose the love of their lives, of 5/10/40 years, to death, and feel content months afterwards, and sometimes move on and remarry.

I think you can get into a headspace of 'if I still miss her and I'm still not over her, then she must have been right for me and I'll never find someone better'. But the 'if/then' there is a complete lie. It seems to make sense but it doesn't really.

A helpful thing I was told by someone else is that the human body was made for loving and grieving and loving again, and it wants to get over things and move on, so the best you can do is take good care of yourself and get out of its way, as much as you can. Getting out of its way is things like cutting off contact, sleeping well, eating well, pursuing meaning in your life. Then trust your body to get you to where you need to be (because as you've experienced, there's not so much you can directly to do get there anyway).
posted by Salamandrous at 10:26 AM on October 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


Well, you *could* try to get back together with her. It's a risky path, so if you decided to pursue it, you'd have to give yourself clear and unbreakable parameters, and you can only do this once! If it doesn't work, you have no more contact with her, period. No crazy stalking allowed.

It could go something like this:

1) Do a rigorous self assessment where you ask yourself what this is really about. You've had a hard time moving on, you're unhappy with your life, no one else is like her - that's all sad, but, with all due respect, life has a lot of suffering in it. Being with her isn't going to solve your problems, as much as you would like it to. You might be creating all kinds of unrealistic fantasies and memories about your time together. I'm sorry if that seems harsh, but humans' capacity to rationalize our behavior is unlimited. Your pain is not a sufficient reason for you to trouble her with a potentially very confusing and upsetting proposition. I'd strongly suggest that you connect with a therapist to help you with this assessment.

2) Ask yourself sincerely what you would be willing to do to make it work. Would you move? Take a different job? Don't come to a quick "I'll do anything" type conclusion - it's not true and you'll just regret it later. I can't emphasize enough that you've got to be honest with yourself about this.

3) Approach her in a way that supports her capacity to make choices AND the possibility that she has successfully moved on and would just as soon not hear from you. Let her know that you deeply regret the loss of your relationship and that you've been considering that it was a huge mistake and that you would like to have a conversation with her about whether it's a possibility for the two of you to get together again. Let her know that you understand that this may be really unwelcome to her, and if it is, you sincerely apologize for upsetting her, and that you will absolutely respect her wishes.

4) If she says no, game over. If she says that she would be willing to talk with you, have the conversation in some place where each of you have the prospect of leaving gracefully. Don't approach this as an opportunity to woo her romantically or as an opportunity to debase yourself and grovel and whine about how miserable you are and how great she is. You made the decision to split, and though you rue it now, that decision has it's own integrity and time has moved on, even if you haven't.

If it doesn't seem to be in the cards for you to get together with her again, consider that the suffering you're going through now is an important part of your life. It may suck and it may teach you something that you might not learn otherwise. You might want to find ways of working with the suffering (e.g., therapy, writing, poetry, music) and seeing if you can learn from it, as just trying to get rid of it doesn't seem to be working.
posted by jasper411 at 10:27 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some people take longer than others to 'get over' someone. From my experiences, on the longer side, it'll take about three years. Give it a few more months before you feel completely hopeless.
posted by mbatch at 10:43 AM on October 10, 2011


I really like jasper411's suggestion. You clearly are not over her, so by approaching her in the way jasper411 suggests, you are not setting yourself back too much.

If that doesn't take you where you want to be, here is what helped me when I was in a situation very much like yours.

Someone offered up this computer analogy: once a break-up sinks in, it is as though the relationship were put into the recycle bin. That is a gesture more than anything else: you can drag it back any time. And this is what happens any time you have any sort of contact - be it actual contact with her directly along the lines of a friendship, or via stories otehr people tell you about her life, or by having any online contact, even minimal as a Facebook friend, for instance, but also any reminders such as photos etc. As Solomon upthread says, you just keep resetting the clock. So no contact means that you make an effort to remove any reminders of her from your life. If you succesfully accomplish this, it is equivalent to emptying your recycling bin.

Still, "deleting" is not yet fully accomplished, since any number of things can conspire to "retrieve" her/the potential you see in your relationship. So now you have to go about overwriting the place she occupies in your hardware. This means that you have to team up your efforts to not contact her in any way (even indirectly, through mutual acquaintances, or object-reminders) with efforts to fill up your mind with new things which will little by little capture your imagination and your love and your capacity to invest yourself and dream and accomplish things. Different things work for different people - you have to find what works for you. Become a temporary workoholic, or discover new places, new people, new activities, new hobbies, new philosophies and spiritual insights etc.

Once I figured out what all the tech terms mean (I am an idiot when it comes to computers), this analogy really resonated with me for some reason, and it helped me leave the past in the past. I still had a soft spot for the person for a long time, but it was more akin to nostalgia rather than real pain, and allowed me to move away from the longing and the speculations. And it made me discover so many new things, that I now wish each day had at least 30 hours...

But yes, I think people advising genuine no contact (the kind of "no contact" which means you have no idea if she hasn't moved to a different continent, really) for as long as it takes and then a few months more are giving really good advice. Combine that with whatever gives you the feeling that you have a full life - things you cannot wait to do, or continue doing, and you will see her receding into that part of your mind where beautiful things from the past live.
posted by miorita at 10:52 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Solomon is absolutely right about how each contact resets the clock. I'd say that it not only resets the clock, it pushes it back, because it's made the relationship that you have with her in your head just that much longer.

You should end contact for now; you can explain this to her first if you have that kind of friendship, but if not, then you don't have to. She is not going to die if you cut her off. She's the one with a partner, after all.

Date responsibly, and check in with your friends to make sure you're not throwing yourself into a destructive or inappropriate relationship just to forget about your ex. Once you are in a "serious-seeming" relationship for a substantial amount of time, it may be safe to reestablish contact with your ex. Wait until you're ready, and then wait a little bit longer. If you really did have the kind of amazing connection you're describing, it should be able to survive the break.
posted by ziggly at 11:16 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


n-thing those who say that when you feel like this about someone all contact must cease. And I do mean all. Anything else is picking the scab.

When my ex-wife, whom I adored, left me for someone else I was shattered, gutted, more wrecked than I ever have been before or since. But I was so shattered that the sensible part of me knew that if I was to have any chance of re-balancing my existence I had to cut her completely out of my life. It helped that she clearly wanted this too, but anyway...

I was right. You go through a long phase of being desolate. You go through a longer phase of being felled by grief at unforeseen moments. Even now, 14 years later, I still sometimes dream about her and I still sometimes feel angry, and sad, and regretful. I have come to realise that I always will. It will never go away completely.

But I know with an absolute diamond-hard certainty that had I tried to maintain any sort of contact with her the grief and pain would have been a hundred times worse and more prolonged, and I would have made her hate me even more than she probably did already. And where would that have gotten me?

You have to rip the Band-Aid off and suck the pain up, mate. You really do. It's part of being human, and adult. And you do not get to call how long it should take before the pain level becomes acceptable, I'm afraid.
posted by Decani at 11:27 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been a long time in coming around to no-contact advocacy in situations like this.

Here's the way I used to feel about it:

-It didn't work out, but I'm an emotionally mature grown-up who should be able to handle being friends with you, Great-Person-Who-Broke-Up-With-Me.

-It's so rare for me to meet anybody as great as you, GPWBUWM. This no-contact thing would mean one less great person in my not-so-filled-with-great-people life.

-My wanting things to be different between us is simply ego and selfishness on my part. My personal bullshit should not be a barrier to our very, very special once-relationship, now-friendship.

So I maintained close friendships with people that I still had feelings for, put myself through all manner of hells in doing so, and of course after a while GPWBUWM would meet someone else, making our epic-friendship-for-the-ages suddenly not such a going concern...

As it turns out, my ego and selfishness was actually manifesting itself in my desperate attempts to cling to some form of intimacy with each GPWBUWM.

No-contact doesn't always have to be the solution. But for your particular case, with the amount of time and the suffering you're putting yourself through, it absolutely is. Cut yourself off, either with an explanation or not. As ziggly so correctly put it: "She is not going to die if you cut her off. She's the one with a partner, after all."

I'm really sorry you're going through this.
posted by Angus Jung at 12:12 PM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


You're totally nursing the wound by not going no contact. I am friend with all my exes - every single last one of them - but this is only possible after a long period of having cut them and all contact with them out of my life. By "long" I mean 3 months at one end of the spectrum, 3 years at the other end. You cannot go back to contact until you can do it with near disinterest. You are not doing that and thus, you are failing at being broken up.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:41 PM on October 10, 2011


It's been almost 20 fucking years and I'm still not clearly over her. Randomly, I'll have clear as hell vivid dreams about her, or I'll see something and suddenly all these memories, not just of her, but of this incredible time in my life that existed because of her.

The point is, that if you've really really loved someone fully and without any holding back, and they are ripped away from you suddenly, you don't really "get over" it. You have a deep wound which, if you're lucky, will scar over and turn you into a different person who goes on to love again.

Some women you can stay friends with. I have one of these in my life. I would argue that these relationships are not the kind of deep, dependent, transformative, passionate relationships into which you throw your entire being and self worth. This kind of relationship, you cannot continue to nurse into a friendship or hope that you'll get back together. It's never happened and it never will. Each time you talk or go out for coffee, your putting your finger into that wound and it can never heal that way. Or worse, you'll over-romanticize what it would be like to really be in a relationship with this person.

No, it's up to you alone, to figure out what happened, to regret some things, and be happy about other things. But you have to do it alone and cut off all contact now. I wouldn't even explain it to her, just stop calling. Now.

There's, going to be a sore spot, maybe forever. But things happen, life goes on, you figure out how work around it, grow around the scar in your heart, be a better person and keep letting people into your life.

My wife is a thousand times the woman who dumped me twenty years ago, we have a beautiful beautiful son and another on the way next month. Really nothing could be better, somehow life has conspired to make me an incredibly happy person. But I still have that sore spot in my heart, and it reminds me that it's there, often.

Damn. Twenty fucking years.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:59 PM on October 10, 2011 [14 favorites]


Alright, you made me have to go out and have a cigarette.

You want some coping strategies? Therapy helps. Having and making real friends helps. Cultivate your interests. Continue growing as a person. You need some more of life to happen to you and life only happens to people who live it. I promise, you find and chase after the things you are passionate about and when you are least looking for it, someone even better will be there waiting for you. And this time you will be able to draw on your past experience to grab hold and make it better.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:16 PM on October 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Cut off contact. Failing that, here's some advice from someone that didn't cut off contact and is finally starting to get closure about three years out.

First, be honest with yourself. For years now I've been caught up with thinking that my relationship had been wonderful and the best thing ever and, sure, there had been some arguments here and there, but it was still 99% perfect. The reality is that I was pretty unhappy with a number of things and our individual issues had been starting to tear the relationship apart. In order to understand and accept that I had to really start to pay attention to my thoughts to keep from whitewashing over the bad things. It's entirely easy for me to just remember the good things as a way to keep myself from really dealing with the reality of it all.

I think Salamandrous is absolutely correct when they say:

I think you can get into a headspace of 'if I still miss her and I'm still not over her, then she must have been right for me and I'll never find someone better'. But the 'if/then' there is a complete lie.

My ex and I were right for each other until we weren't. I know that now, but for the longest time I've believed that all these strong feelings I had for them meant that it was true, forever love. How could I find someone new when they could never compare to my previous relationship? Now that I feel like my perception of my relationship is less distorted I feel more capable of leaving it in the past. I've come to realize that I'm not the same person now that I was then. I have to live with the decisions I made then, but, more importantly, who I am now is only possible because of who I was before. It wasn't until I accepted the past as the past that I began to realize that who I am now isn't all that bad of a person to be. It was hard to accept, but the person I am now is much happier and capable than the person I was in my relationship. I got so caught up in my distorted memories of happiness that I completely ignored my current happiness.

Second, don't avoid any pain you may be feeling. I spent a lot of time looking for distractions in dating and the pain from my distorted memories in order to keep from having to deal with the real pain and issues that lead to the end of the relationship. I knew that it was there, I could feel it in the moments I didn't have distractions and it was scary. One day I figuratively sat myself down and told myself that these distractions weren't working and I needed to try something else. Embracing my pain hurt a lot in some ways, but it also showed me that it wasn't as bad as I was imagining it to be. It became something manageable instead of some giant horrible thing.

I think that the importance of time is that it gives you perspective whether you like it or not. There are definitely other ways to get perspective and plenty of tools to help (or at least not hinder), but time is the only one that can be really be relied on.
posted by mindless progress at 3:24 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seriously? Three years. It's just three years, not already three years. Americans/Westerners these days (well, aka The Culture I'm Familiar With) are so... practical? Non-romantic? Utilitarian? About stuff like this lately. I blame the self-help movement. Anyway, there's this idea that pain, issues, trauma should be overcome, 'dealt-with', somehow-- often medically, frequently just somehow, in some feel-good and possibly socially-facilitated fashion-- risen above. Pain and failure and heartbreak is just a learning experience that allows you to learn about yourself, and time is a great soothing influence that further allows you to better focus on that self-learning, the theory goes. Eventually we will all become our best selves, grow up, and go on Oprah, etc.

Sometimes people don't get over things. Sometimes it hurts your whole life, because what you've lost is a big deal and important and you always remember and it's always a regret. Sometimes we realize that growing up is owning that pain, that scar, and accepting it within yourself rather than expecting smooth psychic skin back. We all make mistakes, or do things we wish we didn't have to, or lose things that we can never exactly gain back, and that's what ultimately comes to define our sense of self in adulthood. It's not that it 'feels better' with time. It's that eventually you get used to the pain, internalize it, and it becomes part of the background. Sometimes it takes a year, or three, or ten. And in my case, the difference between these time-frames is mostly about what kind of pain I felt, what aspect of the loss most grieved me, what effects it was having on me at that particular point in time, on who I was right then as compared to who I used to be.

I don't know, I like it this way. I feel a little bad that I've lost some vital aspects of the 'me' who once loved the boy I lost, and probably should never have 'had' in the first place. We do lose these intense memories eventually-- 5 years, 7 years, now 13 years-- I am different, but it still hurts at some points, even if I don't even know why sometimes anymore. It seems like an impoverished question, emotionally, to simply look for relief. In cognitive-behavioral terms, I'd instead look for the most fruitful dialogue you could have with yourself on the subject. This is why I've always looked deeper into myself (journaling, writing, thinking) rather than trying to look away. It seems to hurt less when I look closer and closer and closer, until suddenly I see it all differently, like through a different lens.

I don't know. I think if you accepted the loss rather than being impatient or scratching at the itching scab, you'd have better results, is all I'm saying.
posted by reenka at 4:06 PM on October 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yeah, no contact. Period. Delete from phone, delete on facebook, clean out your gmail.

Accept that you might not ever be over her, not 100%. I'm sure someone has said this much more eloquently than I can, but we all carry wounds and bear scars that will never heal. That's okay. It's just part of you, part that will hopefully hurt less, but trying to be rid of it completely may be unrealistic and unhelpful.

She has a serious partner. She's moved on. Remind yourself of that. She's happy now and doesn't want you back, and she won't.

Is she your first love? I wonder because it doesn't get less real or less good, but in some ways that's a standard that no one else is going to be able to live up to, and it's not fair to hold your future relationships to it.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:56 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can seriously feel for you on this one, and I've been there. It sucks.

He cut contact with me, and while that was painful, it was the one or two email exchanges we did have over the following years that really made it hard for me to move on.

It took years (YEARS!) and a few other relationships for me. But you have to give yourself permission to shut that door, lock it, and then walk away. If you even let yourself crack the door open, it'll only be harder.

It's over. Over. There is no going back. Please accept that, however much it hurts and however much the voice in your head wants to disagree.

If you want to talk, memail me. But either way, good luck. It's a shitty prospect with which to be faced, and I'm sorry you're in that position.
posted by guster4lovers at 7:10 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've had the no-contact thing not help, so here are other ideas. A lot of them revolve around figuring out what keeps you hooked and how to meet your own need there. Like a ghost, you may be emotionally haunting this relationship until you get one or more things resolved with yourself.

For me, trying to get back together with the person did help a lot. Somewhere around the third time (across a span of seven(?) or so years) I finally got that we'd never be back together again.

You can try to figure out what made the relationship so powerful to you. I realized I was a sucker for Person X because when we were together, we shared certain idealistic visions about how to live. Now when I think of him, I don't think "arrrgh why'd I break up that relationship, it was the love of my life!!!" I remind myself that I'm working to make those things a reality in my life (and I also laugh at what a cheesy idealistic hippy I can be). Or Person Y made me realize how alive creativity and humor made me feel. So when I am reminded of person Y, I think of the things that will help me live that way now. True, people aren't just these one-dimensional attributed, but in just about every case for me, the sticking points were.

For me there was something about letting go of guilt in those attempts to reconcile. I didn't have to feel guilty for the break-up because now he'd said no while I'd been the one trying to save the relationship. Now I finally knew it was a mutual desire to be apart.

Something else that helped was forgiving myself, or once and for all convincing myself that their judgment of me did not (any longer) apply. I stopped defending myself or feeling like they were right about how I was "messed up." I had been wanting to reconcile to prove to them and myself that I WAS good enough. I had to change myself or realize that their criticism had never applied.

Those are a few ideas about removing the hook. But to switch metaphors, it also helps to really continue on your journey and grow. Then you will look back on this from a new vantage point. Take on efforts that mean a lot to you and that will force you to change: repair and deepen friendships and family relationships, start that company, and so forth. Anyway, I've been there. It sucks. Hope these ideas help (and make sense). Good luck.
posted by salvia at 10:19 PM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Three years isn't so long - just feels long. I missed/loved my last partner for four years, and then fell for someone who doesn't love me. Such is life.
The day you fall in love with someone else, you'll be free of the last one - and, of course, setting yourself up for the next one :) So it goes.
posted by nickji at 9:45 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


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