Why can't I get over my ex?
November 8, 2012 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Why can't I get over my ex and why is my self esteem so low? Will him and his new gf work? How do I behave around them?

Apologies for the length of this and for how many questions I have asked- just very confused. It is my first time posting here.

My ex and went out for almost 2 years he told me he truly loved when he was with me. His parents thought we were it and even he said he had not felt like it before. He suffers from depression, which came out a few months into our relationship. I tried my best to support him, but he always said I didn't do enough, I didn't show him enough love. In the end he split up with me saying I hadn't been good enough. I was always fiercely independent and liked being busy but I did everything to make him an important part of my life. He was also jealous of my past relationships and any male friends in my life. He cheated on me when we were together (with a 44 year old that I knew) and after much begging I took him back.

After he dumped me he wouldn't leave me alone, constantly telling me he missed me and loved me but we could';t be together. One night he even cut his leg (all superficial) so I would go around. I still had a strong feelings for him so tried hard to cut him out but the constant messaging pulled me back.

He eventually asked me back, dumping me two weeks later because when we had split I had got with another guy (one night) someone he distantly knew- he said this was the same as cheating. He would still txt me after this though saying he loved me.

Two months ago he wrote me a letter saying he was in a different place (has a part-time job as a bouncer alongside his full time job) and felt we could work on things. Cautiously I decided to try again (why I don't know- don't know why the feelings wont go) Two weeks later he said wants to be friends and a relationship isn't on his list of priorities at the moment. I was heartbroken again, but decided to be friends. The following week telling me he had a dream we got married! I thought this was REALLY unfair after everything. My heart has been so confused.

Two weeks later I find out he has a new gf. She is 19 (he is 27) a student and barmaid, where he is a bouncer and they have known each other for 4 weeks. A week ago he told me they were just getting to know each other now they are in a full fledged relationship. She is very very pretty and young. I am surprised, he has never moved this fast! we went through a lot before our relationship became official and I know in the past he preferred sleeping around. Her profile pic is them two together and they have a lot of activity together. It seems so intense. I guess I want to know has he found the 'one' and has she really changed him. I don't want him back, as I know he is really bad for me, but I am curious.

I am also hurt and my self esteem has been knocked. We went through so much, had such a deep connection at one point (or so I thought) it was him who brought up marriage and children- was it all just lies? Is this girl the one that's changed everything for him? I've told him I don't want to be his friend and deleted him from my life he didn't care in the slightest. Don't know why I still care.

I am such a strong person normally, lots of people have been surprised at how much I have forgiven and how hard I am finding it. What is wrong with me? I'm working hard, exercising and studying; am also trying to get a new job and move but am completely exhausted by this and cant stop thinking about him.

He is bringing her to a dinner in a few weeks, with all my friends and at one of my political gatherings- the thought of it makes me sick. Should I still go? and if I do how should I behave?
posted by artystar to Human Relations (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just to add this has ALL happened in the last 7 months.... it hasn't been over years!
posted by artystar at 8:38 AM on November 8, 2012

Nothing is wrong with you friend. Don't go to the dinner if it would be too hard. He sounds like a jerk face and I am happy you don't have to deal with him anymore. Stay strong! Time will make it better.
posted by blueberrypicasso at 8:42 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Unfriend / block your ex and his girlfriend on Facebook. Do the same if you’re friends on any other social network. Strongly consider blocking his email and phone number but it might be ok to not do this and just respond with “please stop contacting me”. Don’t hesitate to block him if he ignores your request.

Facebook stalking is tempting but it will do nothing but cause you pain. It is totally normal to have a million and one questions but there’s no reliable way to get answers and the answers would be meaningless even if you could get them.

I would avoid going to the dinner; it sounds like it would be nothing but awkward for everyone involved. Now is the time to fill your life up with any and all distractions to keep your mind occupied. Pick up a book, watch some of the thousands of TV shows out there, check out a movie, go out with (neutral) friends, get drunk, exercise, eat, etc.

Whatever you do, do not stalk him or her on social networks and do not answer any calls / emails / texts / smoke signals beyond “please stop contacting me”. This too shall pass. It may take some time but things will get better. I promise.
posted by Diskeater at 8:49 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

The reason the feelings won't go is because he is still in your life. For you to get over him and stop thinking about him you need to stop having him be a part of your life. You can tell him that you need a big giant break and pile of space from him for a while. Tell him you aren't able to consider friendship with him at the moment, that it isn't healthy for you. Ask him not to email or call you or text you. Delete him off of facebook. Filter his emails so that they get trashed. Block his cell. Find a way to get distance from him. If he is irreversably intwined with your social group, then branch out and try to make some more friends that aren't associated to him.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:50 AM on November 8, 2012 [11 favorites]

You're letting yourself be massively manipulated. Stop being a victim and work on not giving a fuck. This guy is an ass and consider yourself lucky that you're no longer with him. And stop staying in touch with him in all forms, tell him not to text or email you and unfriend/unfollow him.

You seem naive and he seems immature. MOVE ON. Don't go to the event if you're going to be a sad sack and can't focus on anything but them. If you do go, focus on the event, and say a brief hello if you come into contact. Don't seek them out and don't do more than greet them politely.

Focus on other things, people and interests and when you're ready start dating other people.
posted by shoesietart at 8:50 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

I wish I had more time to reply to your question but I will just say one thing. It sounds like one of the things he is after from you is your pain. Sometimes, it's hard to see this, when the person has said they love you / want marriage with you / etc - the person who said all those things is trying deliberately to cause you pain. Also, when the person is depressed or has other issues, it's easy to chalk it up to that - that this person doesn't mean to hurt you, but they just can't help it because of their depression or...

I think one of the things this guy does to you is that he tries to hurt you emotionally on purpose and gets a kind of gratification from that. I think that even when he's saying loving things to you, in part, it's to set you up in a position where he can then hurt you.

I think he is bringing this girlfriend to your dinner in large part to hurt you. I also think once you are out of his life completely, she will be the person that he targets when he wants to hurt someone.

Honestly, this girl has no idea what she's in for. I understand all the bad feelings you are having and I think they are natural, I don't think there's anything wrong with you. Just when you see them, if you are having a hard time, remember that everything he's done to you, he WILL do it to her, and it will likely be way harder for her to push back on it or recover from it because she is so much younger (which is probably at least in part why he went for her.)
posted by cairdeas at 8:53 AM on November 8, 2012 [11 favorites]

Just to add I am not in touch with him, i have deleted him from fb and twitter- but on twitter its easy to find someone.

As for having him in my life we met through politics and I am very active locally, I don't see why I should give up my interests and something that can help my career for him. I'm trying with the distance but that is hard- especially with the dinner. I dont want to go, but i'll be missing out on something that is important for my career :( Don't know why he's bringing her to something that isnt really for couples. I will miss it but how long can I do that for...

Yes I have let him manipulate me and I am naive but how do I move on?
posted by artystar at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2012

It sounds like you rationally understand how terrible this guy is for you (selfish? cheater? liar? cutter?), but your head and heart haven't met each other halfway yet. They will.

If the dinner will really be important for your career, go. Civilly greet him, and ignore him the rest of the time. Bring a date if you can. Be strictly business at this dinner. Then, extricate him from your life in every possible way. You will always be curious about what this new girl means to him, why it's her instead of you, and what all of it meant. You will never be able to know the answer. All you can know is that he doesn't care about you the way you deserve to be cared about, and he would rather be with someone else. I know how hard that is to process right now, but with time and distance, it gets better. I promise.
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 9:09 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

You move on by acknowledging that his new relationship has no bearing on getting over him. Seriously. Whether his new girlfriend really is "the one" for him (and there's no indication of that one way or the other) or he treats her just as poorly as he did you, it is not a reflection on you. The more you think about his new relationship, the less "moving on" you'll be doing.

All that matters is that he treated you poorly and that he is out of your life. When you get the urge to look him up on twitter or call him or even think about him, text your best friend, or pick up a book, or make yourself some hot chocolate. Whatever.

As for the dinner, if it's important to your career, I say go and avoid interacting with him. Sure, say a polite hello, but if he tries to engage you further, it's "excuse me, I have to speak to Mr. X about something" or "oh look, I'd better refill my drink." Repeat as needed. And do spend your time focusing on what the dinner can do for your career and how you can advance that, not why he's bringing his new girlfriend along.

Best of luck! I've been there.
posted by dysh at 9:09 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

"I am not in touch with him, i have deleted him from fb and twitter- but on twitter its easy to find someone" - well, don't...

I could go on, but I'd like to pick up on what cairdeas said.

You need to read a book called "The 48 Laws of Power". It has a chapter called "Avoid The Unhappy And The Unlucky". This is the kind of title that makes people assume that it's a book of ruthless Machiavellianism!!!1!!! but actually that's just a trick to make the book seem more powerful.

It makes clear that the people to avoid aren't those who are down on their luck, but self-and other-saboteurs who make their own (and others') bad luck. These people are described as "Infectors" because they infect you with their misery.

There are no answers to the questions you're suffering, but if you asked me, I would bet money that the new gf will outgrow him soon. If she doesn't, that probably - unfortunately - won't be because she's a good influence on him and they are building a great relationship, rather, it will more likely be a sad ending for her. And plastering social media with their doings is most likely something he's doing to bother you. Remember this: no audience, no show.

I'd go to the dinner because he may be trying to drive you off your turf. He may not actually turn up. While you are at the dinner, imagine that you are a cold-blooded assassin. An impeccably polite cold-blooded assassin. Act like you do not quite remember why you do not like this man. At least that is what I would suggest. But if it's too much for you, you don't have to put yourself through it.
posted by tel3path at 9:13 AM on November 8, 2012 [11 favorites]

Just because he's depressed doesn't mean he isn't the biggest asshole on the planet.

Don't let this affect your self-esteem. It has nothing to do with you. There is nothing you could have done or been that would have fulfilled this very selfish and needy man.

As for the dinner, I'd go. Don't get all worked up about it. Call a couple of friends you have who will stay with you all night and not leave your side. They will prop you up, see that you're engaged in conversation about the event, and not obsessing over your ex and his new gf.

No matter what, be a duck. Calm and serene on the surface, paddling like crazy underneath.

Try not to engage with either of them (if they show up at all). If your ex foists himself on you simply say, "I'd rather not speak with you." and walk away. You don't have to deal with him any more, and you shouldn't.

I love the book tel3path recommends, it's absolutely amazing, so for sure get it. It's in easily digestible chapters.

Focus on your career, your friends and try and get out no matter what. Even if you don't really feel like it.

I think it's very telling that your BF is now dating a child. Don't let the situation or the people rent space in your brain.

Say this affirmation: "What my ex does now has nothing to do with me. The way he treated me had nothing to do with me. I am strong and I am powerful." Say it over and over and over. Because it's true.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:20 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

It sounds to me like your ex is in the habit of making impulsive decisions when he's depressed. He wants to be with you, he doesn't want to be with you, he cuts himself, he changes jobs, he changes girlfriends. Impulsivity is a red flag, and most of us who are depressed know that we have to look to ourselves first. There are no "quick fixes" in life.

Your ex probably did think the two of you had a future together. But because he is emotionally unstable, he cannot keep functioning for long without breaking down again.

He may not mean to be a bad guy, but cutting himself to get you back? That's known as emotional blackmail. It's why, I think, you kept getting drawn in. Your feelings for him are laced with sympathy, and whether he means to or not, he plays on that sympathy. That doesn't make you foolish, that makes you a caring person who wanted to help him!

Is this new girl-friend "the one"? I doubt it. When he wrote you that he was in a "new place" with his new job, did he mention he was getting treatment for the depression? If not, it's likely he is repeating this pattern of impulsively making changes without getting to the core of the problem: his depression. He feels good for a while, he manages to function, but it's all just superficial. He is putting on a facade that he won't be able to maintain. If that's the case, then pretty soon, he's going to implode again. It's just a matter of time.

This is not your problem and you could not have "done better"! Ultimately the responsibility for getting help is on him. Do not let yourself be drawn in again.

I'd avoid him and the new girlfriend--why do that to yourself? It's natural to take a while to move on from a break-up. Aren't you honestly glad to be off of that emotional roller coaster ride? You are going about this in a healthy way, trying to keep busy and distance yourself from him. Keep on doing that!

[Because I know we all end up doing things we regret, I have a feeling that even if all of us tell you not to, you might go to this get-together anyway, just to see your ex again. If so, please clue your friends in to how hard this will be on you, and have someone sticking by your side, supporting you! Friends can keep us from making fools of ourselves when we aren't in the right head-space to see stuff clearly ourselves.]
posted by misha at 9:34 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

After you read and digest these answers, here's what you need to do. Accept that this guy just doesn't exist any more. His new relationship means nothing to you, his tweets mean nothing to you, he means nothing to you. Fake it until you make it. I promise, eventually, you absolutely will not give a shit.
posted by murfed13 at 9:47 AM on November 8, 2012 [8 favorites]

I very much like misha's comment. I had untreated depression at one time and didn't realize it; I thought I was just a pessimist in a sad mood. I treated someone I loved horribly in an attempt to make my pain go away. It was impulsive indeed; everything I've read since says to not make major life decisions when depressed, but doesn't say much about what to do if you've already destroyed an important relationship.

10 years later, and I'm in therapy and on medication (have been since the previous events). I find the greatest help my current girlfriend gives me is by setting boundaries. I can be sad, upset, etc, but I better not dare to disrespect her. And it's not that I would want to disrespect her, but if she didn't stop me from it, I'd push her farther than is decent. That was what I did in the relationship so long ago: I loved my fiancée fiercely, but she didn't defend herself from my emotional abuse, and it ended up taking its toll on both of us.

You can't control his behavior, but you can control your own boundaries and what you're willing to put up with. Not allowing him to treat you poorly may be the nicest thing you can do for him, not to mention it will allow you to heal.
posted by fredmounts at 9:48 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

So, when I see a strange dog I'll go over and let it sniff my hand and if it seems friendly I'll pat it on the head. If I'm not getting clear signals I don't pat the dog. If I get all the normal signs and then while patting the dog it snaps at me I will avoid that dog for the rest of my life like it has the bubonic plague.

You got sorely bit while patting a seemingly friendly cute dog, kept going back to try to pat it and getting bit again, and now you are standing at the edge of the fence longingly looking over it at this dog still wanting to pat it.

I think if you sort out for yourself why you would want to go back, why any part of you isn't shielding yourself from more attacks, it would help you to move on. As well as preventing this from happening again.
posted by Dynex at 9:55 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

Take comfort in the fact you're no longer dating someone with mental problems who brings you down, and look into the future where you will find a man who makes you happy and a better person. They exist.
posted by el_yucateco at 10:25 AM on November 8, 2012

I have little to add to the wonderful advice you have already received from everyone!

Except to say very clearly that you should treat this not as an emotion - but as an addiction.

If I were you, I would google Addiction and apply the advice given to your situation.

If you are curious as to what the science says about your predicament, the work of biological anthropologists like Helen Fisher today has proven that Romantic Love is not an emotion - it is an addiction (most widespread addiction in the world!). Romantic Attachment activates the same regions of the brain as the rush of cocaine.

Being "in love" does not have the characteristics of an emotion (although it involves many emotions); it has the characteristics of an addiction, it is a basic biological drive, stronger than the sex drive... Think of it - it features physical dependence (heightened energy, euphoria, mood swings); emotional dependence (focused attention, obsessive thinking, compulsive following, is involuntary, hard to control, craving for physical and emotional union); personality changes (possessiveness, mate guarding, inappropriate and dangerous behaviours, motivation to win partner, where frustration leads to more attraction (when you can’t get this person, you just try harder)); it also features distortion of reality; tolerance; withdrawal symptoms; and relapse.

Now you should know none of this is your fault. With a lot of self-love and patience, begin to detach yourself from anything that reminds you of him, and find new stimuli, and new emotional outlets. I am certain you will succeed. Time is on your side. And this community as well.
posted by Lebenskunstler at 10:56 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

No matter how it looks now or tomorrow, I promise you that the current nineteen year old new girlfriend is not going to be what makes this man happy. He is not making her happy either.

What you are doing - taking care of yourself - will eventually make you happy. Don't pay attention to that loud whining part of your brain that says you are miserable without another person or without this specific person. It sounds like you have an awesome life. Keep living it, and if you find someone who can keep up then all the better.
posted by skrozidile at 11:07 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

This new girlfriend is the best thing that could have happened. Guys like this will continue to heap their shit on an ex that cares about them (you) until they find someone else, usually jumping into a relationship with the rebound. He isn't going to change, he isn't going to treat her better, their relationship isn't key to his happiness (bc no relationship is). Same stuff, different day (or, in this case, different person). When this happened to me, it stung, until I realized this other girl took all that messy, emotional, back and forth off my plate for good. "She can deal with his crap" has been my motto.

Good luck. Don't hide from him. Enjoy doing your thing without the burden of worrying about doing too little for this dude.
posted by peacrow at 11:15 AM on November 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

You love this man. That is not bad! Love is good and makes you a better person.

You want to be in this man's life. This is bad! Not because you are bad, but because this is bad for you! Stay away. Your self-esteem will improve when you start treating yourself better.

How are you going to get through the upcoming dinner? Stiff upper lip, extreme politeness, focus on your career goals. Take bathroom breaks as needed to either make faces at the mirror or call your friends for moral support. Do not drink alcohol. You can do this!

Is this woman the one? If she is, I feel sorry and a little anxious for her. She's a young, possibly inexperienced woman who has just taken up with a possessive, physically intimidating guy who will cut himself to get what he wants. She will see him all the time because he works with her. She is pretty and her job entails a lot of flirtatious behavior. What are the chances he won't be jealous and controlling once the bloom has worn off their relationship? Slim to none. People don't change unless they put a lot of work into it, and it doesn't seem like he's even motivated to try. I know it doesn't feel like it now, but in a few months you will begin to see what a terrible thing it would be to be "The One" for him.
posted by rhythm and booze at 11:16 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

Choosing to take a short break from your political events while you sort out your feelings doesn't mean "giving up" on that work, which sounds important to you.

And stop thinking about his new relationship and how it's working and blah blah. It's none of your business, and it just keeps the fallout from your relationship with him percolating through your mind.

There is a reason why the song "Somebody That I Used To Know" was such a huge hit, and it wasn't just its infectious xylophone vamp---it's because we've all been there. But the words Kimbra sings are right on point. Detach with compassion and move on.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:04 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry girl. I had something similar happen to me. I was with a guy for a year and a half. He cheated on me during it with other girls online (never physical from what I know of) but it still HURT! I had enough and finally dumped him. Almost 10 months later we are both dating new people. My current bf and I are taking it slow but my ex is 2 months into this relationship and taking this girl to PUERTO RICO! yeah! Him and I never left the country together. And while he did live with me and my mom during the relationship, he moved in with this girl and her family too! FREAKING SOUNDS FAMILIAR? And as far as I know he is still talking to other girls online while in a relationship with this girl. No girl will ever be that special to him to fully commit. I've finally come to the conclusion I am worth a lot and no other girl is better than me. Don't let it get you down!
posted by Autumn89 at 1:48 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

My ex took me to Puerto Rico and he had never left the country before either. I used to think that meant we were special. Nope, hence 'ex'. Just because someone does something remarkable in the early stages of dating doesn't mean those are his true colors. I believe now that you can't know who a person really is until they've been tested with time and hardships. A road trip through a foreign country ain't nothing compared to years and years of living together. You may wonder if this 19 year old is the one for him now, but just give it time to pan out -- you never know if they'll be like Paul & Joanne or Al & Tipper -- but meanwhile... you must live the most amazing life for YOU.
posted by Sa Dec at 8:10 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of my friends is a guy who behaves like your ex, though maybe to an extreme. He dated a sweet girl for many years, then his depression kicked in and he took her on a similar roller coaster ride: woke her up one morning and dumped her, tried to get her back then by claiming to be suicidal, when that didn't work he slept with a couple of female friends he found "hot" to make himself feel better (then he would come to me talking about how he didn't even respect them, just had sex with them, ending more relationships in the wake), then wrote his ex-gf a long letter to say how wrong he was. Amidst all of this, he drank heavily and would text me just to tell me how drunk and miserable he was.

I have had the benefit of him telling me exactly how he thinks in more sober moments, and it's this: he thrives on intensity. Without his extremity of action and feeling, he thinks that a relationship is "dead" because there's no "passion" in it. He is the sort of guy who can't sit still, can't sit and read a book because it takes too much focus. He can't work on improving his skills in one career field because he loses interest and flits to the next one; at 28, he is currently unemployed and living with his parents. He's self-described as only attracted to girls who are "so skinny their ribs pop out" and are damaged in some way themselves. His life is high drama and when I suggest to him that he needs to get help for his depression, if that is at the root of the behavior that keeps him miserable, he absolutely scoffs at the idea, saying "therapists will never get me."

I tell you about my friend precisely because he is an extreme example of your ex, so you can see what you're dealing with in its extremes...and exactly how unattractive it is to someone wanting a loving, even-keel kind of relationship as it seems like you do. Guys who crave drama will never be able to provide you with a comfortable relationship. Not. Ever. But the fact that you keep getting emotionally involved, either with him or with new developments in his life, keeps you active in his drama and he'll do things like bring his girlfriend to non-couple events where he knows you'll be, just to get that response from you.

Be brutally honest with yourself about his intentions. Acknowledge your role in his life, how much your feelings are just something he uses to get a little thrill sometimes. Take a look at my friend's case and see how that kind of impulsiveness can bleed into other aspects of life, for the worse. Is the idea of him still attractive to you?

If so, healing yourself is key. You may want to look into affirmations or guided meditations focused on self-esteem, because they will reaffirm all of the good things about you, your worthiness to find something better, and your strength. If you want any recommendations, please let me know.
posted by houndsoflove at 6:08 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for the number of excellent responses on here. I am really pleased that I posted here as it has really helped me. Its also been interesting hearing stories and interpretations, as so many ring true of my ex's behaviour and I him I should be lucky that I was only with him for 2 years not more.

I know I'm not completely over all of this and its taking time but I have never been firmer in my resolve to move on. I'm going to get the books you have recommended, any other recommendations also most welcome.

I just want to be the strong person I know I am.

Thanks again
posted by artystar at 2:55 AM on November 12, 2012

Just found out he's taken up cage fighting. Not that it matters, but I'm not sure he is quite as content and happy as he has been telling me.
posted by artystar at 4:28 AM on November 12, 2012

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