If I don't miss my ex, then why do I care that he has a new girlfriend?
July 28, 2013 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Hi. I dated my ex for three years and we broke up a little over a year ago. At first I was very hurt and depressed, missed him terribly, was counting on getting back together, and couldn't imagine ever being attracted to or dating anyone again. Now I don't miss him at all and have no desire to be with him, and no longer compare every guy I meet to him. I thought I was over everything, but then last week I found out he's finally dating someone else and I can't help but feel hurt, like I've been replaced. I keep thinking about what she's like and why he likes her even though I do not want to be with him at all. To make matters worse my ex and I work together, so it's possible we might all run into each other, and that makes me want to vomit. I feel like I'm moving ten steps backward in my healing process. How do I proceed?
posted by thank you silence to Human Relations (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Think of it this way--you have neurons in your amygdala which were set to fire off relating to this particular person long ago and have been stuck there, waiting to go off. So let them go off and realize that the reaction will go down over time.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:44 PM on July 28, 2013 [10 favorites]

Just so you know, this is 100% typical. Your ex is NEVER allowed to have a new beaux until you do. The feeling typically disappears when you yourself acquire a new SO.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:58 PM on July 28, 2013 [18 favorites]

Does your ex deserve to be happy, or at least try and seek out his own happiness like a normal human being would? Can you imagine yourself wishing that he get everything that he wants? Could you imagine a world where there is room enough in this world for the two of you to be happy? Where one person doing well doesn't mean the other person is doing poorly?

You have a splinter in your heart. I've been there and it's the most suffocating feeling ever. I had similar pangs when I found out an ex of mine got married way after we broke up. Ask the universe for a new understanding and some space. Wish him the best in your heart and let go. Being the bigger person here will set you free in unimaginable ways.

I find that so much of our resentment and desire to vomit is really bottled-up feelings of "please, I want you to like me" and "notice me, I'm special."

Unconditional love means you can love a person - sometimes from a distance, or without interaction - and you don't necessarily have to be attached to a particular outcome. Conditional love involves close monitoring and a particular outcome. You give him permission to be who he is. I retreat to it when feelings of jealousy or envy get too strong. Practice it.

And please don't compare yourself to other people. That is a losing person's game. Instead, play to win. Best of luck!
posted by phaedon at 2:54 PM on July 28, 2013 [10 favorites]

The feelings you have are completely normal. Even though you don't want to get back together with your ex, it's natural to still feel a little hurt or jealous that he's found someone new (especially since you spent three years together with him).

Be truthful with yourself about how you feel and don't try to suppress these emotions--let yourself feel them for a little while but don't dwell on them. After some time you'll probably find that it barely bothers you any more. You were able to move on after the relationship ended and you'll be able to move on through this as well.
posted by jdgreen at 3:02 PM on July 28, 2013

Why do you think that your relationship insecurity and vulnerability are moving backward in "the healing process"? Experiencing difficult feelings is how you grow and no one should ever stop growing. (Convincing yourself that your feelings are transitory biological illusions is a good way to avoid learning anything.) Instead of worrying that "you're not finished yet", why don't you find out more about what's left? —ask yourself why you're afraid of running into him.

If you're insecure about having been replaced, would you rather confirm that she's not so great or develop yourself to become ever more irreplaceable?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 6:20 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

You will always be the one he left behind. And that is why it hurts. You will never get over this pain, but you can learn from it, grow stronger, and look back on him with understanding and kindness.
posted by SPrintF at 7:01 PM on July 28, 2013

I think feelings about someone you no longer have feelings for have to do with what they represented to you. For a long time, you imagined (I assume) a certain future with him. Now it's as if someone else is getting to have that future instead. Logically, you may not want to be with him as a person at all. But it's harder to get over the loss of that imagined outcome.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 7:18 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My ex soon started dating after we broke up. He'd tell me about it. It didn't bother me he was getting out there, but as soon as he made it official, something inside me twisted up. It was a lot of things I thought:

- He has someone and I don't. I was way more awesome than him. How come he found someone?
- He gave up on us and this is really it, he really doesn't want this.
- I thought I was over this! Why am I sad?
- How can it be so easy for him?
- What does he see in her that he doesn't see in me?
- Who does he like 'better'?

So it's normal to feel these feelings. I got through it by dwelling on the ways we were not a match, and the irritating things he did. "Imagine living with that," and "Hah that's her problem now," and such. Instead of thinking of the times we clicked and were 'good' together.

Also, it's easy to think of them with someone else and think of it as, 'this new person must be perfect and way better than me!!' and them holding hands and skipping through meadows, but that's really not the reality. She's poops, just like everyone else and she has bad days and good days, and he's just as annoying as he ever was. Maybe they just compliment each other a bit more. It doesn't mean you're deficient in any way. You may well be the one he yearns for, on some deep level, who knows.

Then I thought, what's the alternative? It's not like I want him sad and pining for me like a puppy, anyway. If he wasn't over me, I'd feel bad for him and it would make it harder for me to move on. I'd feel guilty for having to break up.

As for interacting with him, I've interacted with mine since then -- and instead of getting all nostalgic about it, he actually reminded me of why I don't wanna be with him. It kinda killed the 'idea' I had of us (and him) in my mind. So, don't be too afraid of him at work-- it may well be that you get a reality check about it.
posted by Dimes at 9:02 PM on July 28, 2013 [10 favorites]

What DarlingBri said.

Totally common. You've been triggered....that's all.

Use this as an opportunity to look at what you got going on with your life and making it into something you could be proud of.
posted by PsuDab93 at 9:05 AM on August 1, 2013

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