In July, the man I dated for more than six years dumped me. His former landlord told me my ex-boyfriend was going with someone else. Two weeks after I found this out, my ex-boyfriend got married to someone he had dated for a month. I love him. He’s obviously over me. Please tell me how to get over him. I’m going with someone else now, but I can’t really have a relationship with him because I still love and care about my ex-boyfriend. How can I erase him from my mind and heart?
Allow yourself to grieve the death of your relationship and the demise of the expectations surrounding the life you imagined together. When a relationship ends, we need a period of solitude to process our deep sadness. If we attempt to avoid painful emotions by immersing ourselves in a new relationship quickly, we simply postpone the pain and stunt our emotional growth. Then, when the new relationship also ends, we may feel leveled by the effort required to meet the enormous weight of grief resulting from the current suffering plus the grief from the prior relationship and the childhood wounds related to both.
I suggest that you ask your current partner for a month’s absence from the relationship. Reassure him that you want to be with him but that you need time alone to heal. If you worry incessantly about losing him, fear of abandonment may be a core issue for you (and the reason you cling to your ex). Consider writing letters—never to be delivered—to your ex and to his bride. Use this exercise as a means of learning what is truly at the root of your suffering. Remember, the pain will lessen in time.
I thought your advice to the new mom was very good (”Sleep deprived and struggling,” SN&R Ask Joey, September 18), but as an old mom, I have suggestions to offer. If breastfeeding seems “impossible,” she might need the help of a good (nonjudgmental) lactation consultant or a mom who’s been there and done that. She may also feel isolated during the day. Many local mothers’ groups meet in parks (with children in tow). If her husband can’t “do anything right,” maybe she needs to leave the house for a while and let him do it his way with the baby. She’d get a break, and he’d get a break from her looking over his shoulder. She also should see her doctor to examine the possibility that she has postpartum depression. Please feel free to pass my e-mail address on to her.
Thank you for your generosity and wise advice. I can assure you that postpartum depression is not an issue in this case, but I will forward your e-mail as requested.
I am bothered by the tone of the young woman who wrote wondering whether she should try artificial insemination because her biological clock was ticking but she had not met a marriageable man (”Mr. Right vs. the biological clock,” SN&R Ask Joey, September 4). We do have a biological drive, but evolution means we are not ruled by those basic urges. You don’t have to reproduce to have a complete life. A child is not an accessory to equip a certain age. She needs to understand that she is changing her life for 20 years—the length of a parent’s biological responsibility.
Your perspective is appreciated. It’s so easy to react—in any situation—according to our biology. Thanks for the reminder that making conscious choices creates the happiest autobiography.