Ask Erin: Help! I Can’t Let Go Of My Ex

There will come a day when you don’t get sick thinking about her.

She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all. 


Q.

Hey Erin,

I know your site is geared towards women, but I was wondering if I could get your advice? 

Four months ago, my girlfriend of three years left me and didn't give a reason as to why. I stupidly begged to get back together for a month and looked crazy. She told me everything was my fault and that we are never getting back together. She still gave me no reason as to why. I offered to pay for us to go to counseling, anything. 

Well, I found out she left me for another guy, and it killed me. I had my flaws, but I don't believe I was a bad boyfriend. I loved her; I listened to her, I supported her, and I was her friend. She was my best friend. 

After four months, I still get sick thinking about her. I still want to call her. I still want to hear her voice or hold her hand, and it's not getting better. She is still with him and seems happy, and I’m afraid that I’ll never be over her.  

A.

Hi there! I am happy to answer questions for anyone, regardless of gender. :-)

First, although the fact that she left for another guy feels like an extra hit to the ego, the reasons the relationship ended are not what’s important now. 

It’s over. And it feels shitty. 

I think that so many of us have been there, feeling like we will never get over a breakup. That feeling is a natural part of the grieving process. And that’s what you’re going through — grieving a loss. 

If you look at this through the lens of the Kübler-Ross five stages of grief, you’re well into the process. You’ve gone through the denial, the anger, and the bargaining. Now, you’re in that fun stage of depression. 

The good news is that you will make it through this, and on the other side of that sadness is acceptance. 

Acceptance is a hard fucking lesson. I know this from a life spent learning it, over and over again. But, when you finally let go of the illusion of control and allow yourself just to accept it — accept the loss, the rejection, the sadness — the crappy feelings will lift. You will begin to see the rest of your life before you and start to believe that you can and will be happy again. 

As you grieve, you may backslide, and that’s okay. If you are open and able to access it, talk therapy can be extremely helpful in sorting out your feelings and finding a path for moving forward. It’s an action. 

Action, for me, is always the key to being able to move through uncomfortable and painful emotions.

One of those actions is allowing yourself to feel it. Trying to escape those feelings can at best delay the inevitable, prolonging the process and, at worst, lead to self-destructive behaviors. 

Often when giving advice, I talk about making lists. Simple, corny, but effective. It’s another action. Make a list of what you want in a partner, what you want from a relationship. Make a list of what you want for yourself, both in the immediate and the long-term, focusing on things that are you-specific, not revolving around a relationship. 

When I’ve had difficulties going through loss or grief, I look for activities that can take me out of my head — that may be physical (hiking, exercising, dancing) or spiritual (Reiki, yoga, meditation) or just plain engaging (traveling, a movie, a night out with friends). 

Now, I know when we are in the throes of despair it can sometimes be impossible to take action. If you are feeling paralyzed by this, if the depression is too sharp, I urge you to reach out. Reach out to friends, reach out to a therapist or support community. If you need any area-specific resources, I am happy to share them with you. You can email me again. 

I promise you will not feel this way forever.

There will come a day when you don’t get sick thinking about her — when you won’t be obsessed with thinking about her and what you lost. And you will feel like you can breathe again. 

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