Are You Really Over Your Ex?

By: Dr. Weston Edwards
5.12.2009

She's packed her bags, gotten a new apartment and you've both moved on with your lives but have you really gotten "over" your ex? Many people think they have but if you read the comments to my last article "Do All Gay Men Cheat?" you quickly see an enormous amount of pain and anger people in the responses.

When a relationship ends, for whatever reason, there is going to be some amount of 
"garbage" of hurt and anger that needs to be actively dealt with. If you don't clear it away many of you will find some major barriers to having successful future relationships.

Impact Today
First thing you need to do is to take a good look at your current situation and try to figure out how the relationship relates to your life today. Specifically you're looking to identify how your past relationships impact your sexual behavior and also how your sexual behavior impacts your relationships.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you do things you know are wrong because of something your partner did? Why?
  • Was your partner’s behavior a response to something you did? Why?
  • Are you avoiding relationships? Why?

Identifying Barriers

When a dog bites a child, there is a very good chance the child will have a negative reaction to dogs in the future. This is an example of transference. When you have a reaction to a current partner, it is often based on your past experiences. When these experiences are positive, your reactions are typically helpful. However, when they are negative they can create a barrier that may possibly doom a new relationship. What barriers are you experiencing today?

Unresolved Issues

Then there may be some "unresolved issues" affecting you that are a result of past relationships. Some of these include depression, abuse (physical, mental, verbal), the coming out process or feelings of shame and guilt. Sometimes the feelings of grief and hurt are so strong, some type of grief therapy may be needed to move past them. Until these are addressed you may be stuck on an escalator trying to go the wrong way.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is NOT about forgetting.

Forgiveness is NOT about letting the other person off the hook.

Forgiveness is about YOUR healing.



Forgiveness includes helping you heal from negative thoughts while at the same time helping you let go of painful feelings. It's an extreme act of compassion when you can forgive the person who hurt you. In some religious traditions, an example of raising forgiveness to a radical expression is offering compassion to your ex. This brings about YOUR radical transformation.

Ways to Move Forward

  • Write a goodbye letter. You can be totally honest and open with your feelings because you aren't going to be mailing this letter. When you're finished show the letter to a number of close friends and family who can act as your "support network." Listen to what they have to say about it then put that letter aside and write a new one. Don't edit your existing letter but write out a brand new one. Then share this letter with your support group. Repeat writing the letter and sharing again. Repeat again. After you have done this about 10 times go back and review each version of your letter. By doing this you have really begun the healing process. If you choose, send the 10th version of the letter.

  • Reach out to friends, family and professionals for the support you need.
  • Establish a boundary. Your ex’s behavior is about your ex, despite what he/she may say. This is important to remember. Remind yourself of this mantra. 

  • Complete an inventory and honestly assess your role in the break-up. You will need to step out of the victim role to recognize it takes two to dance.

Do you have a question about sex you would like Dr. Edwards to answer?  Send us an email.  We promise to keep your name confidential.

(Photo: Getty Images)



Mefacepic
Dr. Weston Edwards
is a professionally trained and experienced psychologist licensed by the Minnesota Board of Psychology. He specializes in individual, couple and group counseling and has specific experiences working with sexuality, spirituality, chemical dependency and mental-health issues. He is in private practice at the Sexual Health Institute Dr. Edwards is also on staff at the Pride Institute providing sexuality and chemical dependency treatment for the LGBT community."

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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