July 30, 2007

The eX factor

It's my opinion that the most worthless type of advice in the world is a standard set of steps for getting over an ex.

Sure, it’s easy to advise someone if her boyfriend cheated on her, or beat her, or stole her stuff for drug money.
But what about the great relationship that ended because it just plain didn’t work out?

You loved him, and you still do. Now it’s been months, he’s dating someone new, and suddenly you feel sick.

First you’re angry. Jealous. Bitter. Then you have second thoughts.
Did you really make the right decision when you ended it? What if he IS the guy for you?

It is precisely this type of predicament for which no valuable advice can be offered. No one will be able to tell you what you should do or feel. It’s actually this realization that makes the situation so damn unbearable.

My own misery led me to the Web today, where I read a lot of articles with titles like, “Before You Get Back With Your Ex” and “The One That Got Away.” It may have been useless advice, but the information helped refocus my perspective and start to find some answers.

So keeping in mind the fact that everyone’s relationships, break-ups and experiences are unique, I have come up with some advice that might actually do some good.

1. Assess your present situation.
Are you in a new place, apart from your close friends and family? Have you lost track of hobbies or find yourself browsing the Craigslist personal ads for amusement?
If you’re bored or lonely, that can make you start to miss your ex. If you don’t have enough friends around you at the time, you’ll begin to long for the time when you were of the utmost importance to him, and it will rip you apart trying to deal with the fact that you aren’t anymore. Also, is he dating someone new? The “I don’t want him, but no one else can have him” mentality is a very real creature.

When you start to miss him, step back and ask yourself how much of your emotional turmoil is fueled by jealousy, loneliness or boredom.

2. What are you really missing?
When you find yourself missing him, you WILL think of all the things you loved about him. You’ll remember the way he kissed your forehead, or always gave you the best cuts of steak off his plate, or surprised you that time on your birthday. Oh why did you break up with such a wonderful, caring boyfriend?

Once you finish wallowing in the misery of what you’ve lost, snap back to reality and force yourself to think of the things you DIDN’T like about him. The things that drove you bonkers, and the reasons you ended the relationship. You did have reasons, it’s just easier to stash them away and pretend they don’t exist. If you have to, make a list with two sides – things you love about him and things you can’t stand. If the latter side is empty, you aren’t being honest with yourself.

Likely, after you’ve reviewed the reasons he isn’t Mr. Perfect, you’ll stop regretting your decision to break up with him.

3. Take your time.
Don’t feel like you have to start dating again right away. You probably won’t be ready, if you haven’t fully recovered from the loss of your ex. Dating other people isn’t going to speed the process, either. It’s something you will have to come to terms with on your own eventually. And remember, you don’t NEED to date anyone right now. You are strong enough to get through this.

You were alone once, before you met him, and you can be alone again.

4. Love yourself.
I know it seems impossible, but stop thinking about him for a minute and really examine yourself. Think about all the things that make you a confident, sexy, special and deserving woman. He may be a great guy, but the truth is that he couldn’t make you happy. If he had, you wouldn’t have broken up with him.

You deserve to be happy. Keep in mind all of the things you love about YOU as you move forward, instead of what you love about HIM.

These are the steps that helped me come to terms with my shattered heart after breaking up with my amazing, caring boyfriend in March. There will still be bumps in the road, and more pain to come, but I’m on the road to recovery.
When I can see a picture on Facebook of him with the new girl he’s dating and not hope she'll fall off the face of the earth, I’ll know I’m fully healed.

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