Posted by fxckfeelings on February 6, 2014Share This Post
Whether you’re eager to get in the game and fall in love or hate the idea of going out, doing what comes naturally leads you nowhere. What you need instead is thoughtful, self-protective awareness and discipline. So take time to think about what you really need from a prospective friend or partner and how to make sure it’s there. Then, whether you need to rein yourself in or push yourself forward, conduct your search at a safe, deliberate pace that’ll keep you reigned in, out of your shell, and ultimately, on top.
I split up with my boyfriend a while ago. He started the relationship at a time when he didn’t want one (wasn’t really over his ex and was having major work problems). Anyway, we really hit it off—enjoyed each other’s company, had massive sexual chemistry, seemed to have the same values—and then I got really stressed and he got really stressed very soon into our relationship and I couldn’t handle his withdrawal reaction, especially because I didn’t feel that secure in anyway, so I finished it. Months on I’m finding it extremely difficult to get over him even though I’m trying to think it was for the best. I’ve never missed anyone this much and think he was probably the only person I’ve ever really been in love with. I don’t think he feels the same. I think he’s very selfish, thinks he’s the only one with problems, and hasn’t let anyone in since his ex. Or he never liked me that much, which he says is bollocks. No one measures up in a weird kind of way. And the people who are less selfish are boring and I don’t want to spend time with them. How do I get over him when I don’t want to?
Before deciding whether to get over your ex-boyfriend, give more thought to whether or not he was worth having as a boyfriend in the first place. Yes, there was lots of mutual magnetism; given how quick he was to vanish, however, maybe those magnets actually had like poles.
After all, he did a major, painful flip-flop soon after you got together, and two major requirements of most healthy relationships are one, that the other person isn’t prone to flip-flops and two, that he doesn’t tend to flip-flop on you.
That requirement is so important, and so out of your control, that it’s a major reason for going slow, gathering information, and trying to keep from getting too close until you’re confident it’s not going to happen. Everyone preaches safe sex, but less attention is given to the importance of safe love, and this is definitely a case where you left your heart unprotected.
Now it’s time you began to treat yourself with more care and respect. You can’t undo the fact that you let yourself care deeply about this guy and now yearn for a relationship you shouldn’t have. You can try, however, to undo the bad attitude and habits that got you into this mess, will certainly get you into future messes, and are currently making this mess worse by keeping you hanging on.
Think harder about what you need to see in a relationship before it should be green-lighted, and beware sexual sizzle that will give you short term joy and a long term hangover. Then stop feeding your heartbreak and instead let it teach you how to do better next time.
Manage your yearnings as you would manage drug cravings, gathering support from others who had similar problems. Don’t share sad stories, just keep busy, talk about ways to avoid thinking about he-who-should-not-be-named, and give yourself time to heal.
Then, when you’ve got a better grip over your relationship goals and can use painful memories to keep yourself out of trouble, get back in the game. Go slow, gather facts, and don’t expose yourself to obvious, predictable pain.
Protect yourself both from disease and disillusionment, and you’ll find a powerful attraction that doesn’t just build with time, but is built to last.
“I can’t stop thinking about what I could have had from my ex-boyfriend, but I know it couldn’t work for reasons that I had no control over. I’ll learn from this relationship and never again expose myself to the risk of this pain unless there’s good reason to think I’ve found someone who is steady, stable, and a good fit.”
The way I’ve been going, I’m never going to recover from my divorce. I’ve got just enough energy to get my work done and then, when I get home, I just don’t want to lift up the phone or get on Match.com. The less I do, the surer I am that I’m becoming a hermit, while my ex-husband cruises ahead and seems to have found a happy relationship. I’m proving that he’s right and I’m a loser. I don’t miss him, to tell you the truth, but I hate myself for being a blob. My goal is to find the energy and confidence to reach out to the world and create a social life.
Of the range of nasty, negative, self-critical thoughts that depression can insert into your mind, you’ve collected them all. Instead of accepting your full set of depressive symptoms as an undeserved burden, you’re blaming yourself for each one and branding yourself as a worthless avoider who’s bound to do less, get worse, and wind up forever unhappy.
The truth is that you’re getting out of the house every day and doing most of the essentials for survival, in spite of how terrible you feel. (I’m sure this is true because, if you were totally incapacitated, you’d be blaming yourself for that, too). You deserve respect for what you’re doing, not blame for what you don’t control. Of course, you can’t stop negative thoughts, particularly when you’re depressed. You can, however, stop yourself from believing in them.
Begin by measuring how much you actually control your depressive symptoms while noting what they are, how bad they feel, and how hard they are to manage. Then consult a professional to find out if there’s any stone you’ve left unturned in figuring out what’s wrong and getting treatment. Don’t hesitate to ask whether the professional, after evaluating your symptoms, thinks you should be doing something better or different. What you’re after is an objective assessment, not a depressed, obsessive conviction that you’re at fault.
If, as I expect, you discover you’ve done a pretty good job with pretty bad symptoms, then get a coach who can help you replace the disrespectful, terrifying self-reproaches with realistic, positive encouragement. The coach could be a therapist or anyone else who strikes you as having good rapport and the right attitude.
Until depression eases up, you may find yourself fighting negative thoughts and a strong desire to hibernate. That shouldn’t stop you, however, from maintaining respect for your efforts to keep your life together and finding ways to get out, meet people, and re-build a social life.
Just because you feel you have nothing to offer doesn’t mean that it’s true, or that you can’t nevertheless find ways to share time with others and let good things develop. You may not feel good, but you can still go ahead and do good things for yourself.
“I feel like a useless loser, but I know how depression warps my thoughts. When I use my usual values to judge my actions, I find much to respect and little to blame. I will give myself the support I deserve.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname