I met a man who made my world stop, but he was trash and made me miserable. I’ve left him in Austin and returned to my home in TN… What is the best way to get over him and stop thinking of running back to him like a dumbass?
~Heartbroken Heather in Harrison
Lauren, today’s Dear Ellie columnist, has all the insight for you:
Dear Moving On,
Kudos to you; you recognized the damage the relationship caused, left, and gained your freedom. Have you given yourself credit for leaving? I’m sure it was not an easy choice. Many of us stay in situations that do not serve us because of shame, fear, or ego. You, my friend, took the first step and made a change. Let the healing commence and stand tall. You made a big move. The more praise you give yourself for creating your future, the less chance you will think of returning to the past.
Let’s start with a few questions to kick off your healing journey.
- What initially attracted you to him? Try and focus on his personality. If your attraction was all physical, you might start to understand why the relationship did not withstand the test of time.
- What made him unattractive to you?
- What kind of relationship would make you proud?
- What are you looking for in a partner?
If you don’t know where you are going, it’s hard to navigate your next step. A few weeks ago, a friend and I were sitting at the bar and talking to strangers (one of my favorite activities). She complained to our newfound friend that she kept dating subpar guys, and he asked her point-blank, “Well, what are you looking for?” She couldn’t formulate an answer. She instantly recognized that she was unclear on what she wanted, contributing to her poor dating results. Do you understand what you want? I’m not talking 6’5, washboard abs, and a tan, although that sounds lovely; I’m talking about personality, lifestyle, goals, etc. Often the key to discovering what you want is by trial and error, aka, dating. Being vulnerable and opening yourself up to different people is challenging; however, you will extract the answers needed to move forward by taking time to reflect. Focus on your reflections from your past relationship.
If memories of the past flood your mind, just remember; this too will pass. To heal, you’ll need a balance of reflection time (aka quiet time) and activity time. I don’t recommend spending weeks pining for what you had; however, giving yourself the time and space to reflect will help you recognize the patterns that played into your past relationship and set the course for the future. The answers may not all come at once. If you have what they call ‘monkey brain,’ your head will be full of chatter. The significant reflections will start to download once you can quiet the chatter. I’m a full-on chimpanzee with my ‘monkey brain,’ but I find that yoga, walks alone, and cooking has created enough space to hear my most profound thoughts. Always remember resources may spark inspiration, but the answers come from you.
What is something that you could do for yourself? It could be a significant investment, like school or training, or a smaller goal. The end goal is to occupy some of your time with an activity that builds you up and gives you new conversation points. If you want to meet an interesting person, be interesting. Trust me, your friends and family will love it. If you see their eyes roll every time you mention ‘his name,’ it’s time to find a new outlet. Intuitively, I knew that my confidence would rise if I invested in myself, attracting more exciting matches. It worked; I’m now married to him. Now listen, I’m not telling you to start a new hobby in hopes of attracting a man; you have to be genuinely motivated by the activity. Once another activity or passion starts consuming your thoughts more than the past relationship, you will know that you are making progress.
I’ll never forget when an older friend told me that it would take about 2-5 years to be ready for a real relationship after my divorce. I was out to prove her wrong and started dating my rebound right away. He was a distraction and helped me learn more about what I did and didn’t want, but, in reflection, I believe he served as an ego bandaid and made recovering from my divorce take much longer. It’s more painful to sit with yourself after a drama-filled breakup, but if you do, I promise you will bounce back faster and be more successful moving forward. Invest in yourself, and the rest will come together without effort.
Best wishes with your journey.
Lauren + Ellie