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Breaking up is too hard to do

It’s been seven years since my girlfriend ended our relationship and I still wrestle with it every day. We were together for about a year and a half and for me it was pure bliss. I had never felt so happy and in love in my life. I’ve tried dating a handful of times but no one comes close to her and I just don’t feel as excited about anyone I’ve met since. I felt so incredibly lucky to have someone as beautiful and charming as her and fear no one will ever come along that brings me the same joy. My friends have tired of hearing about her and have encouraged me to turn the page. How do I let this go?

Annette

 

Any armchair therapist will tell you that grieving is an important process that we have to move through to get to a better place. Allowing the normal feelings of disbelief, hurt and eventual acceptance are crucial. In this case, though, it sounds like you aren’t grieving so much as clinging to the past and fantasizing about an alternate reality where this separation never happened.

Sometimes, when folks are still in turmoil over a break-up years prior, it’s a sign of two possible issues. I’ll call the first the “one and only syndrome.” Harbouring a belief that there is only one person out there for us can be a very painful way of navigating our romantic lives. While this belief offers a certain dramatic flair, it is profoundly limiting. By fully acknowledging the loss of this one relationship, you are freed up to pursue new possibilities.

Changing this belief will mean at least deleting all your Adele playlists and refusing to daydream about miraculous heartfelt reunions.

Another culprit for the unending break-up grief has to do with your sense of personal worth. It sounds like you feel you struck gold with your ex—maybe that you even saw yourself as unworthy of someone so “exceptional.”

So long as you see yourself as a peasant and her as a goddess, you’ll feel desperate for her validation and approval.

Maybe she had qualities or a way of being that you actually wish you had yourself. Instead of limiting yourself to the notion that joy was only possible because of her, focus on the ways you created joy together and how you can translate those skills onto your life now—with or without a partner in crime.

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