Is 'Longing' Really Just Obsession?

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Breakup Advice: Grief Recovery & Longing For Your Ex
Oops: Have you accidentally turned into a stalker?

Going through a breakup? Here's some good news: It is very normal to hold onto strong feelings for your ex. Everyone moves at their own pace, so it's hard to know if you're healing from breakup wounds or if you are actually hovering over obsession, keeping yourself from healing. What's OK and what's not? 

One way to take perspective of the situation is by checking out others' opinions. Ask your friends and family if they think you're talking about your ex excessively, or if you seem preoccupied with all-things ex. Do they notice you taking this break up especially hard? Is it taking you longer than usual to get over a guy? 

It is normal to think about him — you shared a life together, and now you're moving on. The question is: What do you do when these thoughts come into your head? Do you simply replay memories of the relationship? That's very understandable, as our brain is processing this big change, and in order to do so, it must replay the relationship and compute that it is over.

Even imagining what things would be like if you were together now can be OK. It is a form of grieving and can be healing if you then tell yourself "I guess it really is over. He's not here now and that loss is really sad and it's scary to be on my own." It may be bordering on obsession if actions come along with these thoughts. When you start to think about him, do you then have to check up on his Facebook page? Drive by his favorite café a few times a week? Not a good sign. Going into withdrawal when you aren't able to check up on him? Sounds like obsession ...

Longing and pain from a break up will heal naturally over time. However, if your brain seems to linger and border on obsession, you should figure out what is fueling this unrelenting fire.

Are you hating the feeling of rejection (even if you dumped him), and need to undo that? Are you loving the safe chase of stalking him quietly from afar because it structures your thoughts and your day? Making sure that your life is rich with purpose and good connections with friends and family is the best way to decipher if it is longing or obsession. If you have deep satisfaction from everything in your life, but are still not over him, you are longing for him.

On the other hand, if you hate your job, don't care for your friends, and can't stop thinking of him, maybe what you are longing for is simply meaning and happiness. And there are many ways to that end other than a guy in your life. Lonely as it is, sounds like it's time to strengthen your life as a single.

How can you empower yourself and stop obsessing? Leave a comment below!

More advice on how to move on from YourTango:

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Aviva Lauren Rizel

Marriage and Family Therapist

I am so fortunate to have a front row seat encouraging couples who are in extreme distress to find secure connection by offering their softer side to their spouses. I have learned to be a hopeless optomist, seeing how couples talking divorce access different parts of themselves, changing themselves and changing their relationships. May you find the bravery and strength to share your vulnerabilities with your partner, and may you find compassion to receive theirs. 

Location: Cedarhurst, NY
Credentials: LMFT
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