Why Holding ON To Your Ex Means Holding OFF On Your Life


Why Holding ON To Your Ex Means Holding OFF On Your Life
EXcommunicate your former flame and EXhilarate your future.

Neil Sedaka had it right. Breaking up IS hard to do. But WHY is it so hard? Because we are sentimental beings, desiring of connection. Because we’ve been told that ‘partnering’ is the path to happiness. Because it just feels good to have your best pal around and because there is no rule book or magic pill for getting rid of the longing. When going through a break up, we are in fact, experiencing a death. While it may just be emotional, it carries all of the hallmarks of a physical passing. When leaving the relationship, we are essentially grieving over the loss of “The Picture” we painted for ourselves; what our future will look like and who we’ll be spending it with. It’s so powerful that we resist coloring over it and buying a new frame. Instead, we keep that old picture (the Ex) hanging on the wall and call it progress, because we moved it into another room.

Just like those grieving a physical demise, in a break up, we experience:

1. Denial - that the relationship is sinking or has officially sunk
2. Anger - over the time EXerted without the ‘forever’ payoff
3. Bargaining - by torturing ourselves over the “shoulda, woulda, couldas,”
4. Depression - when we sit in the reality of what we are losing or have lost
5. Acceptance - over officially saying goodbye to the relationship.

While running the gamut of emotions of this five step process, our natural tendency is to limit the pain and loss by not fully breaking the ties with our exes. It can in fact, be done. But if you EXamine the cost, you’ll see its far more EXertion than pay off.

The truth is that we will never completely get over an ex until we meet someone new. Until our mind accepts the fact that life doesn’t always work the way you plan and you have to be flexible enough to roll with the punches. Until our heart is open enough to think about who else can fill that ‘forever’ role. Don’t allow your mind to convince you that if you haven’t stopped thinking about your ex, you aren’t ready to move on. That being said, you have to allow time to process, be upset, be devastated… and then get rolling on your new life.

There is no time table, of course. But what will guarantee lengthening your recovery? Keeping your ex around. Because they’re always there to fill the space in your head when you are feeling lonely. Because they’re at the forefront of your mind, eagerly waiting for you to compare them to that new suitor sitting across the table from you. Because they’re lurking on your Facebook page, just waiting for you to “stalk” them, overanalyze their posts and rip yourself apart over what you interpret from the pictures they look happy in…without you.

What’s the remedy to this wretched aching? Moving on. Disengaging from your ex. Giving yourself the freedom to proverbially go to the crafts store to buy new brushes, colors and a canvas. When you feel ready to venture into those new and scary waters, be kind to yourself and be patient. It’s a practice. No one wants to start over. In fact, the idea of it is so terrifying that we sometimes stay in bad relationships to avoid it or keep our exes around for comfort.

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT


Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT




Location: Beverly Hills, CA
Credentials: LMFT, MA, MFT
Specialties: Communication Problems, Couples/Marital Issues, Life Transitions
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