They say that there is a fine line between love and hate; I’m not so sure about that, but I do know that it is possible to mistake feelings that are definitely not love, for love.
Think about the ex you are struggling to get over, or find yourself hoping to reconcile with (even if you haven’t been in touch with one another for ages): what, specifically, is it about that person that is so special? Push aside emotional sentimentality and break it down. Forget, “I don’t know… I just still love him/her”, and analyse it objectively.
To begin, make a list of a minimum of 5 clear positive characteristics your ex possesses (not generalisations!). For example, these could include:
Genuine kindness and empathy
An attentive listener
Generous with time and/or money
Enthusiastic about life
Loyal to family and friends
Encouraging and supportive
Honest without being unkind
Clean and well presented
Willingness to accept personal responsibility
Now, make a list of a minimum of 5 not-so-positive traits your ex possesses. These could include:
Lack of self-care
Refusal to communicate
Resistance to reasonable discussion about the future
A tendency to flirt with other people
Mean with money, or poor financial management
Plays the blame-game… it’s always someone else’s fault.
Obviously, and realistically speaking, even the best partner would display some of the characteristics from the second list. However, if you are being completely honest and objective, and are ticking off more not-so-positive traits than positive ones, you might need to question your yearning for reconciliation!
Also, consider the areas of compatibility between the two of you, under specific headings:
Hobbies and interests
Plans for the future
Family and friends
Again, it is unrealistic to expect to be able to tick every box, and differences can work well in a ‘grown-up’ relationship… but if it is clear that you and your ex are largely incompatible, it would be foolish to sweep that knowledge under the carpet!
Now, look at the timescale of the relationship, and ask these questions:
How long were you together?
What percentage of that time was genuinely healthy and satisfying?
What percentage of that time was difficult and painful?
How often did you experience feelings of anger and frustration toward your ex?
How often did you push your ex away?
How often did you feel the need to ‘punish’ him or her?
How often did you feel that your ex was pushing you away?
How often did you feel that your ex was stone-walling you (ignoring you, refusing to communicate)?
How many times did you break up and get back together again?
How many times did you say, “right, that’s IT, this is his/her very last chance!”?
How many times did you complain to friends or family about your ex, whilst still together?
Your answers should give you a clear understanding of the healthiness of the relationship between you and your ex: on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), what number would you truthfully give it?
And now, we come to the break-up (this is real bottom-line stuff!):
Who ended it?
Why was it ended?
Was the break-up amicable, or bitter and blame-filled?
Were you left with unanswered questions?
Do you feel that others have an unfair, distorted view of what really went on between you and your ex?
Did you leave your ex for someone else?
Did your ex leave you for someone else?
Are you or your ex still with that person?
Let’s now come to the current time:
Are you and your ex in contact with one another?
When was the last time you communicated?
Do you know whether your ex is single or not?
If you are in contact, what do you talk about?
And if you are in contact, are you actually meeting up or just texting or talking over the phone?
In line with the above, how long has that situation been going on?
Also in line with the above, how long would you be willing to allow the communication to continue without making further, definite progression?
Important final questions to ask:
Do you really want to get back with your ex… or do you just think that you do?
Having given consideration to the content of this blog, do you still feel that getting back with your ex would be a good idea?
What have you learned from all of this – do you feel that you yourself mishandled the relationship with your ex?
Or, do you feel that it was your ex who created most of the problems?
Or, do you feel that it was the two of you together that was the problem?
Do you feel that, separately, you and your ex could both be genuinely happier with different partners?
Is it the pain of rejection and unanswered questions that is keeping you hanging on?
Is it a fear of being alone that causes you to return to thinking about your ex?
Is it the belief that your ex has moved on more easily than you, that is holding you prisoner?
Is it a belief that you aren’t good enough, and that no-one else will want or love you, that makes your ex seem like an attractive proposition after all?
Have you mentally and emotionally edited the relationship, ‘forgetting’ the darker stuff?
Having acknowledged the reasons for the break-up, have the problems and issues that existed been resolved… or could they be resolved?
Do you have strong evidence that your ex definitely wants to get back with you?
Have you forgiven your ex for the pain of the past, or does it still exist, deep within?
Would you trust your ex again?
You are likely to find, if you are being honest with yourself, that your answers either reveal something you hadn’t previously recognised about the reality of the situation, or it will bring you face to face with a truth you had been hiding from. Or… who knows, you might even find that getting back with your ex absolutely makes sense!
Break-ups are always going to be painful, even under the most amicable of circumstances. However, more often or not, they are devastating, messy, and blame-fuelled, leaving a legacy of unresolved pain and unanswered questions. It takes time to be able to see the wood for the trees again, and to be able to view the situation with clarity; sadly, I have worked with too many people who are still hanging onto the deceased relationship several years down the line, either awash with anger and resentment, or with sadness and longing. I wrote about this in my blog, GETTING OVER YOUR EX: MAKING SENSE OF THE FEELINGS THAT ARE HOLDING YOU BACK.
I am not saying that grief has a sell-by date, but there probably comes a point at which we might need to seek help to let it go and move on. I remember one lady who had been re-married for 10 years, but who was still raging about her ex to anyone who would listen! And the guy who so frequently spoke bitterly about his ex, I asked him how his current partner felt about his obsession – and he looked a little shocked. It hadn’t even crossed his mind that his unwillingness to let go of the past might be having a negative impact upon the woman he claimed to love. We all lose the plot and feel lost sometimes; the trick is to recognise when it is getting out of hand!
For advice and helpful pointers about the world of attraction and dating, outlining the 6 major but most common pitfalls, you might want to check out my booklet, published as a blog: Attraction And Dating: How To Successfully Navigate The Honeytrap!