Ask A Woman: Can’t. Stop. Thinking about her.
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I was broken up with about 6 months ago by a girl that I thought I was in love with. Right when I thought I was over her, I slumped back into memories of “us” and can’t stop thinking about her. My friends are suggesting that I sleep with someone else to help get my mind off her, but that’s not who I am or what I’m about. I’m a relationship type of guy. Is there anything I can do to make this go away faster?
You know that old song, “Breaking Up is Hard to do“? I’ve always thought that’s a bit of an understatement. If I were to retool that title, I’d go for something more accurate like…”Breaking Up is Hell on Earth I Hate Him I Love Him I’m Fine I’m Miserable Pass the Vodka.” So let me first just validate your feelings–break ups STINK.
Here’s the thing about break ups–there’s a grieving period involved. It’s not exactly the same as grieving over someone who’s died–my experience of death grief is that it’s cleaner, simpler somehow than break-up grief–but you are absolutely grieving the death of something, in this case a relationship. What I’ve learned about grief is that it…surprises. You expect to cry or burn photos of the other person or smash your fist into a wall in the first month or two after the break up. That seems normal; people around you expect that you’ll be sort of a basket case during this time. And then you begin to feel a bit better. Strangers might flirt with you, or maybe you get really involved in school or work, and it seems like you’ll make it through. Then without warning, you find yourself listening to Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” on the jukebox at your local watering hole and drinking enough vodka-crans to give you adult onset diabetes. It seems like you’re back to square one. Grief is sneaky that way. But the truth of the matter is that you’re not really starting back at square one.
Think of grief like working out. You’ve already put in six months at the gym so having a momentary setback with a box of donuts is not the end of the world. Those six months still count. It’s also been my experience that setbacks have triggers. Maybe you get a wedding invitation and it reminds you, not only are you single, but now you have to go watch a deliriously happy couple promise to love each other for life. Or you see your ex at a restaurant with another man. Think about what may have happened directly before you experienced your setback. That may shed light on why you’re suddenly feeling this way. And if there is no trigger, that’s okay, too. You’re allowed to still feel bad from time to time that you’re not with someone you loved.
Now, on to your friends’ suggestion. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with, regardless of how certain your friends are that it will “cure” you. If that’s not your scene, then sleeping with someone you don’t care about or aren’t dating will probably make you feel worse. I’m sure your friends mean well, but getting under someone is not always the best way to get over someone.
Don’t allow a relationship to fully define you. The risk is you end up drinking orange juice on your floor.
Here’s the worst news I’m going to deliver to you: there is nothing that will make it go away faster. Time, time, time is the ultimate healer when it comes to a broken heart. Here’s a list of things you should be doing while you’re recovering though, in order to come out of this as gracefully as possible:
- Don’t drink too much (see Soft Cell above)
- Keep up with your work or school responsibilities
- Eat healthy food (that carton of ice cream is not your friend)
- Exercise regularly
- Don’t keep up a friendship with the girl (it will just make it harder and drag out the healing process longer)
- Do keep up your other platonic friendships, maintain hobbies and develop new ones.
A final word: if in the next couple of months you still feel consistently sad, or you lose interest in things that you used to make you happy, or you find yourself isolating yourself from friends and family, then what you’re experiencing is not sadness, but depression. It is not uncommon for people who have never had mental health issues to experience situational depression triggered by a loss. Find a therapist who can help you work through your depression in a healthy manner. Take care of yourself, Chris. We’ve all been there. It does get better.
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