How Long Does It Really Take to Get Over Your Ex?

breakup

How Long Does It Really Take to Get Over Your Ex?

When you are in the midst of a breakup or a painful divorce, usually people are there for you. It’s the one good thing about it. What they say though is sometimes another matter. For instance, people will give you all kinds of wild and contradictory advice, including how long it takes to get over someone. For a long relationship, say lasting five years, some say it takes twice as long to get over. But does that mean you’ll be stuck in a rut for the next decade? Others say it doesn’t take double the time. Instead, take the duration of your relationship and cut it in half. How long does it really take to get over your ex? The problem is way more complex than a simple formula. Plus not everyone is the same. In fact, there’s a lot of deviation when it comes to dealing with the emotional pain that follows a breakup. Some people have a tryst with a new lover and feel rejuvenated. Others pine away, spending months on the couch in sweats watching romantic comedies and wondering why they aren’t feeling any better.

There are a lot of reasons a breakup is not easy. One is biological. Researchers at the University of Berkeley found that dopamine, the reward chemical, is released when you are in love, the same kind of feeling you get from a drug high. You are, in a way, literally addicted to that person and must go through withdrawal. But everyone withdraws in their own way. According to British psychotherapist Elly Prior there are seven factors that influence how long it will take for you to move on after a breakup. These are: how long the relationship was, whether or not the breakup was recent, how obsessive or intense it was, whether or not it was meaningful to you, how things ended, if domestic violence entered the picture and whether or not one or both of you had an affair. Other important factors include if this is your first breakup, if you have a support network in your life, what other stressors surround you, if property or possessions still have to be split up, if you suffer from depression, how you interacted with one another and whether or not you are surrounded by reminders, say a photo on a shelf or your ex constantly springing up on your newsfeed.

One simple formula isn’t enough to solve such a menagerie. You may feel like you are being swallowed up in a pit of hopelessness and despair. But realize that emotions such as these don’t stick around for long. Pretty soon it will start to subside. There of course will be moments when you are reminded of the person. But those also pass. It’s important to tend to yourself at this time. Vent, have a good cry, spend time with friends and reconnect with people you lost touch with. Think about your future and what dreams you want to fulfill now that you don’t have any dead weight pulling you down. Reflect also on what you loved about the person. If things feel incomplete, make your own ritual and find an appropriate way to say goodbye. You don’t need their permission. They don’t even need to be there. Do it on your own. Try to turn around a breakup or divorce and make it a positive experience, one that you learn from and makes you a better person. For more on breakup recovery read, How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Peter McWilliams and Harold H. Bloomfield.

Should you Have Deal Breakers when Dating?

deal breaker

Should you Have Deal Breakers when Dating?

A deal-breaker is a quality that makes a person unfit to date. These can be traits one does not have, such as employment. Or it could be something a person does have that drives you crazy. Smoking, sloppiness, and having political views opposed to your own are just some examples. Lots of people, especially women, have dating deal breakers. Many people no matter the gender who have been through a divorce often rework their whole vetting process. But some people make their list of wants and needs too stringent. Others use it as a roadblock instead of a checkpoint. This gives the dater the ability to reject anyone while claiming that the fault lies with the poor quality of mates available rather than with one’s self. Those with commitment or intimacy issues often rely on this tactic. Others have a specific picture of the person they want or have in mind, and don’t open themselves up to the actualities and possibilities that exist before them. So at issue is whether or not these deal breakers cause someone to reject a mate without giving them a proper chance. Certainly one shouldn’t be dating everyone but those who have potential. You just have to make sure your vetting process doesn’t accidentally filter out someone who could make you very happy, and whom you could make happy in return.

One problem with deal breakers is that those who carry them hold them as gospel. There may be someone for instance with an opposite political viewpoint who is kind, considerate, attractive, passionate and has a great sense of humor. This is where the decision-making process gets difficult. If you focus too much on this one particular aspect of the person you may lose sight of all their other positive qualities. Of course if your political outlook is such an integral part of your life that it cannot be separated out then perhaps dating someone from the other side of the spectrum isn’t the best of ideas. But for most people this isn’t the case. What’s more, a person’s focus on this issue who doesn’t hold politics as central to their life would find that having this aspect as one of their deal breakers would be getting in their own way, obstructing love for a reason that seems inconsequential. If you have someone that you adore but hate their politics don’t talk politics with them and focus on their other qualities. But putting one quality ahead of others, specifically a quality that seems superficial, may filter out those who have real potential, and therefore obstruct one’s own chance at happiness and love. More important qualities like integrity, wit, charm, and chemistry among others may be eclipsed by less integral aspects. So should we even have deal breakers when dating?

A deal breaker is pivotal only when it focuses on core aspects of a potential mate’s personality that will cause harm to you or the relationship. If a person isn’t considerate, isn’t honest or trustworthy for instance, these qualities can make or break a relationship. Of course there is some gray area here. For instance, if you have severe asthma and the person you are trying to date refuses to give up smoking then a relationship cannot form. But what is at issue is not the smoking per se but their unwillingness to give up a harmful aspect of themselves for a loftier goal, keeping you around. If someone drinks moderately and you don’t like alcohol, if they are responsible then perhaps you can overlook it. But if they enjoy drinking and you are a recovering alcoholic, this person is not right for you. It’s all relative and for each person it’s different. It’s best to have a sketch of what you are looking for. Most romantic comedies start out with two unlikely characters that are good people who end up falling in love, despite their differences. This really happens in life from time to time. You don’t want to stand in the way of your own romcom coming to life. Make sure your deal breakers are things that are significant qualities that can harm you or the relationship. Don’t reject someone outright for superficial quirks. Instead be on the lookout for deep, integral positive and negative qualities that can help or harm a relationship. With the right vetting process in place you should have far more positive dating experiences. For more on the updated guidelines of love pick up a copy of, Not Your Mother’s Rules: The New Secrets for Dating (The Rules) by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.

Free yourself from Post-Divorce Negativity

Leave-Negativity

Free yourself from Post-Divorce Negativity

Few events in life can fill you with so many negative emotions such as sadness, a sense of loss, despair, depression, anxiety and hatred like a bitter divorce. Even conscious uncoupling can be deeply unsettling. The first thing to realize is that it is all inside your own head. You may feel a torrent of emotions. But you decide exactly what to do with them, how to manage them and ultimately whether you come out a stronger, more developed, self-actualized person at the end who has experienced a kind of personal growth from this experience, or if you miss that chance due to retaining bitterness. If you are hurling all of this hatred and anger at your spouse, you’ll soon realize it’s like swallowing poison to murder someone; it hurts you terribly, but the impact on them is limited. Instead, an outlook of yourself both as patient and doctor is sufficient. You have these emotions and now it’s time to see how to best tend to them so that you get the best outcome. Your spouse as well may be casting vitriol at you every chance they get. You can’t control what happened or how they feel. Nor can you control their behavior. What you can control is your reaction to it, and how much you will let it bother you. There are some simple beliefs you can adopt to help shed your negativity and also protect yourself against your ex’s. Here’s how to free yourself from post-divorce negativity.

Realize that whatever your spouse says about you is their problem, not yours. Be sure to clear your name. And if they are using the children to spy or as a weapon, make sure to nip that situation in the bud. The children should never be put in the middle. They will suffer for it. But other than that, they will say what they will. You choose how you react to it. Their speech is all about them, not about you. What’s more, other people will be watching how you react. Will you be classy all the way, or sink to their level? In the end others judge them for their behavior, and they’ll sink themselves. Instead of seeing divorce as an end, which it invariably is, see it as a new beginning. You have freedom to be who you want to be, and discover a whole new you. Your life won’t be perfect after divorce, but it is still pretty good and it can be even be better. Make a dream board. Write in a diary. Make a bucket list. Go back to school. Get some more training or try and climb the ladder at work. Invest in a hobby. Take a trip with a friend. There are so many things you can do and so many directions you can take your life in now that your ex isn’t weighing you down. There will be good days and bad. If you need to cry it out, do it. It’s a healing process and think of it as such. But don’t wallow in grief. Know when it’s time to pick yourself up and get going again.

Realize that every experience you have in life is another lesson that makes you wiser and therefore a better person in the end. It may not feel like it now but this could be a completely transformative experience for you. Not everything in life is meant to endure. Change can be very scary and it can be hard to say goodbye. Just keep things moving. Make the necessary steps, no matter how small or staggering. Sooner or later you will make it to where you are supposed to be. Sometimes it feels satisfying to take part in divorce drama with your ex. But sooner or later you will understand that it weighs you down far more than it lifts you up. After a divorce you may feel like damaged goods. But the truth is people are judging you far less than you think. Understand that your life and your happiness is ultimately based on your own thinking and no one elses. You can make the world a better place and you can make your life all you want it to be. It’s all up to you. For more, pick up a copy of the book, The Rediscovery of Me: Reinventing Life after Divorce by Dr. Marcia Brevard Wynn and Earl Sewell.

Why all Relationships are Valuable

BREAKUP-STRESS

Why all Relationships are Valuable

Sometimes a relationship ends and we can’t help but feel that it was all just a huge waste of time. We invested so much in the person and the relationship and now we decry the loss of all that time and energy. It’s only natural to feel this way. But if you can take a step back and look at your love life as a continuum and a progression, you’ll see that all relationships teach us something valuable. There are lots of lessons to be learned that you can apply to your new relationships. Not only can it teach us about love, but even greater than that, a breakup is one of the most useful tools for teaching us about ourselves. Any relationship, if reflected upon in the right manner, can show you areas where you need improvement. Here are some things to think about after a relationship has ended. First, reflect on what didn’t work here. What was the crux of the issue that tore you two apart? You can use it as material for reflection so that next time you will have a better shot at making things work. Now we can see more clearly what love actually is and what it should be.

You can so easily perceive now what traits you don’t want inhabiting your relationship, things that previously you were more apt to put up with. Anger, jealousy, substance abuse, neglect, an inability to communicate and more may have been at issue. If you have one or some of these issues you can work on them. Or you can work to avoid a mate who has one or many of these. Then move to refine your search and what qualities you require in a mate. You can understand more clearly what type of behavior doesn’t work well with your personality, and what you will and will not put up with. If we look closely we notice that each new relationship entered into has certain elements that are the same. Your patterns of behavior are the same or similar or you are attracted to the same type of person. We can learn from these patterns. Nothing promotes growth better than examining our behavior in a relationship and how that behavior contributed to its end. Of course it may be ultimately the other person’s fault. But it takes two to tango. It is truly a rare breakup indeed where one person is completely at fault for everything. If you cannot isolate your own negative behaviors you are doomed to repeat them.

After a relationship ends there tends to be a change in one’s self-respect. It can be shored up or degraded depending upon the outcome and what has occurred. A relationship can show you where and how to apply your self-respect. If we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of, our relationship will inevitably show us that this is a poor choice, for all involved, and the relationship in total. If you allow yourself to be taken advantage of, your self-esteem degrades, the other person’s respect falls and the balance of power is knocked off kilter. It’s important that we assert ourselves. Our relationship is one place where we establish ourselves, where we negotiate, where we speak up for ourselves, show our value and learn to discuss things and talk about our needs, hopes, dreams and desires and how to fulfill them. It you are shut up and your needs and desires are not allowed to be communicated then this relationship is not for you.

Grief is never fun. But it is one of the biggest catalysts to personal growth. Throughout our lives we continually confront the cycles of beginning and ending. With love it seems particularly painful when it ends. But this cycle is no different than the others that occur in life. Loss is to be expected at the end of any relationship, whether you were sad to see it go, or relieved. We feel deeply connected with and identify with those whom we love deeply. Some people try to pull away from grief. It’s important to let yourself grieve and not paper over your feelings or pretend like everything is okay. Instead, allow yourself to grieve in a healthy way. Find someone you are close with to talk to. Do some soul searching. Make plans. Use this experience to fuel a personal transformation.  Each loss, though painful, teaches us to love ourselves more. We become more confident, mature, knowledgeable and self-aware. Remember that a relationship is a mirror. Nothing will reflect back on you or help you to see yourself more clearly like one. When we come up with a way to overcome our obstacles, we will find ourselves in the right relationship, one that is healthy and satisfying. For more help on getting back on your feet after a breakup read, Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person by Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D.

Avoid these Bad Mental Habits after a Breakup

Sad-Woman

Avoid these Bad Mental Habits after a Breakup

There are those relationships that you are relieved are over, even if it took a year to finally get rid of them. Then there are those that rip a hole in your chest and mash your heart into guacamole. Nothing is more painful. A recent study using brain imaging had participants who had recently broken up with someone look at a picture of their ex while hooked up to an FMRI. They found that the parts of the brain that lit up fit the pattern of enduring physical pain. So a breakup literally hurts. Trouble is, when we endure physical pain it goes away relatively quickly. Depending upon the relationship, you and the circumstances, you could endure the pain of heartbreak for weeks, even months. One reason that heartache lingers so is that people fall into certain psychological habits that inhibit healing rather than lessening the pain. Unfortunately, feelings of anger, sadness, rejection and loneliness can be compounded by impulses that feel perfectly natural to indulge. We often consider negative habits we have in our diet, when we exercise, sleep and other physical aspects. But we avoid or disregard poor mental habits that can shackle us to anguish rather than liberating our hearts from pain. Here are some bad mental habits to avoid after a breakup.

A lot of us sub-vocalize negative thoughts or feelings. Inside our head we repeat to ourselves our inadequacies, play over and over mistakes we made, hurtful names or phrases we or our former lover uttered and more. This constant rerunning of negative thoughts may be particularly poignant after feeling rejected or if the relationship ended through some fault of our own. When the ego is bruised and one’s self-esteem has taken a blow, such self-talk will make things worse. Instead, catch yourself when you get into this pattern and replace negative phrases for positive ones. Show yourself some compassion. Think of yourself as a friend trying to get someone through this. What would you do? What would you say? How can you put things in perspective? Brooding over mistakes you’ve made can lead to the same result. Contemplating them and learning from them in an emotionally unattached manner is one thing. But dwelling and obsessing over them is like tearing out your stitches after heart surgery. Isolate those instances where you blundered, learn from them and move on, or else you will be hindering instead of facilitating your own emotional recovery.

Don’t throw yourself into dating if your heart is still aching and you are pining away for your former love. But if you just feel too vulnerable or just scared, you may be missing an opportunity to move healing along, and a way to repair your ego and boost your self-esteem. A couple of months without dating is okay. Six months to a year is a little obsessive. Some people even benefit from a rebound relationship, while others don’t. Find what’s right for you but don’t be too cautious with your heart or you may lose out on a chance at finding love or rebuilding your self-image. Some people cut off everyone, stop taking part in activities they enjoy and wallow in self-pity. Instead, connect and reconnect with hobbies, friends, family members and more. Sure, the first few days you may want to sit on the couch and watch comedies, polish off a crate of sinful snacks and curse the happy couples of the world. But afterward, isolation and keeping yourself from the things you love will only make it worse. Lastly, remember the point is to get over the person and move on with your life. Don’t keep them in your newsfeed on your social media pages. Get rid of all the mementos or put them in a box in the closet or the trash. The fewer reminders you have around the quicker your recovery will be. For more on embracing positive mental habits and avoiding negative ones after heartache read, Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts by Guy Winch, Ph.D.