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

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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.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

phone

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

We are connected to so many different people, venues and organizations through our computers and mobile devices that today people are overwhelmed with options. This is true of modern day “hookup” culture where young adults, spurning marriage and family planning for the extended education it takes to get a job in today’s market, cycle through one hook up after another, for fear of missing out on an amazing experience with someone new. But the problem is that they are never in a relationship long enough to form any kind of intimacy. Studies have shown that millennials are more frustrated and emotionally unfulfilled than previous generations. People of all ages now serially date. They cycle through one person they met online after another, fearing that they are missing out on “the one.” But with so many options, their standards skyrocket. The result? They are too picky and judgmental. They gloss over each date, never really piercing the surface and getting to know the real person deep down inside. Instead, they usually find a superficial reason to rule the person out and move on. So they may have found “the one” without even giving “the one” a chance.

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is now something of a massive psychological condition brought on by mobile devices carrying the internet. People veer to their Twitter while at work, diminishing their concentration on an important task. They check their LinkedIn while with friends, their Facebook while on a date, they even put their own lives at risk and the lives of others by texting or checking email while driving. Lots and lots of people around the world do this. And when confronted with how wrong that is, they just shrug.

Our fear of missing out has us glossing over what is really important in life, and that’s being there, being in the moment, savoring it and enjoying it. Alone Together by Sherry Turkle has a chapter on this phenomenon and The New York Times covered FOMO in an article by Jenna Wortham. There are singles who go on Facebook and feel bad when they see how happy their married or attached friends are. There are teens who lose sleep and are distracted from their studies constantly checking their social media to see who broke up with who, who is dating who and so on. The truth is, this is an impulse control problem. FOMO makes us hyper vigilant, always seeking for something better for ourselves. Most of the time, however, there isn’t anything on there that’s so important it should interrupt the real, offline life in front of you.

Being constantly distracted is no way to live life. Being constantly unsatisfied isn’t a great way to manage a love life either. Instead, limit your use of social media. Only check it at certain times of the day and stick to your schedule. When you feel the itch to check, notice something in your immediate environment that makes you feel satisfied: a warm smile, a delicious cup of coffee, a beautiful scarlet picture frame with a photo of someone you love. Savor the real world with all of your senses and you’ll soon see that social media just can’t compare.

Don’t Let Rumination Ruin your Relationship

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Don’t Let Rumination Ruin your Relationship

Ruminating is thinking about something from every angle, replaying mistakes over and over in your head and obsessing or over-thinking about important aspects of your life, such as your relationship or career. Obsessive behavior is often born out of rumination. Studies reveal that constant rumination can have negative side effects such as depression, anxiety, binge-eating, alcohol and substance abuse and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What happens with rumination is that you get caught up in these negatives thoughts and they consume you. The more you think about them the more you get stuck in their pull and it becomes a viscous cycle.

Professor at Yale University Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D, a psychologist says of this phenomenon, “when people ruminate while they are in depressed mood, they remember more negative things that happened to them in the past, they interpret situations in their current lives more negatively, and they are more hopeless about the future.” Rumination pulverizes our problem-solving skills by making us feel helpless, and that it is all just a waste of time. You become so obsessed with the problem and how it makes you feel that you cannot make any plans for actually solving the problem.

What’s more, when a problem looks hopeless, all the people around you become tired of your negativity sooner or later. Says Nolen-Hoeksema, “When people ruminate for an extended time, their family members and friends become frustrated and may pull away their support.” So why do people ruminate if it can be so destructive to personal and romantic relationships? Some people are just overloaded with stress in their lives. Nolen-Hoeksema adds that, “Some people prone to ruminate have basic problems pushing things out of consciousness once they get there.”

According to the professor, women are more apt to ruminate than men. So how do you reduce the problem? First, do things that make you feel positive. Volunteer. Get some exercise. Take part in your favorite hobby or past-time. According to Nolen-Hoeksema, “The main thing is to get your mind off your ruminations for a time so they die out and don’t have a grip on your mind.” Next, empower yourself. Instead of wallowing in the thought that there is nothing you can do, make plans on how to conquer your problem or fear and follow through with those plans. Finally, replace rumination with positive self-reflection. The difference? Focus on the things you can change, the positive things you can do to make your situation better. Don’t let rumination ruin your relationship. To read more pick up a copy of, Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema.

Preconceived Notions of Love Threaten Real Life Happiness

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Preconceived Notions of Love Threaten Real Life Happiness

Have you ever used the phrase “better half”? How about “made for each other”? Even if you were toasting a happy couple at a wedding, you may have sabotaged their relationship and not even known it. How’s that? According to a study out of the University of Toronto romantic, idealistic phrases such as these may solidify unrealistic expectations about love in the couple’s heads. The study found an inverse relationship between these sorts of phrases and relationship satisfaction. Subjects in the study were bombarded with idealistic phrases such as “better half,” “we were made for each other” and “we are one.”

These phrases actually gave the participants a pessimistic view of their own relationship. That’s because the myth that two people magically meet and everything falls into place, without any effort whatsoever, makes people in the real world resentful, angry and anxious when they feel that their own relationship doesn’t measure up. The irony is, a great relationship may be flowering but they are so busy with their disappointment, or wondering whether or not they are really “meant to be” to allow the relationship to blossom. Instead, it’s nipped in the bud, leaving the person wondering why they can’t find love. Here are some preconceived notions about love that we have in our culture that threaten real life happiness.

Those who expect their relationship to be perfect are in for a real shocker. There is the assumption floating out there that a relationship written in the stars begins perfect and stays that way. The truth is we are all human. We all have our positive and negative qualities. Sooner or later, once the initial honeymoon phase wears off, you will begin to realize the flaws of your beloved. They will also see yours. This is only a natural process. But how you negotiate problems and each other’s differences will spell whether you stay together or drift apart. Obsessing over everything your lover said, or becoming upset that things aren’t how you pictured, is only going to increase your stress level. Instead, focus on the positive. Seek out the reasons why you are blessed to be in this relationship, and remind your significant other why they are lucky to have you.

There are those who believe a relationship that is “fated” doesn’t need work. Everything just comes together on its own. Nothing could be further from the truth. All great relationships, though they may look effortless, require work. Any couple that looks perfect has worked hard at overcoming obstacles or is ignoring their problems altogether. Use patience, understanding, active listening and the art of negotiation to keep your relationship on track. Spend quality time together. Communicate clearly and often. Show how fond you are of your lover. They will feel good, and do the same for you in return.

When you are looking for perfection in a relationship, all you can see are the downsides to things. All you notice are disappointments. Soon flaws appear at every turn. Even if this relationship falls away, the next won’t be satisfying either. These expectations are too unrealistic. They get in the way of real love. That’s why they say love isn’t a noun but a verb. It is constantly reforming itself. Love is always in flux and forever evolving. When you focus too much on a preconceived notion you miss the real beauty that exists before you. Real love is being perfectly comfortable with someone, enough to feel vulnerable, to bare the absolute you and not worry at all for judgment or ridicule, and allowing your partner to do the same. Being judgmental just stands in the way of all that. Sure the honeymoon phase is amazing. What we often forget is how nerve wracking it is too. But if you can get to the level of absolute comfort and vulnerability, you will build a bond that is deep and strong. Finding out who that person really is, and their finding out who you really are and accepting each other’s faults, even loving them more because of them, is the real meaning of true love. For more on perfecting your love life read, The Relationship Handbook by Dr. George Pransky, Ph.D.

Avoid These if You Just Broke Up

broken

Avoid These if You Just Broke Up

Sometimes the pain of a breakup can influence you in weird ways. It can make you do things that at the time seemed like good ideas but in the long run turned out to be horrifying mistakes which make us cringe at the mere thought. In fact, don’t speak of them ever again. Some of us just totally break down after a split.  Others try to hide their pain and act like they’re fine. But the more they try to cover over the tremendous pain they are concealing the more it makes them take part in outrageous behavior. Everyone needs to grieve for a failed relationship, just like for a deceased loved one, in their own way. That said there are certain things in this situation you shouldn’t do. Avoid these if you just broke up with someone or are going through a divorce and you will come out the other end that much better off.

Remember that you want the healthiest recovery possible. So do not obsess about your ex. Cut all ties. A clean break is the best. Erase them from your social media sites, even from your phone if you don’t have children together and there is no other reason for you two to be communicating. Do not follow them on Facebook or other social media sites. Don’t try to see what they are doing or ask about them. You will only make your own psychological wounds deeper. Instead, refocus on yourself.

Give yourself time to grieve. But don’t spend forever in sadness. When the time is right, and you’ll know when that is, pick yourself back up and go out again into the world a strong, self-loving, confident person. Until that time your job is to get better, as if you are sick. It is not to focus on how bad you feel or go over every single little detail of the relationship looking for something you missed. Instead reconnect with old friends, old hobbies, old interests and your old self. Take the chance, and you’ll find you really like that person. Watch the rebound relationship until you are ready. Flirting can be very validating. But if the sex isn’t emotionally comfortable you may inadvertently end right back up into the arms of your ex-lover. If you two broke up for a serious reason this may set you back in life rather than forward. If you are ready however and this is the right person, it can be a liberating experience. But don’t force yourself into that position. Some people can separate sex and love, others cannot.

Lastly, don’t hate yourself. Instead, learn to love yourself again. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s no one’s fault really, just how the cards fell. Work on making the best you there is, love yourself and someone sooner or later will recognize what a catch you are, scoop you up into their arms and you’ll never look back. To learn more about how to endure a split in the best way possible read, It’s a Breakup, Not a Breakdown by Lisa Steadman.