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Obsessive thinking- how do I stop thinking about him?


Coping Learning to deal with one's emotions and loss.

Old 20th December 2010, 12:17 AM   #1
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Obsessive thinking- how do I stop thinking about him?

I need to find a way to stop obsessively thinking about what might have been.
The backstory: I studied abroad in college and met a great guy in Germany. Too often, when I meet a guy I'm physically attracted to, I'm turned off once I get to know them. But this guy interested me intensely, physically and intellectually. I suppose he was the first time I really fell in love. We met when I only had 2 months left in the semester. We dated, but knowing I was about to leave we decided that trying to maintain a long-distance relationship for 6 months or more after knowing each other for only two months wasn't feasible, so we didn't make each other any promises. I came home to the US in December 2008, and we chatted online or via webcam 3-4 times a week, for 4 or more hours at a time. We both graduated that spring. I was going to visit him in the summer, but my grandfather was dying of cancer and I couldn't leave, and he couldn't afford to visit. We continued to chat nearly everyday. Last December, I flew to Berlin to visit him, as well as other friends from my study abroad program. He had to work, but we spent all the time we could together before I had to fly back the day after New Years. Two weeks after that, I was in the middle of chatting to him on Skype and checked my facebook only to see that he is 'in a relationship' with someone. He had mentioned that he was dating months before, but he never said it was serious- and he certainly didn't mention it when I was visiting him. When I asked him what was up, he replied that things would have been different if he had a way to be within 100 miles of me, but his relationship with this other girl has the best chance of success. He reminded me of the 'no promises' agreement we had, and said he'd back off if I was too hurt to be friends. I was too weak to say I needed space, so we continued talking like we always had. I was also too much of a coward to tell him I'd applied to grad school not only in the US but in Germany, because I couldn't have handled it if it didn't make a difference to him, and because I didn't yet know if I would be accepted (I eventually was, but decided to go to grad school in the US, since there was no reason for me to move to Germany anymore). Communication tapered off gradually towards the summer- mostly because I forced myself not to contact him and to move on. Now I'm seeing a really nice guy, but I still can't get my German ex out of my head. It will soon be a year since I've seen him in person- and he's still the only one I want. I know from our now-infrequent communications that he's still with the new girlfriend, and I don't have any hope them breaking up any time soon.

The question: How can I stop thinking about what might have been? How do I stop obsessively thinking about him? I haven't seen him in nearly a year. I'm dating a really sweet guy who adores me and is beginning to wonder why I'm keeping him at arm's length. This is partly because whenever things start to get physical, I'm thinking about my ex. And its not just then- a phrase, a subject of conversation will remind me of my ex and suddenly I'll think 'I really don't want to be here, I want to fly to Berlin' (which simply isn't feasible, financially, or career-wise since I'm a teacher and I'm not certified to teach in Germany). Something as little as a phrase he used, or a subject of conversation- not even from when we were together, even from our Skype conversations, is enough to set me off and I end up thinking about him all day. My friends keep telling me to give the new guy a chance and to forget the old one,but I can't stop thinking about him. I'll be walking down the street and end up reliving a conversation we had, or time we spent together, in my head. Does anyone have any advice on how to stop obsessively thinking about him?

Last edited by offpiste; 20th December 2010 at 12:20 AM..
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Old 20th December 2010, 1:48 AM   #2
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When the connection was so intense, especially physically, it can be hard to let go, even months or years down the line.

Nonetheless, I suggest breaking off contact completely. Go full NC not just the LC you've been doing.

Every time you're in touch, it's a reminder and it delays your healing.

Focus on making new memories with the new guy if you really want to make a go of it with him, otherwise, let him go so that he can be with someone who is more into making a relationship work with him.
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Old 20th December 2010, 8:34 PM   #3
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I've done NC for two months- with the exception of a happy birthday message posted to his facebook wall. NC doesn't help, and it makes me crave contact worse than I ever have. It was actually sort of better when I knew what was going on in his life so I wouldn't wonder what was going on. As much as it hurt, it was actually sort of better for me to hear about all the fun times he's having with his new gf than to wonder if maybe they might break up and I might have a chance again.
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Old 20th December 2010, 9:06 PM   #4
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NC takes time, if he hasn't contacted you then it just goes to show how much he really cared/cares about you. Give it time and by the time he is finished with his gf, you may very well have a bf that he becomes jelous off. Also the fact he has a new gf just proves he didn't take the relationship with you seriously. Guys tend to fall for a girl and stick with her when they are in love. You clearly deserve 1000 times better as nice as he may have seemed x
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Old 20th December 2010, 9:09 PM   #5
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Ps don't start dating straight away give yourself time. It won't be fair on the next guy. You will know when you are ready. Good luck x
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Old 20th December 2010, 9:13 PM   #6
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Yes, it really does take time and full NC. A birthday message on FB is not NC.

You just have to go through this stage. There are no short-cuts or fast-forward buttons.
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Old 21st December 2010, 4:06 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by january2010 View Post
A birthday message on FB is not NC.
I wrote two words on his wall, "Happy birthday!" A greeting card says more, so I don't consider it contact. Its merely common courtesy since he wrote on my wall for my birthday and sent me a funny e-card.
He contacts me via IM about once every week or two, it was more often when I responded. For the past couple months, I just haven't responded and pretended I had just signed off- he's even left little messages about how much he misses talking to me, and how he can't have the same amazing weird chats with anyone else but he guesses I'm out enjoying myself since I'm not online much anymore and hopes I'm having fun.
I have never told him how much he hurt me, or how much I still think about him. I know its ridiculous, and that I was expecting too much because we spent so little time actually together, and we agreed to no promises, but he was the first time I can genuinely say that I fell in love.
And I miss talking to him. Not conversations about us or relationships but our intellectual conversations and discussions about literature, life, what constitutes consciousness, and the role of faith in anthropological discussions of the human race. It would kill me that at the end of this I lost him as a friend, because we were such good friends, which is why I agreed to still be friends, and there are few people who can keep up with my weird interests.

The new guy was an attempt to get myself back out there that worked too well. He wants to be exclusive, and I've told him that I don't know what I want, but I hope that he'll stick around until I figure it out, and if he doesn't want to, that's ok too. He knows I'm not as ready to jump straight into a relationship. I just wanted to get back out into dating, and the second guy who took me out on a date turned out to be the new guy, and he turned out to be completely smitten with me, and ready to jump into something serious. I've given him the option, he can give up on me anytime because I'm not going to be pressured into something I'm not certain I want/ am ready for. But he would definitely have more of a chance if I could stop thinking about my ex all the time.

My sister suggested I see a professional to talk about the fact that I'm still not over my ex after having only been together two months and not seen him at all in a year, because she is tired of seeing me cry over him and tired of listening to my what-might-have-beens. I was hoping that someone here would have less drastic advice. The normal break-up routine of focusing on the things you hated about him or the relationship doesn't work, because everything was great until I had to leave Germany, and he's never actually rejected me or said that he likes the new gf more, simply that she's German, convenient, and therefore that relationship has the greater chance for success. Can anyone offer any advice other than time and NC? Because I'm getting sick of thinking of him and being depressed all the time, but hesitant to take my sister's advice and get a shrink.
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Old 21st December 2010, 4:26 AM   #8
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Strictly speaking NC has been broken. Every time there was contact on either side, NC was broken.

Every time he contacted you via IM, you had to process it, regardless of whether you responded or not, you've been reading his messages. This has set back your healing. Until you go full NC in terms of blocking/deleting/etc. and cutting off all contact, rather than this limbo land that you appear to be in, you're going to be held back and find it harder to heal.

I'm sorry if you don't see it that way. Many of us didn't in the beginning but we soon realised that it was the only way we were going to move forward.

Last edited by january2010; 21st December 2010 at 4:30 AM..
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Old 21st December 2010, 5:36 AM   #9
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conversations and discussions about literature, life, what constitutes consciousness, and the role of faith in anthropological discussions of the human race
First off, if I found a girl who liked to talk about that stuff I would never let her go. That's rare and very cool.

On to other things. I think the best way to go is complete NC. Put all of your memories of him in a box, and put it away somewhere where you won't go after it. Don't check Facebook and don't IM him. This is what you have to do to heal. I think people come on here, myself very much included, and post things to try and get the answer they want to hear. Well, there is no easy way out of this situation, other than to either fly to Germany to be with him, or go complete NC and move on with your life. You don't have to go complete cold turkey NC at first, start small with not checking Facebook, then in a week not checking IM, then put all the memories in a box and put it away. It will be hard and arduous, but many people have done it and continue to do it, because it really is the only way to force your mind to move on. There will be initial withdrawal and it will hurt you, but in the end you'll be thankful this chapter of your life is closed. At the end of this process you won't hate him or anything like that, you'll just know that he's someone you can't be with. You'll always have a place in your heart for him, and in no way does this diminish his memory or what you two shared. This is just something you have to do for you. You owe it to yourself. You've suffered enough I'm sure. Do the right thing and go NC. Good luck.
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Old 21st December 2010, 5:52 AM   #10
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You have to try understand that you guys were only together for two months. Im sure you do. The good thing about that is you were in the honeymoon period were everything about the other person is perfect. Then you broke up. This is a lot harder then say 8 months and then breaking up as you would have noticed his negative traits.

Thus in your mind he is perfect (which he is not). This guy obviously has been with this girl a while and developed feeling for her, fair enough but this just proves he wasn't all that into you. Otherwise he would be having similar doubts about not rushing into anything. The point is, he has moved on, so your clearly not high up on his list, he IM you when he's bored etc for an ego boost and a chance to remain friends in case he ever comes back and may have a chance with you. The truth is he has someone else.

I know its hard, and your only going to see him in a positive light, and this is the problem, you don't even really know the guy. After 2 months yes you may think you know him well but imagine if you had been with him for all of uni and then you broke up!

I think your clearly just unready to date/haven't met the right person yet. Thus your heads telling you this guy was the one. Im sure if you guys went out then you may have changed your mind (things change a lot when your with someone for 2+ years).

Just take it easy and slow. I don't think replying to texts breaks NC If they are as short as can be, with no info divulged, happy birthday is breaking NC but tbh its only courteous although if your trying to get over him then perhaps being courteous isn't what you need right now.

Anyways I hope this helps a little, take time out, see friends, do new things, meet new people, just enjoy life and a prince charming will come along who will blow this guy out the water. Just remember though he wasn't perfect, it was just the honeymoon period and it may help a little. Also remember that finding someone asap isn't how it works, sometimes it takes years, so enjoy the journey because quite often the destination is only half the fun x
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Old 21st December 2010, 5:58 AM   #11
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conversations and discussions about literature, life, what constitutes consciousness, and the role of faith in anthropological discussions of the human race

wow my dad would love you! haha I engage in conversations with all my friends about all of this, it doesn't make them amazing just lateral thinkers. I enjoy the conversations don't get me wrong but I doubt he is having similar conversations with this new girl. My ex hated literature but she was still amazing to me and I love english literature. The point is, your bound to think this way but NC and time to meet new people and see what life throws at you will make him just be a nice memory instead of an obsession!

Good luck x
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Old 28th December 2010, 9:10 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by alwayshoping View Post
I engage in conversations with all my friends about all of this, it doesn't make them amazing just lateral thinkers.
So do I- its just so very rare for me that I'm also attracted to someone who enjoys all of that as well. Its rare for me to be attracted physically and intellectually to a person- one or the other, all the time, but not both, which is probably one of many reasons I'm having a hard time getting over him.

I'm doing NC without blocking- because I did say we would be friends and I don't want him to know I'm still so hung up on him that I need NC, so occasionally the "hey, you there?" IM from him will pop up, but nothing more, because I pretend I just signed off or left my computer. I removed him from my facebook newsfeed months ago, but still I think it would almost be better if I was in contact with him, because then I wouldn't wonder all the time, I'd know he was happy, and we can't be anything but friends.
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