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Letting go of the past, fears that it will never get better


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

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Old 20th February 2019, 3:04 PM   #1
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Letting go of the past, fears that it will never get better

Lately, I have been stuck reliving past relationships, and the mistakes I made that contributed to their ending. I feel like I have not only failed in these relationships, but I have lost the chance to experience a healthy, fulfilling, and loving relationship that made me happy. I am worried I will not have more of these opportunities as I get older, simply because I don't seem to find individuals that I am attracted to anymore, that makes me feel like my exes have in the past. I feel sad most of the time, that I lost this chance, that had I worked on my childhood issues, I would not be in this place.

I have only ever had 2 relationships in my almost 3 decades of life that I truly felt I saw a future with them, that I was so happy and fulfilled. However, I'm beginning to notice a pattern. Both of these relationships started after the other was soon out of a serious relationship. One (about 2 years ago) was separated (around 7 months) and divorced midway through our relationship, and the other was a few weeks only out of a 2-year relationship. I have been doing a lot of reading lately, and I have come to realize that there are many women (and men) that have been heartbroken after dating a separated/newly divorced partner. I seem to thrive in these relationships where I am the rebound, but I don’t see it until it is too late. I think is the openness of these men, the vulnerability and the neediness on their part for me that I crave. However, it seems as they “use” me and begin to heal from their past hurts and are moving on, I can’t seem to let go. I don’t believe objectively either of these men were necessarily the best men for me on paper (both dabbled in recreational drugs, probably should have been a dealbreaker for me), yet I idolized them as the perfect partners, and in a lot of ways still do. Their flaws didn’t seem to matter, because I was so happy. I believed I could put up with it, so long as they were loyal to me. I felt loved. However I would get jealous and insecure, and often “check” if they were honest with me (look what time they were last online social media vs. responding to my texts, etc.). It seems the more fulfilled I feel in a relationship, the more nervous/anxious I am that they might change their minds. I suppose this is a textbook case of the anxious attachment style.

That being said, I cannot shake my feelings about the one separated/divorced ex in particular. That had I worked on my attachment issues sooner, that I wouldn’t have been so anxiously attached, that I wouldn't have been so "pushy" in looking for a commitment all the time, and lashing out when I didn't get it, that the relationship could have continued. In the end, he started seeing someone in addition to me (as technically at that point we were not exclusive), and eventually cut me out to be with her exclusively. They are still together to this day. From what I have heard through mutual friends, she is a plain girl, but very easy going. Doesn't push him at all. Obviously, that's what he needed to commit, in fact, what he told me so many times. Yet I blew it. I have so many regrets of how I acted, how I let desperation get the best of me and pushed him away for good. How can I possibly let go of these regrets, when it feels like I have doomed myself to never finding someone that I cared as much for again? I keep thinking that had this relationship worked out, we would now have been together for 3 or so years, and I could enter my 30s in a strong and healthy, loving and fulfilling relationship. As it is now, I am not at this point, and so far from it, it seems. I keep trying to tell myself that my ex of 2 years ago likely was not ready to enter a new relationship with me, that the new partner he has is luckier than me in the sense of timing. By the time they met, he was formally divorced. That being said, he did try near the end to be with me fully, and somehow it wasn't enough and I lashed out again at him, and he couldn't take it anymore. I am constantly angry with myself and full of regrets. If the relationship had ended over anything else, perhaps I wouldn’t have to be so hard on myself. But as it is now, I am constantly wondering “what if?” and worried that the rest of my life will pale in comparison to what it could have been with him.

I have told myself that I will never again check up on him or his current partner on social media, as I'm sure this has only made it worse. I noticed that they are very private about the relationship, as neither has posted a picture of the other or themselves together on social media, yet occasionally she post temporary "stories" of them, and they seem very happy. I can't help but feel if I had been easy going as she had, that could have been me. I keep trying to tell myself that there is no way that I can't be happy with someone else, that this person cannot be the "be all and end all", yet my heart doesn't seem to want to believe it, even after so much time has passed. The ex I dated after him, I feel quite similar too, but somehow it is not as bad. Perhaps because the relationship was much shorter in duration, but perhaps even more intense. I have not felt an attraction to anyone else nearly as strong sine, and I'm worried that that time of my life has passed. I'm worried that this ex will always be seared in my brain, that after 2 years it has not changed, that it probably never will.

How can I let go of these damning thought, that I have ruined my future, that there is still hope for me to find the love I have always wanted?
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Old 20th February 2019, 4:53 PM   #2
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I feel for you, I was the rebound in my last relationship. I loved her so much, and she used me and eventually went back to him. It crushed me. That was 3 months ago and I still feel pretty crumby about it. I actually don't think I have been happy since she dumped me over a text.

I'm just hoping it gets better. I have also thought about talking to my counselor about antidepressants, but they scare me and would rather not. I'm 31, with a house and a good job and in good shape. But you're right, the dating pool is shallow now. I don't know what to tell you, hopefully it gets better. Hang in there
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Old 20th February 2019, 6:00 PM   #3
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This guy who multidated and then chose the easy going one over you, the same thing happened to me. Dating a separated/divorcing guy. I guess I was his first date while separated. It was all the exact same type thing, but he and I had one big thing in common, our work in music and the music itself.

I honestly think he was in love with me but he started multidating as far as I know after a trip he took to see his old friend who kind of replaced his dad who died when he was a teen at giving him advice. Suddenly, he started backing off and spreading himself around. I think his friend didn't like that I was unconventional, basically. Anyway, he dated two women during and after me who were both "easy going." He even told me he was dating this one (I just couldn't understand what he saw in her) because there's just no pressure. He can just go over there and sometimes she'll make dinner and then sex and just no pressure. Well, I was pretty sure from seeing her around that she was a call girl. It was years before he realized she was hired by a record label to keep him happy and service him -- no pressure, for sure!

Then the next one was similar. I knew from a couple of guy friends that she was the type to proposition even married me by whispering "No strings" at them. I happened to be there at a gig the night she dumped him for another guy. He was so naive, he just couldn't see what was obvious to other people.

But yes, that's what a lot of divorcing guys are going to be looking for. I am still friends with that guy. We spent 10 years working together after we had stopped dating. Decades later, we still keep in touch and occasionally see a band or something (with his wife sometimes as well). I think he loved me but had some bad misdirection both from his friend and from labels throwing free sex at him. He was embarrassed years later once he figured it out. Still, that's all he wanted to handle.

But that's not what kept us apart. We had parallel and criss-crossing careers and having kids wasn't even on my long list, much less my short list, and he wanted kids and pretty soon, too. He's a good dad, and I wasn't about to be very domestic, so it was probably the way it needed to shake out, really.

Thing about divorcing guys is once their divorce is final, whoever they have been having sex with and being close to during the separation and proceedings gets thrown to the side anyway because once they're "free," they are nearly all going to want to "play the field" for awhile and not jump right back in to being committed to one person.

Sometimes though, it is years later, you look back and see it probably all shook out the way it had to or should have. It took me a long time to look back and just realize that I was probably never going to enjoy being married anyway.

If you follow your true path and don't let others steer you off it, you really don't end up with many regrets. So just stay true to yourself.

You know, you said looking back, you realized some things you feel you overlooked or did wrong. When I read my diaries, what stuck out is I'd end up breaking up and getting the ball rolling when I was drunk or on something and feeling too mushy and let my filter down and was basically sharing too much and putting them on the spot. So now I'm big on more restraint than that. Something about pouring your heart out scares the crap out of a lot of people, myself included.

Good luck.
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Old 20th February 2019, 7:09 PM   #4
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OP, I relate to a lot of what you said. I think a lot of us fear that we did something wrong in our relationship with these people (who, of course, we idealize as perfect for us) and that's why they didn't "choose" us. Then they choose someone else, who again in our eyes is so perfect and everything we are not. I have been there and totally have had the same thoughts.

My ex is dating someone new and from my interpretation of her social media, my first instinct was that she is perfect, their relationship is perfect, and he is being so great with her when he wouldn't commit to me. It's soul crushing to say the least. But I think a big thing to keep in mind is that you're only seeing (or hearing) one side. Just like preraph said above, her ex was having a great time with his new fling, thinking she was so great and easy when in reality she turned out to be a call girl. People put the most cultivated parts of themselves on social media, not the time they had a fight because she caught him texting an ex or something.

I also tend to think that people don't change a lot. Maybe with a lot of time and effort, but if your guy jumped straight from you to this new woman, I would bet he will eventually have the same issues with her that he had with you. It might take longer, as your personality may have brought that out faster, but I would be very surprised if he doesn't revert to type before long. You mentioned drug issues -- is that still something he struggled with? Addicts are a particular beast, because they can be extremely charming and convince people that they are fine for a while. Once their underlying issues come to the surface it's not pretty.

When I was crying about how perfect my ex's relationship with his new woman is, my therapist said "Yes, but he hasn't disappointed her yet". That made me think a lot about things.

Hugs to you. I know how hard it is. I blame myself a lot for "ruining" my relationship too. My therapist has been encouraging me to show some love to myself and I am trying really hard to do that. I think, sometimes, when we think we are acting "crazy" or "needy", it's a valid response to the behavior of the other person. So if that person is pulling away or being avoidant, it's not such a stretch to see why we could become anxious. It's a normal human emotion to fear losing something or someone you love. That's ok and doesn't make us "crazy". It just means that that person at that time was not a good fit for us and couldn't be what we so wanted them to be.
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Old 20th February 2019, 11:51 PM   #5
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I agree. I've seen men jump from one bed to the next and I don't fear being replaced anymore. I have a lot to offer. It took a lot of pain and heartache to come to that conclusion. Also, I just can't date divorced men. It really bugs me and I know I'm not perfect but those are vows...I am simple and if I can't take a man for his word then what else do I need to know. At my age, I am just chilling and not in a rush to get the first crumb that falls off the table though. You live and you learn. I hope you feel better soon. It's ok to acknowledge that these relationships may stick with you for a while or maybe even forever, but just try not to let it overwhelm you all the time. Talking it out with a counselor or someone you can trust can give you a set amount of time each week to mull over it while still giving you free time in your life for yourself during this trying time. God bless.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 1:43 AM   #6
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Thank you, everyone, for your replies. It really helps to know that I'm not the only one that feels this way!

I've been giving it a lot of thought, and although I truly believe I made some serious mistakes in the relationship, I think that I overestimate my ability to "make" someone behave badly. As in, I don't believe that if my ex had displayed similar behaviours related to insecurity and fear, that I would have reacted the way he did. There were never any second chances, and to think about it, I think a big part of it was that he was never really into me that much in the first place, at least in the relationship sense. For starters, I'm half Asian and half white, and he has only ever had committed relationships with blond women, which I clearly am not.

Also, I am extremely disappointed with how he handled the ending of our "relationship" (as it was so on and off, his doing). In the end, I tried to take the high road, and even a year later I reached out to him on Facebook to apologize for what I believe I had done wrong (even though I had already apologized so many times before that), and rather than apologize as well (which he never did, even for hurting me), or wishing me well, or anything really, he chose to read my message and then block me. Even though the message itself was kind and sincere. I wish to this day I never sent it, almost a year ago I still regret it.

Part of me wonders if I would feel better about all of this if I finally said my piece, and then never spoke to him again. I feel that by apologizing (somewhat in the hopes that he would too and we could both move on without any bitterness), I have gotten myself stuck. That perhaps the only way to free myself is to finally speak up for myself and never speak to him again. I really don't know...
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Old 22nd February 2019, 2:27 AM   #7
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This is all ego driven. If you don't wish to speak to him again, it really doesn't matter what he thinks of you. In practical terms, it will make no difference for you whatsoever.

I think you feel stuck because you didn't get the response you wanted (or any response, for that matter). You still haven't accepted that some things are the way they are. Maybe you're still grieving the fact you were in a relationship with someone who could just ignore you after the break up.

Speaking up now will only make you feel worse. He'll know you're still pining for him. Don't give him this satisfaction. Just accept that things sometimes don't happen the way we want them to, and that's fine. It's life.
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Old 25th February 2019, 2:10 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by nostalgicgirl View Post
Part of me wonders if I would feel better about all of this if I finally said my piece, and then never spoke to him again.
Maybe post in the NC Contact Support Thread. It helped me.
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Old 2nd March 2019, 12:40 AM   #9
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This is all ego driven. If you don't wish to speak to him again, it really doesn't matter what he thinks of you. In practical terms, it will make no difference for you whatsoever.

I think you feel stuck because you didn't get the response you wanted (or any response, for that matter). You still haven't accepted that some things are the way they are. Maybe you're still grieving the fact you were in a relationship with someone who could just ignore you after the break up.

Speaking up now will only make you feel worse. He'll know you're still pining for him. Don't give him this satisfaction. Just accept that things sometimes don't happen the way we want them to, and that's fine. It's life.
You are probably right. I think more than anything, I am so angry and frustrated with myself for sending the message a year later at all. It was such an odd thing to do... I cut and pasted part of it from an apology to another ex, one that actually deserved an apology, and it was just so stupid to have done it. Of all the things I regret from that relationship (and there are many!) it is this moment I regret the most. I took the high road after the break up, and actually told him I didn't want to speak to him anymore and blocked him off my phone. I didn't do anything with social media though, I didn't see the point. I was good about not checking up on him or the new girl afterward, but about 6 months – a year later, I regressed and sent that apology and that's when he (and the new girl) blocked me off of everything without any response.

For some reason, I feel so ashamed by this. I can't seem to shake it, and I'm almost desperate to stop thinking about it. I'm so upset I gave him this power, and somehow regressed so far, maybe even worse than right after the break up. I'm not sure how to forgive myself for that stupid message, or how to forget about it alltogether.
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Old 2nd March 2019, 9:29 AM   #10
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Your ex is a jerk. Or at least he acted like one in this situation. He doesn't HAVE to respond in a certain way to you, like with the apology you really want, but him blocking you is jerky behavior. And in getting his girlfriend to block you too? I can see why you feel bad. I know I would too.

Unfortunately, the only thing you can do at this moment is to pick yourself up, hold your head high, and walk away. As someone up thread said, he does not deserve to know that you ever think about him or care about him. You didn't do anything that was so bad, as far as I can tell from what you've said. You cared about this guy, he wouldn't pursue a more serious commitment with you, you felt anxious and hurt about that, and then it ended by him starting to date another woman. Your feelings about that (feeling hurt, abandoned, etc) are valid feelings. It is understandable that you would feel this way. Then you tried to restore your connection to this person by apologizing and were rebuffed. That hurts. A lot. You have a right to feel hurt.

But, I wonder if a lot of this is related to your anxious attachment style? Not what happened in the relationship, but what's happening now? It's about the idea of this person rather than the reality. Because in reality he does not sound like such a prize. Are you seeing a therapist? They might be able to help you to process all this and to forgive yourself.
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Old 3rd May 2019, 2:49 PM   #11
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Hi everyone,

I'm still feeling very low about all of this, mostly that it's still bothering me! But I can't shake it. I thought by now, I would know the break up was for the best, and honestly I thought I would have met someone by now that I had even greater chemistry with, and a better relationship. But it just hasn't happened...

In fact, going on dating apps and sites just proves that I'm not attracted to anyone the way I was to him. I don't even get it myself, in a lot of ways I didn't even really respect him or hold him in high regard due to his actions, yet I was constantly wanting to be around him. My life felt so good when he was with me. I don't understand it. It seems to be for such silly things, but in my head they make sense. For instance I loved his name, his style, his happy go lucky demeanour, sense of humour, interests, etc. We got along so well.

Yet now, it's all a mess. There is 100% no chance of a reconciliation, but that's not even what I want anyway. What I want is to go back before any of the crappy stuff happened and just be how we were. I find it so hard to take that he is this committed partner with this other (maybe lesser) girl that he was never with me. In fact, 3 months after they started dating (while he was still seeing me, although not exclusively apparently), he moved her in. And 2 years later, they're still together.

I hate that I even care at all, but I feel totally stuck. In the time since, I've tried being single, tried dating, even tried a relationship, but none of these experiences gave me a fraction of the feeling I had with my ex. I just feel lost now, that the rest of my life will have less of the glimmer, the sparkle I once had. It seems so silly to even think like this, and I wouldn't have believed it myself until it's happened. Two years is long enough to see that it was for the best, and the fact that I just don't, or it doesn't feel that way, kills me.

How do people move on when they never feel as good as they did with an ex again?
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Old 7th May 2019, 8:15 AM   #12
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How do people move on when they never feel as good as they did with an ex again?


Acceptance. I had a girlfriend like you, or at least like how you describe yourself. She also had only 2 (longer) meaningful but abusive relationships before me, and brought the crap out of those into ours. Including the lashing out to 'prevent feeling hurt'. Needles to say that ended…


Either accept the way things are, or reach out and then accept the outcome. You never know, he might just be going with the flow. But do it for yourself, as in having done all you can, without expectations.
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Old 7th May 2019, 4:00 PM   #13
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I'm so sorry you're struggling and I completely relate. I know that feeling of wanting to undo all of the bad things and go back to when it seemed full of promise, before that person hurt you. With my ex, I can't say I want him back (although I do miss a lot of things about him) but I feel incomplete sometimes. Like I'm waiting for something from him - an apology, an acknowledgement that he messed up, SOMETHING. Or maybe just to have him want me back. I, too, miss how things used to be, when he was "all in" with me, before he started pulling away.

BUT - this is reality. Our relationships with these guys are over. Even now, typing that, I want to add a disclaimer "for now". But I think it's best for everyone if you think of it as final. His time in your life is done. Because right now you're stuck in limbo and you can't move forward until you un-stuck yourself.

I also completely get comparing yourself to the other woman. "What does she have that I don't" and "Is he a better man with her". However, look at how their relationship started: with him cheating on you with her and vice versa!! He's still seeing you while hooking up with her!! I believe they call that "monkey branching", as in someone doesn't let go of one branch until they have ahold of another. As I understand it, this is a classic thing with people that are emotionally unavailable.

Regardless, he's no prize. And I think you know this, but you are hanging in nostalgia because it feels better than facing being alone. There is nothing wrong with being alone, other than it doesn't feel good. Have patience with yourself. It takes time to heal. When an older relationship of mine ended, it was 4 years before I found someone else I wanted to really date. If it doesn't feel good being on dating apps, don't do it. This isn't school -- you don't have to do anything. You can just be for a while. Let your heart heal and try to accept that it's over. When I was going through a very rough time, it actually helped to say outloud, to myself, every morning "I will be ok".

I'll leave you with a story that might make you feel better. A good friend of mine was dating a man long distance. I believe they were together about a year or so and she was crazy about him. After some time, it became apparent he didn't want to move to make it work. So they broke up and she was devastated. She continued to send him cards on his birthday and some other times as well, but he never answered any of them. In the meantime, somewhere in there she started moving on. She started dating again online and met a man that she really liked. 3 years after the break up, the first guy came back and said he had made a mistake and wanted her back. 3 years!! But you know what? By then, she was with the new guy, who she really liked. They wound up getting married and the old guy became a friend. So don't beat yourself up if you're not over this guy. You have no idea what might happen in the future, but try to accept that he doesn't have a place in your life right now.
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Old 9th May 2019, 3:13 AM   #14
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Thank you both for your replies.

Nolanola, you're totally right. It's actually quite frustrating that I know without a shadow of a doubt that he isn't any special prize, that I would never be able to trust him, yet I still remember how attracted to him I was and how much I wanted to make things work. Crazy, isn't it?!

I'm hoping that one day I will encounter someone that I will be as attracted to, AND wanted to be with and trusted. I suppose it's just hard for me to believe since it's never happened to me before. Usually, it's been one or the other!
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