I remember the sinking feeling that washed over me like a cold chill from head to toes when I found out my ex was seeing someone new and was happy. It crushed me. My knees buckled. And I sobbed...for months.
That was decades ago, but I still remember it as if it were yesterday. My whole world changed that day. My heart broke. My life ended too, in a way. I was filled with pain and regret. I couldn't imagine ever feeling that way about anyone else again. And I feared that I'd missed my chance at a great, lasting love.
I remember saying, "I feel like my life was stolen from me." I said that because it didn't take long before a new woman was happily living with my ex in the house I'd found for us. She was suddenly living the life I wanted and had spent a decade building. I was invested in that life. I still wanted that life. But someone else had it instead. The pain of it was overwhelming.
If you're reading this, I imagine you've been there too...
After sharing an intimate several years with someone talking about the future and how you envision building a life together, it's beyond painful to see them taking those steps with someone else, someone they haven't known for long. It feels like a slap in the face. We suddenly feel as if in all that time, we never meant anything to them, so easily disposed of and forgotten, discarded like trash.
"How can they be so happy with someone else already?" we ask. "Didn't I mean anything to them?" We wonder about this because while we feel devastated by the breakup, they seem untouched by it. They get on with their lives as if we never existed, while we struggle on with deep heartache and pain.
The thing is, it's easy to jump into the dating scene and a new relationship following a breakup. People do it all the time. It's a quick and easy distraction from dealing with anything real...like our feelings, secrets, fears, and hidden pain.
That's what we call an avoidant strategy. An avoidant strategy is anything we do to distract ourselves from dealing with our inner pain. It's a default pattern that's run by our subconscious psyche and our deep wounding. Distraction is one type of avoidant strategy. In the HELP program, we take a deep dive into exploring this and other common problematic, subconscious strategies.
But for the moment, let's keep our focus on the compulsive dating thing. We all know someone who does it, someone who jumps out of one relationship and right into another pretty quickly. They seem happy, right? We might even feel envious or jealous, thinking about how lucky they are to find love so quickly, and how easy life and happiness seem to be for them.
Well let me tall you, my friend, this is not love. It's lust! And it actually points to a hard life for them, not an easy one...at least on the inside.
Follow the storyline long enough with your ex, and I can almost guarantee you will see the same patterns surface that you experienced with them. They may seem happy now because things are fresh and new, but give it some time to get real, and then watch what happens. You may actually find yourself taking pity on the poor new person because you've walked in their shoes and you know how badly it hurts.
New dating and new relationships always look great from the outside because at the beginning of any relationship, the body is rocking with lusty hormones! We feel excited, anticipatory, hopeful, and emotionally uplifted. If our core sense of self is fragile, it's validating and seductive for someone to be attracted to us and show interest in us. Our ego gets a massive stroking, which it loves, especially if it's got the steering wheel of our life.
Eventually though, the same old shit (i.e., strategies) hits the fan, and the relief felt in the newness fades. That's because all of that lusty, new relationship energy and excitement is fleeting, not permanent. It's the hormonal honeymoon phase of dating and relationships, and it's real. The body lusts. It's part of our biology. But the hormonal lusty feelings don't last.
Once the new relationship energy fizzles, and it WILL because it's a temporary hormonal state, your ex will wind up right back where they started from. The same patterns will eventually arise with anyone new because we all carry our wounds inside and they will show themselves in time. There's no way around it. Then, your ex will lose the hormonal, egoic fix they crave, and that party's over...so they'll move on to the next one.
Your journey might not look or feel as fun or pretty as your ex's chronic dating and relating can at the moment, but that's irrelevant. You're going for genuine long-lasting fulfillment, not a temporary fix. You're going for a healthy, sacred partnership that uplifts you and your partner as individuals and as a couple, through both easy and challenging times. You're going for a genuine connection and commitment with a person of integrity...or at least that's the case with most women I know, myself included.
If you're with us on this, then take new steps to uplift yourself, and put a stop to the painful story of relationships you're getting caught in. And stop comparing yourself to anyone else, especially your ex or their new person. And stop trying to prove anything to anybody else, especially yourself.
You've got this. I know because if I was able to free myself from that struggle, then anyone can! Trust me. It's not out of reach. It's just a question of choosing a road out, like the one given by my After A Breakup HELP program. Once you do, you're just one step away from a whole new life.