DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I was in a long distance relationship with a girl who I sort-of grew up with (I live abroad, but visit during school breaks). Eventually, after about half a year of being in a relationship, she broke it off. This hurt me a lot; she was my first ever crush, love, etc. Now, almost two years later, I am still not over her. Despite not talking to her for over a year, I think about her daily.
I finish (high) school soon, and will be moving back to my home country by the end of the year. Our families are VERY close, so here is my dilemma: I cannot avoid seeing her unless I avoid my family. I don’t mean that with any anger towards anyone, that’s just how the situation is. So, the way I see it, I need to find some way of getting over her that isn’t just to cut her out. However, I have tried a lot of things and nothing has changed. I’ve gone through trying to hate her, ignore her, be friends, etc, but my romantic love for her doesn’t dwindle.
I have no clue what I can do to remedy my situation. I am exhausted by the pain this causes me, and fear how much worse it will be when I live closer. I feel the best way to describe my thoughts is as if we are still in a relationship, and I never got the memo that it’s over (albeit with more obsessive behavior than a relationship should have).
Stuck In Limbo
DEAR STUCK IN LIMBO: It sounds to me like you’ve done everything except actually move on, SIL. Almost everything you’ve done has been focused on her, specifically, rather than on yourself. You’ve made her the center of everything you do, whether it’s trying to force yourself to hate her or ignore her or try to form a friendship. But what you haven’t done is focus on you.
The difference here is significant. The more you put your energy on doing something about her, the more of your bandwidth devote to her. It doesn’t matter whether you’re thinking about how much you “hate” her or how much you’re consciously NOT thinking about her… you’re still letting her occupy your mind 24/7. Small wonder that you couldn’t get over her; she’s been dominating so much of your time that I’d be amazed that you had time to think about other things.
One of the reasons why I advocate what I call The Nuclear Option – blocking them on social media, deleting their texts, putting away all of the letters, emails and photos and otherwise cutting them out of your life – is because you need time to not think about them. You need time to get distance and perspective and let yourself heal… none of which can happen when you have all of these reminders surrounding you and the temptation to keep checking on her. You need to let yourself have time without her – time to rediscover who you are when you’re not The Guy Who Got His Heart Broken, time to remind yourself that there are millions of amazing women out there who aren’t her and that you have a life and a future that doesn’t revolve around her or the relationship you used to have.
It’s also one of the reasons why people say “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else”. It’s a crude saying, but reminding yourself that there are other people out there that you find attractive and find you attractive is a great way of realizing that your ex isn’t the ONLY woman in the world. It lets you realize that she wasn’t your last chance for love, that you will find other people who you will care for just as much as you cared for her… and it distracts you from thinking about her 24/7.
Unfortunately, it’s a little harder to do this when you know you’re going to be up in each other’s space. So right now the best thing you can do? Talk to your folks. Let them know that you’re still stinging after the break-up and, if at all possible, you could use a little breather from her. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to avoid her completely… but getting some advance warning that she may be around can give you the chance to make alternate plans or otherwise get some time and relative dimensions in space away. Getting that time where she’s not omnipresent is going to be important… even if she’s literally the girl next door.
You need to focus on you for a bit, instead of her. The more you can reclaim your life and realize that you will be ok and move on, the easier it’ll be. And then maybe you’ll be able to come back around and have a new and different relationship with her. One that isn’t predicated on the one you used to have.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org