“You can love them, forgive them, want good things for them… but still move on without them.”
~ Mandy Hale
Discovering that an ex is dating someone can trigger painful emotions.
Especially if it seems like they found their path to happy a little too quickly. Appearances can be deceptive. Try not to analyze your ex’s actions. Instead draw your attention back to yourself.
Start by naming the painful emotion.
It’s not your enemy. Don’t shame or blame it away. Rather, allow it to serve as a guide for self-care.
For example, anger contains energy. It usually helps to release that energy through movement or expression. Whereas, sadness tends to request a nurture response: breathing, meditation, rest, a comforting companion, soft textures, pleasant scents.
Once you’ve created space for these acts of self-care, your next choices will become more clear.
Here are some examples of questions that can aid that process:
Do I need to adjust the boundaries around access to information about my ex?
If so, begin with simple adjustments. Combat discouragement. Adjustments are possible even in more complicated overlaps such as work or co-parenting.
Has this discovery prompted some new awareness about my relationship journey?
Awareness either invites further reflection, disclosure, or action. Determine which suits your situation. Sometimes a present reaction is more about a past event. This current discovery may have triggered a painful experience that predated your relationship.
Honor this revelation by pursuing further healing.
Am I ready for something new?
Even with the excitement of new, change can be scary. Time and preparation are great tools to offset nerves.
Could I use extra support?
Give yourself permission to connect with a trusted friend or family member, or to seek outside support from a mental health professional.
The fact that you’re willing to practice caring for yourself in such loving ways is a reflection of your strength. Keep practicing. You are worth it!
Laura Frederick, LMFT – www.laurafrederickmft.com
It can be so painful when your ex starts dating someone quickly after a breakup! I primarily practice from a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) approach.
In DBT one of the first things we consider when deciding what to do with an emotion is whether or not the emotion is justified or if its effective to act on that emotion.
Often the emotion that causes pain when an ex starts dating again is love. You still have some sort of positive feelings and now you think they don’t care about you.
If a partner starts dating someone else, love might still be justified, but it’s definitely not effective to act on urges associated with love.
Love makes us want to be friendly, think friendly thoughts, be optimistic about our futures with a person. If we do this with an ex, we’ll continue to have feelings for them and it will be very difficult to move on. This calls for a specific skill called Opposite Action.
Opposite Action means acting the opposite of your love urges, love thoughts, and love behaviors.
When you use Opposite Action, it decreases the intensity of your loving emotion and makes it easier to tolerate breakups. If it works well, you might even be glad to be rid of your ex!
Opposite action for love might look like:
Unfriending them on social media, making a list of all the things you didn’t like about them, getting rid of pictures or gifts that remind you of the person, and not visiting or doing things you used to do together.
For example, if you always went to the corner coffee shop on Saturday mornings, for some period of time, find a new coffee shop! Going to places that you associated with your ex will prompt feelings of love and make it more difficult to tolerate the fact that they’ve moved on.
There are a lot of other emotions that might make it difficult to tolerate an ex dating again.
Jealousy, anger or sadness are also common responses to a breakup.
For all these emotions, you can also evaluate whether or not the emotion is effective to act on (will it help me reach a goal?)
And then you can assess whether or not using Opposite Action might be helpful.
Jenell Effinger, PhD – www.frtc.ltd
You just found out that your ex has moved on and is seeing someone new. This can feel awful.
Maybe there was some part of you that hoped you would rekindle your relationship. Or, maybe you thought he wasn’t over you. So, you go into a state of feeling rejected and sad. Maybe you start wondering what you did wrong because he must be happy with this new person.
Here’s the thing: Just because he is with someone new doesn’t mean that everything is perfect.
We are all human and we are made up of good and bad. We bring all of who we are into each of our relationships, and his new relationship isn’t exempt from this. He brought the good and bad about himself into his relationship with you as well, right?
You won’t know what is happening in their relationship, no matter what you do, even if their pictures on social media look like they are love birds with a perfect life.
We just don’t know what happens behind closed doors.
It’s possible that you have gone down the dark road of searching on social media to figure out who she is and see how they look together.
You aren’t alone in wanting to do this, but pay attention to how it makes you feel.
Most often, the more you search, the more distress you will feel. You may be unknowingly punishing yourself for something that you cannot change. So, set limits for yourself and logout of social media. If you need someone to hold you accountable, ask a friend to check in and make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
When relationships end, we need to allow ourselves to grieve.
Once you have given yourself permission to feel all of the feelings that accompany the end of anything, you can move on with the knowledge that when one door closes, another door opens.
You will also be able to open yourself up to all of the possibilities out in the world, whether they involve friendships, hobbies, travel, time with family, or even a new relationship for yourself.
So, allow the grief to take its course, then give yourself permission to be the best version of yourself and move on.
Emily Garcia, LCSW, CPT – www.tribemindbody.com
Although it will take time for the hurt to subside, there are things you can do to cope and reorient yourself to this new, unwanted change in your life.
First, tap into or develop a robust support network.
This can be anyone who encourages you, allows you to process in your own time and at your own pace, and reminds you what an amazing person you are. I’d recommend having both professional and personal support.
Friends and family are great; however, sometimes, they are less than objective. Therapy is great for having space to feel all the feels and be the focus of the room.
Second, redirect your thoughts away. Remove your access to them (and vice versa if desired).
You don’t need reminders of this person in your life; they will only drag you back to the hurt you feel. Ask mutual friends to not bring up your ex in conversations.
Our brains identify importance by the amount of attention we spend on something.
If you wouldn’t go into a store and buy something you hated, try not to spend your attention on things that bring you pain.
Focus on what you want: spending time on meaningful activities, loved ones, and yourself. You are developing your new normal and the new post-relationship you.
Third, let yourself feel the feelings.
We can only move on from our feelings by moving through them. Seeing your ex with someone new hurts. And this will pass. It will not last forever.
Sally Chung, Psy.D. – www.drsallychung.com
It is painful when someone you loved and were in a relationship with moves on quickly after a break up.
Quite often you ask yourself why and think if only you had that answer you would feel better.
There is some truth to that as people tend to make assumptions about self, such as, “I wasn’t good enough”, “I tried too hard or not hard enough” “I’m not pretty enough” and so on, with negative self-talk.
You may assume all sorts of things that leave you feeling defeated, sad, hopeless, and even ashamed. To challenge that, some understanding around why some men move on quickly may be helpful. People don’t want to hurt.
The man who moves on quickly was most likely hurting from the end of the relationship and did not want to feel that pain.
He may have even been thinking some of the same things named above that cause hard feelings. New relationships can be a way to avoid difficult emotions.
Your man’s new love interest may be more about drowning out the pain of your break up than actually having a new authentic connection with someone.
While part of your pain is due to negative thoughts towards self, there is also a part of self that is sad because a person you loved is now out of your life.
A relationship has shifted and an intimate connection has been broken. That part needs attention and space to hurt.
Instead of finding ways to drown out your feelings, like someone who moves on too quickly might, your feelings need space and understanding.
Sit with yourself.
Ask your feelings what they need and want. Feelings tend to process much faster when we allow them to be part of us rather than when we fight them.
Elizabeth Rice, LPCC – www.merakicounselingdenver.com
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