Are you still in love despite the divorce?
Learning how to get over your ex is difficult, especially since it’s very common to have romantic feelings for your ex long after the divorce.
One thing has nothing to do with the other, especially if you are the dumpee and your partner, the dumper. Even if the divorce was mutual, it’s still possible and probable that the good feelings remain long after the bad feelings evaporate.
The dumpee feels powerless while the dumper, although perhaps relieved, can also have feelings of sadness and guilt, each recalling the best of times.
Self-doubt creeps into both partners, questioning if perhaps you might have been able to make it work. Thoughts play over and over, wondering if you made the right choice to divorce.
Nothing is ever all or nothing. No one is ever all bad or all good. Human beings are made up of parts. We all have a dark side as part of the human condition in addition to our positive parts.
As time passes, it’s not unusual to remember the best of times. When this happens, your neurology slips in covertly and brings along the excitement and romance you once shared. So you’ll feel lonely, sexy, and have a yearning to go back to when things were right between you. It’s easy to forget the reasons your marriage failed.
You need to feel loved and to give love. This too is part of the human experience. When it’s no longer there, it feels like a hole in your soul.
If a decision was made to split after attempting couples’ therapy or separation and you could no longer reconcile your differences, then divorce is not a bad decision.
Some couples are just not meant to be together, even if the sex was great. Good sex is not the glue that sustains a healthy, mature relationship. It needs much more to flourish. In addition, many couples meet when they are young and impressionable. As you mature, you find you have fewer mutual interests and common ground except perhaps for children.
Children are not a reason to stick it out. They’ll inherit the crisis in the marriage or relationship and too often feel responsible for the demise or carry the burden to fix it. Two happy parents living separately are better than two miserable ones living together!
Here’s how to get over your ex when you still have romantic feelings after your divorce:
1. Find a therapist
Having an objective person to ease the burden and help you with your loss and grief can make the transition from marriage to divorce much easier.
Negative feelings need to be discharged and a therapist has the tools and skills to help do just that. Family and friends are important, but they are subjective and just want to be supportive. With good intentions, they too often give advice and opinions that may or may not be what you need.
There is a time for both family and friends, but a trained professional is your ticket to work through the deeper issues that are lodged in your mind.
2. Meet with friends
Outside of having a therapist, friends are the next best thing to make you feel better. Everyone has been through a breakup. Many marriages end in divorce and even more in second marriages. There is something special in spending time with women who have shared the same experience. Even if their marriage is intact, they are empathic and supportive during these critical times.
In the movie, It’s Complicated with Meryl Streep, part of her healing was delivered by her closest friends. This was also exemplified in The Golden Girls, with each new crisis Blanche, Dorothy, Rose or Sophia had. They had each other and that made a difference.
3. Do what you love to do!
Finding a hobby or filling your spare time doing what makes you happy can add to your recovery. If you don’t have a hobby, get one! It’s important to find a distraction from your sorrow and loss.
Take a class, try yoga, Pilates, meditation, exercise, anything that might not only be a distraction but give you the joy that is missing in your life.
Now, in the midst of a pandemic, it is not easy to find something that doesn’t require wearing masks and social distancing. If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, I would recommend a retreat, a day at the spa, a massage, a new hairdo, (which is still doable), and buying something you always wanted.
However, with the exception of a retreat, spa, and massage, most of the above can be done online. Painting, reading, writing, and utilizing sites like Skype and Zoom have multiple programs you can hook up with. You just may find something that lights your fire that you never knew existed before the divorce.
Too often you’re so enmeshed in your heartaches and heartbreaks that you didn’t notice the muse that lived inside you waiting to be discovered. Your time and attention were devoted to your marriage with no energy left for anything else. Well, nature abhors a vacuum. So now is the time to be open to perpetual possibilities, even amid a personal and global crisis.
4. Keep a journal
It’s better to have your feelings and thoughts out rather than in. This is important whether it’s about divorce or other traumatic experiences.
Discharging your thoughts and feelings on a computer or a writing pad alleviates the soul from the heaviness of bearing them.
5. Be patient!
In her book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about her year-long journey to recovery. After her divorce she travels to Italy to eat her way through the country, over-indulging in everything that satisfies her appetite.
She then travels to India to visit an ashram where she devotes her full consciousness to deprivation and living in the unknown, something reprehensible to humans. There she finds the fortitude and determination to work through her pain and suffering. Her last stop, Bali is where she finds love again, only after she’s done the work!
It takes time to heal. Your divorce didn’t happen in a day, a week, or even a year. Give yourself time to uncover and discover the reasons for the divorce. Own your stuff and recognize your part. It’s always a dynamic even if he was abusive. Remember, you allowed it to happen, even if it was painful and dysfunctional. This is where therapy can be very helpful.
6. Don’t date!
Whatever you do, don’t go looking for love during these challenging times. You need time to heal and filling up your emptiness with another man will only delay your recovery.
Besides, it’s not safe to date while in quarantine. In fact, self-quarantine can be a plus because it gives you time to reflect, self-explore, realign your priorities, self-examine, and learn to have a relationship with yourself, something you had little time to do while in a marriage and especially during a crisis.
7. Don’t rush to go between the sheets to satisfy your sexual desires.
Once you do projections fly everywhere. While you are in grief, stay celibate. Try masturbation instead! You meet a better class of people that way! Get a vibrator or any toy that is safe and satisfying. It’s a good way of sublimating your sexuality in a safe environment.
Orgasms are natural tranquilizers, whether self-induced or otherwise. Anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, overeating or lack of appetite, and crying spells are all inherent with a divorce.
Remember it’s the death of a marriage. If you have romantic feelings that keep resurfacing, embrace them, and sit with them. Grieving is a healing feeling.
8. Don’t act out!
Embrace your feelings and they will dissipate. If you allow them to be, they will eventually go away. Remember these feelings are part of letting go. Don’t capitulate to impulsive behaviors and obsessive thoughts.
This means don’t call him except when it’s related to the children or necessary issues. Be vigilant! Once you give in, you’re doomed!
Stay with the obsessive thoughts but don’t act upon them. You can think, but don’t act! They too will diminish in time if you stay in control. I know, I know! It’s not easy, but very necessary. You will gain your life back and the thoughts of never having him again in your arms will be gone in time.
Remember, it takes time to heal.
Joan E Childs, LCSW is a renowned psychotherapist, inspirational speaker, and author. For more information on how to create and maintain a conscious relationship, order Joan’s new book, I Hate The Man I Love: A Conscious Relationship is Your Key to Success.
Reprinted with permission from yourtango.com