Figuring out how to get over an ex you still love is not easy. If you have kids together it won’t be fast, but it is possible.
When you have kids together it adds to the guilt. You feel sad your kids won’t have the family you dreamed about for them. Then you fool yourself by thinking, “he has so much potential.
If only he would___________”. You can fill in the blank with so many things: stop drinking, stop using marijuana, stop flirting with other women, get a better job, stop being so angry, make me a priority. What is it you wish was different?
There is so much good about him. But…. and that is a heavy but.
Being with him feels like a horrible roller coaster ride. It is good for awhile and you start to relax, then the two of you start fighting. At first, it is little things and the resentment builds, so you distance or actually move out. Then because you are friends or you miss having a partner you start spending more and more time together. It seems natural when he is coming around to see the kids.
He can be so sweet and helpful and you start having sex with him again. Now you are back in a relationship and it is good for a while. Then the negativity starts and there is disappointment, fighting, and resentment. You breakup and the cycle starts again. It seems you can’t be with him and you can’t be without him. Life is crazy.
You want off the roller coaster once and for all.
How to Let Go
1. Admit what you hoped to have with him
2. Take an honest look at the relationship
3. Identify the differences between reality and the dream of what could have been
4. Let go
5. Make a New Plan
1. Step One: The Dream
Write out the story of the dream life you hoped to have with him. Be as detailed as possible and let yourself get carried away with the positive what if this worked scenario. What if he was all he could be. What if the good periods lasted.
You probably wonder why this is the first step. It is because this is what you are having trouble letting go of not what actually is in the relationship, but the dream of what could have been.
2. Step Two: Reality
Take a long hard look at the relationship and your situation. Take out a piece of paper draw a line down the middle. on one side make a list of all the reasons you want to be with him, all the things that are good about him. On the other side make a list of all the reasons you don’t want to be with him, why being with him isn’t good for you.
Be honest with yourself. On the positive column don’t include what could be or what you remember from the beginning of your relationship. Only include what is. Really do this with paper and pen not just in your head. Yes, it does make a difference.
3. Step Three: The Discrepancy
Take an honest look at the difference between the dream and reality. Journal about it. What is just a dream, a hope, his potential and what in the cold hard light of day is your life with him really like?
Do you want what you have or is it the fantasy you are hoping for that you are having a hard time letting go of. Too often it is not what is that we have trouble letting go of. It is the dream of what could be or the euphoric recall of what we think we had at one time.
Yes not even what we really had, but the idealized memory of what we had that makes us hang on and keep trying beyond what common sense tells us is reasonable.
4. Step Four: Boundaries
If you are going to let go and move on you need to set firm boundaries. Remember NO is a complete sentence. He is not your friend, confidant or lover. He is the father of your children and you have a business relationship with him. Your business is raising your children together.
Keep this in mind and be firm, but respectful. Kind, but not a pushover. Treat him te way you would a business associate. Someone who you will need to work with for many years to come, but realizing he is trying to get his needs met and not really concerned about you and whether or not what he wants works for you.
Seting boundaries if your ex is a narcissist or just plain toxic is even more challenging than with most exes, so if that is your situation you will need to work extra hard at setting and maintaining boundaries.
One way he may try to get you to let go of your boundaries is by saying he wants to be friends. Ask your self why does he want this?
5. Step Five: Plan B
You dreamed about forever and planned a life with him. The deam was a mixture of what he wanted and could provide & what you wanted and could provide. Now his half of the plan is an empty hole.
What do want? What is possible? It is time to dream a new dream and make a new plan. Thriving a Single Mom Journal walks you through a process of identifying your strengths, dreaming a new dream and setting goals to make your dream a reality.
What to stop doing if you want to get over your ex
- Having sex with him
This should be obvious, but based on conversations in my psychotherapy office it must not be. Having sex is not letting go. I know a woman has needs, but meeting them with your ex is not the way to go about it. Too often you end up feeling empty and used.
2. Stop fantasizing about him.
Yes, I mean sexually, but not just sexually. Stop fantasizing about what life could be like with him if only___________. Continuing to play this idealized version of what could be over and over in your head is not doing you any good. The more you idealize being with him the more tempting it is to actually believe it is possible to have that life.
Life is not what it is suppose to be it is what it is. How you cope with it makes all the difference Virginia Satir
3. Stop asking him for help.
You are used to depending on him for certain things like home repair projects or maybe the lawn or snow shoveling. This is the time to figure out how to do it without him. Either figure out how to do it yourself (YouTube and WikiHow are great resources). If you can’t bring yourself to figure out how to do what needs to be done get help from another family member, friend or hire it done.
Asking him to help you is just an excuse to connect with him and that is a slippery slope. If you’ve broken up more than once focus on why you broke up and find another way to get the help you need.
4. Stop coming up with excuses to spend time with him.
Besides asking him to help with handyman projects or advice on things he knows about there is a multiple of ways to rationalize calling or seeing him. You were with him for years you know his patterns stop finding excuses to be in places you are likely to run into him.
Finally, stop this back and forth dance. You deserve to be with someone who truly wants to be with you and makes you a priority. Settling because you are afraid to be alone doesn’t do anyone any good.
Be all in or all out in the relationship. The together, break up, get back together, break up again roller coaster is hard on your heart and crazy making. When it comes to relationships all out is better for everyone than one foot in the in camp and one foot in the out camp. Get your own Thriving Single Mom Journal today and start making a new plan for your life.
Hi, I’m Tamara the creator of Empowered Single Moms, a single mom, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and the author of Thriving a Single Mom’s Guide to a Happy, Positive Life and Thriving a Single Mom Journal. I have a solo private psychotherapy practice where I treat anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.
As a member of the Empowered Single Moms community, I believe you can stop carrying the weight of the world alone and build a life you love. Join my mailing list and get 5 Keys to Single Mom Success.