It's been close to seven years that I have moved on from my ex, and I would like to say that I am happily taken. My fiancé of three months and I have grown on each other, and I thought that I could walk past my ex without feeling butterflies and a nauseating sensation in my stomach. But honestly, I have not stopped loving him.
We have severed all forms of communication now so that we can focus on our new relationships, but this has been very difficult for me. I still care about him very much and want to be able to check on him to make sure that he and his family are all right. Frankly, not being able to do this hurts me deeply.
Could my deep-seated feelings for him lie in the fact that he was my first intimate partner? To tell the truth, he was narcissistic, violent and rude; the sex wasn't great, and he criticised me heavily. Yet I loved him and I can't seem to get over my attraction to him. I think about him every day, even though my fiancé is the man of my dreams. There was just something about the way he was rough around the edges that I liked, and the way he made me feel with his words when he wasn't angry about something.
How do I get past this place? Is it possible? Is there a name for what I have described? My friends think I'm crazy for still caring so much about this egomaniac.
There are two things you mentioned that are instructive — one is that your ex was your first intimate partner, and secondly that you have an attraction for this guy with his “rough edges”.
It is said anecdotally that the man who was fortunate enough to be offered a girl's virginity in a loving and consensual way would have established an emotional bond with that woman which would be difficult to erase from her mind. So even though seven years have passed since the break-up, you still have that emotional connection that is deeply entrenched.
You are clearly attracted to “bad boys” who project a combination of power and fearlessness that some women find incredibly attractive. Unfortunately, the “badness” can often get out of hand and negatively impact the relationship.
A break-up in a relationship represents the loss of someone or something of value, and so it takes a while for the weaker person to go through the grief process. Cutting off all forms of communication is a good start, but are there any items that keep the memory of him alive that you still possess, maybe an item of jewellery like a ring, pictures, music, etc? Are you in any way fostering those memories by daydreaming about those precious moments?
Moving on means looking through the windshield and not in the rear-view mirror. You now have a gentleman in your life who should be receiving your full attention, and that is where your emphasis must be.
Consider this. If your fiancé were to be preoccupied with his ex and refused to let go of her memory, wouldn't you feel disheartened and threatened by his failure to cut loose? It is important then that you do what is necessary to ensure that your relationship is not affected by your inability to stay focused. What about your own self-esteem? Your ex apparently treated you with scant regard.
Spend more time with your fiancé and try not to compare both men. When those intrusive thoughts come along, say to yourself, “My ex has moved on and so have I. I wish him all the best. I have a wonderful partner on whom I am going to focus my love and attention. It's forward ever, backward never.”
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org; check out his work overseas on www.seekingshalom.org, e-mail email@example.com.