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This week’s “Ask Dr. Greg” Q&A tackles something nearly everyone has been through: a breakup.
My boyfriend broke up with me six months ago, and I can’t stop thinking about him. Whenever I go out with someone else, I end up talking about him and the new guy won’t call me back. When I hookup with someone, I end up fantasizing about my boyfriend. I still look at his Facebook and all I see are his posts about going to the Women’s March and his political stuff—none of it’s about me. He doesn’t look sad on his Instagram, and he even took a trip and looked so happy and was with a group of friends I didn’t recognize. It’s not fair! Why is he so happy while I have to feel sad everyday? —David, Philadelphia
David, life isn’t fair, and neither are breakups. In relationships, there is always one who loves a little more during your time together and one who feels more heartache when it’s over. In this case, that’s you. In addition, he probably thought about breaking up with you long before he did it. Your process started when he dropped the bomb. So you are behind him on the path to recovery, and it may end up being longer and more painful than his. Even so, you really don’t know what he’s going through, and you shouldn’t trust social media.
Life on social media is curated. That means that people only put up things they want others to see, not necessarily how they are experiencing life. Your ex-boyfriend is putting up pictures that reflect an image of a happy man who is actively experiencing and caring about the world. For all anyone knows, he went on the trip to deal with his grief about you, and he went to the Women’s March so he could scream really loud. People are not all that they appear—especially on social media.
But the real issue here is not what he’s doing but what you are not doing. You are not letting him go. Your obsession over him and your compulsive checking of his social media and babbling about him on dates is a desperate attempt to stay engaged. You are clinging to the relationship you had, and you’re sabotaging new things to come. With every click you hope to see a picture or post about his misery and pain, don’t you? Why? Because you are vengeful? No. But you would like to see him suffer at bit and even the score. Then maybe, just maybe, you might be willing to take him back.
The best thing you could do right now is to delete all of your social ties to him—block him, unfollow him, change his number in your phone to someone you would never call like “Beelzebub” or “Steve Bannon.” Then, as you begin to feel the impact of not knowing his every posted move, you will start to feel the sadness and grief that has been blocked behind a dam of hope—hope that either you will get back together or that he is living a miserable life.
Take a weekend to just put a blanket around yourself, let the tears flow, eat comfort food and watch chick-flicks. Wallow in your pain. Also, stay off the phone and internet completely. When Monday rolls around, you’ll start the process of accepting that he’s gone and the relationship is over. It may take a little more time to completely heal, but afterwards you will have an easier time focusing on the man in your bed rather than the one in your head.
Dr. Greg Cason is a licensed psychologist working in Los Angeles who has been featured on several TV shows, including Bravo’s L.A. Shrinks. Contact him by visiting DrGreg.com, and find him on Twitter: @DrGregCason