Stuck in a Cycle of Regret
Q: I'm 31, and about three months ago my girlfriend of six years finally got fed up and called it quits. I just can't seem to deal with the fact she stuck around for more than a year and left me wondering if I was doing enough and whether she still loved me or not. Then when I did try to get back with her, she said she was dating a new guy who she has a lot in common with, and it was too late. Now I feel real lonely and lost, and I often break down and cry. It's happened at work, sometimes at home, but what hurts the most is the dreams I still have about us. Does this mean I'm still in love with her? Or am I just too scared to let the memories of her go? I'm stuck going over the same vicious cycle of questions about why and how I let her slip away from me. Should I move on or is there any hope in trying? -- Mike
Dr. Susan: Poor Mike. You're going through the normal, yet miserable, process of grieving the loss of a love. You need to realize that not all relationships are forever. This one lasted a long time -- six years -- but you've both changed a lot throughout your 20s and she decided she needed to move on. It's not because you let her down. Now she has someone else, so you have no choice but to move on yourself. It's over, Mike. Weeping is a fine way to help you process this loss, but if you find yourself breaking down at work and obsessing endlessly about what might have been, you might need to find some support from a counselor or a really patient and sensitive friend. There's no point in worrying about whether you still love her. She has chosen to end it. This means you have to let go of a huge chunk of the only life you've known and venture into the unknown alone. Scary and depressing, yes. But ultimately rewarding.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.