Dear D: I Can’t Stop Thinking of My Ex-Boyfriend

Dear Danielle,

About a year ago now, I separated from my boyfriend. We’d been dating and living together for three years going four. We were both French citizens, living in London so things got pretty serious pretty fast.  Because he knew I was in a tough spot, he invited me to move in with him after only two weeks of dating. I don’t know if I was in love, it was nothing like I had experienced before in terms of deep passion but I was serene with him, we could talk about everything and anything, it was soft and real, as well as honest and simple and to me, it was how love was suppose to be, right? simple. I also trusted him and was grateful for his kindness.|

We got engaged because I wanted to and I guess he thought “she’s the one so why not?”  He was and my first love – or my first serious and mature relationship.

So why did I mess it all?

After two years and half, I felt bored  and I told him I wanted to live by myself just to have more time for me, I felt like at 25 my life was just about my relationship. I also felt like compared to him – I wasn’t anything special and I never ever felt this way before.  He was ten times better and more skilled than me.  I was proud of him but not very proud of myself.  I wanted more for myself. So we broke up, moved to different cities and started seeing other people.  But I can’t stop thinking about him! We still email and skype and he’s told me at various times that he still has feelings for me.

We try to get back together, we meet up, but I usually screw things up with a bad attitude or my eye rolling.  Recently, he told me that he totally loves his girlfriend of seven months and he’s going to stick with her.So it’s totally over now, but I can’t shake my feelings of guilt.  Why am I feeling guilty – why did I mess it all up? Could I have really loved him if I behaved that way?

If you can make sense of all this, thank you in advance.


Hi Audrey!

There really is so much here for us to tackle, so I’ve chosen a few topics from your letter to touch on.  You might want to delve deeper into the WHY behind all of this and I am, of course, available to investigate this with you one on one!  Coaching is here:

Let’s tackle some of these conundrums:

“Is it really for the better that we separated?”

Yes, it is.
At least for now.

At least until you can discover where HE ends and YOU begin.
It seems as if the identity of each person is entangled with the other and I sense you are not truly aware of this.
You, as a couple, seem to be too enmeshed.
Research Emotional Fusion in Relationships. — I have attached an article here for you to get started.

“Is he coming back to me one day or is he going to stay with her?”

I don’t know.  No one knows.  That includes your well intentioned friends.
And, most importantly, there is no way for you to know.
There is not a way to accurately predict the future.
There are infinite possibilities.

And it is a waste of energy for you spend time imagining what will happen.
Surrender to not knowing.
Surrender to “what is.” To the reality of not being together with him.
There is freedom + relief waiting for you on the other side.

“……Why do the memories keep flowing and why can I not move on?”

First, you WILL be able to move on.
But only if you dedicate yourself to actually moving on.
Devote yourself to it.

Moving on means:
not indulging in rehashing the relationships’ twists and turns….
not indulging in what he’s doing with his new girlfriend right now…
not indulging in wondering whether you will get back together some day…..

Here’s the difference between indulging and acknowledging:

To indulge is to give yourself free rein to unrestrained involvement with something. Indulging is a thrilling roller coaster ride where you can’t let go.  It’s wild and it’s passionate. To indulge is to envelop yourself in a task so much so that you see nothing else.  It’s extravagant and can feel like guilty pleasure.
Acknowledgment is crisp, fresh, sparkly awareness.  It is the endeavor to recognize your reality as genuine or valid. It is clean, sharp presence. Acknowledgement is in control.  And you always choose to let go.
Actively choose Acknowledgement over Indulging.

Acknowledge your pain and memories when they come up.  Say… “Hmph…there are those thoughts about him again. That’s okay.  They’re bound to come up from time to time.  We were together for a long time + I will work on being patient with myself as I begin to get over the relationship.  Thinking about him makes me feel lonely and sad and that is the right way to feel.  I choose to let go now.”

Then let go.

Does this work right away?  No.
So don’t expect it too.
It works with practice.  Practice + more practice. Be brave enough to practice.
So if you want the results intended you must acknowledge not indulge + then choose to let go.

The past month has been the first time in four years that you have had true, delicious, exquisite space.
This space sounds foreign for you.  Investigate that.

You can’t stop thinking of him, in part, because over the last four years he has become a habit.  As I like to mention to many a lady, it took you four years to get here, it’s going to take longer than 30 days to work yourself out of it.

You can’t stop thinking of him because you’ve inadvertently trained your brain to be addicted to the drama. You have literally programmed your brain to always think about him.

How do you do such a thing?

Simple:  By constantly brooding over the situation.  Your brain is caught in a vicious cycle of thinking + feeling, thinking + feeling, thinking + feeling.

How can you end it?

By actively choosing acknowledgement over indulging.

“Can I truly be in love?”


However, at the moment it sounds like you are in addiction.
You are addicted to his company, the in-separateness your relationship offers.
Even over the last year, although not physically together, you have been emotionally attached at the hip.

You don’t really know your adult self without him.  What is she capable of, I wonder?

“Why did I want to breakup with him after two years of dating?”

You wanted to break up with him because you were feeling suffocated. Claustrophobic.
Again, because you spent all your time with him, you didn’t know where he ended and you began.  You were not your own individual and eventually “the internal pressure to become authentic and real (the real pathway to actual mature authentic love and a passion for life) becomes too much to bear…” and you wanted to break away and establish your own unique identity.

Your real self was yearning to emerge.

Compound this by the fact that you felt deeply inadequate next to him.
You felt inadequate because instead of differentiating yourself and developing your own individual identity alongside his… fused, enmeshed + merged yours with his.

And this is crippling; especially when you are trying to distinguish between love and dependency.

In closing:
Continue to make space.  Move mental clutter over and out.
Acknowledge your hurt, BE LONELY for once and then let it go.
Keep practicing this.

And most, most importantly give yourself the gift of discovering –in full form–who you are
without him and without a man in your life.  This may be scary but it is necessary.
Be interested in your own unfolding self……

Please feel free to send some feedback.



I’m a Los Angeles based relationship + life coach. I offer a sharp combination of keen insight, know-how + intuition.   Want more life + dating advice?  Jump on my newsletter.   Interested in laser focused one-on-one treatment?   Hire me.  You won’t regret it.

Do you have a pesky question burning a hole in your pocket? Email me at to submit a letter for my Smart Advice column. Identities strictly confidential, of course.

© 2012 Danielle Dowling


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