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How can I get rid of my emotional attachment to my ex?

Tagged as: The ex-factor<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (30 June 2008) 7 Answers - (Newest, 31 January 2010)
A female Canada age 30-35, anonymous writes:

I've been dating this guy for a few months--he is WONDERFUL. I mean I don't even have to ask for anything, he just does it. He's like a prince charming. Everyone in my family loves him and so do my friends. There is only one problem....I don't think I feel the same way!! I think he is wonderful but I think it may be more of a friendship.

However, I am wondering if I feel this way because I still have feelings for my ex. There is no more physical contact just an emotional attachment that I cannot seem to get rid of. Will it just take more time? I don't want to let this great guy go because of this or break his heart if maybe he really is not the one for me. Maybe I moved too quickly after breaking up and didn't give my heart enough time to heal. I'm not sure. What can I do to let this feeling go?

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A male reader, abehof United States +, writes (31 January 2010):

let go of attachment, not love

"If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don't, they never were." -

-- Kahlil Gibran

It seems a paradox that love means letting go yet when we love someone it is so hard to let go. I think the confusion is using the word ‘love’ to mean so many different things. ‘Love’ which means truly caring for another and wanting the best for the person is perfectly ready to let go if it knows that other person would do better without us. ‘Love’ which refers to the attachment we feel emotionally is what makes it difficult to let go.

So if you’ve having difficulty letting go, it’s probably not love but attachment that you’re experiencing – attachment to the past, to the future, or to your ego. Detach from these, and you will naturally be able to let go of the person you love.

Accept yourself and your partner the way you are. Accept the fact that the relationship was not meant to be, that it didn’t work because there are obvious problems for him.

An optimistic outlook, positive attitude and belief that everything happens for the best, can help you bounce back from your loss. Have faith that the best is yet to come.

It takes a lot of tears, hard work, and introspection to break the chains of the past. But it's worth every moment! The feeling of freedom and contentment that you experience is just awesome.

Getting rid of your anger and hurt will help you stop blaming others for your pain, and allowed you to see your former partner as they really are – a wonderful, sensitive human being It will allow you to love life again, to see the beauty in every experience, to be non-judgmental with the capacity to love,

No time spent in a relationship is ever wasted. Every experience is a lesson and only when you learn the lesson will you progress to the next level. So stop beating yourself up over all the years you “wasted” .

If it didn't work, it was probably not meant to be. You can’t force commitment or marriage. These are stages that should happen naturally, when it feels right for both people.

Contrary to popular opinion (and sad love songs) love is not meant to hurt. If you’re in pain, what you’re experiencing is not love, but attachment or codependence. Too often we fall in love, not with our partner, but with the IDEA of being in love.

It’s best to let go of a relationship that’s causing too much pain. Instead of wallowing in the past and writing your own sad love song, do your inner work, get rid of the anger and disappointment and get on with your life.

Let go of your partner with love, so you can move past your hurt and learn to love again.

An example to illustrate attachment that I love:

In the South of India, I understand people used to catch monkeys in a very special way. Actually they let monkeys catch themselves. What they did is cutting a small hole in a coconut, just large enough for a monkey to put its hand in. Next, you fix the coconut to a tree, and fill it with a sweet. The monkey smells the sweet, squeezes its hand into the coconut, grabs the sweet and .... finds that the fist does not fit through the hole. Now the trick is, that the last thing the monkey will think of is to let go of the sweet; and it holds itself prisoner. Nothing could be easier for a human being who comes and catches it.

Until we learn to let go of our attachment like the sweet in the example,you are bound to suffer.Here you suffer and also give suffering to the other person.

Loving people means giving them the freedom to be who they choose to be and where they choose to be.

Check whether it was really your ego that wanted control. Control of his attention. Control of his emotions. Just control. When he backed off. Your ego got even crazier.

Let us see from other angle.

When you are very attached and get such a person, then the there is a tendency to burden him with all the years of unfulfilled needs and desires. No longer can he simply be the person who he was before. If he fulfils your needs, you might try to control him or hold on to him for fear of losing him. If he doesn’t, your unhappiness returns – but this time he is blamed for it. If he leaves again, you plunges back into despair, and again he will be blamed for it.

But he is not at fault – the despair and insecurities have always been there. Your pain comes from your internal attachments, not him. This always happens when your so terribly attached to a person over a period of time, and not immediately.

I think it was Buddha who said our emotions like ego,attachment,etc are like a glass of water with sediment. When we are worked up, the water is cloudy due to all the sediment being around which is stirred up. However, when we are at peace, the sediment goes to the bottom and the water is clear.



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A male reader, anonymous, writes (1 July 2008):

Sounds like you got tired of being walked on by a bad-boy, rebounded too far the other direction with a total nice-guy, and now you're getting bored with the rebounder.

You probably need something in the middle.

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A male reader, no_issues United States +, writes (1 July 2008):

no_issues agony auntThroughout the ages people have found many ways to get over the chemical attachments to exes that have formed in their brains. These invariably take the form of other chemicals. For example:

smack: there is nothing like heroin to obliterate your feelings about an ex... along with your feelings for anything else, including everyone and everything else you love, as well as any concern for your own basic survival.

booze: drinking alcohol until you can't remember your ex's name is a time-honored tradition, effective because of the numbing effect that alcohol has on your brain while it resets its chemistry (and your liver turns into something with the consistency and metabolic utility of a cinder block).

oxytocin (not to be confused with oxycontin, for which see "smack," above): the purely chemical rush of orgasm with someone else is known to supplant the pathways of need that are left over after a breakup, but present an interesting conundrum -- how to avoid becoming equally attached to the new person? -- typically resolved by having as much meaningless anonymous sex with as many people as possible in sequence.

endorphins: whether from exercise, music, crowds of people, sunshine, chocolate, or masturbation (or some combination of any or all of those at once), endorphins and their analogs are relatively low-powered compared to other options, but also involve less vomit and drool, and fewer awkward questions from doctors.

So you have a wide variety of options. Good luck!

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A female reader, Minelisse Puerto Rico +, writes (30 June 2008):

Minelisse agony auntI am with Chi on this one. I would also talk to your current Mr. Maybe about the situation. I would not say I was emotionally attached, but just that sometimes you think or remember stuff about him. Either that or take a break from the relationship. You need to heal, and Mr. Maybe might be able to stick with you through it but I would try to be "somewhat" honest about it out of respect for him and your current relationship.

If he decides to leave, you need to let him go. If he decides to stay then he will be able to help you through it and it will make your relationship stronger. Good luck!

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A female reader, lotus mama808 United States +, writes (30 June 2008):

lotus mama808 agony auntPlease, let this wonderful guy go if you don't really love him. Give him a chance to find love while he is young. If you still have feelings for your ex, then your current boyfriend is a rebound, and it will hurt him worse if you hang onto him for no reason. I know you don't want to hurt him, but letting him go now won't hurt as bad. Take a break from relationships untill you no longer have an attachment to your ex. Distract yourself, do someting productive that will be beneficial to you. It will help rebuild your self confidence which in turn will raise your standards in men, and have appreciation for wonderful guys.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (30 June 2008):

hmmm... lets see

to me it just seems like you rushed into this realtionship you have now and didn't let yourself heal before haivng a new person in your life . Ask yourself this. Why did you break up with your ex in the first place??? was he a good bf???? Is he worth giving up this other great guy that you and everyone aorund you likes??? IS your ex half the prince your current bf is ???

you really need to think aout whats best for you . I know you don't want to break your bf's heart but if you don't have those feelings for him then you need to break it off with him . The longer you keep it going the more urt he'll be if you really don't like him

But if you do like him and still want to go out with him then just try and forget about your ex. you may still have feelings for him but try and ignore them


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A male reader, ChiRaven United States +, writes (30 June 2008):

ChiRaven agony auntSometimes we have to go through a process called "falling OUT of love" after a breakup. If you're still thinking about your ex all the time and can't let thoughts of him get out of your mind, that's what you need to do.

Probably the best way to do this is through behavior modification. It's a bunch of psychological tricks that you can use in your own mind to break a persistent connection to your former lover. If you think this might be what you need, look for books on "how to fall out of love" or "how to break your addiction to a person" and you'll get solid step-by-step instructions on how to do that. It is fairly quick (if not entirely painless ... letting go never is), so hang on to "Mr. Maybe-Right" while you do a quick study and if that IS what you need you can be over your ex and get on with your life.

Good luck.

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