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Sex with Dr. Jess


September 8, 2017

How to Move on From Your Ex

How would you react if you found out your ex was getting married? Would you be happy for them? Or would you harbour resentment? This morning on Global TV’s The Morning Show, Jess shared tips for moving on from after a breakup. Check out Jess’ notes and video below.

1. If the thought of your ex getting married upsets you, does it mean that you’re not over them?

No. It may mean that you’re not over the relationship itself – perhaps you’re still processing some of the emotions or issues related to the breakup itself. For example, if infidelity was involved, you may be struggling with the associated insecurity and/or trust issues. If the way they broke up with you was particularly hurtful (perhaps they weren’t straightforward or used manipulation to end the relationship), you might still be hurt by the process itself. Being upset about a breakup doesn’t mean you are meant to be with that person or that they’re particularly relevant in your life. Your concern, attachment or unresolved feelings may relate to the breakup itself and not to your ex.

Also note:

Taking some pleasure in the misfortune of those we envy may have a biological roots according to researchers from Princeton University. They performed four experiments to explore this phenomenon, known as Schadenfreude and found that when we’re envious (envy is closely related to jealousy – I call it jealousy’s evil cousin), we’re more likely to want to see suffering and misfortune.

It’s difficult to be empathetic when we’re angry, threatened and/or envious. So if you want to get over the desire to see your ex suffer, you have to address your emotions. The cognitive-behavioral approach can help: you look for your “hot” thoughts and try to reframe them into more realistic thoughts (e.g. I hope he’s sad without me might become I’m sad, so it makes me feel better to know he’s sad too; but I realize that his sadness doesn’t help to alleviate mine, so I’ll look for other ways to feel better on my own.)


2. What can you do to get over the breakup? How can you reframe an ex’s marriage as a positive?

  • First and foremost, break up with them on social media. And break up with their family and friends too. You might be telling yourself that you’ve separated from them on Facebook, but if you still follow all of their friends and family, you know they’re going to show up on your feed.
  • Make a list of the strengths and weaknesses of your previous relationship; chances are the latter will outweigh the former and help to put the relationship into a more realistic perspective.
  • Write down why you find your ex’s marriage upsetting. Is it because you’re not happy with where you are in life? You can do something about that. Or is it because you’re still angry at them and harbour resentment that precludes you from being happy for them. You can also do something about that: think about them as a human being — weak, imperfect, vulnerable and deserving of love (because we all are); reframe your feelings toward them to move from a place of love. It’s a powerful thing!

3. Should you congratulate them?

If you’re still in touch, you can. If you’re not, don’t reach out specifically to do so. No matter how hurt you are, you still don’t wish anything bad upon others — even a stranger’s suffering likely evokes empathy so surely you can find some love and well wishes for someone you once cared for.

Research suggests that there are four reasons why people stay in touch with an ex: security, practicality, civility and romantic attachment. Those who remain friends for practicality (e.g. kids) and civility have more successful, longer-lasting friendships.


4. Any other tips for moving on?

Work on your own happiness and meaning. If another’s happiness upsets you, it’s likely a sign that you’re not happy. We all experience this to some degree, but if you have persistent feelings of wishing unhappiness on another person, I’d really sit down and make a list of what you like about your life and what you’d like to change. Hang it on your fridge to set the intention to do things differently — both in terms of how you think and how you behave; your feelings will follow.