Tracey Cox’s 7 signs that you’re obsessed with an ex

Get some closure

If you’re not quite sure what caused the break-up, you can’t help but keep dwelling on it. Apart from not being able to learn from your mistakes, curiosity alone can drive you crazy.

If you’re the sort that can handle feeling vulnerable, contact your ex (if you know where to find them). Explain you’re having trouble getting over them because you don’t have a clue why you split.

Ask them to tell you, straight out, without sparing your feelings, what it was that caused them to leave.

Take it on the chin, analyse it for a week, then drop it. If you can’t, consider counselling.

Consider counselling 

If you can’t drop it, consider counselling. If you’re too embarrassed to do this or your ex moved countries (and funnily enough, didn’t leave a forwarding address), ask a close friend who you trust to give you their opinion, without sparing your feelings.

If they won’t or can’t help you, again, book a few sessions with a good therapist. They will help you make sense of it all.

Give it one last try 

The break-up was your fault and you can’t stop thinking, “If only I’d done this or that”, again, call your ex and ask for another chance.

Explain the reason why it didn’t work last time for you and your reasons for thinking it might now. Even if they knock you back, you’ve given it your best shot now and that’s all you can do.

Remove all reminders

Not just photographs or things around your home that strongly evoke memories, if you can’t move forward and it’s been years, it’s worth changing jobs, moving house, even changing cities if you have to.

Drastic measures, I agree, but necessary if it finally gets you over them and into a fresh, new life.

Break all ties

Don’t see them, don’t be friends on social media and if you have mutual friends, don’t pump them for information.

If you can’t cut all links (you own a business together or have children), keep contact minimal and conversations purely functional.

Keep a ‘stalking’ diary

You know it’s ridiculous but you find yourself parked outside their flat, watching the window – again.

You’ve just gone six tube stops in your lunch hour to watch them eat a sandwich in the park.

If this is you, start a ‘stalking diary’ and write in it before you’re tempted to play Sherlock and when you get back again.

One of three things will have happened after you’ve stalked them.

The first is you’ve seen something that’s upset you (that is, they’ve found someone else).

Equally likely: they caught you and you feel like a complete idiot, or nothing happened and you just feel empty and lonely.

Record all these feelings and when you’re tempted to stalk again, use the old smoker’s trick of putting it off for five minutes.

Spend that five minutes reading about how awful you felt after the last episode.

Remember you haven’t lost ‘the love of your life’, you’ve lost one love of your life

Many people can make us happy, not just one person.

It doesn’t mean you’ll never be that happy again if you don’t reunite with your ex.

You could end up even happier than you were and love the new person even more than the last.

You certainly haven’t lost ‘the one chance you had at happiness’.

Work on your self-esteem

People sometimes remain stuck on their exes because they secretly worry the rejection was deeply personal: in short, that they’re unlovable.

They hang onto the memory of the ex because at least that was proof that someone did love them at some stage.

If this is you, take control of your life.

Ditch any friends who bring you down, see more of friends who lift you up.

If you hate your job, find a new one. If you hate where you live, find a new place to live.

Make a list of 10 ways you’d like to improve your life and tackle one thing a month.

Accept you might never feel great about the split

It doesn’t mean you’re still in love with an ex if it still hurts when you think about them.

It doesn’t mean you’re not over them if you still miss them now and then.

You’re human: you loved them, you thought you had a future with them, it’s human to grieve broken dreams.

As a very wise friend said to me recently about a breakup, ‘It’s not the past memories that get to me, it’s the future memories. The fact that we aren’t going to have the life I thought we were going to.’

Get out there

Give yourself time to grieve (and there is no set rule of how long it should take though it takes an average of 18 months to get over a marriage break up) but then force yourself back out in the world.

Don’t try dating if you’re still feeling raw, but do put yourself in situations in where you’ll meet new people.

Distraction is a highly effective way to move forward.

If the pain is still intense and unbearable despite your best efforts to move on, give up fighting the battle on your own and get some therapy.

The right therapist will help you work through the reasons why you don’t want to let go: there may be other issues beneath the fixation.

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