Although some relationships end amicably, many more end turbulently, often with hostile feelings between partners. It is normal to reverberate with those feelings after the dissolution of a relationship; however, working on healing is a vital part of the separation process. Some people are so angry or hurt that they are unable to move past their own pain to accept a revised future with another partner. People tend to get stuck over the cause of the break-up, especially if there was deception, as an infidelity, hidden debt, addiction, or sexual orientation change. Other times the obstacle is the separation/divorce process itself, like disagreements over child-custody or division of finances. The ability to resolve angry feelings, whether through forgiveness or acceptance, is often the same door that allows a person to welcome new love in their life. Not projecting or punishing other people for the injustices of one’s “Ex” requires an honest perspective on past experiences, taking responsibility for emotional health, and not carrying hurt into new relationships.
People who cannot seem to let go of the past, and dwell in their pain, often ‘leak’ these emotions even when they think they have mastered them. They believe that they are open to meeting someone new and to falling in love again. Often they will go through all the motions of dating, but they will find fault with any prospect and sabotage any new relationship before it gets off the ground. It is a way of protecting themselves from getting hurt again by not being in a place where they can be vulnerable. There is nothing wrong with the life choice to be single but if that is not your choice, then you must take responsibility for how you might be working against your own chances at romance.
Some people obsess over their Ex. They stalk them virtually on social media, they may even stalk them in real life. They repeat memories in their heads or fantasize about future encounters or confrontations. This obsession acts as a way of exercising a sense of control over an area of life where they feel (or felt) less in control. However, it also keeps them bonded with their Ex. If an Ex is constantly in your thoughts then you are not letting yourself move forward. Sometimes writing an uncensored, free association letter to them, in which you vent all your anger, may help relieve feelings – But, it doesn’t mean you should send the letter. Healing isn’t always a two person process, and if you are anticipating a response, you are not there yet. Write it to release yourself.
Even amicable separations can be difficult because of all the change that accompanies the break-up. In difficult break-ups those stressors are exaggerated, and people may not realize that they are taking out their anger with friends and family. They may become short-tempered, judgmental, or righteous with loved ones. Make sure you have healthy outlets for your feelings. Exercise, a support group, meditation, psychotherapy, and art can help you replace your anger with positive, productive energy. If you are spending more time thinking about how unhappy you are, rather than how happy you could be, then it is time to take an action.
Remember the old expression ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’? No matter the gender, there is truth that some people are so hurt and betrayed that it incites rage, and beware the person who crosses their path. If this is you, don’t stay stuck in the negativity. Accept that you are the one now perpetuating your own pain and loneliness, and let the scorn subside, let the hurt heal, and the anger transform to welcome a new healthy, romantic love in your life.
Leslie Fabian, LCSW-R, MSW
Couples Counseling and Individual Psychotherapy
Croton on Hudson & NYC
lesliefabianlcsw.com & FB: Leslie Fabian, LCSW-R