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How can I stop persistent thoughts about an ex

Question Posted Wednesday June 18 2008, 7:19 am

I am 30 years old, female, and I have been married for 10 years. We have two children, ages 7 and 8. I love my husband and I would describe our relationship as a good one.
My problem is I think about my ex boyfriend. A lot. As in every day a lot. Where this starts to become strangely pathetic is the fact that I haven't seen him or had contact with him in 13 years. He was my boyfriend my junior year of high school. We were only together a few months. Our relationship ended when he dumped me, and I (being 17 and completely emotional) was heartbroken. I got married when I was 20, and I dated a few guys between this ex and my husband. I never give any of the others a second thought.
It really bothers me that I still think about him so much, especially after SO MUCH time has gone by. I know they say you never forget your first love, but this has become beyond ridiculous. I'm far too humiliated to admit this to any of my friends and family. This may sound trivial, but it's become a minor form of torture and is interfering with my life and peace. Please tell me, what can I do to stop this stupidity?

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mikesadvice answered Wednesday July 2 2008, 1:36 pm:
Sounds like me. 36 years ago I had this girlfriend that I thought I would marry. After 4 1/2 years she dumped me. My only real true love except my present wife of 27 very good years. Why is it she keeps getting stuck in my mind I don't know. But I know one thing for sure seeing her again would serve no purpose except to show her how bad she messed up by dumping me. Many high achievers have this sense of wanting to do well and be appreciated. I don't need a pat on the back. Just knowing my life means something makes me strive to keep going. The fact that she will never know how wrong she was about me makes me want to see her all the more so I can prove I really was worth sticking around for. A sort of in your face reality check. The problem arises when I think about the damage it might cause with my wife. That would not be worth it.
And the good part, she was a such slob as I found out later. I'm so glad it worked out the way it did. I know in my mind I really just want her to regret her poor decision.
Try and remember how really fortunate you are to be with your present husband. Vengence is a poor motivator and rarely works in our favor.

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BitsandPieces answered Tuesday July 1 2008, 1:29 pm:
You are not the first woman to be plagued by a fantasy man. Even though you actually were with this real guy, in your thoughts he is who you would like him to be...a dream man. This is a waste of time, but like any habit or addiction, hard to let go of. The key is to replace the fantasy with your reality piece by splashing cold water on your face and reminding yourself of what you have now. Face what you need to change in your life now to make yourself happy, so that you are no longer tempted to zone out and escape with the fantasy. The feelings you have in the fantasy feel real, but they are based on a lie. Don't cheat yourself out of the real time you have on this Earth to love and be loved by the man at your side. No man can be everything to a woman...ten years of marriage has taught you that. Remember that the two of you are still just human and don't try to be the perfect couple. It is almost impossible to not take each other for granted in this situation...hey, it happens. Work on yourself and bring some new good positive things into your your own best friend and couselor and live out your best day today. We never know how much time we have left.

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Peeps answered Saturday June 21 2008, 1:16 pm:
I understand your confusion about the situation. I know it can be difficult to completely get over a past partner; however, this truly is interfering with your daily life it seems. I am sorry that you are having such a hard time all of these years later.

This being said, you should, first and foremost, communicate with your husband about this situation. Your husband may have gone through this exact same process and may help you find relief in him. He also may help you to find out what your past partner is currently doing with his life, letting you understand what you have "missed out on" by not continuing to be in his life.

Your husband may be upset that you are constantly thinking of another man so you should definately reassure him that there are no sexual desires in that manner and you are only curious as to where the person has gone in life. Let your husband know that you feel bad about wondering and are seeking closure. A lot of people wonder what has happened to their ex-partners so he may be able to sympathize. It is human nature to be curious, especially about loved-ones. I understand he is no longer a "loved-one" but he did use to be.

Your husband may be up to meeting this past partner with you but never ever make an appointment to see the ex alone. If your husband agrees, you may want to try contacting the ex and make a lunch date for the three of you. This way you can find out where the person is without your husband feeling left-out and betrayed. It is never good to hide anything from your partner.

It also may be beneficial to seek out a decent therapist to work out some of the unresolved feelings you are having toward the ex. A good therapist will not prescribe you drugs to get over your problems but will help you verbally express the emotions you're going through while helping you work out the reasons you feel those emotions. You definately do not need prescription medication for this issue; however, you definately do need to express what is going on inside of you.

Occupy your time with meaningful things to make you better enjoy your current life. Do more things with your husband to make the time you have on Earth enjoyable. Let yourself be happy with who you're with. Make where you're going in life where you want to be.

You may want to journal the emotions you're having so you can see if there is a pattern (depression that day, problems with husband that day, etc). It may be helpful to see when you begin thinking of the ex and what exactly you're thinking about. If you think about a really good memory during times when your husband seems busy then try to figure out how to incorporate more "fun times" in your life with your husband.

Now, if you're wondering what a relationship would have been like with the past partner throughout these years and this is what is your issue then you should relax. Because there was such a major break up (meaning you two did not get back together, of course) means there was no way it could ever work out. There was too many issues for you to deal with together and it simply was not meant to be. Even if you feel there were no problem, you must understand that the problems were larger on his side than they were yours since he did end the relationship. Even if you didn't see why it should end, he saw every reason why it couldn't last.

If this is your problem, deep down inside, then you really need to come back to reality. A lot of people fantasize about what could-have-been, overlooking the disaster that was. Real love, as you well know, means staying by your partner through sickness, poverty, depression, etc. Obviously the past relationship was unable to experience "true love" since the guy felt he could not stick by you through those possible issues.

It may help to focus on what is and what will be rather than what could have been. If you're going through a lot of problems in your current marriage and this has led you to start wondering about an ex then you should try to focus more on fixing the marriage than wishing about the past. Communicate to your husband about what is going on with you. Fix what the relationship is lacking by opening up to your current partner about where you want to be in life and how he can help make that possible--even if it's something as simple as, "I want to go out once a month on a REAL date with you. It makes me happy that you're proud to be seen with me."

You will get over the ex. Some people take more time than others. The key is realizing that it was never going to work out--maybe YOU could have worked with the relationship but the guy could not. There are obviously unresolved issues going on which are probably about the what-ifs in life.

Don't get hung-up on the past like many people do. Focus on your present and future and things are going to be alright. Find what you're missing in your husband, have him help fill the hole that is your ex.

I hope you figure out what you need filled so you can get over the past. I thank you for choosing me to answer your question and I hope that I've helped you work your way to a wonderful marriage.

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notyourmomsadvice answered Thursday June 19 2008, 1:26 pm:
Usually when something like this is happening it's not about the ex--not really. It's usually more that something is wrong in your current relationship that you don't want to deal or don't know how to deal with so you start thinking of a past love and how much different it would be if you had made that relatioship work. The reality is that the grass is rarely greener and the ex probably turned out to be fat, bald and not able to hold a job or something else that would make him equally unappealing.

I notice when describing your marriage you say "I would describe it as a good one" not that it IS a good one. Could be you are just bored, it happens. When is the last time you two had a night out--just the two of you where you didn't discuss kids or parental things? When is the last time you had sex what was more candlelit, romantic dinner- lingering over each course instead of the Value Menu at McDonald's- quick but served the purpose? When was the last time either of you made an effort to look good to one another? When is the last time he stopped in front of you to give you a kiss that curled your toes and not just the everyday peck on the lips or cheek as he was walking by? When is the last conversation the two of you had that concerned your dreams and ambitions aside from being a parent and spouse? What are your plans for when your kids are grown and out?

If it will make you feel better look up the old boyfriend on myspace or and see what he turned into but my advice is work on your marriage/relationship with your husband and the thoughts of the old boyfriend will go away on their own. Remember though that thinking about someone else sometimes is okay too-- it's the acting on it that will get you into trouble. I have one of those old boyfriends and I wondered about him and wanted to talk to him and all of that for years--until I met my husband. Now the old boyfriend passes my mind a few times a year and it's like thinking of an old friend and nothing more. People who were important to you or part of an important/emotional time in your life are always going to be in your thoughts but using the idea of that relationship because this one is in need of repair is not the way to handle it nor should it be used as an "escape" from the issues at hand. Another guess is that the old boyfriend was the last person you were truly "passionate" about. Emotions were high, you thought you were in love and he moved on leaving you with all those emotions to work through on your own. Self defense mechanisms demand retribution for the emotional turmoil he caused when he broke you heart. Somewhere it's in the back of the mind that you could do the same to him given the chance or why wasn't I enough? You were 17 and thinking he was Mr Right when in fact he was Mr Right Now. When you think of him add the thought "but it was for the best" and move to the next thought. It's a way of conditioning you brain to not associate high levels of hormones with thoughts about him and not triggering a release of emotions that will make you long for something you really don't want.

Buy a copy of the kama sutra and some dirty dice. Buy a nice nighty. Send the kids to a friend or grandma's house. Make a nice meal maybe a bottle of wine or whatever. Tell your husband that this night is for the two of you and you need it and he is expected to go along. He can come in from work and shower putting on a pair of shorts or sweats or just a robe. Play some music, have dinner, drink and COMMUNICATE with each other. Talk about anything that is not kid, bill or job related. Play with the dirty dice and remember that "kiss below the waist" doesn't always include the genital area but instead behind the knee. It's funny and you will laugh and hopefully remember why you married him in the first place. Be prepared for awkward silences and silly looks but laugh and enjoy those too.

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marajm34 answered Wednesday June 18 2008, 6:36 pm:
I feel your pain sister! I myself have and occasionally still have thoughts of 'the one that got away'. My story is similar to yours, as in I was a teenager(19), dumped by the love of my life after only a few moths. I am now happily married to a great guy, but that doesn't stop me from wondering about the past love. It can be embarrassing to admit to friends, When you know their response would be: Oh my god, get over it already!
You seem like a down to earth chick. I don't think there is anything abnormal about what you are going through. The constancy of these thought might be overkill, but I think it happens to all of us emotional types.
My question to you is what is it that you are thinking about? What might have been perhaps?
My suggestion to you is to find some way to bring yourself closure because it doesn't sound like you got that the 1st time around. Thinking about him is obviously not something you enjoy even if they are good thoughts.
If you have not seen or heard about him in 13 yrs. then you have an advantage. You need to try and picture him ugly, grotesque even. if he turns you stomach, then chances are you won't be thinking of him too often. Incorporate him as an asshole into your thoughts, the more he is physically and emotionally unattractive to you the less you will be drawn to him.
Enjoy your husband and your life as it is. Even if it is not ideal. Make your husband the most sexy thing you have ever laid eyes on, build him up in your head and act like your newly in love. Pretty soon you will start to believe what you created in your mind And no other man will even compare to him. I hope that I could help. Let me know how it turns out:)

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mylordwon answered Wednesday June 18 2008, 9:58 am:
You didn't mention if you're a Christian or not, but I am going to approach this from a spiritual point of view. We have an enemy of our souls who loves to get in our heads and mess around. The break down of the family is a power weapon the enemy uses to have his way. If he can lure you away from your husband, he gets a strong-hold in your life because your protection is gone.

I know your eyes are going to get big at this response, but you need to tell your husband about these thoughts. The enemy will put every reason in your mind as to why you shouldn't tell him, but do it anyway. Being "far to humiliated" is one of the tactics the enemy is already using to condemn you which is preventing you from telling your husband (or anyone you know). You obviously realize the seriousness of what's happening because you told me and that's a terrific start, but by telling your husband, the marriage bond you have strengthens. The enemy can't stand against it.

If you don't bring this out from its secret place and shine light on it by telling your husband, I can bet it won't be long and you will find yourself acting on the thoughts. The thoughts themselves are disrupting your life, acting on them will destroy it.

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venom_97 answered Wednesday June 18 2008, 8:47 am:
The first thing is not to consider this as trivial or stupid because it isn't. I understand - I have been there and done that, hell we'll talk about it if you want just email me at, and let me know that you wanna know about it. LOL

Well, here we go:

The reason you are still thinking about your ex is because at 17, there is no real closure because at that age, we don't know what closure is. The second reason is psychological- meaning because you were hurt so bad - when we hurt as people we don't know how to let go and release the hurt, we hold on to it forever and ever regardless of what the hurt is or why the hurt was caused and you are also combining this with association - because it was him who hurt you, you are remembering the hurt and him too. Sounds really crazy but I am a psychology major in addition to an accountant (CPA) and I promise you that this is what it is.

I am sure you love your family, however I am also sure that because a certain percentage is focused on your ex, that your husband isn't getting 100% of you. Normally I would suggest writing in a journal but you can't do that because your husband my find it, so with that being said, I am going to suggest reading and listening to music, should you have any spare time ALONE- WHY ALONE? because you need to cry one good time or as many times as it takes. Your mind must be at a meditating state in order to release whatever pain it is that you are feeling. Also, when you are thinking of your ex - are you thinking of good times, or him dumping you? I am asking this because if you are thinking of good times - then something is wrong - especially if you have a good marriage- I'll hit on that in a sec.. if you are thinking of being dumped - then we must go through a release process - and this is better than if you are thinking of good times with him.

If it is ONLY being dumped, or even just how he is doing, this is normal and you can pull through that one because it isn't him that you are thinking of, it's being dumped and how you felt when you were dumped. The word dumped is a NEGATIVE word, this means that you were hurt, pissed and upset because he broke up with you and you have clung on to that for years and so it's time to move forward.

If it's the good times you are thinking of, then there are SOME type of problems in your marriage- even if it's something as small as feeling like you have not enough time alone with your spouse because of the children. I would suggest a get away with just you and your husband - upon doing this, please be sure that internally you are realizing that you are rededicating yourself to your husband- marriage consists of mental, spiritual, physical and emotional. you feel me on that part?

Moving forward- if you are focusing on hurt from the breakup - Usually I suggest 4 books- but I can't suggest these books because your husband may find them and begin thinking and questioning why you have these books so we won't go there today - if you still want to know the names of these books- email me. When you have some alone time- go to the park, get out of the car (don't sit in the car) - why? getting out of the car is psychologically releasing instead of keeping it in the car- sit on the bench, get a tablet and first write how you are feeling - don't leave out anything or worry about length, just let it out.

Next, on a new sheet write a letter to your ex- tell him exactly how you are feeling - when you are done with this, walk to the trash can rip both up (this is breaking this hold mentally within)- breaking holds, mentally require action of tearing or breaking- this is why people who go through things, tend to break things, throw things, so on and so forth- anyway, tear up the paper, now THROW it away in the trash. If you need to cry, go ahead and do it.

Next, realize that GOD is in control and is the center of your marriage - get into the car - and PRAY- This stays in.. and is being received, not released. Pray that God strengthens you to move forward, forget the past and focus on your future. Ask him to help lead and guide you into being the wife that he has ordained you to be. Tell Satan he is a liar because anything negative, is Satan. Also when we think of something, even if we didn't do it, we still did it mentally and spiritually- it's in the bible, therefore based on the thoughts, you may need to ask forgiveness. "smile"

Start spending more time with your husband, when the kids are sleep, sit outside, and talk. Take walks, concentrate on building your marriage stronger, and better - if it's already good, set goals to make it great, and greater, better and better. you feel me? once you start doing these exercises and bonding more with your husband and self as an individual, then the thoughts, concerns, questions, worries, everything associated with your thoughts, will pass.

I hope this helps and I hope that I have helped.

Sophia - "Venom"

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