Do you obsess over exes/lack of closure?

I’m currently under a lot of stress and one way I deal with it- or I won’t even say deal with it- one side effect of stress to me- is that things which would ordinarily bother me to a low-grade but extremely manageable degree become borderline obsessions. Sometimes they cross the border. My theory as a practicing non-psychologist is that at such times the C-List issues I obsess on serve as sieves to siphon off the emotion of the A-List issues and thus allow me to deal with the important stuff objectively and rationally while delegating irration to the minor things.

Or maybe not, but the point is I’m just really frigging pissed at this guy I dated a year ago. He’s brilliant and sexy- heapin’ helpin’s of both- but I would never use the word nice or any of its synonyms to describe him. He used me- I let him, at least to a degree, but long after the sex and in the “let’s just be friends” phase he would ask me for major favors, I’d do them, and then without even saying “Thank you” he dropped me from his life. There was no big showdown or break-up, just a “see ya”. He wouldn’t respond to e-mails, calls or the like. He was one of the few people in my life that I confidentially told I was about to be tested to determine whether or not I had a debilitating and degenerative genetic neurological condition (I didn’t even tell me my family or my closest friends) he never once called to check on me while I was in the hospital or even to ask what the f*cking results were. Pissed me off to no end. (And I tested negative for the condition.)

I did him far more favors than he did me and he got WAY more out of the relationship than I did but I let it happen. For what it’s worth I’ve learned he’s done the same to others- I just honestly don’t think he’s capable of an emotional connection to another person. So, wah wah wah, cheeze with whine, etc.- I dated/befriended a guy who basically used me. To quote Lazarus Long “You live, you learn, or you don’t live long”. But here’s what really f*cking bothers me- I CAN’T JUST LET IT GO.

Yes, he was not a nice guy. Yes, I fell for a total self absorbed jackass because he was/is brilliant and he was/is really good looking (and in that order). It sucks but it didn’t deplete my bank account or wreck my car or break my leg. But the lack of closure is currently driving me nuts (which admittedly is about $8 by cab, but still…). I don’t want to do him violence but I would like to chew his ass out up one side and down the other, and I haven’t even seen him in almost a year, but I’m just frigging obsessing over it. The thing is that I know perfectly well (or at least everything would indicate) that he would not be the slightest bit affected by it (see “emotional connection, lack of”) as I honestly don’t think he has the necessary empathy to understand or remotely care that he did anything wrong.

So, the lack of closure is currently obsessing me even though it’s been many months (most of which passed with rarely a thought about the asshole). It’s not the first closure-less relationship I’ve had (to be precise it’s the second, but the circumstances and the timing of the last one were far removed. (If there’s a lesson to be learned by me it’s the whole “trust your instincts” thing- don’t rationalize your feelings for somebody by saying “he’s brilliant and sexy so he must be nice as well” when there’s no reason to think so, and also that “nice” is the last thing to be willing to forego in a relationship.)

So does anybody else obsess over exes or the lack of closure in a relationship? Any suggestions on how to just kill it or let it die (the obsession I mean, not the ex, which while viscerally satisfying would probably violate a law or two)? Ever been furious at somebody who you knew didn’t care less? How did or do you deal with it?

Yes, yes, oh dear god, yes. Long after I thought I’d moved on, it would resurface. I wish I didn’t obsess over crap like that, and even with therapy, it’s hard, hard, hard.

The only solution I have found for this is, ultimately, the most banal and the worst one to swallow: time. In time, you loosen your grip.

One giant thing that helped me with my worst case (an ex-fiancee who ran off with another woman), was, unfortunately, also the thing that makes me feel like a closeted monster. She dumped his sorry ass and he came crying back to me, begging for forgiveness. I hate to say it, but oh my god, that felt so good. So good. And his life spiralled quickly out of control until he landed squarely on his ass. Glee! Joy! I had no idea I was capable of so much petty hatred! And I never forgave him to his face, though I did eventually forgive him, as best I could, for myself. He will never know that, however. I still dislike him, and he’s certainly proved himself unworthy to be in my life.

The thing is, before all that happened, I was (and still am) happily married to a wonderful man - I had “moved on”, or so I truly believed. But sometimes I’d hear about him, and I’d become so enraged at the thought of him and what he did, I would cry frustrated, angry tears. How I loathed that man.

Long before him, however, were close people to me who betrayed my trust, ex best friends who accused me of wrongdoings I never did and ran off… and I was enraged then, too. And looking back, they are only the dullest, vaguest memory of pain. I can talk about those people, the good times and the bad, with laughter and perhaps an ironic little smile at worst. So, it does get better. Eventually. The deeper the hurt, the longer it takes to heal, of that I’m pretty certain.

I, not unlike yourself, Sampiro, tend to get very…* lengthy*. “Long winded” is such an awful term. A therapist/counceller helps, but they cost money. But they will listen to you, and sometimes ask some pretty good questions. However, they could never stop my obsessing. I just found it helped for me to release whatever was on my mind whenever I needed to. A kind, patient, preferably properly cannonised saintly friend who likes to listen is a great thing to have, if you can find one. Everyone else will get tired of listening to your ramblings. Sigh. Failing that, write it all down. The good and the bad, the rambling and the concise. Allow yourself to write the worst things you are thinking, get them out, get rid of them. Don’t be afraid to say you hate this person, or love them so much it hurts. Either by hand, or type it up and print it out. Burn it. It… feels better, somehow. A little bit. It’s just a bandaid on a gaping wound, but it helps a little bit.

I’m in a pretty good place today, going on four years after the deepest and latest betrayal, and I’m doing pretty good. I can go entire days without thinking of the guy, which is a pretty big deal in my book. I can also talk about him as a part of my past without boiling over into a rage. Once in a while, though, if you catch me on a bad day and the planets are aligned just so…

Good luck, Sampiro. I hope there is better advice in this thread than mine. But yes, I do obsess, and that’s how I dealt with it. It’s one of the things I really hate about myself, because I want to change it, but good lord, how?

I’ve done it more than once. And it’s always the wrong guy. Never someone who deserved the effort I put into the relationship. Always some jerk who took and never gave. Which just adds insult to injury because I feel like such a dork to even let it get to me.

I went out with a guy for over 3 years who was gorgeous, a talented musician and photographer, funny as hell, but he always kept me at arm’s length. When he gave me the “silent dump”, as I like to call it, I was so hurt that he didn’t even bother to tell me to take a hike. He just never returned my calls. I finally caught him via phone one day and goddamn it if I didn’t start fucking crying.

It’s been 20 years and it still bothers me to think about it. I’m over him, but it hurt like hell. Mostly because I wasn’t honest with myself about the relationship.

You know, I used to obsess about things like this, but as I got older a lot of it just went away. Now that I am with my wife, I look back on some of these relationships that seemed like such a big deal at the time and I have a hard time even remembering their names.

I know it sounds trite, but distance and time make a big difference. Also, in my experience the closure scene never plays out as you want it to.

I’m never sure what people mean when they say they need “closure.” If the person doesn’t return your calls, and you can be reasonably sure that they haven’t been in a crippling or fatal accident, consider the case closed.

I understand the desire to “know why”, but the fact is that you **do ** know why. The guy was a narcissistic, manipulative, exploitative ass. How much more “why” do you need? Oh, did you want to know “Why ME?” In that case, the answer is “Why not?”

Trying to figure out why a relationship went bad is a worthwhile pursuit, provided that there was an actual reciprocal relationship, and both parties want to know why it failed. But in the case of someone who used you, you don’t need their input to know what went wrong in the relationship. You just need to ask yourself why you allowed yourself to be used.

Sampiro, I realize that getting over something like that is easier said than done, but the desire for “closure” is really nothing more than a desire to make that guy feel badly that he hurt you, and realize he’s an asshole, and that is never going to happen. Far better for **you ** to realize that he really is an asshole, that he really isn’t going to change, that confronting him will never be as rewarding as forgetting about him, and that you should be moving on about now.

Good luck.

There’s one. She cheated on me with her boss and wound up pregnant. I avoided her for weeks when I found out. She tracked me down on my job, begged my forgiveness and left me her forwarding information and made me promise to call. As soon as she walked out of sight I tore up the number. Two weeks after that I quit my job.

I loved her. But I loved my pride more.

I still look back, sometimes.

I don’t. But then, perhaps I just don’t have any “unfinished business”.

I was helped by both a therapist and a friend who’d had therapy. They said the same things in different wording and I was able to hear them both at different times, so I was lucky.

  1. He’s not okay.

  2. What are you going to do with that information?

  3. He hurt you because he’s not okay. You allowed it to happen under the assumption that he was a decent guy and would respect you and not use you and show human compassion and it’s not your fault he’s not okay.

  4. Knowing now that he’s not okay, you are still expecting him to respond like a decent human, but you already know he’s not okay. You will get no closure or apologies if you speak to him. You will at best get insincere sounds that approximate whatever it is you want him to say. He has no need for closure; why would he do you the favor?
    I’m sorry you were hurt. Forgive yourself for letting it happen and go forth with the knowlege that you will be hurt again, just not by this man.

Cyn, who paid for some therapy, but not all of it.

“Pravda, pravda, true, true.” That’s the best definition I’ve ever read for “closure”- cuts the B.S. and gets to the point of what you really want.

I know I’m the second person to quote this, but it bears repeating.

It hurts to realize you cared way more about someone than they cared about you. Especially if they actively led you to believed they cared about you. There’s no cure for that hurt except time.

Although there’s really nothing wrong with confronting a person, expressing your anger and at least get that out of your system. Sampiro, if you talk anything like you write, you could probably give this guy hell like he’d never forget. As long as you don’t do it with hopes of winning him back or “making him understand how much he hurt you” because as we’ve established, he probably doesn’t care.

No, I don’t obsess over any of them. That may be because I’m the one who has broken it off in my major relationships. I am generally “the bad one” in my relationships, so I don’t have much angst about it. They might. I don’t know.

Only one; I broke it off, but I was in the wrong. Unfortunately, it took me a while to figure that out. Even though I’ve moved on, and am now a happily married man, I still sometimes wonder about “what may have been” had I not been such a cowardly ass.

I suspect it does happen occationally, but few people are lucky enough to even catch a whiff of it when it does. I’ve heard guys who were jerks to their significant others 'fess up years later “God, I was an asshole and I feel bad about that now.”

But because even if it DOES happen, you probably shouldn’t be around for it (what would you be around for it for, unless he was still a friend of a friend and you heard about it), you just need to take solice in IMAGINING it. And it will be so much more satisfying anyway.

Sampiro, you’re far from alone. My ex had a bad time getting over his previous relationship, and he would wallow and dwell and curse and cry and harp on it over and over.
I told him one day, “If you saw a movie in the theatre and it was horrible, the worst movie ever, would you go back and see it again? No, of course not. So why are going back to your relationship over and over again? It’s a movie in your head, all the bad stuff you keep dwelling on…just turn it off.”

I use that advice a lot…it helps me set aside what would otherwise hurt me in relationships. I hope it helps you too.

Nope. Past is past and I rarely think about exes. When I do, it is usually just to remember the good times.

In my archived e-mails, in a place where it will never be lost or deleted, is an email I received in 1999 from my ex-boyfriend, telling me how sorry he was for being such a jerk in 1996. He and I are still friends with no romantic entanglements whatsoever, but every now and then, despite his apology and the knowledge that I would never, ever, ever want him back … I still hate him a little.

Before him, however, there was The Jerk. The Jerk who forgot to tell me he was engaged to a girl back home. The Jerk who slept with not one, not two, but four of my closest friends. The Jerk who somehow kept making me believe that he was sorry and it would never happen again. Him, I still kind of obsess over. Not as much as I used to, but when I think of him in connection with another memory, I still feel that small stab that reminds me that I was used, and used hard. Money, love, energy, valuable time, he took all those things from me and more, and I’ll never get them back. That’s what’s always pissed me off the most. The things I’ll never get back. That was my first real “relationship,” and what hurts most is that because of him, I’m always looking for any prospective suitor to hurt me first and dump me later.

So … yes, time. I hate The Jerk less now than I did a year ago, and less than the year before that, etc. I think what hurts most is the shame you feel, knowing you let yourself be used like that. I couldn’t give a damn if he lives, dies, or shows up on my doorstep. It’s how I feel when I think about what I let him do to me that still drives me insane.

There’s one ex from high school, my first actual girlfriend that I wish I had had some closure with. We dated three separate time periods. The last was the summer after my first year of college. We just sort of broke up because she wasn’t over her last boyfriend and then a week later we slept together after a party andthen we never saw eachother again.

The last I heard she was a nurse and married to some sugardaddy mid-level Microsoft exec.

You know, I’m not a shrink nor do I play one on TV but in your place I would be wondering a little about this:

I would wonder – why this, why now, and probably in that order. I would wonder about when it started and what happened right before that and I might just sort of blue sky for a while about that. Then I would wonder about what I was getting out of it after it started. Then I would wonder some more about smaller details of those things You get the picture. This is not unlike a method I learned some years ago of controlling physical pain by defining it as precisely as possible; If you think long enough about exactly and specifically *where it is * and what it is like each time the thing itself comes up you find it, um, sort of goes away or at least becomes manageable.

Or at least I do.

Back in the olden days, when Jesus was a pup and I was a mere Marienette, gestalt therapists and other hippie types sometimes analysed dreams by having the dreamer assume the role of every single thing in the dream in series, on the principle that everything you dream of is after all you. I am not invested in the notion that dreams have meanings necessarily but it can be a useful way to find out why this when applied to repeating and annoying thoughts. That is, be him – be the him in your head fro a while. Talk to yourself as him and give a momologue as him about you. You might learn something about why this or why now from your own mouth.

Some people are helped by “getting it out” – by writing that diatribe in a letter or even in a work of fiction (where you can certainly wreak whatever vengeance you like with some impunity as long as you don’t mention the President by name). I usually am not helped by this for for things I am angry about, but a lot of people seem to be.

Another thing I find quite useful (which I understand is really weird, no need to mention it) is this: when my stupid relentless brain is talking to myself again about some really irritating subject I say out loud “Oh, knock it off already”. (Subvocalizing is allowed, say, in a theater or in the middle of a meeting). This sounds really stupid but it does work.

Apology for typos and other foolishness. Insert “talking to me” in place of “talking to myself” lest I get cross referenced into thread on grammatical errors.

I wonder if I should apologize for “momologue” or make like a cat and claim I meant to do that.

I don’t know.

I just don’t. I’ve have similar feelings as many of you seem to also have. I’ve been hurt so bad that I didn’t think I could feel much lower. Hurt to the point when you lose all sense of perspective.

The worst was when she told me, after having her second child with her husband, that she recognized that she had made a mistake. That if only I had met her out that night that she would have left him.

The bitterness, the anger, the resentment.

Then, light and some hope started to filter into my little world.

Each day it got easier. To be sure it still hurts. When I down my 10th Guinness and walk home sometimes I feel it a little. Or when I walk through our old stomping grounds (Once I had a business lunch once at the restaurant where I proposed to her. I didn’t realize it until I was eating my starter. I actually had to get up from the table and go to the bathroom and splash water on my face).

All I can tell you is to give it time and to watch the alcohol intake.