A woman is “obsessed” with stalking her ex on Instagram even though she left him for a very good reason.
Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred.
This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie hears from a reader who is thinking of rekindling the romance with her ex-husband.
QUESTION: I left my husband two years ago after 10 years of marriage. His laziness and ambivalence to everything about our life and relationship drove me mad and I couldn’t see any other way out than to leave him and start anew.
He seemed blindsided and heartbroken when I told him I was going but he also didn’t do anything to try and win me back. Since then, he’s lost weight and seems to have lots of new friends and hobbies.
I know I shouldn’t, but I check his Instagram every day and I’m so jealous of his happy new life. It’s not that I don’t want him to move on, it’s just that I’m mad that he didn’t make that effort when he was with me.
I’m obsessed with seeing what he does every day and I’m thinking about getting back in touch to rekindle our romance. Is that a bad idea?
ANSWER: I’ll be honest with you. I think it’s an idea that’s going to leave you hurt and disappointed.
You said yourself that your husband was ambivalent about your relationship and that he did nothing to try to fight for the relationship. By the sounds of it, he still hasn’t. While it’s clear he’s made changes within himself, I’m not convinced that he’s willing to make changes in the relationship.
Why it’s so hard to move on
It sounds like you have unresolved issues from the relationship that are keeping you stuck. But that doesn’t mean you’re still in love with him. I think you’re holding on to him because you’re trying to prove a point that you’re worthy of someone making an effort for.
You need to look at the anger you feel about the fact that he didn’t make an effort with you. Unresolved and unprocessed emotion keeps us stuck or going around in circles. Right now, the anger you feel and the emotions under it are part of what’s keeping you hooked into him.
Whatever feelings are under anger are likely to be more tender and vulnerable than the anger itself. These softer, more vulnerable feelings can be hard to get in touch with. It might take some time for you to feel into it and understand what’s there.
My guess is a mixture of some kind of hurt and perhaps even feeling not good enough that he didn’t make an effort with you. Unraveling this can help you move on.
Break the addiction
You also need to break the addiction to him. We literally become addicted to thinking about an ex due to the release of hormones and endorphins in our brain when we think about them. You need to get really disciplined with yourself to break that addiction or you’re going to keep torturing yourself with thinking about it.
How to get over your ex
Write a list of all the reasons it didn’t work out
I mean all of them. Not just the ones you’ve told me, but the ones that you’re trying to ignore. All the things that annoyed you and didn’t work – write a list of them.
Whenever you feel yourself wondering about the possibilities with him, get out the list and read through it.
Block them on social media
This is going to take a lot of willpower, but for you need to do it for your own wellbeing. Blocking him (at least until you get over this) will make it harder for you to watch what he’s doing each day.
Put a support system in place
When you feel yourself spiraling, about to go down the rabbit hole of following his past month’s moves, do something else. Get a support system in place to stop you. The more support you have in this, the better.
Some great supports are connecting with your friends – and reaching out to them instead of stalking your ex on socials. Or regular exercise, with a promise to yourself that you’ll go for a walk if you feel the temptation to suddenly unblock him.
Focus on you
Stop being jealous of your ex’s life and start focusing on your life instead. Do the things that fill your cup. Fill your life up so that you don’t even have time to think of your ex.
What hobbies do you want?
What goals do you have for your life?
Can you reconnect with old friends or make new ones?
See a therapist
Pining over your ex isn’t healthy. I suspect you’d benefit from someone to talk to about the emotions you’re feeling and the underlying patterns that are here.
Therapy can be a safe outlet to do this. It’s often a more effective support than talking to your friends or trying to do it alone. Therapy can also help you get your own life back on track and choose a more fulfilling relationship in the future.
Isiah McKimmie is a couples therapist, sexologist, sex therapist and lecturer. To book a session with her, visit her website or follow her on Instagram for more advice on relationships, sex and intimacy.