Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: I Split up with Him Years ago, but Can’t Forget Him

February 23, 2020

Dear Stavroula,

I am a divorced 47-year-old with a daughter who is graduating from university. I have been divorced from my daughter’s father for many years and have at times tried to rebuild my life without success. The last time was five years ago when I had a relationship with a man I fell deeply in love with. We split after a year and a half, he broke it off, even though I could see things were not going well. It was tough on me, I didn’t understand how we got there, I really wanted him to be the man I would stay with forever. When I think of him I get really upset, even now that it’s been a long time (and the truth is I think of him often). Since then I have been in some relationships that did not last long, though they were remarkable people and interested in me. I’m afraid that I’m not letting myself be tied to anyone, comparing them all to him, constantly finding issues that bother me and moving on. I don’t know what to do, I’m afraid to be alone…



Dear Tasa,

You write to me that you find it difficult to emotionally bond with the men you go out with, because you compare them to the man you fell in love with five years ago, and they all pale in comparison.

But was this man really so special to you? If you were to meet him now would you find in him all that you find lacking in others and makes you move on?

Because we often get used to removing from our memory anything negative we have experienced in a relationship and idealizing it, if it serves us.

And this is what you should look for, perhaps with the help of an expert. What keeps you stuck remembering a relationship that went wrong, what do you gain by bringing that person to mind and feeling the pain of loss or the end of your relationship again and again?

Some people keep the painful memory of a relationship because it protects them from the possibility of being hurt again. Their fear of going through yet another failed relationship, and experiencing the painful feeling of rejection, is so great that it unconsciously overcomes the natural need for companionship. That is why they find it difficult to move on with their lives. After all, they keep their minds stuck in the past, experience the remembered pain and avoid feeling the same pain again.

Some will close themselves off and find ways to convince themselves and others that they are better off alone, so that they have control over their lives and their freedom, even though their loneliness often seems unbearable or it hurts.

Others still try to find new relationships, often by unconsciously choosing people who they know are not a match and will reject them. So they unconsciously feel confident that they will not be tied to anyone and will not experience the pain of failure or abandonment again.

Finally, some find it difficult to stop thinking about an ex, because they have identified him with the idea of ??love, so they unconsciously feel that in getting over this person, they are being called upon to live without love. Especially for those who have grown up deprived of love in childhood, this is even more difficult. It is as if they have found love and have to let it go. That is why they insist on bringing to mind the image of this person. In this case, of course, they are not emotionally attached to the real person, but to the person they have created in their mind.

Is any of this happening to you and you can’t find a person that you feel comfortable with?

It is up to you to find the strength and knowledge to understand yourself and to evolve. With sincere introspection and effort, you will find the way out of this impasse.


One of the most traumatic events in life is the death of a partner.

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