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WAYNE A POWELL MA Counselling Psychology Relationship Counsellor

Monday, January 14, 2013    

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Dear Counsellor,

I am an 18 year old girl who can't seem to move on from a past relationship. The relationship ended almost a year and a half ago and only lasted a couple months. I know that may seem absurd, however, we fell in love in that short time and he seems to have moved on but I am still stuck. After the relationship ended we continued to see each other unofficially and we still keep in contact up to this day. The problem is, it's becoming clear to me that we are never getting back together as he has moved in with his current girlfriend. A part of me wants to move on and another part wants to stay hopeful but I know the best thing is to move on. Please tell me how I can move on because no matter how many guys I date to try and forget about him, it doesn't seem to work.

When there is a break-up in a relationship and one party has not fully accepted the decision there is constant struggle between the heart and the head of that individual wanting to let go and wanting to hold on. The person knows full well that a continuation of the relationship is not in his/her best interest, but at the same time, he/she refuses to walk away.

As the song says, Memories don't leave like people do, they always stay with you. Whether they be good or bad, they are memories that you've had. Could that be the case with you, you are holding on to the memories? Now doubt in the early stages of the relationship everything went well but as the novelty wore off, the relationship deteriorated. Some guys will do and say all the right things until they get what they really want after which they move on to the next unsuspecting victim. Was that the case with you?

A relationship involves a common understanding between the individuals as to role and expectations of each partner. This must be discussed and agreed to. In some cases this serious discussion is not held and both parties just drift along with no clear vision or goal. What happens, too, is that because there is no plan, they both approach the relationship with uncertainty shrouded in assumptions and suppositions.

I take it that your ex-boyfriend is in the same age range as you. If so, young men in their teens and 20s are still in the exploration stage of life and settling in a committed relationship is not on their agenda at this time.

Being on the receiving end of a break-up is quite a devastating experience for some persons as it can have a demoralising effect on one's self esteem. You must, however, try and take control of your emotions as you can't afford for the break-up to make you fall apart.

You have indicated that your ex has moved on with his new girlfriend so it is pointless for you waste your time and effort pursuing him or trying to salvage the relationship. You will only inflict more emotional pain and hurt on yourself.

A failed relationship can be a distressing experience for one or both partners as the individuals go through the five stages of grief — shock, denial, anger, sadness and acceptance.

It is at the third stage that females in particular run into rebound relationships which is what you seem to have done. This, as you realise, did not aid in relieving your hurt.

Allow yourself to go through the grieving process, cry if you must but don't descend into a state of depression. Don't let him feel he has succeeded in destroying you.

As you contemplate the break-up of the relationship, do the following:

1. Give yourself time to reflect on the root cause of the break-up.

2. Do an honest self evaluation. Ask yourself. "Is there something I have done or never did that prompted this action?"

3. Avoid sharing your hurt with someone who may have ulterior motives as he or she may take advantage of your fragile emotional state

4. Surround yourself with genuine supportive friends

5. Use the opportunity to explore new hobbies and creative activities. Occupy yourself fully

Don't be angry, be happy, the break-up may just be a blessing in disguise. Use the opportunity to re-establish the tenets of your next relationship.

Don't sit down and mope, go out with your girlfriends and have some fun. If not, go out alone and enjoy your own company.

At 18 you have much to learn about relationships and it likely that you will have a few more relationships before you settle in a committed one, so learn from this experience and do focus on achieving your educational and career goals.

Wayne Powell is a counsellor. For questions and appointments write to crisscounselloronline@gmail.com.

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