Q: My ex and I recently broke up after four years because we want different things: He wants to pursue his career and I want a family. Even though I was the one to initiate the breakup, he seems to be getting over it more easily than I am. He told me this week that he still loves me and he calls and texts me weekly, even though he has started dating someone new. Why is he still contacting me when he has someone else? Is he using me to get through the breakup, or does he just want to be “friends”? Do guys get over a breakup easier by getting into another relationship right away? What is the likelihood of that relationship lasting? I'm having a hard time figuring this out and moving on. —Still Crushed
Dear Still Crushed,
Life dents us — and we change. Women usually invest more time than men in analyzing the dents and changes. But neither gender gets a free pass when it comes to heartbreak. Girl, you’re not the relationship police! Forget about whether your ex’s new romance will last. Forget about how he’s licking his wounds. And forget about trying to be friends with him at this early stage.
Responding to his calls and texts is prolonging your pain. Unless you’re trying to rope him back in (are you?), totally cut communication! Make a list of what you learned during those four years, and take the needed time to grieve. Only when you’re emotionally available will you be able to give to someone new. At least now you know that exchanging future aspirations is an important discussion for you on dates!
Q: My boyfriend and I have been together for 10 months. I just found out he had been seeing another girl. I forgave him, and we are trying to go back to where we were before he cheated. He seems fine with moving forward, but some days the memories upset me, and I bring it all up again. How can I put this in our past and forget it? We each want each other in our lives. It seems simple for him to think he won’t cheat again, but it’s not easy for me to believe him. Please help! —Trying to Forget
Dear Trying to Forget,
Being cheated on can unnerve even the most secure partner. But you have a choice either to grow from this or keep suffering. As painful as it is, probe these questions: Did the relationship become dull? Did your boyfriend think he was missing something outside? Were you arguing? Get back on track by sharing what you both have learned from this experience.
Ongoing anger will infect your health and your romance. On the other hand, forgiveness will unburden you. Instead of “trying to forget,” forgive and remember to reveal honest upsets when they arise. Although I hardly recommend it as therapy, your boyfriend’s cheating got you both to take stock. If you really want to stay together, stop replaying the infidelity scenario, and build on the positives you enjoy. Your relationship can actually become stronger as a result!
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Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor at New York’s Mercy College and has written 15 books; her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”