How Do I Finally Let Go Of My Ex For Good?

How Do I Finally Let Go Of My Ex For Good?
Evan, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years and I’m a big fan. Your advice has helped me make a lot of changes about how I view things. But I’m stuck. I hope you can help.

I have a great boyfriend who does all the important things right. He’s funny, smart, kind, dependable, loyal, trustworthy, crazy about me, and fun to be with. He’s a good person. I love him. I’ve been dating him for four years but I’m still mentally and emotionally stuck on my ex way more than I should be, since we broke up more than 5 years ago. The ex was the classic charismatic, unavailable alpha male now but there was a time when we had a real relationship. Every time we tried to get back together after the breakup, he disappeared and hurt me, but I am still stuck on him. The euphoria I experienced with him has never been present with my current boyfriend.

I have tried therapy and self-help books and blocking his phone number. I know love is a choice. But do you have any tips on how I can make real progress towards letting go, once and for all? Any practical advice for me? I think I’m doing everything I can but maybe I’m missing something. From time to time, memories of the ex flood over me and it makes it hard to give my boyfriend the love he deserves. Is that normal? What should I do?



Do I have any tips on how to make real progress towards letting go?

Hmmm. Let me think about that one out loud for a second…

You’re dabbling in some revisionist history, thinking that somehow, magically, you’re going to get all the good stuff from your ex, without any of the bad stuff.

Do I have any tips that would prevent you from holding your hand on a hot stove?

Do I have any tips that would prevent you from taking up heroin?

Do I have any tips that would prevent you from jumping out of a plane without a parachute?

Sorry, but, to me, that’s what your question sounds like.

The fact that you’re even considering trading the “funny, smart, kind, dependable, loyal, trustworthy, fun, crazy-about-you” guy for the “charismatic, unavailable alpha male” who broke up with you multiple times is the kind of thing that makes me want to punch a hole in my wall.

You know it. I know it. And yet you still feel what you feel.

You want another hit of the heroin, because you never felt so high in your life. How can you get that feeling without the downside?

You can’t.

And if you want to really kick this ex to the curb like a bad habit, instead of thinking of how great you felt when things were good, how about you focus how bad you felt when things were bad.

The times he lied to you.
The times he insulted you.
The times he cheated on you.
The times he didn’t want to listen to you.
The times he broke up with you.
The times he hurt you.

Because right now, you’re dabbling in some revisionist history, thinking that somehow, magically, you’re going to get all the good stuff from your ex, without any of the bad stuff.

Uh uh.

No matter what woman that guy meets, he’s going to cause a wide swath of destruction like Sherman did in the South.

The reason to not touch the hot stove is because you’ll get burned.

The reason to not try heroin is because you’ll get hooked.

The reason to not jump from a plane without a chute is because you’ll die.

Nothing good comes out of the thrill. It’s all downside.

Your ex-boyfriend is all downside, Jennifer.

And your current boyfriend deserves someone who appreciates how great he is, not someone who pines for a man who treats her worse.

Get your shit together or let your boyfriend go.

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  1. 21

    Lorna:  I’ll save his name as “I Stood You Up On Christmas,”   “I Lied & Said I Wasn’t Married,” “I Didn’t Call You When You Lost Your Job”

    LMAO! I used to save guys that I’d blown off as “Do Not Answer” so I would know not to answer the phone when they called again. But this is hilarious!  

  2. 22

    After reading some of the other posts here.. I often wonder how my parents made it all these years.
    Sure, they were very attracted to each other, but that stuff dies very quickly if there is no trust or respect.
    CHARACTER FIRST people… is all I can say.   When I used to do online dating, I’d read profiles adnauseum talking about so-called ‘chemistry’.
    Dating and relationships seem like a ‘hobby’ for some people.   In the meantime, there is a whole world filled with people who have someone in their lives they can rely on most of the time… and maybe they aren’t living a romance-novel… but at the end of the day… they have the comfort of knowing that person is there for them.
    I’ll take that over *&^% ‘chemistry’ any day.

    1. 22.1

      Exactly, what I keep telling people @Ray. And nobody listens to me, granted I am hardly an expert at 23 but still. With all the rom-coms bullshit, I hear things like “if there is no struggle, it’s not a love story.” I guess some people want to have to prove their love to an asshole every day. Definitely goes back to childhood wounds. I’d take a nice, reliable guy any day over fake fireworks. What kind of fireworks is it if it makes you feel so bad afterwards?

  3. 23

    I’m pretty proud of my Mom on this one. Before I was born, when dinosaurs roamed the earth (lol), she turned down a hot, popular, charismatic, alpha male and went on to marry my nerdy dad. When she met the alpha guy, she was 25. He was 18. They were together for two years. He wanted to marry her, to the point where his mother came to talk to my mom once, to try and convince her to marry her son. The reason my mom gave me for not having wanted to marry her alpha was “He was the kind of guy that would cheat on his wife”. Soon after they broke up, he married one of the girls that had a crush on him (he had plenty to choose from). I went to daycare with their daughter. Guess what… he did cheat on his wife. (It’s a small town. News traveled fast.)
    I wish I could say I’m as good as my mom at choosing the right men, but no. I am the kind of person that learns from her own mistakes.

  4. 24


    I too had the charismatic, unique, guy with the mind-blowing sex, who, when I was with him, the world stopped and we were one.   But when we were apart, not so much.    I thank God repeatedly that he kicked me to the curb!  Apparently, he lied to me, cheated on me and really was never as invested as I was although it took me six months to start to rap my head and heart  around this.   Apparently, I was in a 1.5 year relationship with myself, with the potential of the man,  and not the real man.   Lessoned learned.   With the help of Evan and others I finally woke up to the reality of the situation–you apparently have not.  Like Nathan stated above, you can experience what  the realtionship  was, for what it was, without letting it take hold of you.   Understand you have to let go of your fantasy and move on.

    Why are you pining over a man  who doesn’t love you?   If he did love you you’d  be with him, plain and simple.   If it’s been over 5 years and  you’re with someone who does love you and you STILL have feelings for your “ex” then you need to seek professional therapy and let your current boyfriend go.    Stop playing your “ex” to your current boyfriend.   STOP IT.   What you’re doing to your current boyfriend is inexcusable.    

    I couldn’t agree with Evan more.  Get your mind right, get some self esteem and learn to love yourself first.            

  5. 25

    @Ray.   There is something wrong here.   I agree with you.

  6. 26

    @Ray.   I agree that long term stability does not come from feeling “in love” at first sight.   First get the basics right.   My basics – attitudes to trust, level of delivery of detail in promises and daily life = commitment, similar spending priorities, compatible sharing of domestic tasks (hard to tell without living together of course) etc..”In love” will follow once you’ve made the commitment and it will last longer than waiting for two years of chemistry with Mr./Ms. Desirable (who is also Mr./Ms. Desirable to everyone else).   Mr./Ms. Desirable is probably hooked on endorphins themselves.

  7. 27

    Lorna @16, TOO funny and absolutely brilliant!

    Leeza, you may think your time is running out at 40 but trust me…if you are dating at 50 something you will have a whole new view of how young 40 really is and how many opportunities there still are!!


  8. 28

    ” I wish I could say I’m as good as my mom at choosing the right men, but no. I am the kind of person that learns from her own mistakes.  ”

    @ Goldie 23 – LOL.

    Is your mom giving man-picking lessons?   Because I would sign up to hear whatever she has to tell me. 🙂

    (A holiday hint to   any ladies who would like it — just because you learn from the gurus who scream “Be More Approachable!”, and more men, and more, and numerous more during the holidays, come up and approach — do know that all that means is that the time you spend on Weed-Out Duty is going to increase exponentially.   So do prepare for that.   Perhaps more gym time and vitamins.   Le sigh.)  

  9. 29

    I also think Lorna and lawyerette have the right idea. 🙂

  10. 30

    (not the letter writer)
    Nathan, I think your advice was extremely helpful.

  11. 31

    It helps to have an ability to detach.   Of course that is a double-edge sword because it makes it difficult for me to be fully present and engaged with someone.   But I can shut down an attraction or “feelings” for someone in a hot minute if I need to.  

  12. 32

    Shite, yeah!   You are *on fire* with this one, Katz.     

    Jennifer,   I’ve been there, girlfriend.   If you are still struggling with this, I highly recommend a 12-step group such as sex and love anonymous.   Please don’t take it as an insult…. it can help us detach from those “highs” we find in unhealthy love that give us more dopamine rushes than heroine, but cost us dearly in our personal lives.   I’ve been there and I can tell you that it is possible to break free.   Good luck to you and keep on reading EMK!


  13. 33

    Ellen (20):  i guess i meant my time is running out because i’m 40 and would like to have children. i haven’t had children yet.   that’s all.  
    but i would like to ask evan or another reader of this article their opinion about a guy like the  ex jennifer still pines over.   you know how evan said “no matter who  that guy meets, he’s going to cause a wide swath of destruction”. well, what if that guy meets some wonderful women like evan’s wife?   would he still behave like a yobbo or would he settle down and become honest and faithful because of the love of a good women?  

  14. 34


    To answer your question he will still be an idiot.   Men who are  train wrecks  and can’t  commit  do not change just because they meet a good woman.   Men like the ex that Jennifer pines over are usually disasters in all aspects of their lives. Narcissist’s don’t magically change in my experience.   Some act like adolescents and demand instant gratification at all times.   I’ve had female friends who married these knuckleheads, including some who were former cheaters.   My female friends  are good  women, but naive and ignored the warnings.   Of course they are all without exception divorced now.   The men cheated or got bored and wanted a new challenge.

    A smart woman like Evan’s wife doesn’t even waste time with such morons.   You shouldn’t either.   And please stop hoping that you can change them.   You can’t.   Also there’s no need to make excuses for them.   I’ve broken up with women before.   But I didn’t cheat, use them for sex or lie to them.   Once things weren’t going to work I stopped wasting their time and moved on because I cared about them.   Narcissist’s only care about themselves.   Yet some women find such narcissistic behavior to be sexy and powerful.   The conflicted relationship with such jerks creates a strong emotional response that some women have trouble moving past.   

  15. 35

    hi greg, thank you for your detailed reply.   i really appreciate it. i guess the problem is that in my case, and probably in jennifer’s, i didn’t know he was lying, cheating and using me for sex. i just trusted everything he said to me, until things really started to get fishy and i checked his story  (and i thought i was lovable).  i’m wondering if other women like me feel sorry for these  guys (the guy i pine over made out he was a hard done by hero).   i wonder if other women (including jennifer) can relate to the fact that they  tell us about  their  disturbed childhood but  how they’ve made good of themselves. but in actual fact, the thing it would seem that they’ve learnt from their disturbed childhoods is how to lye, manipulate and use women ruthlessly.   the reason i mention this is because i  met another women whom had been cheated on and  that  guy  had also told her he’d had a crap childhood but had made  good of himself.    it is true greg, that because of the crap that  the last guy put me through, i feel  like i’m now very soul sick and it’s been  very  hard to get over (i’m still crying almost every day after 8 months).  but evan’s website has helped me understand all of the behaviour i saw in him and slowly it’s helped me to come to accept the type of person he  really was. i’m surprised  it hasn’t helped jennifer in  the same way – i.e. to help her thank god every day that that yobbo is gone and she’s lucky enough to have  found somebody who can show real love to her.   god know’s it’s hard to meet a guy who really wants to love a women without just wanting to use her.

  16. 36

    Jennifer, you are an adrenaline junkie. You get off on the “highs” of stress and why not ? we humans have been engineered to thrive off stress, to perform better under stress and to get a high off stress as a result of living in a highly stressful environment for thousands of years – starvation or sabre tooth tigers anyone ? Stress makes our senses more acute, sex more satisfying, our bodies more responsive etc etc etc. If we lived in a happy stress free world, people like you would have to create the dramas and stress that your bodies need to feed off. You thrive on the stress your ex boyfriend gave you. My advice ? go sky diving, go cage diving with sharks or maybe even join the military or police force where you have to shoot at bad guys instead of having to live with one. If you like your bad guys, get into gunfights with them, go hand to hand combat with them, lock them up but please don’t end up in a domestic situation with them. After you have done all these exciting things, come back home to your good loving stress free boyfriend and enjoy his back rub and foot massage.

    1. 36.1

      Hahahaha!!! Hilarious! Got me laughing out loud, great advice hahaha! Go shoot bad guys instead hahahaha!! I can actually mentally see it in my head, point blank right on his buttocks or better the other side lol!

  17. 37
    Saint Stephen

    Hey Androgynous!
    What sort of advice is that?   

  18. 38

    I completely sympathize with Jennifer who can’t get over her ex. I was with a man for 8 years. I thought we were fabulous together. Then he abruptly broke up with me one night after I had fixed us dinner. He said “From here on in, let’s just be friends.” That is all the information he gave me. It has been 1 1/2 years and I still miss him and, probably, the fantasy of what I thought we had. IF it was so great, why would he leave? As Evan says, the dissappearing guy sucks. Simple. But it does take AWARENESS of what the relationship REALLY was like and not just your fantasy of what you THOUGHT it was. Communication is key. Any man who blind sides a woman with a sudden breakup is completely unable to communicate and for this reason alone, you should consider yourself lucky that you dodged a bullet. A man who cannot communicate OR commit is a man who should be left. It has taken me this long to realize he did me a favor.

  19. 39

    @Lily, i’m sorry to hear that you wasted 8 years with a guy. i would have thought that wasting 8 years of your life with him  means that  you actually  copped the bullet squarely between the eyes. but then, at least you didn’t waste 20 years.   but i wanted to ask somebody a question, based upon what greg replied to me and based upon what i’ve asked my neighbours etc.   so, greg and evan said that  guys like jennifer’s ex  will always cause problems to women. (i’m not criticising evan, i’m just trying to get my question accross with what i write next) but evan has said before in other blogs that he had an “out of town girl” where they were hot and steamy while she was in town and then he didn’t care about her when she left. and then in another blog he said how he used to keep a women whom he wasn’t that into on the hook until something better came along.   he says he’s a relationship orientated guy (a good catch)  but in those blogs he’s what amounts to leading on those women and  using them  for sex (while they thought he really liked them).  so how is the guy that jennifer’s pining over different from this?    the guy i pine over  was married for 15 years and stayed with  his wife  because of the 3 kids they had together. somebody told me that sometimes when guys get hooked up young (he was 20 when they hooked up)  and they stay for the kids, they cheat (like i found out he did on his wife  (but he told me he didn’t)).   could it be that jennifer’s and my previous alpha male thought they were into us but  were never  “comfortable” with us. so because we did things that made them feel bad, they  would dump us and then feel remorse so try to get us back.  but then when some women  better came along, they realised that it was just the way we were that was making them feel so uncomfortable (like evan said, he disappeared because women didn’t make him feel good) and with  the new  women they’ve found, they feel really good with her because she’s better than we were to him so he realised he was settling with us and with the new women, he realises how good it could be.   so in my case he was unstable with  me but  could he  be stable with the new/better women, that in my case, he left me for?    even evan, who is a relationship orientated guy admits to “trading up” when something better came along.  so what makes jennifer’s ex a potential tool to every women he meets?  is it that he was breaking up and then coming back to her? since even relationship orientated guys can lie and use women for sex. thanks for the comments in advance.

  20. 40

    hi, sorry i just wanted to clarify what evan said in his other blogs exactly .. since the way i said it isn’t exactly correct. in september 2007 … in one of his blogs, he said:   i’ve dated people who i liked but didn’t want to lose, but went out to parties, seeing if i could trade up. and the other comment i made about having a hot weekend but not being keen to persue it as she wanted to was in the blog article entitled:  “why wouldn’t a man call me if we had a great weekend together”.    

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