I Compare Everyone to My Ex, But Nobody Gives Me The Same “Feeling.”

Man holing an ace of spades card


Hoping you can give me some advice.  I dated this girl for 2 years and we broke up last year.   We broke up because she realized that she was no longer “in love” with me and that she felt there wasn’t enough of a spark.  Truth be told, there was another guy in the picture who she obviously had a bigger spark with.  This wasn’t my first breakup but it hit me really hard because I was so in love with her.  In my mind she was perfect in every way, (except for the part where she just wasn’t that into me).  I’ve been dating on and off the past year and I have two main problems:

1.  I’ve gone from being a serial monogamist to becoming completely commitment phobic.  The minute a girl starts to get serious with me, I want to run away.  

2.  I compare every girl to her and all I see is flaws in other people.  I keep waiting to have that “feeling” I had with her, because I’m scared that without that feeling, I will not be able to commit.

I’m worried I’m never going to get over this.  Any help is much appreciated.


I would be much more concerned with your second problem than your first.

Your first issue is that you’re commitment phobic. This is a common problem, one that is usually remedied by falling in love with someone. Once you’re crazy about a girl, you won’t have to think twice as to whether you want to be in a relationship with her. Which brings us back to your second problem:

I compare every girl to her and all I see are flaws in other people.  I keep waiting to have that “feeling” I had with her, because I’m scared that without that feeling, I will not be able to commit.

Let’s take these assertions line by line.

I compare every girl to her and all I see are flaws in other people.

Yeah. This isn’t good. Because it’s not real. It’s a rose-colored view of your ex, one that you’re having a hard time letting go of. Do yourself a favor and think of the things that you didn’t like about your ex. Now, I understand that she broke up with you, so you never really developed a chance to hate her. But that doesn’t mean she’s perfect — not by a long shot. Her main flaw, of course, is that she didn’t want to marry you. And any woman who doesn’t want to marry you isn’t really a very good choice for a wife. There are probably many, many more flaws that you glossed over due to your passion for her.

Being “in love” does this to people. In fact, Helen Fisher theorizes in “Why We Love” that being “in love” may be an evolutionary function that causes irrational thinking. In other words, in order to commit to something as irrational as monogamy, we’d sure has hell BETTER be blinded by love. Of course, that blindness wears off, which is why, when you talk to older couples who have been married for 30+ years, they’ll almost always tell you some version of “It’s hard work/We’re really just best friends/We know how to communicate and argue well/We support each other when it’s tough.” Etc, etc….

A favorite cliché says, “It’s not that my partner is perfect, it’s that she’s perfect for me.” We are willing to overlook all sorts of things when we’re in love. This explains a phenomenon like battered wives, who stay because even though their husbands hit them, they always claim to love them as well. Personally, I’ve put up with women who were selfish, delusional, inconsistent, unemployed, mean-spirited, jealous, and bad in bed. Sometimes I did this because I was weak and needy and just wanted someone in my life. Other times I did this because I was so enamored that her bad qualities barely even registered. But the truth only came out after the smoke had long since cleared.

So stop giving your ex a free pass. Apart from dumping you, she undoubtedly had some other character flaws. In a relationship, it’s smart to minimize the focus on your partners’ flaws. But once you’re out, it’s time to realize that she wasn’t as great as she seemed. Holding onto her perfection is unhealthy, since no new dates can possibly live up.

I keep waiting to have that feeling.

That feeling is great, isn’t it? But don’t be fooled. It’s false clarity. You know how I know this?

Because you had that feeling and she dumped you.

And I had that feeling twice and they both dumped me, too.

And, looking back, if those women hadn’t dumped me — if I had GOTTEN these women who made me glow, I would be absolutely MISERABLE right now. Despite their amazing assets, they both lacked some fundamental qualities that my current girlfriend has: Loyalty, compassion, patience, gratitude, big boobs. You know, the important stuff.

Listen, Ken, there are a few people who put it all together. They meet, fall madly in love, and, even when the smoke clears, they’re left standing together as one. My cousin and his wife are college sweethearts who have been together over 25 years. Another cousin met his wife in junior high school. Hey, it happens. And because it happens, because we’ve experienced that intoxicating feeling, we continue to chase it, to our own detriment. In hoping to replicate the simple clarity of puppy love — we usually forget that it doesn’t stick beyond the first year or two.

In hoping to replicate the simple clarity of puppy love- we usually forget that it doesn’t stick beyond the first year or two.

For just about everybody, the rush, the ecstasy, the high…it eventually goes away. And what you’re left with is a friendship that needs to withstand failure and temptation, financial ruin and sickness. And if your amazing ex-girlfriend couldn’t stick with you before any of those awful things challenged you as a couple, why would you ever think that she’d be willing to stick it out afterwards?

I said it in “Why You’re Still Single”, I’ll say it again: you can hit on 20, but you’re most likely gonna bust.

And after a beautiful Christmas with my girlfriend’s family — generations of couples who have stayed together for years – I’m inclined to think that the ultimate reward is far greater than the evanescent feeling you’re chasing, Ken.

The real reward is in building a life.


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  1. 41

    Evan I think you take one thing for granted here. I have a similar situation. I fell in love with my best friend a few years back and he never reciprocated. I am no longer in love with him, but he is still my best friend. And I know that everything I loved in him was completely valid. To this day he still is better to me than anybody else in my life, including my closest girl friends and my parents, have been. His faults lie in very occasional poor comedic timing. When I tell him something is bugging me, he offers to do whatever it takes to fix it because he values our friendship so much. Sometimes you don’t fall in love and become blinded to their faults. Sometimes you fall in love because the person is legitimately the best person you have ever met. What I want to know is how do you go from loving somebody who is still the person you respect most on this earth, and then find somebody you won’t compare to him?

  2. 42

    This is an old post.. so i dont know i anyone will reply, but..

    I am in the same situation. I compare everyone to my fiance – who I was with for 7 years. The differece is I was the one who messed up. Not with a single action, but over a period of 2 years where I concentrated on work, was selfish and neglected her. She didnt cheat, she didnt complain.. she tried to hold us together, but my business wasnt going well and I was in a foul mood a lot of the time.

    She left me when we moved to her home country. And it seems having her family around gave her the strength to finally let go of me. I proposed a few months before this as I had read her diary and new I was loosing her, but although she said yes, It was too late. She said her love had faded and she couldn’t get the feeling back. So we broke of the engagement and I came home.

    Now I am devistated.
    I cant meet anyone else without making a comparison.. and noone comes close.
    Ive given it 6 months but its stil the same. It is really affecting my life.

    I really need to move on, but she was incredibly beautifull, funny, and giving, and she wanted to marry me for years. I feel I have completely messed up.

    I am now 37 and feel this was my last chance at a relationship without baggage.
    she was 28 and I was only her second boyfriend. She had an incredible zest for life and I feel i have now aged and dont have that.

  3. 43

    Steve, in my humble opinion, you will heal in the time frame that was meant to be. We want to give grief a time line or a deadline, like looking at the six-month mark on our calendar, but that’s not how grief works. Given your seven-year relationship, I think six months is too soon.

    Men very often want to move on quickly from a breakup. It’s kind of like jumping from one fire to another without much thought; sometimes a knee jerk reaction. I am not sure why this is.

    I am sorry for your pain.

  4. 44

    This is an extremely old thread but after I few years I happen to stumble back here and wanted to say that this post made a huge difference in my life.   When I originally wrote Evan, I didn’t expect him to actually answer.   The support and thoughts I received were extremely encouraging.   It’s now years later and here’s what I can tell you.
    1. I learned to accept that she wasn’t in love with me and that was something I couldn’t control.
    2.   I learned to appreciate myself for who I was and  stopped  telling myself I wasn’t good enough.
    3.   I spent a 1 year learning to just love myself and love being single and not  needing  a relationship to make me happy.
    4.   I focused on other things in my life.
    5.   I am now in a relationship with someone I love (different feeling but a good one).
    Time does heal wounds but you have to learn to be strong on your own.   Thanks Evan!

  5. 45

    This is an old post, but I seriously hope music jock stayed out of a relationship. It sounds like he hates women and has serious issues with control and intimacy. If you believe all women are gold digging “manipulators” then those are the type of women you will attract. It’s called self-fulfilling prophecy.

  6. 46

    I’m a 27 year old college student who doesn’t entirely know what to think about love. I’m confused yet it seems that whenever my other friends mention how they are planning their marriage with their Fiance it seems to me like I get this same feeling every single time. It’s that feeling that I’m going to marry my Ex-GF. I don’t know why I get this feeling, she was my first Girlfriend, but I still love her. We both have Asperger’s Syndrome” but regardless of that i’ve been single for almost 4 years coming up this September. Not that i’m proud of it, I’m making a point.

    I have met plenty of women at the college I go to but none of them give me the same feeling she does.

  7. 47

    I can’t tell how long it’s been since someone last posted here but I’m gonna give it a go.
    I met a man that was similar to Ken, he was really in love with someone, he invested everything he had in her and in the end she had reservations, cheated on him and it left him devastated.  
    I met him on a site where people talk about their difficulties with relationships (I had just been rejected by someone I met recently online, long story).   Anyhow, things progressed really quickly for us and before I know it, within a week of talking to each other he confessed that I bring out feelings he hasn’t felt in a very long time.
    Of course I had my reservations, I didn’t want to get involved with someone who was basically on the rebound (it’d been two years since he last had contact with the ex). But eventually, the walls that I spent years building were being dismantled one by one. I really care about him and we are going to meet in the near future…here’s my own problem …
    I have low self esteem (which has been building, I’ve been going to the gym and feeling better inside and out) so I’ve always had this fear that he’s still not over her and he somehow compares that ‘feeling’ of being with her to when he’s talking to me.
    Because we met online, I don’t think he was physically attracted to me at the beginning but now he says I’m sexy, pretty…I don’t know how I feel about that…if at the beginning he wasn’t attracted to me but now over time he is.   I guess I miss the “wow” factor when I date a guy at the beginning.
    The same thing can be said about him.   I didn’t find he was attractive at the beginning or at least not my type but over time now I find he’s cute and attractive… I know I am being superficial.
    At the end of the day, I’m really worried and it scares me that maybe like Ken, he is quietly comparing me to his ex.   Or that the feeling he gets with me will never compare to that of ‘an idol’ as he had posted on the blog I had met him…

  8. 48

    I totally disagree.   I am in a very similar situation as this guy, and he is right to compare.   A huge problem in this world is so many people don’t know what they want.   He knows exactly what he wants and won’t settle, just like me.   He is on the right track and you are trying to ruin that by putting him on the road to settling for something lesser or different.   I been comparing for almost 5 yrs now and nobody has measured up, but I am glad because it kept me from wasting time on someone who is not ideal.   I’m sick of everyone saying the type of rhetoric that you have and not trying to understand where people like me and this guy are coming from.   Horrible advice.

    1. 48.1

      But why would you want to compare someone new to your ex? Your ex and you obviously didn’t last, so even if they were an amazing person, you weren’t right for each other. If everything was right, you’d still be together.


      So, what Evan wants is not that you settle on someone who you can’t be enthusiastic about, he simply wants you to start each person on a clean slate and take them as they are. If you keep comparing, you may push someone out of your life who really could measure up if you gave it a chance. They may not compare in all the same ways, but they could have qualities that make the relationship right and it can still feel wonderful.

      You need someone who will make a great partner, not someone who measures up to your ex, only to find out that this person also turns out to be wrong for you, just like your ex.

      Everyone is unique with their own life experiences, abilities, and desires. They don’t need to be compared to someone from your past.

  9. 49

    Ken says that they broke up last year but since we are in January 2016 last year could be a month ago! My point being we don’t know how long ago this relationship actually ended.   Was it a year ago or three months?   I think even if it was a full year Ken it’s too soon to evaluate whether you are having dating and committment issues or if it’s just too soon for you to move on, I’m thinking you are just not ready.    Your ex already had one foot out the door.   You on the other hand appear to have been blindsided and in shock.   You went from 100 to 0 in one day and although you don’t say you were cheated on at minimum your trust was broken and you likely suspect she had something going with the other man while with you.   You with with her for two years that’s nothing to sneeze at and relationships where chemistry and passion and intense tend to be harder to get over.   So do relationships that end on bad terms where trust was betrayed.   That’s hard to swallow.   You were also rejected in favor of another person.   Your reaction or draw to this woman could have nothing to do with her but with your desire to be chosen and win.   Bottom line you are wounded rightfully so.   One thing men do different then women when relationships end is they don’t deal.   They ignore they get right back out there the next week or month and date and act like it’s all okay.   Women they cry wallow talk to their friends many take time off from dating lots of time to heal.   But when they get back out there they are ready and have worked through and past the pain.   Women one year out may not have been on any dates but very healthy.   Men are emotions messes still not over their exes yet having been in a series on unhealthy relationship with the wrong women or the right women and hurting them deeply because they are not ready to date.   I had the same thing happen to me Ken that you did.   I took an entire year off dating and healed.   I was angry I could not stop thinking about my ex.   I tried dating and all I saw was him.   I know what you mean you need time.   Give it to yourself if you are here a year from now reevaluate but now you need time.

  10. 50

    My wife, young son, and I were having dinner one night when she ran into an old ex boyfriend from years before having dinner with his family. He had her at hello. Four years later he left his wife and kids and she left me, completely denying they had an affair, saying she was miserable with me and wanted to be “happy and single” again. It was a lie. She had started her affair with him the morning after they met and instantly had   planned to leave me. She was a stay at home mom. Money was tight but I let her stay with our son because I appreciated her. I never abused her, degraded her, or treated her unkindly. I worked hard but she never appreciated me, always complaining that my getting home at 6:30 or 7:00 was unacceptably late. For five years she took her boyfriend on dates, trips out of town, and probably had sex with him in the nice car I bought her. She sexted him on the cellphone I paid for. She bought sexy little outfits to wear for him on my nickel. God knows how many hotel rooms I unknowingly paid for because he’s broke and in bankruptcy. She’d use her credit card and pay for it out of our account. She slept like a baby every night.

    She hated the creaky old truck I drove to work out of. I wanted her to have the nice car and could only afford one car payment on one income.

    Now she gets all tingly and feels butterflies when she sees HIS creaky old truck go by. They’re engaged now. My son will have a new dad. Gag.

    My life sucks. She was the love of my life- all the stars in the sky to me- and she did this. She did this to me. To me…

    I’m 54 years old. I will never recover from this. No amount of counseling will ever make me capable of love or even sexual intercourse again. I am ruined. I have no love left to give anyone.

  11. 51
    Shaina Freitas

    I just had this happen to me.   I have been friends with this guy for 5 years.   About 2 years ago he broke up with a girl saying they were not a match and he should have ended it sooner and she is not engaged TO HIS BEST FRIEND.   Then he dated a girl who cheated on him.   Several months ago I told him I had developed feelings for him I did not expect, but was scared he was a commitment phobic type of guy.   He began pursuing me with all his might, begging me to trust him and be with him.   We spoke about this FOR MONTHS, what kind of relationship we should have, building trust etc. Then he begin dating and I start recalling falling for him after he’s built my trust up and within weeks he tells me he doesn’t feel that strongly as he thought and he’s still in love with his ex (not sure which one).   Gone.   Now I’ve lots a friend and a love out of no where when we had a perfectly healthy and happy relationship and nothing was wrong other than his hangups.   Just sucks.

  12. 52
    Duke Thompson

    It seems that people here don’t see the possibilityof a guy meeting a woman that loves him unconditional with all his flaws and wants to grow together and be married to that man eventually. They are together for almost six years and they always wanted to send there life together. The man has a substance abuse problem throughout the relationship. That problem does with him the aame thing that most addicts experience progression of the disease. Still , she loves him unconditionally and helps him with full support in and out of detox, rehabs, therapy and intensive out patient programs. When his disease is at its worst he does things that hurt her shy of actually cheating on her. He is not able to meet her needs physically, emotionally, sexually , etc etc… yet still she stays with him. She is a beautiful soul that cares for the one she looks so and the one that loves her despite his issues.   She is beautiful and successful and “large breast” as mentioned. She is everything he can ever imagine he could want in a woman. I forgot ro mentiom she’s not an addict. She is constantly hit on by men and she has any man that crossed her path wanting to court her. Still she believes he is her true love as he thinks of her. I also didn’t mention here has a business and is what one might consider a “functioning addict” in fact most people wouldn’t believe he did the type of drugs he did based on how he looked though he is a run of the mill dope fiend a regular street junkie that wears tie’s and suits. They are together at a relevant age of 27 for almost the six years mentioned and are 3 months apart in age. The man finally makes a serious effort at recovery and gets success. He used since a young age so.easy sort of mind altering substance   and he never really got to experience who he is as a person nor did he learn to love himself. He always escaped and couldn’t properly take care of the woman that gave her all to him. If he could or if he knew what he is learning without her about himself and the opposite sex he would have had a chance. He can’t handle the pressure of her needs not being met and she grows by working onow herself. He stops taken care of himself puts on a little weight and is using again. This has happend so much and his actions caused her so much hurt and pain she would cry herself to sleep and talk to her family explaining how good this man was despite the family’s thoughts towards him. Her good characteristics trumped the couple flaws that would be trivial in comparison. Plus, he and couple therapy could have helped support her to remove those flaws. She finally becomes dead inside and he is no longer there. Even though they still love each other she is not in love with him. She leaves and he now does not understand how he can find someone that could possibly do what she did for him. How can he find someone that would love him through all the hurt the lies and the fear of habitual hardbdrug use? Now in his mod 30’s he learns to love himself and understand the needs of the opposite sex but he doesn’t see how he’ll find what he found in her. How can someone like that be able to find happiness? If it feels like to her and that he could never love someone like that again no matter what. It’s like trying to tell someone that is an absolute devoted    Christian to become a orthodox Jewish it won’t happen because the Brian has created and will hold on to a belief. So maybe in time or possibly that one person may cone but not when he’s in his 4’sand on. He believes what both of there parent had which were and still are monogamous marriages. Had wanted to have a family had a younger age at least by the time they were 30 but is disease would not allow it. yo so went through to abortions with this woman because they were not in their eyes ready to raise a child and it wouldn’t be fair to do so. By the way that last fact have a very traumatic impact the second time as he was actually sober but just put of rehab and wasn’t ready for a child. So with that being said he cannot see how he could have what he has come to believe.

    So I think this is true though there is very few, still some situations like this. Just as those highschool sweethearts that stay together forever. So to say its a false belief might make sense to most of you but it may never make sense to me… Only time and fate will tell. Even though its hard for me to believe, I am NOT a pessimist and I will continue to try to find what I already had and should of be able to have forever if not for my own actions.

  13. 53

    Jan. 14, 2018

    Can relate.   Met my Soulmate 45 years ago.   I also felt that “spark”.   We were together for 15 years before he died. We talked about growing old together.   I truly loved him.   Now 30 years later I still love and miss him so much.   I am doing OK grateful for my life and grown son.   I continue to be approached by “prospects” who say I have a “youthful glow and peacefulness about me” but I am commitment shy even at age 65.

    Brings to mind a quote from the 90 + year old Actress Betty White when asked why she never remarried after her husband Ludden passed over 50 years ago.   To paraphrase she said “When you’ve had the best why settle for the rest?”

    Best to everyone.


  14. 54

    I am presently battling this feeling ..I almost committed suicide in June 2018 because I believed my world has caved in when a woman I have been with since 2014 decided to go to another man. I had built my world around her and it hit me real hard. I had sat down to list all her flaws that I had forgiven and glossed over including 3 infidelities that resulted in 3 abortions but still decided I loved her after all …finally while taken care of her for another abortion I was not responsible for she broke up with me over the phone…….maybe I am just one stupid bloke who overlooked all these and still fell in love with her….

  15. 55

    That’s not true about   feelings. I loved 2 times   in my life   and my romantic feelings   never wore   off. Never.   Both were long term relationship longer than 5 years. My feelings grew   stronger every   year. I think something is wrong with people who can’t save   the passion and excitement..It’s ok..no one is perfect..But for me   it would be painful to live with someone who’s   passion wore off while mine   only become   deeper. But even if the majority   of people have this   flaw,   it does not make it a good thing.

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