How You Can Stop Beating Yourself Up About Your Ex


After a breakup, it’s normal to ruminate on what went wrong. But from what I see from my Love U clients, you’re probably focused on what YOU did rather than what HE did. In this Love U Podcast, let’s reframe your breakup and get really clear on why your relationship ended – he wasn’t a very good boyfriend at all.

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Hey, I’m Evan Marc Katz, dating coach for smart, strong, successful women, your personal trainer for love. Welcome to the Love U Podcast. Stick around until the end to discover how to stop beating yourself up when your relationship goes wrong. When we’re done, I’ll let you know how you could apply to Love U to create a passionate relationship that makes you feel safe, heard, and understood. 

So today, we’re going to talk about my client, Carmen. Carmen is a smart, strong, successful woman. She’s in her late 30s. She lives in Singapore and she has been beating herself up over a loss of Mr. Big Type Guy. Maybe it’s a dated reference, but I think it still holds up. He is an entrepreneur and tech startup guy. And they were dating for six months. I’m going to try to put it put a timeframe on that. Maybe six months. And he’s a guy who because he’s in the startup world, work comes first. There’s no judgment about anybody who puts work first. Just recognize that there’s always a cost to anything that’s great. And you end up with the person who is the self-made millionaire. The cost is he’s probably working a lot. 

So they work in the same field. He’s her boyfriend, but she feels like an afterthought in the relationship. And the problem is, when you feel like an afterthought in your relationship, there’s an underlying issue that your relationship isn’t as strong. You might have a relationship on paper. I mean, technically, you could say I have a boyfriend, but if your boyfriend doesn’t check in with you every day and you don’t get to see him every week because he’s so tied up at work or he’s traveling and he doesn’t really talk about where your future is headed and he doesn’t have that much time to take a vacation or even leave a weekend open for you, you just have a boyfriend in the name. But he gets the benefits of having a girlfriend, but you don’t really get the benefits of having a boyfriend. 

So this brings up a principle that I learned in five love languages, maybe. I think this was it. You’re only as needy as your unmet needs. I mentioned that was the title of the second episode of the Love U Podcast. You’re only as needy as your unmet needs. You can say, well, you know, your boyfriend can say, “you seem really needy.” Well, why am I needy? I have needs that are unmet. So my client, Carmen, is feeling neglected. And when she gets neglected or when any of us get neglected, how do we feel? We’re going to feel a little anxious. We feel a little anxious and unsafe in the relationship because it’s not being taken care of. We may engage in what is known as protest behavior, which is to lash out at the fact that you’re being ignored or neglected. So after months of his neglect and her lashing out that she didn’t feel safe, heard, and understood, he ended up breaking up with her. And so what has she done since then? She’s been beating herself up. Maybe she could have expressed herself better. Maybe she could have been nicer, or maybe she could have been more patient. And what is she doing? She’s taking all of the blame even though she didn’t do anything wrong. 

Like, I’m as secure as they come. You put me in a relationship with someone who doesn’t call me back. I’d feel anxious. I’d be upset. I get upset when contractors don’t call me back. I get upset when people on my Web team don’t respond to my emails or texts. I get upset when college friends don’t return my calls. It’s normal to say, “Hey, what’s going on?” I thought, we have something here. 

…he’s not a great husband candidate…

So my client, Carmen, has a normal reaction to a situation where she’s being neglected and all she can do is focus on what she may have done wrong. What she doesn’t recognize is that she had a great guy on paper, but he’s not a great husband candidate, regardless of how much she likes him, how much she loves him, how great they are together, how much chemistry they have because they’re rarely together. And her only crime was what? Speaking up for herself, speaking her mind. Very reasonable mind. Could she potentially be more artful about it? Sure. That’s not the real problem here. The real problem is when I’m coaching her, I can’t make any progress because all she’s trying to do is figure out how to get her guy back. She’s ruminating on what she did wrong to make him go away. And what could she do to reverse that, to get him back? The thought being, that if you just tried harder, that if you just ironed out your flaws and acted perfect, that man who is so distant, so non-communicative, so insensitive, would suddenly just come to his senses and come back. 

And that ignores the deeper truth. The deeper truth is that you can’t do the wrong thing with the right guy. 

Love is about recognizing each others’ flaws and willfully overlooking them for the good of the relationship. And that works to a point. 

The problem is that all Carmen is focused on is her own flaws, that she’s anxious and fearful. And she is. But she doesn’t seem to recognize that with a better man who is a better fit and a better boyfriend. All those fears go away because she’s now getting her needs met. The fact that he’s failing to be a good boyfriend is the real problem. It’s not her reaction to his failures. It’s his refusal to spend more time, to prioritize her more. To listen to her more and to talk about a path to marriage. 

So when you with the list, find your dating a guy like that, the answer is not to make him love you. It’s to break up with him. You can’t spend years trying to make a guy love you as if it’s your failing because he sucks at being a boyfriend. The only thing to do when you’re beating yourself up is to cut the guy loose forever and focus on the ways that he failed you. Not on the ways that you failed him. Got it? 

My name is Evan Marc Katz. Thank you for turning into the Love U Podcast. For more episodes like this click on the subscribe button, ring the bell to ensure that you get notified whenever there’s new content. And please share an honest review on Apple. 

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Join our conversation (6 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Hello Evan,

    I agree that people shouldn’t beat themselves up over a former relationship when they did nothing wrong, but unfortunately my case is quite different.

    In my past relationship, the roles were reversed. My ex boyfriend was the one who constantly felt ignored and neglected, and there were plenty of fights because of this. I tried to provide the time and attention he wanted, but I often felt like it was too much for me and I was forcing myself to give something that went beyond what I was comfortable giving.

    I also ended up having an emotional affair. I cut the affair partner off and then confessed to my now ex boyfriend. I didn’t know whether I wanted to stay in the relationship or leave to be single again, so I spent a couple months trying to make up my mind, but he got tired of waiting and left. The breakup was awful.

    There’s a lot more to the story, but my point is that sometimes we really do f**k things up, and in my case I don’t think it’s fair to shift the blame because it is painfully obvious that I was a terrible girlfriend, regardless of what he did. Beating myself up seems like the only appropriate thing to do.

    Anyway, thank you for the work you do.

    1. 1.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Thanks for taking responsibility. It’s a rare thing, indeed, to look in the mirror when it’s easier to point fingers.

  2. 2

    Evan, this podcast was very helpful. I thought I had had the ideal boyfriend but no, he didn’t meet my needs and did not understand why I kept “complaining” about it.

    Had I heard this podcast at the time, I would have just left so that the right person could come into my life.

    The good side about bad relationships is that……you’re more attentive the next time to what YOU want and if he cannot meet those needs, goodbye.

  3. 3

    Thank you Evan. I’ve just broken up with my ex boyfriend after 8 months. It is very painful to me as he was the first man that made me feel safe. He asked me to give him all of myself, and because I follow your advice, I trusted him and I did (like nobody had ever hurt me before). I followed the Pat Allen principles, establish exclusivity, continuity, long term outlook before intimacy. I was the PERFECT girlfriend. I was passive, patient and vulnerable. He always has a cheerful happy voice every time he called, he had warm embrace every time we saw each other, he had a drink with fresh raspberries waiting on his arrival every time he visited my sparkling clean home. I prepared delicious food and had all his favourite snacks, he ruled the remote, had keys to my home, and a drawer for his belongings. I didn’t just open my home to him, I opened up my whole life and my heart, at his request. My ex boyfriend was badly damaged when I met him, but I was unaware of this. He told me his divorce was a “done deal” on our first date, and he was a single parent to 2 of his 3 children for 2 years. On this, I took him at his word. We spent beautiful family time together and the kids embraced me, and we all got along perfectly. He would often tell me I am one of the family, I’m not going anywhere, I am precious and we would be married in the next year and have a child of our own. Given that I have not experienced a love like this, where I surrendered everything of myself to be trusting, faithful, thoughtful, kind, generous emotionally, financially, affectionately and physically, he still disappeared. I never asked for a thing, I never chased anything up, I didn’t ask probing questions, request material things or make demands on how we spend our time. At 6 months he revealed his divorce was not finalised, and he was only single a few months before meeting me. That was a blow, and I was disappointed. I stated I was disappointed, and asked how we could progress this together to get this resolved? I forgave him for that. After confessing, he felt more comfortable….. and revealing, and more fixated and vocal about his hatred for his ex wife (referring to her as Satan or it, never speaking her name) who left him after an affair. His 2 full time children moved in with their mother without explanation. He began a constant state of withdrawals, did not meet my needs in any department and I continued to be supportive, listening, not judging, giving mulligans, being thoughtful and reassuring whilst he had pitty parties crying on my couch for hours at a time. This was during the period where we were supposed to be planning merging our lives and moving in together, and at every stage, I always offered my help and support as to me, leaving was never an option. I feel that he used all of his un-dealt with baggage, at the time he was supposed to be moving on with me, as an excuse and reasons to claim I am too good for him and to break up so he can work on himself (without going to therapy which I suggested might help!). He told me he can’t do anything, things are not going to work out well for me, he feels like a burden, he’s not good enough and I’m too perfect, too kind, too loving. He didn’t expect me to, but I didn’t challenge him on braking up, I simply said, that hurts me greatly, but I have to accept and respect your decision. This is a man who set the long term plan for us, always at his initiation, and a man I trusted with my future. What does this have to do with your podcast? Well, I’ve spent so much time and so many tears wondering what I did wrong? When it is he that is emotionally unstable. But why? Is it because his lies caught up to him, and he couldn’t get out of his own mess, and risk dragging me into it? or did I not call him out on not meeting my needs? I think the biggest issue for me is the worthlessness I feel. After making a huge investment in my ex boyfriend and his family relationships, it counts for nothing, and I am left on my own. How can we feel worthy, when a man we love stops investing? For instance, if people are only willing to pay for what they think it is worth, what makes this type of man devalue and stop investing in the “perfect” girlfriend, and not want to make them a part of their life anymore?

    1. 3.1

      It doesn’t matter why he is emotionally unstable; what is important is that he is and thus not right for anyone until he wishes to change and does the hard work of change.

  4. 4

    Judy, He is a Narcissist and he Love Bombed, Future Faked, and out and out lied to you. I wasted 5 years with the “perfect” guy. Never argued, never disagreed. Until he sent me on a spa vacation. When I got home, he had moved out. He left a 12 page note. I threw it out. This is almost exactly one year ago. I had a nervous breakdown and moved back in with my Mom. Im almost 60.

    Bottom line, Evan is RIGHT. HE was wrong for ME. I deserve BETTER. Thank you Evan, your timing was perfect. I cried all day.”What did I do wrong?” NOTHING. I treated him like a King. He treated me like a doormat in the end The Devalue Stage. He is the one with the problem.
    Thank you Evan. I really needed to hear you today. Bless you!

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