Are you struggling to love a man who still loves his ex? If he can't let go of his ex, it can mean a bigger problem than you imagine. Found out why, now:
Many men find it hard to let go of their previous partner, in my experience it's a bigger problem for men than it is for women. If you're reading this post chances are you're here because you're looking for an answer about how to deal with this.
I began reading a new book this weekend, it's called A Stitch in Time (Choc Lit) (Time Traveller Book 1)
It begins with a wife meeting her beautiful friend for coffee and cake, then finding out that her husband (who has been telling her for years that he doesn't want a baby) has had a fling with said friend who is now pregnant (both husband and BFF decide to play happy families and make a go of it). Why am I telling you this? Well, because even though this is a story from a book of fiction it's unfortunately a story that I hear from a lot of women in real life. Women who are with long term partners who repeatedly say “I don't want children” or “I don't believe in marriage” but then in the blink of an eye they either get someone else pregnant and leave her for the other woman or they leave her for someone they fall in love with and can't wait to marry.
Thus, this story is relevant to this blog post in so far as:
Does that sound harsh? Possibly. But if you've been on the receiving end of a sudden change of life plan you'll know that it's something you wish you'd seen coming so that you could've spent your time & energy elsewhere.
Why do some men find it so hard to let go of their ex?
It's something that goes against what we imagine about men; we think they're hard, in control, not very emotional, and that they can ‘take it or leave it'. In reality it's not true; men are as emotional as women and they find it just as hard when the person they love ups and leaves. What I've noticed after talking to many men about their relationships is that men are struggling for longer with letting go of their ex. When a woman decides that a relationship is over, she's usually already been distancing herself from it, and the man, for a period time. Women gradually fall out of love, and then announce that they ‘don't love you anymore' and that the relationship is over. Men find this hard to come to terms with because they likely weren't even aware that there was a problem prior to the ‘Dear John' moment. For those men, the grieving phase is only just beginning and it can take a long time to process.
If a man wasn't expecting a relationship to end he can struggle to come to terms with it's sudden demise. Even worse if the woman is already involved with someone new. Being jilted by the person we love is hard no matter what, but many men seem to find it hard to move on afterwards purely because they never saw it coming.
So what if he can't let go of his ex? How can loving an unavailable man be a problem?
If you're in love with an unavailable man then you have a problem. He may not realise he's unavailable, but you will have spotted the signs; for example he still talks about his ex (a lot) or he gets annoyed when he hears about her (especially if she's doing well or dating). Perhaps he disappears for days on end (if you aren't already living together), or maybe he tells you he doesn't believe in marriage or commitment but that he loves you. You may be a woman who finds herself always being attracted to unavailable men. You might believe that it's only a matter of time before they realise how much they love you and stop obsessing about their ex. The truth is, this is unlikely to ever happen. If he hasn't gotten over his ex by the time he's dating you then chances are you aren't going to make a bit of difference. You'll therefore find yourself making allowances and excuses for him. You'll settle for being treated poorly because you'll believe that you can change him and that you can help him. You might begin to blame yourself, your self-esteem will suffer, you'll wonder why you can't make him love you and the spiral will begin; you'll start needing him to need you.
What should you do if you're in love with a man who can't let go of his ex?
You have to have an honest talk with him. Not an easy task because men generally aren't interested in, or good at, talking about their feelings. Begin by letting him know how you feel about the way he behaves and why it hurts you. Be prepared for him to walk away, but also be prepared to walk away yourself. A good way to have this kind of chat with a guy is to do it while you're out for a walk, they'll appreciate the distance and the fact you aren't sat facing them like a teacher telling them off. Give him an opportunity to see how he is hurting you. Give him an opportunity to think about what it is that he really wants, even if that means its not you.
This post is an attempt to tackle a complex and sensitive issue, it can only scratch the surface but hopefully it gives you some comfort if you're in the middle of this experience right now. Know that you aren't alone, there are many couples going through this very thing right now. I want the post to help you to be honest with yourself and to ask yourself if this is the kind of relationship that you really want. Don't think about the man when you ask yourself this question, just take an impersonal look at how the relationship makes you feel, how it functions, and be honest about whether or not it's what you really want. Is it how you imagine a great relationship to be? If not, then in truth, is it worth holding on to?
There isn't only one man on the planet meant for you, so if your current relationship doesn't work out, rest assured there's someone else out there for you. You don't need to stay with someone just because you're afraid to be alone.
As always, I'd love to hear from you. Have you been in this kind of relationship or do you know someone who has? How did it work out?