[Two Pronged] Moving On
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer:
I would like to seek advice regarding my gloomy heartbreak. I dated a foreigner for nearly two years until I called it quits last month. During the first year of our long-distance relationship, we were okay and we talked frequently. But since he got a new job earlier this year, our romance faded and he barely replied to my messages. He said that he was busy and he had no time to chat with me yet he’s online every day and spends his weekends with friends.
Despite not talking to him anymore, I still have feelings for him and I can’t stop thinking about him. I’ve been pondering on blocking him on social media to swiftly ‘move on’, but do you think this is the best way to fully forget him offline and online? One of my fears is that one day, I would scroll down on my newsfeed glancing at a photo of him with a prettier and more successful girl. How can I get to my senses and completely forget him?
Thank you for your email.
Marriage has evolved from being primarily an economic arrangement to being a romantic arrangement and relationships have naturally followed the same path. Nowadays a person expects their partner to fill a whole host of needs: lover, best friend, potential best parent, confidant, emotional companion and intellectual equal, according to Belgian psychotherapist Ester Perel who specializes in relationships and sexuality. Her Ted2015 talk is particularly stimulating, even if it is primarily about infidelity.
One result of this is that when marriages or relationships end, one or both parties may feel the loss of this lover/friend/confidant/companion very intensely since so much is invested, either potentially or in reality.
The internet is full of ‘sage’ advice on how to recover from a breakup – 13 steps, 8 ways, 5 tips, how to be strong, 16 empowering quotes etc. since each of us is unique, what works for one is not necessarily what works for another. This article is a good example.
One major factor to take into account however is the fantasy which we have created around the lost partner and the doomed relationship. When all was going well, or at least we were trying to ignore/mend the bits that were going wrong, we naturally imagine a future when our dreams play out with our chosen one. Whether these fantasies consist of scuba diving in the Maldives or window shopping in the mall with spouse and three children doesn’t matter; what counts is that they are anchored to the notion that the relationship is still alive.
What counts after the breakup is coming to terms with the death of the fantasy and replacing it with another vision of the future. The more we harp on the past and continue to play out those fantasies of a (now unachievable) future, the longer we will take to accept the reality that our former partner no longer has a role in either the present and the future.
You are considering the merits of blocking your ex on social media. Some might think that such a move could actually hinder your efforts to move on as seeing photographs of him with a new partner will instead help you to accept the new reality, file away the old memories, discard the fantasies and live in the present.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. You ask (1) how you can get to your senses; and (2) how you can forget him.
It seems to me that you have achieved the first goal and frankly, I don’t know if your achieving the second is a good idea.
You ended things because you no longer had the same relationship with your boyfriend (let’s call him Michael) that you used to have. Before, you were each other’s priority. But his priorities changed: he barely replied to your messages and had no time for you but did for his friends and for chatting online. Good for you, when you ended things.
Others might have tried to make their partners feel guilty, delude themselves into thinking “There’s nothing wrong with us, he’s just adjusting to his new job,” ignore what was staring them in the face, etc etc.
You did none of the above. Instead of complaining, whining or denying reality, you simply decided: I am not having any of this and left.
As for your second goal, unless you have dementia, it is extremely difficult – if not impossible – to forget, especially if it is someone with whom you had a meaningful relationship, whether it be good or bad.
I can only imagine how painful it must be to remember all your good times especially if, in the future, you realize he is with someone else. I doubt there is anything useful I can suggest to ease the pain. Many times, the only cure is time…unless of course, you are lucky enough to find a new love soon, hopefully a love that is not on the rebound.
In truth, your real luck is him – and you, for choosing him. This guy is not a loser and not a cheater. Indeed, he is probably a hell of a nice guy. I don’t think you would have such a hard time getting over him if he were not.
In addition, after the hurt is almost over (if it ever really is), this guy will not be the bad example you would rather forget; he might even be the good example you will make your benchmark. And even if he isn’t, dearest Natalie, you had a wonderful year with him, where there was laughter and joy, without any lies or betrayal. Some of us do not get even that much.
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.