I broke up with my boyfriend last year and then got involved with my current boyfriend. I don’t have contact with my ex, but I hold a grudge against him and get angry when I think about him. It affects my current relationship because I blame my new guy for issues related to my ex. How can I move on for good?
It’s not surprising that the person with whom you spent three years of your life is still on your mind a year later. He’s someone you likely confided in and shared a life with — someone with whom you thought you had a future. I can only speculate that you moved from one relationship to the next far too quickly. When a relationship ends, time is needed to grieve, reflect and process so that issues don’t go unresolved and spill into the next one. Clearly, this is what’s happening with you.
To get over your ex and find closure, take responsibility for your actions. Ask yourself: “How has my behavior and attitude impacted us? If I could go back and do it again, what would I change about myself?” Now is the time to own up to these things.
As long as you continue to view the relationship through an old lens, you’ll continue to be held hostage by the past. The issue here is one of control: A grudge leads to anger and resentment that energizes you, giving the illusion of control. The grudge may also be a way of holding your ex responsible for the downfall of the relationship. To shake this thinking, ask yourself: “Can I change the situation now? What do I gain by holding a grudge a year later? What will I gain by letting go?”
Finally, pretend you’re packing for a trip and you can only bring essential items. Would you take a healthy, positive attitude and a sense of humor or would you pack anger and resentment? The latter will only weigh you down. Lighten the load by bringing only what’s beneficial to you and your new relationship.
Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist and executive coach. His book, “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days,” is available now. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: @JonathanAlpert.