I can’t stop thinking about my ex-boyfriend

Tell Me About It: My current boyfriend is very good to me but I don’t feel the same connection

PROBLEM: I have been with my current boyfriend for nearly three years but I still think about my ex nearly every day. He broke up with me and I haven’t seen him since, despite him reaching out a few times.

It was a really bad break-up and I was heartbroken. I know now that the relationship wasn’t good for either of us, and it’s not so much that I would like to get back with him, it’s more the comparison with my current relationship that is troubling me. Whatever else about the previous relationship, my ex and I had a really strong connection. I felt like he understood me and vice versa. I felt really close to him.

I don’t feel like that same connection is there with my current relationship if I’m being honest. It’s like he doesn’t fully understand me, or the same intimacy isn’t there. But then sometimes I think maybe he does. I have this terrible anxiety that I am making the wrong decision at a pivotal point and that I will live to regret it. I am in my early 30s and it feels like I need to make a decision now before it’s too late. My current boyfriend is very good to me and we have a good time together and I am torn, thinking that I might also regret leaving him.

He’s talking about buying a house together down the country, and it feels like it’s all coming to a head. I wish I knew what to do.

ADVICE: You have two issues going on here: regret and decision-making. The fear of regret is something that can become a huge block to fully living your life and it keeps you constantly looking to the past and wondering “what if . . . ?” The effect here is that you have not let go of your past relationship and are constantly comparing it with the current one, and this is making you miserable. Furthermore it is causing you to prevaricate, and no doubt the effect on your current boyfriend is one where he feels he needs to pass some kind of test.

The first task is to fully accept that your last relationship is over and to change your pattern of thinking. This is not easy, as three years may not be a long time in terms of grieving for what is lost. Yet you are in a long-term, committed relationship and this is where your attention should lie. You seem to judge your boyfriend for not being as good at intimacy as your ex, yet you are the one who is withholding yourself in that you keep checking everything against your past relationship. After three years, you have enough information to know if this is a relationship you can commit to, and you are right that it is decision time, for two reasons: the buying of a house together and your sense that your biological clock is ticking. Your boyfriend deserves your full attention and he deserves to be chosen for the person he is, rather than the timing or sense that you cannot get back with your ex.

You have enough information and knowledge to take the next step in your life. Have the courage to face this

The fear of regret, if practised over a long period, can become the defining factor in your decision-making and this will make you a fearful person, so you need to find a new thought process that will allow you to be more confident and optimistic. Right now, you can ask yourself if this relationship is good for you, and if this man is someone you can love and trust. Do not send your mind to future years where fear will make you retreat. If the answer is yes, then you can begin to address the parts of your relationship that need attending, such as the intimacy and communication aspects. The obvious start of this is honesty – but this must be based on a commitment and faith in the relationship as otherwise, it will serve as a type of exam or measurement that your partner must get through. If the answer is no, then you need to end this relationship as quickly as possible because the hurt you are causing will be multiplied by every passing month of silence and doubt.

When you ended your previous relationship, it seems you knew it was not good but you held on for far too long. Good decision-making is where you know, act and follow through with your whole self – body, mind and emotions. You make a decision to leave the relationship, your body leaves and connects with another; your mind also leaves and fully stays in the now with the new person and finally, you fully let go of the past relationship and commit wholeheartedly to the current one. This ability to make decisions also assists when the next point comes, for example where you face a choice leaving or moving on to the next stage. You should follow through with your decision, and this will have the effect of increasing your confidence and trust in yourself.

You have enough information and knowledge to take the next step in your life. Have the courage to face this, and once the step is taken, do not analyse again but commit to it fully.