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Old 10-31-2009, 01:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Obsessive ruminating over past relationships

For those of you who have been in past romantic relationships, how do you deal with the obsessive thoughts that swirl through your head about what went wrong? Besides the obvious solution of finding someone else, how do you purge your mind of all the ghosts and lingering self-evaluation sessions?

I've been having a really hard time with this lately. Logically and realistically I know that the relationship is over, but I keep replaying the entire thing in my mind from start to end. I will obsessively think about specific things I could have done differently, said differently etc. I will reminisce all the happy moments and what started off well, and then I will replay all the turning points, conflicts, and how I handled the final breakup. I will sit there and think, "If only I could have been more outgoing, more confident, and less of my anxious, introverted self, maybe it could have worked out." I have these ideas in my head that we would still be together if I had only communicated with her differently.

This cannot be healthy for me. It keeps me up at night and just adds to depression. I guess we're so used to replaying things in our everyday life, that it's only magnified with relationships. Anyway, just wanted to hear some personal stories about how you handle this and get over it.

>> I didn't put this in the relationship forum because it deals more with the introspective aftermath rather than the actual relationship itself.
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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I went through this as well, I can tell you that the only thing that is going to help is time. It took me well over a year before I can say that the memories stopped bothering me. I still think about it sometimes, but the pain is mostly gone.

Accept that you are going to be thinking about your relationship for a long time. But, the good news is that it will become less and less painful. Eventually you will find a way to cope with the feelings and be able to put this behind you. I know that it is little comfort right now, but things will get better.

What is also can help is keeping busy. Occupying your mind with something else will help break up the cycle of remembering and regretting.
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Old 12-03-2009, 10:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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This is a late reply so I hope this helps you or someone else going through the same problem. I have just recently been dumped (for the third time). It is very difficult going from day to day. Some are better than others and just when I think I have reached the other side, I slip back down into bouts of anger, depression, despair, etc. What has been most helpful though is to remind myself (and this might not apply to everybody) that I have been using girlfriends to hide from what I really want out of life: a circle of friends that I can hang out with; a feeling of direction and purpose for my life; just being content about my life. A break-up can do wonders as the feeling of relying on someone to get you through countless miserable and self-destructive days, ends. You then realize that you are alone. You desperately feel the need to reach out and make the connections with others that the fear of SA has blunted. It is important to learn from mistakes made in past relationships but only to keep them from reoccurring. The secret is to make positives out of negatives. This is how we all move on in life to help make it easier to deal with. Negativity and ruminating over past failures will only reinforce the negative belief system. You gotta hold your head high, have faith, courage and determination to see your dreams through. Learn from your mistakes and apply them towards something positive.
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Old 12-03-2009, 10:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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I went through that, from a relationship that lasted a few months I obsessed for over 2 years with depression and everything, my solution was to travel...to change scenery, jobs, environment, it distracts the mind and makes you forget old thoughts to some extent, being stuck in the same place you went through all the bad experiences just messes with your head endlessly....oh and I burned all the crap that reminded me of her lol...every last bit.
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Old 12-03-2009, 10:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Sadly the only thing that seems to help is time. I took me almost a year to extinguish the feelings i had for my ex and all the what if's/should haves/could haves that ran through my head. Eventually you just realize that you cant change the past and learn to apply what you learned to future relationships.
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:04 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bht96 View Post
The secret is to make positives out of negatives. This is how we all move on in life to help make it easier to deal with. Negativity and ruminating over past failures will only reinforce the negative belief system. You gotta hold your head high, have faith, courage and determination to see your dreams through. Learn from your mistakes and apply them towards something positive.
That's good advice. I do look back and realize that a lot of good things came from my past relationship, and I try to think about those positive aspects sometimes. I don't ever regret getting involved with my ex despite the broken heart I now have to deal with. She brought about a lot of much-needed happiness in my life, and I'm grateful for it. What hurts is that the happiness is now gone and the lonelieness is magnified. I took a risk on something I have avoided in the past, and it actually paid off for a while. I could have just avoided it and missed out on all that happiness and fun.. When I look at it that way, It doesn't make me feel as sad about the outcome. I'm glad I actually tried and lost rather than avoided taking the risk altogether.
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wehttam View Post
I went through that, from a relationship that lasted a few months I obsessed for over 2 years with depression and everything, my solution was to travel...to change scenery, jobs, environment, it distracts the mind and makes you forget old thoughts to some extent, being stuck in the same place you went through all the bad experiences just messes with your head endlessly....oh and I burned all the crap that reminded me of her lol...every last bit.
That's not a bad idea. I'm considering traveling as a means of escape. I have a friend who taught English in foreign countries, and I'm seriously thinking it might be a good thing for me to get away for a year and experience something new and exciting like that.

As for the burning of items, I don't think I could. I still have pictures. I don't think I could ever thrown them away or destroy them. Maybe It's weird to keep that stuff, but I want to save them because they have good memories attatched to them, not bad.
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by polythene View Post
I try to accept that what's done is done, and that no amount of thinking about "what I could have done" will change what has happened. Sure, you could have done XY and Z differently, but the fact of the matter is, you didn't. If things went wrong, either you or your partner let them, and that in itself indicates that the relationship was probably doomed to go downhill.
Great advice, once again. There were a lot of things that didn't fit or add up about the relationship. There were some things I was very unhappy about through the course of it. I now am starting to realize that was a sign that the relationship wasn't mean to last. I blamed myself for a lot of the frustration and mishaps, but it really was both our fault. I should not put myself through the guilt trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by polythene View Post
I don't think it will ever get better - you'll always remember, and you'll always feel bad about it. But it doesn't do you any good to obsess over something that does you no good.
Unfortunately, I think this is also true. Some people can forget past romances and move on to another like it was nothing. The rest of us aren't so lucky. The best thing to do, I suppose, is to lock those feelings away and try to start thinking about what else you can do to make yourself happy. That's so tough to do, though.
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:32 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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I used to do this a lot with past relationships, but now I've been single for about a year and a half. When the breakup was fresh I'd often think about things I could have done differently. I suppose some of what helped me get through it was shifting the blame, which is the wrong thing to do. Each party is at least partially responsible for any broken relationship.

Nowadays, I notice I have obsessive thoughts about everyday situations rather than with past relationships. My social anxiety that makes me question every little movement I make and/or everything I say. I obsess and punish myself mentally over the littlest of things, when everyone else probably doesn't notice anything wrong. My best coping mechanism is reminding myself that the thoughts will pass. Eventually they do and I usually feel better later on, but I haven't mastered keeping them away completely.
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Old 07-04-2011, 08:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Obsessed with a man I broke up with six years ago

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I don't really have social anxiety, but I have OCD. I'm actually a very extroverted person. I came to this page, because I was googling obsessive ruminating over past relationships. Actually mostly just the obsessive ruminating side of OCD and quite badly at that. I have tried CBT, talk therapy and medical drugs.

Currently I am quite functional on a combination of seroquel, zoloft and paxil. I am even in a relationship (going on 4 years) with a wonderful, understanding man. But I have a dark horrible secret that I feel I can't talk about to anyone, even my therapist doesn't seem to understand.

I can't stop obsessing and ruminating about a past relationship that finished six years ago. "Bob" was my first real love and we were together for seven years, starting when we were teenagers. Our relationship ended when I suddenly stopped having amorous feelings for "Bob." I tried to hide how I felt and just grew more and more anxious, trying to act how I should act for him. Eventually, I just couldn't take the pressure from him anymore and I broke things off.

Then my life really went to hell. I fell into a guilt fueled major depression, had massive ongoing anxiety attacks and rampant OCD. My life went out of control and my head was filled with obsessive suicidal thoughts all the time. Terrified of how out of control I was feeling I asked Bob to take me back, but he rejected me. I had to leave the prestigious university program I was at and was naseuated and throwing up all the time from anxiety.

Eventually, I returned to university and got on with my life, but I never really recaptured my ability to feel as happy and in love as I had before everything went to hell. Intermitently I would write to my ex asking him to take me back. He always refused. I thought about him all the time.

Then I met "Dave" and felt lust again for someone, the first time in years. Dave is so much kinder to me and more understanding of my depression and OCD than Bob ever was.

But here's the bad part... I still can't forget Bob. I still think about him ALL THE TIME and the thoughts won't shut up.

I am constantly comparing and measuring my feelings for Dave to my feelings for Bob and thinking that my feelings for Dave are not as strong as how I felt for Bob and our mental connection is not as deep. I am constantly wondering if Dave is the right person for me and thinking that maybe, on the basis of my feelings not being as good we should break up.
Then I think about what happened during the break up with Bob and what my resulting illness did to myself and my family and it terrifies me. I was so much stronger back then than I am now, too. I feel like another bought of depression like that and all the guilt that hurting someone I loved again would bring the yawning abyss back. I am terrified of hurting another person and hurting myself and my family who care about me.

I want to get married and start a family of my own and have children, but feel I cannot honestly commit to Dave with all these thoughts of Bob still clouding up my head and my doubts about my relationship with Dave.

The passage of time has done nothing to dispell my obsession with Bob or to fully clarify my feelings for Dave or give me any idea what to do.

If I marry Dave without feeling the proper emotion for him, I know it will wreck my life.

If I break up with Dave to fall into the abyss of loneliness and depression again it will wreck my life.

I want to move on with my life in some adult way, but I am trapped. I feel anything I do is bound to hurt other people and lead to me becoming severely depressed and out of control again. Returning to that dangerous state is what I fear most in the world. No one I know has this problem and the few people I've told about don't understand and their advice is crap.

I think about it ALL THE TIME for the past five years. It keeps me up at night and from concentrating on things during the day and at work. Please help.
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:25 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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For the past decisions you made and obsess about, do think you were looking to elicit a specific response from your partner in that moment? It would make sense to me that if you were trying to control an outcome instead of letting things develop naturally you would feel like you failed or label your decisions as wrong.
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