At one point in my career as a psychologist, I actually had to run rats through a maze. The reason to run rats (yech) is to study learning theory. You place a piece of cheese in the maze and wait until the rat consistently goes to the cheese. Learning theory begins when you move the cheese and figure out how long it takes the rat to relearn the maze. For a while, the rat will continue to go to the place it went before, looking for the reward. After a while, depending on how smart the rat is, it will begin to look elsewhere, finally discover the cheese, and then go there consistently.
Human beings, on the other hand, won't try to relearn the maze because they are convinced they are right, even though there is no cheese. In relationships, you can either be right or you can go for the cheese. I would heartily recommend going for the cheese.
Have a pity party and get it out of your system so that you can escape the gooey quagmire of self-indulgence and get a perspective and get on with your life. If you find your party going on for more than two days, or you can't stop crying or obsessing, it's time to get some help.
You may have a tendency to see how your partner is doing without you. Especially if you feel that your ex is seeing someone. There is a wish to spy and keep an eye on what you may have viewed as yours (which is a problem that needs to be addressed before you try and move on to another relationship). But these actions can be characterized as stalking, and stalking is both dangerous and illegal (see Chapter 27 for more on stalking behavior).
Possessiveness and jealousy are poisons that must be lanced and exorcised if you are ever to have a sane, happy, serene relationship. If it's over, it's over, and spying on someone is demeaning and dangerous and destructive. If the relationship couldn't work, it didn't work between the two of you; whatever else is outside of the two of you and therefore can't be affected by you. Making someone feel afraid is a statement of your need to be in control, to punish, or to hurt. It's not nice, and it's not legal. So don't sit outside their house, follow them, call them at work, ask friends about them, or call and hang up.
Phone companies offer a caller ID feature, which tells you who's calling and documents who and when and how often someone calls. Harassment is illegal as well as irritating, and who wants to end up in jail where you aren't allowed to call anyone without permission? Letting go is almost as hard as breaking up, but it's necessary, and police involvement isn't going to make your life easier or more pleasant.
I hesitate to even mention this because it is so distasteful. Understand that it is not unusual to feel angry and want to lash out when you're hurt. You just can't do it. Being violent is both dangerous and illegal. If you're feeling particularly nasty, write a poison pen letter but don't send it. Write a story of death and dismemberment and send it to a magazine to publish (lots of best-selling authors have gotten revenge and rich simultaneously with this technique), draw a picture, dream of destruction, dump on your diary. But stay away from your ex and guns, baseball bats, arrows, pills, and razors.
Violence toward your ex or toward yourself isn't a way to solve your heartache. It will compound your misery and keep pain alive for much longer than necessary. If you feel you can't control the impulse to damage yourself or someone else, get yourself to a therapist or, if need be, a hospital, and take yourself out of harm's way.
Trust me, everyone has had these feelings. It's just a matter of controlling them or controlling yourself, and if you can't, put yourself in a position (like a hospital) where you don't have to control them because someone else is in charge. The anger and hurt do pass, and most people learn to control their negative impulses so that they don't have to be afraid or make others afraid of them. They learn to love and feel close and trust. In the final analysis, that's what Dating For Dummies and life as we know it are all about. Take a deep breath and relax and understand that coming together and coming apart is the dance people do until they find the right partner.
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