Can Former Lovers Be Friends?

I’ve been asked this question countless times over the years: Can two people who were in love and break up then be friends? The answer is twofold: It depends, and maybe in time but usually not at first. To really get at this answer, we have to look at a definition of friendship. There are many kinds of friends in life – some are situational, such as co-workers or school mates. When you change jobs or graduate, those friendships often don’t last. It’s not that you didn’t like each other; it’s that you didn’t have a bond deep enough to [...]

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Breaking Up – Recovery Is Possible!

“I refuse to let what happened to me make me bitter. I still completely believe in love and I’m open to anything that will happen to me.” – Nicole Kidman on breaking up Many years ago when my ex-husband left, I initially thought that this was the end of any hope for love in my life. It took me months to wade through the grief process – shock, denial, anger, deep grief, and later, a measure of acceptance. The divorce shook my mind, heard, and body to the foundation. One day, I woke up feeling just a tiny bit better, [...]

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Dumpers and Dumpees: Part Two

A man and a woman on a pier

When should you start dating again? The answer is, of course, it depends. It depends on how much emotional baggage you want to drag forward into your new relationship. The more baggage you have (steamer trunks vs. carry on), the less likely you are to have a loving, lasting relationship in the future. If you are the Dumper, your baggage is more likely to be in the form of unresolved guilt and either over or under-responsibility. Because leaving can be so hard, some people emotionally shut down or cut off real communication in order to move forward. This coping mechanism, while it [...]

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Dumpers and Dumpees: Part One

Couple-Breaking-up

In every breakup there are two roles: the Dumper and the Dumpee. Put it another way, the person who actually says “I’m outta here” and the person who is left behind. Sometimes we try to save face by agreeing that yes, it’s over, when the other person says they’re leaving. But almost always there is one person who is the first to throw in the towel emotionally. That person usually faces one set of emotions while the other person usually faces a different set of emotions. If you threw in the towel first, you are more likely to experience guilt. Dumpers [...]

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How Long Should You Lick Your Wounds?

If breaking up is hard to do, recovery is even harder, or so it seems. Heartbroken, licking your wounds, you may express your pain in a myriad of ways: withdrawal from friends and normal activities; eating empty carbohydrates or sweets (Ben & Jerry’s looks really good right now); drinking to excess; not eating (your appetite is gone); working too much; obsessively thinking about the lost love. But how long should you engage in this wound-licking, often dysfunctional, behavior? The answer is, of course, it depends. It depends on how long you give yourself permission to wallow in self-punishing behavior. Drinking too much, [...]

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Breaking Up (The Fantasy) Is Hard to Do

Lee and Sarah share their heartache with a common theme: breaking up is hard to do but it’s clear that the guy was not the right guy. How do we know that? By looking at his behavior. In Lee’s case, the guy withheld the most basic expression of love, refusing to tell her he loved her. In Sarah’s case, the guy left her because he didn’t want a commitment, she took him back, and he left two years later for the same reason. Both Lee and Sarah allowed themselves to be drawn into an unhealthy relationship dynamic that hurt them. The awareness [...]

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Break-ups Often Reveal the Unspoken Truth

Trudy dated Chris for five years. He was fresh out of a divorce when they met, but she thought he just needed time. Early on, he established the priorities. “You,” he said, “are a G priority. A, B, and C are my daughters.” After his daughters came work and other obligations, and then Trudy. Why she didn’t break up with him on the spot, she still doesn’t know. But after five more years of dating, she realized that she would never be a real priority to Chris. She tearfully broke up, still hoping deep inside that he would realize how [...]

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The Bachelor: Bevin Models Real Love

In last night’s follow up to The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman, Bevin Powers, the spurned woman, faced Lieutenant Andy Baldwin onstage for the first time since their emotional good-bye. Despite multiple attempts by Chris Harrison, the show’s host, to prompt Bevin to say something catty about Andy, she took the high road, demonstrating what real love is all about. She was real, she was transparent, and she expressed herself authentically. As she spoke, she modeled the tenants of real love: Wanting the best for someone else, even if that doesn’t include you Not making it all about you; recognizing [...]

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Reading the Tea Leaves: Part 3

“I choose to reclaim my sense of personal power.” Great! That’s a wonderful first step for you post break-up. Now you need specific actions and behaviors in order to maintain your personal power. I’ll start with a list of “don’ts”: Don’t call your Ex unless you have a specific purpose such as arranging to return belongings; in that case, keep it short and sweet When you feel the pain and resentment rise up, do not call your Ex while you are feeling that way; instead, take a few minutes to “download” – write your thoughts and feelings in the form [...]

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Reading the Tea Leaves: Part 2

Nothing grabs your attention more than having someone you love abruptly exit. It’s emotionally traumatic, meaning that there’s no way to prepare yourself for such a sudden loss, so it hits you on all levels. You’re sad and/or angry, you can’t sleep, you can’t concentrate at work, and you wear out your support network with long, obsessive conversations about why this happened and what you might do. Deep down, what hits hardest is the realization that you’ve lost all sense of control over the situation. Your Ex has grabbed all the power in the relationship. This situation, like all challenging [...]

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Reading the Tea Leaves

Sara writes: “Help! My boyfriend, after a 3 month intense relationship, suddenly backed off. Is there any hope he’ll come back?” Danielle writes: “What can I do to win back the man I love? He broke up with me after two years saying he wasn’t ready for a commitment.” Chris writes: “I’m in love with Kristen and she went back to her old boyfriend after dating me for six months and telling me she loves me! Can I get her back?” What all of these stories have in common is loss: the person you loved left, backed off, or went [...]

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Britney’s Love Lesson Number Four

If you do divorce, do so with “due process.” With the exception of physical abuse, all couples benefit from a gradual process toward divorce. Speedy divorces side-step the necessity of that magical relationship remedy: open, honest, compassionate communication. Strange, isn’t it, how someone can be good enough to marry and have two children with, yet doesn’t rate sitting down with and trying to salvage the marriage? The radical shift from “our marriage is wonderful” to a text message saying “I’m outta here” is evidence that this relationship is far from complete. Rushing to divorce court creates enormous emotional baggage. The [...]

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Britney’s Love Lesson Number Three

If you do marry fast, put off having children until you see if it gels. Again, the rush to having children, like the rush to marriage, is like spinning that big roulette wheel. This time, though, the consequences are huge and the children pay the price if your number comes up wrong. Study after study shows that children of divorce suffer in countless ways. Perhaps the deepest effect is that they grow up lacking in the confidence that relationships can last for a lifetime. Their experience is of the revolving door of relationships, so they tend to either shy away [...]

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Britney’s Love Lesson Number Two

Date first, for a considerable period of time, marry later. Why? Because everyone who’s ever fallen in love knows that the first stage of a relationship, the Enchantment stage, doesn’t last! It’s a great beginning for bonding and intimacy, but when it fades, and all those brain love chemicals fade, then we’re faced with the reality of day-to-day life. It is at that point that we really begin to know someone. Getting married while still enchanted is like spinning the roulette wheel of relationships: when it stops spinning, will you win or lose? Who knows? Only time reveals true compatibility. [...]

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Britney’s Love Lesson Number One

Date someone with character, first and foremost. How do we know that Kevin is lacking in the “character gene”? When Kevin was doing backup in Britney’s band, his girlfriend at the time, Char Jackson, was pregnant with their second child. He quickly dumped her the moment Britney showed romantic interest in him. When Kevin and Britney married, Char had not yet given birth. I wonder what Kevin’s relationship with his first two children is like today? Clearly, he failed to do the right thing with Char, a strong indicator to Britney that when push comes to shove, he’s not mature [...]

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Britney and Kevin: Mature Marriage or Starter Marriage? The answer is in.

Oops, she did it, again. Britney Spears is getting divorced in record time, just weeks after giving birth to her second child with husband Kevin Federline. It’s fast and furious and it has generated a media feeding frenzy, just like her marriage to Federline, and just like her 55 hour marriage to her childhood friend, Jason Allen Alexander. Does anyone remember him? For the past two years, Britney has maintained that her marriage to Kevin is “wonderful.” Now, the truth comes out: “irreconcilable differences,” according to the papers filed last Tuesday. The latest story according to Reuters is that she [...]

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Leaving a Non-Committal Love

I’ve recently ended a loving, healthy relationship (after three years of dating) due to my partner’s unwillingness to make a long-term commitment. This was someone I deeply loved who was right for me in many ways, and I am struggling to understand why this has happened and what I need to do to go forward. How do I come to terms with this loss so that my heart is open in the future and I can move on to something even better? – Jennifer First of all, I acknowledge you for doing something that takes tremendous courage and strength. Commitment [...]

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What Is A Rebound Relationship?

What is the definition of a “rebound relationship”? Is it true they can be unhealthy? - David Rebound relationships occur very shortly after the end of a significant love, and sometimes begin before the end. The problem with a rebound is that it doesn’t allow time for the grieving and healing process to be complete. When this happens, there is emotional confusion. Sometimes, the feelings for the old partner simply transfer to the new one, and that results in the illusion that you’ve found someone totally “different,” when, in fact, you’ve found someone very much like your old love. Often the [...]

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Settle-For Relationships and Guilt

I am currently in a Settle-For Relationship. My problem is I always get into these and don’t have the courage to back out of them so I always get to the commitment part and continue on. I have been with my girlfriend for 5 months now and I am not happy and I want to end it with her but I can’t do it due to guilt. I feel as though she won’t be able to find anyone else or she’ll be completely heart broken about it. I got up the courage once to break up with her but after [...]

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How to Tell Someone You Are Moving On

I have been in an on and off relationship for a year and a half and I know it’s not what I want. I’ve started to go out with someone new (only a couple of dates) and I know I need to tell my boyfriend, who in the past has been possessive and jealous. What do I say, and how do I handle his questions?   – Carolyn There is no easy way to tell someone that you are moving on, yet it’s not fair to take those steps while keeping the other person in the dark. So, I acknowledge [...]

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