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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
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Hi, apologies for the length of this but another counselor

Resolved Question:

Hi, apologies for the length of this but another counselor on here ignored my reply so I thought I would combine the 2 questions into one so you had a full picture of why I am seeking advice.

I recently met up with my ex-girlfriend for the first time since I broke up with her, and have been thinking about it ever since. When I ended our over 2 year relationship, I told her that I didn't want her out of my life completely because I truly do care about her. She, understandably, rejected that and wanted to just make a clean break of things with no contact which I respected and honored. After 8 months of our only communication being Happy Birthday texts, we saw each other while mourning the loss of a common friend. Our interaction was very pleasant and seemed like it would have been the same even in normal circumstances. I realized that I still do care about her and would like to have some sort of contact with her. We didn't get into details about each others romantic lives (I am single) so I don't know if she's moved on in that respect, but she has made some improvements in her life that I am genuinely happy about for her.

I feel embarrassed to write this next part but it's necessary for full disclosure. I am searching my soul for the reasons why I've thought so much about our encounter. Is it out of jealousy, as she seems to have progressed along just fine without me? (that is incredibly pathetic to actually read. I loathe my thought/emotional processes that produced such an uncaring, immature, selfish notion, as though she should still be heartbroken and just waiting for me to ask for her back. I am ashamed at this.)

Part of the reason I ended our relationship was because she was in an unhealthy living situation and frequently let those issues carry over into our relationship. Am I considering now that things between us would be different since she has changed that part of her life and seems to be in a good living environment?

I certainly do not want to hurt her again and am sincerely XXXXX XXXXX the thoughts in the initial question of the 3rd paragraph. I also realize that this may be all moot if she wants nothing further to do with me and/or has begun a new relationship, but I had such strong feelings and made a such a personal investment in our time together that I wanted to get these feelings out and have them professionally assessed.
............

Is jealousy the reason why I keep having thoughts and images of her with another guy? This meetup I referred to just happened on Monday and for the past 2 nights and mornings the last/first thing in my mind has been her either laughing & having a great time or phone conversation with some guy or being sexual with him. For example, we had long talked about going on a cruise and this morning I woke up to a "fantasy" of her in her cabin with another guy and generally seeming to have the time of her life. This has been happening later on the day as well when I am starting the winding down process of getting ready for bed.

When we met this past Monday, she was telling me about her new house and commented that she was showing it to a ... (she hesitated) friend and he (my emphasis) made a certain comment about it. I keep replaying that moment over and over and driving myself crazy. I mean, I certainly expected her to move on seeing that its been 8 months now but just hearing about the possibility of it is nauseating and consuming.

This seems very obssessive and possessive and is just gnawing at my emotions. These mental images and flashes of her introducing another guy to her family and friends to basically replace me are obvioulsly not conducive to my health, yet it almost seems like I am originating and kindling them in some sinister plot against myself. I would appreciate feedback on the situation so far.


What do you make of this? Thanks.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. L replied 2 years ago.

Dr Levang :

Hello,

Dr Levang :

It certainly sounds like the encounter on Monday sparked a review of your relationship with her and a realization that you still had feelings for her. That's not an uncommon situation given the fact that we don't automatically turn off all emotions or history when we end a relationship. Surely there were good things in the relationship, happy times, memorable times...and these are part of your history and cannot be cut away.

Dr Levang :

You being jealous? Of course that is a logical assumption as she has changed some of what was problematic in your relationship. That she has a new living situation, appears happy and fulfilled, and intimates that there is a new relationship - why wouldn't you be curious and jealous about that! That would be normal. If the living situation was a bone of contention in the past and not resolved whilst you were together - and today to hear that all is well in that department - my goodness of course you would wonder why that didn't happen back then when it would have made a difference in your staying together. And...now that it is resolved...to contemplate whether you should pursue her!

Dr Levang :

And no...it's not really pathetic, uncaring, immature...it's simply human nature! Don't be so hard on your self here.

Dr Levang :

As to the second part of your inquiry:

Dr Levang :

Is she available? The only way to discover this is to ask her. It is as simple as ringing her up and saying, "It was great to see you on Monday. I've missed you (only if this is true). Would you like to have coffee.......". From that very simple question you will know what direction to take...

Dr Levang :

Please let me know if this has been helpful or if you would like to respond and chat more.

Dr Levang :

Dr. Levang

Customer:

Thank

Customer:

Thank you for the response.

Customer:

Oops, pardon those 2 brief posts. I appreciate the response, especially the part about being hard on myself. I tend to hold myself to higher standards and I guess minimize my humanity at times.

Customer:

Can human nature be blamed for the 'fantasies' of her I keep having that I had mentioned at the end of my post?

Dr Levang :

Hello,

Customer:

Hi Doctor, I will certainly accept your answers, but just want to get as much of this resolved as I can

Dr Levang :

Yes...I understand.

Dr Levang :

As to the point about human nature creating the fantasies. Yes....we all want to lead happy, fulfilled lives. You had a lengthy relationship with this woman...upon seeing her all of those memories were re-triggered. Think of it this way....the memories of your time together were in your hard drive, when you saw her, they came back on the screen...to insert her into today was a relatively easy thing to do.

Dr Levang :

It's like when we watch a commercial about subway sandwich and then in our dreams that evening we think about having something to eat - going to a restaurant or so forth.

Dr Levang :

The picture we saw stays with us and creeps into our awareness.

Customer:

That makes sense. My initial thought was how I feel if I did ask her even if she just wanted to get back to having a phone conversation every now and then and she rejected that

Customer:

Though it could take her a little bit of time to maybe initially reject the idea, then reconsider

Dr Levang :

Of course there is always the possibility that she would say no to any contact. But...you don't know that until you ask - right? You are not a mind-reader.

Customer:

Right, I just really was not expecting this kind of reaction from myself so it's been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I guess I am trying to prepare myself for answers I may not like

Dr Levang :

Another point is that we do expect to grow and change over our lifetime. It does appear that she has done this. Because you cared enough about her to have had a long relationship - isn't there some happiness in your heart that she has matured? That's something you can share with her when you call...At the same time, you can tell her how you've changed/grown/matured in the months that you've been apart. Certainly not in a bragging way, but to simply address the fact that the time apart has been productive.

Dr Levang :

Does this make sense to you?

Dr Levang :

And because each of you has done some of your own "work" - perhaps now you are in a better place to rekindle your relationship. What I'm offering is a way to talk to her so that you can bridge the past...

Dr Levang :

It does sound like you want to go slow here - and I think that is a very good plan.

Customer:

Absolutely. When I ended things with her, I truly wished her nothing but the best and am happy for her that she is making progress with life. At the time, I did think about how things could be if her living situation was different, but it was an unknown and didn't end up happening till just a couple months ago. So there would have been 6 more months of the way things had been going and that wouldn't have been good.

Dr Levang :

Precisely. Six more months could have been disasterous. But today...the picture appears differently and so there is an opportunity to see what can be...

Customer:

The time apart was certainly beneficial for the both of us, and I guess I am a bit apprehensive that she would flat out reject any idea of re-connecting, especially if she is in a new relationship and some other guy is getting to experience the 'improved" her.

Customer:

That would be quite hurtful and deflating

Dr Levang :

Well...that is a risk you will have to take. But...you must remember that you made a choice in leaving the relationship. And that choice was to say No to a relationship that wasn't working for the opportunity to seek a better partner and a happier life. If she is in another relationship - certainly that person will be gaining the "improved" her - sorry to say that but it's true. However, think about you - what have you done since the breakup?! Whomever you meet will also gain from the "improved" you. In that way of looking at things...each of you are offering a new partner something better....and each of you is losing that opportunity to show each other the new you.

Dr Levang :

Please don't dwell on the hurtful and deflating. You took a risk and made a choice. That is life. You live you learn. Rather, I encourage you to see how you have changed and what new you can be offered - to this woman or to another.

Customer:

I think you're hitting on something big with me. I tend to dwell and allow a possible negative experience it to loom large in potential decisions

Dr Levang :

Great insight! Whose to say that she isn't having the same fantasies and thoughts about you?!

Dr Levang :

Like we discussed earlier, you are your own worse critic and that critical voice is very loud.

Dr Levang :

Perhaps it's time to hush that voice and begin to look at the other side of the coin.

Dr Levang :

Good things can happen. My goodness - did you expect to run in to her on Monday? Did you expect that you would have a very pleasant conversation? Count your good fortune man!

Customer:

True, we are scheduled to see each other at a funeral on Saturday, which may not be an ideal setting but it may be the only time I get to see her in person for the foreseable future so I am thinking about asking her for a quick minute when either her or I are about to leave and just asking her whether or not she is ok with us having some kind of communication

Customer:

I would love to use the other side of the coin more, but easier said than done sometimes

Dr Levang :

Okay - you have a plan! Great. Can I offer one more suggestion? Don't say "whether or not" - that's getting back to your negativity. Ask if she would like to .... period. Don't set yourself up for defeat. Okay?

Dr Levang :

Yes...easier said then done. But...because it is now part of your awareness you can watch yourself!

Dr Levang :

Good luck.

Dr Levang :

Dr. Levang

Customer:

Sounds good... Do you know when you'll be available again? I have greatly enjoyed this chat and your insights and like I said I will certainly be accepting your answers. I just want to think about what you've said

Dr Levang :

I check in each day. You can post a question to me and then I will respond. Just use my name at the beginning of the question.

Dr Levang :

Dr.Levang

Customer:

ok, thanks

Dr Levang :

You are welcome.

Dr Levang :

Please remember to press the Green Accept button! Thanks.

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
Dr. L and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dr. Levang,
Hello again. The meeting with my ex went pretty well. I a got a chance to have a lengthy conversation with her and she was quite receptive to having a phone conversation. We were able to talk a good bit about the circumstances of our split and where each other is at. I'm planning on calling her in a couple of days, seeing how it goes, and possibly trying to setup some kind of get-together at a some public place like a bookstore where we can sit with a cup of tea and just kind of let things play out.

I have really tried to pay attention to my dwelling on potential negative outcomes, but it is still a work in progress obviously. I have a bit of nervous energy regarding the developments. She has a flirty personality in social situations and it was difficult to see in light of the progress we had just made. I know she is a free woman and can act as she pleases, but hearing her talk about making 'date-ish' plans with other guys felt uncomfortable and brought on thoughts of regret over letting her 'back on the market'.

I am trying to maintain a healthy perspective in things and keep in mind that the time apart has done both of us much good. However, I do have that human nature and am trying to fight off the creeping negativity. I know I haven't quite asked any question here, but I am just interested in your opinion of what I described.

I will continue to hit the green accept button. Thanks.
Expert:  Dr. L replied 2 years ago.

Hurrah. You've made some very good progress here! I like your plan to call in a few days and see about the possibility of having a leisure talk over tea! Very good.

 

As to the negativity...give yourself a break here. This new awareness is NEW. It takes time to break old habits. May I suggest that each evening before bed you do a review of the day and write down those things that qualify as positive and those that qualify as negative. As you become ever more clear about your propensity to be negative, it will be easier and easier to stop, reassess, and make a different choice.

 

What seems to have happened when she talked about "date-ish" meetings with other men is that green eyed monster called jealousy. It's okay to be jealous. After all, right now you want to spend time with her and see if there is any possibility of re-kindling your relationship. Obviously...you would not want anything to interfer with that. Right! So...give yourself a pat on the back for being human and having human desires.

 

Dr. Levang

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
Dr. L and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Dr. Levang.

Today has been the best day of working through things since all this began. More accurately, the second half of today was. I woke up with the similar intensity of internal dialogue about this situation that I've had since I saw her again. Then I reached a point this afternoon where I basically told myself to quiet down and just approach my phone call to her as a simple question of asking her if she would like to spend a little casual time together. Period.

 

Is it a case of 'setting myself up for defeat' by thinking that if she were to answer me with any sort of hesitation regarding a get-together, that I would respond with a declaration of my intentions for doing so? Something along the lines of: "Seeing you again reminded me how much I do care about you. The time apart has been good for both of us and I think it would be nice to be able to sit down and share what's been going on in each other's lives." A part of me says I should just be more blunt in addition to those 2 sentences. If she is (understandably) hesitant and protective about re-acquainting, for me to continue with , "there was such an investment in our time together that it would be a shame to not at least try to see if things could be different considering our new places in life".

 

I have been working seemingly hourly on over-thinking and dwelling on possible negative outcomes. But it is indeed a battle. I do appreciate your insights and help with all this.

Expert:  Dr. L replied 2 years ago.

Good Morning,

Great to hear that you are keeping the negativity issue at the forefront of your brain and addressing it head on. Would it be helpful for you to consider this your "negative predictive voice"? That is the concept I use with clients.

 

That negative predictive voice is that "setting myself up for defeat" thinking that you do. And the more you continue predicting negativity the more likely it is to happen just because you "frame" situations such that you are looking for them to fail rather than looking for them to succeed. One can always find a negative in a situation if they want to. And...on the other hand, one can always find a positive in a situation if they want to. So...what I would like you to do is to create a positive predictive voice - one that says...good things will happen.... and that concentrates on positives.

 

As to the lines you wrote regarding talking on the phone. Yes!!! Very good work. I think the two lines are sufficient. Over talking isn't necessary. And yes to the verbiage to use if she is hesitant and protective. I might tone that down just a bit by saying "I hear your hesitancy. And I respect your feelings. We both made significant investments to each other in the past and I would like to see if we could at least rekindle a friendship considering our new places in life." My point with these word changes is to acknowledge her feelings and show that you are, indeed, listening and paying attention to her. When we feel heard, our defenses are lowered and we feel validated and understood. This would seem important.

 

As to the over-thinking....I wonder if part of that process is being fed by the excitement you feel at having a chance to reconnect. Does that make sense?

 

Dr. Levang

 

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
Dr. L and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Dr.,

Positive predictive voice. Sounds great. I do have a bit of that but, as you previously mentioned, the negative voice seems to be louder and more of what I'm used to paying more attention to.

I like the part about telling her I would understand hesitancy on her part. Also, a big difference in where each of us is right now compared to where we were when we first start seeing each other is the distance between us. Before, we had to practically schedule visits well in advance because there was a considerable commute involved. Now, we are closer and can get together much easier. Would it be too much or too soon in asking her if she is willing to try to do things in ways we couldn't 3 years ago? Obviously the history we have is unavoidable, but is she willing to try? That's basically one of my biggest thoughts about this whole situation: the curiosity of whether it's even possible to pursue this. So far, I would say that by our interactions and her willingness to have a phone conversation that there is a chance.

And it's pretty clear to me that my excitement just over seeing her again and the possiblities of what could happen is why I've been thinking about this as much as I have. I'm trying to work out exactly what this all means, but I guess it's become apparent to me that there isn't a sense of total closure here.

Thanks again.
Expert:  Dr. L replied 2 years ago.

Hi,

I'm glad you like the positive predictive voice! You can say that to yourself when you wonder if you are over-thinking. It might help calm that negative mega-phone voice of yours.

 

You raise some interesting points about the commute of the past and the possibility that there are things you can do today that you could not previously. I would talk about that when you feel that things are progressing such that you feel there is a clear opening on her part. I think it would be quite easy to drop into the conversation things like, "In the past, it was difficult to plan XYZ (what? walking in the park, bicycling around town...). Are those things we could do together now? I'd certainly enjoy that."

 

Yes....she peaked your curiosity and now the energy and excitement is pumping. It's okay to do some thinking about what all this means...but please leave the door open to serendipity!

 

 

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
Dr. L and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. L replied 2 years ago.

Once you get the hang of this positive predictive voice it might be easier then you think!

Dr. Levang

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
Dr. L and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
By serendipity do you mean the good fortune of even running into her again, regardless of what happens now?

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