Once you give your heart to someone, it’s so hard to take it back.
But some people just aren’t worth it.
And this guy, whoever he is, is no longer worth it.
You’d be over him tomorrow, if it weren’t for the hold he has over you.
When you break it off with someone, you’re not just breaking it off with them.
You’re saying goodbye to an entire life.
You’re saying goodbye to all the things you did together.
You’re saying goodbye to the only other person who shares all those memories with you.
You’re saying goodbye to the future you assumed you’d have.
Even though he can be awful, even though he’s hurt you, the alternative is losing everything you had together…
And that’s not easy.
Why It’s So Hard
When you break it off with a toxic person—whether it’s the first time you’ve broken it off or the tenth—that mixture of emotions can bring you to your knees.
Not only do you have the pain of a breakup—which is ALWAYS rough—but you’ve got guilt and shame on top of that.
You feel mad at yourself, that you got involved with someone who wasn’t the man you thought he was.
You feel guilty that you weren’t able to stick to your guns and end things sooner, when you knew it was going bad.
You feel ashamed of the way you kept going back, even though you knew he was bad for you.
And your brain keeps trying to trick you into doubting yourself by whispering…
What if no one ever loves me again like he did?”
Love is No Mistake
The first thing you need to know is that:
Your love was not a mistake.
Love is always a beautiful choice. I don’t think any love you put out into the world is a mistake. It says a lot about who you are, that you gave your love to him.
So your love isn’t the problem.
It’s not a badge of shame, that you can’t stop loving a toxic person. It’s a sign that your heart is alive and beating, and what hearts do best is love.
What you could have done differently, perhaps, is left him sooner.
He wasn’t treating you well, and it may have taken you longer to see that than it could have, which gave him more opportunities to hurt you.
You Have a “Person Addiction”
The second thing you need to know is that it’s not your love for him that’s holding you back from breaking this off.
It’s the addiction.
Toxic people hook us by flooding us with intermittent reinforcement.
Sometimes they’re lovely to us. They overwhelm us with wonderful words and gifts and experiences, and then they go cold, and it’s like they never loved us at all, and we have no idea what caused the change.
Intermittent reinforcement is highly addictive. It’s what gets people get hooked on gambling.
Psychotherapist Ken Page talks about attractions of deprivation, where we get hooked on people who make us feel needy.
If you feel this horrible absence when this guy is not texting you, not talking to you, then that’s a sign that your relationship is based on a fundamental sense of insecurity. It’s not a relationship you can trust. You have to keep hustling for this guy’s attention. It’s not stable.
Those attractions never turn out well.
In a loving relationship, you can trust the other person. Love isn’t given and then revoked. You don’t have to give up yourself or betray yourself to be with them.
That’s what you want, and you can only get it if you release this relationship.
So right now your goal is to honor yourself for the love you gave and break the addiction to this person.
Because if you don’t do this, if you continue to feel guilty, ashamed, unable to break those ties, you will bring those conflicted feelings into your next relationship, and you’ll always wonder if you’re going to get betrayed again.
Treat the Addiction
So how do you treat a “person addiction”?
You treat it the same way you’d treat any addiction.
You put practical measures in place to keep you from being tempted.
You implement a no-contact rule, and you recognize that the consequences of breaking that rule might be a relapse.
You make sure you can’t contact him by deleting his number from your phone, deleting the texts, deleting his email and messages… basically any way he could contact you.
And yes, it’s hard to get rid of all of those memories. But that’s like an alcoholic keeping bottles of booze in the house for old times’ sake.
You need to clear out space in your life to invite in a new love, and you can’t do that if his energy is still there.
I recommend asking a friend to be your accountability partner. So, if you have the urge to contact him, you call her instead, and she’s under strict instructions to talk you out of it.
When you treat it like an addiction, and you recognize that anyone could become addicted if they’d been treated the way you did, you don’t feel so bad about how hard this is.
Addictions are hard to beat.
But you are strong, and your heart is fierce, and you will find someone to love who loves you back….
Just not this guy.
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