How to stop thinking you’ll get back together

From Chaz in Mexico:

I am on a really good path to becoming a better man, we broke up two months ago after 7 years together. I am physically and mentally ok. The only problem is this hunch and gut feeling that I will end up marrying her and making my life with her. How can I stop this?

Way to go on getting on the right path.

This is a lingering feeling which I remember having. It’s the feeling that leads guys astray and makes them break no contact.

The way I recommend dealing with any emotion is one of Diversion & Immersion. Let me explain.

We have little to no control over the emotions we feel and we have some control over the thoughts we think. Thoughts can feed and elicit emotions, and emotions can feed and elicit thoughts.

If we want to change any of that, we focus on changing our thoughts, and we let the cycle die a natural death. That doesn’t mean we don’t feel anything – instead it means we stop feeding the feeling with thoughts and observe the emotions wane.

Emotions are signals we use to communicate with ourselves and to teach ourselves lessons. But it’s not always the right time for a lesson. You might be at work, in school or wherever – and not ready for an emotional breakdown.

In these cases, I recommend a strategy of Diversion. We purposefully divert our thoughts to a different topic, short circuiting the thought-emotion feedback loop before it gains momentum. One technique for this is “Thought Stopping”. In short, here are the steps:

  1. Become aware of the emotion you are feeling
  2. Say “STOP” in your mind, directed at the emotion
  3. Now visualize your ideal, peaceful, relaxing scenario. (For me this is a beach with perfect surf.)

Conversely, if you do have the time or the opportunity to feel the emotion that is arriving – it is important to do so. You’ll want to accept the emotion and explore it in a strategy I call Immersion.

Become aware of the emotion you’re feeling and start observing it. When you observe the emotion you may realize that you are not your thoughts nor are you your emotions and that whatever it is you’re feeling, it will not last forever.

Sometimes just observing the emotion is enough for it to float away again. In other instances it helps to understand it better. Analyzing and labeling an emotion helps you become aware of the fundamental truth that you and your emotions are separate things. You can feel like you are about to die, even though you are not. You can feel as if the world is ending, even though it is not.

Here are some questions I have found helpful to better understand my emotions:

  1. What triggered this feeling?
  2. Is this old pain or new pain?
  3. If it’s old pain, why am I feeling it again? Have I dealt with this already?
  4. If it’s new pain, what triggered it?
  5. Have I felt this way before? If so, was it stronger or less strong?
  6. Is this feeling linked to a belief I have?
  7. If so, what is this belief, and what evidence do I have to corroborate it?

To get back to your question, I would say the following:

The desire to “stop” an emotion is an emotion in and of itself and worth analyzing. Why do you want to stop this emotion? (I can imagine you do, but asking yourself this can be instructive.) What resistance do you feel by just letting it run its course? You may find that asking those questions, or the answers that come up, will be enough for the emotion to stop resurfacing.

Certain emotions retire once you’ve dealt with them. If you’ve analyzed an emotion, its triggers and its roots, it may become a lesson you’ve already learnt and has nothing left to teach you. You’ll notice how it will stop resurfacing.

Other emotions may simply require you to observe them, label them or objectify them. You might need to do it several times, repeatedly, but then they’ll stop returning.

In your case, you say you want to get rid of the gut feeling that you may still end up with this woman.

Maybe you’re doing well in your recovery, but there’s still a part of you that’s not quite as far along as you’d like to be. Maybe this is it’s voice. If so, that’s perfectly okay. Pet it over the head – figuratively – and tell it, it’s okay, I no longer need to feel this way.

Maybe part of you hasn’t caught up to reality yet, maybe it’s still holding on to the past somehow. Tell it it’s okay that you still feel emotions you felt before, but that that’s no longer necessary. Give yourself permission to let it go.

Maybe you’re doing a great job and headed in the right way for all the right reasons but this is just a lower, more visceral level of your brain that isn’t capable of understanding all that. Through emotions it’s trying to protect you. You can try thanking it for its concern, but you have thought this through, and you know this is the right thing to do.

As you can tell, different perspectives can definitely help you out.

About Jesse

I've been helping guys recover from their breakups since 2012. Work with me to fast-track your recovery.

  • wyatt patterson

    My girlfriend of 3-1/2 years left me for another man. She loved me to pieces I know, I could tell but I am of the avoidant type and she wasn’t getting what she needed so she extracted herself a couple days before my birthday this year in October to my shock and disbelief.

    There are many online web sites that propose the no contact rule for 30 days and that the one who left you will come back if you play your cards right. I would like to know more about why Jesse says it is he wrong direction to go after getting dumped.

    Having read through most if his writings here I do understand what he is proposing by why the absence addressing that people do get back together.

    • Rearofthedecade

      I’m not Jesse so I can’t answer for him but I can give my 2 pence to this. Of course reconciliations happen but if after a break up you go in with that attitude you are on the path to more disappointment pain and grief. You are also less likely to succeed. If your plan is to get over your girlfriend that goal is easier to achieve and you come out of it quicker and a better person. If, when you are this confident, better person, you are approached by a girl who happens to be your ex, you can decide to reconcile. But you won’t be disappointed if that event never occurs.
      When I was 18 my first gf left me. I was in pieces and vowed to win her back. I tried no-contacting hoping that she would learn to miss me and reach out, then I could ask her out again and we would be together again. I waited 30 days. nothing. then I waited more, still nothing. Eventually I lost control, shoved all my feelings into a text and was told, she didn’t want to see me ever again. This was 2 months after the initial break-up and it felt twice as bad. I was rejected twice. I went into a spiral of misery. It was a 6 month relationship and it took me years to fully forget about it.
      Recently I have been rejected by a new girl. The circumstances this time are much crueler. We have been together for 2 1/2 years and she left me for another man. I told myself from the off I will not get her back. Only two weeks in I feel more confident already. I even have a new date next week). I still have sad emotions from time to time but I am recovering quickly. I don’t need her anymore. If she ever gets in contact with me again I will be a rational human being with a rational brain who can look at the evidence and decide if it is a good idea or not.
      People should reconcile if it is in their best interest, people can only know if it is in their best interest by being rational, you can only be rational when you are not consumed with feelings of loss, anger and sadness.