How To Stop Dwelling In The Past

How To Stop Dwelling In The Past
From a reader:

Hi Jesse,

I have been reading your articles and they are very helpful. A few months ago my ex broke up with me a week after our one year anniversary. It was long distance and she was from LA and I am from Philadelphia, but we both met at Penn State. She still has time at Penn State and I graduated a year ago and I have had the most trouble with not contacting her and this has caused massive problems for us and our image after one year. My anger and obsession with her has gotten worse and worse as I found out more and more things about her and how quickly she moved on (weeks after she broke up with me). What’s your suggestion for getting back my confiendence, getting over her, and realizing that it was over and things were probably not going to work out for the longrun? I loved her but the distance was very hard on both of us. She moved on so quickly but how can I try and move on and stop dwelling on the past?

Thanks Jesse

It’s hard when you’re having a harder time getting over her than the other way around. Unfortunately this is often the case because we as guys generally aren’t as tuned into the status of the relationship as women are. Women are constantly monitoring the relationship and it’s something we as men, need to learn to do. Realizing that it often isn’t ingrained, natural behavior for us, is the first step.

The distance likely made it easier for her to get used to the idea of not being in a relationship with you. When women break up with guys it often looks as if she’s able to move on incredibly quickly. At some level this is true, women are generally better prepared for the breakup when they initiate it. They roughly know where to go from there and and are better positioned to get on with their lives. But they owe their head start due to being better in tune with where the relationship was going and unconsciously coming up with contingencies.

Guys, however, are frequently not in tune with the status of the relationship. They are blind sided when their girlfriends initiate a breakup and are shocked to hear that the “things weren’t going well”. It sounds like this, to a certain extent, is what happened to you. As a result you have to accept this whole new reality. Not only was the relationship not going well, it’s beyond saving now, it’s over.

A reality shift like that can be very hard to deal with. So I would start by giving yourself some slack. Instead of condemning your obsessive and excessive behavior, come to understand it. You were living in your own reality and she just introduced you to the real world. That hurts and your natural instincts are going to be to fight this new reality with everything you’ve got.

You’ve done that now. You’ve obsessed over her, you’ve probably contacted her in desperation and left voice mail messages on her phone. I’ve been there, friends of mine have been there and thousands of other readers have been there. Accept that you’re still obsessed about her and accept that you were unable to control those feelings before. It’s because you feel so attached to this person and you couldn’t help yourself.

To get more to the point and answer your question. You move on by going through all of the pain, instead of running away from it. You’ve probably read and heard that you need to accept that it’s over. It doesn’t stop there. You need to accept that a part of you doesn’t want it to be over. You need to accept that you’re still a bit obsessed with her. You need to accept that this might be one of the most painful experiences of your life and that you’re not good at handling it. You need to accept where you are now, and it might not be a pretty place.

Accepting the different facets of your current situation creates some mental space for yourself. It doesn’t make things less sad, or less hard. It gives you just a little bit of mind space to plan ahead and to start building a new life. Because that’s your mission going forward: building a new life. And if that sounds daunting, guess what, that too is an emotion you will need to accept and embrace.

About Jesse

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


  1. Eric Luzania says:

    Hey Jesse, just wanna start off by saying thank you, and you’re an inspiration to all of us guys that are going through what You went through. I just broke up with my gf of a year and 1/2, 2 weeks ago. We were like most couples. Went on trips, made love often, went out dancing, movies, etc, do cute things that couples do. One night I found out that she had been going out to clubs and getting drunk behind my back. I felt so betrayed and angry. I broke up with her right there. She broke my trust and I’ll never be able to trust her or see her the same again. She begged for me back for 2 days. But I told her I was done with her. To never contact me again. Fast forward 2 weeks, I haven’t heard from her since. It’s what I wanted, but damn does it hurt. I’ve never been in more emotional pain in my life. Sometimes I feel like I wanna die. Sleepless nights, thinking about the good times we had, having dreams that were together happy again only to wake up disappointed and heart broken again. Cant go 5 seconds without thinking about her, wondering what’s she’s doing. Every song I hear makes me think of her. I miss her so damn much. I wanna laugh with her, kiss her, and cuddle with her again. I’m all torn up inside and it’s giving me depression and really bad anxiety. I started smoking because of it, and yet I’m a health nut. I feel like when she left my happiness left with her. I wanna be happy again. I have a sense of hopelessness, and I get angry when I see other couples happy together when I shouldn’t be. There’s so many questions I wanna ask her, so many things I wanna say to her. But I’m not. I’m going with your advice on no contact. And I’m usually true to my word. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss her dearly. It’s not easy, it’s the hardest thing I’ve done so far. But damn does it hurt like heck. Sorry about me just going on. Yu just seem like a bro to me, someone I can talk to over a beer. Just gotta take it one day at a time I guess.

  2. This site has been a life saver in the early stages of my breakup. My gf
    of 2 years broke up with me 3 weeks ago. I stumbled upon this space you
    created just as I had reached my tipping point, as you put it. Through
    your posts and comment responses, I have gained so much insight and
    understand. I’m currently on 2 weeks of NC after begging/pleading/doing
    everything I shouldn’t have been doing. I wanted to spend the rest of my
    life with my ex and was convinced she was the one. After a week of
    begging and telling her how much I loved her and how I would change for
    her to make her happier, I can now look back (2 weeks later) and see
    that I was just scared to death of being alone and I had let this girl
    define who I was and more importantly dictate my happiness. I now see
    that I depended on her and lost my self worth. Although it’s only been 3
    weeks, I am able to see the faults of the relationship and many things I
    hated about her, but learned to accept because I was blinded by love. I
    have accepted my loss and I’m now trying to become the “best me” I have
    ever been. Your words of advice have helped me immensely in reaching a
    realization quicker that I ever would have done on my own. NC is about
    accepting my loss, moving on and putting an end to the excruciating
    pain. Only ME as an individual can make that change. I still go through times when I want to be with her but I have learned to accept that as my body’s natural reaction. While it’s not all great all the time, it sure is better than I thought possible 3 weeks ago. Thank you Jesse,
    you have really helped me get out of this hell hole and back on the road
    to full recovery.

    • It’s incredible how there are thousands of sites for women, but only a few (good) sites for men. And this is a great one: free, helpful, honest, friendly, and without bulls…

      It was a life-saver for me too. To do the “right” things after my breakup.

      After six years my ex decided that It was time to end the relationship. I was aware, and semi-prepared. What I wasn’t prepared for was to deal with my own view of me after that… I punished myself a lot.

      The good part is that I went very well “no-contact” and strictly. Since that day I don’t know anything about her and, I hope, she doesn’t know anything about me (and I know even she doesn’t care anymore and she is in her new-life now).

      My problem is that it has been two years now: I’m very well recovered, in a new beautiful relationship, taking care of me: training, making new things and activities, trying to be a better person everyday, but…

      … I still think about her.

      Sometimes more, sometimes less, with nostalgia.

      I really don’t want to think about her anymore, and she doesn’t deserve it for how she was with me in the final chapter of our relationship.

      But evidently, some part of me still want to see her again, and shout to her face how well I’m now and I hope she receive the same bad things that she gave me.

      I now that is pointless, and in reality I hope I don’t see her never again. But some part of me wants revenge. I will not do anything about this (with her I mean), but I hope this feelings disappear soon.

      I want to keep making a better and wonderful life (as I’m doing) without her.

      But the scar huts bad some days…

      Sorry for my english, and my catharsis.

      Thanks for all your help Jesse.

      The Best for all,



    Wow man, thank you for an incredibly honest description of how to face this horror head on. This is my 3rd comment on your site in 24 hours – coming from someone that doesnt usually bother commenting on any site – I just need to say thanks and please keep up the good work.

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