Our self-help columnist Athena Laz is a licensed psychologist and the author of ‘You’ve Got This’. She works with men & women worldwide, helping them to release their fear and self-doubt so that they can move forward confidently in life. You can see her work here.
I have been struggling with this change in my relationship. My ex, whom I used to love and care with all that I had, left me for another guy. Unfortunately, this guy didn’t support her in anything (he also wasn’t loving either), so I used to assist her even when they were together. The problem is that they’ve broken up and now she wants me back, but I have moved on. My current partner is a loving and caring lady and she treats me like I’m a top priority. My ex is saying that she has changed and she will love me like before. What should I do?
From your question, it is clear that you are feeling conflicted and that your past break-up was a painful experience to go through. It’s also apparent that you may be dealing with low self-esteem. It sounds like your ex broke your heart and then continued to take advantage of you. After all, she left you for another man only to have you support her while she slept with him. Ouch.
Sometimes, brutal honesty and looking at things for what they are and not how you wish they would be is helpful. It means facing how you really feel, no matter how uncomfortable the experience. So how do you feel about yourself? Do you think you are worthy of an intimate, loving, satisfying relationship – where you can receive love as much as you give it?
Your current partner loves and makes you a priority. So what’s missing for you? Try to be honest here. Maybe your current partner just doesn’t do it for you (that’s more than okay) or maybe you are just not used to being made a top priority. You’ll have to reflect and answer that one for yourself.
What I can say, though, is that if your ex hadn’t just broken up with her partner, do you think she would be knocking on your door? Your history seems to suggest otherwise. Whatever she is going through and how she is allowing others to treat her is her business – you are not required to rescue or save her. So you need to look at your behaviour – why do you feel pulled to step in and assist her? Love? Maybe. Or maybe it’s familial wiring. It’s best to work this out with a therapist, who can be objective.
In the meantime, here are some questions to think about:
- How do you feel about your current partner?
- How do you feel about your ex?
- How do you feel about being single?
- What would a meaningful, loving, respectful relationship look like to you?
- Do you think you deserve to be treated well?
- What beliefs around love did your family teach you and do you see any of these beliefs being played out in your life right now?
Sometimes the most compassionate thing to do is to just take care of your own side of the street.
If you have a question for Athena, e-mail or tweet her. You can follow Athena here and see more of her work at Athenalaz.com. You can also receive her free audio course, designed to help you develop a healthy inner dialogue.