How to Let Go of Love
Have you been dumped, betrayed or left so heartbroken that you didn't ever want to love again? Are you still stuck on an ex and don't know how to move on? And how do you know when it's time to let go and look for love somewhere else? Dr. Phil has advice:
- If you're "the other woman" who's waiting for a man to leave his lover, don't waste your time. "If he'll do it with you, he'll do it to you," Dr. Phil says. The man you want lacks integrity and can't make a commitment.
- Are your standards too low? Dr. Phil asks a guest who's waiting around for a man that's let her down time and again: "What is it about you that causes you to settle for somebody that you know will cheat on you, know will lie to you, know will make a commitment and then break it? What is it about you that you believe about yourself that you're willing to settle for that?" Recognize that you're settling and that you deserve more. Set a higher standard for yourself.
- Does he really even make you happy? Be honest with yourself about the extent to which he's really meeting your needs. Chances are you're longing for the relationship that you wish it could be, and that you want to be in love with the person you wish he was. Dr. Phil reminds a guest: "There are times when you break up with somebody and you start missing them and you start thinking about all the good things. And then you're back with them for about 10 minutes and you go 'Oh yeah! Now I remember why I hate you!'" Don't kid yourself about what it was really like or glorify the past.
- Don't wait around because you think he's going to change. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so the chance that he's going to ride in on his white horse and do the right thing is pretty slim. Dr. Phil explains, "To the extent that there's some history, you don't have to speculate, you just have to measure."
- Don't put your life on hold. Every minute you spend focusing on your ex is a minute that's holding you back from a better future. Dr. Phil tells his guest, "As long you are obsessed on this guy, you will never put your heart, soul and mind into getting your life in order and starting another relationship if you want one." Set some goals and start putting your life back together.
- Ask yourself: Are you hiding in the relationship so you don't have to face the reality of being on your own? Don't stay with someone because it's comfortable and safe. It may seem more secure, but it's not healthy for you and it certainly won't help you get to a better place. Why would you want to settle and waste your life away just to avoid getting back in the game?
- Be clear with him. "You've got to say not just 'no,' but 'hell no,'" Dr. Phil tells his guest. "'Get out of my life. Stay away from me. Don't call me.'" If you live together, it's time to move out, or you may need to change your phone number. Dr. Phil reiterates: "Do what you have to do." If the circumstances are more complicated or severe, you may need to get a lawyer in order to get child support or to hold him accountable for any other outstanding issues.
- Don't hold all men responsible for the mistake your ex made. Why should he pay for the sins of someone else who may have wronged you?
- Learn to trust again — by trusting yourself. Dr. Phil tells a man who's having a hard time letting women back into his life: "Trust is not about how much you trust one person or another to do right or wrong. How much you trust another person is a function of how much you trust yourself to be strong enough to deal with their imperfections." Have enough faith in yourself to be able to put yourself on the line with someone, without any guarantee of what will happen next. If you're playing the game with sweaty palms, it's because you're afraid of what you can or can't do, or dealing with your own imperfections — it's not about the other person.
- Know that you will get hurt if you're in a relationship. There is no perfect person without flaws. Even a well-intended guy is going to hurt his partner. He's going to hurt your feelings. He's going to say things that you don't want him to say. He's going to do things you wish he wouldn't do and not do things you wish he would do. A relationship is an imperfect union between two willing spirits who say, ''I'd rather be in a relationship and share my life, share my joys, share my fun, share my activities, share my life than do it alone." If you want to be in a relationship, know that getting hurt comes with the territory. You just have to decide that you are durable enough, that you have enough confidence in yourself that you can handle it.
- Don't invest more than you can afford to lose. While it's important to move forward, you need to take things one step at a time. Don't put so much out there that you'll be emotionally bankrupt if things go south.
- Don't beat yourself up. You got through your last experience, you've learned from it, and now it's time to move forward. Dr. Phil tells his guest, "You'll move on and be a champion in your next endeavor as you did in your past ... Life is not a success-only journey. You are going to get beat up along the way."
- Focus on yourself. All of us come into relationships with baggage, but you need to have closure on past experiences before you can start a new relationship with the odds in your favor. Dr. Phil tells a guest who's had trouble with her father, her brother and two previous husbands: "Unless and until you've figured out everything you've got to figure out about that and you get closure, you will never come into a relationship with a fresh and clean heart and mind and expectancy and attitude." You're probably not ready to get into another relationship until you heal the wounds of your past.
- Listen to what he's saying. If he's telling you that you want different things out of life and there's no way you can work as a couple, don't turn his words around into what you want to hear. He's being quite clear.
- Know the statistics. Dr. Phil tells a guest who's waiting for her ex to come around: "There's a 50/50 chance a marriage is going to work if both people are head over heels in love, passionate and willing to climb the mountain, swim the river and slay the dragon to get to each other. That's with everybody crazy in love and running toward each other in that field that we see in the commercials. The problem you've got here is he's running the other way in the field! So if it's 50/50 when you're running toward each other, what do you think it is when the other person is running out of the field and hiding in the woods?"