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The bad news is that ANY relationship that you fight for, love, keep forever, or lose will cause you pain at some time.

Humans are like that, no matter how hard we try not to be. And most of us know that the struggle will be just that – a struggle – sometimes.

But doesn’t it seem especially cruel and horrible when you THINK you’ve been through the hardest part of a messy breakup, THEN discover you’re still constantly thinking of him, feeling terrible, and losing sleep with a feverish cycle of what ifs?

When does this awful pain go away, and how can you make it go away faster?? Is there ANYthing that can help?

Dear Claire,

I don’t usually write to relationship experts – actually I NEVER have. But I wanted to thank you for your work. It really helped me so much to open up my heart to the possibilities around me.

And it worked. I met a great guy. But things haven’t worked out and now I am alone again. When we met he was in the process of ending things with his ex. But he and his ex still have some deep unfinished business so I finally decided I would not be part of that mess. I realized thanks to you that I deserve a man willing to do the hard stuff, and make a clean break from an ex all in an attempt to show me he wants me.

But even with knowing all of that as I do, why do I feel so terrible? I know I did the right thing. But I still have this nagging feeling of “What if…” – you know? When does that go away? ~ Best wishes, Gracie


Hi, Gracie.

Congratulations on doing the right thing. That may sound small, but I’ll bet you’ve fought quite a few painfully heartfelt battles in order to get where you are. Good for you for choosing to seek out the very best the world can offer you, rather than settling for a man who isn’t emotionally available.

I’m so sorry to hear that your great guy doesn’t have his act together yet – as long as he continues to allow himself to be tangled up in an ugly mess with his ex, he will keep missing out. Not just on all the good things an awesome woman like you can offer him, but on all the good things ANY healthy, stable, and loving woman can offer him. But who knows? Maybe he’ll shake himself free soon, or maybe he’ll patch things up and go back to his ex. We wish him the best.

Well, I’ll wish him the best, because I know it’s much, much harder for you to do it right now.

Now, on to a few things you might find helpful:

1. Of course you feel terrible.

You had to do an incredibly difficult thing! If you’d just finished running your first marathon in sub-4 hours, your heart would probably hurt less than it does right now. A direct face plant on rough concrete hurts less than a breakup. So let yourself feel the pain you feel. It’s not a switch that you can just turn off and on at will; it’s a lake of emotion that’s just been dumped on you, and it will be a powerful force until the lake is finally emptied out.

2. Celebrate your smart decision.

I know, it sounds hard, but truly, you did the right thing in not continuing to put your life on hold for a man who wasn’t doing his part to get free for you. So treat yourself to a few delightful “I did the right thing!” gifts.

They don’t FIX the pain, but they do REINFORCE your smart choice.

I don’t know what works for you, but what about a dinner out with girlfriends? Manicure/pedicure? Signing up for that Walk for Cancer, yoga class, or women’s triathalon that you just heard about? I’m sure you’ll think of something.

3. Get the support you need (And set a limit.)

Pour out your sorrow and celebrate your smarts with your close confidantes. Choose people who are emotionally healthy, entirely trustworthy, and who have YOUR best interest at heart.

But set a limit to the time you’re going to spend (one month? Six weeks?) being stuck in the past. Sure, you could have done things a thousand different ways, but you’ve chosen your best path, and now you’re sticking to it. So set apart a little bit of time to get therapy over Margaritas, then be done with it. Because…

4. Jump start your new chapter!

Make a plan for getting yourself back out in the world again – taking that class in Chinese calligraphy, or joining a cycling group like you’ve always wanted. Go back and remember what your dreams for your life were before you met this guy… What things did you put on hold? Get ’em out, brush ’em off, and get started again!

And… you knew I was going to say this one:

5. Start dating again.

It may be painful at first, but it will be less so as you start to meet new and exciting guys. The more emotional miles you can put between you and this breakup, the better you are going to feel.

Here’s How Long I Think This Process Should Take:

People hate it when I say “it takes as long as it takes.” Also they use that to stay stuck forEVER in the sticky, painful mess of their breakup, trying to get things back to where they wanted them to be. So I’ll give you a time limit, if you want one. This one’s mine, but you can borrow it. 🙂

Six weeks.

Give yourself six weeks to work this plan and be halfway to incredible by the time most people are done sobbing into their pillow. It CAN be done. I’ve done it. Lots of other women (and men) have done it. You can do it! For you.

One More Helpful Gift for You:

I’ve written a short, power-packed little book you might be interested in called “You Didn’t Want Him Anyway.” It takes you through the 5 simple steps to finding real love and trust again, including:

  • How to HALT the downward spiral and jet fuel your recovery
  • How to tell your real friends from the users
  • How to easily deal with the stupid garbage people are saying to you right now
  • How to enable the RIGHT men to find you (even if you’re “not ready for prime time”)
  • What men wish women knew about them
  • And the top 3 reasons guys fall in love

It also has lots more helpful extras at the end. And the best part? It’s only $3 on Amazon.

My very best to you!!

Claire Casey

Claire Casey devotes her writing to empower women; to help you attract the kind of man who will treasure your heart like the rare gem it is.

Take the Love Number Quiz (free) and make this YOUR year for love. Complete guide to skyrocketing your Love Number *included* with the Quiz!

What Do You Think?

4 Comments | Join the discussion

  • Colleen May 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Claire:
    Thank you for your advice. I’m a cerebral type in my forties, divorce with 2 kids, and I find your advice is just spot on. So much other advice is really geared towards younger people who have different dynamics and issues to work through.

    This is my second time working through CHH. I did like it the first time, but I must have fallen back into old habits, I’m a single mom, in my 40s, it’s hard to concentrate on building new skills.

    The first time I did this, I was able to win back a wonderful man, who had withdrawn and wanted to be friends. The first couple of months were wonderful heart opening, warm, big, not obsessive, healthy growing intimacy. Then withdrawl and break up. I said no, did no contact, CHH and started the TXB program also. I wanted a real, deeper relationship with him. Then he initiated a get back together. The next few months were good, but more cautious. Then, I felt us sliding into the friend zone. Then, he did it. It’s been 3 weeks now. We see each other at drop offs and pick ups at our kids schools, so there is a bit of polite contact.

    However last night, *pop* I realized something. Those first 2 months were limerence for him. That didn’t, for either natural healthy reasons, or defensive reasons, didn’t develop into a deeper love except for as a friend. This is the answer that makes the best sense all the actions. This is the answer that has finally allowed me to cry and grieve this relationship loss.

    I am still working on breaking my attachment to the prospect that there may be something in the future. We were a great match, and a great team. While we were together, he picked his business up that had been flagging, he improved his handling of his ex, which had given him great anxiety, he gained financial stability after wobbling for 3 years post-divorce, bought a house, he told me “thank you for helping me feel alive again;” we discussed all of these things and more as he was working through them. He helped me through my quandaries also. Do you think this is one of those that could go from “borderline “maybe” case and turn that in to a “hell yes”” ?

  • Lai May 11, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    This I want to know how would Claire answer you…

    Good luck

  • eric May 9, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Hi Claire its been 4 months since my girlfriend told me to leave her alone after a huge fight and I still think about her everyday. I was drinking a lot behind her back due to stress of my dad dying of cancer during our relationship and it caused me to treat her terribly (no abuse) but just no love or compassion. So she finally had enough and left me. In desperation I did the typical pathetic send her letters and flowers until she basically told me f off.

    I quit drinking and have really turned my life around in the last 4 months and am a totally different man with a huge heart and lots of love. Typically every relationship I’ve ever had I’ve treated women really well. This is the first one where I was just really in a bad spot and the woman saw me at my worst. So my ex never got to see the man who I really am and that is why its so hard for me to let go because in my mind I so desperately want to email her and tell her how much I’ve changed and how that was just s really bad time in my life and its now the person I really am.

    I love her more than any woman I’ve ever been with but am scared to email her because she was so adamant about me leaving her alone. But that was because she saw me as this terrible guy but I’m really not him and I’ve worked hard to turn my self around and take responsibility for my actions and in so badly want to show her the real me in hopes shell give us a chance.

    What should I do? I’m really heartbroken.




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