How to Let Go of an Ex-Partner

We just received a disturbing e-mail from someone close to our alienating parent, about our alienating parent’s ongoing behavior.  There is great concern among her inner circle about her inability to let go of her relationship with the targeted parent.  They were married for less than five years, and divorced over thirty-seven years ago.

No, that’s not a typographical error:  our alienated parent has been divorced from the targeted parent for over thirty-seven years.

It seems she continues to dwell on the past, instead of enjoying the present and looking forward to the future.  She posts photos and stories from the time when she was married to the targeted parent, while photos and stories from her current marriage are non-existent.

Why this obsession over a marriage that ended so many years ago?  Why does she have such a difficult time letting go?   The following are some insights into this aspect of parental alienation:

How to Let Go of An Ex-Partner:

The main reason we struggle to let go in a romantic situation is because we are still emotionally attached to our ex. We become attached because our partners have been meeting our needs. When they are no longer there we can feel empty and lost. In essence, we fail to let go when there is unfinished emotional business in a relationship.

We can feel the loss in two key ways. We may miss all the lovely things about our ex and long to have them back (conveniently forgetting all the things we hated or that drove us mad). Alternatively we may continue to resent them or fight with them, long after the relationship has ended. In my relationship counselling work I am often amazed that ex-partners can still be fighting decades after a divorce. One couple I knew were still arguing about who should keep a cutlery set which had been a wedding present, fourteen years after their Decree Nisi had come through! This resentment and anger is also an inability to let somebody go from our life. Needless to say, holding on to anybody in a positive or a negative way is not healthy because unless we have let somebody go we are not fully available for a new partner. Our life energy is being wasted by dwelling on the past, rather than living in the present.

Once you have identified the need you are trying to meet with an ex, or even with a new partner, try to see that gift in yourself. You may have to work on your self-esteem and any heartbreaks and traumas from your past that have lead to you having any negative self-beliefs. As you recognise these gifts in yourself you will not feel so dependent on your ex. Typically you will need to work at letting-go over a period of time as our needs and hurt can come in many layers, which need healing one at a time.

If you are still feeling angry or resentful about an ex, the way to move on is the same as I have just described, but you will also need to forgive them for having let you down. Any bad behaviour would have been coming from their own emotional and spiritual pain. Realise that they were almost certainly looking for the same gifts in you that you were looking for in them. In truth both of you had them, but had lost sight of this. If you have a spiritual or religious belief, then you can ask for strength and guidance in your letting-go and for the truth to be revealed for you all.

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