How to quit obsessing over lost love |

How to quit obsessing over lost love

Neil Rosenthal
Vail CO, Colorado


Dear Neil,

I am 23, a college graduate and fairly good looking. I recently ended a relationship with a 28-year-old man who basically would hand the world to me if he could. I ended it for a jerk.

The new person I got involved with has lied to me, rejected me and abruptly ended our relationship. But I love him dearly. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for him, and now I am obsessed with him. I call him, then hang up when he answers. I drive 30 miles out of my way just so I can drive past his apartment. I constantly think and talk about him. Everything reminds me of him.

I am a regular reader of your column, and I was hoping you could address the subject of obsession. He is not the first person to consume my life.

” Obsessing Over A Jerk in Wisconsin

Dear Wisconsin,

What you’ve described is that you have rejected a man who was emotionally available for you ” and wanted you ” and you chose (and went all out for) a man who you can’t have and who doesn’t want you.

That is the first place I’d recommend you look. What is it about emotionally-unavailable men (who do not give their heart) that appeals so much to you?

Often this theme comes from childhood, where over and over again you kept trying to win the affection, approval or love from one or both of your parents, which you couldn’t win. It would then be familiar in adulthood to pursue a person who is difficult to be close to, and to reject a person that just gives his availability, acceptance and open-heartedness without you having to do anything to win it. In your own mind, you have to win or labor to earn someone’s love in order for you to value it.

It’s hard to do everything you can to win someone’s heart, only to end up with nothing. But persisting and obsessing over him only means that you’re going to suffer more, because those behaviors are unlikely to win him back. Also, I assume you know that if he went to the police, you could be charged with harassment.

Don’t continue this pattern of trying to win, threaten, coerce, seduce or intimidate someone into a relationship who acts as if he doesn’t want you. Your work is to explore why you chose men you can’t have and why you reject the ones that you can have ” and to heal that dynamic so that you could be available to love and be loved at the same time.

You cannot make an emotionally distant, withdrawn, guarded or armored man emotionally available. It is far easier to choose a man who doesn’t have walls and barriers surrounding his heart. Be willing to look at what you’re getting from going after men who don’t want you. It’s a lot more fun pursuing (and being pursued by) someone you can actually catch.

Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Denver and Boulder, specializing in how people strengthen their intimate relationships. He can be reached at (303) 758-8777, or e-mail him from his website,

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