It’s over, but something is still nagging at you. The two of you decided to go your separate ways because things just weren’t working out. Neither one of you could think of any good reason to continue the relationship. However, now that you’re apart, you still think about him/her; you continue to wonder what he/she is doing throughout his/her day; you are still visiting his/her Facebook page in order to see what’s going on in his/her life (his/her status, e.g. single, in a relationship, married); or you are missing having him/her under the same roof with you. The break-up may have been ugly and you thought as soon as you were apart, you would only be entertaining thoughts of “good riddance.” You believed that once you had your freedom, you would celebrate no longer having to answer to him/her; no longer having to clean-up behind him/her; or no longer having to deal with every conversation ending in an argument.
But now you’re experiencing feelings that are confusing to you. You think you must be crazy because all you could think of before was bringing closure to the relationship. You couldn’t wait until it was over. However, now you feel as though you can’t talk to anybody about these conflicting feelings because they will definitely think you’re crazy. Wasn’t it just recently they had to listen to you go on and on about how unhappy you were in the relationship? Didn’t they agree with you that the other party wasn’t right for you, didn’t deserve you, or could possibly be the worst thing that ever happened to you? Didn’t they encourage you to bring this disastrous relationship to an end? So how do you tell them that you’re now having lingering feelings and expect them to empathize with you? How do you explain that sometimes you actually miss the “worst thing that ever happened to you”? You are miserable because you are feeling guilty about these conflicting feelings. You can’t let this secret get out because something has to be wrong with you (according to you). You’re certain everyone will think less of you if you mention the word “miss” in the same sentence with the person whom you ended the relationship. Well, there is an explanation and you can stop feeling as if you’re crazy. By the way, you have plenty of company, and just like you, they’re not about to tell anybody about their struggles with residual feelings.
A relationship (good or bad) over time becomes a part of us. What becomes a part of us isn’t always easy to discard at the exact moment we declare that it’s over. Do not punish yourself because of conflicting feelings you may be experiencing. We all know that we can’t necessarily control our thoughts. We can’t always help how we feel. But what we do have control over in most situations is what we do – the action that we take. So just because you struggle with feelings of missing the other individual, don’t beat yourself up. However, it does not mean you are supposed to call him/her up and make arrangements to get together. Those who give into these feelings will tell you that as soon as the encounter is over, they are left with feelings of regret, emptiness, or disappointment that they gave into the urge to reunite with Mr./Ms. Wrong if only for a moment. You may miss him/her because he/she was a part of your life for whatever length of time the two of you were together. There was some interaction and as a result of that interaction certain bonds were formed. A connection, link, union, attachment of some sort existed and that is what you are missing. So when these feelings of missing him/her are aroused, don’t be hasty and act upon them. Believe it or not, your inaction is not going to kill you. If you still struggle with a sexual attraction to him/her, remember that sex is not interchangeable with love. So if you act upon the sexual attraction, once the act is over, you will still be left with the feelings, memories, and incidences that led to the break-up in the first place.
You’re going to be overwhelmed with feeling disappointed in yourself wondering how you could put yourself in such a position with the same man/woman with whom you used to argue ferociously; the same man/woman you accused of being the worst thing that ever happened to you; the same man/woman you couldn’t wait to remove from you life. At some point, the sex will not be fulfilling because sex is not necessarily love-making. Sex can occur without an ounce of feeling. It can be an act alone without any emotions, care, or consideration attached thereto. So if you become confused and believe that one more tryst with him/her will make you feel better, fix the problems that were responsible for the break-up, or satisfy your feelings of longing and/or loneliness, you had better be prepared for fleeting satisfaction. You cannot get mad with him/her because you made a decision wherein you wound up having sex when you were expecting loving-making or vice versa. It is up to you to be clear about what you are expecting as a result of your decision. If you went along just for the sake of sexual pleasure, that’s probably what you’re going to get – no more. If you are anticipating love-making that will result in reconciliation, you need to be clear so as to give the other party the opportunity to make the same choices that you want available to you. If you don’t believe his/her reasoning, then stay away until you believe one or the other. We must be willing to be held accountable for whatever our decisions are. It makes whatever the struggle is much easier when you’re honest with self.
Here is how you handle the struggle with residual feelings. Acknowledge them, but do not give credence (authority, weight, confidence) to them. Focus on the word “residual”. It means remaining, left over, etc. and you deserve much better than that. When you decided that it was time to move on; you wanted to live again and not merely co-exist with each other; you wanted to be in love with him/her and be loved by him/her – not just tolerating him/her and being tolerated by him/her, it was because you were ready to be whole, you wanted a new start, and a chance at a substantive, fulfilling, enjoyable, and passionate relationship. So when the residual feelings creep in and start to make you uneasy, remember what they are — leftovers, remnants, scraps, etc. With this knowledge, the struggle should be getting easier. In time, there won’t be any struggle. Your patience, perseverance and refusal to act upon residual feelings are the reasons why you will prevail.
Pamela Reaves © February 9, 2012