Help, My Ex Is Dating Someone Else and I Can’t Handle It

Help, My Ex Is Dating Someone Else and I Can't Handle It

Dear Doc,

I recently got out of a three year relationship that was my longest so far. It wasn’t perfect and the breakup want pretty. There was a lot of toxicity between me and my ex and we were in two different places in life.

Since my ex moved out of my house. I’ve been trying my best to get over her. I have my life put together for the most part. I own my home, own my car, have a cat and a dog, go to meetups and have a small friend circle.

My problem is that I feel like I’m not enough. And the reason for that is because I snooped on my exes Twitter account. I realized she had a new partner. A masculine, attractive and hung guy (my ex is a SW with an OnlyFans). Somebody who I was the complete opposite of. I realize it’s wrong to obviously look at what I saw but I was curious. I immediately closed out the browser and went to the gym. I’ve been going to the gym since my breakup but after seeing who replaced me. I realized that I might not be able to match up with other men.

I’m 32. I have my life together. Except I can’t get women. I don’t have hookups because nobody wants to hookup with me. I never see women looking at me. I never make eye contact with them because they never look or notice me. I realize that I might not be able to measure up. Unless I keep working out to the point where I look so muscular that they’ll have to notice me. I realize it’s not healthy but after seeing my replacement, who supposedly also has a bunch of other women on side. Makes me believe that 80/20 rule might actually be a fact. If a guy like my ex’s new FWB has many women he’s sleeping with and I can’t even find someone new to even chat with me or match with me online. Then I honestly feel extremely hopeless and possibly doomed.

I’ve always struggled with women. Talking to them or even knowing if they’re interested. The only way I’ve dated was with dating apps and I’ve been trying since the breakup and I just simply haven’t gotten any matches. Except for bots and women selling services or their OnlyFans.

Honestly Doc, the best way I can describe myself is that I feel like a successful loser. I feel like if I can’t get women, can’t get laid despite being a single bachelor with no roommates, then I simply am just a loser. I hate the fact that it is a competition out there.

I try reading your blogs because you send out a form of positive reinforcement that other blogs don’t tend to do. I don’t follow the redpill or any PUA stuff but I do enjoy your blog posts. I try to stay positive and I try to keep to my routines. I really want someone to notice me and notice that I do have alot to offer but if I can’t stand out then they can’t even see me. I feel like telling myself everyday that I’m enough and that I’m great and just constant affirmations will slowly make me feel hopeless because no matter how much I try to reaffirm myself, at the end of the night. It’s still just me by myself in my house watching movies alone.

I don’t miss my ex. But I miss the feeling of someone being there, laughing and talking to someone. I miss that person being in my life everyday and falling asleep every night. And I hate that someone new gets to share that with her. I hate that someone new is someone that many women desire because it makes me feeling like I’m just not enough for the majority of women and I honestly just don’t know what to do.

Hopelessly Hopeful

Well, I think we can start things off with “this is why taking the Nuclear Option is a good idea,” HH. The point of blocking your ex all over the place isn’t to say “we broke up and NOW YOU’RE DEAD TO ME!”, it’s to give yourself time to heal and get over them. That’s not something that can happen if you’re busy picking at the scab and reopening the wound by, say, going through her social media and discovering that she’s dating someone new. Nor, for that matter, can it happen if seeing your ex has moved on is going to make all your anxieties fire off at once.

This is doubly true in your case, since your ex has an OnlyFans; if seeing her doing sex work is going to sandpaper your nerves and kick your soul in the nuts, then you’re better off ensuring you’re not going to see this by “accident”.

However, as so often happens with letters like this, HH, you’re coming to this from a faulty premise to start with.

(Well, two, if we count “looked at someone’s public social media profile is snooping”, but that’s not a nit as what needs picking.)

The faulty premise you’re coming from is that your ex’s future relationships are somehow a commentary on you. You’re treating her current beau as though she picked him specifically because… what, because he’s not you? The opposite of you? Nah. Certainly not in the way you think. I can all but guarantee you that at no point did your ex think “oh hey, I just got out of my relationship with HH, time to move up to the next level of boyfriend,” nor did she think “oh hey, this guy is everything I really wanted in a relationship unlike when I was with HH”. What she almost certainly thought was “hey, I like this person,” the same as she did when she was dating you.

This is something I regularly see in letters — usually, but not exclusively from men: the idea that one’s exes future relationships are just a continuous stream of upgrades or moving up to the next tier of partner. Except life isn’t an RPG with common, uncommon, rare and legendary tier relationship drops; it’s individuals meeting other individuals and deciding they like them. If you were to look at anyone‘s relationship history – man, woman, non-binary or genderqueer, gay, straight, bi, pan, ace, what-have-you – and track it like a graph, you’re going to see a series of peaks and valleys, not just “line goes up”.

In fact, if you were to look at your own dating history, I’m sure you would see much the same. Do you look at any person you date by the criteria of “this person is X levels hotter than my past girlfriend”? Or are you taking each person as they come, judging them on their merits as an individual and how compatible they are with you? Unless your criteria for each relationship is to send a letter to your ex saying “My new girlfriend is better than you/ with bigger tits and a higher IQ”, I think we can both agree that it’s “judging them on their merits as an individual”.

The truth is that we choose our partners based not on who we dated, but who we are as people. If there’s an upward trend in quality of partners and relationships, that has far more to do with growing as people, learning more about ourselves and understanding more about what we want and need in a relationship and from others. I can promise you that, unless you really fucked up, you weren’t an active consideration in who your ex chose to date next.

And with your ex, I can assure you: the closest things came to “Well, I need someone who’s the opposite of HH,” was as you said in your letter – your relationship with your ex ended with a lot of toxicity and you and she were in different places in life. So, it’s not that she picked a new guy to slight you, she picked someone who she felt was right for her, who she is and where she is in her life, at this moment in time. The same as you do and did.

So, the first thing you need to recognize is that your ex is a person, like you, and isn’t using her future relationships to comment on her relationship with you. This is very much a case of “the call is coming from inside the house,” except the house in this case is your head. You’re making comparisons based on your own anxieties and self-limiting beliefs, rather than on reality. You’re assuming facts not in evidence, inventing a narrative that doesn’t exist and, for all intents and purposes, hurting your own feelings.

Quite honestly, this narrative you’ve created in your head is based on things you believe to be true, not on objective truth. As I’ve said many times before: our belief shapes our perception, which  shapes our reality. What you believe becomes the filter through which you see the world; this also includes what you don’t see. You believe that you’re a loser that nobody would like and so you accept that people could be attracted to you. You don’t see folks looking at you or giving you the hungry eyes for a couple of reasons. The first is that when folks do show interest, you discount the possibility that they’re interested; you’ll be quick to say that they clearly don’t like you, that they’re not looking at you because they think you’re cute or that it’s a trick and you miss cases where folks all but WAVE A FLAG SAYING “I WANT YOU IN MY PANTS NOW”.

(Trust me: been there, done that)

The second is that I’m willing to bet you’re mistaking what this looks like. Women expressing interest in someone – by which I mean in real-world interactions, not the “Oh my God, Becky, look at his butt” sort of expression when talking about celebrities or Instagram thirst-traps – doesn’t look like a Tex Avery wolf howling at Red Hot Riding Hood. It looks like her standing in proximity when they don’t have to, laughing too hard at your jokes and finding excuses to talk to you.

I mean, you’ve created all of these weird prerequisites and conditionals based on… well, false suppositions, for the most part. This guy isn’t your “replacement” is the most obvious, but also the question of whether he is or isn’t dating and/or sleeping with people besides your ex. Leaving aside the question of “are they dating or just creating content together”, who he is or isn’t sleeping with has nothing to do with your success, any more than your ex’s relationships have anything to do with you. You don’t know anything about this dude outside of random bits from looking up your ex’s Twitter and your own fears. Literally nothing about him or who he is or isn’t hooking up with doesn’t mean a damn thing because you and he are entirely different people. You are never going to have his results – not because you’re lesser than him, but because you aren’t him. You haven’t lived his exact life, had his exact experiences, gone through the exact formative moments that made him who he is today. You’re also not going to have my results or Larry’s, Curly’s, Moe’s or Shecky Joe’s because you’re not them. You’re you.

All of this is why I tell folks that the best thing they can do to break their self-limiting beliefs is to challenge them. I tell folks to ask “what if you’re wrong”, but another important question to ask is “why”. Case in point: why should being a single bachelor without roommates count as a factor in your mental equation about bringing women home or not? People with roommates date, fall in love and have random hook-ups, so why is that even something that comes up at all in your qualifications? If your not being muscular enough was the problem then why wasn’t it a problem three years ago when you and your ex got together?

And for that matter: why are you hoping to change yourself in order to win the approval of folks who (theoretically) couldn’t accept you as you are right now? Are you really that interested in dating someone that shallow?

Asking “why” – really asking, really digging in, not just accepting “because my jerkbrain/some asshole on Reddit said so” – is important because it helps you recognize just how absurd some of those beliefs are. But until you resolve to actively interrogate them instead of just passively accepting them as valid, it can often be hard to realize. In fact, I would especially recommend that you try to explain the “why” to a friend, particularly a female friend and see just how stupid it sounds when you say it out loud to someone else.

Just as important, however, is what you’re not doing. You’re not being an active participant in your own life. Everything you talk about in your letter is inherently passive: waiting for women to notice you, waiting for women to make eye contact first, waiting for them to match. You aren’t going to get anywhere while you’re waiting for life to happen to you. You need to actually do the work. That doesn’t mean “hitting the gym until you’re a muscle-bound Adonis and hope someone else will  make the first move”, it means “doing the hard and scary bits” like, say, “talking to strangers” or “asking women out on dates”.

Trust me when I tell you that you will get much, much further if you focus on developing your social muscles than your physical ones. The issue isn’t about how much you bench, it’s about the fact that you don’t take the initiative. If working out makes you feel better, then by all means keep at it; I’m a card-carrying congregant of the Iron Church and hitting the gym is a big part of my creativity and keeping my sanity. But working out and getting swole isn’t the answer, nor is it going to make you do better than whomever your ex is seeing now. If you attack “developing your social skills” the way you’re currently trying to develop your body, you will end up swimming through women like Scrooge McDuck diving into a Cronenbergian nightmare instead of his money bin.

But quite frankly, that’s not what you need to be working on the most. You sound like you’re dealing with anxiety and depression. Those are things that you should be addressing, and with a therapist, not a loudmouth with an advice column. Getting that under control goes much further towards improving your love life than whether or not you’re getting them gains, bro. But, as with meeting and dating women, this is going to necessitate actually getting comfortable with discomfort and doing the hard shit. You’re going to have to be willing to open up to someone to get help, just as you’re going to have to risk getting rejected in order to find a new partner. You’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone and be real with somebody so that they can help you address these underlying problems and get you to a place where they don’t rule your life. You don’t need a weight bench, you need Wellbutrin.

And one more thing: you’re not in competition with anyone. Even on dating apps, you’re not “competing” with people, you’re competing against a night alone at home. Talk to some of your female friends and ask them what their process is for going out with a guy off a dating app. Are they putting points into a spreadsheet and picking the guy who has the highest score? Or – and hear me out – is it a matter of “hey, this person is cute, we had a great conversation and he actually asked me out on a date, and this other guy sent me a picture of his dick three messages in”?

Gonna be real with you: it’s the latter, not the former.

Get to a therapist, HH, then focus on your social skills. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll improve.

Good luck.

Dear Dr. NerdLove:

I don’t know what is my problem with attachment and letting go. I’ve been living with a guy that I knew didn’t want a relationship with me and wanted more of a FWB things after a year of seeing each other. He slept with other people. We had a lot of bad moments. But we also had great moments. Moments that I don’t want to end, and they will soon because he’s joining the military. I am 22 years old and so is he. We met when we were 20.

Even though I know we are very young, and I can understand he wants to be with more people (a thought that kills me because I feel like I only want to be with him) and he also wants to experience life. Don’t be tied to someone, I am trying to be happy for him. I know moving in with him was not great but I start to think I have an obsession for him because I get very depressed.

I am in a point where I just can’t understand why he doesn’t want to spend his life with me, and I also don’t seem to let go. It feels like I have this desire of just wait for him, and I don’t want to live like that. I feel like I have a very romanticized idea of love and people. I don’t know what to do to move on.

– Stuck in Reverse

I’m a bit at a loss here, SIR, because you basically set yourself up for failure as efficiently as you could possibly want. You’re living with a guy who you know doesn’t want a relationship with you, who doesn’t want to be monogamous with you, has slept with other folks and wants to join the military and see the world.

I mean, if getting your heart broken every day and twice on Sundays is your kink, then hey, Yahtzee. But since it clearly isn’t… I’m kinda wondering why you didn’t turn back the first time you passed the first sign that said “Danger, bridge out”. Or the second one that said “I’d turn back if I were you.” Or the third that said “beware of jaguars”.

So, straight talk: you’re asking the wrong question. You don’t need to ask why he doesn’t want to spend his life with you; partially because you’re both way the fuck too young to be thinking about “the rest of our lives”, but also because, honestly? His reasons don’t matter. You’re not going to change his mind, especially considering how many times he’s demonstrated that he’s not interested in that. It sucks, I know, but the cold and hard truth is that nothing you do or say is going to change his mind. He’s had a year to think things through and he very clearly landed on “no”.

The question you need to ask yourself why are you holding onto someone who doesn’t want you? I mean, dude has made it as clear as day what his position is; why is he, specifically, worth the pain, heartbreak and disrespect? Why is letting him shred your soul more important than your dignity or happiness?

Now, the good news is that you don’t have to worry about letting go. The bad news is because he’s gonna do that for you. The relationship is already over; it’s just a matter of time until you’re going to be forced to accept this. And that day is coming. He’s going to get up and leave and there won’t be any point in waiting because if and when he comes back… he’s not going to be coming back to you.

Yes, that’s harsh. Yes, that hurts. But the truth is that it’s going to hurt a lot worse down the line if you can’t accept it now.

Not to go all Cobra Kai on you or anything, but my advice is to strike first. You already know this relationship is over and even the bit you’re clinging to will end sooner rather than later, so if you want to be able to move on, quit dragging it out. Stop trying to peel back this particular bandage one nanometer at a time and just rip the damn thing off. It’ll hurt a lot, yes, but that sudden sharp pain, as intense as it will be, will still be less than the amount of pain you’re going to be feeling between today and the day he leaves. Better to quit hoping that things will change, cut your losses and leave – both emotionally and physically. Find an apartment, find a roommate, move in with friends, but pack your stuff and move out. Let the relationship end with the closing of the door as you get in the car and drive off to your new place and if you’re going to have to mourn the loss of a relationship, you can do so in an apartment that isn’t going to be wall to wall reminders of him.

Now for a truth that will bring no comfort to you now: this too, shall pass. You are very young, and while everything feels bigger and more intense when you’re in your early 20s, I can promise you: this is not the end of love for you. This is not even the beginning of the end. This is the end of the beginning, the event that will shape your future for the better, if you let it. This is the relationship that’s going to teach you that you are worth more than whatever scraps someone is willing to throw to you, and that you deserve better than to chase people who aren’t willing to chase you back. And it’s the relationship that will teach you that no matter how much you water it, a dead plant won’t grow.

It’s time to stop watering this dead plant. It’s time to stop investing your energy and tears in this dude. It’s time to do the hard but necessary thing and leave. the sooner you leave him, the sooner your healing can begin. The sooner your healing begins, the sooner you can be ready to meet someone who actually does want to be with you and isn’t forcing you to accept “FWB” when what you want is love and commitment.

But that can’t start until this relationship ends. And seeing as it’s ending anyway, you may as well do it now.

Good luck.