General Dating Questions/Forgetting My Last Love
Hello. My name is Kyle, and I'm 20 years old. I was with my last girlfriend for about four-and-a-half years; she was my second girlfriend, and, being naive high school students, we both thought it'd last forever. To make a very long story short, she broke it off about a year-and-a-half ago, and I haven't spoken to or seen her since.
Now, naturally, it was incredibly difficult for quite some time to deal with this sudden loss of someone who was, previously, such a huge part of one's life; never have I, personally, experienced something emotionally worse.
However, eventually, I managed to accept it and be glad it was over, because, in retrospect, the relationship was horrible during it's last some months, and needed to end. It did not end on good terms, just so that's stated. But yeah, as I said, it's been about a year-and-a-half since then, and I'd say I've been over her for quite some time.
On to my current girlfriend; we met a little over a month ago, and have seen each other at least every other day for the past few weeks, and greatly enjoy each other's company. She makes me very happy.
Now...as for my issue. Despite being long over my last girlfriend, and wishing to forget her entirely, and being increasingly happy with my current girlfriend, I still find myself flashing my last girlfriend into whatever current situation, if that makes sense. For instance, I'll be laying in bed with my girlfriend watching TV, holding her hand or running my fingers through her hair, and I'll suddenly remember doing that with my last girlfriend and see her there instead for a second. On top of that, I, albeit rarely, have dreams about my last girlfriend and getting back together with her (had one just last night).
This is, as I'm sure is obvious, very frustrating, and worries me greatly. I want to invest my time and effort into this girl, and focus on her and being with her, yet I can't stop remembering or imagining my last girlfriend. I tend to have an overactive imagination, but I'm not sure if that's it or not. I know for a fact that I DO NOT want to get back together with my ex-girlfriend, or even want anything to do with her, for that matter, yet this keeps happening, and I'm worried it won't stop, as it doesn't seem to be as simple as "Well just stop thinking about her." I no longer have a bunch of stuff from her laying around my room as memory triggers or anything, so I don't think that's it either.
Is this a relationship issue, or a psychological issue? Do you have any possibilities as to why she might still be on my mind? Do you have any recommendations about how to get her out of my mind, and keep her there? I realize it's a rather confusing issue, but any advice is appreciated. Thank you, in advance, for your time.
Your worries are unfounded. Sure you're going to flash-back to your previous girlfriend. That's absolutely normal! You shared a significant part of your life with her and events that you first experienced with her that are repeated (even casually) with your new girlfriend are going to bring back the event.
Again, perfectly normal!
This is exactly how your brain is supposed to work. It pattern-matches events in order to give you additional perspective and insight. You feel the flash-back is somehow a negative thing however and by giving it that weight, are reinforcing it. That's because all memories are "emotionally weighted". In other words, the more emotion you tie to a memory the more you remember it and the more impact it has on you. That's why one encounter with a man-eating tiger will help you avoid other encounters later on.
Thus, don't try to not think of the event. Instead, feel comfortable out it. Just avoid giving it additional weight. You can even smile (to yourself) and just say, "Oh yeah - I remember, but now..." and replace your girlfriend with the memory. That will change it all up for you.
You never stop loving someone you've loved before. It's like nature's little gift. That doesn't mean you don't get to have new loves however and these memories show you how.
Dr. Dennis W. Neder
Producers: "BAM! TV" and “Love and Sex”
Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”