How Can My Ex Move On So Quickly?

Reader’s Question

I have recently come out of a year long relationship, where the split was amicable and mostly down to work circumstances altering dramatically. We met on a job and were able to spend 24/7 together, and then when this changed it was too big a transition to maintain. In addition to this, I felt continually smothered with overblown romantic gestures and proclamations that we were soulmates and would marry, the whole deal. I realised that I didn’t feel the same way and started to pull back, and I think perhaps I have some low self-esteem issues which contributed to this.

He landed a new job quickly (whereas I am struggling with my career direction) which would take him travelling almost constantly, and now it transpires that he has found someone who, again, is the love of his life, who is working in this new job with him and with whom he can enjoy the same 24/7 attachment as we experienced. The result is that I am left feeling that the last year was a sham. I simply cannot understand his ability to move on this quickly — a matter of days — when I personally could not do so. This is all the more bewildering when he was the more intense and outwardly loving of the two of us, and is compounded by the openness with which he has started this new relationship and his lack of respect for what we had and a disregard for my feelings. I feel betrayed and am concerned that I will lose my ability to trust a partner in the future.

Do you have any advice as to how I can move past this and regain my sense of self-worth? In case it is relevant, I should mention that this is a gay relationship.

Psychologist’s Reply

Individuals who are quick to warm-up in relationships are often emotionally shallow. Often narcissistic and selfish, their major interest in relationships is their convenience and needs. They are often more involved in the theatrical drama of being in a relationship than actually being with their partner. As a result, their emotional investment in the relationship is minimal, despite their showering of loving comments and behaviors.

One way to imagine “shallow emotions” is owning a cheap automobile. You have an investment in the auto, but not that much. If it develops engine trouble, it’s actually cheaper for you to junk the vehicle and buy another cheap automobile rather than take the time and money to repair the original. If you get a job out of town and the automobile can’t make the trip, leave it and get a new automobile in the next city. You’re on the road again.

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The fault in this situation is not you, but the shallow emotional level of your ex-partner. You describe “his lack of respect for what we had”. When we are involved in an individual with shallow emotions, they have a totally different view of “what we had”, often seeing the relationship as an adventure more than a life-long committment. As in the automobile analogy — these folks go through many relationships over the years. It’s like famous movie stars that are married eight times. Rather than repair a relationship or marriage — simply leave this one and get another one.

There are warning signs that help identify these individuals. I’ve listed 20 in my article entitled Identifying Losers in Relationships on this website. As you might expect, “quick warm-up” and “rapid detachment” are included.

As I mention in my article, If something seems too good to be true…it probably is too good to be true. Be cautious.

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