The Luv Doc: Getting Over Someone
We’re programmed to dream up worst-case scenarios as a survival mechanism
Dear Luv Doc,
I am currently going through a breakup after a six-year relationship. She has cheated on me repeatedly and has had a problem with alcohol and drugs the entire time. Yet I sit here missing her and hoping we get back together if/when she gets better (which she has said she is trying to do) ... how can I get over someone so bad for me?
She sounds like a real catch. Why wouldn't you miss her? I mean, you might not miss the psychological stress of always wondering whether she's out somewhere drunk off her ass and high as a kite having sex with some rando, but you probably will miss the times when all her lust and dependency was focused squarely on you. You might also miss those times of relative normalcy when it almost seemed like the whole monogamous relationship thing was going to work out. I mean, she couldn't possibly be in party-beast mode 24/7, could she? She had to at least sleep ... or maybe pass out on the toilet? My guess, however, is that the normalcy never lasted long enough for you to feel truly secure.
It's also possible that you developed coping mechanisms to help you deal with all the craziness and uncertainty. After a while – say, six years – those coping mechanisms might even feel like your comfort zone. The craziness you do know is always less scary than the craziness you can't even imagine. Then again, maybe she wasn't all that bad, and maybe you weren't all that heroic or innocent. I can't be the judge of that.
I can tell you this, however: The way you get over someone so bad for you is with resolve and time. As much as we humans like to credit ourselves for the power of our imaginations, we really have a hard time visualizing positive outcomes. Maybe it's because somewhere deep in our DNA, we're programmed to dream up worst-case scenarios as a survival mechanism. In modern times, it might be useful to have something like a "thrival" mechanism – some sort of genetically programmed mental trick for imagining best-case outcomes. In fact, it seems like God really shit the bed evolution-wise when it comes to higher-order thinking. If nothing else, this column ought to prove that.
But really, you had a life before you met this woman. Was it so horrible? Was it so incomplete? Perhaps it was lacking some of the excitement and intrigue that comes with living with a chemically dependent serial cheater, but it probably wasn't all that bad; and if it was, well, there's something you can work on your own self: What do you do to make yourself happy and fulfilled? You concentrate hard on that, and time will fly so fast, you might not even notice getting over someone so bad for you.