The Sex Column: 'My ex is now living the life I wanted with him'

I was with my ex for seven years and although I wanted to get married, he kept putting it off, even telling me we couldn’t afford it even though I would have been happy with a register office.

He eventually turned cold, stopped wanting sex and we split up.

He’s since met someone else and recently proposed to her.

Since their engagement, I’ve been looking at her social media account and feel really low about it.

What’s your advice?

You’ve made the stinging discovery that your ex didn’t have deep principles about marriage after all.

‘Instead, you just weren’t the right one for him,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin.

Such a brutally unambiguous situation can drive our emotional brain to seek out anything that confirms the inaccurate belief that we’re flawed, and the social media pages of an ex’s new partner are always a fine place to start.

‘Although you’re feeling crushed, if you can connect with your logical brain you will recognise that if you weren’t the right one for him, then he wasn’t the right one for you,’ Rudkin continues.

Couples are drawn to each other for complicated reasons.

‘Many individuals need to work through issues that include giving and receiving love, and experiencing reliability and mutual respect, which can stem from their early childhood relationships,’ says Rupert Smith. ‘Sometimes these dynamics lead to growth, sometimes they reach a stalemate.’

If, however, you recognise a pattern you are repeating, investigate this chasing and avoidance dynamic while embracing the healing trinity that is hope, distraction and emollient cream.

‘When I was little, I had eczema on my arms. It was miserable,’ says James McConnachie. ‘The only thing that made me feel better was scratching — which, of course, only made it worse.

‘But this formula might work for you and it requires you to first focus on hope. The pain of losing a partner passes with time — you’ll be over the worst in months and you’ll have your head up inside a year.’

Second, distract yourself. Block their social media pages and any time you feel a compulsion to check, throw yourself into something — call a friend, do star jumps, anything.

‘Then apply emollient through healthy soothing and pampering,’ he says.

Throw yourself into projects, friendships, healing and fun.

‘That will leave you in a great position to find someone who wants to join in,’ says Rudkin.

The experts

Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor

James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)

Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist

Got a sex and dating dilemma?

To get expert advice, send your problem to [email protected]

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