Here’s Why You’re Still Obsessed With That One Terrible Ex

If you’ve ever been in a relationship which involved a guy who treated you like crap, you’ve probably had at least one person ask what you saw in him. Logically speaking, you should hate his guts — he treated you like crap and didn’t make you happy. And yet, you still can’t quite put him behind you. What’s the deal?

  1. You don’t want to admit that your investment was wasted.  If you constantly found yourself in a position of giving, your brain might be fooling you into sticking around. When we spend a lot of time, money, and energy on something, we have a tendency of trying to convince ourselves that it’s all worth it. In business and investing, this is known as the “sunk cost fallacy.” When you’re dealing with people, it’s called the “Benjamin Franklin effect.” In other words, we’re more willing to like people we do things for because we wrongly think they’ll do the same for us.
  2. You fell in love with who you want him to be, not who he is. When we fall in love, sometimes part of our that attraction is to the person we wish our partner was or what he could be rather than who he is right now. We want to see him become this supercharged version of himself so badly that we begin to fool ourselves into thinking that’s who he really is. That can make it extra hard for us to let go of the person who’s actually there — even if he’s horrible.
  3. You don’t really remember what life without him was like. It’s extremely hard to cope with change. If you were with him 24/7, you might have gotten used to having him around. In this case, you need to realize that you’re not still in love with him — you were in love with the fact that you had someone next to you. Plus, the longer you stay with Mr. Wrong, the longer you’re keeping yourself from finding Mr. Right.
  4. The sex was great. As much as we might hate to admit it, mind-blowing sex can make us catch and retain feelings for a guy. Sex releases feel-good hormones, and that can fool us into thinking we’re in love with his personality when we’re not. It happens, and once you realize what’s happened, it’s easier to get over it.
  5. You went through Big Things together. We tend to remember our firsts fondly. If he was a first kiss, a first boyfriend, a first fiance, or a guy who took your virginity, it’s natural to feel some kind of loyalty to him regardless of whether he deserves it. As a result, you end up still feeling for him long after he ends up screwing you over.
  6. You haven’t actually given yourself enough time and space from him. Every kind of breakup, even those from a toxic person, take time to process. If you haven’t taken some serious distance from him and really given yourself some time and space to heal and move on, you need to get on that ASAP.
  7. You want closure and it’s messing with your head. We really tend to get a little loopy over certain concepts, and the most damning is “closure.” Sometimes, we have an idea of how a relationship should end before it’s really over. You might be expecting an apology that will never come, an admission of guilt, or some tears from a man without remorse, but it’ll likely never come.
  8. Sometimes, we don’t think we can get better. If you’ve been dealing with a really crappy guy, your self-esteem might be shot and you might think he’s the best there is. Believe me, he’s not. The sooner you get away from him for good, the better.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is a New Jersey based writer and editor with bylines in Mashed, Newsbreak, Good Men Project, YourTango, and many more. She’s also the author of a safe travel guide for LGBTQIA+ people available on Amazon.

She regularly writes on her popular Medium page and posts on TikTok and Instagram @ossianamakescontent.