I Need To Stop Comparing Everyone To My Ex—It’s Only Hurting Me

I know it’s a terrible side effect of bad breakups and I’m only screwing myself over by indulging it, but I can’t help comparing the people I date lately to my ex. I judge others very harshly and decide ahead of time that they can never stack up against him. I wish I could stop but I can’t.

  1. I’m idealizing my ex and I know it. I’m blowing him up to be some superhero and conveniently forgetting his downfalls. I’m acting as if he was God’s gift to earth and the greatest lover. I’m getting carried away with the fantasy I’ve created about who I want him to be rather than who he really is. It’s easy for me to come up with a fiction, remembering him as the best. Logically, I know I’m guilty of all of this, but that doesn’t make it any easier to stop.
  2. I’m remembering things as better than they were. The reality is that our relationship was kind of crappy. It was toxic and messy. Nonetheless, I choose to remember things as better than they were. It’s that whole idea of romanticizing things and only remembering the good parts while setting aside the bad. The truth of the matter is that it was a relationship I should definitely be out of and I’m trying to keep my mind on that fact.
  3. Comparison is the thief of joy. Cheesy but true. Comparing my ex and our relationship to others only makes me unhappy. It steals my joy because it always leaves me wanting something other than what I have. When I’m ungrateful and comparing, nothing is enough. It also means that I’m harshly judging others when I really don’t even know their story.
  4. No one can ever stack up with the version of him in my mind. Since he’s so idealized, it’s impossible to compete. People can be lovely, smart, and attractive and I still feel blah about them. They aren’t my ex, so they aren’t enough. In reality, my ex was a human too with all kinds of flaws—more than I care to admit, really—but I keep a grandiose picture of him in my mind. Since the new people I date aren’t really how I feel my ex is, i.e. perfect, others keep falling short.
  5. I’m mind-reading these new people anyway. I’m assuming that I know all about these people based on the minimal interactions I’ve had with them. I’m creating a fiction about their lives and their story instead of learning what the truth is. It becomes easy to compare to my ex because I know all about the good parts of him when I don’t yet know the good parts of these people I’m just beginning to date. Mind-reading only gets me in trouble.
  6. It’s making me unable to enjoy datingI’m thinking, “Hm, you’re not quite as cute as my ex and I don’t get the same feeling he gave me while I’m with you.” I’m not making the best of my experiences, I’m just doing that whole dang comparing thing. It’s coloring people unappealing because I’ve got myself to a point where I’m just not interested.
  7. I’m being very critical of my dates. I’m judging them more harshly than I would if I wasn’t a tad heartbroken. I see their flaws as exaggerated to the point that they become all I can see. I don’t feel like I’m sitting with another human, whereas when I’m feeling normal, I give people much leeway to be themselves without me judging them. The critical part of me amps up when my heart is sad.
  8. I’ve always taken a while to get over people. I’m an extra sensitive human. I feel very deeply and for a long time. As a result, it generally takes me forever to get over people. I drag the heartache on for a while. This case is no exception, and it’s taking me much longer than I’d like to get over him, especially given how short of a time we were together, I tend to think I should be over things faster than I am. This isn’t true, though.
  9. Healing happens in its own time. As much as I’d love to snap my fingers and be healed, this stuff takes time. Broken hearts take time to be mended. I can’t speed up the process any quicker than it’s going to happen naturally. Unfortunately, healing has its own clock and sometimes it takes a while. I have to just keep putting myself out there as well as take good care of myself to move on.
  10. I’ll get over it eventually. I’m already getting over it. These symptoms have begun to fade and I’m thinking of him less and less. He’s no longer a fixture in my hour-to-hour thought. He does certainly pop into my head a few times a day, much more than I’d like, but I can see the improvement. There will come a time when I think about him almost never and I’ve stopped comparing others to him. I look forward to this time.
Ginelle has been writing professionally for more than six years and has a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing & design. Her writing has appeared on Birdie, Thought Catalog, Tiny Buddha and more. You can follow her on Instagram @ginelletesta, via her Facebook page, or through her website at ginelletesta.com.