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I'm Engaged But Still In Love With My Ex

You are likely idealizing the love that you shared with your ex. It was fraught with difficulty and a sense of doom, which made it more appealing and romantic, a la Romeo and Juliet.
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Reader Still In Love With My Ex writes,

I'm still in love with my ex even though I'm engaged to another man. My ex and I had a love that happens once in a lifetime. Unfortunately, his teenage daughter crippled the relationship after a year and a half. Of course she isn't 100% at fault, my ex should have disciplined her when she acted impolitely, rude etc. to me and I could have been less emotional/sensitive about it (easier said than done of course). In the end, the daughter got what she wanted - me out of the picture.

Fast forward 3+years. I'm engaged to a man who picked up my broken shattered-in-a-million-pieces heart and who I have a happy easy going life with. My ex is still single and not over our breakup, although he'll rarely admit it. The issue is that my soul lies with my ex and I feel certain he feels the same way. It leaves me with immense guilt because my fiancé deserves someone who loves him the way I love(d) my ex. But I also deserve happiness and to be with someone that won't give up on me and our relationship the way my ex did.

I've been open with my fiancé over the course of our relationship about my feelings, but he discredits them. It's quite a remarkable, but it's also sad that he blinds himself from the truth. He should have ended things with me a long time ago, but he wholeheartedly loves me and we have a lighthearted compatibility. I just wish I had the same real love feelings to give back, but they lie with someone else. My fiancé would argue that I do show him a tremendous amount of love, but I know what true love is, and this isn't it, for me.

Now I've been engaged for over a year and haven't planned a wedding. What do I do? If I break off my engagement do I stay single forever because I can't truly move on from my past? And if I take that leap of faith, break my fiance's heart and attempt to get back with my ex, am I just beating a dead horse? It would like be trying to make the impossible possible considering he'll always sacrifice his happiness for his daughter. I feel so conflicted.

Dear SILWME,

Your situation sounds difficult, but you may subconsciously making it even harder on yourself. I think you are probably repeating a pattern from your childhood, in which you pursue someone who is emotionally unavailable. This pattern is part of imago theory, and you can read about other people who continue to go after prospects who are all wrong for them here or here or anywhere else on my site (this, as you can imagine, is a common problem).

You are likely idealizing the love that you shared with your ex. It was fraught with difficulty and a sense of doom, which made it more appealing and romantic, a la Romeo and Juliet. You know intellectually that your ex will always prioritize his daughter, and that you cannot be the easy going mate that he would need in his present situation. However, you are not allowing yourself to move on.

Isn't it possible that you should be with neither your ex nor your current fiance? I agree that your fiance deserves better than a woman who is in love with another man. He likely has his own issues, and his imago partner is someone emotionally unavailable too. You guys are too similar to have a spark, it seems. Both of you are yearning after someone who you can't have. He put a ring on your finger, but he doesn't have your heart, and it is sad that this doesn't concern him.

Both you and your current fiance would do well in individual therapy, where you could figure out what's at the root of your ability to idealize partners who don't want you, or can't be with you, and why you stand in your own way and self-sabotage your happiness. For example, he could have left you when you conveyed that you're not in love with him; why didn't he? And you could look for another guy who you are in love with; why don't you?

Thanks for writing in, and whatever you do, please consider therapy as an option. It can help you make sense of what in your early life may be contributing to this unfulfilling stalemate. If not, at least read this book, by the author of the one I always recommend, Getting the Love You Want. And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Also Stop Speaking To Your Ex.

This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Order her book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family.

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