Question from reader

My ex-boyfriend was my first love. He’s the person I broke my virginity with and ours was a very deep love. Even though he cheated on me several times, which is why I broke up with him, I still feel deeply connected to him.

After being apart for just over two years I tried to reconnect with him, as I still can’t get over him. I found out that he’s married now with two children. My heart is broken afresh, and I'm hurting. Can I still fight for him or should I just move on? – FRUSTRATED

Expert advice from Mo and Phindi

Nothing can keep you from a happy future like a lingering relationship wound. Experiencing good love gone bad is painful. It doesn’t really matter what the circumstances were.

The bottom line is that it hurts and the pain is preventing you from moving forward. Getting over a break-up can feel like a flaming knife stabbing you in the gut, especially when your ex has moved on with someone else.

CUT YOUR LOSSES

Breaking your virginity is a deeply emotional experience, and the person you break it with can easily remain tied to your soul for life. It’s understandable that you still harbour the types of feelings and connection you do with him, but you have to move on. You have to cut your losses, appreciate the good out of the experience of being with him, and declare the relationship dead so you can move on.

PROTECT YOURSELF

Stay away from him for a while. You don’t need to be friends. Keeping an ex in your life is not a sign of maturity – knowing how to take care of your emotional wellbeing is. This means blocking him on all social media connections and deleting and blocking his cell number from your phone and WhatsApp contact list.

Protecting yourself is an essential part of good self-care. Cutting all ties doesn’t mean you can't speak to him if a legitimate need arises. The focus is on getting healed without being paranoid and creating bad vibes. Your dignity and self-respect should be your guiding light.

HE IS MARRIED

Nothing eats away at your self-respect like hanging onto someone who's moved on with their life. Fighting to get your man back is one thing, but disrespecting yourself by clinging onto someone who is married to someone else is unacceptable. Instead of wasting your energy on a dead relationship, you should channel it towards your own healing.

LET GO OF THE FANTASY

Many people don’t realise that a large majority of the pain they experience during a break-up has nothing to do with the relationship they had. Relationships always end for a reason. It rarely comes as a complete surprise because things generally haven’t been going well for a while.

There's often a long list of what each person did or didn’t do that led to all the fighting and hurt feelings. Most people don’t really want the relationship they had back. What they mourn for is the relationship they thought they could have had if things had been different.

But the truth is, that relationship didn’t exist. Letting go of a dream can be painful, but it's necessary for you to deal with the reality of your life.

REMEMBER WHY YOU BROKE UP

Your relationship ended because he was a serial cheater while he was with you. He may have changed his cheating ways with his new wife, but it doesn’t change or minimise your experience.

He deliberately and continuously betrayed and hurt you. He exercised his lack of self-control by putting his selfishness ahead of your relationship.

He put your health and life in jeopardy, and that was reason enough for you to quit the relationship. Don’t let the grief fool you. There are many men of integrity that can treat you well out there, so you’ll be doing yourself a great service by healing and moving on.

MAKE PEACE WITH THE PAST

When someone treats you poorly or does something hurtful, anger is a natural and healthy response. Anger makes you aware of situations that aren't in your best interest and can facilitate the separation process from an unhealthy relationship.

But when you hold on to anger and resentment from past experiences, you take them with you into the future. If you let what someone else did limit your ability to move forward, it means they still exert control over your life.

Forgiveness isn’t about letting someone off the hook for his bad behaviour – it's about your emotional freedom. We wish you well!