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Vixens: How do you let go of someone who was your whole world for years?

My ex-boyfriend was incredibly charming and incredibly successful. He was moody - mean whenever he felt like it. He didn't let me plan anything in advance - it was only when he felt like doing something. For example we took a week vacation in the south with only two days notice - super exciting, but another time I had taken 2 weeks off work to spend on vacation with him and then he decided to keep going to work. In general I just kept kind of waiting for him - and then he would be just absolutely wonderful for a while, sometimes for several months at a time.

I know this is textbook controlling behaviour. I know he saw me as his, and I'm over-educated and reasonably successful in life, but I didn't see anything wrong with this sort of possessiveness.

I was conflicted about leaving - I wanted someone who was consistently nice, but it was ultimately his decision, he told me all he ever felt for me is gone and now he's out womanizing - he did not cheat while we were together - not that it really matters.

I need to know I'll find someone I love as much and who is actually nice. I'm fit, I'm pretty. I see people half as successful as my ex-boyfriend and I think they are way out of my league. But on the other hand, I spend days at work interacting with people who run giant companies, so I end up having little tolerance for mild people. And then I read that Susan Forward, the author of the book on Men who Hate Women, said she would never find someone as great as her abusive ex-husband - in good times or something to this effect. I'm feeling quite doomed.

This is not articulate, but I need to know how not to loose hope that I'll fall in love again. I want there to be a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Does anyone have any words of wisdom?

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    Your guy sounds like a sociopath. They are often charming and good at stringing their victims along for quite a long time. Don't beat yourself up because you were taken in by him.

    And of course it is possible for you to find a decent guy. There are plenty out there. However, you need to re-calibrate your brain so that they actually ping your radar.

    You spent several years in a very skewed situation. So your reactions have been skewed. Studies have shown that even the brain's nerve pathways are re-routed in dysfunctional or abusive relationships, particularly those in the reward center. You've been conditioned to expect drama and dysfunction as your baseline, so anyone who doesn't appear to provide that won't seem as attractive. But that doesn't have to be your future - this is fixable.

    First, be prepared for this to take time. It's not going to be fixed in a few weeks, so be patient. It's worth the time to get yourself into a mindset where your relationship choices are not dysfunctional. Because from what you've posted here, that's what you want, right?

    And if you can, join a support group or find a therapist or counselor who deals with this sort of thing. He or she will be able to help you get to where you need to be more efficiently.

    Also, do something or a few somethings just for you. Take up a new hobby; give yourself a challenge; take some classes in something that has always interested you; volunteer for a cause you believe in. Something that will make your life better and more interesting; something to look forward to in your spare time. Because you should ensure that your life is already be pretty good, even without someone to share it with. Expecting a relationship to create your happiness puts unrealistic pressure on the other person and no one should be put in that position. A relationship should be the icing on an already delicious cake. So go out and create a great life for yourself. And be assured that when you are really ready, the guy you deserve will be there.

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