Ask Sahaj: He told me he saw a future with me. Now he has a new girlfriend.

Q: How do I get over an ex who has moved on?

The guy I was seeing on and off for just shy of two years is with someone else. We never had a label on it, but we were exclusive. I thought we ended things amicably and left the door open. He wasn’t ready or able to meet my needs, and I didn’t want to stew in anxiety anymore. He said he knew that eventually he’d want to be in a monogamous relationship again, he just didn’t know when. I told him that I hoped he’d reach out to me and see if I’m available because I want to be with him. The last thing we said to each other in our break up conversation was: “I see a future with you, I love you.”

During our breakup conversation I told him I was going to unfriend him on social media because I needed space in our immediate aftermath but eventually I might be okay with being friendly again. A few weeks ago, I added him back on social media. He let it sit then declined my request. A day or two later he changed his picture to be of him and his new partner, and her photo also changed to be one of the two of them. They recently went on a family vacation, suggesting this isn’t entirely new.

I know that I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t consistently meet my needs, but it still hurts that he wasn’t willing to give us a chance. Part of me doesn’t want to let go, and part of me wants to forget he ever existed; all of me loves him very much and still wants him in my life.

How do I move past this?

- Crushed

A: It is natural to hold out hope that your ex would come back to you, especially if you really wanted it to work and were willing to wait. Two things struck me from your letter. One, you didn’t go into the breakup actually ending the relationship and accepting the possibility that one or both of you would meet someone else. And two, you haven’t fully processed or moved on from the relationship. You’ve been in a sort of limbo and now that “what if” has been taken out of the equation, you’re experiencing a delayed sense of grief and loss.


Short of having your ex explain it to you, you may never know why he didn’t reach out or how long he has been with his new partner. This doesn’t make it less painful, but speculating - either through snooping through social media or constantly ruminating to get answers - can make you feel worse. And I want to be clear, being in contact with your ex is not a good idea while you process this loss.

When there are unresolved emotions or thoughts that you aren’t able to share with someone, writing a letter you’ll never send can help. What do you want to say to him? Get it all out on paper so you can process and externalize all the feelings you’re having to give yourself a sense of closure.

You don’t want to let go, but ask yourself why. What is it that is really keeping you holding on? Is it how he made you feel? Is it that he embodied traits important to you? Is it because you are still hopeful he’ll come back to you? This can help you get clarity on what story you are telling yourself about him and your relationship so you can start to examine it more closely. Because right now, that story may not include flaws or shortcomings that certainly existed and led to this relationship not working out. After all, you say he didn’t meet your needs and even more, he didn’t seem to treat your relationship with a reciprocal level of respect or care. You want to be honest with yourself about how the relationship really was, not the story you’re holding onto about it.

Right now, your feelings toward your ex are a reminder of what you don’t have. Focusing on what you do have and what you can control can make these feelings less painful. Create meaning outside of this relationship. This looks like connecting with and deepening other relationships, giving yourself compassion through the letting go process, and filling your life with moments of joy. You also want to reinvest in the relationship with yourself. This will help you look inward into the type of partner and person you want to be, and will help you open yourself when you’re ready to date again.

By integrating new and different meaning into your life, you can create distance from the life you shared with your ex. It won’t be easy or painless, but it allows you to plant a seed for possibilities and reconstruct a future without him in it.

Sahaj Kaur Kohli

Sahaj Kaur Kohli is a mental health professional and the creator of Brown Girl Therapy. She writes a weekly advice column for The Washington Post that also appears on