How to Cope When You’ve Been Left – Free Ebook

Sometimes, we are not only left in love; we
are left for someone else – a rival who

comes to assume a large, indeed monstrous
position in our imaginations. The torture

comes down to one essential question which
pursues us into the early hours: What do they

have that we do not? Part of the agony rests
on a basic feature of human psychology; we

know ourselves from the inside, in great and
dispiriting detail, whereas we can know others

only from the outside, from what they choose
to reveal, which may be almost nothing, aside

from an attractive face and a charming manner.
As a result, we may feel that the person we

have been left for – and whom we know only
on the basis of having briefly met them at

a party or stalked their online profile – is
wonderful in every way. Where we are shy,

they will be confident; where we are chaotic
they will be well-organised; where our sexuality

is complex, theirs will be simple; where we’re
too domestic, they will be exciting… Well-meaning

friends may try to bring us back into contact
with our good sides: they will speak of our

kindness, intelligence or sense of fun. But
this may not be the best way forward; the

point isn’t to rehearse how decent we are.
Properly to get over the pain of a love-rival,

we need to realise how mediocre pretty much
every human who has ever existed tends to

be. There is not, in fact, ever any such thing
as a ‘perfect person’, there are merely

differently tricky ones, as time will inevitably
reveal to our idealising ex. Our failings

or defects may well be real but the picture
we’ve got of ourselves as compared with

our love rival is skewed by undue ignorance.
Recovery does not involve the denial of our

less admirable sides: it requires a more nihilistic,
and therefore more balanced sense of what

people in general are like. Of course the
rival has qualities we lack. It is true that

they have better hair, or a more impressive
salary. But at the same time they have an

enormous number of very serious problems which
we can be assured exist, not because we know

them, but because we know human beings in
general. No one examined from up close is

ever anything other than disappointing – and
every person one has to share a life with

will prove so maddening over time, one will
at points wish they had never been born. Whatever

attraction a new lover can offer our ex, they
will also supply them with a whole a new set

of irritants, which will end up frustrating
them as much we ever did, indeed more so,

because they so sincerely hoped – as they
packed their bags – that such flaws would

not exist in their next partner. Our ex-lover
has not entered the gates of paradise, they

have merely exchanged one imperfect relationship
for another. We should never compound our

grief with the thought that our ex will be
uncomplicatedly happy. The deep lesson of

being supplanted is not that we are so bad.
It’s that we have been left because of a

common delusion: the belief that if only one
was in a different relationship, one would

be substantially happier. And yet, the truth
is that more or less every human relationship

has its own special and beautifully distinct
forms of acute unhappiness. That there is

much wrong with us is, of course, true; but
this dark fact invariably sits within a far

larger, grimmer and yet strangely consoling
truth: that every person has much wrong with

them. In future relationships, once we get
over abandonment, the person we need to find

is not the one who thinks we are perfect (and
will never leave us on this basis) but rather

one who can quite clearly see our failings
and yet – the key advantage – knows how

calmly to make their peace with them. The
lover we need is not someone who stays with

us because they think we are irreplaceably
marvellous but because they’ve wisely realised

that no-one is as attractive as they seem
at first – and that to smash up a relationship

generally involves nothing much finer than
a prelude to novel encounters with frustration

and disappointment.

Our perspective cards feature tools for a wiser, calmer perspective on life. They help

to restor calm and clarity even during difficult times. Please subscribe to our channel and click the bell icon to turn on notifications.

Leave a Reply