How do I stop resenting my ex-boyfriend?

Dear Sherry,

Recently I broke up with my boyfriend of three years. Although I loved him dearly he had a tragic flaw ... he's never been faithful to anyone. I deluded myself and thought that one day he'd realize how much I meant to him, but that never happened. I want to recover from this relationship without reflecting on the good and returning to the bad (I've broken up with him about ten times). I used to do everything for him and right now I am very resentful that I allowed him to get the best of me for so long. --bonita66

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Sherry Amatenstein

Sherry is the author of The Q&A Dating Book and Love Lessons from Bad Breakups. She has taught dating seminars, appeared as an expert... Read more

Dear bonita66,

First of all, congratulations for breaking up with someone who can never give you what you need -- faithfulness. No matter how much two people love one another, if they have different value systems, a relationship between them cannot work.

However, I disagree with your intent to only reflect on the bad and to focus on your resentment. True, you need to experience that daily double of break-up angst -- rage and regret. But once that maelstrom of intense emotion subsides, you also need to examine the relationship -- both its good and bad aspects -- to reflect on what made you stay in it for so long. Obviously, your ex had some positive qualities you found immensely appealing and would like your next boyfriend to possess as well. (If there were no positive qualities, you've really got some inner work to do!) Examine also your role in the relationship's dynamics: Each time he cheated, you not only forgave him but "did everything for him" as well. This self-knowledge should help give you the strength to make the tenth break-up be the "keeper."

Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Forgive yourself, learn from them and get on with your life. This doesn't mean getting involved with another man; it does mean developing a relationship with yourself. If you don't love and respect yourself, why SHOULD a boyfriend treat you well? Anyone who winds up in a solid, comfortable relationship got to that place because he or she was first happy as a single person.

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