How to be Happy: 'I am not over her and don't want to be'

Sunday 25 November 2007 01:00 GMT

'I have not got over someone and I do not want to. It has been a year, one week and three days since I came home to a letter on my bed. I can't see an end unless we complete what was started; then I could live off that for the rest of my life. Instead I feel cursed to want her for the rest of my days. What is my problem?' J.

Step 1

You answered your final question in your first statement. Simply, you do not choose to get over her. You remain attached to an idealising, romantic self-narrative based in fantasy. The pain this provokes in you is almost rapturous because it feels as if it keeps your love alive, but it has become a substitute for the real thing. Through this longing you believe you feel an emotional connection with her, despite the harsh reality that you haven't met for over a year. Love can be so blinding that it can delude us into falling in love with the idea of love, rather than the living, breathing person who does not love us back.

Step 2

When we love unrequitedly, all we can do is find a place for the love we feel in our hearts and set our lover free. In so doing, in time, we set ourselves free. Anything less does not justify our love. Anything less is about what we want and not what they want. If our desire to possess remains paramount, trampling on the wishes of our loved one, this is not love, this is a controlling obsession. The feelings you have do not serve you well. Her feelings for you changed a long time ago and it is time for you to accept this, however distressing, with compassion.

Step 3

The curse of wanting her for the rest of your life is one you are choosing for yourself. You could make another choice, one where you accept the reality that you met and connected with someone very special for only a short time; that you were lucky enough to share magic together but, as for many lovers, it came to an end. Acknowledge the joy of what you once had, hold those precious feelings close to your heart and then set her free in your mind to live the life she has chosen. Letting go of a lost dream is not easy, but it is the brave, and only, thing to do. If you do not, you are in danger of missing out on the beautiful potential to fall in love with someone who can reciprocate your feelings and create a real future together.

Cecilia is Mind journalist of the year. If you would like her to answer your problems email her at

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