I’m still so angry at my ex, and it’s affecting my current relationship

I’m still so angry at my ex, and it’s affecting my current relationship

i'm still so angry at my ex and it's affecting my current relationshipI was in a relationship with my ex from age 15-23. He was bipolar and used his condition to excuse his lying, cheating and verbal abuse. I stupidly let so many horrible things slide because I thought he couldn’t help it. Until one day, I came home to find him in our bed with someone else and he just laughed at me and told me to go back out for another hour. Something snapped and I got angry. Really angry.

I left him that night, never took another call from him or answered his emails. It’s been two years now and we’re well and truly out of contact. The only problem is, I am still furious. I never had proper closure. I’ve been with my current boyfriend for a year and he is amazing. However, the tiniest little slip up on his behalf and I come down on him like a ton of bricks. I go to the greatest lengths to punish him over the dumbest mistakes. I honestly don’t know why he is still with me.

I love him but I am terrified of being walked all over again and I can’t get it through my thick head that he isn’t like that. How can I let go of all this anger? I really don’t want to lose him. Vana

There’s something to be said for walking away in dignity. To think that if you do, your rage will take care of itself and karma will take care of him. But all too often after a classy exit, the rage and hurt remain – and how can they not? That shit sticks around until we process it and let it go. If you don’t, it’s all too easy to drag it into new relationships.

As I’m sure you know, feeling such toxic emotions towards an ex when you’re in love with someone new feels all wrong – almost like you’re betraying what’s fresh and good in your life. But we’re the sum of our parts and experiences, and being cheated on or treated badly for a long stretch of time changes a person. It can change how you relate in new relationships, and how you’ll react to situations that are no biggie, or completely innocent. It’s hard not to dump our baggage onto new partners who don’t deserve it, but we have to work to try to change that cycle, and trust that the past doesn’t necessarily dictate how the future will look.

That said, Vana, don’t beat yourself up too much. It sounds like your ex put you through a lot in eight years. And two years may just not be enough time to get over it. A solid new relationship can be a healing thing – but the rest is up to you. Lashing out, or punishing him for dumb mistakes is about your fear, and you’ve got to retrain yourself not to go there. If it happens, explain to him why you do it and tell him you’re taking steps to change the behaviour, because you love him and it’s not how you want your relationship with him to play out. It’s a process and if he’s as amazing as you say, he’ll hang in there while you figure it out.

You might benefit from some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). You could also get your hands on this excellent book about finding forgiveness. Or write it all down. Give your rage a focus, let it burn out on the paper. Write until you’ve literally wrung that rage dry. And keep writing whenever it comes back. You’ll be fine, because you’re aware of it and you want to fix it and that’s really the first step.

Love, reality chick

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Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).


  1. Amir 8 years ago

    Time heals. You will eventually get over your ex but you will always harbour ill feelings towards him. It’s a difficult situation trying to move on and to be cautious at the same time. I agree with Alison and Lola, counselling may be the way to go. If you’ve explained to your current bf why you get angry I’m sure he’ll understand where you’re coming from.

  2. Lola 8 years ago

    Never expressed anger is a killer. I agree with Allison: counselling works!
    All the same, I will recommend another ‘technique’ that worked for me: martial arts. When I was in my late twenties, I was seduced by a con man, and as it happens when you’re seduced and abandoned, you feel like breaking everything around you. A few days after that crushing experience, I stumbled upon an article on aikido. Immediately, I decided to sign up for aikido classes, and guess what: as soon as I started training three times a week, the anger had subsided (and I hadn’t even laid hands on that creepy con man). I still had to go in for counselling, but having the possibility of channelling my anger into self-defence (and throwing all those great aiki-guys over my shoulder on the mat), my anger didn’t last too long.
    I would also like to add that bipolarity in itself doesn’t make people ditch all their principles of right and wrong. Bipolar disorder is episodical in nature, so when a bipolar sufferer goes into a high, that’s when they don’t really know what they’re doing. As soon as the high is over, they live to regret it. I know it only too well because I’m bipolar myself.
    I wish you all the very best 🙂

  3. Alison 8 years ago

    I suggest seeing a counsellor or psychologist to help talk through your past and work through your anger. They will proabbly have a variety of techniques to help you through this. You have every right and reason to be furious because your past relationship, and I really admire your strength in walking away and never looking back. However, I think you need to work through and express your anger (in an appropriate way) in order to move on. At the moment you are treating your current bf like your old one because of the emotions you have yet to work through. And yes, once you’ve moved on from this anger you will feel like a brand new person and be able to move on with your life. It is possible, and good luck!

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