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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 22 March, 2018

Dear Fifi: I've finally left my emotionally abusive ex - but how do I stop missing him?

Every Tuesday evening, Dear Fifi answers one of your problems.


The thing about platitudes is that they’re easy to remember, but a lot harder to live by. One that I try to keep close at hand is: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

If you need help with your part of the battle we’re all fighting, you can always ask for help. Confidentially, anonymously, send me your troubles – big and small.


Dear Fifi,

I recently broke up with my ex of nearly 4 years. He was emotionally abusive and I ended up insecure and depressed. Despite this I miss him really badly all the time. I know it is silly but he was my first love and I don’t know if I’ll ever get over him. How do people move on from situations like this?

Only you know how difficult the road you’ve travelled has been and the strength it took to get here. But, for what it’s worth, I’d just like to say well done.

I contacted a spokesperson from Women’s Aid in order to help me answer this question – I wanted to make sure I was speaking to the best people for you. Their very first response was one of admiration and encouragement.

“First off, it’s amazing that she recognised it and ended it. It’s positive that she had such insight into the situation – and can acknowledge how she’s feeling now too. She’s able to see her emotions and trust her instincts. That’s really, really great.”

I don’t think you should call yourself silly to still miss him. Four years is a significant amount of time. You don’t mention your age or circumstances, but if this is a man you felt was a first love, you’re still entitled to feelings of upset and grief over the relationship ending. Don’t be ashamed or guilty for mourning that time in your life.

The rep from Women’s Aid echoed this sentiment:

You did love him  - and that’s okay. It’s normal to feel lonely and adrift, since you’ve lost your routine. You did feel love and you did invest time. But think: what would the future hold with that person?

And that’s the key to remember here: this was not a healthy relationship, no matter how you may sometimes miss the good times. The key to moving on will be reminding yourself that the future could not have been good with him.

As the spokesperson Women’s Aid put it: “Everyone has a row every now and again. But in healthy relationships, you feel secure, happy and supported. You grow to be better and stronger together – you’re not left feeling ‘insecure and depressed’.”

Hold on to this when the loneliness or sudden feelings of nostalgia creep up or overwhelm you: this relationship was not good for you, and the future would have held more of the abuse that came before. Emotional abuse can often escalate and it’s important not to get sucked into promises of potential change. Believe in the possibilities ahead in your future now this relationship has ended.

As well as holding onto the vast reserves of strength you have (and putting some perspective on memories of the past) there are practical steps you can take too.

“The last thing you need is isolation. Isolation is a tactic of these relationships – being cut off from family and friends. Keep busy and move forward, do night classes, re-engage with friends. Get back out there and build yourself back up.”

One of the toughest bits is over. Now try to get excited about all that lies ahead. Good luck.

For information and support about domestic violence:

  • Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline: 1800 341 900
  • Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • You can also receive information about domestic violence via  Please note that Women’s Aid do not  provide support via email


Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

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