Bad Love Experiences Can Be Good!

Have you been burned by an ex? Read on to find out how you can actually benefit from a bad breakup.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

eff met Kate online, and they exchanged email messages for the few weeks before they conversed on the phone. There was definitely a connection. When they finally met, the pair felt physical electricity. But suddenly, just 20 minutes into their meeting, Jeff left — just as quickly as he arrived. What happened?

Kate had emerged from a sour marriage two years earlier. Jeff assumed her mourning was over. However, now all Kate did was launch verbal
Hey, singles, exit your pity party!
brickbats at her ex. This was Kate and Jeff’s first face-to-face meeting. Within a mere 20 minutes, he decided he wanted OUT. See ya!

Kate’s behavior is typical of someone who never did the necessary healing work after a bad romance. Without even realizing it, many singles contaminate promising futures by bemoaning earlier woes. What healthy hopeful would sign on for a three-party arrangement that includes you and your ex?

Hey, singles, exit your pity party! If bad love happens TO you, make sure it really happens FOR you. There are distinct lessons that emerge from each and every person you’re with. As my Gilda-Gram says, “Whoever touches us, teaches us.” Appreciate the positives that spawn from every sorry story. Suze Orman wisely agrees: “You have to see every potential roadblock as an opportunity and a benefit.” My own dear mother, rest her soul, taught me, “Every knock is a boost.” So selfishly usher in your own brand of sunshine that especially shines for you.

Marilyn was with her boyfriend for years when her guy asked her to check a number on his cell phone. She was horrified to spot messages from assorted women. In my office, Boyfriend later revealed that the burden of hiding his female flirtations became too heavy, and he wanted to be caught. So he had deliberately invited his girlfriend’s surveillance.

This sudden shock forced Marilyn to question why she had put up with this man who was so emotionally distant. Yes, this episode happened TO her, but something better occurred FOR her as she awakened to an overdue lesson she needed to learn! During therapy, she recalled how emotionally absent her father had been while she was growing up. Now she realized she had chosen someone similar and familiar to love!

After this wretched episode, Marilyn decided she wanted the whole enchilada, not some scrappy crumbs. Today, as they plan their wedding, this couple agrees their relationship would not be as strong as it is had it not been for their crisis.

Adam was another client whose traumatic love turned out to be a good thing. After 15 years of marriage, Adam’s wife was filing for divorce because she said she was bored. Adam did not know what hit him. I asked about the state of his marriage before his wife’s exit. He described a life revolving around their two children. I asked about the bond they had shared. Adam went silent, and finally acknowledged that his marriage had died many years earlier.

For the first time ever, Adam admitted he had not been happy for years. I dared to ask, “Why is your divorce a good thing now?” At first, he thought I was mad. But he concluded, “If not for this blow, I would have continued a lifeless life. You know,” he confided, “my career has also suffered from my lack of spark. It’s scary to think I might have wound up dying from stress.” Ahhh, the cleansing epiphany! Now we could begin our REAL work!

When male cicadas sing to attract females, their chorus is louder in decibels than the sound of city traffic. That’s the kind of “music” new partners enjoy. Couples think this music will continue forever. But they forget that great musicians need to practice. Adam and his wife might have practiced some better communication between them. Instead, they copped to dropping out, misconstruing that
Happiness occurs by choice, not chance.
salvation later would exist in someone else’s arms. Those who know better, know better!

After months of therapy, Adam emerged a much more confident man. He joked about his new “Deserve Better” gene. Suddenly, his career surged with a huge promotion. He couldn’t believe what was happening to him, or really, as I pointed out, FOR him. He had not felt this emotionally strong in years!

Part of my healing secret is to require clients to write a letter to their ex — which they would never send — but in which they THANK their ex for the person they have become. I am accustomed to the usual recoiling at the very thought of doing this exercise. One woman complained, “Write a letter to that jerk? Oh, sure, Dr. Gilda. And you probably also believe in the tooth fairy!” I had to remind her that she could either hang onto her anger and make herself a permanent victim, or she could forgive her ex and at last be free. This client was actually only a two-day convince. Many others take longer. After this woman wrote that fateful letter, she said she felt the burden of hostility and regret disappear. I didn’t want to gloat with, “I told you so,” but this is such a powerful exercise, I couldn’t keep it in!

The same thing happened FOR Adam. He showed me his letter that enumerated his great new strengths, and thanked his bored ex who pushed him to find them. As many of my empowered clients have found, Adam’s ex-wife was begging him to take her back. But he firmly asserted that he was moving on. He’s a much stronger partner to the woman to whom he is now married. And his current wife thanks his ex FOR pushing him so far, and especially FOR releasing him to her!

Happiness occurs by choice, not chance. When you decide that you have suffered enough, it’s time to leave what you think is your comfort zone. That involves taking the chance to be uncomfortable in new surroundings for a while, so you can achieve new goals. There’s a pot of gold at the end of the beautiful love rainbow. Say this mantra often, “If bad love happens TO me, it is really happening FOR me.” Then savor the discovery of what that magic “FOR” actually is! I love happy endings, so please let me hear about your success!

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., gives Instant Advice throughout the world via Skype, email and phone. She is the 30-Second Therapist for Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website at (
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