Ask Dr Gilda-I can’t stop babbling about my ex

After a financially ruinous divorce, one man can’t stop babbling about his betraying ex-wife on dates. Here, Dr. Gilda helps him let go of his bitterness and move forward.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
My ex-wife started investing in crazy schemes without discussing them with me, and we landed in huge debt. The money was one thing, but I was furious that she disrespected me by making financial decisions alone. Our stress snowballed into her leaving her job, doing nothing around the house,
“My ex didn’t betray me; she freed me for a better life.”
going out with her friends every night, having an affair, and giving her boyfriend thousands of dollars of our remaining money. Now that I’m single again, I want to know whether I’m having a self-esteem meltdown, or just going through the regular grieving process. On dates, all I do is talk about my ex.
— Ready to Move On

Dear Ready,
Your feelings are understandable, although let’s begin by agreeing that they’re doing you no good. You’re in a rage — as are many people suffering the fallout from a divorce. Apply this Gilda-Gram to bring perspective into your world: “Anyone living and breathing will occasionally be betrayed.” Sometimes betrayal takes the form of being unfairly fired from a job. Other times, your back betrays you by going out of alignment (and, of course, it’s right before a hot date!). Still other times, the person you love, depend on, and vowed to spend your life with runs off with someone else. No matter what its form, betrayal hurts, and it hurts badly!

But your ex’s actions will not cause you to deteriorate — unless you allow them to affect you. Either you can feel sorry for yourself and become the perpetual victim, or you can decide to become the victor, anticipating a glimmering lining for your current dark cloud. Continuing to talk about your ex is evidence that you’re playing the victim. Note the victim’s rallying cry: “Life sucks!” In (brighter) contrast, victors believe: “My ex didn’t betray me; she freed me for a better life.” So, Ready, are you a victor or a victim?

Of course you’re having a self-esteem meltdown right now. When someone turns on us, unenlightened people
Self-esteem meltdowns and grieving are part of divorce recovery.
unwittingly ask themselves, “What did I do wrong?” They accept all the blame and take the betrayal personally. Does this feel like familiar ground? If so, let’s enlighten you!

Here’s the truth: betrayal has less to do with the betrayed than it does with the betrayer. For example, your wife’s secret investments were her way of scrambling for independence, obviously thinking she had little choice. Her feelings of insignificance were her issues, not yours. She even thought she needed to “buy” a boyfriend! That’s pitiful, and the hallmark of gross insecurity. The major thing you can fault yourself for is not having perceived her self-destructive flaws earlier. But don’t fret; every life path can be rerouted.

This is what I suggest you do next:

1. Get counseling. Recent research shows that people don’t necessarily need the kind of extensive and expensive therapy they sought in the past. More therapists seem to be taking my lead and instituting the kind of phone and online advice counseling options I have set up on my website. Find such a therapist who can quickly get to the heart of your issue, so you can quickly enjoy your life.

2. You signed off as “Ready to Move On,” but I’m not sure you are. Test your readiness by listing how often you act out the role of victim or victor in your life.

3. By all means, allow yourself time to grieve the loss of what you had. Self-esteem meltdowns and grieving are part of divorce recovery, and they need to be respected and experienced as part of the process.

There’s no hurry to move on until you know for sure you’re truly “Ready.” If you become kinder to yourself than your ex was to you, you’ll reap the benefit of self-care without apology. Then savor the partners you attract who reinforce your good feelings about who you’ve become!

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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