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My Girlfriend's Ex-Boyfriend, and my Inability to Distinguish Between Fiction and Reality - July 1st 2011, 06:51 AM

hopefully this is an all right place for this topic. my apologies if it isn't. I never know quite how to classify my feelings/problems.

At any rate, I've been with this girl for over a year. She was dating this horrible guy before she met me, who was verbally abusive and just an awful person to be around. She left him to be with me.

Over the course of this last year, I've found out more and more about this guy. I've heard so much about what he did to her, and I have the feeling that what I've heard is only half of the whole story.

I can't stop thinking about this guy. I go to his facebook page often and flip through his photos, look at his status updates, what he's saying to other people and stuff, simply for the purpose of making myself angrier at him.

I've always been one to hold grudges, but this time it's gone on longer than I believe is really rational. My reactions are also somewhat out of the ordinary. A good chuck of my time is spent fixated on this guy. I feel like I have to sort of, I dunno, "get revenge" or "beat" him.

I was all right for a month or so last year, when my girlfriend told me that I didn't need to get revenge on him or "beat" him or whatever because I already had "won." I'd "taken" from him what he cared about most, and now he wasn't doing anything but sitting around being miserable and feeling sorry for himself. That was all fine and dandy for a little while, but eventually the feelings came back.

I've talked with some friends about this who know me fairly well. I have a great love of movies like "Pretty in Pink" and "Valley Girl." Something that these two movies have in common is that the sort of "jerk boyfriend/unlikeable" type character gets attacked by the character you're supposed to like. And it's not just in these movies, it's in all my favorite TV shows and movies. My heart always races when I watch specifically these scenes.

This is, of course, a storytelling convention, and I'm reacting to it mainly how one is supposed to, though I think my reaction is stronger than most. Essentially, by having the unlikable character getting beaten up/humiliated/whatever, the audience feels a relief, a catharsis, because they realize that this guy has been punished for what he's done.

Now, I know that my girlfriend's ex-boyfriend has been punished for what he did to her, and that I was fairly directly responsible for that. However, I have not only a desire, but an expectation that I will be able to fight this guy. Even if I don't win, the act of righteous defiance as seen in so many movies and TV shows is something I need. It's all I can think about. Even though I know that that kind of thing rarely if ever happens in real life, I still expect it to occur.

My girlfriend says that I can't fight him, even if he starts it, because she'll feel bad, like she'd think it was her fault I guess.

I just don't feel like I have any options, and I'm troubled by the fact that this storytelling convention has become what I expect from reality. I really need to hurt this guy, whether it's physically or mentally. Sometimes I want to murder him. Other times I just want to beat him up. Sometimes I want to torture him for extended periods of time. Sometimes I want to tear his psyche to shreds. All I know is I need to hurt him, because that's the way it's supposed to be. And that isn't really right.
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Re: My Girlfriend's Ex-Boyfriend, and my Inability to Distinguish Between Fiction and Reality - July 3rd 2011, 07:51 PM

Well, you seem to recognize that these movies and TV shows are not accurate representations of reality. You're right - people want to see justice done. They want to see the bad guy "lose" or suffer for their wrongdoings. People feel better when they know someone is getting what they deserve. Something in us becomes unsettled when that doesn't happen, when the bad guy "gets away" or seems to carry on with life as usual. Unfortunately, that IS the reality of our world. People do bad things, and sometimes they are punished for it. Other times, they are punished, but not as severely as we feel they should be. Sometimes, you simply can't see how badly they're suffering as a result of their wrongdoings. Finally, there are times when the bad guy gets away with it... or do they? I mean, what kind of a life is this man living, where he resorts to hurting his girlfriend(s)?

I think that is what you should focus on. This man you're obsessing over is pathetic. He can't possibly experience a fulfilling life so long as he resorts to abusive behavior. YOU, on the other hand, can have the life this man may never have. You have a girlfriend who loves you. You don't have the stigma of being a violent or cruel person (and don't kid yourself - in the "real world", if you sought revenge on this man, no matter how "righteous", you would be charged with assault and therefore be no better off than him). You are wasting precious time by obsessing over this man. Any "advantage" you may have had over this man is lost when you choose to focus on his life instead of your own. Any "win" you may have gained by dating your current girlfriend will be lost when you choose to focus on her past instead of your future with her.

I can't offer a miracle cure for "snapping out of it". You have to make the choice to change your mindset, bit by bit, day by day. Block this man from Facebook, so you don't feel tempted to stalk him. When you begin to feel hatred toward him, distract yourself by focusing on something that is worth thinking about. When you begin to fantasize about knocking his front teeth out, do something different - like making plans for a romantic evening with your girlfriend.

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