Ask Gemma: I miss my 'awful' girlfriend. Is this normal?

"Is this normal? How do I move on?"

April 24, 2018, 4:18 AM
A young man holds his hand over his face in this undated stock image.
A young man holds his hand over his face in this undated stock image.
Getty Images

"Ask Gemma" is a new "Good Morning America" relationship column. Do you have an issue with your girlfriend, husband or partner? Or with being single/dating? "GMA" wants your questions. We'll answer them with help from experts. Write in now!

Dear Ask Gemma,

I recently dated someone for just a few months and it was one of those relationships where the highs were as good as can be and the lows were just the opposite.

For example, while we were together little fights could escalate quickly and something small would turn into something much bigger.

I've been in good relationships and bad ones in my life, but for some reason, this one struck a nerve that I can't shake. It was a sudden split and while the many (and I do mean many) red flags and signs point to this break up being for the best -- plus the way she treated me after the split was pretty awful -- I still miss that person from our good times together, who I saw a possible future with.

Gemma, is this normal? How do I move on?


Done But Daydreaming About Her

Dear "Done But Daydreaming About Her,"

Congratulations! You had the courage to leave a relationship that didn't suit you. Do you know how rare that is?

So many of us -- myself included -- have stayed in relationships with expiration dates that had soured months, even years, earlier. Many of us have shouldered relationships, thinking we were strong enough to endure the hard times. What we didn't realize is that a healthy relationship doesn't require upper body strength. In fact, it won't feel like a burden at all.

You were in a toxic relationship, Dr. Jill Weber, who's been a clinical psychologist for 15 years, told ABC News.

"A toxic love relationship is defined by the highs and the lows," the author of "Toxic Love" added. "It's an inconsistent pattern of loving. In a healthy relationship, you feel loved all the time. In low moments, you don’t feel like your partner has totally turned on you, or is totally against you."

So if no one else says this: I'm proud of you.

I'm proud that you walked away from a toxic relationship that could've bred even more negative energy in your life.

PHOTO: A young couple has relationship problems in this undated file photo.
A young couple has relationship problems in this undated stock image.
Getty Images/FILE

Give yourself some credit

Seriously, treat yourself. Go to your favorite sports bar, buy yourself something special, or make your favorite meal. You did the hard part.

You had the physical courage to remove yourself from a relationship that didn't value your boundaries nor meet your standards.

But knowing that she's not right for you, doesn't mean that it'll be easy to walk away. You asked if it was normal to still miss her, and the answer is yes. The heart has many valves. Four to be exact, and it has room for all of your life's memories.

Remember the bad times, too. Remember why you walked away.

So as you think of the good times, don't let your memories stop there. Remember the bad times, too. Remember why you walked away, and keep one foot in front of the other.

I miss college. It's true -- I do. I went to the best school in the world -- the University of Maryland, College Park. (Go Terps!) I miss trekking across McKeldin Mall to class in oversized sweats, eating in the North Campus diner with all of my friends, and parties in the student union. I miss it, but I wouldn't go back -- not now.

I've matured to a different place in my life. My life has moved along. It's brought me through different valleys and over different mountains. If I tried to return to College Park, I'll be honest -- I'd feel out of place. All of the kids -- I'd call them kids now -- might be into music I've never heard of, and would perhaps use emoji slang that'd make me feel like a grandma. I miss it, but I'm not there in my life anymore. I've moved on.

So feel free to miss her. In fact, lean into missing her. And then realize that you've moved on and what a blessing it is to move past a painful place, and into a future with infinite possibilities.

PHOTO: A man sits by the water in this undated file photo.
A man sits by the water in this undated file photo.
Getty Images/EyeEm

Change your language, change your habits

In your letter, you wrote that you "can't shake" this relationship. But that's not true. You can shake this relationship, but it'll take some work.

Are you willing to do it? Try.

How much does your peace of mind cost? How much is your peace of spirit worth? How much are you worth?

You may be having a hard time walking away completely because you "created a habit. Toxic relationships are just habits that we form," spiritual advisor Emilia Ortiz, who's amassed a following of nearly 104,000 followers on Instagram for her spot-on advice, told ABC News.

"You have an urge. You want to text them. You want to call them," she added. "You don’t miss them. What you really miss is the habit, the routine."

Ortiz, 26, suggested that when you get that itch to reach out, instead send a text to a friend or family member.

How much does your peace of mind cost? How much is your peace of spirit worth? How much are you worth?

"It helps you get that release, to get it off your chest, but don't continue to engage," she said, noting to set an intention to do this for 21 to 28 days -- which is the amount of time it takes to create habits, according to scientists.

Or "write it down," Ortiz said. "Write them a letter of all the things you want to say that you can’t say."

Ortiz said rituals also help with closure. She suggested the "full moon release," which is a time in the moon cycle known to aid in releasing energies. To put it simply, Ortiz said you can write a letter then safely burn it and collect the ashes into a cup or bowl.

"You have to wait for the full moon," she explained. "Then you go outside under the full moon and throw the ashes over your shoulder. It helps to release the negative energy and it sets the tone. It's almost like saying this part of my life is behind me."

If you want more on this, there's plenty of great books on moon ceremonies like "New Moon Astrology" by Jan Spiller and "Grandmother Moon" by Zsuzsanna Budapest.

PHOTO: A young couple hugs in this undated stock image.
A young couple hugs in this undated stock image.
Getty Images

Create your own syllabus

Another way to seek closure -- without having to engage with her or the moon, for that matter -- is writing down what you've learned about yourself from this relationship.

Every relationship is an opportunity to get to know ourselves more fully, more deeply. And the most successful relationships -- even ones that end -- are the ones that reveal the cracks lying beneath our surfaces, the piles of mess hidden in our closets and the trash begging to be taken out.

What did she teach you about how to love? What did she teach you about how not to love? What did she teach you about boundaries, compromise, and communication? Write it down and revel in your personal progress. Get excited that the next relationship will benefit from all that you've learned.

"If he could use [this past relationship] as an opportunity then the next time around what he desires -- a consistent, healthy relationship -- he'll be more than likely to obtain it," Weber said.

Take a deep breath. Take another one. Now... are you ready to let go?

Joi-Marie McKenzie is a relationships writer for "Good Morning America." She's also the author of the critically-acclaimed dating memoir, "The Engagement Game".