Dr. Cortney Warren — Letting Go of Your Ex: CBT Skills to Heal the Pain of a Breakup and Overcome Love Addiction

This is a guest post from Dr. Cortney Warren. Her new book Letting Go of Your Ex: CBT Skills to Heal the Pain of a Breakup and Overcome
Love Addiction
released in Feb 2023. I am grateful to share an excerpt from her new book on this post. You can also check out my interview with her in 2022 on Choose Honesty, Honest Liars, The Psychology of Self-Deception

Dr. Cortney S. Warren is a Board Certified Clinical Psychologist and Adjunct Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Having won numerous professional awards for her research, Cortney is an expert on addictions, self-deception, romantic relationships, eating pathology, and the practice of psychotherapy from a cross-cultural perspective. Her newest work is a self-help book that explores breakups through an addictive framework called Letting Go of Your Ex: CBT Skills to Heal the Pain of a Breakup and Overcome Love Addiction (2023)

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Connect with Dr. Warren: Website | LinkedInFacebook | Instagram | Twitter | TEDx

Excerpt and overview of the blog

Are you struggling to get over a former lover? Do thoughts and memories of your ex occupy your mind  day and night? Do you wish you could talk to them,  touch them, see them—anything to make you feel close  again? Are you consumed by anger, sadness, frustration,  or unbearable pain that your relationship is over? If so,  you’re not alone—and you may be going through a  love-addicted breakup. For people who struggle with  love addiction, breakups can be downright devastating.  Yet, there are tools you can use to start healing.

When you think about love, you may not think of it as addictive. Alcoholic, workaholic, shopaholic, chocoholic—you’ve probably heard these terms to describe people struggling with addictive tendencies toward alcohol, work, shopping, or even certain foods like chocolate. But the idea of being addicted to a former lover—being an exaholic—may be new to you. Yet emerging research suggests that you can feel addicted to a person because of your basic human need for love. 

Pioneering neurobiological research indicates that the very natural process of falling in love is an addictive one that stimulates a very old part of our brain that’s associated with survival. You’re actually evolutionarily and biologically driven to find a mate, have sex, make babies, and stay around your partner long enough to ensure the survival of your offspring. And, when you fall in love with someone who wants you, feeling addicted to a lover doesn’t seem problematic—it feels wonderful! Problems emerge when you fall for someone who isn’t healthy for you or doesn’t want you back. Then the addictive nature of love can throw you into a miserable cycle of symptoms that harms your emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being.

Although love addiction isn’t a clinical diagnosis or mental illness, the experience of feeling addicted to a person or behavior—like gambling, gaming, pornography, or sex—has been explored for decades. In general terms, love addiction is a maladaptive pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors driven by an excessive focus on a current or former romantic partner that seriously impairs your well-being. And, if you’ve ever felt addicted to an ex, you probably know the insidious symptoms all too well. Your ex becomes the single-most dominant focus of your life, consuming your energy at the expense of almost everything else. You yearn to see them, talk to them, touch them, and understand what went wrong. Desperate to feel close again, you think about them all the time and act in ways that ultimately make you feel worse, like constantly checking your phone to see if they called or driving by their home hoping to catch a glimpse of what they’re doing. Over time these relentless symptoms make you doubt yourself—your integrity, your identity, even your fundamental value. Feeling addicted to an ex makes letting them go excruciatingly hard even when you rationally want to move on.

Letting Go of Your Ex (2023) offers powerful, evidence-based skills grounded in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you manage intense emotions, get unstuck from the past, and start focusing on what makes you happy now. In it, you’ll learn:

-How and why love can function like an addiction

-The primary symptoms of an exaholic breakup, how they operate in your life, and specific skills to stop them

-Common flawed ways of thinking about your ex that keep you stuck, and how to challenge them

-Core beliefs about love that you developed in childhood and harm your romantic relationships as an adult—including the one with your ex

-How to create the next phase of your life by grieving your breakup and making value-based choices moving forward  

Learning these skills can help you get over your ex and create the next great phase of your life. A life that emerges from a deep inner knowing that you’re valuable and worthy just as you are—with or without your ex.

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