TIME relationships

Can’t Get Over a Breakup? You’re Probably an ‘Exaholic’

Broken Paper Heart
JGI/Jamie Grill—Blend Images/Getty Images

Website offering 12-step heartbreak recovery already has 1,500 registered users

Have you recently gone through a breakup? Are you having a hard time moving on or even growing as a person? Congratulations, you’re officially an “exaholic.”

The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone in your addiction to your past relationship. According to therapist Dr. Lisa Bobby, many suffer from this affliction, which is why she created a website with a 12-step recovery program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.

“An exaholic has a very difficult time moving on,” Bobby told the New York Post. “They’re hooked into the relationship, and it’s difficult for them to heal and move on. They will use words like devastation and talk about the loss — they tend to think fairly obsessively about their ex and have trouble in day-to-day life as a result of that.”

Exaholics.com already has about 1,500 registered users as well as 10,000 monthly visitors, who can message one another in the live chat room, ExChat, to offer healing tips and the reassurance that this too shall pass.

“If only there was a pill we could take that would solve all of our problems right away,” writes Anna K, a “recovering exaholic.” “Well, until that pill is available, it’s going to take hard work. It won’t be easy. And for many of us it will hurt.”

The website also confronts possible criticism of the 12-step program and classifying ex obsession as an addiction. “Getting over the loss can be one of the most traumatic and difficult challenges you’ll face. To others this might sound overly dramatic,” Exaholics.com’s mission reads. “To such judgmental people, serious problems include such things as a cancer diagnosis, getting laid off at work, and other ‘real problems’ and ‘real life challenges.’ But what you go through is certainly very real!”

The woes of an exaholic are real enough to keep an online community active and reinforce an age-old adage: misery loves company.

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