How is your guy imprinted on you?

When you are besotted by a guy you begin to associate him with things related to him. His cologne, style of shirts, favorite musical artists or songs, car make and color, even most-liked foods are imprinted in your brain as markers for him.

Which is great when things are going well. When you see something that reminds you of him, you smile and get a warm feeling. You encounter triggers that flash images of him several times a day and you remember his cute smile, loving embrace, or soft kiss.

The challenge is when he’s broken up with you and you still have feelings of love or fondness toward him. You’re trying to let him go, move on and push his memory to the back burner. But instead, you see reminders of him more frequently than you’d like. You find yourself getting emotional over everyday things and it’s embarrassing to get teary eyed when you walk past a man who smells like him, wears the same brand and style of shirt, or hear his artist playing on the radio.

When I was with my last beau, I would commonly happen upon stimulus that reminded me of him and it would make me happy. However, after the break up, those same prompts would send me into an emotional tizzy. Soon after the dissolution of our relationship I saw a man wearing the same uniform my ex-beau wore in the pictures I repeatedly saw of him on the job. Even though I had actually never seen him wearing his uniform, the photos were indelibly seared into my memory. So much so that seeing this stranger in a similar uniform instantly elicited overwhelming sadness and tears.

In “It’s moving day!” I encourage everyone who’s experienced a breakup to get rid of any physical objects that remind you of your past love, no matter if it was you or he who broke it off. It is much easier to remove these memory joggers from your house than it is to close your eyes, ears and nose every time you see, hear or smell something outside your home that refreshes your memory of him. You have no control over what make or color of cars pass you, what musical artist is playing in Starbucks, or what cologne the man next to you on the plane is wearing.

You only have control over your reaction. But sometimes this can be the hardest thing to curb if you have etched in your psyche the connection of this stimulus to the man. It takes some consciousness and effort to sever the feelings from the trigger. It is said that time heals the wound, but if your emotions get triggered repeatedly, the wound keeps being ripped open. The more you can repeat that you were not a good match and release your feelings for him, the easier it will be to reduce the impact these triggers will have on you. And eventually they will have no affect at all. You will have broken the imprinted connection and you will be free to be open to someone new.


You can now follow DG on Twitter! If you want to receive Dating Goddess updates on Twitter, add “DatingGoddess” to your “follow” list.

Got a topic on dating after 40 you want Dating Goddess to address? Send your issue to


6 responses to “How is your guy imprinted on you?”

  1. nysharon Avatar

    The emotional triggers are not always a bad thing. It may “open the wounds” however the bleeding is a part of the greiving process that helps us heal. We must give allow ourselves to feel sadness and then refram it in our minds. I know of people who refused to grieve a major loss and then a little tiny incident of loss triggered a very exagerated response. If we do not go though that process initially, it will always come back to bit us. Just my observations.

  2. nysharon Avatar

    Just an added thought. This is why it is much more respectful for a lover to stop contacting you after the break and why being friends off the top is a bad idea. For the broken hearted, it prevents the hope it will work out and allows them to grieve. Ex’s who pop in your life are doing it to stroke their ego. If you guessed, I am going though this myself right now.

  3. Mike Avatar

    A while back I went out with this woman and one thing led to another. Anyway she was in these bright orange panties. I remember she turned around and farted right in my face. It was loud, smelled, and she didn’t even apologize. I tell you for a long while afterwards seeing orange always brought me back to that moment which wasn’t pleasant.

  4. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Mike: I’d never see orange the same way again, either! Ugh! And not even an apology. Hopefully this woman wasn’t long in your life!

    NYSharon: I totally agree about allowing yourself to grieve. I fully support that and agree that if you don’t it will leak out in other ways. The point I was trying to make was to notice what triggered you and begin to disassociate the trigger from the feeling. I guess I should have added to allow yourself to grieve fully — in private, or with a counselor or friend.

    I see your point about not even trying to remain friends, however, I have successfully retained contact with a number of exes who have never tried to get back together. I think it depends on how romantically attached you each felt. If there was a lot of attachment, then yes, it can be painful to keep in touch. But if there wasn’t, it’s nice to remain friends as you usually know quite a bit about each others’ lives. And it reminds you why you are much better as friends than lovers!

    In the last two weeks I’ve had 4 past sweeties contact me. I welcomed their connection and none suggested a rekindling, although I suspect it is why one contacted me (he’s wanted to get back together before).

  5. PreviouslyQueenofE Avatar

    Smells, sounds, vision and location all mean a lot. This was very obvious after a particularly difficult breakup . After a week or so, I changed my general cell phone ringtone to the ring I had assigned to the beloved. I called it “desensitization”. Even though he was not calling me anymore, that ring (which came with the phone, which about a zillion other people had, so I heard it everywhere I went) indicated HIM. Scents are even more powerful, I dated a man briefly who smelled like my dad *beer and cigarettes plus aftershave* and initially it was comforting but then it turned into beer and cigarettes. It seems that eyesight is the least of our senses!

  6. nysharon Avatar

    I always hated the color orange> LOL poor Mike–you are a funny guy.
    I am greiving a man who I’ve decided to leave for my own self esteem. Everything reminds me of him. He cannot make a commitment to me but still calls to check in with me and then it brings me back to day one. I’ve decided this is selfish of him and have asked him to stop. In his mind he doesn’t want me to move on. It’s sweet to have contact with old boyfriends too, but what is different about this one is that I am still in love with him and he knows it. I have replaced his name in my blackberry with “disappointment” so when he calls me I am reminded and don’t answer.
    BTW DG: I am considering to on-line dating again as soon as I am feeling better.