New Site Helps "Ex-aholics" Get Over Lost Love

New Site Helps "Ex-aholics" Get Over Lost Love

By Kenneth Garger 08/24/11

Exaholics.com, a website for people who are obsessed with their exes, is visited by legions of lovelorn sufferers. But are they really addicts?

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Last March, just around the time the Fix went live, another website was launched with a recovery agenda—to help people who can't get over their exes. Since then it's been greeted with enormous enthusiasm by its devotees. We recently asked Robert Grossman, the founder of exaholics.com, to share the story of his vision. Thirteen years ago, while working as a TV producer for a syndicated talk show, Grossman noticed an alarming number of people who were weighed down by past relationships—people unable to cut their emotional ties with former loved ones who had left them. “These are people who live functional lives but suffer deeply," he explains. "They’re in a tremendous amount of pain and find it difficult to move on. The saddest aspect is they're usually not willing to entering into new relationship. There is a tremendous psychological manipulation of history with their exes: They remember the highs, but are hard-pressed to remember the lows." Most of us have known victims of this phenomenon, which Grossman describes as a virtual epidemic. “I’d never seen this defined before,” he says—so he defined it himself, coining the term "exaholics."

After hearing from hundreds of downtrodden exes, Grossman realized that these sorrow-struck, lonesome lovers lacked a viable support-system: “They had very limited outlets for recovery. Friends and family run out of things to tell them—they are not the most effective option.” He became increasingly fascinated by the issue and set out to develop a community-based program to mend broken hearts, coming up with the blueprints of his now-realized community-driven website. “The site gives these exaholics a support network. I think it's helpful for these people to have a community to share their grieving process with,” he explains. The community of exaholics and their online support system resembles that of recovering alcoholics in AA. Grossman even re-wrote the Twelve Steps for his purpose, as other fledgling fellowships like Overeaters Anonymous have done in the past. But can we go so far as to describe exaholics as addicts? “We're dealing with some sort of addiction,” replies Grossman. But he also makes an important distinction: “My caution in defining them as addicts has to do with the severity of substance abuse—it’s not something you are ever cured from. On the other hand, "I don’t exactly believe once an exaholic, always an exaholic. You can certainly suffer for years, but eventually, I feel, our community will enable you to fully recover.” Robert Grossman is clear about one matter of interpretation that has troubled other Twelve Step groups: “We don’t use God. For us, it’s about the community. The community is our higher force.” It's a community that you must be at least 18 years old to join.

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Ken Garger is a reporter for the New York Post. You can follow him on Twitter.

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