The end of a romantic relationship can be tough and emotional, even if you decided to end things. People fall out of love and drift apart, but that doesn’t mean relationships are easy to get over. Sometimes, moving on after a breakup can seem like an impossible task. In fact, research has shown that breakups can have a negative impact on a person’s health, leading to insomnia, changes in appetite, intrusive thoughts, reduced immune function, and even broken heart syndrome, a condition that mimics the symptoms of a heart attack.
Perhaps one of the more challenging parts of dealing with a breakup is having lingering feelings for your ex. Whether or not you initiated the breakup, still having feelings for someone you were in a relationship with is totally normal. While these feelings dissipate for most people over time, you might find yourself in a situation where, no matter how much time passes, you find that you are still in love with your ex. Should you express your feelings to your ex, and what are some ways you can prepare to speak with him?
There is no such thing as a “texting bible” to give you an absolute yes or no to the question of whether or not you should tell your ex you still love him. There are some situations. However, that can help you decide if it is a good idea to contact him. Here are some ways to help you tell if expressing your love is a good idea:
Sometimes we make rash decisions in the heat of the moment, only to regret them later. If you broke up with your ex for reasons you can now see were wrong, it might be a good idea to see if he is willing to meet up and discuss it. Try not to lead by telling him you love him; instead, focus on discussing why you now believe you overreacted. Talking about things in a calm, neutral environment can help both of you see how things went wrong. If he’s receptive and understanding, you can suggest trying to work through the issue to see if there is still something between you. If he isn’t, at least your explanation and apology mean that you can walk away on good terms and not regret your overreaction.
If your relationship ended at least in part to an issue within your own life, it might be a good idea to try and mend fences with your ex. From addiction to being a workaholic to having an undiagnosed health condition, many things can affect how we act, even toward people we love. If you’ve moved past or received help for the issue, try contacting your ex and explaining the situation, as well as how you’ve changed. His reaction will be the indicator of whether or not he’s open to rekindling your romance.
If your ex has been keeping in touch with regular text messages or phone calls, it might be a good idea to let him know that you still have feelings for him. Set up a time to meet in a neutral place and see how things go; if you think he’s signaling to you that he still has romantic feelings, try and broach the subject with him. While it could mean he wants to remain friends, it could also mean that he is regretting the breakup and might be interested in getting back together.
Most of us worry at one point or another that we let “the one” getaway or remember a lost love we wish we had more time with. But that doesn’t mean every relationship that comes to an end needs to be rekindled to be sure it’s truly over with. Here is a list of situations in which you should avoid expressing your love to your ex:
This one should go without saying, but sometimes we have a hard time realizing the obvious when our feelings take over. Telling your ex you still love him when you’re in another relationship is simply a bad idea. It would only serve to bring complications to your life, neg your partner, and potentially end the new relationship. And, if you weren’t honest with your ex about being in a new relationship and he finds out, it can make him lose both his trust in you as well as any hope you had of restarting your relationship with him.
If you’re unhappy in your current relationship, you need to deal with that first. Resist the temptation to use your ex as a means to get out of a relationship that you aren’t happy with. If you are serious about getting back with your ex, you need to do right by your current partner and break up with him before considering approaching your ex.
Just as you shouldn’t tell your ex you love him if you’re in another relationship, you shouldn’t tell him if he is in another relationship either. Not only are you risking the stability of his new relationship, which he might be very happy in, you might also be hurting someone who had no part in your breakup.
If your goal in telling your ex you still love him is breaking up his current relationship, you need to take a step back and think about your intentions. Sabotaging your ex’s new relationship is very unlikely to work in your favor; instead, you need to learn how to cope with the fact that he has moved on. If you find yourself in this situation, speaking with a therapist can help you constructively work through these feelings.
If your ex has made it very clear that he doesn’t love you, confessing your continuing love for him is not a good idea. You might think that you can change his mind, but realistically this isn’t possible if he’s already told you that he doesn’t love you. You are only setting yourself up to get hurt again, prolonging the time it will take for you to heal and move on.
If your ex has told you that he doesn’t want to text, call, or meet up with you, you need to respect the boundaries he has set. Even people who break up on seemingly good terms don’t always end up being friends after their breakup.
Tactics for Confessing Your Feelings
While it might be hard to accept, if you know in your gut that telling your ex you love him isn’t going to change the feelings between you, or if he’s made it clear he isn’t interested, it is time for you to move on. This can seem like a difficult task, but there are ways to help you forget about your ex. Picking up a new hobby has been shown to help people move on from a failed relationship. It helps get your mind off of your ex and boost your self-esteem by giving you goals to work toward. Anything from learning the piano to joining a book club not only occupies your time but also gets you out of the house and interacting with other people.
In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers worked to find if a cognitive therapy approach could help people get over a breakup. They found that encouraging people to rethink their relationship's negative aspects actually helped them get over an ex. The study suggests that people take time each day to write a list of as many negative things about their ex as they can think of. While focusing on these unhappy memories can make you feel worse in the short term, this study, along with some older research done by one of its authors, found that it helped decrease attachment to ex more quickly.
Getting over a breakup involves changing your way of thinking about your ex, which takes time. Just like it can be difficult to fight negative emotions like depression or impulsive behaviors, “love doesn’t work like an on/off switch,” says study co-author Sandra Langeslag, director of the Neurocognition of Emotion and Motivation Lab at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. “To make a lasting change, you’ll probably have to regulate your love feelings regularly,” because the effects likely wear off after a short period of time.
If you are still having trouble working through lingering feelings for your ex, you might need to consider enlisting the help of a counselor or therapist. At ReGain, we help connect people with therapists that can help deal with the types of issues a breakup can cause in your life. We offer convenient online sessions that can be done from your computer, tablet, or phone, whenever it best suits your schedule. Our trained and licensed therapists are here to help you work through whatever concerns you may be experiencing. Remember that it’s okay not to forget about your ex, but it isn’t okay to feel miserable and hopeless. Sometimes people fall out of love, and we must learn to accept it. Let us help you work through your feelings and find coping mechanisms to move on with your life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I tell my ex I still love him over text?
If at all possible, don't tell your ex that you love them over text. The thing about texting is that, first, you never know what's going on for the person on the receiving end of your text messages. Are they crying? Are they working? Are they having a massive fight on the phone with their parents? Are they flirting with someone? Are they on a date? You don't know. Instead of telling your ex that you love them over text, send them a text message asking if you can call them. If it's a good time to call, or if they're available to talk soon, tell them that way. This goes for falling in love in general. If you're in a new relationship and you're falling in love, for example, you want to say "I love you" for the first time face-to-face.
Can you be friends with an ex that you still love?
Being friends with an ex is possible, but it depends on the connection you have and where both of you are at in the healing process. If you still love them, being friends would be tricky. Make sure that you have space and time needed to heal before forming a friendship. Being friends with an ex works best if, of course, you only see them as a friend, and they only see you as a friend, so that's the place you want to be in if you're considering a friendship with an ex.
What should I do if I'm still in love with my ex?
Here are a couple of things to do if you're still in love with your ex:
Who hurts more after a breakup?
Who hurts more after a breakup depends on the relationship. Every relationship is very different. If they broke up with you out of nowhere, for example, and you still love them and feel as though they're your only true love, you're likely hurting more. In some cases, they could be hurting more, or you could be hurting equally. It's dependent on a number of factors such as the reason for breaking up, the feelings that may come up for each of you after the breakup, if you're still in love with them, and so on.
What should you not say to your ex?
First, don't tell them that they're your true love out of nowhere. You need to make sure of what headspace they're in and if they're in a relationship or not first. Think before you call or text. Additionally, refrain from saying things like, "I'm so depressed without you" or begging for them to take you back.