Are You Wondering, “Is It Normal To Still Love My Ex?”
By: Jessica Saxena
Updated August 17, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Dawn Brown
All relationships end on different terms. Sometimes, all we need is a clean break and a fresh start to bounce back from a partner we once cared for deeply. But other times, the pain from going separate ways lingers uncomfortably, haunting our innermost thoughts and wreaking havoc on our mental health. In these situations, we tend to wonder what that pain means and why it will not go away. At one time or another, we have all wondered, “is it normal to still love my ex?” Here is what you need to ask yourself so that you can decide.
Source: Nevit Dilmen via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 3.0
Is It Love?
Before you can jump to a question like, “why do I still love my ex?” you must make sure the feelings you have are those of love. When going through a breakup, lines are easily blurred between anger, love, lust, and grief (as well as many other emotions). You might believe you still have lingering romantic feelings for a person, but in reality, the thoughts could come from someplace else. It is normal to interpret these other emotions incorrectly, but in most cases, with enough insight, you can draw the line between love for the person and other subconscious ideas. So yes, it is normal to love your ex still, but it is also normal to still lust after them or miss their company.
Honestly, ask yourself the following:
Do I love My Ex Or Just The Person I Thought They Were?
Break up can force someone to show their true colors. While during the relationship, your ex might have seemed like the perfect match for you, the breakup may have revealed a side of them you had never seen before. When a loved one’s personality changes right in front of your eyes, it is often painful. Instead of love, you might be feeling grief or betrayal over the loss of who you thought your ex was.
Do I Love My Ex Or Am I Just Grieving The Loss Of What Could Have Been?
When we are with someone for a long time, we naturally begin to imagine what the future looks like with them. You may have discussed life plans like marriage, buying a home together, or starting a family. Now that this future is no longer an option, it is important to understand if you are still in love with your ex or if you are mourning the life you no longer will have with them.
Do I Love My Ex Or Just A Version Of Them I Have Created?
Time has a way of playing tricks on our memory. During your relationship, all your ex’s flaws were in your sight every day. But, their absence in your life might be leaving you with a sense of nostalgia. Make sure you do not simply forget their bad qualities and only remember the good ones. If you can only recall the best things about them, you might be creating a version of them in your mind that is better than the original. It’s important to remember all aspects of someone, positive and negative.
Do I Love My Ex Or Am I Attracted To Them?
There is a difference between love and lust. It is important to find out where the line is when it comes to your ex. Are you missing them or just your physical relationship? If the thought of them being intimate with someone else bothers you, but you don’t mind them starting a new relationship, you might just be dealing with leftover feelings of attraction.
Do I love My Ex, Or Do I Feel Like There Is No Resolution?
If a relationship ended particularly abruptly or angrily, it might be difficult to deal with the frustration of being unable to speak mindfully. If your relationship did not have a solid “end,” you might be convinced that you still need your ex in your life. It is normal to feel bothered by the lack of resolution, but it does not mean you are still in love.
Whatever your answers to the above questions are, know that your responses are completely okay. Even if you still truly love your ex, it does not mean that something is wrong with you or that you will not get over your pain. Ask yourself the following to make sure your feelings are nothing to worry about.
Is The Grief Stage Over?
If you love what you are feeling, realize that it takes time for that feeling to go away. There was a reason this person meant so much to you during your relationship. Those feelings will not go away overnight.
Remember, it is okay to grieve the loss of a relationship, and in most cases, it is normal to love still a person you are not quite ready to let go of. Many rules float around when it comes to breakups. Well-intentioned friends might say something like, “it will hurt one month for every year,” or “one week for every month” you have been together. Know that this is not always the case. Emotions do not change or go away based on a hard and fast rule.
If you are still in love with your ex because you are deep in the process of grieving, allow yourself to feel those painful emotions. Trying to bury them in your mind will only force them to grow and potentially show up in other areas of your life. To connect with these feelings, try:
- Talk therapy (including online therapy)
- Online counseling
Do You Still Have Perspective?
An important part of accepting your feelings as normal is keeping them in perspective. If you can understand why you still love your ex but can move on comfortably with your life having that knowledge, there is likely nothing to worry about regarding your lingering emotions.
You need to see your relationship for what it was, good and bad. It is okay to mourn the loss of the good and find peace in the idea that the bad will no longer affect you. If you have perspective, you will accept the feelings of love you have for your ex and know they do not have to mean anything.
Can You Remember Why You Broke Up?
Remember, there is a reason you and your ex broke up. Maybe you both wanted different things. Maybe your personalities were not compatible anymore. Realize that as painful as it is to admit, there is an explanation for why the relationship did not work.
Signs Your Feelings Need Help
For the most part, loving your ex after a breakup is a normal part of the process of separating. However, in some circumstances, those lingering feelings might be holding you back from moving on. If any of the following situations apply to you, it is time to start healing.
Your Mental Health Is Suffering
If thoughts like “I still love my ex” are taking over your mind and causing anxiety, depression, or any other mental health crisis, reach out to a professional for help. While some degree of sadness or anger is normal during a breakup, feelings of hopelessness, extreme irritability, or thoughts of harming yourself or others need immediate attention. Keep an eye out for symptoms of depression and anxiety, such as:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or self-blame
- Bursts of anger or frustration
- Loss of interest in self-care, hobbies, or things you love
- Problems sleeping
- Difficulty eating/unexpected weight loss
- Weight gain/eating too much
- Back pain, neck pain, headaches, chest pain, heart palpitations, or other unexplained physical symptoms
- Excessive worry or fixation on worst-case-scenarios
- Panic attacks
- Unwillingness to leave the house
- Feelings of hopelessness
You Can Not Start Over
As difficult as it is to imagine life without someone you loved very much, you should not put your life on hold (especially if you are doing so “in case” they come back). If you are turning away opportunities like fun with friends, career advancements, even new relationships, simply because it seems too hard to move forward without your ex, it is time to reach out to a professional for help. Doing talk therapy online is a great place to start. However, it is important to remember that online therapy does not replace in-person talk therapy, as online therapists cannot prescribe medications or fulfill court orders.
You Are Obsessed
Still checking their social media every day? Do you have a mild panic attack if you accidentally attend the same party? Driving by their home, place of work, or favorite spots? If you know more about your ex’s life now than you did when you were together, you might be heading down a path that will not end well (legally and socially speaking). As tempting as it is to try to stay one step ahead during the breakup, both you and your ex must have room to move forward. Cutting them out of your life might seem impossible, but a licensed counselor can help you work through that challenge.
It’s Okay to Ask for Help
Asking yourself, “Do I still love my ex?” can be scary, even intimidating. You might have a lot of fear of the answer, whether it be “yes” or “no.” In most cases, it is totally normal to have lingering feelings for someone you once loved deeply. But, when those painful emotions prevent you from moving on with your life in a healthy way, you should know it is okay to ask for help. In many cases, the end of a relationship is a huge life change. Reaching out to a licensed mental health professional is a recommended response to whether your feelings of love are normal or not.
Working with a licensed counselor can help you sort through your emotions and get to the bottom of how you are really feeling. They are not there to judge you and are trained to deal with anything from a panic attack to mania streaks associated with bipolar disorder. They are there to help you understand why you feel the way you are and help you work through it. A counselor can help you reflect on your relationship and the value you feel you lost when the relationship ended. They can also help you identify and reflect on issues that were present in your previous relationship. By going through this process, you can begin to understand what you are looking for in a new partner when you are ready to move on. Additionally, working with a professional can also help you grow as a person. They can help you understand what motivates you and what you want out of life. They also help you build new skills and habits to prepare yourself for a future relationship. All this will help you heal from your past breakup and help prepare your heart for the future.
However, not everyone has access to reputable counselors nearby, and not everyone has the time to sit in traffic and drive to an appointment during office hours. This is where online counseling services like ReGain offer solutions. You can access ReGain from the comfort and privacy of your own home. This can make you more relaxed and more willing to open up about the issues or problems you are facing. In turn, this can result in you making progress more quickly than you would with face-to-face help, where it often takes longer to get comfortable enough to really open up. Below are some reviews of ReGain counselors from people experiencing similar issues who solicited online counseling.
"He's amazing - he's gotten me through some tough times and reminds me I'm not made of superhuman strength - that I'm human with normal emotions, and it is, in fact, okay to cry. He has been an amazing support through a horrible breakup."
"Lisheyna is an amazing person with really beautiful insights. I was struggling with my separation, and she helped me regain new insights, which helped me become friends with my ex-wife again and understand her perspective. I am grateful to Lisheyna for her support and would highly recommend her to anyone seeking any personal or relationship counseling."
It’s normal to continue having feelings for your ex after you have broken up. If you find that you are struggling to move on, getting help via online counseling with ReGain can help you work through how you feel about moving on finally. While it may not be free online, it is crucial to remember that your mental health is ALWAYS worth investing in.
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