When Is It Normal To Still Love My Ex?
Updated July 13, 2019
For some people, falling out of love is twice as hard as it was to fall in love. Getting over an ex can be one of the hardest things someone ever has to do, like Monica and Richard on Friends. Sometimes you just need to throw yourself into a new hobby entirely - in Monica's case; it was making jam - to put thoughts of your ex and the pain of the breakup behind you.
How Long Is Too Long?
First off, don't let anyone tell you how long is too long when it comes to mourning the death of a relationship. The process is similar to losing a loved one: everyone grieves a loss in their way and in their own time. If you still miss someone after months or even years, that is normal because it is how you specifically process a loss. You're not "pathetic" or a "loser." You once loved someone who's not around anymore, and even if that person turned out to be a jerk, you're allowed to grieve that loss.
Remember, when you experience a breakup, it's the same as experiencing a death in that you are not just losing a loved one, but you are also losing all of the plans you were making and experiences you were looking to have with that person in the future. This includes both short-term and long-term plans. For instance, now you will have to watch those TV shows alone that you once loved watching together (but hey, at least you won't have to worry about watching ahead. You want to binge-watch all of the last season of Game of Thrones in one night? Go right ahead and do it!).
Of course, the deeper hurt comes from, the more serious plans that will now never happen. Maybe you pictured this person as being the ideal parent to your children someday. Maybe you were already making a mental note of what he or she liked or didn't like about houses so that you would be able to choose one together someday. The possibilities with this person once seemed endless, which is why a relationship coming to an end can be earth-shattering.
It's not so easy to just "get over" earth-shattering. Give yourself the time you need to regroup. However, if it has been a long time - months, years - and you are still finding it difficult to get through the day without thinking of this person, you may want to consider seeking professional help. Some problems are simply too big to overcome by ourselves, and with a little help, we can be infinitely happier and healthier.
Does My Ex Still Love Me?
It can be intoxicating to fantasize that your ex-realizes he made a mistake and is still in love with you. Maybe you've seen a lot of phone calls recently from a number you don't recognize, or you've noticed a lot of anonymous views on your social media profiles. This might be your ex showing signs of missing you, but it also might be a spam call or some other anonymous social media stalker. You may just be leading yourself on in the hopes that your ex will come back.
But if you're the dumpee, the chances are rare that he will realize his mistake and come back. Most of the time, when you're the dumpee, it's because your ex was a jerk who didn't realize how good he had it. And he won't realize it until he's still single and alone in his 40s while you're living the good life with a husband, gorgeous house, and 2.5 kids.
A breakup is painful, and we all want the one who dumped us to realize what a mistake they made in the end. But life's not like the movies, unfortunately, and we don't always get that happy ending.
But then, how happy would such an ending be anyway? Would you want to be back with a person who thought you weren't good enough to hang onto the first time around? If you are leaning towards "yes," then you need to seriously reevaluate your priorities and perhaps even seek some professional counseling to help you learn to love yourself and realize that you deserve way better than that kind of treatment.
To help yourself get over an ex, it might be helpful to make a list of the things you didn't like about the person and that you're glad to be rid of. For example, perhaps you found it creepy when she talked to herself in the shower. Or maybe you were growing tired of telling him to pick up his dirty underwear off of the floor and put it in the hamper. Sure, maybe the sex was great, and your partner was a great cook, but at least you don't have to deal with these creepy or gross things anymore!
There are also unhelpful reminders that you need to rid yourself of. This means to make a clean break from any and every social media channel you follow your ex on. Do you follow them on Facebook or Snapchat? Delete them. Do you follow them on Instagram? Time to unfollow. Do you have them added as a friend on an old Deviant Art profile that you don't even check anymore? It's worth it to figure out your password just to sign in and unfollow them.
Aside from the obvious that your ex will likely post regular updates that will end up on your feed, reminding you of their existence - and perhaps worse, exposing you to photos of them with a new paramour - it's also good to delete them from pages you barely follow.
Why do this? Because you know what's going to happen. You're finally going to move on and free yourself from the hold you are allowing your ex to have on your life, and then they're going to pop up with an update, and all of those old feelings will come flooding back. It's better to remember and remove all traces of him or her now so that when you have finally achieved
The first step to moving on after a relationship has ended, believe it or not, is to forget about moving on. Kind of in the same way that some relationships fall together - you fall in love when you finally stop looking - is the way relationships have to end. You will move on when you stop worrying about when you're going to be able to move on.
However, it is important that you experience your grief. Let it happen. Do not shuck it aside for the sake of moving on. A breakup comes with powerful emotions, and it is healthy to experience them. Cry, punch a pillow, vent to your girlfriends, hug your mom - whatever you need to do to feel better. Grieving is how we heal.
Then, once you feel you are all cried out but still feeling miserable, this is when you can start taking the necessary baby steps to move on. It can be incredibly helpful to remember to take one day at a time. Don't worry about how you're going to feel in the future. All that you need to worry about is how to feel on this day in particular.
On the television show Dawson's Creek, Andie noted when she broke up with Pacey that breaking up with someone is a decision that you have to make every day. One day, you may wake up and feel totally in love with that person and like you can no longer go on. The next day, though, you may wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. This can go on for a while, and it's both normal and okay.
It's also important to get out of your head. If you're constantly obsessing on what should you have done to save the relationship, or what you can do now to win the person back, then you are holding yourself back from moving on.
Things To Do to Help You Move On
Everyone tells you that to move on, you have to distract yourself, and that rebound sex is not the way to do it. So what else can you do? Here are some ideas to help you move on after a break-up that can help you feel better in the short-term, if nothing else, but may also develop into something happy and healthy:
- Bake - Bake a cake, cookies, pie, whatever strikes your mood. Not only will you feel like you've set a goal for yourself that you can accomplish, but you can also indulge in the gooey, bad-for-you-but-oh-so-good results. Bonus points: bring some of your spoils into work to share with your coworkers, so you don't have to feel bad about eating everything yourself.
- Take a Class - Is there something you've been dying to learn how to do? Cooking? Painting? Home improvements? There's never been a better time to sign up for a class and get learning!
- Go Out of Your Way to Make Yourself Laugh - Laughing is infinitely good for you. Catch a comedy show, or line up some comedy movies by one of your favorite comedic actors. Do things that you know will force a laugh out of you, even if you're not entirely feeling up to it.
- Dress Up - Sometimes, nothing can make you feel better about yourself than taking a nice hot shower and dressing up just because. Treat yourself to a new dress, put on some makeup, and enjoy how hot you look. The goal is to pamper yourself and enjoy how you feel when you're not just slumped on the couch in your oversized sweats.
- Take Up Journaling - Journaling is a great way to get in touch with your emotions. Carrie Fisher used to say that she loved to journal each day because it helped her get all of the garbage from her day out on paper so that she could wake up in the morning and start each day anew. This is a great way to approach life. When you write stuff down, you don't feel like you have to obsess over details to remember them. You can just write them down and walk away from them.