He Left Me, So Why Can’t I Stop Thinking About Him
Updated January 24, 2019
Reviewer Wendy Galyen, LCSW, BC-TMH
Breaking up with a partner is one of the most painful things a person can go through. No matter how long you dated someone, regardless of whether you ended things amicably or not, whether the relationship was healthy or rocky, it hurts to lose someone who was such a presence in your life. For the next few weeks or even months, you might be regularly asking yourself: why can't I stop thinking about him? This is, of course, completely normal and in some cases should even be encouraged as you process through your grief and loss. We can't expect ourselves to turn our feelings off and on like a lightbulb so be patient with yourself while you go through this process.
Why did he break up with me?
This is a question that you may or may not have an answer to. If your boyfriend broke up with you, it's likely that he provided you with an answer as to why even if it was vague. It's really easy to start questioning what you could have done differently and dissect every time you spent together, the words you both shared, the way he acted towards you, etc. All of the what ifs running through your mind which is natural, but at the same time, can really torture you. Sometimes we don't get the kind of closure that we hope for which can lead us to fill in the blanks with scenarios that might not be accurate.
If you believed that the relationship was going well, then the factors which caused your ex-boyfriend to end the relationship are out of your control. If your boyfriend was not able to communicate to you that things were not working for him to give you the opportunity to address these issues, then he's probably not ready to be in a relationship. Communication is a fundamental need in any relationship. You also don't want to spend your relationship trying to change your boyfriend and the way he feels. You may have heard of the notion of 'we are only in control of our thoughts and our actions.' This is particularly important when it comes to relationships.
It is also important to remember that relationships are sometimes a process of trial and error. Every time we open ourselves up to someone emotionally, we run the risk of getting hurt. We are all trying to find someone who fits into our life like no other, and the only way to know that is by dating and seeing how you feel about the person as you grow in the relationship. When things aren't working, as painful as it is, it's best to re-evaluate the relationship and decide whether you want to continue a relationship with that person. While it doesn't feel good to have someone break up with you, remember that you want to be with someone who wants to be with you as much as you want to be with them. You deserve to have someone who is a good match and not someone who doesn't see your value or believe you are the right person for them.
In most instances, it is rarely the wrongdoing of one partner, which leads to the end of the relationship. Quite often, it is simply because one partner desires something more than what their current partner provides them. In such cases, the heartbroken partner should not blame themselves. It merely factors out of their control which terminated the partnership and trying to control aspects outside of your influence only leads to unhealthy relationships. You shouldn't feel the need to change the fundamentals of who you are to fit into someone's life. You won't be able to keep up with the facade forever which will lead to unhappiness in your life and your boyfriend's life.
But why can't I stop thinking about him?
The reason you can't stop thinking about him is that of your perceptions. In the internal narrative of your life, which you have imagined, your ex-boyfriend has taken something from you. He has taken away your relationship, and in turn, a part of your happiness. You are coming to terms with the absence of both your ex-boyfriend and the relationship from your life. You are coping with the loss of the future that you had envisioned. It is not dissimilar to grieving. In some ways, it can be more difficult because you know that he is out there living in his life after making the decision to cut you out of his life. We also often assume that we are the only one feeling this way; that because he broke up with you, that he doesn't care or maybe never cared.
Unfortunately, relationships require the input of two partners. One person cannot put in all of the work and think that means the other person will inevitably change. If one of those partners isn't invested, then the relationship will inevitably suffer. We tend to think that if a partner isn't invested that it's because of something that we did or didn't do when in reality, the issue might not be about you but about your partner's inability. Sometimes, one partner can be blissfully unaware of the other person's true feelings throughout the relationship, which can then lead to severe feelings of dejection when the relationship finally comes to an end.
As mentioned above, your imagination will concoct the worst case scenario whenever your ex-boyfriend crosses your mind. You may believe he has ended the relationship in order to pursue a more fulfilling lifestyle while leaving you behind to suffer. This is completely untrue. The partner is also likely to be suffering. He too is dealing with the absence of something which added value to his life. Just because he decided to walk away does not mean he will not feel the repercussions too. If for whatever reason, he does not have any feelings about the breakup, he likely wasn't the right partner for you.
How will I cope?
Try your best not to judge yourself for having normal emotions. You are not weak, stupid, or unworthy of love because you were broken up with and haven't been able to move on. Grieving the loss of your relationship is perfectly healthy, providing you are aware of the reality that the relationship is over. You and your ex-partner will move on with your respective lives, and the moments you shared together will live on in your respective memories. Right now, it is the fear of a life different from the one you're accustomed to, which is causing you to constantly think of your ex-partner. We are creatures of habit so going from being with someone regularly to not having them in your life at all is a big shock.
To stop thinking of him, you must immerse yourself into the things which enrich your life. Now is the best time to engage in self-care and make sure that you're taking care of your mind, body, and spirit. Focus on your hobbies, friends, and your passions. This can be a positive, transformative time in your life. You get the opportunity to start anew and really become the best version of yourself, so you feel ready to enter another relationship in the future. In time, the hold your ex-boyfriend has over you will fade, and you'll resume your normal life. In certain circumstances, it can be worth seeking professional help to foster a healthy outlook on your situation.