How Can I Move On When I’m Still In Love With My Ex?
By: Corrina Horne
Updated December 21, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers
If you find yourself thinking, "I'm still in love with my ex," you might be wondering how long it will take to finally get over him or her. If you just broke up, it makes sense that you're missing your ex at first, but if it's been a while, you could be getting impatient with yourself for still having these feelings.
When you're in love with someone, moving on isn't easy. However, there are things that you can do to make the process go more smoothly.
How to Move On- Even When You Love Your Ex
Understand Attachment. First, it can be very helpful just to understand something about attachment and love. Just because a relationship ends does not mean that your thoughts and feelings end abruptly. Love and attachment simply do not work that way. When you genuinely love someone, you become attached, almost like two pieces of paper glued together. While it may seem quite easy to affix them to each other, breaking that connection is much more difficult. Healthy love includes caring for the other person unconditionally, sacrificially, and selflessly. These are pretty important features of healthy love when we want a relationship to stand the test of time. But they can interfere with our ability to let go, and move on when the relationship is over. So, be patient with yourself. There is an extent to which your on-going love for your ex may be completely natural, understandable, and evidence of your genuine love for him or her.
Trying to move on is even more difficult if you were not the one to choose to end the relationship. This is likely to be pretty easily understood. But you may be surprised at the strength, or length, of your love for your ex if you were the one to end the relationship. You may have assumed that since you made a choice, you would just easily move on. Again, that is just not how love and attachment tend to operate. Once your heart has become attached to another person, it takes time, and some intentionality, to be able to let them go and move on. This may be because while you decided to end your relationship, you did not want to. It was a matter of external factors or the other person's on-going issues (addictions, abuse, infidelity, etc.) which prompted your decision. So now you are grieving not only the loss of the relationship, but you are grieving the loss of your hopes for the relationship.
Healthy grieving involves several stages, which you pretty much must go through to move past a prior relationship. There are many factors that might impact your specific experience of those stages. The length of the relationship, the type of relationship, how and why it ended, may all be relevant to how long you experience your grief. And those stages are not a direct line, in a forward direction! You are very likely to 'recycle' some stages.
The bottom line is: be patient with this process. Understand that when you truly love someone and have become attached to him or her, figuring out how to move forward in your life without that person is not necessarily a simple prospect. But it is possible.
Get Closure. One of the first things you should do after a breakup is to find closure. Understanding what led to the demise of your relationship is likely to help you be able to let go and move past it. Unfortunately, closure is not something we can demand, or create at will. However, we can be intentional to help ourselves move in that direction. If you and your ex are on speaking terms, ask as many open questions as you are able, and which your ex will allow, to help you have as much understanding as possible. This can not only assist you in letting go of that relationship, but it very well may help you be healthier in future relationships.
Remember Your Strengths. Struggling to move on is in no way an indicator of how desirable, normal, or lovable you are. Everyone struggles, at one point or another, to move past a time, a relationship, or a situation in their lives, and this struggle is simply an indicator of being a human being. It is what you do with your struggle that actually defines your health and well-being, not that the struggle exists at all. Leave negative self-talk behind and try to focus on your own incredible qualities and the ways you are strong, capable, and independent.
Create Healthy Boundaries. Practice makes perfect, as they say, so think, speak, and act as though you have moved on. Drop "we" from your vocabulary, make decisions solo, and go out without a partner by your side. The final say in whether or not you can move on comes from you and your willingness to take the final steps to do so. As impossible as it might feel to let go of someone for whom you felt an overwhelming, all-encompassing love, the good news is this: you can do this!
Countless people have come before you, wracked with pain and loss, and have gone on to lead healthy, happy lives, whether these people find other partners and move on in that way, or find other pursuits that they are passionate about. Some of these people will take solo steps toward leaving a loved one behind, while others will enlist the help of a therapist to uncover things about themselves that might be holding them back.
Some boundaries you can set include:
- Appropriate reasons, and ways, to get in touch. Co-parents certainly need to talk about the children they share, even if they do not share physical custody. But there are certainly appropriate limits to what should be included, as well as timing, and frequency, of such interactions.
- If you still hang out or talk, you can still set boundaries around what you talk about, and how you interact with each other. For instance, no flirting is pretty reasonable if you are trying to move on.
- You can also set boundaries around your physical actions. While it can seem very natural to hug when saying 'hello' or 'goodbye,' that is not at all mandatory, even between friends, or those who wish to remain friendly. If one of you is uncomfortable with such displays of affection and closeness, the other should not demand it.
Go Out on Dates. Getting back out there after ending a relationship can be scary, but you should push yourself to do it when you feel ready. After a breakup, it's important to get out, have fun, and meet new people. It might take a little while before you're ready, or even interested, in dating anyone again. On the other hand, you might be thinking that a rebound is just what you need. Either way, it is always to your advantage to ensure you do have the closure you need from past relationships, before even considering entering a new one. Don't worry if the first date you go on doesn't go well. The first person you meet probably won't be right for you, so take this as a time of self-discovery in which you decide what you will want out of your next relationship.
Can Therapy Help with Moving On?
One of the most difficult parts of moving on from someone can come from moving on from everything involving that person-including their family or friends, people who you've most likely grown close with. This is where therapy can come in. When you feel hopeless, overwhelmed, or like the task in front of you is utterly impossible, sitting down with a mental health professional can help you gain some perspective, confidence, and clarity. After all, the two of you broke up for a reason. Even if you were not the one to instigate the breakup, your partner undoubtedly had a reason for doing so, which means the relationship was not ideal for both of you. Whether your relationship just ended, or it has been a while, a counselor can assist you in seeing how your thoughts and actions keep you stuck in your current situation. A counselor can also help you by giving you coping techniques to try if you're feeling lonely or thinking about your ex a lot.
Below, BetterHelp patients identify ways in which their therapists have helped them move on in different
"I have been working with Heather for over 8 months on relationships, anxiety, confidence and self-love. She was kind, attentive, and down-to-earth and after a few sessions, knew what kind of therapy sessions I needed. She actively listened to me and gave me the perspective and reality checks I needed to move forward with my self-care journey. In her bio she says that her 'counseling style is compassionate and caring' and she is absolutely right. For all the people who feel stuck or at a low point in your life, I highly recommend you seek her out. She is the kind of therapist that gives you epiphanies. If you have the pleasure of working with Heather through your issues, you are in good hands."
"Working with Jerry has been helpful to realize that some of what I'm trying to do or change feels really overwhelming, and that feeling can be normal but also that it can be dealt with. He has a good balance of reflecting back what I've said in challenging ways, but also giving me suggestions on how to adjust my thinking to be healthier."
Moving on is hard, even in the best of circumstances, and trying to move on when you are still in love with your former partner adds a whole new level of difficulty to the mix. It is important to give yourself grace as you work to move forward. Allow yourself to seek help, and with patience and care you can leave behind a lost relationship, learn to let go, and move on to a fulfilling life. Take the first step today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it OK to still love your ex?
Yes. It is okay and very normal to still love (or have feelings for) someone you loved deeply after the relationship has ended. It takes time to heal after a breakup. Some people take longer than others, and that’s okay too. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings and give yourself time to grieve the loss of the relationship. If you need help dealing with lingering feelings, seeking counseling may be a good way to begin processing the loss.
How do you know if you still love your ex?
If you're constantly thinking to yourself, "I still love my ex" or putting off finding love again, chances are -- you're still in love with your ex. In order to be sure, speak with a relationship expert about your concerns. A licensed professional can help you find clarity about how you feel, and can help you process your feelings in healthy ways in order to find happiness again.
What should I do if I still love my ex?
If you find yourself constantly thinking "I still love my ex" the first thing to do is acknowledge your feelings. Remember it's normal to still love someone who you developed an emotional attachment to. Do you find yourself ruminating over the idea of "I still love my ex?" If you're stuck in the past or stuck in the pain of a breakup, talking to a licensed relationship expert can help.
What does it mean if you still think about your ex?
Still thinking about your ex? You are not the only one. Thinking of your ex from time to time is a normal response to a breakup, especially if you've shared a deep connection with the person. It's normal to still love your ex and remember the good times you shared with them. Part of keeping balanced mental health is acknowledging and addressing your feelings. If you can think of your ex without feeling depressed or anxious, this probably means that you had more good times than bad and that you are beginning to heal from the breakup. On the other hand, if you are struggling with your feelings and constantly think about your ex, you may find that you need some help processing the experience. Reaching out to a counselor or therapist is one way you can express your thoughts and feelings and get some neutral feedback and professional advice, if needed.
Can your ex fall back in love with you?
It's possible that your ex is also thinking "I still love my ex." Remember that just because the two of you broke up -- doesn't mean you don't still love and care for each other. It's normal to still love your ex -- and for them to still love you in return. This doesn't mean you should get back together -- especially if the relationship was toxic or abusive.
Can you ever stop loving someone?
Yes. When a breakup is still new -- you may constantly find yourself thinking "I still love my ex, what am I going to do?" The good news is -- it's normal to still love your ex. With time the feelings of love will likely fade as you move on to healthier relationships.
How do I make my ex regret?
If you've broken up with someone, trying to make them regret the breakup -- is the worst thing you can do. Talk to a licensed relationship expert or therapy provider if you're having trouble moving past a breakup -- instead of trying to prove a point to your ex.
How do you move on when you're still in love?
While moving on when you're still in love is no easy task, it is possible. People begin and end relationships every day. It's part of the normal cycle of life. Take things slowly, one day at a time, and seek support from a licensed therapy provider or relationship expert. A relationship expert can help you process the negative feelings associated with the relationship that may still be lingering after a breakup.
Should you tell your ex you miss them?
If you're looking to make a clean break, telling your ex you miss them -- really isn't the best idea. Having emotional conversations with our ex will only confuse the relationship and blur the lines. When you find yourself feeling this way, it's better to speak to a trusted friend, therapist, or to journal your feelings in order to avoid complicating the breakup.
How do you fall back in love after being hurt?
Although it may not seem that way at first, falling in love again after being hurt is possible. The most important step to take after a breakup is to allow yourself enough time to heal and process the events in the relationship that led to the breakup -- before you begin looking for love again. If you miss this important step, you may find yourself back in this situation again -- and sooner than you think. Talk to your therapist for professional advice.
Why do I still love my ex so much?
Feelings of love don’t just disappear because a relationship has ended. Depending on how long you were in a relationship, the reason for the breakup and whether it was your choice or theirs, you may find that you still have lingering feelings and love that person. Even if you are the one who decided to end the relationship, you may need some extra time to grief the loss of the relationship. Taking time to heal before pursuing a new relationship is important as rebound relationships can add to the frustration and emotional or mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
How do you know if a breakup is final?
Realizing that a breakup is final may be difficult or it could be a relief for you, depending on the circumstances. Lingering feelings for one or both of you can leave you feeling unsure of what to expect for the future. If you have been through a breakup and aren’t sure if it’s really over, there are a few things that may be a sign that the breakup is final.
- Has your ex blocked you from their social media accounts?
- Have they returned your personal belongings and/or asked you to return theirs?
- Have they changed their phone number?
- Are you hearing that your ex has a new important person in their life?
While these are just a few examples of ways to tell that a breakup is final, these are strong indicators that it’s time for you to move on. It’s important to understand that if a relationship is over, you can move on and find love again.
Is it normal to still love your ex after 2 years?
For some people it’s normal to have lingering feelings for an ex after two or more years. If the relationship is truly over and neither of you is doing anything to make the other hold out hope for reconciliation, it is likely that these feelings will fade with time. It’s important to understand that you’ve not done anything wrong that has led to these prolonged feelings. If the fact that you have feelings for your ex after two or more years bothers you, it may be helpful to talk to a licensed counselor or therapist. Utilizing a licensed counselor and other mental health resources can provide you with information you need to learn ways to process the loss of the relationship and begin to move on with your life.
How do you say goodbye to an ex you still love?
When a relationship ends, it can leave you feeling as though you have lost a significant part of your life. When you are still experiencing feelings of love for your ex, you may be questioning how to say goodbye. Saying goodbye can be hard. However, you can learn healthy ways to move forward and have a life that supports good mental health.
A few things you can do to help ease the process include the following:
- Be intentional about staying away from your ex. The more contact you have with your ex, the more difficult it will be to say goodbye.
- Surround yourself with a good support system. Good friends and close loved ones can offer you a lot of encouragement and can help you keep occupied with positive activities.
- Cut social media ties. Even if you say you aren’t going to look at your ex’s social media accounts, in a moment of weakness it may happen. Unfriend your ex, if you haven’t already, and if necessary, block them.
How do I know if my ex still cares about me?
If your relationship has ended, you may find yourself wondering if your ex still cares for you. Some people are good at hiding their true feelings, especially after a breakup. However, there are some things that may indicate that they still have feelings for you.
- If your ex seems to “accidentally” call or text you often
- They show up in places where you are, especially places you used to frequent together
- They comment on or like your social media posts
- They call or visit your friends and family
If these things happen once or twice, it may not be something to give a significant amount of attention to. However, when these behaviors happen often, they could be a sign that your ex still cares for you.
Is it normal to think about your ex years later?
Sometimes it’s hard to let go and stop thinking about your ex even after your relationship has ended. If your relationship lasted for a long time or if you have children, you may find yourself thinking about how things could have been different. Also, not every relationship that ends is wrought with horrible memories. You may find yourself thinking about the good times, which is okay. However, if you feel like you are not able to stop thinking about your ex, or if your thoughts seem obsessive, you may find that talking to an expert such as a mental health counselor can benefit you. Sometimes unresolved feelings can cause you to continue to have thoughts of your ex. A mental health professional can help you process the stages of grief associated with the loss of your relationship and accept what’s best for you moving forward. If you want to talk to a counselor but aren’t comfortable with having an in-person session online counseling may be an option for you. With online counseling, you have the benefit of talking to a qualified mental health professional in the convenience of your home or anywhere you have internet access.
Why did my ex move on so fast?
One of the most difficult things to process if you have experienced a breakup may be the fact that your ex moved on faster than you. It’s normal to feel frustrated or confused but understanding why they may have moved on so quickly may help you process your own feelings about the breakup.
There are a few common reasons that an ex may have moved on so fast.
- Can you say “rebound”? Some people find it difficult to be alone and may quickly move from one relationship to the next. Unfortunately, although your ex may have intentions of getting over you, rebound relationship “feelings” won’t usually last long.
- Keeping up appearances: For some people, appearing to move on is all about keeping up appearances. While some people do move on quickly, it’s not always a good idea to jump to conclusions... at least not at first.
- They may be trying to manipulate you. If you broke up with your ex, they may try to show you that they can do better than you by finding someone else to fill that void. Many times, this is an attempt to make you feel jealous and want them back.
- Finding their way: Sometimes when your ex seems to have moved on fast, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them trying to find their own way in a life that no longer involves you. It’s totally normal to feel hurt or rejected when someone who was a significant part of your life moves on, but often it is nothing personal toward you (even though it may feel like it).
Do soulmates break up and get back together?
There are times when people who feel they are soulmates break up and get back together. There are also times when a reconciliation does not occur. If you have met someone that you feel is your soulmate, it’s totally normal to feel like you are destined to be together long-term. If your relationship ended, that does not mean that you will instantly stop loving the person. It is normal to still love someone after a breakup and to hope that the relationship can be reunited. However, if you find that you are overwhelmed by feelings of uncertainty or that you are unable to cope with the feelings of love you have, despite the breakup, you may find that seeking counseling can help you deal with your emotions. Hoping for a reconciliation is not a bad thing. However, if you find that it is difficult for you to move on even when your ex has, it may be a good idea to reach out for support.
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