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So there you are, beat down and still in love with your ex, basking in a stream of meaning you created with them, once flowing with intensity and liveliness, now dried up and lifeless. But why do you still love your ex, and how do you deal with the overwhelming feeling? Do you even love them? Or is there something else causing you to obsess about and miss them so much?
(Spoiler: it’s probably something else).
Below I provide a series of answers to these sorts of concerns, starting with the most frequently voiced one: the infamous why.
Why Do I still Love My Ex?
Because they’re a part of your identity. Because you have a history with them. Because they played an important role in your life. Because you’re fucking human.
It’s frustrating, sometimes even infuriating, but whether we like it or not, we will form emotional connections with certain people we cross paths with throughout our lives. And sometimes those connections will lead us to build romantic relationships with them. Powerful relationships dense with meaning.
But those romantic relationships won’t always work out. Sometimes they will leave a gaping hole in our hearts. Occasionally we’ll be able to patch those holes quickly, but usually, we won’t. We’ll simply keep marinading in grief. And that’s okay.
So don’t ask yourself why you still love your ex. It’s irrelevant. It won’t solve anything. It won’t pluck you out of your pain. Rather ask yourself, ” Do I still love my ex in a healthy way or an unhealthy one?” It’s this question that enables you to unearth insights that may actually be of use.
Do I still love my ex in a healthy or an unhealthy way?
Reflect on the questions below. Write down your answers if you wish. For some reason, this helps most people get more clarity about the way they still love their ex.
Do you still love your ex, or only the idea of them — a version of them you created, the kind of person they could be if you got them back?
Do you still love your ex, or are you just afraid of being single in a cold and indifferent world? Do you feel like you need to cling to someone else to survive?
Do you still love your ex, or just miss having a warm body next to you — someone you can connect with and who provides you a sense of security?
Do you still love your ex, or do you feel like you’re just not good enough for anyone else? Like you’re inadequate, less worthy, or unworthy of love, and that no one else besides your ex will ever be interested in you, let alone stick with you long term?
Do you still love your ex, or do you just want them back so you can get revenge? Does a part of you hate their guts? Does that part want them to suffer? Do you want to give them the same treatment they gave you?
Do you still love your ex, or are you just jealous and afraid that they can now date other people and are free to get into as many entanglements as they please?
Do you still love your ex, or are you just afraid that you’re never going to meet anyone better — you, for some fucked up reason, think your ex is special?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you love your ex in an unhealthy way. One that almost always leads to another breakup, or, even worse, a relationship comprised of two miserable shits who resent each other yet can’t live without one another.
Whereas, if you’ve answered “no” to all of these questions, you love your ex in a healthy way. Now, this doesn’t mean you should try to get them back, as most people think. It simply means you’ve saved up some cash you would otherwise need to spend for therapy.
What If I Still Love My Ex After 3, 5, Or More Years Later?
Well, if your love isn’t overbearing, doesn’t impede your productivity and personal growth, or make you sabotage different areas of your life, it’s likely healthy. But if the opposite is true, you’re probably suffering from some degree of codependency.
Codependence is an excessive emotional and psychological reliance on other people, in your case, your ex. It’s an ex-addiction.
The codependent person sacrifices their own identity in order to get their ex to love them. They care more about what their ex thinks about them and how they perceive them, than what they think and how they perceive themselves. They constantly avoid conflict, go to abnormal lengths to please and make their ex happy and, consequently, marginalize and destroy themselves.
If you think you’re suffering from codependency (or at least codependent tendencies), consider seeing a therapist. As a rule of thumb: If you’re in doubt and wondering whether you should see one, you probably should.
And don’t wait till your codependency gets severe before seeing a therapist. They’re not emergency room doctors, but more like dentists — you go to them for regular checkups to keep your mental and emotional hygiene in check.
Are there any signs I still love my ex?
Most “I still love my ex” articles go on to explain that some of the key signs you still love them are a) wanting the best for them, b) seeing a future with them, and c) not wanting to date anyone else.
I, however, disagree with this reasoning. Those desires could just as easily be signs you’re codependent. Or sign that you were in a toxic relationship. Or, hell, they could mean nothing at all.
I mean, think about it.
Anyone could want the best for their ex, even if they hurt them. Anyone could imagine a future with them, even if they know there is none deep down. Anyone could want to avoid dating after their breakup. Maybe they just aren’t in the mood and want to focus on themselves for a while.
Therefore, take the signs you still love your ex that you notice online or in popular magazines with a grain of salt. The only accurate sign I’ve come across is simply believing you still love your ex.
Still, it is helpful to keep a close eye on your emotions when you’ve reached the later stages of a breakup — any stage past the fourth, The Emotional Mess Stage, to be exact. Your true feelings for your ex — whether you still love them or not — only present themselves and become easier to discern and grasp after enough time has passed since your breakup.
How Do I Deal With Still Loving My Ex?
The way you deal with being in love with your ex is the same as when you’d want to let them go. Stop interacting with them (Go no contact). Remove — or at least distance — yourself from them. Build a support system. Try new things. Go out and have fun. Travel to new places. Meet new people. Date around. Dive into self-help. Love yourself. Create healthy boundaries. Invest in your fitness, health, and well-being. Double down on your career. Figure out what you want to do with your life. Get a fucking life.
Since I already covered how to do these things here, here, here, and here, it seems pointless to regurgitate the info. The last thing I want this blog to turn into is one of those websites that just keeps dishing out the same articles with minor wording changes (See: HackSpirit.com or WMXA.com).
Sorry, but that idea sounds as exciting as sticking my dick into a light socket. Plus, people don’t want to read 5 articles on a certain topic. They want one great resource about it.
That being said, there is one more tip I haven’t explained in-depth before. One that, by itself, won’t do much. But it will lead you to greater motivation to apply my other tips that actually will snap you out of being in love with your ex in a way where you’re constantly missing and obsessing about them.
The tip is this: stop being selfish
Years ago, I also had an ex who I still loved, even though it’s been months since our breakup. She was everything I wanted — beautiful, intelligent, full of enthusiasm, and lust for life. Yet, I couldn’t give her what she wanted: a man with a purpose who wasn’t an emotional cripple and a control freak. And so she dumped me.
But I still loved her and so, I didn’t want to let her go. Day in and day out, I wondered: If I let her go, what if I never find someone like her again? We had such an incredible and impossible-to-repeat relationship — what if women like her are simply outside my reach?
Eventually, those beliefs made me want to get my ex back under any circumstances and despite all odds. I wanted to fight for our relationship and win. I’d say I chased after her for about a year before I called it quits — before I came to my senses. And that year was a fucking disaster.
After I quit the whole “get my ex back” thing, however, and started dating, and found myself surrounded with new women that were in many ways far better than the one I’d struggled to let go just months prior.
And this affected me in two big ways. First, I realized that I could get a high-quality “replacement” girlfriend faster than I thought. Second, I didn’t love my ex anymore. For the most part, she was out of my mind entirely and replaced by thoughts about the other pretty girls I was seeing.
In retrospect, the reason I was still in love with my ex and kept trying to get her back was because I was selfish. I didn’t believe I could find a girlfriend of her caliber to replace her. I naively believed she was irreplaceable. So I feared giving her up, and instead held onto her, wasting her time and mine.
Any time you find yourself so madly in love with your ex that you can’t leave them alone, know that the more you try to force yourself into their life, the worse you’re making it. If you’re doing this to your ex and still care about them (and not just yourself), you need to knock it off before you wreck your life and theirs.
Will I Always Be In Love With My Ex?
Probably not. Even codependents have their limit. But you will, despite not being in love with them forever, still love them no matter what. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I’ve been in love with my girlfriend for years, yet I still love my exes, even the toxic ones. But would I ever go back to any of them, even if it’s only for coffee and as a friend?
I’m over them. I know I can do better. And I was never a fan of reheating old leftovers anyways. I simply learned to love my exes from a distance.
I want the best for them, and if I ever stumble upon them, I’d be happy to hug them and ask how they are. But I’d also quickly return to whatever I was doing before our interaction and let them go. Learn to cultivate the same mentality.
And whatever you do, don’t fight the love you feel for your ex. You will love them no matter what you do. Similar to pain and happiness, your ex is intertwined in the fabric of your life.
Trying to erase them from your mind so you wouldn’t suffer as much would also entail erasing an important and meaningful chunk of your life. A chunk that will, eventually, only make you more resilient for enduring it defiantly.
So rather than escaping your pain, engage it. Hell, learn to enjoy it. Define yourself as the person who eats shit and smiles about it. It’s a farfetched idea but try it. You’ll be amazed at how your behavior will start matching that identity and how you’ll eventually, as a result, begin to embody that identity.
If you need more more help healing from your breakup, check out my Radical Recovery Course. With over 5h of video, 200 pages of writing, and personalized 1-on-1 coaching, I'll walk you through every step of the recovery process from start to finish.
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