Dating People After My Breakup Made Me Realize I Still Love My Ex

by Michelle Santoyo
New Line Cinema

Most of us have that one, great love that just didn't work out.

Maybe you just got out of that relationship and can't stop thinking about them, or it ended years ago but certain things like the faint scent of their cologne or perfume triggers their memory. Either way the end of a serious relationship can be hard to get over.

When do you know when it's really over? When do you know it's time to move on? And how do you move on?

I dated my ex for two years, and I can honestly say I was never more sure that someone was my soulmate. We had a bond that no one could break, and I just knew he was "the one."

But with any great young love, things aren't always as perfect as they appear. The honeymoon phase wears out, problems arise, trust issues come up and eventually you break up.

This month marks two years since my ex and I have broken up, and it has taken me the entirety of those two years to realize I still love him.

A few months after we broke up, I did what every freshly single girl does. I cried my eyes out for a week and then I downloaded Tinder. It wasn't hard to find dates. In fact, for a while my friends labeled me a serial dater.

I was addicted to meeting new guys and judging them quietly in my head over dinner. However, there was a problem with every guy I went out with. None of them could keep my interest. They either hated cats, didn't like the sports I did or chewed their food so weirdly that they bugged me.

I never failed to find a flaw in every potential guy I dated after my ex. It was a continuous cycle of me telling myself I didn't love my ex anymore, meeting a guy, finding something wrong with him and then starting all over again.

Fast forward two years later and, huge surprise, I'm still single.

Reflecting back on my dating experience, post-great love, I realized there was nothing wrong with any of the men I had gone on dates with (OK, maybe a few of them). I was the one with the problem.

Subconsciously, I was comparing every single guy I met to my ex and this stupid pedestal I had placed him on. I would compare my times and conversations with them to the times I had with my ex, and this was unfair to myself and them.

I wasn't going on dates trying to find a boyfriend or because I was ready, I was going on dates to try and recreate the feeling I had when I was with my ex. But you can't move forward when you keep looking back.

Two years later and I realize that I still love my ex. Don't confuse me loving him for me being in love with him. It's a love that you feel deep in your heart that remains after you've cared for someone so passionately. I've come to terms that I love him and that part of me always will. He was my best friend and partner for years.

The problem with breakups is that a lot of us feel like we should stop loving that person and move on. But how do you stop loving someone? Emotions like that are just embedded in our soul. Part of me will always love my ex, and that's OK. I had to come to terms with the fact that it was OK for our relationship to end, and it was OK for me to not move on, but I had to move forward.

Nostalgia is funny because it makes us remember only the good times, giving us this false fantasy of what we miss. Remember the good, remember the bad and learn and grow from both. It's OK to keep loving someone, but love yourself enough to allow yourself to be open to love.