Last weekend, after braving a darty and dancing for two hours at a dive bar, my overtired friend asked everyone in our Lyft if they still had feelings for their first love. Although most of my friends had Marie Kondo'd their high school boos years ago, the sentiment started an interesting conversation: Can you be in love with your current partner and still love your ex?
If my poly friends have taught me anything, it's that having feelings for someone doesn't negate your feelings for someone else. Even in a monogamous relationship, you can love a lot of people in a lot of different ways. Still, if you're newly in love, it's natural to wonder what it means when you feel some heat for an old flame.
"You can certainly still be in love with your ex and also be in love with your current partner — this is actually a very common theme for many people," Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in Los Angeles tells Elite Daily. "This is particularly true if there are some genuinely good things you miss. That is completely normal."
According to Brown, if you met or started seeing your current partner soon after your last breakup, it's actually likely that you will still have some feelings for your ex. Breakups can be painful and disorienting, and sometimes the heart takes a while to fully heal. While it's totally natural to be in love with your current partner and still have feelings for your ex, Dr. Brown shares the importance of being honest with yourself if you do notice these feelings. "What you want to do is to acknowledge your fondness for your ex, but also realize that that relationship has ended," Dr. Brown says. "Accept that it is over, and also accept that, depending upon how deep your love was for your ex, that they are likely going to own a piece of your heart for a long time."
If you dated your ex for a while, they were your first great love, or you just really clicked, a piece of you may love them forever. Of course, whether you realized that you worked better as friends or the relationship just didn't work out, it can be important to be honest with yourself about how and why it ended. You can love your ex and not want to date them anymore, and you can love them and still be incompatible as partners. Reminding yourself that the romantic part of your relationship has ended can help you understand your feelings for your ex while being open to new relationships.
Of course, if you're seeing someone new but you're not sure that it really is over with your ex, or you're secretly-maybe-kind-of hoping you and your ex will get back together, Dr. Brown shares it may be time for a check-in. "That’s the rub: Is it really over for you and our ex? It has ended, right?" Dr. Brown says. "That doesn’t mean that you can’t fall in love again. On the contrary. If you were able to fall in love with your ex, then you are certainly capable of falling in love with someone new." According to Dr. Brown, having feelings for your ex is proof that you will be able to love again. Still, if you're actively hoping to rekindle your old relationship, it's important to be honest with yourself and your new partner about it. You don't want to be stringing your new boo along or building up feelings of resentment.
Additionally, if your last relationship ended amicably or you and your ex are still friends, Dr. Brown shares that it's totally possible to have love for your ex without feeling in love with them. "You don’t have to be in love with your ex to still love them for who they were and what they meant to you," Dr. Brown says. "Even if enough things between the two of you made it not possible for the relationship to survive, there may still be enough positive things about them that you do love." If your ex was the first person you felt you could really open up to or you went on amazing trips together, you may remember them fondly forever. As Dr. Brown shares, it's totally possible to hold space for the good times in past relationships, while building new memories with a current partner.
In the aftermath of a breakup, it's natural to wonder if you'll ever get over your ex. And after lots of tears and long baths, when you've fallen in love with someone new, it's normal to wonder if it's OK to still have some old feelings. It's totally possible to be in love with your current boo and still love your ex. Healing from heartbreak takes a lot of time, and holding space for people in your past doesn't mean you can't move forward. Of course, if you think you'd rather be with your ex or you're hoping to get back together, it may help to talk to your current boo about where you're at. The heart can love a lot of people in a lot of different ways, but being open and honest is always the way to go.