If You're Getting Over Someone You Still Love, Remember These 7 Things
As hard as it may be to admit, getting over someone you still love is no easy feat. Sometimes, it can take years. You may have agreed to go your separate ways, but even months after the breakup, you might find yourself comparing how new dates talk, dress, and kiss, to your ex. You're checking your ex's Instagram every few days (even if you don't follow each other anymore), or hoping your mutual friends bring them up in conversation just to get a glimpse of what their life without you looks like. In some cases where you still love your ex, you might still be acting like a couple even though you aren't anymore. "Nothing has really changed but the relationship status," Renelle Nelson, LMFT, certified sex therapist and infidelity recovery coach, tells Elite Daily. "You still give them money, rides, advice, and even sex."
If you're stuck in this post-breakup limbo, try not to beat yourself up. The pressure to move on and "bounce back" can be overwhelming, but it's not something you need to subscribe to. “The concept of being ‘over’ someone — what does that even mean?" James Guay, LMFT, tells Elite Daily. Instead, focus on whether or not you want to engage with your ex going forward, and what it will take to change how you think about them. Here are seven tips to remember from Nelson and Guay if you're looking to get over someone you still love.
1. Acknowledge The Hurt, But Be Kind To Yourself
“What’s healthiest for us is to feel what we feel and think what we think," Guay says. "If we’re denying or minimizing, or overindulging and obsessing, that’s two sides of the same coin." It's important to process your emotions at a pace that feels right for you. If you gloss over your feelings or distract yourself with dating before you're ready, you'll just postpone the grief, Guay explains.
Let yourself feel what you feel without being too hard on yourself. “I really recommend mindfulness with compassion. It’s sometimes described as the two wings of a bird that allows it to move forward — one without the other is insufficient," Guay says. Practice mindfulness toward the feelings, thoughts, and memories of your ex that may pop up. But don't forget to focus on the things that make you happy, like solid friendships and the work you're passionate about, too.
2. Understand That You Can Love People From A Distance
Breakups can happen for a number of reasons, from infidelity to lack of compatibility. You can love your partner very much, but simply realize your visions for the future don't align. There might not be any hard feelings between you, but ultimately, you're just not right for each other, and that's OK. You can actively make the decision "to love from a distance, [and] love differently," Guay says. This can look like still being supportive of and friendly toward each other, but not integrating your lives or engaging in romantic activity. Ultimately, this is friendship, and if you think you can pull it off with your ex, you should feel empowered to give it a shot.
3. Remember The Breakup Was Probably For The Best
If you're regretting your breakup, try to think about whether your relationship was healthy or worth fighting for. It's too easy to shine a light on the positives and forget about the negatives.
"If you feel you're not over your ex, remind yourself on the non-negotiable, or the [negative] pattern you saw and just don't want to be a part of anymore," Nelson recommends. "Maybe you grew apart. Or they were a habitual cheater, chronic liar, or even a thief. Remind yourself why you made the decision to uncouple."
If you don't like the idea of being single, try to see this new phase of your life as a healthy challenge. "You will eat anything if your heart is hungry," Nelson says. "Loneliness can make you romanticize the relationship and not the person. You may miss being a couple and forget how the person treated you or how incompatible you really were."
If you're lonely in the midst of getting over an ex, surround yourself with friends. Better yet, try taking up activities where you can enjoy being truly alone, like meditating, reading, or a solitary sport like jogging or swimming.
4. Wondering About The What-If's Isn't Worth It
It can be just as hard to get over someone you never "actually" dated as it is to get over an "official" partner. Friends-with-benefits, undefined "situationships," or flings that end in ghosting can make cutting the cord feel impossible.
“When it’s been an unclear or not-mutual ending, we can be left filling in the unknown to our detriment — which can be challenging, difficult, and painful to deal with," Guay says. He's right. When you're unsure about where things went wrong, it's easy to fall into a what-if spiral about what could have been different, and when you should have spoken up in regards to how you were feeling.
"Be open to understanding that some things just end without a reason. You may never have the answer or closure," Nelson says. "It may be hard to hear, but gift yourself and [your] mind with not knowing all the time."
When getting over a hookup that fizzled out or a potential partner that ghosted, not knowing all the nitty-gritty details can be liberating. Try to become OK with the fact that you might not know the exact reason why this person dipped. At the end of the day, the result is the same: The relationship is over, and you're better off not dwelling on it and doing your best to move on.
5. Remember: The Relationship Was Not A Waste
Guay says something he hears from his therapy clients on the reg is that it's hard to take meaning from a relationship's end. But there may not always be a neat little bow on the end of your relationship. The "meaning" may not always be clear. If this is keeping you up at night, Nelson says, "Think of the role the relationship played in your life. No relationship is a waste of time. There was a lesson." Try to find out what it is. "People come in your life for a reason, season, or a lifetime."
Guay echoes Nelson, saying, "Even when relationships end, they can still be successful for what they were. That doesn't necessarily mean we ‘failed’ at a relationship. It just means that maybe it played out its usefulness."
6. Self-Care Is Key
There are concrete ways you can practice the aforementioned "mindfulness plus compassion" to help you move on from your ex. Start by asking yourself, "How would I treat a best friend in this situation?"
Some post-breakup self-care tips Guay suggests include taking a walk, calling a friend to chat, soothing your senses with a warmth bath, a scented candle, or a cozy nap, eating well, and getting enough sleep. Therapy is also always a great option if it's accessible. Licensed professionals are trained to help you get through this, and so many other types of heartbreak.
7. There's No Timeline To Healing
Both Nelson and Guay agree there is no foolproof timeline for when you should be "over" someone you still have feelings for. "There are certain relationships [that we hold] throughout our lives," Guay says. It can be nearly impossible to completely avoid the songs, movies, smells, and places we associate with an ex forever. If you're in the same friend group or your families are close, avoiding your ex might be unrealistic. Maybe your ex or one of their friends will pop up on your timeline, or you'll run into them IRL, or you'll hear about one of their recent accomplishments from a neutral third-party and feel like texting them congrats. Sometimes, completely expelling an ex from your life is harder than you expect, "and that’s OK," Guay says, "as long as it’s not getting in the way of [you] being present and enjoying your life now."
Healing from a breakup might not always be a linear process. But there are steps you can take day-by-day to learn from this chapter of your life. In the end, you might even find that you're a better person for it.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.