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If You're Still In Love With Your Ex & Can't Move On, Here's What To Do

Unrequited love for an ex is a pain that I wouldn't wish on anyone. When you're holding a torch for your ex, it's often easier to focus on the good times and gloss over the bad ones. Needless to say, it takes time to adequately mourn the loss of a relationship and fully accept a breakup. But here's the thing — if you're still in love with an ex, you're probably robbing yourself of happiness in the present moment. According to NYC relationship expert, love coach, and author of Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache, Susan Winter, harboring love for an ex isn't healthy and keeps you stuck in the past Luckily, she also has tips for accepting your breakup and moving on for good.

"Hope can be harmful," Winter tells Elite Daily. "Holding onto a desperate, longing type of love is unhealthy. When our desire to reconnect with our ex means we're no longer living in the present, we must recalibrate. Far too many individuals get lost in a loop of hoping, waiting, and yearning." Unfortunately, it's all too common to examine a relationship in retrospect and forget about the reasons the partnership didn't work out. If you find yourself obsessing over your ex, Winter recommends being honest with yourself about your ex's positive and negative traits. "If you have them cast as the 'perfect partner' who's the flawless, ultimate catch, of course, you can't move on," she says. "But this isn't the whole truth. Reassess the totality of their character and behavior."

There's nothing wrong with missing an ex, or even still feeling a connection to them. Completely forgetting about the past shouldn't be your ultimate goal. Moving on doesn't negate your love for someone, or the memories you share, it just means accepting what happened and directing your attention towards the future. "Having gratitude for a positive past love affair is fine," assures Winter. "That's healthy. Feeling warmly toward your ex is also fine."

If you're still emotionally invested in your past relationship and would like to move on, Winter recommends regularly writing down your feelings in a journal. "Unburden your heart and mind," she says. "Purge every negative, confused, and frustrated feeling. Get it on paper. Then, burn it." (Or, you know, tuck it away on a shelf where you don't have to look at it every day.)

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Once you've allowed yourself to fully express any residual pain and confusion, it's important to remind yourself that there is a better match out there for you. "Carrying a torch for an ex robs us of finding love in the future," explains Winter. "Idealizing an ex eliminates the possibility of anyone new entering our lives." It may also be helpful to understand why it's so tempting to fall into the trap of continuing to yearn for your ex. It turns out, your thought patterns play a big role in the inability to move on from a past love. "We imagine the best from the past, and project it into a hopeful future," says Winter. "This thought process keeps us hooked."

The good news is that a small shift in your thinking can make a huge difference when it comes to reframing a breakup. Instead of focusing on who and what you've lost, consider that your experience with this person is simply now complete. "The relationship has come full circle," explains Winter. "There's nothing more that must be added. It served its purpose in our lives, and our personal evolution." Focusing on this concept can help you fund a balance between the past and the future. It also helps propel you forward. "Exploring the possibility of 'it is complete' unifies energy and reality," says Winter. "Our energy is free to live in the present and manifest new dreams, and our acceptance of the past means that we trust ourselves and our own process. This mental shift is empowering and positive."

If your breakup was recent, don't feel like you have to rush to move on. However, if you feel like enough time has passed for you to let go, but you're struggling to do so, don't keep running in place. Realize that relationships are powerful teaching tools, and just because the partnership is complete, doesn't mean it's any less profound. All it means is that there are new things to come.