Stop Obsessing Over Your Ex

As we know, not all relationships work out because not all relationships are meant to last a lifetime. Let’s begin by diving into your breakup itself and why you two broke up in the first place. Everyone has a different break up experience, no two break ups are exactly alike because there are way too many factors involved for that to be the case, even if the reason for the break up is very similar. 

How long you two were together will vary, your circumstances, living situation, issues that led to or directly caused your break up, how things ended between you two, whether you still have feelings for your ex, whether the breakup was out of the blue or was the writing on the wall? There are a lot of elements that factor into your break up as well as how you react to it and process through it.

People will ask you about your relationship. Some people are genuinely interested and concerned and other’s are just nosy and want the gossip. Facing friends and family with their barrage of questions and comments can be very challenging and frankly it’s often something a lot of us dread. 

You’re left to tell everyone that you’re not together and naturally they want to know what happened, when it happened, why it happened and we’re not always positive what happened nor are we prepared to answer these questions. Gaining clarity and a deep understanding for yourself first and foremost is one of the most important things to do after a breakup.

Do you know why you two broke up? Sometimes it’s obvious but sometimes it’s not as obvious, which can make moving on much more difficult, confusing and overwhelming. It can be hard to fully understand, admit and accept why you two broke up. You can end up feeling ashamed, weak, guilty and not wanting to feel embarrassed or judged while searching for clarity.

The reason why gaining a clear understanding around why you two broke up is important, is for clarity sake and for your healing. If you’re not sure why you two broke up, how do you properly move on with all these doubts and all of that confusion swirling around in your head? 

Also, how can you learn the lessons you need to if you don’t spend the time gaining this knowledge and clarity? Lastly, how do you hold yourself accountable to not repeating the same mistakes relating to the kind of partners you choose and also your behavior and actions when you don’t truly know what led to your breakup.

The reason you broke up is always a layered answer, it’s never as simple as we sometimes make it out to be. There are reasons for everything we do and don’t do so I highly encourage you to take the time to be on your own and do some digging. 

One way to make this process easier is to journal about your relationship, the experience as a whole, who your ex was, what led to issues you were having- anything that comes to mind and then read back what you wrote for more clearness.

Sometimes what we initially think is the reason for our break up, is more of a surface level answer and it’s not necessarily the real reason for the breakup. When you mix emotions into a relationship, things can sometimes get a bit complicated and you may need to dig a bit deeper. 

For example, I may think my boyfriend and I broke up because we always fought and never agreed on anything but I should be concentrating on why did we fight, how was my communication? What led to our issues? Was there a particular approach that he had that triggered me for some reason? Issues may present themselves one way on the surface but once you dig a bit deeper, you can see that it’s actually something else. It’s important to dig deep here and truly look at all angles of your relationship. How was your ex guilty and how were you guilty?

Let’s say the reason you broke up relates to you two fighting a lot. You can blame your break up on the fact that you both fought, but there’s more to the story. Why did you two fight? What did you fight about? How often would you fight? How long would the fight last for?

Once you gain clarity and identify the truth in terms of why you two broke up, most people would think…ok, you figured it out, time to move on, right? …Well…it’s not always that easy. We often hang on to the people we love, it’s hard to just shut down our feelings, what is familiar to us, our comfort zone and just no longer speak to the one person five minutes ago we thought could be the one.

When you identify the real reason or reasons you broke up, this helps you not only with clarity as we discussed, it helps you heal and be able to move on faster by accepting what happened. It also helps you identify what you did well in the relationship and what needs improvement, both are equally important. 

This allows you to identify certain patterns that you created and repeat whether it be with personality traits you’re attracted to or certain behaviors whether it be yours or the partners you choose or both. The more you seek to understand, the less likely you are to repeat the same mistakes in the future.

A common question I get asked is, why am I obsessing over my ex? Why can’t I get them out of my head? Why can’t I just stop caring and move on already? A breakup doesn’t just make you numb to everything, you still have feelings, you’re human. It’s completely normal to hang on to your ex whether it be the idea of the person, the love you two had, the history you two shared.

It’s difficult to share so much with someone and then simply cut this person out of your life and immediately stop caring. We don’t have a button to turn our emotions on and off.  As we all know, it doesn’t work that way. 

When you genuinely love someone, when you’re invested in the relationship and your future together, it’s heartbreaking to come to the realization that it’s all over and now your future which once seemed very clear is no longer clear at all. Your heart is broken, if you didn’t truly love the person, you wouldn’t care.

Obsessing about your ex allows you to still feel close to this person. Because it’s hard to let go, we can sometimes hold on to this person for self preservation to protect ourselves from the harsh reality, which is not seeing this person anymore and no longer having them in our lives.

There is this false belief that there’s only one person out there for us, we believe in soulmates. I see this a lot in the dating and relationship space and to me, it’s not only wrong but it’s very unfair to put that pressure on someone to essentially say, the world has millions of people in it, now go find that one person who is supposed to be right for you…but remember there is only one so enjoy the search finding them. 

Am I saying that there are countless people out there for each us? Absolutely not, but there is certainly more than one person in the world out there that you could build a beautiful relationship with and truly be happy for a lifetime if that is what you choose. This is not what society tells us though so we obsess over this one person thinking they were the one and now the relationship is over and you’ll never be loved again, though this is far from the truth.

You’re regretting the break up. This is another reason why we tend to obsess over our ex’s. Hindsight is always 20/20. We don’t always see or appreciate everything in our relationship until it’s over. We also don’t necessarily reflect on our behavior and what we bring to the relationship, both positive and negative qualities. A good question to ask yourself is whether it’s the person that you miss or not being alone that you miss?

Not having enough personal support in terms of family and friends can also lead you to start obsessing over your ex for two different reasons. If during your relationship you designed your life completely around this person and nothing else and essentially distanced yourself from your loved ones, even if subconsciously, you’re going to have a very hard time separating from your ex. 

Also, not having a good support system is really tough when dealing with anything difficulty, including a break up. When you feel you don’t have anyone to turn to, to trust, to open up to, to use as a sounding board, you can feel very lonely in an already vulnerable and challenging place you’re in which can make moving on, a lot harder.

The break up came out of nowhere. Not only are you dealing with the pain from the break up but you’re also dealing with the shock of the breakup as well, which adds another layer of trauma to the situation. You’re left with a lot more confusion and more questions when you’re blindsided by a breakup and you don’t feel you had a hand in it at all. You doubt your ex, your relationship and even yourself and your judgment moving forward.

When relationships end, often we focus on the good times and the happy memories and not on the bad moments or the reasons for the breakup. We romanticize the relationship, even if it doesn’t deserve it. Our recollection of a relationship is rarely the whole truth to the picture, meaning you typically look at things more positively than what actually occurred, often to justify why we stayed in the relationship. 

Another reason is because our brains romanticize our past relationships when we think our current experiences or relationships aren’t very good. Often when we reflect back on our relationship remembering how happy you were and how great things were with your ex, you’re forgetting about the time they lied to you, how controlling they were or the many times they made you cry. Our memory can’t always be trusted since our memory is unreliable.

Also, you may still be obsessing over your ex is because you’re in something new now and it’s not going as well as you had hoped. It’s only natural when you’re in something new, or even struggling to find someone new, that we immediately want to run back to the last relationship we were in because it’s easy, convenient and comfortable. It’s not your ex that you’re missing, it’s being in a comfortable, familiar situation.

Give yourself time. Be kind to yourself. Always remember your value and what you have to offer and never, ever lose hope. 

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