No matter how toxic (and pointless) it is to continue pining for an ex, most women have a near impossible time letting go and moving forward.
Let’s say you had a job where you felt perpetually stressed, anxious, and miserable. You put in all you could, even if it came at the expense of your ego and sometimes, your sanity. And let’s say you got fired from that job. Yes, being unemployed is scary so at first you’ll feel upset and worried, but you will also probably feel relieved. You’ll realize it was for the best and will be thankful that you are now free to find a job that is better suited for you, one where you will feel valued and appreciated. You won’t spend sleepless nights pining for that old job, wondering what went wrong and what else you could have done. You’ll realize, with perfect clarity, that it wasn’t the right place for you.
Now let’s say you’re in a relationship where you feel perpetually stressed, anxious, worried, and miserable. You put everything you have into making it work, you give it your all, even at the expense of your dignity and emotional well-being. You put up a good fight, but it’s not enough and he breaks up with you. You were miserable with him, and now you’re even more miserable without him. You spend months, maybe even years, pining away.
Unfortunately, a relationship is hard to view through the same objective lens as a job. With relationships, it’s not just our emotions that gets involved, it’s our egos, our past pain, our childhood traumas, our insecurities, our fears. Everything gets activated and when the bomb detonates, it can take months or years to clear the wreckage.
As a result, when a relationship ends it’s not just the other person that’s missing, a lot of pieces of yourself also need to be retrieved. Many people make the mistake of thinking that the reason they’re so sad after a breakup is because they genuinely miss their former partner. This is true to an extent, but it’s far from the whole picture. The pain we feel comes from several sources, and most have nothing to do with the ex himself.
Here are the real reasons it’s so hard to get over him:
1. You Think You’ll Never Find Anyone as Amazing as Him
This is the biggest breakup myth of all and the reason most people find it so hard to get over their first love. They cling to the belief that since they never experienced anything like that before, they never will again.
You convince yourself that no other man on the planet has the same qualities as him and thus, you have two choices: get him back or settle for someone who will never measure up. I hope you can recognize the absurdity in this! Will you meet someone else exactly like him? No, because no two people are exactly alike and even still, you and he broke up proving someone exactly like him is not exactly what you need. You won’t find someone with his exact qualities….you will find someone even better and more compatible with you.
2. You Were Infatuated
Most people confuse true love with infatuation even though these two concepts couldn’t be more different. Love is about realistically seeing who the other person is, flaws and all, and appreciating the entire picture. It doesn’t make demands or need things to be a certain way, it grows and flows effortlessly creating an environment where both people bring out the best in one another.
Infatuation is about creating an unrealistic image of who the other person is and turning him into some supreme, perfect being. The biggest sign you’re infatuated is if you can’t find a single flaw in the other person. Infatuation usually happens because you have a void in your life that he fills. You don’t feel good enough about yourself and this supreme being shows interest in you, making you feel desirable and worthy, and you cling to him for more of that feeling.
His approval makes you feel OK…it makes you feel “good enough,” at least temporarily. Since he gives you something you need so desperately, you become terrified of losing him, and then the panic sets in…what if he loses interest? How can I keep him?
You let him get away with as much bad behavior as he wants because you’re too afraid to call him out and risk losing him. As he retreats, you do anything in your power to reel him back in. You’re in a relationship where you’re not being treated the way you want, and yet, you can’t rip yourself away. So you stay.
Eventually it ends leaving you more fractured and empty than before. You continue to idealize him and think the only way you’ll ever feel better is if he comes back. Self-love always starts from within, it can never be attained from the outside. Until you realize this, you will remain in heartbreak’s unrelenting grip.
3. You Sold Yourself Out
This ties into being infatuated. In unhealthy relationships, we will often “sell ourselves out” in an effort to make it work. Selling yourself out means accepting behavior that you would otherwise consider unacceptable, or attempting to be someone your not. Maybe you don’t speak up anymore, maybe you aren’t the same bubbly, confident person you once were, maybe you put him and his needs above your own.
The emotional devastation you feel after a breakup is usually proportional to the extent you sold yourself out. When these relationships end, you will often feel like a piece of you is missing, like you aren’t whole. It’s a miserable, almost sickening feeling. You might feel like getting him back is the only cure, but it’s not. What you need to do is look at yourself and really try to determine why it is you accepted such poor treatment for so long, and what steps you can take to avoid getting into a situation like this again.
4. You Miss the Way He Made You Feel
Most of the time, it’s not the guy you’re missing…it’s the feelings you experienced when you were with him. You miss the intimacy, the closeness, the feeling of being desired and admired. You miss the way he made you feel more than who he actually is.
There is almost always a period of withdrawal after an important element of our life is gone. Whether it’s your decision to make the excision or not, there will suddenly be a void and you may feel unbalanced as you try to cope without the thing that was once there to fuel you. It’s like quitting coffee or cigarettes. At first you think you’ll never be able to make it through the day without your “fix.” It will definitely be hard at first, but when you push past the initial discomfort, you will be able to function just as well, or even better, than before!
When you go through a breakup, you may be missing the feeling of being loved and cared for. To fill this empty space, surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you and love you for who you are. Focus on re-building your life in a way that makes you feel fulfilled and content with who you are. You probably relied on him to give you a feeling of worth, and now it’s time to take ownership and give it to yourself.
5. You Gave Up Your Life
A boyfriend can often quickly go from being a part of your life to being your entire life. You stop seeing your friends as much, doing hobbies you enjoy, pursuing your passions. You want to spend every free moment with him and can’t pry yourself away. It feels like he’s your everything…because he is! And when “everything” leaves, you’re left with nothing. You feel empty, like a piece of you is missing.
The fact is, a lot of pieces of you are missing and he isn’t the final magical puzzle piece. It starts with re-building your life and making it full and balanced. When you drop other elements of your life and have your guy fill that space, you will have a huge hole once he leaves you. Realize that this hole isn’t because he was the other half of your soul, but rather because you threw a lot of important elements of your life overboard.
6. You Took it Too Personally
A lot of the time, the pain we feel after a breakup is really the throb of a severely bruised ego. Rejection hurts, even if it had nothing to do with you it can still sting and make you feel like you’re somehow not good enough. Sometimes two people just aren’t a match, it’s as simple as that. Sometimes both people can see this with perfect clarity, and sometimes only one person does.
MORE: How to Handle Rejection
Being single can be tough, dating can be exhausting, but neither of these options is as bad as being stuck in an unhealthy relationship. Everyone has something they want to give to a relationship and get from a relationship. If what you give is what the other person can receive, and vice versa, then it’s a match. If not, then it doesn’t mean either of you is bad or damaged or not good enough, you’re just not a match and that’s OK.
Try not to take it to personally and instead realize that while this might not have been the right relationship for you, the next one very well might be so your best bet is to mentally and emotionally move past this relationship so you can open the door for something even better to walk through.
7. You’re Idealizing the Past
Most women seem to develop selective amnesia after a relationship ends whereby they only remember the good times and completely ignore everything that went on the rest of the time. I’m sure you shared plenty of good times and happy memories, but that’s not all that went on or the relationship wouldn’t have ended.
Be real with yourself and honest about the relationship. Remind yourself of the reasons why it didn’t work instead of going over what you could have or should have done differently in order to make it work. Chances are, it would have ended no matter what you did differently.
Breakups don’t happen because of small details, they occur because the two individuals in their entirety simply weren’t a match. No amount of ruminating will change this so it’s best to just accept it and move forward.
A breakup can feel almost like a death…and it kind of is. It’s the death of potential, the death of all the possibilities of what could be and where this might lead. In the beginning you were so full of hope and optimism, two of the most uplifting and exhilarating feelings there are. And you’re having a hard time parting with it, a hard time accepting that while what you and he shared was good, it wasn’t good enough to stand the test of time. But it’s OK. Not every relationship is meant to last so don’t think of it as the end, think of this time as just the beginning of your journey towards finding the right one.
– SABRINA ALEXIS