There is nothing more painful in life than being stuck where you don’t belong … especially when you’re stuck in an unrequited situation where you still love your ex and he doesn’t love you back. Or maybe he also loves you, but he doesn’t want to be with you … it doesn’t matter.
What matters is you are in pain. You’re stuck. You ache for something that is no longer yours and may never be yours. You want to be free but you are boxed in by the pain and uncertainty. You feel hopeless and powerless. You desperately seek a magic bullet or solution to create a reality that you believe needs to exist!
I was stuck in love with an ex for over two years. Two years of pining and hoping, maybe even praying. I’m the personality type that tends to get stuck. I can’t move forward until I know everything about everything. I need explanations for all. I can’t accept that sometimes, we need to create our own closure. I stubbornly held onto the notion that closure would arrive at my door wrapped up in a pretty bow.
And the waiting was torture, so I broke and called him and got my closure … and we ended up creating this website together, but that’s a long story for a different time!
So here we are. I’m doing what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, teaching you valuable lessons based on my many mistakes!
Here are a few things you should realize and a few things you should do in order to move on if you still love your ex.
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What to Do When You Still Love Your Ex
1. Realize it just isn’t right
The hardest part of the post-breakup period is all the uncertainty and mixed emotions. You can’t fathom not having that person in your life anymore, it’s just inconceivable. It would be like living without a vital organ. How will you function?
When you still love your ex, your preoccupation will be in getting him back. This is definitely possible but listen closely: Now isn’t the right time. That’s it.
I get messages every day from women who are desperate to get their ex back. And like I said, it absolutely can happen, I mean, I married an ex-boyfriend! But! I married him 11 years after we broke up … and after a helluva lot of self-development.
Maybe he is your soul mate … maybe in the future, he’ll realize it and you’ll have a crazy story to tell your kids and grandkids, a love story for the ages! But, and again listen closely: Not. Right. Now.
I know there is a part of you that wants to see the future – that wants to know that he’ll be in your arms once again. I know you can’t imagine a life or a future without him. The good news is you have two outcomes here: either you’ll get back together, yay! Or, you’ll move on and will end up with someone else, someone better suited for you … also yay!
2. Time heals … sort of
They say time heals all wounds but I find this to only be partially true. You can’t just passively sit back and then wake up one day feeling at peace with what happened, totally absolved of residual feelings and the inevitable after-shocks that come with a devastating breakup. It’s an active process and you need to be an active participant.
I bought into the whole time heals idea after the breakup I talked about earlier. I stayed as busy as possible so time would race right along, grabbing my hurt, pain, and feelings of betrayal with it on its way out the door.
Two years later I woke up and realized I was in the exact same spot. I had graduated college … I had moved to New York City … I had a job … I had a whole new life … and yet, I was still aching for the past. He was still there in the recesses of my mind. He was still casting a shadow over every new relationship. He was still the perfect Adonis to which every male I encountered would be compared … and of course, fail to measure up to.
I just could not move on. During those two years, I was busy busy busy. Busy partying, busy going up and down this tiny glittering city, busy with my career. I was too busy to process. I was too busy to think. And when I stopped moving, when I finally sat down and all the noise faded away, he was always there.
So I called him and resolved to get closure at long last. We had a 5-hour conversation that lasted until the morning light and the next day I felt unshackled in many ways. Finally free. Mostly. The phone call put things in motion, but I had to put in some real work to realize, finally really realize, that this relationship wasn’t right. To understand that it didn’t work and it would never work.
I had broken up with him long ago but now it was time to break up with the ghost of the relationship, the one that followed me around like toilet paper stuck to my shoe.
And time was no healer. I had to just do it and heal myself.
3. Either reach out … or don’t
Don’t make my mistake by waiting and waiting and waiting….
If you can’t move on, then either reach out to him (I recommend going in with low expectations), ask him the questions you’re unsure of … see if there’s a chance to work things out … feel him out ….
If you do this, one of two things will happen. Either you’ll work it out, or you won’t. If you don’t, then just move on knowing you did all you can do. (I should add that I would not recommend getting back in touch with an ex until after a period of at least one month of no contact.)
Or, don’t reach out. Maybe you tried to have a closure talk and it went nowhere (my ex and I had several before the big one at two years after the fact and they were disasters! Talking to him was like talking to a cold and distant stranger, which dumped a truckload of salt on my open wounds).
Create your own closure. Notice I said create. Don’t wait around for it to show up at your door.
Closure doesn’t always look the way you think it should. It’s not all epiphanies and deep conversations that unearth everything that went wrong. Sometimes closure is running into him at the grocery store and not feeling the urge to call your best friend right away to re-hash every single detail.
Create the life you want. Pursue your passions. Focus on yourself, focus on loving yourself. Focus on being your best self. This will give you more peace and closure than a conversation with him where you try to uncover his true motivations for cheating on you, trust me.
4. Do you really love him, or do you love the idea of him?
This is a famous trap I used to fall into over and over again. It’s easy to put a sharp increase in the value of something when we no longer have it.
After a breakup, we focus on the good times and happy memories. We remember the falling in love phase, when everything was heightened and electric and the world was shiny and bright and we were happier than we ever thought possible.
In the beginning, you’re bursting with hope and with all the possibilities of what could be. It really is a magical time…
But then reality inevitably hits. The intensity dials back (as it should!), you’re no longer on your best behavior with one another … you relax a bit and let your true selves out and you’re not always so perfectly in sync. There are disagreements, you get annoyed at each other, you may even get sick of one another.
Things may slowly crumble over time until you’re grasping at straws trying to capture a fleeting moment in time that is long gone. Eventually, you break up. It’s devastating and heart wrenching and all around awful.
In the aftermath, you forget about all the bad stuff that lead to the breakup. All you remember is the potential of what could be and you just can’t let go of that. And this is why you stay stuck. This is why you can’t move forward, why no other guy can hold a candle to Him, why you think you’ll never find anyone as amazing as him ever.
You need to look at reality and let go of the fantasy and let go of the what could have beens. Look at what is. Right now, you and he are not together because one or both of you decided you shouldn’t be together. That’s all the information you need right now.
I wrote a lot more about this in this article: The Real Reasons You’re Still Not Over Your Ex
5. Getting back with an ex
So I talked a lot about how to move on and important realizations, and while I don’t want you to stay stuck In a fantasy of thinking you can get him back and everything will be perfect, I would be remiss if I didn’t cover the possibility of getting him back because it is possible. I mean, I married an ex-boyfriend!
But here’s the thing: it won’t happen just because you want it to. The issues you had won’t magically be resolved. You won’t all of a sudden have this perfect, conflict-free relationship. Nothing will be different if you get back together with him unless something significant changes … and change takes time!
And remember what I said about time, it’s an active process. You can’t let time do the work, you need to do the work. Can the issues between you both be resolved? Can you get over the fact that he X? And can he get over the fact that you Y? And can you both deal with Z without it turning into World War 3? And what about the fact that he wants to live here and you want to live there? What about the fact that he doesn’t want to get married in the foreseeable future and you’re ready for a house, kids, and a white picket fence like yesterday? Can you forgive him and can he forgive you or will your relationship live under a sheet of resentment? Be honest: can you work it out?
These are important things to consider. Missing him and wanting him isn’t enough. It’s fine to follow your heart as long as you allow your head to interject and keep you grounded and rooted in reality rather than an idealized fantasy.
We talked a lot in this article about what to do if you still love your ex … from how to move on to what you need to realize. But like I said, getting back together with him is possible, but it won’t happen just because you want it to. For everything you need to know about getting back together with an ex, read this: Do You Want Your Ex Boyfriend Back? Use This to Get Him Back...