It aggravates me when I read blogs and newsletters from dating experts telling you 'how to get your ex back'. This is not what you need to hear. So I wanted to tell you something different. The real reason why you're still hung up on that guy from your past, and how you can start to deal and move through it.
When you become 'hung up' on someone from your past it is important to know whilst you may feel really in love with them... what's got a hold on you is the IDEA that you have of them.
Break ups are rarely clean. That 'closure' you want may not happen. Sometimes people disappear. It is only human if you have no new guy on the scene to look back to how things were...
But I am telling you now you are not in love with him, and this isn't your future. In this blog I talk you through:
- 5 action steps to help you heal and move forwards.
- Why you can't stop thinking about him.
- What thinking about your ex is telling you about yourself.
You don’t like to admit it: but you feel like you still love him.
It's time for you to learn how to get over your ex!
You do a double-take in the street. You look for hints of him in other guys you date. If he walked back through that door... you don’t want to admit what you would do.
Feeling like you’re still in love with someone who has left your life is torture. It is living life in the past- you walk like a ghost through the present. To break you out of this cycle I wanted to write to you about how to get over your ex.
I feel strongly about this as I had an experience like it. I fell in love with someone who seemed to love me with the same intensity in return. Only one day to say he needed time to work on himself, but he was going to come back for me (honest!) and of course he never did.
As long months came and went I had to confront the fact that I was deceived. I wasn’t so special to him. There were other women. There was no going back. The past had closed the door on me: and left to reconcile that a chapter in my life had ended, with no neat ending.
The thing is breakups don’t often give you what you want - "closure".
They rarely end like a sitcom where you sit opposite one another at the breakfast table. Talk about why things broke down, thank each other for what you shared and walk off into separate sunsets.
Instead, real-world breakups normally involve:
- Indecision by at least one person over whether this is the `right’ thing to do.
- Fractious false starts to the breakup cycles of splitting and reconvening that confirm your love and tear you apart.
- It’s over? Why? How?
- Constant reminders of them, finding reasons to get back in touch, meeting with coldness and disappointment when you do.
- A slow dissembling of life shared into a life solo.
- Realizing that you’re never going to do that thing together: the future blurs and no longer has a clear trajectory.
- Empty space.
If things ended and if you didn’t see it coming. If you never got the respect of an explanation (whilst I here doing a victory dance on your behalf that that person is out of your life) you may get stuck. How to get over your ex is not a mission of letting go of the past. It is understanding that closure is one-sided. The work to get through this and heal is going to come from you, not a miraculous explanation from them.
How to get over your ex- the empty palm phase
`Empty palm phase’ is what I like to call the immediate stages after a break up. Here you have to confront having ABSOLUTELY NOTHING going on in your love life. It’s where you’ve had a breakup and no one new has come in yet.
In the end, being single can be invigorating: at the start, it’s usually mortifying and scary. It is like leaving your house without your coat on 24/7.
When things feel a bit `empty’ and the mind has space to wander it isn’t surprising that you go back to thinking about your ex. Confronting your empty headspace, and becoming comfortable with that, feels harder.
So you start to think about what could have been. Will you bump into them again one day? Your mind distorts the past. You romanticize them. The cruel things they said forgotten. You forget how lonely you felt in their company. You put the memory of them on a pedestal that no guy off of dating apps is going to be able to match up to.
5 action steps to help you heal and move forwards.
If you still don’t know how to get over your ex and it’s been months (longer?) let me tell you this: you DO NOT still love them. You feel like you do. The facts are (and I mean this better than it’s coming out) today you don’t know them. You love an image you hold of them in your mind. That your longing for love has shaped into a person too good to be real. It is hard for anyone new you meet to compete with a fantasy of your ex. You know you want to let go, but you can’t seem to do it, so you check their new girlfriend’s Instagram instead.
If you want this to end and to know how to get over your ex - I have some simple steps you can take today to feel better and get onto a new path.
1. You need to stop opening the memory can for a bit.
Block and hide social media profiles, photos and contact details as appropriate. You will `discover’ new details about them, you’ll want to reach out, don’t go there. At this stage, you don’t need to communicate that. Or contact them. You need to be with yourself.
2. You need to be open to your emotions.
In the beginning, an empty house is the scariest thing in the world. You’ll want to distract yourself. Don’t. Let the emotions come, welcome them in. Make friends with your pain. Sometimes you want to push the emotion away because you don’t want to admit a guy made you feel this bad about yourself. But crying it out, yelling it out, running it out, is good. It moves you further from them and back to you.
3. You don’t need to meet someone else right now.
First of all, a new person in your life deserves more of you than to be a distraction. Secondly, if they don’t compare it will exacerbate your pain. You don’t need more people to occupy your mind, you need to get to know your mind at neutral. When you can only focus on you. There is magic in this. But, if you’re used to getting lost in romance it will feel alien at first to know yourself so well.
4. You need to allow the thoughts of how they weren’t perfect to come back in.
I know they weren’t perfect because they’re human. Don’t award them demi-God status in your mind by how you think of them. Remember ALL the times you had- good and bad. Think about what you learned from them, even if it was a tough lesson. Think about why you didn’t connect.
Keep surrounding yourself with people who support who you are. People who like the qualities in you that they didn’t. Start to build up a sense of your own identity. You don’t need to change or go back. What you need is to move on.
5. You need to know you’re stuck on them right now because of what being with them represented.
Was it the completion of being in a relationship? The promise of a family? The fact that your past was absolved by the plans you both made for your future? What was it? Think. It wasn’t them as a person; it is the idea of them that’s got you stuck. Can you separate the two?
How to get over your ex and `let go’ is not actually about them. It’s about you. It’s about whether you can be brave enough to get to know yourself better and whether today you’re able to start the process of growing into someone new.
How to get over your ex?- You already did this before!
It sounds silly but a question I often ask my dating coaching clients is, `do you remember your first boyfriend at school? Would you like to be with him now?’ Generally, this is a `hell no!’ (Shout out to Steven btw). The fact you’re not into them before isn’t because they are good or bad. It’s because you have changed. You have grown out of your ability to be into that person. You can do the same today.
That part of you that used to wait for them to call, that never knew where you stood, that kept hoping... does NOT define you. You can grow so much bigger, and brighter than that. When you think you can’t get over your ex the battle you face is how well you’re prepared to get to know yourself. If you can evolve who you are, you can and will leave them in the past.
I want to encourage you to take what steps you need to signal that this is a new time in your life and that's okay. It takes real strength to stand by yourself and to start again. You do not need to get back someone who fails to show up for you in the way you need.
Finding ways to vent your emotions. (The old 'burn a letter' is great!) This about a process of starting of something new like re-arrange furniture. If appropriate, write a prominent list of 10 reasons why he wasn't the guy for you. Then sticking it to your fridge. Or your phone screensaver.
Then I want you to keep learning how to meet people. Whilst most people you're not destined to connect with - something new lifts the soul.
If you need some extra help in getting over someone head over to Headspace for some great mindful advice.