Ex-Files Week

How the Heck Is It Possible to Move On When You Still Love Your Ex?

Can't get you out of my head...

Andy, 33, tells Personal Space that although he’s so longer in love with his ex, she’s madly in love with him. Haven't we all been there?

“I am not madly in love with my ex girlfriend, my ex girlfriend can't seem to get over me,” he says. “We started dating three years ago, and we have an 11-year age difference ( I was 30 and she was 41 at the time). Everything was fine for a while, but at some point she became very depressed with the way her life was going and started to depend on me 1,000 percent emotionally.”

So, Andy began to pull away.

“I know relationships are give and take and they are fifty-fifty, but it became 90 percent me 10 percent her effort overnight,” he adds. “I got to the breaking point and ended the relationship in February. She has been texting non stop since then, wondering what she can do to make it better, what can [she] do to change, and everything like that. I just want her to get better, get some therapy, and realize why I left and broke up and take some responsibility. I love my ex very much, but with the age difference and her lack of responsibility for herself, it’s not going to work."

Heartbreak can cause actual physical pain, and having hope for a reunion with your ex can linger for a long time after the relationship ends. But what if the pain and memories aren’t going away?

We turned to Psychology Today to get some concrete instructions on how exactly a heartbroken person can move on with their life. The advice is spot on.

First, cut off all contact. “No, you do not need to be friends. Keeping an ex in your life is not by itself a sign of maturity; knowing how to take care of yourself and your emotional well-being is,” PT advises. “Many people hang on to the idea of friendship with an ex as a way to keep the possibility of the relationship alive because the idea of completely letting go seems too overwhelming.”  The publication also advises treating your ex with kindness and respect, and definitely not ghosting them.

Next, let go of what you thought you had. “Many people don’t realize that a large majority of the pain they experience during a breakup has nothing to do with the relationship they really had,” says the report. “Relationships always end for a reason. It is rarely a complete surprise, because things generally haven’t been going well for a while. There is often a long list of what each person did or didn’t do that led to all the fighting and hurt feelings. Most people don’t want back the relationship they actually had. What they mourn for is the relationship they thought they could have had if things had just been different.”  

Make the past the past and make peace with what happened, according to the report. “When someone treats you poorly or does something hurtful, it is a natural and healthy response to feel some anger,” says the report. “But when we hold on to anger and resentment from past experiences, we take them with us into the future…But letting what someone else did limit your ability to move forward means they still exert control over your life. Forgiveness isn’t about letting someone else off the hook for his or her bad behavior; it is about your emotional freedom…Remember the good qualities you saw in them when you first met, and recognize that we all have flaws and we all make mistakes.”

It is OK to still have love for your ex—but you must have boundaries, too. “Love is never wrong. When someone comes into your life who allows you the opportunity to experience love, that is always a true gift. Part of maturity, however, is recognizing that love by itself isn’t always enough to make a relationship work. Many other factors and circumstances, such as timing, incompatible values, or the choices we make, play a significant role in whether a relationship can thrive. But moving on from a relationship that isn’t working isn’t always about ending the love you feel. Sometimes the only way to let go is to love someone enough to want the best for him or her even if that means not being together.”

A good tool to ending your attachment is trying to see the loss as “a transition instead of a loss.”

Self love is the best love, and don’t you forget it. “Ultimately, moving on from a relationship that wasn’t working is about loving yourself. For some, this is the hardest part. Believing that you deserve to be in a loving relationship with someone who shares your values and treats you well requires that you view yourself in a positive light,” says PT.

Finally, stop blaming yourself, learn from what you did wrong, and seek therapy if you need it. Nothing is a failure if you move forward having learned something.

Got an ex? Yeah, we all do. Bravo’s Personal Space is diving into everything there is to discuss about breakups, from the ones that got away to ghosting to what the hell you should do with an ex on social media with Ex-Files Week. It’s all leading up to our new series A Night With My Ex, which explores what happens when former couples reunite…for one night only. Check back each day for exclusive interviews, personal stories, and don’t forget to catch the premiere on Tuesday, July 18 at 10/9c. 

Personal Space is Bravo's home for all things "relationships," from romance to friendships to family to co-workers. Ready for a commitment? Then Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates. 

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