3 Reasons Why You Can't Move On From Your Ex
Break ups suck. They’re messy, they hurt and they disrupt our comfortable realities. In response, we try our hardest to ease the pain.
We go out with friends, book fun travel plans, get on the dating apps (on the really magical nights, we swipe endlessly while quietly sobbing into a glass of wine and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s)-- all in an effort to move on from our ex and get ourselves into an upgraded relationship.
With all of this crazy effort we put in, we still sometimes find ourselves entirely unable to move on. We compare new dates to our exes. When something happens, we want so badly to call our exes and get that familiar support. We find ourselves completely stuck, and it totally affects our emotional well-being. Our minds begin to trick us into thinking that was the best we’ll ever get (NEVER true, by the way), and we sometimes dig ourselves into a hole that can be really tough to get out of.
As a break up coach, I get this question all the time. Why can’t I stop thinking about my ex? Why can’t I let go? It’s been x amount of months, why am I not over it?
And I always ask them these 3 questions:
Question #1: Are you still in contact with them?
Bottom line, there is no need to still be talking to your ex--especially right after a break up. There are very few legitimate reasons to stay in touch, and most of them include shared children. Listen--it may seem harsh but please hear me when I tell you during the healing process, there is no benefit to staying in contact.
Hear me out. Say you want to get on a health kick and cut out all of the junk food in your life. BUT, you keep a Snickers Bar at your desk every day. How can you expect to get over junk food if you keep it in front of your face every day? You can’t get over an ex if you’re talking to them every day, constantly expecting texts or searching for excuses to call.
It becomes an obsessive thought pattern. If you leave the door open to contact them, you’re going to contact them. You’ll get those butterflies when you see their name pop up on your phone and all of your old feelings are going to flood back. Don’t set yourself up for failure; set yourself up to heal.
“But what if I want to stay friends with my ex?” I’ll say this: once your healing process is really, truly complete--and I mean you have undeniably and holistically healed-- and it still makes sense to you to be friends with your ex, then go for it. But please be careful.
Question #2: Have you been playing Investigator?
Part of letting go of our exes is trying as hard as we can to shield our thoughts (a near-impossible feat, but it gets easier as time passes). What may prevent that, is what I like to call “playing Investigator.” I think we can all relate. Playing this role looks like
- Obsessively checking their social media. (And often, for good measure, looking at every female’s profile who likes or comments on one of their photos).
- Texting them nonstop because you need “closure.”
- Replaying every little moment in your relationship and trying to dissect it so you can figure out exactly where the relationship went wrong.
- Closely monitoring how and what your ex is doing after the break up so you can gauge the amount of emotional distress and thus figure out what the relationship meant to them.
Does any of this sound familiar?! Girl, you’re fine! It’s totally natural for us to get into these thought processes. A break up makes us feel suddenly powerless and out of control-- all of this investigating and analyzing puts us back in the driver’s seat.
Turns out, it’s all an illusion of power; all we’re really doing is delaying our ability to move on. Checking your ex’s social media will only make you mad or sad. If they look super happy, you’ll be pissed. If they look super sad, you’ll be sad. It’s a lose-lose.
By the way, closure is also an illusion-- it won’t actually bring peace. Accepting your break up and deciding to move on is the most effective way to find your peace. I’ve seen women go on the “quest for closure” and all that comes from it is wasted time and delayed acceptance.
My last point here is, if your ex looks happy after the break up, it is no indication that the relationship didn’t mean anything to them. Men and women are different in so many ways; in this case, men tend to not even recognize the feelings of a break up until way later on. In regards to non-hetero relationships-- people heal differently, and on much different timelines. You cannot judge someone else’s actions, and you certainly should not take them personally.
Question #3: Are you letting yourself get into your feels?
A break up is going to come with a TON of emotions; a really wide variety of them. One of my clients explained it beautifully; she went on a solo road trip and on the 5-hour drive she went from feeling free and empowered, to devastated and sobbing, to really angry, and then back to feeling grateful. It’s a loopy, unpredictable rollercoaster.
You’ve got to face these feelings, and trudge directly through them. Don’t get stuck on one emotion, and put blinders up to all the others. Don’t try to maximize your hurt or anger or victimization. Sure, all of your hurt may very well be directly caused by the other person. But by fixating on that one emotion, you’re letting your ex rent out that space in your head for free.
If you experience a particularly strong emotion, allow yourself to feel it fully and then let it move through you. Accept it, but don’t let it camp out. Write it down. Getting things out on paper, tends to give your mind a break-- it’s similar to crossing an item off of your to do list. You’re sending a message to your brain that you don’t need to think about that thing anymore. Take the power right out of it.
Secondly, acknowledge the break up. Don’t bury your feelings and continue on with business as usual. When you suppress emotions like that, the feelings end up coming out later on in weird ways. If you relate to that, jot down your thoughts and feels right now. Get in touch with them, so they can move through you. It’s always better late than never.
Right now, if you’re in a space to connect to any or all of these situations, please don’t beat yourself up. We’ve all been here! Begin with your awareness; remind yourself that you won’t feel this way forever, the pain will pass, and you’ll come out stronger on the other side. The only relationships that are a waste of time are ones you don’t learn and grow from.
Xx My Girl