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Blog #20: 7 things to know when you’re still in love with your ex after a breakup

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“You said you loved me, and it was lies,” the email said.  “You never loved me.”

Instantly, I typed: “Get over it.”

Then I hit send.

I was old enough to know better, young enough to still do it.

It was not an honorable reaction.  I’d been more than ready to end the relationship.  It had dragged on for way too many months.  (The Main Issue?  Person X was addicted to TV and never had anything to talk about.  No drama.  Just total boredom.)

Three months later, I got Email #2 from Person X:  “You say you need your space.  But I can’t talk to you unless we’re dating.  I just can’t ever see you again.”

Well, that was self-explanatory.  So, respectfully this time, I ignored it.

Nearly a year later, I got Email #3 from Person X.  Again.  It was entitled : “Urgent.”  Inside, it said something like:

“Dear Elisa,

I finally understand what you were trying to tell me about pursuing my dreams.  I understand now and you will always be in my dreams.”

Well, it was nice that Person X finally understood what I was saying.  But given that Email #1 had bombed so hard, where was Email #3 coming from?

I mean, you can be in love with me.  And I can even love you back.  But that does not mean I want to date you, and I will probably not appreciate your 3rd email as much as you think I will.

*

Fall and Spring, the seasons of change.  Recently, I’ve heard more stories like mine above, from both sides of the spectrum: the lovesick, and love-weary.  (Aside: If you just need to end it, see this post instead.)

Friends call me to ask my perspective + My strong love for spewing gratuitous relationship advice = This blog post.

My 7 Thoughts about Loving your EX after your breakup.

1.  It’s okay to still feel in love with your ex.  In fact, if you feel that you will always love them, that’s OK.  You might.

In fact, it took me years to get over this one person I dated, and 0.0001% of the time I wonder if I am still a little bit in love with them.  However, I am a different person now, so being “in love” with them does not equal “dating success” with them.

More importantly, “in love” is not the first feeling I have towards them.  99.99% of the time we talk, and we are genuine friends.  I’m interested in their job, new partner, whatever.  We joke, we catch up….. you know …. just the way friends do.  Because our love changed, and we are friends now.

2.  Love is not equal to a specific Action.  You can be in love (emotion) and NOT hang out with them (action).  At the same time!  Yes, sure, be in love with your ex.  This does not mean hanging out is a good idea.

Let me rephrase that.  Hanging out with someone who is not interested in you while you are still in love with them is a horrible idea.

Let me rephrase that again: DON’T HANG OUT WITH YOUR EX.  At least not for awhile.

I’ve seen lots of relationships that could have become friendships explode like a shook Pepsi can, because people told themselves post-break up lies too soon.

Post-Breakup Lies like this:

~  “Even though I broke up with him, why shouldn’t we still be friends?  Sure, I’ll hang out with him one week after the day we broke up.”

~  “I know she broke up with me, but maybe if we stay friends she’ll get back together with me again.  Hey, I’ll call her and maybe she’ll want to hang out this weekend!”

These are both lies.  If you know it’s over, take some space.  Space is not the end of the world.  Space is for you AND for the good of the relationship.

3.  Take some space from your ex, which I basically said in #2, but I really meant it so I’m saying it again.  Pretend they don’t exist for three months.  Three months is a good amount of space to take after a breakup.  In this time, I refuse to talk, email, text, or call my ex.

You need 3 months to stop thinking of your ex as “my girlfriend” or whatever and start seeing them as “a person.”  You need 3 months to be alone; this will make you stronger.  You need 3 months to improve yourself so you can be even better in your next relationship.  You need 3 months to look around and see the beauty out in the world you’d been missing out on when you were busy staring at your ex.

Fair warning is respectful:  “Hey, I need a few months to think so I won’t be in touch.  Please don’t contact me either. I promise I’ll get back in touch with you in three months.”  But it kind of depends on the explosiveness of the breakup.  Fireworks, OK.  Atomic bomb, it’s probably better to just vanish silently.

Taking space is painful but the first step.  It is a kind way to honor yourself and honor your relationship.  It is a way to regain dignity.

Do it for you.  After the first three weeks it gets easier.

4.  You will never love anyone else the way you love your ex.  You will not find a satisfactory “replacement” in the next week, month, or few months. Literally, stop caring about being in a relationship for awhile.

Once you stop caring about being in a relationship, everyone wants to date you.  Yeah, it’s kind of annoying “advice.”  But it’s true.

I guess it’s, like, self-help meets love advice.  “How to get a hot girl to like you: Stop looking for one.”  Here’s why:

When you stop assessing people as “potential dating material” you are more confident.  You are less self-conscious.  You are friendlier.  And who doesn’t find that attractive?

But romantic goals aside, seriously.  It’s painful to go through a breakup.

It’s more painful to drown your pain in serial dating.

One day, it’s all going to hit you hard.  You can’t run away from pain.  It is inside you.

Name your pain.  It will pass.  You will wake up one morning and realize, “Hey, I’m fine today.”

5.  You can love your Ex and live your life at the same time.

Can you picture their face in your mind?  Do you remember all the beautiful things you wanted to say to them?  Do you write them love letters in your diary?  Do you post photos on Facebook and hope they will see them?  (I hope you un-friended them first.)

That’s okay.

Just go about living your life.  You can still go to work, have a drink with friends, and play basketball.  You can still pay bills, take a shower, and go on dates with other people.  You can all of these things WHILE thinking about your ex.

Live your life!  Have fun!

6.  Love and Respect are Not the Same.  In order to earn respect, you must act respectable.

Are you doing things you’d respect in others?  Are you a respectable person towards your Ex?  Here’s a short list of actions I do not respect:

~ Slashing tires, slanderous Facebook posts, other forms of vandalism

~ Calling someone and crying everyday (or going to their house, or texting them, or visiting them at work, or __________) if they’ve already said, “It’s over. I don’t want to talk to you.”

Respect is earned.  There is no reason to lose respect — especially not your own respect for yourself — just because you are feeling down.

7.  You will never love anyone the way you love your Ex.  But one day, you will love someone else.

I make no promises.  But I’d bet on it.

You might look back on your break-up and say, “Wow, I’ve grown so much.”

You might look back and say, “That was just puppy love.”

You might look back and say, “That person changed my life.”

You never know.  Be patient.  Live your life.

Each person you love has a different place in us.  My friend A once put it this way:  “I realized I could never touch the love [my boyfriend] had for his ex-girlfriend in his heart.  And she could never touch me in his heart, either.  We were totally different people.”

You have places for different people in your heart, and your heart is big.

And when you love again…….with the right self-care and pursuit of passion…. you will also love yourself even more, too.

XO,

Elisa

Photo Credit: RelationshipPlaybook

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