You may think you’ve already moved on, but are you 100% sure that you no longer feel a tug on your heart when your thoughts land on your ex?
Every morning you look at your phone and check to see if there’s a message from that one person you’re always thinking of. It’s not the new guy who asked you out for coffee. It’s not the girl who smiled at you at work. It’s your ex. [Read: 6 reasons you can’t get your ex out of your mind]
Why can’t you stop thinking about your ex?
The time it takes to move on from a break-up is subjective. The formula people adhere to is the rule of threes. If you’ve been together for one year, it will take three years for you to move on. If you’ve been together for six months, it will take you a year and a half. You need to let go of this notion.
People move on when they are good and ready. They need time to heal. They need time to make the memories less painful. They need to think about what they really want. Before this happens, people tend to go the other route by holding on to their exes.
No matter how good or bad a relationship is, you still can’t shake the feeling of the what-ifs. You had a relationship. There was a good reason why you started seeing the person. You were attracted to them for a reason. That reason still exists, but your perception of each other has changed in the course of your relationship. [Read: 10 reasons you shouldn’t give your ex another chance]
Are you still attached to your ex?
The signs are easy to read. They are obvious to anyone who knows you well. They are obvious to anyone who knows what to look for. You should acknowledge these signs and take the steps to change your perspective.
#1 Every time someone messages you, a part of you expects it to be your ex. It has been happening since the day you broke up. At first, any beep from your phone made you run across the room to check and see if it’s your ex. Gradually, it became a silent disappointment every time you realized it wasn’t them. As long as you are still expecting them to call, text or email you, you are still attached.
#2 You still look at their Facebook profile and other social media accounts. We’ve all done it. The question is have you stopped doing it? Just because you only do it once a day or once a week does not mean that you’ve moved on. It shows that you still want to know what’s going on with their lives, even if it has no bearing on you whatsoever. This is fine if you saw their profile in passing. If you voluntarily searched them or have their links on your bookmarks folder, then you’re still attached.
#3 You can’t stop referencing your ex in conversations. Almost everything will remind you of your ex. If you find yourself mentioning the fact that you were with your ex that one time or that he had that same shirt or that she said the same thing, you’re still attached. When a person has moved on, they won’t feel the urge to mention their ex anywhere in a conversation, unless absolutely necessary. [Read: 10 signs your past relationship is holding you back]
#4 You prefer a specific type and no one else will do. This type refers mostly to your ex. You say you’re into artists because your ex was an artist. You say you only date athletes when the only athlete you’ve dated was your ex. You only like really tall guys because your ex was over six feet tall. Closing yourself off to other people is a sign that you can’t let go of the preferences that attracted you to your ex. Before they came along, you did not have that much of a conviction for a specific type of person.
#5 Hearing their name or anything related to them makes you anxious. What you’re aiming to feel when you hear anything about your ex should be indifference, slight recognition or just a flicker of a memory. If hearing their name brings strong feelings of apprehension, longing, pain or loss, then you are still attached to them.
#6 Purposely building relationships with people closer to them than you. If you are trying to get close to your ex’s friends, you are still attached. You are probably trying to keep a part of your ex close to you through the people in their life. It’s okay if you became friends with their friends during the relationship. If you’re doing this after you’ve broken up, review your motivations, because you could be involving innocent people in a very awkward situation.
#7 Going to places that your ex frequents even if you don’t need to. If you met your ex at your usual hangout or at work, that’s fair grounds for the both of you. Neither of you need to avoid each other in cases like that. If you are intentionally spending unnecessary time in the places they hang out at without you, then you are probably stalking them. This utterly proves that you are indeed still attached to them. [Read: 14 things to keep in mind when you run into your ex]
#8 Suddenly being interested in things he/she suggested while you were still together. When your ex told you to watch that show about zombies, you refused. Now that you’ve broken up, you decide to watch it, because they mentioned it. You may then start to realize that you care more about your ex’s reaction to your new “obsession” than you are about the said obsession. What’s even worse is when you start to come up with imaginary conversations about this new thing you now have in common.
#9 Becoming your ex’s dreamgirl or dreamboy. You think no one notices, but trying to improve yourself to the standard that your ex holds is seen as a weak and desperate ploy. You were yourself while you were with your ex. Now that they’re gone, you decide to change your hair the way they said they liked. You buy more clothes that they used to think looked cute on you. You hear about the new person they’re dating and you try to emulate that person. People rarely notice that they are doing this or don’t admit it to themselves. [Read: 8 ways to deal with your ex seeing someone new]
#10 Hating your ex. This is the most definite sign that you are still attached to your ex. Although it is a negative emotion, hate can sometimes feel stronger than attraction. It is easier to grasp and can surprise you in different ways. You direct it at your ex, their friends, their new partner or everything that isn’t miserable like you. Letting go of hate will help you immensely in letting go of your ex.
Holding on to something that isn’t there anymore can harm you in many ways. You won’t be able to move on with your life. Your work will be affected. You won’t be able to take care of yourself. Your friends will be unhappy with how things are turning out for you. The worst consequence is you won’t be able to notice the person you’re really meant to be with. [Read: How to move on and deal with your breakup with a smile]
Take a look at yourself and see if you have done any of the things mentioned above. If you are still doing them, take the steps to change your behavior or your thoughts about your ex. Moving on from an ex is not easy, but it’s certainly not impossible.
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Those who can’t do, teach. I can neither do nor teach as well as others, but I can try. Aside from being a writer, I am also a physical therapist. My dream is...