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Still Attached to Your Ex? 26 Signs, Why It Happens & How to Break Free

Even though you broke up, you think that you are still attached to your ex. Here are the signs that you are, why you are, and how you can finally move on.

still attached to 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 or the girl who smiled at you at work. It’s your ex. And then you have the cruel realization that you are still attached to your ex.

[Read: Do you miss your ex or think about them often?]

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, 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 can’t let go of the attachment with your ex.

The truth is, 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: Why can’t I get over my ex when I want to move on and forget about them?]

The painful signs you are still attached to your ex

The signs you’re attached to your ex 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, you hope it’s 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 was 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 to your ex.

2. You still look at their 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 from a better future]

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. Or, you say you only date athletes when the only athlete you’ve dated was your ex. 

It could be that 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 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. 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 fairgrounds for the both of you. Neither of you needs to avoid each other in cases like that. 

If you are intentionally spending unnecessary time in the places they hang out without you, then you are probably stalking them. This utterly proves that you are indeed still attached to them. [Read: Bumped into your sex? 14 super-cool ways to show them YDGAF]

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 dream girl or dream boy

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: Why it’s normal to feel angry and weird when your ex starts dating 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]

Why are you still attached to your ex?

You know you should move on, but you don’t know why you can’t. So, if you’re wondering why you are still attached to your ex, here are some top reasons.

1. You still see them on social media

Most people are still connected to their exes on social media. This isn’t easy, because then you see everything they do – and even who they go out on dates with. It hurts to see them move on without you.

2. You’re lonely

When you’re no longer in a relationship, most people get lonely.

All the things you used to do with your ex you aren’t doing anymore. Sitting at home on the weekends makes you sad because you’re not with them. [Read: How not to feel lonely – 30 ways to chase the lonely blues away]

3. You only remember the good times

Let’s face it – if the two of you broke up, then there were some really bad times in your relationship. But if you’re only focusing on the good times, then your memory will be distorted and you will continue to stay attached to your ex.

4. Low self-esteem

Maybe you didn’t think you were worthy of your ex, and you think you won’t find anyone ever again. Or maybe your ex was abusive and created your low self-esteem. Either way, you are getting depressed because of how you feel about yourself.

5. You miss the companionship

When you’re in a romantic relationship, you get into a routine. It’s nice to have someone to do something with all the time.

Sure, you might have friends, but it’s not a given that you will always have someone to hang out with all the time. [Read: Do you want a partner or are you just feeling more lonely?]

6. You miss the sex

Maybe they were the best lover you ever had. And even if they weren’t, you miss the physical intimacy you used to have. It’s not easy going from that to being celibate.

7. You hate being single

Maybe you avoid being single at all costs. If you’re the kind of person who has the next romantic partner lined up even before you break up with someone, then you don’t even know how to be single, and it’s bothersome to you,

8. You don’t have closure

If your ex broke up with you out of the blue, then you most likely don’t have closure. You are probably still wondering what went wrong and what you could have done differently. And if your ex doesn’t help you get closure, you’re going to pine away for them for a while. [Read: 20 best questions to ask your ex after a breakup to find closure]

9. You thought you would marry them

In your mind, you were going to get married, have kids, and live happily ever after. You had the fantasy all written out in your head.

But then, that dream came crashing down when you broke up. You miss your ex, you still find yourself attached to your ex, and most importantly, you also miss that fantasy of a life together.

10. You have regrets

Maybe you did something wrong in the relationship. You could have cheated, lied, or neglected them. In fact, you might wish you could go back and do it all over again the right way so you two don’t break up.

11. You’re still in contact with them

It’s not uncommon for people to stay in touch when they break up. It’s mostly out of habit, but it’s not healthy. You have to stop talking to them if you want to break your attachment to your ex. [Read: How to stop texting someone when that’s all you want to do]

How to break free from being still attached to your ex

Now that you know why you are still attached to your ex, how can you break free and move on? Here are some good steps to take.

1. Go no contact

As we just said, if you’re still in pretty regular contact with your ex, you need to stop that. When you talk to them, it just perpetuates your desire to be with them again.

So, tell them politely that you can’t talk to them anymore while you heal and get on with your life. [Read: No contact rule – What it is, how it works and why it’s so powerful to forget an ex]

2. Stay busy

Find things to do. Go to the gym, try a new hobby, hang out with friends, or take a class. Don’t just sit at home with a pint of ice cream every night eating away your sorrows. Get distracted and stay active.

3. Talk to friends or a therapist

If you have close friends or family who are good to talk to, then try to have them help you with moving on from your ex.

Even better, if you can afford to see a therapist, then do that. Trained professionals always help you work through tough times.

4. Block them on social media

If you’re still stalking them on social media to watch their every move, then you need to block them – at least temporarily until you are over them. That way, there won’t be any temptation to obsess over their new life without you.

5. Start dating again

Eventually, you have to get back out there and start dating again! Sign up for dating apps and go out with a lot of people. You don’t need to find “The One” right now. Just meet different people and have fun.

[Read: 16 lessons to recover from a breakup and move on one day at a time]

Take a look at yourself and see if you have done any of the things mentioned above. If you are still doing them, then you are still attached to your ex. Take the steps to change your behavior or your thoughts about your ex. Moving on is not easy, but it’s certainly not impossible.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...