10 reasons why some people can't let go of their ex (2023)

10 reasons why some people can't let go of their ex (1)

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Most people eventually heal after a relationship ends, especially if both partners have mutually agreed to break up. With helpful guidance, they learn from their mistakes, find solace in friends, and eventually form a new relationship. Unfortunately, it's a whole different story when one partner leaves while the other is still deeply connected. The fear of being the rejected partner can be devastating. Some people experience infinitygrief, ruthlesspessimism, and a deepeningfearthat love may never happen to her again. I have spent many hours with deeply saddened, abandoned partners who cannot get over their losses. I've listened to their stories and their confusion about why they can't seem to love for long.

When people are repeatedly abandoned in consecutive relationships, they are often judged harshly by others. These perpetually rejected lovers too often find themselves on the other end of well-meaning friends who urge them to "just get over it" or imply that they are somehow responsible for their relationships not working out. That's seldom true. Most who suffer from prolonged grief have typically tried everything they can to make their relationship work. When they are left behind again, they are in understandable confusion and sadness, wondering if the pain will ever go away.

In the years I've worked with such individuals, I've been able to help them see how the way they approach relationships may have something to do with why they end. Armed with this knowledge, they can better understand what they could have done differently.

Below are 10 of the most commonpersonalityTraits and behaviors that many of these patients have shared with me with the hope that they can help those still living in ongoing suffering after being rejected by someone they still love.

(Video) 4 Reasons You Can't Let Go Of Your Ex (And How To Pass Them!)

1. Innate insecurity.It's natural for people to feel insecure when threatened by the loss of something very important to them. When their comfort is disturbed by an unpredictable threat, most people have mastered itdefense mechanismhelping them overcome their legitimate feelings of sadness and fear. Over time they can move on.

Unfortunately, there are people who suffer more deeply from itAngstand may also have had multiple losses from the past. As relationship partners, they may have greater difficulty rebalancing when abandoned by a formerly trusted partner. They feel significantly more helpless and hopeless, like they can never trust love again. At times, almost inoperable, their pain overcomes any hope of ever getting better.

2nd topping-out ceremony.When people feel like they've finally found the "perfect relationship" and their partners then walk away, they can despair that they'll never find love that wonderful again. Relationship partners who have experienced this type of one-sided abandonment may have always dreamed of having a special, reliable, and loving partner. However, when they find someone who seems to fit the bill, they may become too anxious to inquire as to whether or not their partners had the same desires or expectations.

When they think they've found the perfect partner, they put everything they have into the relationship and hope against hope that it will never end. Warning signals from the other partner are often ignored until it is too late.

3.childhoodTaskTrauma.Children are too often helpless flippers in a life game that tosses them from relationship to relationship, usually unable to affect the outcome. These early experiences make them more likely to do bothmistrustrelationship partners or try too hard to trust them too much. Their insecure early-life bonds with their caregivers too often result in them becoming overly anxious adults, unable to let love in for fear of inevitable losses.


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people with such fearsAttachmentThey may think they are into the love game, but instead they are self-protective and unable to take the risk of really committing to a relationship. They see safety as elusive and out of their control, but they continue to make serious commitments without careful judgement.

This underlying fear all too often frustrates the people trying to love them. They often end up discouraged and forced to leave the relationship, mimicking a childhood trauma of abandonment in the person they are leaving behind.

(Video) The Crazy Reason Why You Can’t Let Go Of Your Ex

4. Fear of being alone.When a person is afraid that love will never happen, they will often tolerate neglect, abuse, or insincere behavior just to stay in a relationship. If their relationship partners continue to participate in these uneven investments, one of two things will happen: the other partner will feel too guilty to stay close, or they will stay in the relationship while looking for a better deal elsewhere.

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5. Rely on only one partner forself worth.It is dangerous for any intimate partner to entrust the other as the sole definer of that person's core value. Like putting all your eggs in the same basket, if this belief does not result in a positive response, total devastation is bound to ensue.

When that partner ends the relationship, the rejected partner only has the negative of that one personself imageto rely on something. They can only find fault with who they were, what they did wrong and that they may always be unlovable to others.

6. Fear of failure.There are people who are literally afraid of failing at anything, and relationships are just one piece of the puzzle. They give everything they have for what they strive for and cannot count on their efforts going unnoticed in something as important as a romantic relationship.

In their fear of failure, they too often either overreact when something seems to be going wrong, or, due to their over-vigilance, miss crucial clues.

When their partners leave the relationship, they often take all the blame and feel like they should have done more or better. Often this self-denigration makes any successful partnership more prone to failure for the same reasons.

7. Romantic fantasies.Thriving relationships aren't "romantic" in the picture book sense. Although, like all new relationships, they begin with mutually seemingly unconditional acceptance andforgiveness, they must eventually work out the differences and challenges that all long-term commitments bring.

Those committed to clinging to romanceFantasies, but represent a different race. These partners want to be everything to their lovers, like in a cloud of intense and sustained rapture. When life's normal upsets kick in, romantic fantasists see them as only temporary obstacles and don't take them seriously.

(Video) 10 reasons you can’t get over your ex.

When a romantic fantasist wants to hold on to bliss at all costs, the other partner often feels invisible and unknown and will eventually seek a more realistic encounter.

8. Immortal Love.There are people who believe that loving someone until the end of time is a virtue and pride themselves on never giving up loving a partner even after the relationship is over. They truly hold onto the belief that a love that was once so beautiful can never die and commit to forever waiting for the other person to come back. For her, the unwavering commitment to staying true to a partner who has given up the relationship keeps her from embracing new love. Lost love is constantly sung about, so that every other partnership pales in comparison.

9. Unmatched hole fillers.Occasionally a partner will find another who is perfect in some crucial areas. The rest of the relationship may not be as rewarding, but the experience of total contentment in this one place is overwhelmingly fulfilling. Once they have this experience, they feel like they can never be without it and severely limit their options for the future. When rejected, they become hyper-focused on getting their partners to return, and will make any sacrifice to achieve that.

10. The really tormented stalkers.Unfortunately, there are people who cannot give up on their romantic partners, no matter how clearly they know the relationship is over. Even if the other partner avoids, scares, or even humiliates them, they will not or cannot give up.

There are many reasons why people injure themselves in this way. They might feel like they have no other place to go. Or they feel like they'll never find someone who's right for them again. Perhaps they choose partners who in return can never love them in the same way and yet cannot accept that finality. Perhaps they watched as a parent continued to make sacrifices without reciprocity, believing it was a noble way to behave.

If the pain is great enough, they might stalk, punish, or intrude, unable to follow through on this broken relationship. No amount of self-abasement orhumiliationseems to ease their pain or keep them from reversing their fate.

* * * * * *

Unrequited love is painful and demoralizing. It's only human to try to change the aftermath of lost hope.

Many relationship seekers who experience repeated rejection become weary cynics who take less and less risk in every successful partnership. They stop believing that relationships can ever work because they can't afford to get hurt again.

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Once they understand why these situations arise, many can learn to choose better partners, face the realities of what relationships offer and cost, and increase their resilience when loss is inevitable. Only then can they understand that the more you love, the more painful the loss. There is no other possibility.

Each individual must decide how much to risk in the search for truthintimacy. In order to achieve the most beautiful result, he or she must give up the priorGoalsholding on to love at all costs and creating an authentic and genuine relationship instead, no matter what the outcome may be.


Why some people can't let go of their ex? ›

There are many reasons why people hurt themselves this way. They might feel they have no other place to go. Or they feel they will never find someone so right for them again. Perhaps they choose partners who can never love them the same way in return, and yet can't accept that finality.

What causes inability to let go? ›

Personality characteristics and behaviors associated with the inability to let go include innate insecurity and childhood abandonment trauma. By understanding why this happens, many people can learn to choose better partners or become more resilient for when loss is inevitable.

How do you deal with an ex who cant let go? ›

How to Break It Off with an Ex Who Won't Let Go
  1. Directly state that you want him out of your life. ...
  2. Do not respond to any of his communication. ...
  3. Unfriend, unfollow, and consider doing the same with his friends. ...
  4. Have his emails sent directly to 'trash. ...
  5. Block his number.
  6. Don't check on him.
Jun 2, 2015

Why you can't stop thinking about your ex? ›

There are many reasons why we reminisce about a past relationship. It may be loneliness, it may have been a messy break up with unanswered questions, or – if you're in a new relationship – there may be an element of being underwhelmed, and fantasising about an ex as an outlet.

Why cant I stop thinking about my ex even though I've moved on? ›

Sometimes, people are still thinking about their Ex for months, or even years after the relationship ended because of lingering insecurities or comparisons they're making — even subconsciously. This is often true when your Ex has moved on before you have.

How do you mentally let go of an ex? ›

5 Ways to Move on From an Ex You Still Love
  1. Cut off all communication (Both direct and indirect) For the sake of your physical and mental health, this is the first thing you've got to do. ...
  2. Forgive the past. ...
  3. Let's get real. ...
  4. Understand that it's natural to still love your ex. ...
  5. Don't forget to love you.
Jun 21, 2021

How do you know your ex isn't over you? ›

Is your ex persistently reaching out, asking for help, or just generally trying to maintain contact? According to Page, this is a good indicator that they're not over you. "They may be over you in terms of the romantic relationship," he adds, "but still need and want all the things you can give them."

How do you let someone go emotionally? ›

How to let go of someone
  1. Recognize when it's time. Learning when it's time to let go is often the most difficult part of this process. ...
  2. Identify limiting beliefs. ...
  3. Change your story. ...
  4. Stop the blame game. ...
  5. Embrace the “F” word. ...
  6. Master your emotions. ...
  7. Practice empathy. ...
  8. Adopt an attitude of gratitude.

Why do I still love my ex? ›

"If you still love an ex, that is normal and OK. It just means that you are processing the many emotions that come with being in a relationship," says Ernesto Lira de la Rosa, Psychologist, and Hope for Depression Research Foundation's Media Advisor. Of course, it may feel as though your entire world is over.

Why can't I forget my ex after 2 years? ›

Low self-esteem

“It's that fear that you're never going to find anybody again and it's a major fear,” Tebb says. “And it's scary getting back out there, especially if you've been in a long-term relationship.” And because people are comfortable with the familiar, it makes it all that much harder to let go.

Why am I having obsessive thoughts about my ex? ›

You may be having these feelings due to something else, such as nostalgia. You may love the person you used to be, or love them for who they were. Other times, you have a personality that makes you obsessed. If you do want your ex back, and the feeling is mutual, then perhaps it's time to get back together.

Why am I thinking about my ex too much? ›

You haven't released yourself from the relationship. There may have been some unresolved issue that caused the break-up or you're still grieving the relationship and you may feel that you never really got closure.

Why do I still remember my ex? ›

While there may be an abundance of things you are grateful for in your current relationship, there will always be something you long for from your past relationship, especially when it's missing in your present relationship. This is probably why you miss your ex and the things he/she did for you.

What stops you from moving on from ex? ›

"In light of this fact, what prevents people from moving on from their ex is the pain and loss that comes from disconnecting with the one they had an emotional bond with. If the pain and loss is not acknowledged and processed it stays within that person and never goes away."

Why do I feel like I can't let go of my ex? ›

Put simply, one of the main reasons you're not letting go of a past relationship is because you're lonely right now, said Erika Ettin, a relationship coach and founder of A Little Nudge. "Rather than pining over someone who wasn't right for you, focus on yourself," she said.

Why does thinking about my ex still hurt? ›

When months, or even years, have passed and the memory of a past romantic rejection still stings, it may be because you believe the breakup revealed something about who you are as a person. “I'm difficult.” “I'm too structured.”

Do feelings for an ex ever go away? ›

“In many instances, people feel those love-like feelings for quite some time after a breakup. This can vary widely depending on the person, their circumstances and personal history. Some people may just need days or weeks whereas others may take months or years to move on from an ex.”

Can you love an ex forever? ›

There are many reasons why relationships end, but it doesn't mean the feelings for that person always end, especially if it was true love. It is completely normal to love an ex still after the relationship is over. For many people, it can be hard to move on from real love.

How do you know if a guy is heartbroken? ›

If he avoids seeing you at all costs even though it is important, it is one of the signs he is heartbroken over you. He knows that when he sees you, the memories will come flooding, and it might be too much for him to handle. Also, he would ensure avoiding places where you are likely to show up.

How can you tell if someone still loves their ex? ›

They go out of their way to contact them. "If someone makes excuses to reach out or bump into their ex long after the relationship has ended it's likely that they are not over them," Cullins said. "They may be looking for closure or to reconnect, but in either case they are still drawn to their ex."

How do you know if your ex still cares? ›

Signs Your Ex Still Has Feelings For You
  1. They keep texting or calling you. ...
  2. They follow you on social media. ...
  3. They don't return your stuff. ...
  4. They contact your friends, or their friends contact you. ...
  5. They cross your path. ...
  6. They get jealous or want to make you feel jealous. ...
  7. They are not moving on.
Dec 9, 2022

How to unlove someone? ›

These tips can help you start the process of moving forward.
  1. Acknowledge the truth of the situation. ...
  2. Identify relationship needs — and deal breakers. ...
  3. Accept what the love meant to you. ...
  4. Look to the future. ...
  5. Prioritize other relationships. ...
  6. Spend time on yourself. ...
  7. Give yourself space. ...
  8. Understand it may take some time.
Jan 14, 2020

How do you detach from someone you love deeply? ›

How to let go of someone you love
  1. Identify the reason. Ask yourself why you're now deciding to detach from the relationship. ...
  2. Release your emotions. ...
  3. Don't react, respond. ...
  4. Start small. ...
  5. Keep a journal. ...
  6. Meditate. ...
  7. Be patient with yourself. ...
  8. Look forward.

How do you let go of someone you love without closure? ›

Below you'll find six strategies for letting go without closure.
  1. Give Yourself Permission. The days, weeks, and even months following a breakup are a time of mixed emotions. ...
  2. Create a Ritual. ...
  3. Write a Letter. ...
  4. Commit to a New Interest. ...
  5. Recognize that Closure Comes from Within. ...
  6. Seek the Help You Need.
Jul 26, 2016

How do you stop wanting someone who doesn't want you? ›

  1. #2. Admit To Your Feelings. ...
  2. #3. Give Your Wounds Time To Recuperate. ...
  3. #4. Never Blame Yourself. ...
  4. #5. Share Your Feelings With Someone. ...
  5. #6. Cut-off All Ties With This Person. ...
  6. #7. Fall In Love With Yourself And Look After Yourself. ...
  7. #8. Try Some Physical Exercises. ...
  8. #9. Think Of The Positive Aspects.
Jan 30, 2021

Why do I still love my ex even though he treated me badly? ›

We feel they love us even though they treat us badly. This contradiction is known as cognitive dissonance, where we believe two contradictory thoughts at the same time. As a result of the contradiction we can become more extreme in our thoughts and behaviours as we wrestle with the disconnect.

Why do I crave my ex? ›

Being in love creates disruptions in your brain chemistry that increase dopamine, the chemical responsible for making you feel euphorically good anytime you're around your ex. Your brain is hard-wired to enjoy the feeling of dopamine, so it releases even more every time you think about your partner.

How long can you love an ex? ›

"It can take anywhere from six weeks to three months to forever, depending on how intense the relationship was, how invested you were in each other, and how heartbroken you are," says Jane Greer, PhD, New York-based marriage and family therapist and author of What About Me? (Those three factors all sort of piggyback on ...

How do you know if your ex is hurting after a breakup? ›

21 Signs he is hurt after the breakup
  • He talks to you often. ...
  • He says he misses you. ...
  • He is in denial of the breakup. ...
  • He enters a new relationship. ...
  • He cuts you off. ...
  • You don't hear from him. ...
  • He blocks you from his digital life. ...
  • He changes his location.
Apr 26, 2022

How long is it normal to miss your ex? ›

There is no fixed timeline on how long you will miss your ex for. Also note that you might feel better on some days, and you might not feel as good on other days – this is all part of the healing process.

Why do exes come back after many years? ›

What Makes An Ex Come Back? Your ex might return for various reasons. For example, they could miss you, still feel in love, or want to work on the conflicts that ended the relationship. In other cases, they might feel lonely, don't want to take responsibility for their actions, or feel the breakup wasn't permanent.

How do you accept that your ex has moved on? ›

Here are some tips and advice for coping when your ex moves on.
  1. Remind Yourself Why You Broke Up.
  2. Let go of all the blame, anger, and resentment.
  3. Don't Try To 'Fill The Gap'
  4. Let Yourself Be Sad.
  5. Stop Looking At Their Social Media Profile.
  6. Take Some Time Out For Yourself.

What causes obsessive thinking about someone? ›

Trauma or experiences in childhood that lead to an insecure attachment style may lead to fear of abandonment. People with a fear of abandonment may develop obsessive tendencies. People may be fearful to be alone and they may make threats or take impulsive actions in order to prevent a partner from leaving.

How do I stop missing my ex? ›

Consider the following strategies for how to not miss someone when you can't get over an ex:
  1. Think about the reasons ending the relationship was for the best. ...
  2. Don't hold your feelings inside. ...
  3. Take up journaling. ...
  4. Stay busy. ...
  5. Do not give in to the urge to call or text. ...
  6. Go out with friends. ...
  7. Focus on self-improvement.
Jun 23, 2021

Is it normal to think about your ex all the time? ›

While having the occasional thought about your ex is absolutely normal, it's important to pay attention to how these thoughts impact your life and your emotions and to know when it's time for concern.

How do you know if your ex wants you back? ›

20 Signs Your Ex Wants You Back
  • They Make Attempts To Stay In Touch. ...
  • They Keep You Updated. ...
  • They Get And Want To Make You Jealous. ...
  • They Pretend That They Need Your Help. ...
  • They Keep Bringing Up Your Memories Together. ...
  • They Tell You How Far They Have Come. ...
  • They Keep Checking With Mutual Friends About Your Well-being.
Dec 20, 2022

How do you tell if your ex is thinking about you? ›

In short, here are the things you need to be looking out for,
  • They Will React To You In Some Way On Social Media.
  • They Ask About You When They Run Into Mutual Friends.
  • They Log Into Any Shared Accounts.
  • They Change Their Social Media Behavior Completely.
  • They Try To Get In Touch With You At Weird Times.
Mar 16, 2021

Can your ex forget you easily? ›

I'm here to tell you: It is HIGHLY unlikely that your ex will forget about you. Unless they experience a head injury that causes them to lose their memory, they are not going to forget you.

How do you know if someone misses you without contact? ›

How To Know If Someone Misses You Without Contact
  1. They Keep Checking Your Social Medias.
  2. They Post Things That Are Indirectly Aimed At You.
  3. They're Making Lifestyle Changes.
  4. They Still Talk To Your Friends Or Family.
  5. They Change Something About Their Appearance.
  6. You've Accidentally Seen Them A Few Times.

What does it mean when someone can't let go of the past? ›

People who struggle to let go of specific events from the past may have experienced trauma. Trauma is a kind of psychological wound that can result from any distressing experience, such as loss, danger, or deep embarrassment. Often, people associate trauma with being involved in a violent event, such as war.

How do you know when someone isn't over their ex? ›

They go out of their way to contact them. "If someone makes excuses to reach out or bump into their ex long after the relationship has ended it's likely that they are not over them," Cullins said. "They may be looking for closure or to reconnect, but in either case they are still drawn to their ex."

Why is it hard to let go of a narcissist ex? ›

Fear of being alone – Narcissists are skilled at destroying their partner's social circles and relationships with family members. The prospect of leaving may equate to a feeling of being truly alone; Fear of reprisals – The narcissist may have created a culture of fear and anxiety in their partner's life.

Is it normal for a person to go back to their ex? ›

Research finds that 40-50 percent of people have reunited with an ex to start a new relationship. On-again relationships tend to suffer lower relationship quality and worse functioning than never-broken relationships. People often resume relationships with ex-partners because of lingering feelings.

Why do we hold on to the past? ›

Over several decades, researchers have shown remembering your past is fundamental to being human, and has four important roles. Our personal memories give us a sense of continuity — the same person (or sense of self) moving through time. They provide important details of who we are and who we would like to be.

What is it called when you can't let things go? ›

If you really struggle to let things go and constantly feel the need to try and untangle old thoughts and feelings, then it sounds like you might be suffering from rumination.

What does it mean when an ex brings up the past? ›

They bring up the past.

Sullivan explained that an ex reminiscing about the past is usually another sign they're wanting to try things again. Casually mentioning a memory the two of you shared or something you experienced together is their way of reminding you of the good times you had.

What are the signs that you're still attached to an ex? ›

Not Ready For Closure: 23 Signs You're Still In Love With Your Ex
  • You still want your ex in your life. ...
  • You think you'll one day be together. ...
  • Movies remind you of your ex. ...
  • You're jealous of couples. ...
  • You compare everyone to your ex. ...
  • Your ex is dating someone new, and you're stilling hung up on him or her.
Nov 17, 2015

Do men miss their exes? ›

Yes, guys miss their ex after a breakup. Who doesn't? Unless he was never emotionally attached to his ex, it's hardly impossible for a guy not to miss his ex. Relationships are full of memories, events, feelings, emotions, happiness, disagreements, and everything in life.

Do guys ever get over their exes? ›

A recent study found that while break-ups take a more immediate emotional toll on women, men often "never fully recover — they simply move on." I consulted a few mental health and relationship experts to learn more.

Do exes get back together a lot? ›

How many exes get back together. According to much research, about 40 to 50 percent of couples get back together after a breakup. While this is positive, many factors determine the chances of getting back together after a breakup.


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