Updated: Aug 18, 2022
Having trouble moving on from an ex? Did you once believe you two would be together forever, and that got cut short, and now you’re wondering how to move on from this painstaking love? You are NOT alone! Millions of people struggle with moving on from their ex. In this article, I show you: why it’s so difficult for you to move on, the damage holding on is causing, and what moving on looks like. I have devised 5 steps to help you move forward toward the relationship of your dreams because, let’s be honest, you most likely didn’t have your dream relationship with your ex.
Reasons You Are Holding On To Your Ex
The first mistake we make after a breakup is we romanticize the relationship. We remember only the good parts, or positive aspects of the relationship and completely block out, suppress, deny the negative aspects, or bad parts. We also make the mistake of dating on potential. This means we hold onto someone because we see a shiny future for them, or, have hope they will one day be different or better than they are today. A big reason people hold onto their ex is out of fear. Fear comes in many different forms when it comes to reasons we hold onto an ex: fear of starting over and building something from rock bottom with someone else, fear there is no one else out there you want or that wants you, fear they may change and you might miss out on the ”better” version of them, fear it doesn’t get better than what we had. Fear has many faces and can be tough to spot and control.
Something that keeps us stagnant and unable to move on from our ex is attachment. We get comfortable with people. We develop routines and expectations. When those routines and expectations are fulfilled and met, we attached ourselves to people and the comfort they offer us. We may even take it a step further and become co-dependent, which is an extreme, unhealthy attachment style. We abandon our own needs, boundaries, and desires for the sake of the relationship or to keep the other person happy and from leaving the relationship. Just because we are comfortable with someone and attached, or maybe even codependent, does not mean they love us or we love them. It’s only comfort and possibly a trauma response we have yet to become aware of or heal.
Have you ever felt such a strong urge to be with your ex, or go back to the relationship? It could be that you are addicted. Addiction can be the result of good feelings you are addicted to or bad feelings you are addicted to. Good feelings you may be attached to may be good sex, so you don’t want to leave the relationship because it’s the best sex you’ve ever had and you need that dopamine and oxytocin hit. The orgasm you experience during your sexual encounters releases hormones in your body that make you feel good. We tend to want to replicate that feeling because our brains are always looking for pleasure. You could also be addicted to bad feelings the relationship offers you. An example would be an addiction to the bad treatment you receive. Maybe you’re addicted to problem solving and your past relationship offers problems you like to control or work to solve, like a cheating ex. Maybe you are addicted to problem solving every way you can keep them from cheating, like tracking their phone, putting a tracker on their car, figuring out their social media password, creating fake accounts to catch them in a lie, etc. You can be addicted to negative experiences just as easily as positive ones.
Energy entanglement is another reason people hold onto their ex. Rarely do we think about how exchanges of energy are passed from person to person, particularly during sexual encounters, but also just in general. Most of us think after sex both parties walk away unaffected for the most part. We exist in hook-up culture where, we believe, hooking up with random people, or people in general doesn’t cause any harm. We believe that sexual intimacy and energy exchange doesn’t exist, or we just generally don’t know about it. But it is this energy exchange that contributes to attachment and bonding. It’s this energy entanglement that keeps us thinking about our ex constantly. They become a part of our energetic self. Almost like they leave behind an energetic residue within and around us.
One major reason people have trouble moving on from an ex is due to a lack of self worth. This is the most popular, underlying reason for why people hold onto relationships that don’t serve them. This is when you believe you don’t deserve and aren’t “worth” more. Your self-worth determines how you live your life in all aspects: relationships, jobs, homes, etc. This is a deep rooted, unconscious reason people don’t seek better lives or relationships, and takes some inner work to uncover.
What Holding On Looks Like
Holding onto your ex can take on many forms. It tends to look like obsessing and hyper focusing. This is when you become completely absorbed and focused on someone. They totally consume your thoughts; you think about them all the time. You have obsessive behaviors such as constantly checking your phone to see if they’ve reached out, checking their social media all the time, creating scenarios in your head for what could or did happen, etc. Another form of holding onto your ex is constantly comparing other people to your ex. You lose appreciation for the uniqueness that someone new brings to the table and probably find it difficult to meet new people you actually like. Ruminating on the past is another form of what holding onto your ex looks like. You replay the past over and over. You think about all the ways things could have been different or better. You are unable to let go of what was and is no longer.
Shaming yourself and regret are popular signs you are holding on to your ex. You beat yourself up for your role in the relationship souring and shame yourself to believe it was all your fault. You regret your past mistakes and wish you could go back. Maybe you think no one is ever good enough. This could be related to the constant comparison you do, but generally you think it doesn’t get any better than your ex. Believing your ex is as good as it's going to get for you. You probably aren’t moving and you’re staying stagnant in life and relationships. This means you are not seeking new potential relationships because you can’t get over your ex. There is no forward movement. Or there is an energy flow blockage. The energy that propels you and keeps you flowing forward is blocked, which keeps you stuck in the past. You’re in limbo and haven’t fully moved on and moved forward. New people you date can feel you aren’t all in or are stuck in the past or on someone else.
Holding on causes much more damage than letting go. This damage looks like a lack mentality. You believe there is a shortage of people you are compatible with, like you and your ex were. You start to believe love is a numbers game and that there’s a limit or cap on people who you match with. Loneliness is another way you are damaged from holding on. By not moving forward and accepting the reality of your situation and that it didn’t work out, you are left alone. In your head, you live in the past where your ex exists, but your body is in the now.
Holding on is painful! However, the pain of holding on seems less painful than letting go. Each scenario brings you pain but holding on seems like the lesser of two evils. Holding on is familiar pain and you are aware of the nature of this pain and how it feels. Letting go means you're stepping into unfamiliar territory because we can’t know what the future holds, which could possibly be more painful than the pain we are currently experiencing by holding on. Holding on causes us to experience grief, guilt, resentment, and blame. Grief is loss, loss of someone you care about and or are attached to. You hold on to these feelings, causing further damage than if you just let go. You beat yourself up, become angry and depressed, and begin to blame yourself or your ex for the situation. You harbor resentment which clouds how you see the world and other people. Holding on leads to longing, sadness, and despair. You long for things to be different than they are. This takes your power away from recognizing you can create the life you want and from truly being able to change your situation and outcome.
Wanting is also a by-product of holding onto your ex. Wanting means there are aspects of the relationship you still want. Wanting stops forward momentum and for you to be able to create a life with someone who is currently who you want and need. You believe your ex has the potential to be that person, but they aren’t that person in this current reality. Holding on leads to desperation. You become desperate to rekindle the flame and work things out. You make yourself too available to your ex and if they’re willing to come back, you very well may let them. Lastly, holding on leads to fractured energy. We all have energetic or emotional bodies that are whole. When we are traumatized or hurt, or holding on to our ex, our emotional body is fractured and a piece of us isn’t all there, especially the part of us that shines when we are embarking on a relationship with another person. If you’re still holding onto your ex, it causes problems with any new endeavor you embark on with someone else, and they can feel it.
5 Steps To Get Over Your Ex & How To Let Go:
Focus on the reasons it didn’t work out. Stop romanticizing and blocking out the negative aspects of the relationship. Reframe your perspective and your thoughts about the relationship to include the bad stuff. We don’t like to remember the bad stuff because it doesn’t contribute to our feeling good. So, we only focus on good things about the relationship to promote the feel good. We alter our memories to keep us feeling pleasure and avoiding pain. If the relationship didn’t work out, there’s a reason. Focus on that. And Focus. And re-focus.
Cut your ex off! Hanging on to the idea of a friendship with an ex is your way of keeping the possibility of the relationship alive. Maybe completely letting go seems overwhelming. Holding on makes you come across as less available when you meet someone new.
Identify your dream relationship and compare it to your last. This is a situation where comparison is to your benefit. Identify the aspects of the relationship that weren’t ideal or what you would identify for your dream relationship. Compare what you want vs what you didn’t have with your ex and continue focusing on what you do want. Most people don’t want back the relationship they actually had. What they mourn for is the relationship they thought they could have had if things had just been different. But the fact is, that relationship didn’t exist.
Put your ex on mute! My clients and I have found this to be an extremely beneficial method. Go back to your memories of your ex and put their voice on mute. Put on noise canceling headphones in your memory. Turn the words they said to you off in your memories and only focus on their actions and their energy. Does it still feel good? Can you see where you were maybe creating a situation that didn’t exist? Maybe you created a person that didn’t exist by allowing their words to speak for them instead of their actions.
Separate how you feel about your ex from how they consistently made you feel. You may have this amplified feeling for your ex. Maybe you love them so much and have nothing but good feelings toward them, but how did your ex make you feel? If they made you feel like flowers and rainbows, why is the relationship over? Separate what you tell yourself about how you feel about your ex with how they made you feel during the relationship.
These Steps work towards allowing you to attract a worthy, responsible, high-quality mate. Convince yourself to believe that you deserve to be in a loving relationship with someone who shares your values and treats you well, because you ACTUALLY do!
What Moving On From Your Ex Looks Like:
Freedom. Letting go is when you don’t struggle with being attached to something that no longer serves you. There’s not something weighing you down(physically and emotionally). You are free!
Happiness. Letting go is when you are happy with where your life is, or even if you’re not happy with your current situation, you see happiness on the horizon. A life where you’re not holding onto your ex gives you hope that something more is out there, something more meant for you.
Empowerment. Letting go is extremely empowering! You begin taking control of your life and your experiences. This means you hold the power to create a life you love and can choose your own consequences and suffering, instead of it being chosen for you. You become THE CHOOSER, instead of waiting to be chosen.
Full Energy. Letting go means your energy or emotional body is no longer fractured in the way it was. You become whole again instead of there being a lost piece of you that does not serve your current reality.
Moving on. Letting go means moving on. Moving on with your thoughts. Moving on with your dreams and vision for how you want to live your life. Moving on into a relationship that is more aligned with who you are and what you want, your values, requirements, needs, etc.