We’ve all been there — eating pints of ice cream, belting out Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” while in our Snuggie and looking through old photos of happier times. There is no denying that getting over someone who made your life awesome and full of dancing butterflies proves to be one of life’s greatest challenges. But in the aftermath of a breakup, trying to let go of that significant chunk of your life with someone isn’t easy as we’re stuck constantly thinking of them.
According to researchers at Stony Brook University, your inability to let go can be blamed on our “nucleus accumbens” — the brain area associated with reward, which studies suggest fosters the ex-addiction. This simply means since romantic love is a specific form of addiction, when in love and broken up, those emotions can feel similar to withdrawing from a severe addiction.
You might be convinced you’ve gotten over it, but that’s the thing. Getting over someone who has meant so much to you can take a lot longer than anticipated and without a doubt, be one hell of a bumpy ride. So how can you tell if you’ve really stuck a fork in it or are still stuck in your last relationship? To help you make sense of it all, we explore a few signs you are still not over that ex of yours.
It’s been a while and you still think about them
Whether it has been a year or two, if you find yourself thinking about your ex from time to time, chances are you’re still not over them. Psychologists at the University of Florida suggest that it takes about half the time the relationship lasted to fully recover from a breakup. But while a timeline is encouraging for some, the truth is that it really depends on the intensity of the relationship, the length of the relationship, and your role in it. No one is expecting you to get over a relationship that lasted a decade in a month or even a year, so take your time and do you.
You compare them to others
Breakups are not fun at all. If you had a good relationship with a partner who really cared but it still ended however it did, chances are it’s been hard for both individuals involved. But when someone isn’t over a breakup and find themselves still pining over their old partner, they often spend a lot of time comparing new, potential partners to their ex even though they’ve broken up. As if you did not realize already, but comparison is the thief of joy and frankly, isn’t fair. Once you’re truly over your ex and have fallen out of love with them, you will be able to measure new potential loves on their own merits and see them for who they are.
When you’re sad, your ex is the first person you think of
One of the telltale signs you are still attached to your ex is how readily they enter your mind when you’re either anxious or upset. When you’re with someone for a long time, it’s no secret you begin to rely on him or her for emotional support. Out of this affection, a sort of dependency is stemmed from love and a rooted connection between the two of you that finds its way to your core. While most would say this is a soulmate connection between verified partners, if you are no longer with them, recognize it wasn’t meant to be and find other sources for that same kind of care.
Keep yourself busy, yet still feel a void
One of the best ways to get over an ex is to keep yourself busy, whether it’s diving further in your career or taking up new hobbies. Keeping active and working towards new goals is a great way to distract yourself from all those negative feelings and focus on new passions to inspire your purpose. The more you keep yourself busy, the more you will start to notice that there are other parts of life that bring you love and happiness. However, if you start to notice you’re super busy with activities but are still pining for your ex at the end of the day amid quiet thoughts, your feelings might be stronger than you’re willing to admit. While so many in relationships get closure and remain friends, if it’s possible, talk it out with your ex or a friend to figure out what more you need to recover.
You’re reluctant to start dating again
If you’re not quite ready to jump back into the dating pool again, don’t worry. It happens to all of us. Take all the time you want and live your life however you’d like. Sometimes it can take a year or two to start dating again, but whatever happens, don’t be nervous and do not put a complete stop to it. A great way to kick start the dating game again is to get back out there in subtle ways and start slowly by meeting others for coffee or lunch. Don’t put a label on it, just take it for what it is. Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting your ex — it just means you know you are entitled to a happy, fulfilling life with someone who will love you for who you are.
Still have strong emotions of how it ended
If we had our way, all relationships would end amicably, but the truth is not all of them end with everyone being friends. If you still find yourself thinking about how it ended and get emotional about that goodbye, don’t be sad. Yes, everything that happened the night you two broke up might still make you tear up, gut you from the inside as you sleep and make you feel angry when you think about it over and over. But if you still have strong feelings about how it ended, chances are you either haven’t found closure or a spot of peace. If you two are still friends, talk it out — if not, it’s up to you to make closure even if you gave up the person who loved you the most, and vice versa of course.