It always hurts to lose a meaningful relationship. And it's even harder to deal with it when you’re the one who got dumped.
If you are wondering how long it takes to get over a breakup and why you can’t get over your ex after years, this article will give you 10 reasons why and what to do about it.
1. You still see their social media posts.
Seeing your ex on social media can reopen the old wounds left after you broke up. If you are still in love with your ex, it’s tempting to stalk your ex and see what they are doing.
But this won’t make you feel better. It can only make you feel worse.
If you see your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend with a new partner or out having fun and looking good, it will only remind you of what you have lost.
It’s definitely not going to make you feel better. And liking or commenting on their posts isn’t going to make your ex want to get back together with you, either.
So do yourself a favor and unfollow, unfriend, un-everything and don’t look back. If it helps, pretend that you are fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah and if you look back you’ll turn into a pillar of salt.
2. You have a distorted view of the relationship
One of the reasons why you can’t get over your ex-husband or wife is because you have a distorted view of the past. When you’re grieving, there’s a tendency to only see the good parts of your past relationship while completely ignoring the bad parts. In psychology, this tendency is called “splitting.”
When you’re splitting, you become lost in your emotions and fantasies. And these emotions and fantasies end up controlling you. You lose perspective and remain in either anger or sorrow. The only way to get over your ex is to assess your relationship for what it really was.
Everyone loses some perspective after a breakup. That’s normal. But the relationship can’t be truly grieved and released until it’s seen for what it was.
Chapter 5 of The Breakup Healing System is all about taking inventory of your relationship and letting go of the emotions and fantasy so you can see your past relationship from a more neutral perspective.
There are 9 different exercises in Chapter 5 designed to help you free your mind and emotions from your past relationship.
Here is a quick preview of 3 of these exercises:
Letting Go of Likes and Dislikes of Your Partner - This process is designed to help overcome the psychological phenomenon of splitting. In this exercise, you’ll look at your likes and dislikes of your ex-partner and past relationship and let go of each like or dislike.
Letting Go of Judgement and Blame - After a relationship ends, there’s a tendency to judge and blame ourselves or others for what did or did not happen in the relationship. And this only keeps us stuck and wondering “why can’t I get over my ex?” Letting go of judgement and blame will go a long way to helping you get over your ex.
Releasing Feelings of Loss and Gain from Your Breakup - After a relationship ends, we have mixed feelings. We feel like we have lost something, and we also feel like we’ve gained some things. This exercise is designed to help you look at both your losses and gains from your breakup and let them go. This will also help you overcome the splitting tendency that is making it hard for you to get over your past relationship.
There are six more exercises in Chapter 5 designed to help you let go and get over your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend. These exercises will help you gain control over your thoughts and feelings instead of allowing them to control you.
Want to try it out for free? I've created a 4-part video mini course to give you a taste of The Breakup Healing System.
3. You haven’t learned to let go
While people will tell you to “just let it go” after a breakup, they often won’t tell you how. That’s because most people don’t know how to actually let go.
For most people, it’s something they do unconsciously. And just like some people are naturally better at sports or music, so are some people better at letting go.
Unlike sports or music, letting go is not something that is difficult to learn or even master. It’s really just a matter of becoming conscious of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc. and then making the decision to set them free.
I have created a free 4-part video mini course that will give you the basics of letting go. In this course, we’ll do a few exercises together to help you get over your ex and start feeling better.
4. You’re afraid of being alone
A recent peer reviewed research study revealed that if you have a strong fear of being alone then you’re more likely to have a strong attachment to ex-partners.
According to the study, fear of being alone was the single most strongest predictor of having a strong attachment to your ex-partner. It was a greater predictor than things like anxious attachment as well as the features of the breakup, such as who initiated the breakup, and passage of time since the breakup.
Another interesting result from his study was that the results were the same for both men and women. So it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, if you have a fear of being alone, you’re going to have a hard time getting over your ex. And you're going to find yourself wondering if you should get back with your ex.
Despite being an introvert, I used to have a terrible fear of being alone. I felt like if I was alone, then I lacked worth as a human being. Of course this made it hard for me to get over breakups. But it also led to a lot of other bad decisions like hanging out with the wrong people just because they were available.
Once I started letting go, I began to enjoy my own company more and more. Now I am at the point where I really value and enjoy time alone. I have spent long periods of time being completely alone and had no problem with that whatsoever.
One of the major reasons why I can be alone now is when I let go of emotions like fear, it revealed to me the unconditional love that is at the root of all existence. Once you feel this love for yourself, you will never seek love from outside of yourself ever again.
The experience of unconditional love is the happiest and most satisfying experience of my entire life. And it is possible for you just from the simple process of letting go of things like fear.
Within each of our hearts lies infinite, unconditional love. Many spiritual traditions talk about this type of love. In my opinion, the easiest way of realizing unconditional love for yourself is through letting go.
In Chapter 1 of The Breakup Healing System you’ll discover exactly how to let go of fear and other uncomfortable emotions that you might be feeling after your breakup.
I've created a free 4-part video course that reveals the basics of letting go. This way you can get a feel for what The Breakup Healing System is all about and decide if it’s something that you want to explore in greater detail.
5. You’re wanting to figure out what went wrong
When a relationship ends, it’s natural to want to understand the situation and what went wrong. You might repeat the same questions over and over for weeks and months at a time - “Why wasn’t I good enough?” “What went wrong?” “Why did they lie to me?” “Why did they stop loving me?” and you reach no new insights.
And the reality is that you’re unlikely to ever get answers to this question. This gives you an inability to understand a situation. And with that lack of understanding comes a feeling of powerlessness in not having any way to change or control it.
The truth is, when someone breaks your heart, you're not going to like or agree with any of the reasons why it happened. Searching for explanations isn't going to help you get over your ex.
So wanting closure and to figure out what went wrong is one of the reasons why you can’t get over your ex. So the way to overcome this tendency is to let go of wanting to figure it out and let go of wanting to control the situation.
In the free 4-part Breakup Healing System Mini Course, we will work on letting go of wanting control together.
So you can enroll in this free course now or keep reading through this article and then enroll at the end to get started with letting go.
6. Compulsive thinking about your ex
A 2008 study by the Department of Psychology at UT Austin found that both men and women who were rejected, compared with those who did the rejecting, experienced more depression, loss of self-esteem, and rumination.
When you are ruminating, it blocks you from acknowledging and dealing with your emotions. You’re stuck in your head, fixated on the situation and your thoughts. And this keeps you filled with anxiety and often depressed.
So what’s the solution? The solution is to get in touch with your emotions about the situation and let go of the emotion directly. I’ll show you how to do this at the end of this article, but here’s a quick preview of how it works:
Step 1: Ask yourself, what is my “now” feeling about this situation?
Step 2: Allow whatever comes up in awareness to be there. Often we fight with our feelings or try to push them away. This keeps them stuck. Instead, just allow the feeling.
Step 3: Decide to let go of the emotion. If it helps, you can visualize an opening inside and the emotion flowing out from the opening.
So that’s the basics of letting go. But it’s a bit easier to explain in video, so if you want to explore this further, you can enroll in the free Breakup Healing System Mini Course now or read to the end of this article and enroll then.
7. You’re holding on to judgement, blame, and regrets
One of the most common things people do after a breakup is thinking about all the choices they made and things they said before the breakup. They feel regret about every little mistake that was made in the relationship.
You might be judging or blaming yourself or your partner for what did or did not happen in the relationship. And it might feel like this judgement and blame is somehow helping you. But I assure you that it is only causing you suffering.
Earlier in this article I gave you a preview of some of the specific exercises in Chapter 5 of The Breakup Healing System. One of those exercises was “Letting Go of Judgement and Blame”. This is so important because as long as you are holding on to judgement, blame, or regrets, you can’t fully recover from your breakup.
And as you’ll see in the next section, this can lead to repeated bad relationships.
8. You’re stuck in a negative repetitive cycle
Oftentimes people will have the same bad relationship over and over again with different people every time. The reason for this is a phenomenon called Repetition compulsion.
According to Sigmund Freud, repetition compulsion describes the pattern where people endlessly repeat patterns of behavior that were difficult or stressful when they were young.
For example, if your father was aloof and you might find yourself dating men who are aloof. Or your mother was overly critical so you find yourself dating women who are also critical.
The only way to win this game is to let go and disengage. But that’s easier said than done. A lot of this behavior is programmed deep into our subconscious minds so we’re often unaware of the compulsion.
In Chapter 5 of The Breakup Healing System I have a specific process for bringing repetition compulsion patterns into your conscious mind and letting them go.
Once you do this, you’ve “broken the curse” and you’ll find yourself forming healthy relationships in the future.
9. You’re still in contact with your ex
Another reason why you can’t move on is that you’re still in contact with your ex. After a breakup, the best course of action is to maintain a strict rule of no contact with your ex. Delete his or her number and block them on social media.
Sometimes you can’t avoid talking to your ex. Maybe you have kids or you have to negotiate moving out or splitting up property. If that’s the case, then keep your interactions curt and businesslike.
Some people think they can be friends with their ex. Your ex may have even told you that they still wanted to be friends after they broke up with you. But do you really want to be friends with someone who broke your heart? And do you really want to be friends with someone if you feel pain every time you interact with them?
So if you haven’t already, enact a strict “no contact with your ex” policy and cut off communications immediately. It might hurt more now to do this, but it will hurt way less in the long run once you’ve completely recovered and you’re living your best life.
10. You’re trauma bonded with your ex.
Another question that people often ask themselves after a breakup is “Why can’t I get over my ex who treated me badly?”
The reason for this is a phenomenon called trauma bonding. A trauma bond is a connection that forms between an abusive person and the person they abuse. What happens is that the victim of abuse develops sympathy or affection for the abuser.
It’s similar to the phenomena of Stockholm syndrome, where hostages develop a psychological bond with their captors during captivity.
Breaking a trauma bond can be challenging and may take time, but it is possible. Here’s some things you can do:
Focus on the present: Stay in this present moment rather than getting lost in the past. The easiest way to do this is to simply be present with your breath or take a walk in nature and be present with the trees and the flowers.
Practice positive self-talk: Abuse can lower your self-esteem and make you feel like you can’t live without your abuser. If you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, simply let go of the negative self talk and replace it with something more positive.
Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself will relieve some stress and reduce the desire to turn to your abusive ex for comfort. Suggestions for self care include journaling, meditation, exercise, hobbies, prayer, or talking to trusted friends and advisors.
I also would suggest checking out The Breakup Healing System. I’ve tried a lot of self-help and this is the only thing that made a rapid, positive change in my life.
If you you want to try it out for free, I created a mini-sized version of this online course that explains the basics.
When you go through the material in this short course, you should find some relief from the pain of your breakup. And you'll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not you want to enroll in the full version of the course.