After months of breaking up and trying to move on, I found myself thinking about my ex and experiencing extreme dread when I was alone. This led me to think, am I still in love with my ex or just lonely?
If you’re perfectly happy being single but still feel fondly and strongly about your ex, then you’re probably still in love with your ex. However, if your feelings are accompanied by a strong sense of loneliness and dissatisfaction from your dating life, it’s more likely that you’re lonely rather than in love with your ex.
I actually struggled to figure this out a couple of years ago when my serious long term relationship had suddenly ended.
For over a year, I faced this regular battle of missing my ex and struggling to figure out if I was still in love with her or lonely.
The problem is that the feeling of loneliness creates a desire that strongly resembles love. This made it difficult for me to decipher between the two. I was often caught up in nostalgia and that affected the way I perceived experiences and memories.
A break up is accompanied by a slew of emotions and changes that will affect your perception of your feelings, your thoughts, your ex and your life.
Being careful with this situation is crucial for your well being and ability to move on. I made far too many impulsive decisions during this time, such as chasing my ex and dating a ton of people, only to get stuck in an unhealthy cycle.
For most people and myself, the realization that you’ve moved on from an ex hits when you are single, living your life and feeling happy.
You’re not stuck in the past, nostalgia doesn’t affect your every thought and you have redesigned a plan for the future that motivates you.
To get to this point, you have to deal with a lot of uncertainty, doubt and loneliness. And in this article, we’ll talk about exactly how to differentiate between being in love with your ex and being lonely.
Related post: Should I get back with my ex?
Signs that you’re lonely after a breakup
Loneliness can be hard to identify because it masks itself as yearning for an ex but these signs below will shed some light on how you really feel.
1. You can’t find anyone to talk to
Whether it’s friends, family or even a potential date, having someone to communicate with can be therapeutic and essential for a healthy mind.
When you are surrounded by silence and your ex was your only source of communication, it’s a no brainer that you’re just lonely right now which is why you’re missing him or her.
People who tend to drop their friends and make their partners the only person in their life often suffer from this situation after a breakup.
2. You prefer to stay at home rather than get out
When your friends are constantly hitting you up to go out, you have multiple options for dates or your normal routine that calls for getting out of bed fails to motivate you to get moving, this could be a sign of loneliness.
Feeling alone often encourages an unhealthy cycle of self isolation.
3. You’re constantly on social media
To distract yourself from constant thoughts of your ex and the loneliness of being single, social media may become your support system.
At one point after my breakup, all I did was sit on my phone and scan social media for hours every day.
It was a crutch that stole precious time from my life.
Ironically, it also made me feel incredibly lonely and miserable when I viewed pictures, videos and updates from couples.
4. You’re stuck in the past
Nostalgia is a nasty bug that can infect your every thought.
Even if you’re surrounded by family and friends or busy with work, your mind could be stuck in a past memory revolving around your ex.
Because loneliness prevents us from exploring the present and future, it often wires our brain to search for reminders of the past when we were not single.
Signs that you’re still in love with your ex
These are the main signs and the more of them you experience, the greater the likelihood that you’re still in love with your ex.
1. You think about your ex even though you’re dating other people
Imagine being on a date or hanging out with someone who ticks most of your boxes but still thinking about your ex.
During the early days of dating, this is normal.
It’s the first time you’ve been on a romantic date with someone other than your ex so it’s normal to flash back to those old times.
But, if much time has passed and this is a common occurrence, it’s possible that you’re still attached or in love with your ex.
2. You miss your ex even though you’re happy in your life
The moment you find yourself feeling content and happy with your single status, it’s a surefire sign that you’ve healed from a breakup and made peace with the past.
However, if you find yourself missing your ex often, even though you’ve met other people as well, you probably still have feelings for him or her.
To some extent, we never stop caring about our exes even if we move on from a breakup.
It just means that you need more time to turn those feelings of love into something less romantic and more platonic.
3. You’re still talking about your ex
Talking about your ex every chance you get is a surefire sign that you still have feelings for him or her.
Depending on the length of your relationship, it’s possible that your ex will be a topic of discussion for a long time. But, at some point, it has to change.
The only time it doesn’t is when you’re hung up on them.
Related post: Signs your ex is pretending to be over you
4. Your ex is the first person you think of during happy and sad moments
People tend to think about those who matter most during monumental events in their life. If your ex is someone who comes to mind immediately, there’s still some attachment and love involved.
This is further perpetuated by the fact that you’re still dreaming about your ex.
Related post: Why am I dreaming about my ex?
5. You keep reliving the breakup
What’s worse than experiencing nostalgia is staying stuck in the past even when everything and everyone around you is moving forward.
When I was still in love with my ex, I would regularly find myself reliving my breakup.
In some weird way, this kept me tied to my past and my ex.
Why being alone will help you fall out of love with your ex
One of the main reasons why it took me so long to move on from my ex was due to my resistance of removing reminders of her from my life.
I couldn’t bring myself to delete pictures and videos or getting rid of gifts and momentos.
I convinced myself that they wouldn’t hold me back from moving on and they were special to me but the fact that they held such significance and meaning was indicative of how I still felt about my ex.
By holding onto these reminders, I felt like I was holding onto my ex.
Only when I mustered up the willpower to part with these reminders was I able to completely move on.
Another way to fall out of love with your ex is to eliminate all communication with them.
A relationship is nurtured through effort. The best effort being communication and investment.
Get rid of communication altogether and you can’t invest in him or her.
It’s the hardest thing to do after a breakup but for good reason. Silence is powerful in many ways.
No contact is the most effective way to cut ties with the past and move on.
It forces you to embrace the hardest and most crucial stage of moving on and that is being alone as well as silent (to your ex).
I struggled with this for almost a year. Every time I got a taste of being alone, I chased after someone new or tried to stay in contact with my ex.
Rather than ease my pain and suffering, it made it worse.
What I hadn’t realized is that as soon as you face hardship, it begins to ease up. You start to feel better with each passing day.
Hardship and difficulty create strength and mental fortitude.
The most shocking part of my journey was finally enjoying time by myself. That’s when I truly started moving on and falling out of love with my ex.
Be alone for some time and feel everything. That’s how you work through these feelings and beyond.
It’s okay to feel lonely. Use it as an opportunity to develop a better relationship with yourself.
I’ve come to learn that most people can’t stand being alone because it forces them to face the reality of their lives and selves.
Face reality and find ways to improve the parts of yourself and your life that disappoint you.
This is your chance to grow into someone you only dreamed of being.
Am I still in love with my ex or feeling lonely? The answer depends on which of the signs in this article you experience on a regular basis. It’s very easy to conflate loneliness with love but there’s a distinct difference between the two.
What I can assure you is that time heals all wounds.
Whether you’re feeling lonely or in love with your ex, a time will come when those feelings pass and you meet new people who fill your heart with love and happiness.
But, more than anything, finding happiness by yourself is undeniably crucial to your existence. It’s the greatest form of self realization there is.
With that being said, I hope you enjoyed this article and found some guidance within it. Feel free to leave your thoughts or questions in the comment section below.