I wish someone would have taught me what I needed to know about how to let go of an ex you still love. It would have saved me from a tremendous amount of pain, loneliness, and suffering. I made so many mistakes during seasons of grief in my life that could have been avoided had I known how to handle the loss of a relationship or romantic partner.
As much as breakups are different from death, the feelings of loss and grief remain the same.
Our body is very objective in that regard. It doesn’t distinguish between a loss caused by a breakup and a loss caused by death. It reacts to loss in the same way. This is why I think it’s insensitive and shortsighted to undermine the enormity of a breakup.
What you are experiencing is normal.
The first thing you need to accept when trying to figure out how to let go of an ex you still love is that your emotions are real and valid.
Don’t let anyone demean or undermine your experiences in life, and don’t let them dismiss your feelings.
Step 1: Don’t Punish Yourself For The Breakup (But Take Ownership Of Your Role)
I think you may be the harshest critic in your life.
Often, the majority of us are.
We are unkind, critical and tough on ourselves to the point that we appear to be our own worst enemies.
Rather than support ourselves with kind thoughts, comforting acts and esteem-affirming beliefs, we choose to berate ourselves for how we feel while also burdening ourselves with guilt, regret and blame for why our relationship ended or failed.
Sometimes our feelings of guilt, regret, and blame are grounded in reality.
You may actually be at fault for why your relationship failed. But, guess what? I’d still say the same thing to you.
Growth doesn’t come from abuse.
By all means, hold yourself accountable. Part of acceptance means taking ownership of the role you played in reaching this point in your life.
In fact, I would argue that ultimate ownership of your life is the most powerful form of self-love.
Because it means that you are willing to accept your flaws and grow from them.
A weak mind will use regret, guilt, shame and blame to evade accountability.
That sounds counterintuitive, right?
Especially since you’re constantly criticizing yourself for the mistakes you’ve made in life.
But, attacking yourself isn’t the same as accepting, healing and growing.
Often, these people will just attack themselves and cave to their own weaknesses.
“I drove my ex away from me because I couldn’t control my anger. I’m such an idiot for being this way. I’ve been through a lot in life and I have a temper. It’s just who I am and I hate myself for it. I can’t do anything about it. I’m just so angry at myself!”
You would think that this statement shows a great deal of self-awareness but in reality, it’s just wrapped in denial.
The person has deeply immersed themselves in a victim mentality.
They’re not focusing on changing.
They’re just aware of their flaws and use them as a tool to victimize themselves.
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Step 2: Focus On How To Become The Next Version Of Yourself
Before I carry on, I just want to explain why I’m focusing on this phenomenon.
The only way to let go of your ex is to let go of the version of yourself who belonged in that relationship.
Actually, scratch that!
It is to let go of the regret, blame and guilt associated with the version of yourself from that relationship.
When you make the conscious decision to grow, to heal and to purge the unhealthy or toxic habits or beliefs from yourself that have affected your life, that’s when you will begin to truly let go of an ex you still love.
Becoming the next version of yourself as you move into the next chapter of your life is the most effective way to liberate yourself from the love that has been lost.
- I want you to examine the relationship and the breakup to the best of your ability.
- Take ownership for your role in the issues that took place in the relationship.
- Isolate the things that have caused you shame, regret and guilt.
- Then, commit to growing and healing the parts of you that nurtured actions that resulted in those feelings.
This is how you become the next version of yourself.
Trust me, the effort, time, and work involved in accomplishing this activity is a tremendous task.
But, by the time you reach the other end of the journey, you’ll have let go of your ex.
You won’t be the same person who loved your ex.
Think about it.
How can you hold onto someone you once loved when you are no longer the person who fell in love with them?
Normally, couples who grow together stay together.
They don’t remain the same person throughout the relationship.
Either they grow together or they grow apart.
Your ex isn’t in the picture for you to grow with.
So, you have no choice but to grow by yourself, and in this growth, you’ll end up pivoting and changing significantly.
Even if you were to run into your ex, you may not be the kind of person who would romantically love the kind of person he or she has become and vice versa.
You have to embrace the suffering and work through it.
Let me tell you something: change is inevitable.
Those who don’t adopt this approach end up being changed by those feelings of guilt, regret, and shame, but in an uncontrolled way.
They become victims of their own emotions, and it changes them in a way that may not reflect positively at all.
In fact, shame is probably one of the most destructive emotions left uncontrolled. Ironically, shame is also the most constructive emotion if it is used as a tool for guidance toward becoming a better version of yourself.
What does this teach us?
Intentionality and attitude dictate how our emotions and experiences mold us.
Essentially to let go of an ex you still love, you have to let go of the version of yourself from that relationship.
Sounds crazy, right?
But, we all know that spending a significant amount of time with someone and being vulnerable with them makes us incredibly susceptible to change and influence from them.
Our identity gets wrapped up in the relationship and our ex.
We take on some of their habits, opinions, and behaviors. We immerse ourselves in the understanding and appreciation of who they are and they become a part of us.
In my opinion, this is the ultimate effect of romantic love.
Now, that person is gone.
They have left.
But, have they?
I would argue that they still remain within you.
The image of them has become part of who you are which is why going through a breakup is so painful.
The void that has now formed represents a piece of yourself that has been left with your ex.
So, you don’t just miss your ex. You also miss that lost piece of yourself.
We all want to feel complete and whole.
How are you going to do that when this version of you relies on your ex to feel complete?
The only way to truly let go of your ex is to let go of this version of yourself whose identity has become entwined with your exes.
At this point, it is paramount for you to figure out who you want to become.
Sit down, meditate on this and descriptively write down exactly who you want to be, how you want to look, how you want to behave, what you want from life and who you would like to spend your life with.
This document is going to become the guiding force for the next couple of months to a year of your life.
It gives you direction, it gives you power and it gives you hope for the future.
The three most important things you need to generate courage and consistency during this painful period of your life
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Step 3: Surrender To Your Emotions And Let Go Of Them
Here’s where things get a little dicey.
You will experience some bouts of inspiration and motivation.
But, what goes up must come down, and what goes down must come up.
That is the flow of life.
There’s no fixed state of being or feeling.
It’s beautiful because it means that no amount of suffering or pain is permanent.
You will experience dips in the process of letting go of an ex you still love.
There will be days when all those feelings return. You will feel grief, sadness, anger, loneliness, shame, regret, guilt and fear.
They will hit you like a ton of bricks and that’s when it becomes important to learn the art of letting go.
What I mean by this is to let go of your emotions in a manner that allows you to heal from them without self-destructing or self-sabotaging.
You will develop into the best version of yourself yet if you can feel these emotions while staying dedicated to the improvement and working toward your future.
In addition, you’ll let go of an ex you still love.
That becomes the side effect of the greater journey.
I read a book called Letting Go by David R. Hawkins that explained the art of surrendering to our feelings and it changed the game for me.
Throughout my life, especially during breakups or losses, I was reactive to my emotions.
Whenever I felt those negative feelings, I would try to escape, repress or express them. But, I’d do all of these things in a self-destructive manner that created more reasons for me to feel those emotions.
Then, I learned about the technique of letting go.
Essentially, to surrender to my feelings without judging them.
To allow these feelings to pass through me without altering the course of my good behavior.
So, if I was working out and felt unattractive because my ex left me, I wouldn’t run away from this feeling by looking for external validation.
Instead, I would continue to work out while accepting that this feeling of insecurity or apathy passed through me.
Over time, these feelings lost their edge.
They no longer had a hold over me and when they no longer influenced my behavior, I was able to make peace with them until I could let go of them.
In letting go of these micro feelings, I ended up letting go of my exes, whom I still loved.
In letting go of them, I let go of attaching my love to them.
So, love remained within me but it was no longer tied to them.
I’m not sure if I’m doing these concepts justice, so I’m going to link to some videos or articles that go into greater detail.
Something that I have noticed is that about a year into the process, the average person tends to feel better and starts to let go of an ex.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t do this sooner.
If you were only involved with your ex for a couple of months, it may take you half the time you spent with that person to move on from them.
Using the advice in this article will definitely speed things along but you have to be willing to exercise some patience.
What we focus on grows.
In other words, the more time we spend focusing on someone or something, the more we’ll think about them and want to focus on them.
If you’re constantly focusing on letting go of your ex or not thinking about them, you’re essentially thinking about them and focusing on them.
It defeats the purpose of trying to let go.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
To not have any particular feeling or opinion about something or someone.
That’s the state in which you are looking to reach but you can’t do that if you’re investing so much thought into letting them go.
Letting go is giving yourself the freedom to either think about or stop thinking about someone.
So whenever you have a thought or feeling about your ex, let it be.
You don’t have to examine it, resist it or judge it.
Actively choose to allow yourself to cycle through these things until they pass through you completely.
At the same time, create a routine that promotes business or productivity.
You must have a compelling reason for pursuing a goal or objective.
Whether it’s a physical transformation or the creation of a side hustle, have a strong motivating reason for pursuing it and incorporate that into your life.
For me, I wanted to get in shape after my last breakup.
Around 4 p.m. on a weekday, my ex and I would talk on the phone and catch up with each other.
That time of the day was particularly difficult for me after our split.
So, I decided to use that time to walk and get into shape in spite of thinking about my ex or missing her.
I still felt all those things. I still thought about it. It was still painful but I used that time to work on something that meant a lot to me.
In fact, I would channel some of that energy from those emotions towards working out harder and being more dialed in.
It became a wonderful part of my life and I was able to deal with triggering memories and emotions in a healthy way.
At the same time, exercise is a natural anti-depressant. So, it helped to regulate my emotions and gave me hope during moments that were absolutely brutal.
Even today, I continue to spend an hour walking outside in nature and it is the highlight of my day.
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17 Tips On How To Let Go Of Your Ex
Okay, I feel like I’ve given you a great philosophy or plan on how to let go of an ex you still love.
But, I’m sure you’d like some practical advice, so here’s a list of things to do or not do after a breakup.
- Do not remain in contact with your ex if you are holding onto the desire of being with them.
- Do not agree to be friends with your ex.
- Do not view their social media activity at all.
- Pack away things or mementos that remind you of your ex or your relationship.
- Ask close friends and family to avoid updating you on what your ex is doing in his or her life.
- Spend time with trusted and loving family and friends.
- Avoid people who are only interested in being entertained by the story of your breakup.
- Pray and meditate regularly.
- Practice forgiveness on a daily basis.
- Adopt a new hobby or activity to distract you from the thoughts of your ex.
- Change your routine so that you get some distance from the past.
- Don’t rebound because it won’t change how you feel about your ex.
- Start meeting new people if you have spent a significant amount of time alone.
- Don’t berate or trash-talk your ex to other people.
- Find some time in your day to truly feel your emotions and heal your emotions.
- Imagine a future for yourself that is filled with love, happiness and peace. Be vivid and intentional. Pair this activity with prayer and meditation to start and end your day on a positive note.
- Look for the lessons in your memories. When you feel like you’ve learned something from a troublesome or recurring memory, you’ll let go of it with more ease.
Last, but certainly not least, let time work its magic.
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I commend you for taking such an active interest in healing from your breakup.
More importantly, I respect you for not giving up on yourself and being self-aware enough to recognize that you need to let go of an ex even though you still love them.
I want you to know that billions of people throughout history have been through this and will continue to go through this.
You’re not alone and you will grow from this.
I promise you that much.
Take the time to heal, avoid self-destructive behavior, do not engage in any vices at all, learn how to process your emotions and work towards the next version of yourself.
You’ll most likely have let go of your ex by the time you’re several months or a year into this journey.
I’m not saying that you won’t love them anymore, but you will let go of them enough to move on with your life and be happy with where you are in life and who you’ve become.
With that being said, I hope you found this article on how to let go of an ex you still love to be a source of comfort and immense value.
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I’m currently working on a book on reconciling with an ex or moving on. It will be available soon, or it may already be available depending on when you read this article. Until then, you can reach out to me for email coaching if you’d like to work with me through this journey. Click here for more information on that offer.