When a relationship ends, it feels like half of our heart is missing. Your other half—your ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, ex-partner—is no longer a text, a phone call, or an arm’s length away. You probably know the exact amount of days, weeks, months, or years that have passed since you last spoke or last saw each other. Maybe you are counting the days since you broke up. You are probably sick of it.

I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve wondered the same thing. For me, the closure came with, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” Ouch. If you’re in love with your ex and you want to know why, let’s talk about the following:

Love Your Ex but They Don’t Love You Back?

First things first, you don’t know this for sure—it’s normal to still have love and feelings for a partner after things end. If you’ve spent intimate and romantic time together, your ex probably still holds a place for you in their heart. Every relationship is different. We attach to some individuals more than others in our lifetime and love some harder than others. Some relationships end amicably, and some are so painful that the couple never speaks again. Eventually, people try their best to move on to fall in love with someone new.

If the thought of your ex being with someone else even years after parting moves you, or perhaps you are in a relationship but still think about your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend, you have some serious self-exploration to do. Let’s get started.

Did You Get Closure?

If you and your ex broke things off abruptly—perhaps one of you cheated and started seeing someone else, or maybe there was a really bad fight, and things got nasty, you may have chosen to part ways and cut each other off rather abruptly. This can be extremely painful, but it is sometimes necessary, especially if the relationship became dysfunctional or unhealthy. Sometimes this means there was no closure.

If you were the one who was cheated on, you will feel like you miss your ex no matter what because they burned you. Being cheated on and still loving your ex has less to do with love and more to do with your lack of self-love. You may be more in love with the idea of the relationship than this actual person who betrayed you. That too, and your self-esteem may have taken a huge blow.

Is It Love or Obsession?

Cheating is so painful that it can lead to obsession. You may be stalking your ex on social media, wanting to know who they are with, and what their new girlfriend or boyfriend looks like. You may be sleeping with your phone by your bed, jumping at the first indication of a message. You probably want your ex to contact you and proclaim their love for you. You want to hear them tell you they never loved anyone like they loved you and to take them back.

Don’t Fall for It

My ex-boyfriend started a relationship with another girl behind my back. I was so heartbroken when I found out. I swore I was done with men; I was so hurt. Months later, my ex contacted me and wanted to see me. He told me he had never loved anyone as much as he did me. It was everything I wanted to hear.

My weak, needy self would’ve put my guard down and gone back to him right away, but I had learned my lesson. He was a serial cheater. I knew I could not get back into that relationship because it would fail, and I would get hurt all over again.

Advice: Once a cheater (on you), always a cheater (to you). If they didn’t show you enough respect while you were together, do you really think they’ll change this time?

Do You Miss Your Ex or Are You Just Lonely?

Sometimes we are in love with the idea of love. We are bombarded with it left and right. Instagram does a great job of painting the perfect romance, but most of it is fake. Did you know that “IG couples” actually get endorsed to pretend to be in relationships in order to sell products and gain followers? Not real!

Are You Unhappy?

Take a good hard look in the mirror. Are you not dating and moving on because you’re caught up on your ex? If this is the case, how can you even know what’s out there? Do you have a type? Is your ex your type? Have your exes burned you? Maybe you need to get off the bad boys and open your eyes to a potential partner who has their life together. Maybe you’ve isolated yourself and are depressed. Start taking care of yourself today.

What Does It Mean to Keep Dreaming About Your Ex?

If you are depressed and unhappy with your life, it’s easy to use escapism to remember all of the beautiful memories you had with your ex. I’ve been there. I’ve had dreams of my ex, and I would wake up feeling like crap because they are not there.

We dream of our ex for two reasons:

  1. We truly miss them on a deep level.
  2. We miss the feeling of being in love.

Love Is Addictive

Our brains simply want to go back to being in love. In fact, love works on the same addiction pathways in the brain as chemical dependency. Your brain is literally going through love withdrawal! Maybe you are working two jobs, in school, and living at home . . . your life is going to feel pretty bad compared to when you were living the college life partying it up with your ex-boyfriend every weekend. Right? Consider your situation first.

Advice: Now is the time to start looking for a new job, get in shape, and redefine yourself.

Seeing Your Ex With Their New Boyfriend or Girlfriend

Of course, you are going to be triggered! Humans are naturally competitive. Are you thinking, “Hey, his new girlfriend looks like me,” or maybe you’re insecure about whether she’s “better than you”—sensually, physically, mentally, creatively, etc. Maybe you’re thinking, “She’ll never understand him as I did.” Well, guess what? It is out of your control! Seriously stop the social media stalking! You are torturing yourself. Delete it and make your friends swear that they won’t share any news with you.

Advice: Remember, love is not a competition. If you are a competitive person, it may be more about outshining your ex’s current boyfriend or girlfriend rather than actually being with them.

Do You Have Regrets After a Breakup?

If you were the one who did the dumping or initiated the breakup or separation, it is normal to have doubts. Parting ways is never going to be easy, and it is emotional for both parties. Even people who have affairs go on to waiver back and forth. If you are experiencing feelings of regret, it is important to control your emotions and not make any rash decisions. Keep in mind that there was a reason you split. I know what it’s like to get back together only to regret it. Don’t start the on-again-off-again cycle. It’s totally dysfunctional. Letting go is healthy.

Should You Stay Friends With Your Ex?

If you are in love with them, I’d seriously urge you to take some time apart. You need to find your own social circle and form an identity separate from them in order to really thrive and truly test your love. If you can take time apart and cut each other out, both of you will truly know what you are feeling. You two may be emotionally dependent on each other. If so, it’s only healthy to break the tie and stand on your own two feet. Shaping your identity requires a little self-exploration, so get started.

Advice: Get involved with fun groups on meetup.com or look for fun activities like “Ladies Night” rock climbing or singles social hours. You don’t have to date, but you can certainly make new friends and flirt. It might help keep your heart space open.

Afraid You’ll Never Love Again?

This feeling is nothing to be ashamed of. Have you heard of the terms twin flame and soul mate? Let’s talk about these two definitions.

  • Twin flame: Twin flames are our perfect mirrors. These two individuals reflect back at each other—they are derived from the same soul, and it is rare that they meet in a lifetime.
  • Soulmate: We can have many soulmates in a lifetime. Soulmates come and go and teach us important lessons in life. Some soulmates may have instant chemistry, and some may give each other deep pain. They serve the purpose of helping each other to evolve in this lifetime spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.

Twin Flames vs. Soul Mates

If you believe in the concept of twin flames and soulmates, and your former love is causing you a great deal of pain, it’s possible that you two are soulmates. This is good news—that means you came together to teach each other a purpose in life. Lessons sometimes are meant to be painful; they make us grow and deepen the experience of our souls. The good news is that there will be more soulmates in your lifetime, and if the universe aligns, you may come across your twin flame.

Check Your Self-Esteem

Breakups cause PTSD. Many times too, after we’ve been dumped, we feel inferior to our ex and lose confidence. We’ve put them on a pedestal and started our own negative self-talk. It’s time you drop all the bags. Lighten up your soul and find yourself.

Advice: If you keep your heart open, you will love again. Love is always different. No two loves are alike. Allow yourself to experience new love. Don’t deprive yourself.

How to Get Back Together With Your Ex

So, we’ve gone through many scenarios, but you are absolutely sure that you love your ex. You didn’t just start to think of them all of the sudden, their memory has been plaguing you for a while. Maybe you’ve heard rumors that they broke up with their boyfriend or girlfriend or separated from their husband or wife. You may be wondering if there’s still a chance to get back together. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Process your breakup; accept that you two are separate individuals and let go of the past before even considering rekindling things.
  • Consider reaching out to them directly and being subtle but honest.
  • The time it right. If they recently divorced, give them time.
  • If you want them to come to you, but you don’t want to go to them, this is simply a power trip and not love. Seriously reconsider. Remember that love is humbling.
  • Don’t push them into meetings or talking. Let them make the move once you’ve initiated contact.
  • Don’t fall for false promises; your ex may be flattered that you are back in their life, but they may have other motives. Be mindful.
  • Don’t appear needy or overly eager. Both of these things will drive them away.
  • Try the relationship again with an open heart and open mind and take it slow. Start out like you’re dating again. Keep track of your heart and practice some self-preservation.
  • Make sure you two are on the same page, want the same things, and have made your expectations clear.
  • Commit to each other.

Why You Can Be Okay Alone and With Them

You can be ok without them because I was ok without my ex. It took me years to get over my ex. The first step I took was dating again. I entered into it with very little enthusiasm and a lot of skepticism. I’ve been with my current partner for over six years now, and I no longer miss my ex.

Each scenario is different, and each person has a deep impact on us in our lifetime. You do not need anyone to complete you—please remember that. Always look out for yourself before anyone else. The one person you need more than anyone else in life is you, so take care.