All breakups are different, and some hurt more than others.
There’s no doubt that breakups are much worse when you still love each other.
Sadly, parting ways is sometimes the only solution to problems you are having personally or as a couple.
Here’s how to move on from a difficult breakup even when you still both feel strongly for each other.
1) Don’t dodge the pain
From our earliest years, we seek to avoid pain.
It’s human nature and it’s encoded in our biology and our evolution.
We feel pain and seek pleasure as its antidote.
We feel hunger and look for food.
We touch a scalding hot surface by mistake and stop touching it as fast as possible.
And so on.
The same goes for our emotions:
We feel desire and chase ways to satisfy it.
We feel sadness and we try to come up with a solution to fix it.
In the aftermath of a breakup with somebody you love, you’re going to be feeling a world of pain. Your life may feel like it’s effectively over.
If you go to a therapist they may diagnose you with depression or try to pathologize this pain and make it seem abnormal or wrong, but it’s not.
It’s a human emotion and a reaction to the emotional wound you’ve suffered by not being with the one you love.
Feel it and accept it. Don’t put conditions on it. This pain is real and it’s your heart’s way of processing what’s happening. Let it occur and don’t try to block or deny the difficult emotions you’re going through.
2) Respect how your partner feels
It’s crucial not to overanalyze if you’re trying to get over a breakup when you still love each other.
Nonetheless, some basic questions like who broke up with who are important to the process.
Who wanted to part ways, or was it truly mutual? What led to the breakup and what was the final straw in the end?
These are questions to ponder, but not to obsess over.
If you’re feeling like the relationship still had life in it but your partner didn’t agree, it can be very difficult to accept.
But you have no choice but to respect how your partner feels in this case. Plenty of people try to convince and lead their partner to get back together, but it’s very difficult to do.
And even if there was a chance to get back together you:
- Can’t hold onto that hope as a way of getting over them and;
- Need to respect how they feel fully before you can ever potentially change it.
3) Let yourself keep loving…
At the very beginning I urged you to accept the pain you’re feeling and not try to push it away or pathologize it (see it as an illness or deficiency). The pain is natural, and you can’t control or stop the fact that you are feeling upset about this.
By the same token, you can’t just hit the off button on the love you feel.
For quite some time you may feel like your ex is everywhere you go and in every piece of music you hear.
You might feel like your life has even lost its center of gravity or that part of you yourself has simply disappeared and been excised.
This is a disorienting and difficult experience, but the love and emotions you feel for your ex shouldn’t be repressed. They are what they are, righ
As Psychologist Sarah Schewitz, PsyD. writes:
“It’s fully possible to love another person and be incompatible with one another. That’s simply how life is.
“Don’t beat yourself up because you couldn’t make the relationship work.”
4) …But accept that the relationship just won’t work
Compatibility and love aren’t the same thing.
In fact, they’re often at odds with one another.
It’s one of the cruel ironies of life that sometimes those we have the strongest feelings for are not those whose lives and goals really match with ours in any of the fundamental ways.
Accepting that a relationship isn’t going to work with someone you love is just about the hardest thing in the world.
If you’re dealing with this then you may feel like even though the breakup is already over there’s just no way you can accept or understand it.
I was in the same position and found a lot of vague and unhelpful advice on it.
In the end the most helpful resource I found was at Relationship Hero, a site with trained love coaches.
These accredited professionals are really approachable and they know what they’re talking about.
Connecting online is super easy and it was way easier than I thought it would be to explain the situation to them and get useful and practical advice about my breakup.
I really suggest checking them out.
5) Peel away the fantasy
One of the best tips to get over a breakup when you still love each other is to peel away the fantasy.
Your relationship may have been ideal in many ways and you may still care for each other very deeply.
But there is always a layer of idealization that goes into relationships and our feelings for those we love.
The French writer Stendahl called it the process of “crystallization,” which basically means when we fall in love with someone we idealize them in every way, even their bad traits or mismatched characteristics.
This is part of how you sometimes see couples who seem so mismatched physically, intellectually or emotionally:
Falling in love blinded them to the faults and incompatibilities of their partner, although these often resurface later.
But think about your ex and this desire you have to be with them again or at least your difficulty in getting over the breakup.
Was it really so good? Do you really want to go back? Don’t spare any of the gritty details…
As Tikvah Lake Recovery Center puts it:
“When you say that you’d love to go back and be with them because it was the most beautiful and fulfilling part of your life, you’re not objectively reflecting on the relationship.
“You’re describing a fantasy version of it. Because if it had been perfect, it wouldn’t have ended.”
6) Seek the support of those close to you
Far too many of us try to go it alone when we’re in crisis. We lock down, close the blinds and try to drink or Netflix away our problems.
Needless to say, it doesn’t work.
Many times the support of those around you including friends and family can be the factor that makes all the difference, even just the presence of somebody you like and trust.
You don’t need to talk a lot or open up about the breakup if you don’t want to, but try to spend at least some time around a trusted friend or relative.
This will decrease the feeling of being completely alone in your suffering and the idea that your life is over.
Your life is not over and there are still better days ahead of you. Just remember that anybody would be in pain and misery in your situation.
Don’t beat yourself up over it, and try to reach out to at least one or two people in your inner orbit of friends and family.
7) Stop seeing them
If you want to know the best tips to get over a breakup when you still love each other, it has to start with stopping seeing your ex.
This can feel like the worst thing in the world, but let’s face it:
You’re never going to get over someone if you’re still seeing them around, still talking to them and still potentially sleeping with them or interacting with them in other ways.
It’s crucial to make a clean break to allow yourself to get over this.
That includes not messaging or contacting your ex unless it’s a practical matter that needs to be resolved like organizing picking up possessions or legal matters.
Of course, that also brings up the issue of what exactly it means to “get over” someone.
The term is thrown around a lot and I think it can sometimes be misunderstood or misrepresented.
You’re not going to stop loving somebody you love. You won’t forget them or suddenly just switch all your feelings about them.
If it worked like that, then these sorts of situations wouldn’t be so hard.
Instead, “getting over” someone means moving on with your life and healing to the extent that you can live again despite the sadness and love you feel for someone you are not with.
Getting over somebody doesn’t mean you don’t love them anymore or don’t care. It just means that these feelings are no longer the focus of your life, and that you allow some light in for the possibility to one day love somebody new.
8) Do not keep reminders around
When I say do not keep reminders around, I am not necessarily saying to throw away all reminders.
While some articles will recommend these kinds of steps, I think they go too far toward repression and denying what’s happening.
It’s normal to want to keep a few keepsakes of your time together with somebody you love, including a photo or two or a gift they once gave you.
Just put them out of sight and not front and center.
Pack away souvenirs and reminders and consider them as something you can take out some years down the road on a rainy day.
Consider them more as historical archives than anything else. This isn’t about still clinging to a relationship that’s now gone. It’s just a reminder or two which you’ll tuck away.
Don’t keep these reminders around, and if necessary consider moving to a new apartment or house as well.
A change of scenery can sometimes be the best strategy for getting over somebody you love but can’t be with.
9) Keep this a private matter
As much as possible, keep this a private matter.
Getting over a breakup when you still love each other is a really tragic event and it’s likely to draw the concern and interest of many friends and mutual acquaintances who want to know what happened.
You may explain on something you have agreed on with your ex, but try to keep it light on specifics.
Nobody has a right to digging through your private life, and opening up too much can be a real mistake.
It not only keeps the breakup front and center in your mind, it also creates a process where your breakup is constantly re-litigated and discussed as if it is some kind of crowd-voted issue.
Try to keep the details of what happened as private as possible.
“Mutual friends will probably want to know what happened after a breakup,” notes Crystal Raypole, advising that “it’s generally best to avoid getting into the details.”
10) Social media is not your friend
One of the biggest temptations after a breakup is social media and spending time on social media following your ex and your ex’s friends.
I strongly advise against this:
It will make you more miserable and make getting over a breakup much harder.
No matter how much you love each other or how much you feel the breakup was necessary, social media will just rub salt in the wound.
Try to do a full digital detox for a few weeks minimum after the breakup.
If that’s not possible, at least stay away from things to do with your ex for that time.
And as I mentioned earlier, refrain from contacting them unless absolutely necessary for practical reasons.
11) Regain control of your life
The aftermath of a breakup is a difficult time regardless of the circumstances.
Still being in love with your ex only makes it all the more challenging.
The temptation here is to become a victim and wallow in what’s happening, but you must do everything to avoid that fate.
Accepting the pain you are feeling and acknowledging the negative emotions does not mean you should indulge in it.
As you experience this pain and acknowledge how disappointing and frustrating the situation is, you should try to simultaneously channel that frustration and despair into regaining control of your life.
The best way to begin with this is to:
12) Look after yourself well
Begin waking up at a set time, working on your diet and caring for yourself physically.
Even if it is only a small routine at first, try to develop proactive and healthy habits around your health.
Even though you are still in love and suffering from the breakup, think of looking after yourself like caring for a piece of valuable property.
That property is your body, but what makes it even more valuable is that it can’t be replaced.
This is the only one you have, and you owe it to yourself to look after it.
This includes taking a break from work if necessary, getting out in the fresh air, feeling the sun on your skin and caring for your needs.
Chief among those needs is that you must:
13) Give yourself time
Getting over a breakup when you still love each other is going to take time.
Give yourself that time.
Turn down social invitations, grieve and sit alone sometimes. It’s all part of the process.
I’ve encouraged reaching out to at least one good friend or relative, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a social butterfly.
It’s understandable and healthy that you’re going to want some real time to figure things out and just let these emotions work their way through you.
You’re experiencing real heartbreak and you don’t need to force yourself to snap out of it right away.
14) Don’t obsess over your ex’s life and plans
In the past I’ve made the made the mistake of becoming focused on an ex I was still in love with and becoming way too focused on her life.
What was she doing?
Who was she dating?
Was there still a chance?
The answer to all of these questions should have been to switch off my phone and get off social media.
Part of the way I’ve grown in being able to respond better to this situation is thanks to the help of Relationship Hero who I mentioned earlier.
The love coaches there helped me so much to see how my approach to breakups was making them even worse than they had to be.
I came to see how much I could improve my response just by eliminating specific toxic behaviors I was engaging in that were hurting myself.
Instead of focusing on what (or who) your ex is doing, instead try to:
15) Examine the beliefs driving your life
What’s driving your life?
Also, is it you in the passenger seat or is negative baggage and past pain at the steering wheel?
This is a crucial part of getting over a breakup with someone you still love.
It’s taking a look inside the driver’s manual and making sure you know how to run your vehicle (your life) and where you want to drive it (your future plans).
Spend the time and focus on what this could be, beginning to put in place practical steps surrounding your career, self-development and personal credo.
This will all be worth it and make you able to focus more effectively on your goals.
Which brings us to the next point in getting over a breakup when you still love each other:
16) Focusing on your own objectives
What do you want to accomplish in life and what are your priorities that are in your control?
Perhaps it’s owning a home, reconnecting with old friends, starting a company or finding a spiritual path.
Perhaps it’s just learning how to enjoy life more and relax for awhile.
Focus on your own objectives instead of trying to find out exactly what’s going on with your ex.
Think about the ways in which you can measurably improve your experience and fulfillment of life on a daily basis, even if they are small things.
17) Stay away from rebounds
In this article I’ve highlighted the need to accept the pain you’re going through and not try to repress it down.
I’ve also talked about acknowledging the love you still have while moving on.
Feel the pain and do it anyway, is more or less the idea here.
One of the impediments to this is rebound relationships, which are one common way that people try to get over a breakup where they’re still in love.
But dating around and sleeping around is only going to make you feel more empty and disappointed.
Try to avoid rebounds as much as possible.
They’re not worth your time or effort, and they won’t help end the pain and disappointment that you’re feeling, they’ll just amplify it into an even bigger crisis.
18) If you do reconcile, take it slow
If you decide that you want to try to reconcile with your ex, take it slowly and do not force it.
Proceed carefully, and never stake your happiness on a favorable outcome.
The reasons that you parted ways in the first place are likely to reemerge, and sometimes even more strongly the second time around.
Just remember that getting over your ex requires you to completely let go of the relationship.
You may still love them…
You may still miss them…
But until you fully accept the relationship as over, you will find yourself haunted by their memory and any attempted reconciliation will just be a struggle to go back in time.
Julia Pugachevsky spells it out:
“Of course, if you love each other so much, it’s natural you might consider getting back together. Which, hey, might work and even make your relationship stronger than ever.
“But obvs, proceed with caution.”
Living life when love falls through
When love falls through and you lose the one you love, it can feel like the end.
But it can also be the beginning of a new chapter.
It’s going to hurt and it’s not going to be easy, but don’t give up.
Follow the guide above and always believe in yourself and your capacity to survive and keep moving forward.
You’ve come this far, and in the future you’ll look back and see how this was a fork in the road, not the end of it.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
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