“Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go”
— Passenger “Let Her Go”
You know what I love?
Having a perfectly made cappuccino early in the morning on my drive to work or watching Dave Chapelle do a new set of hilarious stand-ups.
You know what I hate?
Realizing you love someone after breaking up.
It’s actually the worst. Especially when they’re already long gone and you thought you were over them.
It starts with missing your ex a normal amount. Then it goes to realizing some of her flaws were actually not as big a deal as you made them out to be and she was just trying her best.
It ends with you realizing you love someone after breaking up.
It ends with you realizing you let the wrong one go.
It’s a knife in the heart.
How can someone make such a big mistake?
I’ve taken jobs I hated, dated people I regretted for too long, and definitely broken up with girls that I shouldn’t have.
When you’re going through a rough patch or finding someone gets on your nerves, it’s easy to make a big mistake and let them go.
Even if she broke up with you, it can be a matter of you “accepting” it and moving on, only to realize that you actually aren’t ready to move on at all.
“When you’re thinking about breaking up with someone you love, it’s imperative to avoid being hasty. Take your time, think things through, and allow yourself to really consider the pros and cons.”
But if you’ve already broken up then you’re at the next stage in the process. The stage where you’re starting to realize you might have made a giant mistake…
Here are 10 of the clearest signs that you’re realizing you love someone after breaking up…
1) You’re single and not ready to mingle
One of the top signs of realizing you love someone after breaking up is that you’re single and not ready to mingle.
You go out and see incredibly beautiful women, maybe even sleep with one or two — and after you feel like absolute shit.
It’s just not happening for you.
You may have heard the saying “the only way to get over somebody is to get under somebody else.”
You’re supposedly on the market. You’re ready to get down or find love or … something. But all you feel is sad as fucking hell.
You miss your ex like someone ripped your soul out of your body and ran it through the Hadron particle collider.
And more and more it hits you…like it or not you are still absolutely in love with her.
2) You see your ex in a whole new light
When you’re in the thick of a relationship, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of seeing what’s wrong with your partner.
The way they interrupt you, doubt you, criticize you, flirt with other people…the list goes on.
But once the final buzzer sounds and it’s all over you start to have this change come over you, when you’re not really over her at all.
The change is that you start to really put yourself in her high heels.
And you realize:
Not only was she not that bad.
She was right. About a lot. Frequently.
You don’t realize it out of being a simp or trying to say “sorry” to her, you genuinely realize that your POV wasn’t the final verdict on the relationship and that you overshot your mark quite a bit on blaming her for what went wrong.
3) The thought of her moving on crushes you
When you’re not in love anymore you — hopefully — wish someone the best and get on with your life.
It still hurts, but you no longer think about them as much and you try to put the drama in the past, including the pain of the breakup.
One of the clearest experiences of realizing you love someone after breaking up is that seeing them with someone new tears you up inside.
It may send you into an alcohol-soaked rage or make you collapse in a depressed heap for days like a heartbroken high-schooler.
Even just seeing a photo of them with their new guy on social media can set your inner alarms blazing.
You’re not cool with it, even though you thought you would be. Not at all.
4) Nobody else comes even close to replacing her
Like I was saying, you may go out and meet someone — or more than one — and find that it’s just not doing the trick for you.
Not only is the physical connection usually underwhelming, but you also feel empty inside.
You replay old conversations with her in your head and feel more from remember a five-minute chat than you do from days of talking to a new girl.
It’s just not happening…
You’re still in love with your ex no matter how much you try to hide from it.
Her words, smiles, and eyes still enchant you and you can’t escape it just through denial or trying to fill the gap with someone new.
5) You realize you got your priorities wrong
I have friends who left their girl because they met someone hotter.
I know that makes my friends sound shallow as hell, but it does happen.
I have another friend who split up with his longtime girlfriend because his career took him to a new place and he didn’t feel his new life really had room for her.
Realizing you love someone after breaking up is realizing that there’s no amount of score-keeping or rationalizations that actually make you feel OK about breaking up.
You put sex or career over love. And you lost big. No matter what you try to tell yourself.
6) New partners bore you to tears
Even if you do get into a new serious relationship or meet someone who gets your fire burning, one of the biggest parts of realizing you love someone after breaking up is that the new partner doesn’t engage you.
I’m not talking about getting engaged, I’m talking about conversational and emotional engagement.
It isn’t just that your new flame’s ideas and conversation bore you, it’s that their vibe and entire persona itself just doesn’t do it for you.
You think back to fun and exciting times with your ex, maybe even just listening to the rain while you joked about a stupid situation or told a story…and you miss it.
“In the immediate aftermath of a breakup, people often date as a form of romantic validation, especially if you were the one rejected. However, this move is only likely to stunt connection and cause hurt.”
7) You think about your ex all the time
When you’re still in love, you feel the ache of loss all over your skin.
You even dream about your ex and wake up dying to text her. But she said not to and you know that you shouldn’t.
So you put your phone away and get on with your day the best you can. But something is definitely missing.
I could get all New Age on you and tell you some big spiritual metaphor about what’s missing inside or in your relationship to yourself…
But I respect you more than that.
The something that’s missing is simple.
That something is her.
8) Your friends and family comment on her a lot still
When you’re still in love and had more than a fling, the people closest to you will notice your glow.
Yes, guys can glow, too!
They will probably try not to nose into your business about what went wrong and led to the breakup.
But if you get into a deep conversation with them they will eventually admit to you that they really felt she was the one.
Your friends and family can help you realize that you love someone after you’ve broken up. Seeing it through their eyes.
10) Deep in your gut you know she was your one and only
Sorry to get all Lifetime movie channels on you here, but I do believe real love exists and I also believe it’s extremely rare.
Sometimes the reason that losing a former partner hurts so much is extremely obvious:
It hurts so much because deep in your gut you know she was your one and only.
It hurts so much because the lies you use to try to lie to yourself just don’t work.
You know that nobody new will ever connect with you on that level that she did, or at least it certainly feels like it.
You know that no pretty face is ever going to come close to hers in your heart.
You know that what you had was one in a million and if you hear “many fish in the sea” one more time you are going to snap and turn into Mike Tyson.
Is it too late to get her back?
Maybe, maybe not.
But if you at least want a shot then follow these steps below.
1) Become your best self
Whether you are with this girl or not, becoming your best self is a win-win.
I suggest going at it whole hog here.
If you’re in a winter climate then hit the slopes and ski or board!
If you’re in a sunny place get out on the water or hike and swim.
If you’ve always wanted to speak French now’s your chance to learn and get to enjoy those Truffaut films in the unvarnished original.
By the way:
Becoming your best self does not mean you have to be bright and cheery all day or push down the negative emotions.
Learning to love yourself and get in touch even with your dark side is an integral part of becoming your full self and being able to give and receive love in a healthy and fulfilling way.
2) Learn to let go
As Lachlan Brown writes in his excellent article “I was deeply unhappy…then I discovered this one Buddhist teaching”, sometimes the most powerful thing we can do is let go.
“Countless people turn to Eastern philosophy to learn how to let go of the things that are weighing them down, including stress, sources of tension, unhappy relationships, difficult obligations, financial worries, and more,” Lachlan notes, adding that:
“In many ways, Buddhism is all about letting things go. Letting go helps us break away from negative thoughts and behaviors that do not serve us, as well as loosening the grip on all our attachments.”
Do your best to let go of:
You’ll still feel and think about all these things, and about getting her back — of course, you will — but let go of your own personal belief in this story.
Let go of your belief that this narrative or its outcome defines you, your worth, or your destiny.
3) Reach out to her respectfully
The next thing I can recommend is to reach out to your ex respectfully.
She may respond well, neutrally or poorly. No matter what happens, including no response, do not be attached to the outcome or hinge your self-worth on it.
She has her own life and experiences she’s going through.
If you get a bad response or none at all then reach out in an easygoing way in a couple of weeks.
Just say hello and let fate take you from there. If it’s going to work out she’s going to also need to take a step toward you, and if not your options are limited to how you respond.
4) Take it slow
When you miss someone a lot it can be tempting to just jump right back in and cram everything into one call, text, or email.
Please come back, I love you so much, I’ve been dying without you, you’re everything to me…
God no, please.
Don’t do that.
Take it slow. Reach out respectfully like I said and see if there’s any openness on her end to strike up a relationship of some kind.
Meet for a friendly coffee or breakfast. Have a chat at the park.
Are you over for good or is there something still there?
5) Don’t expect miracles
Whether or not you believe in miracles and divine assistance, you can’t expect them in this case.
Your ex may end up getting back together with you, friending you, or rejecting you altogether.
But no matter what happens it’s going to take time and it’s not going to suddenly be that everything’s fine.
So you changed your mind about breaking up: this is important to realize and taking steps to reach back out to her is good.
But she’s still a free individual who may not want what you want anymore.
And even if you get back together there’s no guarantee the road will be an easy one.
6) Enjoy the perfection of imperfection
Finally, let me just say that no matter what happens you can enjoy the perfection of imperfection.
All the triumphs and tragedies of life aren’t going away anytime soon.
At the very least we can say they keep life interesting, even if they sometimes bring us to our knees.
It’s hard not to take life really seriously sometimes and shout at God or the universe to ask what’s going on. But one equally excellent option is to simply laugh in the face of chaos.
The search for love is hard. And once you find it there are all sorts of things that can go wrong.
Many of them aren’t even your fault, just the current of life moving along.
Realizing you love someone after breaking up is one of the hardest experiences in life.
Try to get her back, by all means.
But if that doesn’t work then rest assured that you’re in a caste of warriors who’ve survived one of life’s toughest trials and take pride in that.
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