There are some people who grab hold of your heart and won’t let go. Even when the relationship has ended, you can’t get over them.
We’ve all been there — trying to convince ourselves that we’ve moved on. Yet a song on the radio, or a random Facebook post, can put them straight back to the front of your mind.
Are you actually over your ex? Or do you still secretly long for them to come back to you and for things to be like they were before?
Here are the 19 tell-tale signs you should look for so you can know for certain whether you’re still in love with your ex.
1. You’d settle for anything
For some people, even when you have come to terms with not being lovers, you try to find other ways to keep them in your life. The thought of being entirely without them is too much to bear.
If you find yourself in this situation, you would settle for anything. The occasional coffee, a card on your birthday. Anything that proves to you that the other person knows that you still exist.
This is dangerous territory.
Though it feels harder, sometimes it is easier to just have a clean break. Losing someone you love is a bit like taking a plaster off. If you do it slowly, it’s only going to hurt you more.
2. You believe it isn’t really over
It’s the hope that kills you in the end.
Yeah, she says that it’s over, and she’s getting married now. But you hold out hope that it could all go wrong and, before you know it, she’ll be at your door needing a shoulder to cry on.
This sort of false hope can stop you moving on with your own life. You just end up in a holding pattern, like a plane circling around an airport waiting for a slot.
Waiting a short while to see how a break-up plays out makes sense.
You can’t hold on to that sense of hope for ever though. You need to move on, grieve for the loss of the relationship and start to rebuild.
3. “Is someone chopping onions?”
When you are still in love with your ex, life can be an emotional tightrope. One minute you are fine, the next you are sitting in front of a trashy romcom, crying your eyes out as you think what might have been.
If the plot of every film you see reminds you of them then it is a fair bet that you aren’t over them yet.
4. You have a plan to get them back
The most obvious sign of all that you’re still in love with your ex is when you’re plotting and scheming to get them back.
And that’s perfectly okay.
Not all break ups need to be permanent. In many cases, getting back with your ex is a better option than moving on with your life and finding someone new.
True love is extremely hard to find. I know. I’ve been searching for it most of my adult life. If you still love your ex, then you should at least consider getting back with them.
Pleading your case to them and making an intellectual (or worse emotional) argument about why you’re better together than apart is clearly not going to get it done.
You need to be smart about it. You need a plan.
Whenever someone asks me about getting back with an ex, I also recommend they check out relationship expert Brad Browning.
He’s probably the most popular ‘get your ex back’ expert on the internet. He doesn’t claim to be a guru (there are plenty of other experts out there who claim that), but he does dispense very practical advice based on sound relationship psychology.
Check out his excellent free video here. You’ll see immediately that he knows that he’s talking about.
I’ve recently read an eye-opening statistic from Brad. He claims that, in his experience, 90% of relationships can be salvaged. While that sounds high, I think he’s absolutely on the money.
Couples get back together all the time. And they end up having better, deeper and more passionate relationships for having spent time apart.
The key is to identify what went wrong in the first place, and to make a few positive changes to yourself and your relationship.
If you want a concrete plan to get back with your ex, watch Brad Browning’s free video here. He gives away several of his strategies you can start doing straight away.
5. You become a social media stalker
The modern world has given us many great things. But the ability to check what is going on in your ex’s life is not one of them.
When you are sitting at home looking at their Facebook every 30 seconds, then you know you’ve got a problem. Who are they with, what are they doing and most horrifying of all, are they with someone else yet?
Once they are with someone new, you look at their new partner and compare him or her with yourself. Are they taller than you, prettier, cleverer? What do they do for a living? Well, that’s what Google is for isn’t it?
Stop! This is definitely not a good pattern to get into. It can only make you unhappy. It is really hard when you see someone moving on, when it feels that you haven’t or can’t. It is like torturing yourself.
Put the phone down and recognize that they are living a life without you now. Easier said than done, but kicking the social media checking habit is an essential step if you are ever to get over them.
6. Other couples make you jealous
Does it seem that the world has suddenly become more loved up? Every time you turn your head, there seems to be young couples gazing into one another’s eyes and feeding each other food in restaurants.
All you can do is contrast your own loneliness and sadness with the happiness that’s blossoming around you.
If this sounds like you, then you are definitely not over your ex.
7. Your ex becomes a benchmark for everyone else
This is a hard one. Clinging onto the memory of someone becomes a lens through which you see every other person.
This isn’t fair to you or to them. If you meet someone new, then you should judge them as who they are, not who they are not. Building new relationships and friendships is an essential part of getting over someone you have lost.
When a new person approaches you at a party or in a bar, then try and see them as they are. Stop worrying about how they compare to a person who has rejected you or wondering if they can fill the space that someone else has left.
8. You’re jealous of their new date
When your ex moves on and gets someone new in their lives, the healthy thing to do is wish them every happiness and hope that they find the happiness they couldn’t find with you.
Yeah, right. What you actually end up doing is lying in bed at night, plotting unlikely and terrible vengeance on this new guy or girl.
Jealousy can be really damaging to you and you need to find ways to deal with your jealousy. Under no circumstances should you let jealousy affect your behavior.
9. You analyze the relationship
When coming to terms with a break-up, your brain seeks to make sense of something that it can’t easily comprehend.
Why did things fall apart? What could you have done differently that could have led to you still being together? Was it something you did?
The best thing you can do is to dig a little deeper and get inside their mind.
If you’re a woman, then you have to ask yourself: what drives him as a man? What does he want from a relationship with you?
You may think that men are all about money, sex, food, sports, and power.
Sure, those things all come into play at times. But I think there is a deeper truth that few women are aware of.
Men are actually driven less by those external things above and more by how you make them feel about themselves.
Above all else men want to feel essential to the woman in his life.
This doesn’t mean you have to cling on and suffocate him with attention. What it does mean is that you need to make him feel that he is providing you something that no other man can.
In other words, he needs to feel like your hero.
There’s a fascinating new concept in relationship psychology that’s generating a lot of buzz at the moment. It’s called the hero instinct.
The hero instinct is the drive inside a man to live a life full of meaning, to provide for those he cares about, and the desire to earn respect from those around him.
Men don’t want to be an action hero but they want to do something with their lives that matters and they want to make a difference.
This is especially true for how they approach relationships. They want to protect their woman, treat her right and earn her love in return.
The simple truth is men want to be your hero. And if you want your relationship to succeed, you’ll let him be one.
How do you trigger the hero instinct in your ex?
The best thing you can do is watch this excellent free video by relationship psychologist James Bauer.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t spoken for months. James outlines the simple things you can do right now to make him feel more essential to you and to re-trigger his attraction.
I don’t often buy into popular new concepts in psychology or recommend videos. But if you’re wondering how to get back with your ex (or succeed in your next relationship with someone new), I think learning about the hero instinct can make all the difference.
10. You bore your friends
It’s great that you have friends to turn to during difficult times, but please talk about something else other than your ex.
Being in a bad place after a relationship breakdown can make us selfish. Just because this is the biggest thing that is happening in your life, remember that in your friends’ lives you have a walk on role.
They might nod sympathetically, but they are not as interested as you are about the details of where it all went wrong.
It’s great to share, but it is also good for you to challenge yourself to talk about other things too. This is a key part of rebuilding your life post-relationship.
11. Your ex is still always on your mind
Sometimes people don’t just cross your mind — they move into it, set up home and choose to raise a family there.
Stopping thinking about someone is really hard. If you’re still hung up on an ex, then they will be the last thing you think about before you go to sleep and the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning.
What are they doing? Where are they? Are they happy? Sad? Are they thinking about you too?
You need to train your brain to be able to think about other things. Instead of thinking about your ex when you are going to sleep, try and imagine a happy future where you are with someone else who makes you feel loved and secure.
This takes effort but it’s worth it.
12. There are 1000 things you still want to say to them
If the relationship has ended suddenly, then you are often left with a whole lot of thoughts swirling around in your mind.
But you need to realize that with the break-up of your relationship, you don’t get to share these things with your ex anymore.
If you do have a lot of unresolved feelings or things that you want to get off your chest, then one good exercise is to write them a letter. This is not a letter to send off to them – more a way of you being able to get things off your chest.
Write down all of the things that you want to say to them and seal it in an envelope. Write a date on the front in 3 months’ time then put it away. Open it when the date comes around and see how far you have come.
You probably won’t even recognize the person who wrote it.
13. Everything reminds you of them
It could be anything. A trip to the local supermarket reminds you of the days when the two of you went there together. A certain season of the year might remind you of when you got together — the leaves falling from the trees as you walked in the park together.
Every time something reminds you of them, you feel the tug of sadness.
The worst thing for this is music and certain songs. These creep up on you when you are least expecting it — driving the car or making coffee in the morning. Then ‘that song’ comes on the radio and a wave of sadness washes over you.
This is just how your brain works. When it stored that song in your memory, it stored it alongside all sorts of other things — people, places, what you were doing.
Music acts almost like a soundtrack to our wider memories. This is why ‘that song’ can trigger an instant, almost overwhelming response. When you are past the pain though, that same song could tap into happy memories of being together that don’t feel too painful to look at.
14. You want to share things with them
When you are with someone, you share the things that are happening in your life. These could be things that bother you, such as a bad day at work. Or they can be good things like getting a new promotion.
When things are happening in your life, your first instinct is still to reach for your phone to share the news with your ex. The hard fact is though that they no longer have an interest in what is happening in your life.
You need to find new people to share with. This doesn’t need to be a new partner; it could be a close friend or a member of your family.
What these moments highlight to you is that you are lonely. That you are navigating life on your own. The only real way to deal with this is to become much more comfortable with being single.
15. You think your life has peaked
You lie alone in bed and think to yourself that your life will never again be as good as it was when you were with them.
The sense that your life has peaked is a very common response to relationship break-ups. A feeling that, from now on, everything will go downhill for the rest of your life.
If you’re in this situation, it’s easy to over-romanticize the relationship, to think only of the good bits. Your brain forgets the mundane bits, or the rows, or the things that he or she did that annoyed you.
I am almost certain that this was not the best relationship of your life. I believe that because the person you were with clearly didn’t find it a fulfilling relationship to be in.
When you find a relationship with a person who is every bit as committed to you as you are to them, then you will feel the difference.
16. You can’t imagine being with anyone else
It does take a while before people are ready to move on after a relationship fails. One day you will be ready, but just not now.
There are two big reasons for this.
Firstly, you’re still in love with the person who is no longer with you. The second is about being ready and able to trust someone again. Being in a relationship means making yourself vulnerable. That takes courage and you will know when you are ready for that.
Don’t focus on replacing your ex with someone else. That isn’t really an answer to your loneliness and sadness.
Instead, focus on you. Build a life as a single person, and find the bits in that you enjoy. Develop new hobbies — have you always wanted to try a new sport? Learn a new language?
Well, maybe now is the time to start.
The long-term route to being happy is about you and not about some other person. Use the time and space that the break-up has given you to work on yourself and uncover the person that you want to be.
17. You still care what they think
Life is a series of decisions. If you find yourself always wondering “would he or she approve?” then you definitely aren’t over them.
Wanting the approval of an ex for things that are going on in your life is not healthy. You are living out your life in the presence of an imaginary audience. This means that the decisions you make might not be the right ones for you.
You also need to remind yourself that they almost certainly don’t think anything. They have made a choice not to be with you. At that point their investment in your decisions ended.
The only person’s views you should worry about are your own. Own the decisions that you make and make them for you.
18. You miss their touch
When we are with someone, there’s a thrill that comes from being with them. Relationships are physical.
I’m not just talking about sex here — there are all sorts of physical connections. Her hand in yours. His hand around your shoulder. A hug when you were feeling down.
Then there’s sex. The pleasure of being with someone so completely.
Remember though that their touch mattered because of the context of the relationship. Sex is always better when it’s meaningful. You can’t replace their touch with a series of one-night stands with random people.
When the right person comes along, and you are ready, then you will rediscover the physical pleasure of being with the right person.
19. Seeing them sends you spinning
Often, when relationships end, there’s no such thing as a completely clean break. You might have mutual friends or go to the same places. Perhaps you live in the same neighborhood.
If this is the case, there’s a fair chance that you will bump into them at some point.
You’ve probably imagined this. In your head you probably look gorgeous and say something witty that makes him wonder how he ever let you go. In reality, you will probably be leaving a supermarket wearing leggings and a raging hangover.
When you see him, your stomach flips, your mouth feels dry, and you can’t think of a single thing to say other than, “I WANT YOU BACK”.
It’s important to remember that, one day, you’ll move past this stage and be able to be in his company without feeling that way.
Moving on from loving your ex – The 5 stages of grief
To help you move on, it’s useful to remember that many of the stages you are currently going through are natural and normal steps on the journey towards acceptance.
There’s a very well-known structure that grief counselors use when talking about loss. This is known as ‘the 5 Stages of Grief’. This is usually about the death of a loved one, but it’s equally helpful in understanding how you cope with grieving the loss of a relationship.
The stages are:
- Denial – “He can’t be dumping me – I don’t believe this is happening”
- Anger – “How could he do this to me – I gave him everything!”
- Bargaining – “Maybe if I acted differently, he’d want me back”
- Depression – “My life is over. I’ll be alone forever”
- Acceptance – “That relationship was part of my life. It has ended, but it is time to move on, to remember the good bits and accept it for what it was”.
The reason I am telling you this is that it’s important to remember, as you grieve the loss of the relationship, that you are on a journey. The end of that journey will be acceptance. You will eventually move beyond the disbelief, anger and bargaining and be able to move on with your life.
It might seem like a long way off at the moment, but I promise you will get there in the end. Everyone does.