Love is a beautiful, albeit complicated, part of the human experience. We see it play out time and time again across our favorite television shows and movies, and we see happy couples living life together every day as we scroll through our social media feeds.
However, love isn't always that picture-perfect situation we see. Sometimes, it's quite the opposite — it can be painful, messy, and downright frustrating.
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where the love we feel towards someone else is so painful that we wish we could just stop feeling that way. Anyone who has ever experienced a bad breakup or an unexpected divorce has found themselves in a place where they ask themselves: "Can you ever stop loving someone?"
Things to know
- Love can be a complicated and messy emotion and can sometimes cause pain.
- It is possible to eventually stop loving someone after a breakup or divorce, but it takes time and patience to heal.
- The decision to let go of love can be a difficult one, and it may require taking a step back to evaluate the situation objectively and assess if the feelings are worth holding onto.
Although the answer to that question isn't as black and white as we'd like, I'm here to share a bit of good news with you: you can learn how to mend your broken heart and, in time, move on from your former love once and for all. First, there are a few steps to take:
- Do You Ever Stop Loving Someone After a Breakup?
- Should You Hold Onto Love or Let Go?
- Steps You Can Take to Move on From Someone You Truly Love
- Start Moving On With Your Life
Do You Ever Stop Loving Someone After a Breakup?
Regardless of how the relationship ended, many people have difficulty letting go of intense feelings toward someone else. It may feel like your broken heart will never mend, especially in the early days post-breakup. However, all hearts heal in time — we just have to be patient.
Even after you work through the emotional pain of your breakup, you may find yourself holding on to your past relationship. You may miss your ex so much that it hurts, and you long for them even after they're gone. Many who experience this come to wonder if breaking up is ever easy.
In this moment of extreme emotional pain, you may ask yourself: Do you ever stop really loving someone?
Unfortunately, the answer isn't a simple yes or no because love isn't a simple emotion. Most of the time, we experience many different types of love towards other people, and the love we feel can change and evolve. You can go from loving your best friend to wanting to slap them in a matter of minutes — and the same is true with romantic relationships as well.
We often still carry the people of our past with us long after the relationship with them fizzles out. It's human nature to care for others, no matter how the relationship ends.
However, the short answer is this: yes, you can eventually stop loving someone after a breakup.
It may take time to let go of the romantic love you feel towards someone, and you may still care about their well-being even after you move on to a new partner. Still, eventually, you will no longer feel those loving feelings towards someone as you move on and change as a person.
Should You Hold Onto Love or Let Go?
Before you can stop loving a person from a previous relationship and move on with your life, you must decide for yourself whether or not your feelings are true love or just strong feelings that will eventually subside.
In these moments, it's essential to look at the situation from a rational and objective state of mind to see why you're really holding on. Then, it's up to you to decide whether it's worth waiting for your ex or if it's better to move on. If your ex wants you back your actions will take a different course.
But if he doesn't, you'll have to let go of the idea that you'll get your ex back.
Why We Hold Onto Unrequited Love
Although people can sometimes return to a previous relationship and make things work, this isn't the case for most people. Instead, people cling to their past partners for various reasons with the hopes that they can make it work.
Sometimes we hang onto our past partners because we enjoy the comfort of someone familiar. We're too scared to break out of our comfort zone and find someone new, so instead, we remain hopeful that our ex will want us back someday.
Other times, people hold onto unrequited love hoping that they can somehow convince their past partner to come back to them. Unfortunately, we cannot will other people to do something they don't want to do, no matter how hard we try.
Of course, sometimes we hold onto a past relationship because we've formed an unhealthy attachment. This often happens in abusive relationships and is referred to as trauma bonding. Our brain confuses an abusive partner's kind gestures as safety and ignores the red flags.
Luckily, many people eventually see their past relationship from a different perspective and realize that what they felt wasn't really love but merely the illusion of something.
Why You Should Let Go of Your Feelings
When we get swept up in the emotions of our own love life, it's hard to see the reality of the situation. However, if you're willing to take a step back and evaluate the problem from a fresh perspective, you may see that you'll be better off letting go of your past and focusing on the present.
If your former partner is now in a new relationship, it's definitely time to let go of your feelings towards them and move on. It's unlikely that they'll come back if they've found someone else.
Also, if the relationship wasn't good for your mental health or they were abusive, then it's time to walk away for good. You deserve so much more than that, and the stress is not worth your energy.
Of course, even if there aren't obvious reasons staring you in the face, you should probably still let go of your feelings if the other person has made it clear they are no longer interested in you. Pining over someone who doesn't want you is incredibly painful, and it rarely turns into something more.
Holding onto hope in these situations often leaves you with negative feelings. It can lead to mental health issues related to the pain and heartache you experience as you wait for a relationship that will never be. Instead, it's better to give up on this lost love and just move forward with your life.
Steps You Can Take to Move on From Someone You Truly Love
Regardless of the reasons you love someone or why it's a terrible idea, you can't simply just wish your love away. Instead, you need actionable steps you can take to heal your heartache, let go of the past, and move on with your life.
Luckily, such steps do, in fact, exist. And even though some difficult times lie ahead, you can use these steps to guide you into a place of healing and hope.
1. Acknowledge the Reality of Your Relationship
Acknowledging the reality of your past intimate relationship is an essential step in the healing process. You can't possibly move on until you allow yourself to recognize the reality of the situation and accept that this romantic relationship is over.
Although this first step won't make your feelings disappear overnight, it will help you prepare to close the door on the past so you can eventually take the necessary next step towards moving on with life.
2. Let Go of Idealization
Once you acknowledge the truth about the situation, it's time to let go of that false narrative about our former partner. You must stop daydreaming and see them from a fresh perspective. This will help you see that they aren't worth holding onto.
This doesn't mean you need to vilify the person or harbor resentment towards them. It simply means you must stop putting this former love on a pedestal and worshiping the ground they walk on.
The person you once loved is a human being, which means they have faults and make decisions that may not make rational sense to you. Seeing them in this light will help you move on.
This step can be helpful for anyone, but it's especially important in abusive or unhealthy relationships.
3. Process Your Painful Feelings
When you accept the reality of the past relationship and stop dreaming about a fairy tale ending that will never come, you may find yourself dealing with the painful emotions of your broken heart all over again. You may feel a sense of profound loss alongside anger, sadness, or emptiness — it's all normal.
Although it's hard, you will need to process these negative emotions before truly moving on. This means you will need to work through the stages of relationship grief. It also means you may need to work through any anger, entitlement, or resentment you feel towards the other person.
Working through complex emotions takes time, but it can really help you make strides in your personal growth and help you experience the past from a different perspective. Ultimately, processing your emotions will help you gain the closure you need to move on.
4. Take Proactive Steps To Separate Yourself From The Past
Sometimes, even after you process your emotions, you will still struggle with the feelings you once felt towards your former partner. This could be especially true if you decided to "remain friends" and stay connected on social media.
However, seeing the person you once loved (and likely still love) enjoying life with or without a new person next to them can be incredibly painful. Therefore, it may also help you move on if you take proactive steps to separate yourself from your past.
For starters, you can either block this person from all of your social media accounts or, at the very minimum, change your settings, so you do not see their posts. This will create a sense of space, and it will help you not long for them every time their photo pops up in your feed.
Also, you can separate yourself from places that hold a strong emotional connection to your past relationship. This may mean you need to find a new favorite pub or take a different trail for your Saturday morning jogs, but this will help separate your past from your future.
And, of course, you absolutely should not regularly communicate with this person, as this will just reinforce the idea that they may eventually come back to you. This may mean engaging in a no-contact rule or even blocking their number on your phone — just do whatever it takes to create that space for yourself.
5. Spend Time With Yourself
Sometimes, the easiest way to let go of someone you love is by focusing on yourself instead. When we refocus our energy, we start feeling better and stop ruminating about our lost love.
In fact, now is a great time to take yourself on dates and remember how much you enjoy your own company. It's also an opportunity to practice self-care and rebuild your self-esteem, especially if the breakup made you feel less worthy.
If you need something a bit more distracting, take up a new hobby or explore interests that you have never had the chance to pursue. You could even join a group for these interests, such as a sports team or a knitting group.
Focusing on yourself will put a lot into perspective regarding the past, the present, and the future. You may find parts of yourself you forgot about, which can be incredibly rewarding. You might even discover that you like being alone more than in your past relationship.
6. Nurture Other Important Relationships
In addition to focusing on yourself, you can also transfer the love you feel towards your ex into other meaningful relationships in your life, such as those with family members or close friends.
These relationships often go neglected when we fall in love with someone and pursue them fully, but our friends and family deserve just as much (if not more) love as any intimate partner.
So, plan a brunch date with your besties or spend the weekend catching up with your mom. You won't regret putting energy into these relationships, and you may even find it refreshing to express love to someone who also expresses it back to you.
7. Picture The Ideal Romantic Partner
Once you've started letting go of your former love, you may feel like dipping your toes into the dating pool again. However, you need to take some time to think about what you want out of your next relationship before you dive in blindly.
While it's not helpful to imagine the perfect person, thinking about the qualities you'd like in a partner can help you narrow down your search and help you manifest what you want out of your next relationship.
So, if you feel like you no longer love your former partner, sit down and imagine your ideal partner. Think about what you'd love to experience in a new relationship and what attributes you'd like in this new partner.
Don't just think about the materialistic things either — really focus on what you need to support your emotional health. Think about the deal-breakers and the negative qualities you'd be willing to live with.
After all, no person is perfect, so you need to keep the negative attributes in check just as much as the positive ones. Once you have this clear picture in your mind, you're ready to dive into a new relationship.
Start Moving On With Your Life
No matter how long you spend with a person, they leave a lasting impression on your heart that you carry with you forever. Unfortunately, that means we may never stop truly loving someone. However, that doesn't mean we have to hold onto unrequited love for the rest of our lives.
Instead, you can take proactive steps to reclaim your life and move on from the past. You can create space for yourself in your life again and, eventually, open that space wide enough for someone new to join you on your journey.
It may seem impossible right now, but eventually, you will find the strength and determination to let go of that person you loved and move on with your life. You'll find that, over time, you think about them less and less, and this will help you heal.
Obviously, all of these steps take time. It also takes time to truly let go of someone you loved and mend your broken heart. However, you'll know deep down inside when you're ready to move on. And, until that moment comes, try to embrace this time of renewal by loving yourself completely and caring for your needs.
Eventually, you will move on and find the person you're destined to be with. Until then, just remember: you deserve nothing but the very best, and that person will find you when the time is right.