Why Can’t I Get Over My Ex? 15 Reasons You’re Still Holding On

People usually think that breaking up with your partner is the hardest part. But as painful as it is, the actual conversation is over before you know it.

People don’t realize that it’s the feelings you can’t leave behind that hurt the most. How can you possibly stop loving your ex and move forward that fast?

It feels impossible, and it’s definitely no small feat. But it can be done.

Things to know

  • Low self-esteem and feeling like you will never find someone else to love you are key reasons you can't seem to get over your ex.
  • If you never got closure, if the breakup was painful or messy and if you haven't prioritized your healing, regret and heartbreak might be keeping you stuck.
  • Reminiscing about your ex and how they were your first love or idealizing them are also key reasons you can't move on and let go.

Don’t agree? Maybe there’s something else holding you back from getting over the relationship.

Here are the reasons we'll cover in this post:

  1. You Feel Like You’ll Never Find Someone Else
  2. You Never Got Closure
  3. You Aren’t Coping In Healthy Ways
  4. You Are Only Remembering The Good Parts
  5. They Were Your First Love
  6. It Was A Painful Breakup
  7. You Are Stuck In Your Comfort Zone
  8. You Aren’t Open To A New Relationship
  9. You’re Obsessing Over Them
  10. You’re Still Talking All The Time
  11. Reminders Are Everywhere
  12. The Breakup Is Still Fresh
  13. They Want You Back
  14. You’re Struggling With Regret
  15. You Have Some Healing To Do

15 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Over Your Ex

1. You Feel Like You’ll Never Find Someone Else

Low self-esteem is the number one thing that holds people back from being in a healthy relationship. You hold on to the ghost of a former partner because you fear you will never find someone else.

Even when you know they aren’t right for you, you find you have a difficult time letting go. We don’t always start out this way. Sometimes, people get caught up in an abusive relationship that shatters their confidence and makes it feel impossible to leave.

No matter what the reason, the more you tell yourself that your former partner was your only option, the harder it will be to move forward after the relationship ends.

2. You Never Got Closure

Not every breakup is mutual. If you thought your last relationship was true love and didn’t see it coming, that’s enough to send anyone into a tailspin. Now, you’re spending all your time wondering why they left instead of focusing on the self-care you need to move forward.

Other times, the former relationship was a long-distance one. When the love is lost from oceans away, it’s harder to wrap your head around the relationship ending. It’s especially difficult if you didn’t get to have the conversation face to face.

In any case, the only thing worse than a broken heart is a confused one. Lack of closure can keep you stuck in the past for far too long if you aren’t careful.

Breaking up over text will never give you proper closure.

3. You Aren’t Coping In Healthy Ways

When a relationship ends, the grieving process can be messy. Long nights lying awake, days spent crying on the couch, and hours obsessing over where it all went wrong are not unusual behaviors.

But as uncomfortable as these negative feelings might be, embracing your broken heart is the best way to jumpstart the healing process. We run into problems when we deny our emotions and use unhealthy strategies to avoid them. Turning to bad habits like binge drinking, drowning in ice cream, or seeking casual sex won’t do you any favors.

Distracting yourself from a painful breakup might work for a time, but in the long run, the only way out is to go through the motions.

4. You Are Only Remembering The Good Parts

When your broken heart is hurting, your brain tries to numb the pain by pulling up all the happy times you spent with your ex. All you can think about is the grand romantic gesture they made for your birthday or that one time they surprised you with concert tickets to see your favorite band.

But idealizing your romantic partner does more harm than good. Ultimately, you chose to break up because the best moments weren’t the only moments. If they were as great as you remember them to be, you would still be together.

As easy as it is to block out the bad memories, tossing your rose-tinted glasses out the window is the first step in letting go of your former partner.

5. They Were Your First Love

The hardest romantic partner to forget is your first love. They were your best friend and a new experience all in one. Maybe you had dated before, but this was your first meaningful relationship. This kind of breakup brings on a broken heart that nothing can prepare you for.

Just as you had never loved anyone before, the raw emotion can spark a grieving process that feels brand new. In this situation, it’s best to talk through the breakup with a trusted friend or family member who has gone through the same thing.

They can give you both the emotional support you need and a new perspective. If you don’t, trying to endure an unfamiliar feeling alone is a sure way to stay stuck in the past.

6. It Was A Painful Breakup

You might wonder "is breaking up ever easy?" Every breakup hurts, but when the split is particularly painful, it can be even more difficult to move on from your ex. When someone you love breaks your trust, it is absolutely devastating. It’s even worse when the betrayal ends a marriage.

As much as you may hate your former partner, the intense emotion ironically makes you even more attached to them. The more time you spend thinking about your breakup, the more your ex stays on your mind.

As crazy as it sounds, sometimes being angry at your former partner is the very reason you can’t get over them.

7. You Are Stuck In Your Comfort Zone

It’s tempting to turn to what’s familiar when you’re nursing a broken heart. But while it can be helpful to establish a routine, be careful that you aren’t playing it too safe.

If each new day starts looking like the one before, take it as a sure sign that you need to switch it up and try different things. Without variety in your life, your mind will wander to your ex and latch onto fond memories of the relationship.

A new experience, like taking a day trip or picking up a hobby, will get you out of your comfort zone and over your former flame.

8. You Aren’t Open To A New Relationship

Deep down, you may be closed off to the idea of starting over. Even though you might want to move on, you secretly believe that you aren’t ready to meet a new person or that you might get your ex back somehow.

Maybe you feel like you would be betraying your ex by entering into a new relationship. Or you might be afraid of opening your heart back up only to get hurt again.

Dig deep into your subconscious and be honest with yourself: are you holding yourself back from a future relationship? If the answer is yes, figure out why. Otherwise, you’ll be looking at a long run of being single.

9. You’re Obsessing Over Them

Nothing prevents you from getting over your ex like keeping up with their social media accounts. If you catch yourself checking their page on the regular, you’ve adopted a toxic emotional habit. You might be looking for signs that your ex misses you too.

Seeing their posts won’t bring you anything but pain. Social media is a highlight reel that will quickly convince you that your former partner is living their best life without you (even if it isn’t true!). Worse yet, you’re running the risk of finding out they’ve started a new relationship through the lens of a cute couple picture.

Setting a healthy boundary online is necessary to help you forget the past and protect your peace. Hit the unfollow button, or even block them if you must.

10. You’re Still Talking All The Time

It’s not easy to move on from someone you love when you’re talking to them every day. Staying in regular contact might feel like the easier option now, but in the long run, you’re only dragging out the pain.

You don’t lose your feelings for someone just because you broke up with them. When you keep in touch, you strengthen all that emotion with every conversation. Laughing together, opening up about your hard day at work, and reminiscing on the good times will leave you confused and pining for what once was.

It’s almost impossible not to see them as a romantic partner if nothing changes but your relationship status. Cut the cord once and for all, and go no contact. Things will change once you learn to let go.

11. Reminders Are Everywhere

Relationships leave a trail: old photos taken together over the years, thoughtful gifts collected from birthdays and anniversaries, love letters written just because they were thinking of you, a sweatshirt left behind and never returned.

When a love story ends, those little reminders turn into big wounds. It stings every time you look at the physical memories of your former relationship, but it feels unthinkable to get rid of them.

If you ever expect to get over your ex, tossing the mementos is the solution. At the very least, you can box them up and store them out of sight. If you don’t, you’re going to have a difficult time putting the past behind you.

12. The Breakup Is Still Fresh

When you’re going through the grieving process of a relationship ending, all you want to do is skip ahead to the part where you feel happy again. But if you and your partner only just broke up, that’s not really fair to expect of yourself.

How long ago did you call it quits? A month? A week? A day? Be realistic. You won’t move on overnight. Mending a broken heart takes time. Right now, the only thing you should be worried about is taking care of yourself.

You can’t rush the healing process. Take your time in getting over your ex. Your future relationship will thank you for it.

13. They Want You Back

Some people don’t realize what they have until it’s gone. If that’s your ex, it’s no wonder you’re having a difficult time moving past the relationship. A breakup is hard enough when you both are on the same page. Toss in a former partner begging for forgiveness, and you’ve got a mess on your hands.

If they broke up with you and now feel like they made a mistake, they don’t deserve a second chance. If they didn’t appreciate you then, they won’t change now. It’s selfish of them to play with your feelings like this. And if you broke up with them but they won’t accept your decision? That’s not romantic. It’s a form of disrespect.

Do yourself a favor and eliminate their means of contacting you, or else you’ll keep getting dragged along on their emotional rollercoaster.

14. You’re Struggling With Regret

One of the different ways we struggle after a breakup is by ruminating on broken dreams. The lost potential of “what could have been” is tough to accept. Fixating on plans for the future that will never come to pass is enough to drive a person crazy.

As hard as it is, abandoning the fantasy of building a life together will be a huge step forward. Most people can’t get over their ex because they can’t let go of those idealized visions. They regret that things weren’t different, and “if only” becomes their favorite phrase.

Other people struggle with regretting the past, not the future. They feel like they wasted time on their ex and can’t stop kicking themselves for letting the relationship drag out for so long.

No matter which camp you fall into, coming to terms with the way things shook out between you two is an important part of moving on.

15. You Have Some Healing To Do

Sometimes, our inability to start fresh comes from old wounds deep inside of us. We keep picking people who are wrong for us, repeating the same mistakes over and over again until we grow exhausted. If this is you, it might be time to do some healing work.

Self-reflection is a good place to start. Do you struggle to set a healthy boundary with your romantic partner? Does a healthy relationship feel unattainable to you at times? Maybe your attachment style is in need of a reboot.

Talking to a relationship coach or therapist can be a positive path forward. They can help you dismantle any damaging emotional habits you may have and set you up for success in your next relationship. There’s nothing wrong with seeking extra help to get over an ex.

Final Thoughts

Getting over your ex can be a long and painful process, but it’s worth reaching the other side.

Even if you can’t imagine falling out of love with them right now, trust that it is possible with time and self-reflection. Identifying what’s holding you back is the first step in moving on and making peace with the past.

Be grateful for what was, and hopeful for what’s to come. Remember: the sooner you learn how to let go of your partner, the happier you will be in the long run.

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