Not all relationships are born equal.
Some relationships dissolute smoothly and easily while others leave invisible open wounds and lifelong scars.
And sometimes, whether a relationship will mark us forever has little to do with the length or the quality of the relationship itself.
Some toxic relationships are very hard to move on from while other very healthy ones can feel like a faraway memory of another life.
Some long relationships are easily forgotten ( because you did most of the grieving while still in the relationship for example) while short-lived ones can literally leave one obsessed with an ex for a long while.
So you see it does not make sense if you look at this from the lenses of length and quality.
If you are still in love with an ex and you can’t seem to be able to stop loving him after 2 years of breaking up, this post is for you.
The fact that you are unable to move on from your ex after 2 years is mostly due to two things.
1. Your attachment style:
If you don’t know what attachment style is, it is the way we relate to people and form connections with them.
According to the attachment theory, attachment styles are “based on our history of interactions with our caregivers, which develop over time into internal working models of who we are in relation to others and the world around us”.
There are 3 known attachment styles (secure, avoidant, and anxious), and the one that is most likely to cause difficulties in getting over an ex in a healthy way has been found to be the anxious style.
In fact, the father of the attachment theory Dr. John Bowlby found that the reorganization of one’s “attachment hierarchy” and detachment is the last stage of a three-staged trajectory of the loss of a relationship.
He also found that “Those who are more highly anxious, compared to those who are less anxious, tend to respond to breakups with more extreme emotional and physiological distress, preoccupation with their ex, alcohol and drug abuse, and a lost sense of individual identity.”
It might then not be your fault if you can’t get over your ex if this is how your brain is wired to react to loss and grief.
The good news is that research also shows that those with anxious attachment style are more likely to turn things around and that the “heightened breakup distress may act as a catalyst for personal growth by encouraging the cognitive processing of breakup-related thoughts and emotions.”
I am living proof of that but that’s for another blog post.
2. Your Ideal Man:
Apart from your attachment style, the second reason you haven’t been able to recover from your breakup with your ex is if you idealize your ex and your mind sees him as the perfect match to a fantasy of the ideal man in your imagination.
Letting go of your ex would mean letting go of one of the deepest and most intimate fantasies a human being can have, that is the ideal partner.
What I have come to realize over the years is that my fantasy ideal man only exists in my imagination, and probably yours too.
I also realized that I can be with a man from the real world, who is not the personification of my fantasy, and still be very happy.
My ex is far from being an idea but I was only able to see once I got over the fantasy world and cleared out the fog caused by my emotion.
I had to go through the pain of accepting that my fantasy is only a fantasy and will never be real.
I felt it then I was able to break free from it.
Example from my life
I am going to use an example from my own experience to illustrate the two points above and help you understand why you still love your ex and actually realize that it is not really love.
Years ago when I was in my twenties, I met a very handsome guy shortly after I joined a company.
He was everything I was looking for, handsome, gentleman, smart, good career.
We dated for a few weeks and I very quickly became fond of him and fell in love with him ( think he was fond of me too).
That’s when he told me that the company was sending him to their overseas office ( apparently that was planned even before I joined the company) and that he only has another 2 weeks left in the country, but because he was “falling in love with me”, he still wanted to give it a try and see if a long-distance relationship could work out.
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Rather than me seeing the obvious ( That it was never going to work), I found the whole thing to be very romantic and I was already very attached to him over those few weeks we dated.
Long story short, He left the country and we tried to stay in touch for 3 months ( face timing, texting, skyping) then he came back to take the rest of his things and leave permanently and that’s when he broke up with me.
I found out later that over the initial 3 months he was away, he met a ( more exotic) girl who later ( after 3 years) became his wife, which suggests that he very quickly forgot about me despite saying that what we had was absolutely magical and that he wanted to give it a real chance.
but these were just words, completely worthless…but I believed them.
Objectively, I had all the reasons to think that our relationship was doomed,
- We did not know each other for long to stand the challenges of long-distance,
- Going to a new country is an exciting new adventure that can make any man forget about his past life,
- Why would a man bother with a girlfriend he barely knows who is 30000 miles away from him when he can have fun and meet new girls where he is.
But my subconscious was much stronger than all these reasons in the world.
and this is where I am going to.
Some relationships will leave a strong mark on us because subconsciously they filled a hole in us.
It took me 2-3 years to get over this guy despite having tried to be in other relationships.
I tried to remain in touch despite him telling me he has a girlfriend ( he never told me he met her while still being my boyfriend…but whatever).
He seemed to also enjoy it as he sent me birthday wishes for about 3 years after we broke up.
I stalked him ( and her) on social media. My obsession with him and his new life became almost pathological ( if not 100% pathological).
Until I thought to myself “What the heck am I doing” that I began to work on myself.
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How to move on from an ex you still love after two years?
1. Understand your attachment style
You can do your own research and learn as much as you can about your attachment style but you may get help identifying your attachment style by consulting with a psychologist or therapist.
Personally, the attachment theory has enlightened me in so many ways and helped me understand so many of my patterns and behaviors, and brought reason and rationale to many of seemingly random events and situations in my life.
2. Accept feeling the pain
This is the biggest advice I could give you on that.
Just feel the pain.
As Carl Jung said
What we resist persists
So do yourself a favor and resist no more,
Your system needs to flush the pain out, and for that, it needs to feel it and process it.
The pain does not fade away by itself, it does so if it is processed, either quickly if you choose to let the process happen consciously, or very slowly if it happens unconsciously ( that’s why they say time heals all).
If you bring your pain to the surface and decide to heal consciously you just speed up the process.
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3. Get your own closure
You will never get closure just by waiting or from your ex.
You will have to give yourself closure.
4. Work on yourself
Rechannel all the energy and love that you had for your ex towards yourself.
That’s what self-love is.
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