It’s over. It’s been over – for weeks, months, or maybe even years. But you just can’t let go. You may feel like you’re in a dark pit – but you are not alone. You can get out, but first you must consider that perhaps the reason you “can’t” let go is because you do not want to.
Ask yourself: what are you getting out of not letting go? What incentives to you have to stay mired in the pain? There are numerous benefits to not letting go. You don’t have to get back into the dating scene, which can be exhausting and dejecting. You don’t have to deal with the gender that hurt you. You don’t have to expose your heart to pain, and you stay safe and comfortable with your familiar thoughts and emotions.
When human beings appear to overreact to a situation, it’s usually because there are much deeper issues at play. Consider the man who gets into a bar fight over a spilled drink because his wife wants to leave him, or the woman who is screaming her head off in traffic because her kid is sick with the flu. Your previous relationship may have been a “Band-Aid” for deeper issues, such as past trauma, abuse, or bad sexual experiences. Breaking up ripped that Band-Aid off. Now, you are not just dealing with the breakup, but you’re also having to confront an even bigger issue.
Perfectionism & Control
Breakups are especially hard for perfectionists and control freaks, who see the demise of a relationship as a personal failure instead of a normal part of life. There is perhaps no greater loss of control than having someone you love say “thanks but no thanks.” If you are the controlling type, you may subconsciously be holding on to the broken shards of the relationship in order to give yourself the illusion of control.
Fairy Tale Thinking
Soul Mates. The One. Happily Ever After. Society, religion, and history have embedded powerful stories in our heads that tell us there are two people who perfectly match each other – forever and done. If you truly believed that he or she was your “one and only” instead of one of many, you will have a much harder time letting go.
A strong sense of self-worth is crucial for resiliency. If you were depending on your partner to bolster your self-esteem, the loss can be devastating. You may be trying to win her or him back in order to soothe your bruised ego – and to give you validation as a worthy human being. But you can learn to provide this for yourself.
If you can’t get over him or her, you probably know it. You can feel in your gut that there is something wrong. Friends may try to help, but they may be just as entrenched in the ideas noted above as you are. You can get unstuck. You can believe that your best days are ahead of you. And you can find love again. Consider talking to a professional therapist, who can help you find your hope.