The shattering of a heart when being broken is the loudest quiet ever.
– Carroll Bryant
Every love story brings with it the possibility of an ending, of hearts broken and lives changed forever. While some are mutual, there are those where a man has left your heart in pieces, though you still feel for him. How to get over a broken heart when you still love him?
How indeed? How do you let go of someone you love who can’t be with you? Well, gather your strength and what heart you have left, and read on. We talked to counselors Prerna Dhingra (M.A., Clinical Psychology) and Shazia Saleem, (M.A. in Psychology), and we’re here to help you pick up the pieces and heal your heart.
How To Get Over A Broken Heart When You Still Love Him – 11 Ways
Detaching from someone you love deeply is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. There will be days of tears and wallowing, grief and rage, denial and resentment and pure sadness and loss. If you’re trying to get over a relationship you ruined or get over a breakup you caused, you’ll also be blaming yourself, trying to figure out what you did wrong, even as you battle to get over someone you love deeply.
Says Prerna, “Emotionally detaching from someone comes with a lot of challenges because it’s not just the individual we have to detach from, but also parts of ourselves that we now associate with the person. For some people, diving into work, hobbies etc., turns out to be fruitful till they feel ready to work on letting go of their attachment.
“For others, working toward a systematic breakdown of their attachment can prove to be helpful. Either way, addressing the part of us that’s holding on strongly to the other person, what purpose this hold has and how it’s serving us currently is what eventually helps.
“For instance, if the attachment is because both of them were together for a long time and it’s the habit that’s difficult to let go of, then to work on creating new memories and habits slowly would be of help, so as to bring about the association and attachment back to ourselves from the said partner.”
Shazia adds, “Getting over heartbreak is all about understanding that emotions are not constant traits – they keep changing depending upon other external and environmental factors. Once we recognize, acknowledge, process and channel them in a positive manner, things start falling in place. Rather than focusing or stressing about how to detach in a relationship, going with the flow and prioritizing our own happiness will surely make a difference.”
How to get over a broken heart when you still love him is a painful and long process, but it’s not impossible. We’ve come up with 11 ways to help you cope and let go of a relationship when you still love them.
1. Cut off for a while
We’re starting with an incredibly hard one, aren’t we? But if you’re going to let go of a relationship when you still love them, you need to adhere to the no-contact rule. This means no ‘miss you’ texts, no drunk calls, no driving past their house. If you can deactivate your social media for a bit, do that as well.
Letting go of someone you still love does mean actually letting go. Looking at their pictures on social media over and over, or that one seemingly harmless text is only going to make it harder and give you false hope that maybe things aren’t really over.
“This was really the hardest part for me, the cutting off,” admits Tatiana, who had a messy breakup with her partner Ansel. “I found myself constantly reaching for my phone, wanting to text him, to call, or even just to look at his name in my contacts’ list. After a point, my friends deleted his name from my phone and wouldn’t let me look at social media. It was really, really tough, but I had to do it.”
You’re going to have to do some tough love therapy as you navigate detaching from someone you love deeply. Get your friends involved if you can, you’ll need someone to take your phone and car keys when you’re determined to send a ‘friendly’ text or ‘just take a drive to see if he’s home.’
Related Reading: Why Am I Stalking My Ex On Social Media: Expert Tells Her What To Do
2. Take time to wallow
While tough love is needed, you also need to take time to grieve. Do the wallowing. Order an entire pizza with all the toppings, order an entire cake and eat it while watching mindless TV and crying.
Be unreasonable and dramatic occasionally (“I will never love anyone ever again!”) and let your angsty, teenager self take full flight if it helps. Let’s face it, we’re all adolescents at heart when it comes to love.
Have a girls’ nights out or in with plenty of wine and good cocktails and chocolate while you sit around and trash men and talk about how utterly useless they are. Simultaneously, look at photos of shirtless Chris Hemsworth and talk about how he’d be a better match for you anyway.
You’re going to have to be sensible and accept that the relationship is over at some point. But right now, give yourself the sustenance you need. If lying around in sweatpants with boxes of cookies and tissues are part of your process, you go right ahead. Wallow away, bring on all the tears and snot you can muster. Sometimes, to get over someone you love deeply, you need this.
Remember, this is a limited time offer, though. Wallowing indefinitely just means you’ll wake up one day and realize you haven’t washed your hair in a month. Feel your feelings, but pick yourself up one day at a time.
“The healthiest way to cope would be to not resist your emotions,” says Prerna. “To cry when you feel like, to share your feelings with your loved ones when you’d like and to allow yourself time to grieve something that meant so much to you, the same way you allowed yourself time to fall in love in the first place.”
3. Know that it’s ok to love them, but at a distance
It’s time for some complex soul searching. As much as we often wish love was a well-behaved faucet you could turn on and off at will, love is in fact a sneaky, leaky faucet that drips and leaks when you least expect it.
To put it plainly, the answer to ‘how to get over a broken heart when you still love him’ is not ‘stop loving him.’ No matter how much you fight it, how much you convince yourself that you’re over him, there’s a good chance the love will remain.
Guess what, that’s ok. Letting go of someone you still love is exactly what it sounds like. You’re letting go of the relationship you had with them, you’re letting go of the romance and all that came with, except the love.
This could actually be a great thing. When you’ve finally gotten to a place where you no longer burst into tears at the thought of them, when you’re in a brand new relationship and feeling great about yourself, you’ll always think of them with tenderness and goodwill. You’ll wish them well and want them to be happy. Maybe you’ll even bump into them one day and be truly happy about it.
Related Reading: How To Move On When You’re Still In Love With Your Ex
“Meeting your ex again is a tricky one,” warns Prerna. “This doesn’t get easy if you haven’t done the work and have only suppressed your feelings in order to avoid feeling the pain of your breakup.
“If this is a situation that you can’t get out of because you work in the same office or live in the same building, it can get tough but you can see what options allow you to feel your feelings while maintaining a distance. Maybe having a buffer person in the room, or changing your route for a few days till you’re ready will help.
“Based on how your relationship ended and if you decided to be cordial or not, you can give your ex a friendly hello if you think that would be the right thing. After you’re out of the situation, hit your friends up, do what you need to feel your feelings because finding a systematic way around something you weren’t prepared for will only lead to these feelings piling up and coming out altogether which isn’t healthy.”
4. Show you some love
Self-love is our favorite kind of love. Honestly, one of the best ways to let go of someone you love who can’t be with you, is to shift your focus off them and onto yourself. If you’re a working person, throw yourself into work.
Maybe even look for a new job, a change of pace and role, something that challenges you and takes your mind off the breakup. Also, hopefully you’re done with your wallowing phase now, so show yourself some love.
Get a new haircut, go shopping and buy that sexy pair of heels you’ve been eyeing for ages. Redo your house, buy yourself flowers, dress up and take yourself on dates to cute cafes and restaurants.
“I was so terribly low after my breakup with my partner, Shane,” says Lois. “I felt lost and unworthy of love and I didn’t do anything to make me feel good. Then, for my birthday, a friend booked me a massage and a mani-pedi. There was such joy in someone massaging all the kinks and sadness out of me, in seeing my toes painted bright pink. I felt like I finally had a separate self to love, outside of the relationship and the breakup.”
“Self-love and self-care will help you to heal. This includes setting up of healthy boundaries and allowing yourself to endure and embrace the pain of loss, and being open to change and positive things,” Shazia advises.
5. Learn something new
Your relationship and your man were your passion all this time. Now that they’re gone, you’ll be feeling empty after the breakup. Don’t sink into the void. Find a new passion and sink your teeth into it!
“I kind of always wanted to learn how to ride a motorbike, but never did,” says Joanne. “And then, my partner of 4 years broke up with me and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was spending my days in a daze, crying, plotting revenge, almost begging him to come back…none of it was healthy.”
Joanne then found a women’s riding club online and joined up. She learnt how to ride a motorbike, how to care for it and was soon taking off on long jaunts by herself and with the group. “It’s been 8 months and I feel like a new me. I still get sad sometimes, but learning something new has reminded me that there’s so much to live for still. Plus I get to wear the coolest leather jackets and riding boots!” she smiles.
You needn’t go looking for the nearest Harley Davidson showroom unless that’s your thing. Join a book club, a cookery group or learn a new language. There’s a whole world out there for you to explore, and your heartbreak shouldn’t stop you.
Related Reading: The Idea Of Solo Travel For Women To Assert Freedom
6. Get rid of memories
We know you’ve got that blue shirt you gifted him hidden in your closet and you frequently take it out and smell it. His toothbrush is probably still in the mug in your bathroom. Maybe there are pictures of the two of you around the house, and the coffee he likes is still in the kitchen cupboard.
It’s time to de-clutter your home and your heart. It’s no good for anyone if you have daily mementos of your ex all over the place, reminding you day in and day out of what used to be. There’s no way you’ll get over a broken heart when you still love him if his face and his belongings are peering out at you from every corner of the house.
You can’t get over your ex when you still see them everywhere. Pack up whatever he’s left at your house and send it back to him. If you’re not in a place where you can do that, give them away or throw them out. It’s time to build a whole new life and you don’t need remnants of the old one everywhere.
A physical cleansing and erasing of memories will also help cleanse your mind a little and help you let someone go emotionally. It’s perfectly all right to keep some of the happier memories from the past in your head, but remember to make room for new ones.
7. Make peace with the past
When you’re letting go of someone you love but it hurts you, it’s easy to get so caught up in past hurt and battles that you cannot think of days gone by without anger and sorrow.
The deal is, unless you’ve made peace with the past, you’re not going to be able to move on after a breakup. When the breakup is fresh, every thought of your past relationship, past words said, past deeds done will give rise to deeply negative feelings.
You’ll constantly be caught up in sadness, resentment and anger and since you will be thinking of the past quite a bit, this negativity will become a vicious cycle, catching up with you every time your mind wanders to the past.
Soften a little. Acknowledge that what’s done is done, that it may have left scars you’ll have to deal with for a long time, maybe forever. Appreciate that while your past relationship has broken your heart, it’s also left you stronger and more learned in the ways of love.
Learn to look at your own past self, and your past love peacefully, and maybe even with a little affection. Of course, you may always feel that little twinge of pain, but there’s no reason it has to be entirely painful.
Related Reading: Making Peace With Your Past: 13 Wise Tips
Prerna says, “Everyone’s coping mechanisms are different and to limit them to a few would be unfair. Although some might have healthier working mechanisms to cope with their grief related to heartbreak, it’s only normal to go through some not so healthy ones as well.
“One is to get closure from within ourselves. To understand that just because it ended, doesn’t necessarily mean that it didn’t hold value when it existed. Having a support system of family and friends is definitely helpful and strongly encouraged, so that the outlet to express one’s feelings is there.
“In case there were hobbies or activities that you stopped doing or couldn’t find time for when you were in the relationship, I would strongly suggest getting back to those slowly,” Prerna says.
8. Think about how you could change
If part of your heartbreak is trying to get over a relationship you ruined or get over a breakup you caused, don’t keep going over the things that went wrong, or where you think you may have fallen short.
Instead, think about what and how you could change in the way you navigate love and relationships. What positive new things can you bring to future love that will come your way? None of this means there’s something catastrophically wrong with you.
Remember, everyone makes mistakes in love. Maybe you and your ex-partner weren’t on the same page about the relationship. Maybe you fought dirty and didn’t make up right. There’s lots you could go on thinking about, but change your perspective.
Instead of ‘what did I do wrong?’, consider switching to, ‘what can I do right the next time?’ This just means you’re not spending hours and days berating yourself over a failed relationship, but actually being proactive about how to do better next time.
When you’re letting go of someone you love but it hurts you, it’ll hurt a whole lot more if you’re blaming yourself over and over and looking for everything that makes you unworthy of love. Be kind to yourself as you process your grief.
Prerna explains, “Assess yourself and understand why you did what you did, where it came from, what was motivating you. If at the end of the day, your partner decided to end the relationship, that’s because they were holding their own boundary and there’s nothing wrong with that.
“It’s important to remember that you figured out why you did what you did and also how you can stop yourself from doing it in the future. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that you never wanted to hurt your partner, but you did, and they held you accountable. That needs to be respected.”
9. Don’t rush into moving on
Did someone say ‘rebound.’ Listen, we’re not against some healthy flirting and sex if you think it’ll help. But rushing straight into a rebound relationship or fling isn’t going to heal your broken heart any better.
Give yourself a little time before you start eyeing up the hottie at work or at your favorite bar. Not that your sad and lonely self doesn’t deserve some fun, but like we said, if you’re working on how to get over a broken heart when you still love him, remember that it’s a process and cannot be hurried.
Rushing into a rebound relationship doesn’t give you time to heal, which means your angry, bitter, sad self are going into a new romantic or sexual connection without having had time to get better.
You don’t want to get into a new love when you’re not your best self and have little to give. Give yourself time, build yourself up again, pick up the pieces of your heart before you offer it to someone new.
10. Look to the future
We’ve talked about making peace with the past, but at what point do you actively start looking ahead instead of looking back? When you’ve let someone go emotionally and you’re feeling empty after a breakup, the future seems bleak, as though it’s no use looking towards it.
Take it one day at a time. Think about things you’ll do tomorrow, then next week, then maybe even next month. Plan little pleasures for yourself. A weekend away, a day where you sleep in and lounge, a day where you wander your favorite bookshop and treat yourself to uninterrupted reading time.
Think about holidays you might want to take, things you want to do around the house, even a new outfit you want to debut, and an occasion where you want to wear it. Dressing up is an especially good way to get over your ex when you still see them.
Make a to-do list each day if that helps. This will also give you a routine and keep you busy, while giving you a sense of purpose for the time ahead. There is a future waiting for you, you’ve just got to walk toward it step by step.
11. Remember, you will love again
We know, we know, it doesn’t feel like your heart will ever recover or come out of its scarred, protective casing again. But, believe it or not, it will.
Opening yourself up to new love is perhaps the scariest part of the healing process, but it’s also one of the most vital. It’s so tempting to shut ourselves off, to convince ourselves that love brings nothing but pain and heartbreak, that we’re better off without love in our lives.
Trust us, love, that sneaky, leaky faucet-like love, will make its way back into your life. Be open to this. Acknowledge that it won’t be the same kind of love that you had before. In fact, you aren’t the same person you were before. Love and heartbreak and recovery change you, and your perception and expectations of love.
Don’t shut yourself off or live in constant fear that allowing love and affection and desire back into your life will destroy your heart yet again. As we said, every love story comes with the risk of heartbreak – we can’t avoid that. But emptying our lives of love entirely is a terribly lonely, tedious way to live.
“Love makes you a better person,” counsels Shazia. “If things didn’t work out well between two people, it does not necessarily mean that they cannot move on and be happy with someone else. Being emotionally aware and navigating your feelings in the right direction will help in overcoming heartbreak. Remember, all healing begins with yourself.”
Feeling empty after a breakup is a feeling that feels all-consuming. But never forget that new love, new dreams and passions will come along to fill in that emptiness. A little faith, some wallowing and an open, albeit, scarred, heart is truly all you need to get over heartbreak.