Why Can’t I Get Over My Ex? Top 10 Reasons To Know

Break up And Loss | |
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Breakups are more painful than what we give them credit for. And you are definitely stronger than what you give yourself credit for, for dealing with it with your sanity intact. Do not forget to tell yourself that it is completely all right, if, in the middle of the night one day, after several days and nights of desperate attempts to deal with this loss, you find yourself on the internet looking for answers to, “Why can’t I get over my ex?”

After trying all possible attempts to move on from your ex, are you asking yourself, “Why am I having trouble getting over my ex? Why can’t I forget my ex? Why can’t I get over my toxic ex who put me in so much pain? Why is it so hard to let go?”

Like the first day at school, or falling to the ground in a fight, or falling in love, a breakup is a key milestone in the growth and emotional development of our character. While the entire world – your friends, your family, the stranger in the park on a bench – tells you that it is not a big deal and that you will be fine, today we will tell you something different.

Why Can’t I Move On From My Ex?

What we are here to tell you is that you will, of course, be fine! With time. But we would like to emphasize that what you are going through is also a big deal. You are completely normal for finding it so difficult to move on from your ex. It is important to allow yourself the permission to grieve to help you in getting over your ex in a healthy manner.

It is scientifically proven that breakups are not just an unpleasant experience, they are one of the most prominent risk factors for clinical depression, which we in popular lingo begin calling post-breakup depression. And why not? Breakups can stir in us an existential crisis, forcing on us a change in the way we look at ourselves, messing with our sense of identity. Breakups can disorient us.

Breakups are much harder in a committed relationship as they take away the sense of security of lifelong companionship with our partner that we had gotten accustomed to. Long-term plans were made, and future dreams were envisioned together. It is hard to let them be snatched away all of a sudden.

Which is why despite being very much logically aware of the need for a breakup we keep struggling with it. We know that it wasn’t working out. We know that we were happier without the person than in their company. We know that we weren’t feeling respected in the relationship. Or we know we were incompatible in our core values. Still, we sit and wonder “Why can’t I get over my ex?”

But what does this feeling mean for you? Breakups may make you question the breakup itself. That you are having trouble getting over your ex may make you wonder if it was a mistake. It may make you wonder if you are still in love. Most often than not, this feeling is not about the other person, or even love. It is about your own issues that are making it impossible for you to let go.

These could be low self-esteem, a tendency for codependency in relationships or an insecure attachment style that makes it impossible to imagine a life without your partner. Or the breakup could have triggered in you hidden emotions like guilt, fear, anger or even shame. You might have suffered from depression in the past, or trauma of loss in your childhood.

This personal baggage, internal factors and sometimes external factors may be making it difficult for you to face this question that is giving you sleepless nights, “Why can’t I move on from my ex?” Let us look at them one by one, saving the most difficult one for the last.

Related Reading: Loving Someone Who Doesn’t Love You Back

10 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Over Your Ex

We know you have been wondering, “Why am I having trouble getting over my ex?” Read on for possible reasons. Maybe you will find yours amongst these ten most common reasons why getting over your ex is hard:

1. Because humans are social animals and getting over your ex is actually hard

Humans are social animals and we are inclined to find companionship. Our family and friends all count as companionship but we have been trained to only count the companionship from a single person, a romantic companionship with our supposed soulmate, to whom we attach steadfast almost as if to save our lives.

Without companionship, we fear loneliness, which makes it extremely difficult to walk away from them. Even if we know that they are wrong for us. This seems like the simplest explanation to your question, “Why can’t I get over my ex?” But it doesn’t make it any less correct.

Take active steps to deal with loneliness after breakup. It might seem like an oversimplification actively seek companionship from your friends, or step out more, or engage in social work, pick up a team sport.

2. You are not following the no-contact rule

The no-contact rule asks that post-breakup, a couple agrees to not keep in touch or be in contact with each other for a certain amount of time, to allow each other the space and objectivity to move on.

Love, and the feeling of security it brings, are addictive. And it is difficult to let go of a substance of addiction with the substance constantly in your reach. Aren’t you advised to not only remove all junk food from your diet but also keep it out of your house, away from your sight when trying to stick to a healthy diet?

Stick to the no-contact rule after breakup blindly. A message on the phone here or there, keeping in touch through a common friend, all of it counts as communication. Review after a few months if getting in touch with your ex will still set either of you back emotionally. Extend the no-contact period in that case.

If you are in touch with your ex, this should be a pretty straightforward response to your worriment, “Why can’t I get over my ex?”

why can't I forget my ex
Stalking your ex online is not helping you move on

3. You still follow them on social media

No contact doesn’t just mean not being on speaking terms. It also means not seeing them and their activities online. Updating yourself with what’s happening with them is only making the practice of getting over your ex more difficult. You are not leaving any space in your mental room to let other priorities take over and help you find everything you fear you have lost.

There is a reason why you are wondering, “Why can’t I get over my ex?”, all the time. You are not allowing yourself to. Do you also wonder “Why am I stalking my ex on social media?” Unfriend your ex, mute them, do what needs to be done to not see them constantly until you feel more confident about your feelings about the breakup. Allow more time to pass before you even consider reconnecting with your ex on social media.

4. You are lonely

You could simply be lonely right now. If you have too much time at hand to mull over your relationship, you, of course, would make a list of all the countless reasons why the breakup was a bad idea, and then count it over and over again. Are you still wondering, “Why can’t I get over my ex?”, or distraught, declaring to yourself, “I can’t get over my ex. I just can’t!”

Fill your time with old hobbies. Seek the company of your family and friends, on a double shift if needed. But for some time, give your mind different things to think about. Love and seek love from different sources. Gym, sport, career, social work, traveling, creative outlet – actively find your antidote to fill up the empty spaces.

Related Reading: 11 Signs You Are Not Ready For A Relationship

5. You are inclined toward codependent relationships

You might be suffering from low self-esteem, which fuels your tendency to be codependent in relationships. Due to the low self-esteem, you might be taking the breakup personally, considering it as either your fault or failure. For example, doubting your ability to provide love for a breakup due to a cheating partner.

This low self-esteem also causes codependents to try extra hard to make the relationship work. It goes without saying that if you tend to attach to your partner in a codependent fashion you might be finding it impossible to imagine a life without the partner to cling to for support. This could be why, with anxious energy, you are wondering, “Why can’t I get over my ex?”

6. You are looking for closure

If you were not in control of the breakup, it only makes sense that you are analyzing every detail of not just the breakup or the incidents that led up to it but also of your relationship. Trying to understand the “why” is an attempt by your ego to intervene and help you feel more in control.

It is possible that you have some unsaid things, unexpressed emotions like anger, guilt, disappointment, or even questions about what happened. The difficulty of moving on without closure is often understated. Follow the no-contact rule first to look at your emotions objectively before deciding if you still need to get in touch with your ex in your path toward a happy life without them. But be mindful, is your closure truly dependent on your ex?

If your answer is yes and you find yourself in a good place, more confident of your feelings after maintaining distance from your ex for at least a few months, it might not be a terrible idea to pursue that closure to be able to move on.

Related Reading: Why ‘I Need Closure’ Weighs On Our Mind After A Breakup

7. You are reminiscing only the good parts

Euphoric Recall. Yes, there is a term for it. Most simply put, it refers to remembering only the good parts while ignoring or forgetting the bad ones. While you would think that it would be healthy to let go of resentments and have happy memories in your conscious brain to manifest for yourself a joyful life. At this stage, it might not be the healthiest thing.

Why can’t I get over my toxic ex, you ask? Because you aren’t thinking enough about why you broke up. When trying to move on from an ex, having a strong footing on the reasons for your breakup is like an anchor that holds you when you are drifting away in beautiful memories from your honeymoon phase.

Have a clear understanding of why the relationship ended. Why you both deserve better, most importantly why do you deserve better. Why your life is better off without them.

8. Because your ex represented your future

Life with a partner, especially in a long-standing committed relationship, holds in itself visions, dreams, goals, and a representation of your future. You would have probably envisioned an entire life around your partner. Having that snatched away all of a sudden is having the ground beneath your feet yanked from under you.

A sudden loss of all your hopes and your identity is enough to make you yearn for your ex. And, in turn, leave you wondering, “Why can’t I get over my ex?” It might seem hard but push yourself to envision a new future. You may practice regular journaling to find new goals for yourself. Begin from short-term goals to divert that energy. Once you have gained some momentum, you will feel more inclined to have new goals.

9. You might be scared for them

The answer to “why I can’t forget my ex” could be your empathy. It is possible that your breakup was a rational well-thought decision. You knew perfectly well that you two were incompatible, or things weren’t going to work out. Or even that the this breakup means moving on from a toxic relationship. But that doesn’t mean that you would all of a sudden stop feeling sympathy and care for your ex.

This is especially true if you were of an empath personality type, or if you are a highly sensitive person. You might be worried about the well-being of your partner and their future. The feeling of “why can’t I get over my ex” is not always about yourself. You may know you will be fine, but you are worried about your ex.

Remind yourself of the reason that the relationship didn’t work out. If it wasn’t working out for you, it was also not working out for them. Like you, they too deserve better. Tell yourself that the breakup might be hard for them but, like you, it will also allow them to move on to happier prospects in the future.

Related Reading: Empath Vs Narcissist: The Toxic Relationship Between An Empath And A Narcissist

10. Breakups feel like a loss of identity shaking you to your core

The most blissful part of a relationship is the opportunity to reinvent yourself. You begin to see yourself in a new light. The point of view of another person also can serve as a motivation to be a better version of yourself with a constant admirer as a witness of your growth and with you to appreciate your efforts.

But this has its downside. As our identities become dependent on our partners, we become more and more used to their view of us. We begin to self-identify as what our partners think of us. “I don’t know who I am anymore” becomes a constant. Which is why a breakup disorients us, as the question of who we really are and what we actually like is thrown at us.

“Why can’t I get over my ex?” then becomes the most obvious culmination of your unsuccessful attempts at moving on. Post-breakup, people wonder if they actually liked traveling or were doing it for their partners. Or independent of their partner, what would they like their financial goals to actually look like.

Give yourself credit for dealing with such a disorienting event. You are dealing with one of the hardest things to happen to a human, being faced with the challenge of answering the eternal question in all philosophies, “Who am I”?

If this is happening with you, give yourself time and support. Do not undervalue your pain. Allow yourself time to grieve. Actively seek help from both family and friends but also professionals. This means verbalizing your pain and asking your dear ones to give you company or keep a check on you or visit you more often.

It also means to look for help from a skilled professional who can help you find out the reason why you can’t get over your ex and guide you toward active solutions. Should you need it, Bonobology’s panel of experts is right here to help you.


1. Will feelings for an ex ever go away?

Yes, they will. They absolutely will. No matter how steadfastly you believe “I can’t get over my ex”. Remind yourself that they have for countless people around the world. And if this is not your first breakup, remind yourself how it did the last time around. Give yourself some time.

2. What does it mean when you can’t get over someone?

You might be inclined to assume that it means that you are still in love or that life is impossible for you without your ex but that is most often not the case. The inability to let go has very little to do with other people and more to do with yourself. There are countless reasons that have nothing to do with you still being in love that might be causing you to ask, “Why can’t I get over my ex?”

3. How long did/does it take to get over an ex?

It would be impossible to give a specific time frame that would work for one and all. But as a general rule of thumb, Lauren Peacock, relationship expert and author, advises to at least follow the 6-month rule that says that for every year of a relationship you have been with someone it takes 6 months to completely heal. Another poll gives an average of about 3.5 months to heal while recovering from divorce might take 18 months. The point is that it will be different for each individual. But the central point to take away is, that time heals all wounds. And that you too will feel better.

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