A reader wonders how to handle her feelings for her ex boyfriend who she still has feelings for and sees often.
“My ex and I have been broken up for about a year now. And it has been rough. I am still in high school about to graduate in a year or so, and I still see him every single day because we have classes together. And it has been so hard.
I have never had feelings for someone before like I had for him and after a year of trying to get over him I have to accept that I am always gonna have feelings for him and would want to give us a second chance.
Now, when we first broke up we did not talk at all or really solve anything. But after that school year ended and the new one started up we actually get along. And he added me back on Snapchat again a few months ago because right after we broke up I blocked him but later unblocked him.
I’d rather get along with him but at the same time it is so emotionally draining because I still have feelings for him. It is so hard. And he is dating other people and is dating someone now at the moment while I’m still upset about everything and it just sucks.
I feel like I have hope for something that is never gonna happen again and I do not know what to do.”
I’m really sorry to hear you’re going through that.
Here’s my breakup advice for how to handle your feelings for your ex, and what I would tell a coaching client who wanted to get back together.
Getting your ex back, keeping them around long term and dating successfully as a whole really comes down to your mindset and beliefs about yourself.
If you think your relationship with your ex boyfriend is over for good— it will be.
If you believe that the only way to handle a breakup is to white knuckle yourself through your sad, broken feelings for him and there is no one else you can easily be happy with— then getting over your ex will take a long time and you’ll feel crappy a lot since that’s exactly what you expect.
If you believe you’re irresistible, can have him or anyone else you want, you’ll find men tripping over themselves to date you. Your ex will perk up, kick himself for letting you go and start thinking about you.
Since you said you’re still in high school, now is the time to release all negative beliefs about relationships that you’ve picked up so far and start working on your own inner certainty about your attractiveness.
That’s the real lesson to get from a breakup— the inner knowledge that whatever happens in your love life, you’re still irresistible and it will be okay.
I’m not minimizing your very real connection with your ex boyfriend— sometimes we meet someone and know they are irreplaceable. And, plenty of people marry their high school sweethearts and live blissful lives together. Not a thing in the world wrong with that.
Also, plenty of people experience their first, amazing love and go on to have lots of others.
Contrast teaches us things we couldn’t learn without experience.
Again, the most valuable thing you can take from this breakup is to build and reinforce your belief in your own lovability— no matter what.
On a basic level, what you really want is to be happy. So your task right now is to do that and let EVERYONE notice.
People tell themselves that they will be happy when their ex comes back— but that never works.
Make yourself happy first and then your ex won’t feel the needy pressure of making you happy which automatically drives them away.
Now is the time to be totally self-centered and focus on your own goals, hobbies, future opportunities. Work on yourself and polish yourself up.
Get out and start dating other people. Keep your schedule filled and your social calendar booked.
Seeing your ex boyfriend every day at school is a great opportunity to genuinely show how happy you are now. Let him notice how much fun you’re having all on your own.
That is way more attractive than still being his boring, bitter ex girlfriend who he has to “work out problems with” or “negotiate about whatever happened” whose memory carries a lot of baggage and drama.
Instead of doing anything with your feelings for your ex or even telling yourself you “should” get over him, just let it be and change your focus.
Instead of “getting over him” (doesn’t sound fun, right?)— go have fun.
Instead of “accepting you’ll always have feelings for him” (it was depressing even typing that), just allow your amazing life to GET IN THE WAY of all this mourning.
There really are no “shoulds” so don’t fall for the mental trap of not “getting over it” fast enough or thinking “you should be over it” and then beating yourself up.
Also, stop all “blocking/unblocking” social media drama.
Just keep connected with him online and stay that way if you still want him.
If you have already disconnected from him on social media— stay disconnected. Now is not the time for new friend requests, follows or stalking.
With Instagram, you can open up your account so he can randomly cyber stalk you without actually following which is a wise choice if you’re not already connected there right now.
If you are 100% certain that you simply want to move on, go ahead and delete, unfollow and block your ex on social media because spontaneously seeing them really makes it harder to get over the breakup. In 15 years when you both have had many new loves, you can say “hi” or be casual friends with your ex.
Research suggests that exes who stay connected on social media take longer and have a much harder time moving on— so use that to your advantage in either case.
For now, to keep yourself sane and emotionally in control, don’t look at your exe’s profile, posts or interact with his social media content at all.
Don’t let any friends or family who happen to be connected with your ex talk about him or give you updates on his posts like they are late breaking news stories. If they bring your ex boyfriend up, shrug like you don’t even care. Don’t get drawn into any conversations about your ex about whatever he’s doing with whomever he’s doing it with.
This can be hard, but exercising the self discipline will really help you. Plus, you’ll stop reinforcing those neural connections in your brain that light up like a slot machine in Vegas whenever your ex boyfriend’s name gets brought up.
Resist the urge to say or do anything bitter or petty and directed at him since he’ll know you’re putting on a show for him and it will make you look awful.
Don’t make your social media a “PAY ATTENTION TO ME, EX BOYFRIEND” billboard, but at the same time, as you’re out having a lot of fun with other people, post about it.
Otherwise, do your best to stop being emotionally reactive to ANYTHING you find out your ex is doing. If he runs off to an island and gets married to his rebound, your new attitude is, “eh… no big deal.”
Sometimes when it comes to social media (and otherwise), people want to do stuff to get their exe’s attention— even if it’s negative attention— to punish their exes or make them jealous in a misguided attempt to make them prove they still care.
There is something twisted about “breakup brain” where people reason to themselves that if “my ex just knew how much I STILL CARE” it might make them want to repair the relationship.
Unfortunately, this is not reality.
Instead, like I mentioned before what is more likely to make your ex come sniffing around you is the perception that you are genuinely happy, largely indifferent toward whatever he’s doing but still able to have an amazing emotional connection.
Keep doing like you have been and get along with your ex any time you see him or when he gets in touch with you.
Being kind and easygoing with people you’re frustrated with or feel rejected by is a great life skill that you can practice on him. You goal here should be to make yourself so genuinely happy that it’s impossible to hold his behavior during the breakup against him.
Also, TONS of people and even lots of therapists recommend that to “solve problems” with others, that we have lots of deep talks about feelings and try to “get to the bottom of it.”
This rarely works because people unintentionally attack each other’s pride and keep their negative feelings going.
Lots of things that happen during breakups and problems in relationships DO NOT need deep talks and a verbal post mortem.
A lot of the time when there is problem to get over, simply forgiving your ex in your own mind, doing the ho’oponopono forgiveness exercise for yourself and letting go emotionally (you can still love them and want another chance) is MUCH better and really improves your chances of getting back together and making the relationship work long term.
You will hurt your chances of getting back together in the future if you get into a big verbal “you hurt me” rehash session so don’t worry that you haven’t “solved anything” like you mentioned.
Release yourself from the expectation or want for an apology or any kind of emotional release directly from your ex. You can get everything you actually need from within your own psyche if you’ll look there first. Peace comes from within you.
Nursing the feeling that you “need” anything from anyone keeps you stuck. It’s a mental trick our brains use in a mis-guided attempt to avoid danger that only serves to perpetuate emotional pain.
Back in ancient days when we had to remember not to pet tigers because we might get our hand bitten off, it could have helped to attribute painful experiences with preventing future danger.
However, in modern times when it comes to emotional pain, it’s largely useless to rehash hurtful situations and mentally mark your ex as “dangerous” because it just wrecks your physiology and will eventually make you sick.
Don’t fall for it. Forgiveness is the way.
From now on, you don’t need an apology, closure, a new car, a rubber band, a kitten or anything else from your ex boyfriend. It will feel better to release this pain even though your brain might lie to you and tell you that being angry with your ex is somehow “holding them responsible” for what they did.
No. All you’re doing by staying stuck is puking up whatever you took offense about during the relationship and continuing to swallow it on your own time.
At that point, your ex isn’t even around to say or do anything hurtful and you’re still hurting. It’s lunacy– and it’s how people stay stuck.
Allow yourself the mental space to neither catastrophize about your future with your ex boyfriend nor stay stuck in the past. Move forward with your amazing life and get yourself happiness for happiness’s sake. Then, you’ll have your choice of mates no matter what.
Remember, happy people are irresistible.
I hope that helps you handle your feelings about your ex boyfriend.