Why It's So Emotionally Hard To Let An Ex-Partner Go

Even if you break up with someone, it doesn't necessarily mean you stop loving them. Unless the relationship came to an end because the love died, trying to let go of an ex-partner can be really difficult — and one of the hardest things you may ever have to do. The reason for this is simple: you had a deep connection with them, and now, as you both move in different directions, that connection is gone (via MindBodyGreen). There's also that underlying fear, even if you're not aware of it just yet, that you'll never have such a connection with anyone else again.


"The unmet hopes we had for what could maybe have developed with that person," licensed therapist and author Shannon Thomas tells Insider. "All the plans we had together that never went anywhere. Our daydreams are fueled by the lingering thoughts of 'if only ...' This takes place even if we are not consciously aware, but the thoughts creep into our subconscious level."

But, and this can't be stressed enough, no matter how deeply the connection and love ran or how much you invested in that person and the relationship you had together, you broke up for a reason. So now it's time to look inward and figure out why it's so emotionally hard to let your ex go. You're likely to find it's not only about lost love.


You didn't grieve properly

Losing someone requires going through the grieving process. If you tuck away your emotions instead of feeling all the feelings that come with the end of a relationship, it's more difficult to let go of an ex. You have to allow yourself to really steep in all those feelings — the good, the bad, the complicated, and the devastating — if you're going to get to the other side (via Medical News Today).


"Grief is a natural response to loss, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve," grief psychologist Bêne Otto tells Glamour. "Give yourself permission to face your loss, feel the pain, and make space for grief ... Be patient with yourself, take your time, and allow your grief to unfold and be expressed naturally."

Granted, you may not want to do this; you may prefer to push those feelings deep inside or tuck them in a box that you shove under the bed, but they'll eventually pop up. So it's better to deal with them now rather than later.

You don't really understand what it means to let go

If you're still friends with your ex, or even if you just follow each other on social media, then you haven't let go.

"The frequent reminders of the person, the tracking of their lives, keeps us from mourning the loss of the relationship," clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., tells Elite Daily. "The result is being stuck in between being with them and moving forward ... The result is an influence on emotions that is not fully grounded in reality. Time, distance and moving forward in new relationships can serve as a buffer, but it is very difficult to maintain a good sense of balance if contact with an ex is only through following them on social media."


Truly letting go means cutting ties and focusing on yourself. It means reflecting, practicing mindfulness, and indulging in activities that enhance your life as it is now, without your ex in it (via Healthline). That's letting go; that's making the baby steps necessary toward moving forward.

Letting someone go doesn't mean you stop loving them. It just means you've realized it's the right thing to do for yourself, both emotionally and mentally. With every relationship we have, come many learned lessons — positive and negative. Try to see the whole picture now instead of just focusing on the good stuff. It will give the entire experience perspective and make you realize even deeper how and why things turned out the way they did.