Are You Still in Love With Your Ex? Watch Out For These Tell-Tale Signs

Intractable feelings of love lingering on? An expert tells you if you're stuck in a post-breakup limbo.

While it's tough to fall in love, it's probably tougher to fall out of it. The aftermath of the dissolution of a relationship can be hard to deal with as there are plenty of novel thoughts and emotions accompanied by the feeling of love, which now has no place to go.

In such a scenario, a head-and-heart conflict often results—while your head pushes you to move on, your heart can't seem to let go! Are you seeking closure? Are there unfinished feelings? If you're still struggling with your emotions, chances are you're not over him/her as yet.

To help you figure it out, Niyati Kapadia, a psychologist and REBT therapist who consults on Practo, reveals the signs that indicate that you may still be in love. 

Stalking Your Ex on Social Media

Checking your ex’s profile on social media, keeping tabs on their activities, and/or checking their friend’s updates to catch glimpses of them is a strong sign! While it may seem harmless, research suggests that lurking on an ex’s profile slows down growth and adjustment and gives rise to feelings of distress over a breakup, an increase in negative feelings and sexual desire, and a longing for your ex. 

Painting Your Ex in a Positive Light

Inhibiting criticism of your ex and their behaviour, painting them in a positive light, and feeling guilty when negative thoughts about them stem up suggests that you're trying to justify their wrongdoings and take the sole blame onto yourself. An inability to express painful emotions of hurt or anger towards them might hinder the process of healing. Research suggests that inhibiting such thoughts and emotions can have ill effects on the mind and body while voicing them can remarkably improve mental and physical health, as well as offer a different perspective to look at the situation.

Comparing Your Current/Potential Partner with Your Ex

Placing your ex on a pedestal, idealising them, and ignoring their vices is known as selective abstraction. It is a cognitive bias in which only a partial amount of information is used to prove a point, while the bigger picture is ignored. Comparing your potential or current partner with your ex and constantly being dissatisfied is a powerful sign. Research suggests that those who evaluate their ex-partner negatively showed better post-breakup adjustment and a less depressive effect.

Trying to Reach Out to Your Ex

Finding the opportunities to talk to your ex, flirting with the idea of asking them out, trying to visit places where there is a real possibility of bumping into them or wanting to spend time around them is a pretty good indicator that you may still harbour feelings for them. Remember, chasing the past does not serve any good. At the end of the day, there was a reason why the relationship didn't work out. 

Constantly Thinking About and/or Longing to Be with Your Ex

If you're spending much of your time thinking about them and daydreaming about the possibility of getting back together, consider it a red flag. Frequently ruminating and having an uncontrollable urge to share the good or bad happenings in your life with them may indicate that they enjoy a prime position in your mind. During a relationship, there is emotional support shared between the partners, and, post a breakup, it may be difficult to find a new source of emotional support.

Feeling Lonely and Helpless About the Future

The feeling of loneliness often stems from a lack of belongingness and companionship. Jumping to the conclusion that it won’t be possible to love anyone else—or with so much intensity—is probably false. Such a feeling of emotional entrapment and hopelessness may cause you to remain in a rut, lusting for your ex who is no longer in your life.

Feeling Anxious and Envious of Another Potential Partner

Ruminating and being paranoid about the possibility of your ex finding a new partner may also be a tell-tale sign. This may further lead to the desire to keep close tabs on their activities and social circle. And, in case your ex starts seeing someone new, the feeling of envy may prop up. The inability to imagine them being happy with anybody else suggests that you may not be entirely over them.  

Focusing on Relationships Rather Than Personal Growth

If you spend most of your time thinking about your ex and replaying the relationship and the breakup, rather than using the time to heal and reorient, there may be a problem. A relationship usually begins when two people start experiencing shared feelings for one another. As the relationship grows, partners start forming a shared identity which continues evolving. But when there is a breakup, there is a loss of this shared identity which creates a void. This void can be filled by finding activities that will help reorient oneself to adapt to the new situation, such as engaging in hobbies and self-care activities. 

Sifting Through Text Messages and Pictures, with an Unwillingness to Discard Memories

The mind often tends to replay what the heart can’t delete. Hesitating to get rid of texts, photos, and objects associated with the ex, because doing so feels like letting go of the lingering bits and pieces of their existence, is a major red flag. Holding on to these constant reminders hampers the healing and moving on process, causing you to be emotionally stuck.

Each person’s healing journey is unique. While conscious attitudes towards your ex-partner are likely to change quickly post the breakup, unconscious attitudes are likely to stay positive and may require longer to change. Allowing oneself to feel all the emotions and heal, strategically distancing oneself from the ex, paying more attention towards self-growth, and establishing a new support system might help.

Although, if grief takes the form of prolonged, complicated grief or clinical depression, professional intervention is required. Here are a few warning signs that may indicate it’s time to seek help: 

1. Significant changes in sleep and appetite, and severe weight gain or loss

2. Prolonged feelings of sadness

3. Experiencing anxiety or panic attacks

4. Having thoughts to harm self and/or end life

5. Indulging in alcohol or substance abuse

6. Having obsessive thoughts about the ex and the relationship for a long duration

7. Losing interest in activities that one used to enjoy

8. Having intense yearnings related to the lost relationship

Mental health professionals might use multiple modalities during the treatment to help overcome the complicated grief and aid the goal of moving on.

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