You’ve broken up with your significant other — maybe it was a mutual decision, or maybe one of you decided to end it. Regardless of why the relationship ended, it’s likely you’ll find yourself still feeling a connection to them.
So, why does this happen? If you’re struggling with this confusing emotion, don’t worry — you’re not alone.
According to experts, here are several reasons why you still feel connected to your ex and how to deal with it:
You choose to feel those feelings
Because you are, and you always will be.
Your ex was an intricate and intimate part of your life.
- You’ve likely shared firsts.
- You’ve shared secrets.
- You’ve shared sights, sounds, and smells with them.
Re-experiencing any of those things will probably bring back memories, some good and some bad. It’s only natural to think of the people who were a part of, or the impetus for, an experience.
We don’t need to loath our exes. We can acknowledge that we did enjoy their company once upon a time, even though we don’t anymore. It’s actually a sign of healing and moving on when we don’t measure our happiness with our exes.
You still have feelings for them when you didn’t want to end the relationship
The times that a person still has feelings for their partner is when they didn’t want, or initiate, the end of the relationship. The person who wanted the breakup ‘stopped’ having feelings before that faithful moment of admitting it to their partner.
We all have our wounds, our “scars,” and “The scars remind us that the past is real” — Papa Roach.
Your feelings show that you cared once. If you didn’t feel that past connection, did you really have a relationship with that other person?
Relationships become a part of our very identity
Importantly, when it comes to feelings of loss, breakups have been ranked second only to death. After all, the end of a relationship is the loss of a partner.
However, the end of a relationship may also carry other losses. Personally, I have changed myself. For the relationship, I had made concessions and compromises to be accommodating to that other person.
We all must bend a little bit in order to reach out to others. That meant that after the breakup, I had lost a part of me as well. Relationships become a part of our very identity. We identify as a piece of some larger entity, the relationship.
I wasn’t the same person at the end of the relationship as I had been at the beginning. It’s as if parts of me were being torn from my body. If you bend too far, you will break.
Conventional ‘wis-dumb’ alert
The contradiction is “Out of sight, out of mind,” as opposed to “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” So, which is it? These are both common conventional wis-dumb phrases. They both can’t be correct, but they both can be incorrect.
The reason why these are untrue is due to their focus. For these phrases, it is simply the mere proximity of the other person that dictates the outcome.
Out of sight and absence are the same thing. Therefore, they cannot have opposite results. They miss the point entirely. It is a question of your feelings and desires, not your closeness to them.
If you want to forget someone, get them out of your sight
In other words, if you want to forget someone, get them out of your sight, simple enough. And, if you want someone in your heart, don’t be absent from them.
“Darling, if you want me to be closer to you, get closer to me” — Seals & Crofts.
We can’t directly extinguish our desires, but we can gradually redirect our intentions
We need to stop believing or pretending that we have no influence over our very own feelings. If you don’t exert control over your own feelings, then others will.
I’m not insinuating that we can turn our feelings on or off like the flip of a switch. We need to be aware of our feelings and act accordingly. We may not be able to immediately or directly extinguish our desires. We can, however, gradually redirect our intentions.
It’s a matter of consciously making choices. Decisions, by their very nature, take us outside of our comfort zone. If we are on the path of least resistance or taking the easy way out, then we aren’t choosing. We aren’t steering the car. We are merely passengers.
How to lessen the connection:
Here is a technique that I have used in the past to loosen the ties that bind.
We should not let grief dominate or monopolize our time and energy
Following a breakup that left me feeling disconnected from the relationship while not being connected to myself, I needed to find my way again. I needed to find myself again.
I was traveling as a whole rather than as a portion of myself. I knew I would never heal if I wallowed in my grief. It is like picking at a scab, reopening the wound, and exposing it to reinfection.
I had things that I needed to do, things that I wanted to do besides grieving. I created a routine of crying in my car in the parking lot at work in the mornings for no more than five minutes. I would then go about my normal workday, knowing I would mourn the next morning again.
Over time, my five-minute retreats were reduced to three-minute retreats, which finally ended altogether.
As it turned out, I wanted to do other things more than I wanted to feel sorry for myself. I just didn’t have the energy to keep fretting over something that was over and that would never be the same again.
I had better things to do with my time, like looking for what was emerging ahead rather than reimagining what lay in the past.
What I learned is that we should not let grief dominate or monopolize our time and energy.
- Know that you can come back to it whenever you choose to.
- You make the choice of how you grieve and for how long.
- Take control of your grief.
- Schedule it on your own terms.
- Redirect your focus.
- Our eyes are in front of our heads to see where we are going.
- You can choose what it is that you spend your attention on.
- Your attention is valuable so use it wisely.
On a side note, the end of that relationship was for the best. I knew it even then.
Why do I still feel connected to my ex?
Because you choose to feel those feelings. Again, there will always be a connection. How strong those feelings are, is entirely up to you. They are, after all, your feelings.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Master of Education | Author, “Trauma Intelligence: The Art of Helping in a World Filled with Pain“
You haven’t fully processed and dealt with the grief of losing the relationship
It is actually more common than one might think to still feel a residual or unsettling attachment to your ex.
This can be for myriad reasons, some of which include:
- Fear of being alone.
- Focusing on that person who is no longer there as sort of a placeholder for your emptiness.
- Idealizing someone who was never that great to begin with.
- Anxiety around one’s decision to be out of the relationship and questioning choices.
- The heartbreak that you were left and didn’t have a say in the relationship ending.
- Not having fully processed and dealt with the grief of losing the relationship, and
- Even having an avoidant attachment style where you tend to hyper-focus on what is no longer there and want to run when things are present and available.
- This last one can feel very confusing when you miss the ex that you couldn’t wait to get away from at one point.
When we have a precarious relationship to connection from attachment trauma as a child, we can evidence behaviors of unhealthy attachment well into our later adult lives.
Romantic relationships bring up our deepest needs for connection, as well as our deepest wounds.
When we lose a primary relationship, it is normal to replace feelings of abandonment, isolation, and fear of loneliness with an unhealthy focus on someone who is no longer there (probably for a good reason). It is also personally limiting.
Things to look out for
Some things to be acutely aware of and look out for as you navigate these confusing and uncomfortable feelings about your ex are:
- Make sure you don’t jump into something immediately with a stranger to avoid the grief process of losing a primary person in your life.
- This will only serve to extend and exacerbate your grief down the road.
- Take time to assess what worked and didn’t in the relationship and, even more importantly, what behaviors in yourself you want to learn from and work on before you enter another romantic relationship.
- Personal accountability is crucial to growing beyond ex-focused attachment wounds.
- Ask the people closest to you what their observations were and are of you and your ex.
- Ask for their honest feedback about what they noticed in that relationship.
- Consider doing some therapy or personal work related to the deeper reasons you are still feeling focused on something that can no longer be an active part of your life.
Those years have passed, and we may have moved on to a healthy and happy relationship. Sometimes, we still feel connected to those who have been important to us in the past.
It can feel uncomfortable and jarring at times to feel that there is still a connection with an ex who is no longer in your life.
Why does this happen?
Your neural pathways are triggered by something, like a song or picture
Our brains are constantly changing and forming new neural pathways connected to our emotional and physical responses. The brain also holds all our memories.
All these functions are housed very close together in the brain. When we are triggered by something like a smell, song, or picture that reminds us of a memory of an ex, this neural pathway can be triggered, and we can feel like we are back in that moment in time.
The brain does not know that this is a past memory and triggers a feeling or emotion; that then tells the nervous system to elicit a physical response, such as a fluttering in the stomach or dry mouth.
The in-that-moment feelings make us feel connected with that past person.
Your ex was made part of the framework during brain development
Our exes are from our past, occurring at different developmental times in our lives. Our brains are constantly developing our social skills and frameworks for how we present ourselves in the world, especially before the age of 25, when the brain reaches full maturity.
When we have a close and intimate relationship with someone while creating those frameworks that are used for a lifetime, there can be a connection to that person on a deep unconscious level.
We associate how we are in the world with how we were with that person, making them somewhat a part of us as they are a part of that framework.
This can look like hearing their voice in the back of our head and thinking about them at seemingly random times. Much like how we may remember a parent’s guidance when learning how to ride a bike, we may remember this ex as we walk into a social event.
Your intense emotional response with hormonal spikes created even stronger memories
Our past relationships often coincide with milestones in our lives, which can imprint on our psyche.
For instance, when we were a teen and madly in love with our first boyfriend or girlfriend, the intense emotional response, coupled with the hormonal spikes, can create strong bonds and even stronger memories. Core memories, if you will.
This can also be said of an ex with a shared child, as the hormonal spikes when introducing a new child into the relationship create deep and lasting bonds and memories.
Sharing one of these deep emotional experiences with another person creates a bond that may feel connected forever. These memories tend to be detailed, bright, and easily remembered, sometimes bringing us back to that time in our life and those strong feelings we were feeling.
You recognize patterns and are comfortable in the familiar
Human beings are wired to recognize patterns and are comfortable in the familiar. A relationship tends to increase intimacy and familiarity with another human being due to proximity and time spent together.
When we no longer share our day-to-day life with them, it does not mean that we have forgotten those familiar patterns and interactions that have been such a part of our life for that period.
When we see a picture or even hear a story about a previous ex, we still remember those patterns and the familiarity we once had. We may not have seen them in years, but we still feel a connection because we know the small patterns and small intimacies created in the relationship.
This may always feel like a familiarity with that person, though they may have changed. This can be very present if you run into an ex out in the world and notice a gesture or tone that brings you back to the time you were together.
On the flip side, this can elicit strong feelings (sadness or anger) if you see an ex and they no longer engage in some of the familiar patterns or gestures you associate with.
You were vulnerable with them through sexual contact
In many relationships, some types of sexual contact can include:
- fondling, and
- sexual intercourse.
Being that vulnerable with another human being through touch and removing our protective layers of clothing is something that we do not do with every person we meet.
There’s a bond and familiarity with that human being due to the vulnerable nature of sexual contact.
On a primal level, when we are engaged in a sexual act, we tend to be at our most vulnerable. We are unaware of what is happening outside of the contact, disrobed, and in somewhat compromising positions.
To have felt that vulnerability with another person creates an intimacy that can last for a lifetime. And in some ways, we know that person better than many others do, inside and out.
Writer | Speaker | Clinical Psychologist
“Breaking up is… hard to do…” crooned Neil Sedaka in 1960, and all these years later, he’s still not wrong.
But to cut to the chase? Your ex is your ex for a reason.
- they dumped you,
- you dumped them, or
- maybe it was mutual (though is it ever really completely mutual?).
Does it even matter whose decision it was? Well, psychologically, yes, it can matter.
If you were dumped: You go over what could have been and how you might get them back
In addition to the pain of loss and the devastating (though untrue) feeling that you were simply not enough, you feel powerless. After all, you didn’t get a vote into whether this relationship continued or ended.
This can lead to an obsessive mental loop where you go over and over what could have been and how you might get them back. You might even be willing to throw away your self-respect and beg to be loved.
If you have dumped them: You missed the feelings you used to enjoy
Well, there were good reasons, and you should stay broken up, but it makes sense that you still feel connected. You WERE connected, perhaps for a long time.
So now, when you feel lonesome, you will miss that feeling. But don’t mistake missing the feelings you used to enjoy for missing the mate or the relationship. Because the relationship had many levels, “all the good feels” were only part of it.
If the breakup was mutual: You remembered you needed to part over a deal-breaker
The two of you wise and loving beings were correct, and it was time to let go.
- Maybe you have different life goals, or
- You needed to part over a deal-breaker like “He wants children, and I do not” or “She wants monogamy, and I do not,” or
- You have dysfunctional communication styles that you simply couldn’t seem to break.
So why do you still feel connected?
Because love doesn’t necessarily end when the relationship does. You shared:
- ups and downs, and
- a bed.
And all that matters. It should matter!
You loved, and hopefully, you were loved. Or at the very least, you liked and were liked, and it felt great sometimes, and now you miss it. Be kind to yourself. You are normal, and still feeling connected is okay.
But please beware of hanging onto a potential that was never realized. Again, you broke up for reasons, no matter how good or bad or under your control they were.
And for sure, do not convince yourself that your ex is your soulmate. There is no soulmate. The idea that there is a split soul wandering the planet, sad and unfulfilled until it meets its perfect match, is ridiculous at best and dangerous at worst.
You had your time. It’s over now.
Let me give you an exercise that can help you let go of the potentially unhealthy aspects of the connection — the ones that may keep you stuck in the past and unable to move on so that:
- You can find peace,
- You can think of your ex with fondness and also feel reconciled that the breakup was for the best, and
- In time, you can flourish in a new relationship.
Write a goodbye letter you will never send
Here’s how to do this deceptively simple yet surprisingly powerful Letting Go practice. (I’ve used this with many clients over the years and, yes, I’ve used it myself, too)
First, I suggest you write this letter by hand, not on the keyboard. The connection between pen, paper, and your body and mind differs from when you write on a device.
And, just to be explicitly clear, you must never share this letter with your ex. This is your letting go ritual, which is by you and for you. I want you to be able to write and write in an ‘unedited stream of consciousness’ way.
- Are you subtly writing to convince your ex how great you are so they will rush over with roses and take you back? Nope.
- Are you writing to make sure they know how much they hurt you and why you are right, and they are wrong? Nope.
That negates the power of letting go.
Second, your letter should contain three parts. Say goodbye to the bad things, to the good things, and to the things that will never be.
Below is the format for your goodbye letter and some examples.
Write freely. Take as much time as you want. Go back to the letter over and over. This is your chance to name the things you are letting go of. You don’t need to be reasonable. You don’t even need to be fair. Just write, purge, and get it out.
Yes, you’ll cry as you write. Good. Let it all go.
And when you’ve finished your letter, tuck it away for a few weeks. Then, when you are ready, take it for a walk. Read it out loud to yourself.
Then tear it into small pieces and let it dissolve in a puddle, or carefully burn it, or whatever feels right. Because you don’t need to reread it. It’s time to let go.
I want to say goodbye.
First, I’m saying goodbye to the bad things — to the endless fights about you working so much and me feeling neglected.
- To the fact that your mom was always rude to me, and I never felt welcome at your parents’ home.
- To the money you borrowed and never paid me back.
- To all the times I said I’d go to your ballgame but then when I showed up, you wanted to hang with the team instead of me.
- To your cat, who you let sleep on the bed even though you know I’m allergic.
- To the tears and the little digs we’d make at each other… and so on.
Second, I’m saying goodbye to the good things. Oh, how I’ll miss our ritual of bagels and peanut butter on Wednesday mornings.
I’m saying goodbye to how much I loved that little crease between your eyebrows when you laugh, to how much you loved my niece, and how much I loved watching the two of you play hopscotch and laugh your heads off.
I’m saying goodbye to how loved I felt when you asked me to move in with you, and how happy we were for those first two years, and so on.
Finally, I’m saying goodbye to the things we dreamed about and looked forward to but that will now never come to pass.
- Goodbye to the wedding on the beach in Bali we spoke about.
- Goodbye to all the wonderful BBQs in our yard with the other couples we connected with.
- Goodbye to the steam shower and the sexy times we loved to have there at the end of a long day.
- Goodbye to that little cabin on the lake we planned to build once we retired, so we could grow old together, watching the seasons change.
Certified Psychodynamic LMFT | Licensed Psychotherapist | Confidence and Assertiveness Specialist
You are still in a relationship with the ghost of them in your mind
It’s normal to feel connected to someone who was an integral part of your life. Simply because the relationship ended doesn’t mean our brain or heart is on board with the loss and change.
It takes time to get used to being in a relationship, and the cocktail of neurotransmitters we have when we fall in love helps speed that up.
It also takes time to get used to that relationship and the person not being in our life anymore. Unfortunately, the cocktail of neurotransmitters and emotions that happen when we fall out of love, by choice or by force, and move on from a relationship makes it feel like the pain won’t end.
Don’t make yourself wrong or bad for feeling connected to them
If you have recently ended a relationship, the key is not to make yourself wrong or bad for feeling connected to them. Guilt and shame are not emotions that motivate us to move on. They are emotions that motivate us to feel stuck and worthless — the opposite of what we need to feel to heal.
Normalize that you are a human being who had an experience being connected to someone and built parts of your life with them. It is sad, and it is a loss.
If you ended it some time ago, you could still feel connected because:
- You’re still checking up on them on social media,
- Asking friends about them, or
- Frequenting places you used to go in hopes of seeing them.
You are still in a relationship with the ghost of them in your mind, and that could be why you feel connected.
Matchmaker and CEO, Exclusive Matchmaking
When it comes to exes, love them, hate them, or always still your friends, there’s no shortage of emotions to go around and run the gamut.
I think exes are exes for a reason, but there is always a bond. That’s why people go back and forth so much with them and find it hard to shake.
Sometimes, they know you better than your Mom, and that’s quite a bond. Mom knows you as a baby, but your ex knows you as an adult and all your hopes, dreams, and shortcomings.
It’s deep. It’s no surprise there is such a connection.
Here are a few more reasons you are connected:
You haven’t moved on
It happens to all of us at some point, even if we are past them and want to move forward. We just get stuck there wallowing.
It’s worse yet if you are still carrying a torch for them. It’s downright awful.
I see this a lot as a matchmaker. I even say, “Singles are sometimes single because they are hung up on someone whether it’s real or in their head.”
You can move past on your own with time and distance, but I do address this when I match people because it takes a while to realize this is a heavy anchor holding you down and back from others.
They have seen you at your worst
When you allow someone in like that to see the good, the bad, and the ugly, you trust them. It definitely builds a tremendous sense of trust and a bond that’s hard to replace. You will come to feel that less and less or learn how to become friends and maintain a future connection, but this is part of the connection.
Be mindful so that you can learn to build other relationships.
You made an investment in this person
- You loved them,
- You cared for them,
- You shared your bad days and good days.
This created a connection, and it took a while to build.
There is no automatic replacement just because you are no longer together. You have to build that again with someone else, and that’s hard just to find someone who might pass muster for this position. It’s daunting to get back out there.
Toss in your connection with them, and it’s not a good feeling to move on emotionally with someone else. It feels super weird, and you are drawn back to the ex. It’s natural to become stuck.
You aren’t over them and haven’t moved past the relationship
Breakups are sad. They are hard to process.
You don’t get over it for a long period of time. That’s why there are all the drunk dials, going back and forth, and late-night calls with lots of tears.
If you need to move past this because it’s a problem, remember you need to block all social media and end the connection at least until you can move past these feelings at some indefinite future time.
You placed your ex on a pedestal
You wonder what they would say or do, and the truth is, they could care less and always did, which is why you broke up, to begin with.
Take off the rose-colored glasses and see it for what it’s worth. Knock them off that pedestal. The sooner you do, the happier you will be and the less connected and reminded of the bond you will have.
Licensed Psychotherapist, Rachel Kaplan Therapy, LLC
You missed the version of yourself when you were in the relationship
While it’s common to believe that feeling connected to an ex-partner is just about the person or the relationship itself, many other layers of loss and adjustment are part of this emotional experience.
One aspect of nostalgia that often occurs even months or years after a breakup is missing the version of yourself that you were when you were in this relationship.
Longing for past partners often becomes idealized and skewed in memory.
It also holds meaning about:
- The phase in your life when you were in that relationship, and
- The hopes and plans for the future that you held at that time.
A process of grief happens after a relationship ends, and understanding that it is not just about the loss of your ex can be really powerful in this process of acclimating to life without them.
After a breakup, there is a lot of adapting that needs to occur. There is the more obvious component of adjusting to the absence of this important person in your life, but many other changes come with the end of a relationship.
Some major shifts that happen in the wake of a breakup might include:
- Taking on different roles or responsibilities that your significant other fulfilled,
- Changes in other friendships or losses of relationships you had with your ex’s friends or family members,
- Readjusting to imagining your future without them, and
- Reexamining your goals and what you want in your life.
The lingering feelings of connection hold so much more meaning than just the person themselves.
Addressing and processing what these losses mean for you is vital in “moving on”
Addressing and processing what these losses mean for you as well as adjusting to a new reality, is vital in moving on and being more present and accepting of the current version of yourself and your life.
Even if you are in a new relationship, it is normal to think about and feel connected to your ex, perhaps even wondering what might have been different if things had worked out.
Similarly, to any major decision or life transition, all change inherently causes:
- feelings of loss, and
- residual thought and reflection.
You became accustomed to having them in your life in an intimate way
Whether you were together for years or just a few weeks, the process of becoming attached to someone in a romantic relationship is very emotional. You were building an intimate connection which can be very compelling.
When the relationship ends, you may still feel connected to your ex for quite some time. This is completely normal.
You became accustomed to having them in your life in an intimate way. Most people only have one significant other at a time, so you don’t have others to fall back on like you might when a friendship ends. We also tend to spend more time with a significant other than others in our lives, so that can be a factor.
You’re biologically wired with hormones that help foster these connections
It’s understandable to feel lonely and somewhat adrift, even devastated, when a romantic relationship ends.
As humans, we’re biologically wired to connect in this way, and there are hormones circulating in our bodies and brains that help foster these connections. Our culture also normalizes having a romantic partner, so it can feel isolating not to have one, even temporarily.
The connection lives on in your brain out of habit
In addition to these reasons, you probably experience reminders of your ex as you go about your day.
- You may wake up in the bed you once shared,
- You walk or drive past places you used to go with them, or
- You even find their belongings in your space.
Finally, you’re used to thinking about them often, so the connection lives on in your brain out of habit, sometimes long after they’re gone.
All of this is 100% normal. It does not mean that you’ll never be able to move on or that you were destined to be together. It’s just a set of factors that add up to still feeling connected to your ex for a while, despite the fact that they’re gone.
Get support if it interferes with your daily life and well-being
If you remember this and allow yourself time to grieve, the sense of connection will dissipate over time. It can be beneficial to get support, especially if you feel stuck after a few weeks and it interferes with your daily life and well-being.
Relationship Coach | Creator, The Millionaire Marriage Club
You’re in an intimate relationship with multiple strands of loving moments
Still feeling the connection with someone even after the relationship is over makes perfect sense. Being in an intimate relationship creates strand after multiple strands of loving moments that are not easy to leave behind.
Leave, grieve and set appropriate boundaries
Completing the leaving of that relationship is necessary in order to successfully be able to move on. You may need to grieve the loss of that relationship.
To do this:
- Dispose of every reminder of that relationship, such as social media postings, photos, letters, etc.
- Reassure yourself that it’s OK, even healthy, to continue to love someone and wish them the best although the relationship is no longer a healthy one to be committed.
Love… and release.
The only exception is if you had children together and still need to co-parent your shared children.
- Limit your communication to the business of sharing responsibility for your children, and
- Allow your children to keep their own mementos of their other parent. (photos, etc.)
- Do not continue to share intimate topics about your lives. Those topics are for a good friend, not a former partner.
Leave, grieve and set appropriate boundaries for what the relationship is currently, rather than nurturing feelings about a relationship that is no longer current.
Katie Ziskind, BS, MA, MFT, LMFT
Licensed Holistic Marriage and Family Therapist | Owner, Wisdom Within Counseling
You had many positive experiences together
It’s normal to feel connected to your ex, especially if you shared a long-term relationship or had many positive experiences together over many years.
It seems like you can never feel as good with anyone else
You may have done some really incredible things together, like traveling the world, and you felt yourself grow in the relationship. It seems like you can never feel as good with anyone else.
As humans, we remember people who helped us grow in certain ways and allowed us to feel certain things that we never had before.
Being with your ex is not the only way for you to feel good
Join a travel group for singles. Remember that being with your ex is not the only way for you to travel or feel good about things. There are many ways to take part in these fun life experiences without having to reconnect with someone that may not be good for you.
Speak with a mental health counselor or therapist to help sort through these emotions
Sometimes, if you didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, you may still have some lingering feelings. If you have an overconnection to your ex, it might be because you feel lonely and could benefit from speaking with a mental health counselor or therapist.
Talking with a therapist can help you sort through these emotions and see if reconnecting with your ex would actually be positive for your life.
After a negative breakup, about six to nine months later, the brain starts to forget the hurt and the negative experiences and just remember the positive.
If it has been about nine months since your breakup and you’re thinking about your ex, you might just be considering only the good times you’ve had and have forgotten about all the red flags that developed when you were together.
If you feel overly connected to your acts, your therapist can help you gain clarity.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, The Relationship Therapy Center
You relied on them for validation
This can be a tricky place to be. You want to get over your ex — you’re trying to get over them — yet there they are. Still occupying precious space in your heart and mind, sometimes years after the breakup.
There are many reasons why this is occurring. But you’re wrong if you think it’s because the two of you are soulmates, and you missed a chance with your one true love.
Related: 60+ Signs You’ve Found Your Soulmate
It’s normal to feel connected right after a breakup.
However, if you’re still thinking about them a year later, it could be because:
- You relied on them for validation. Or,
- You associate them with a feeling that’s currently missing in your life.
Your subconscious is focused on getting needs met in the easiest (i.e., not the healthiest) way possible.
You cling to the person who made you feel good or represented something that’s currently missing rather than:
- Focusing on yourself,
- Healing your wounds (some of which may have already existed before you entered the relationship), and
- Looking at what’s missing in your life.
Some people experience an addiction to a relationship
Some people also experience an addiction to a relationship. When it’s tumultuous or unpredictable, studies show that the pattern of withholding and doling out affection inconsistently mimics gambling, triggering intense feelings.
These feelings can be misunderstood, and classified as passion or love. When it’s gone, it’s easy to miss that excitement, even though it’s not a foundation for a solid, healthy, reciprocal relationship.
Relationship Expert and Editor-in-Chief, Quotement
Healing from a failed relationship is a slow process that takes time. But how long is too long? What if, even after months or years, you still feel connected to your ex? What could be the reason?
As I said, recovering from a breakup demands patience, it does not happen overnight. The longer the relationship, the longer it’ll take you to heal.
Like in any situation, when we’re faced with a loss, after a breakup, we grieve. We have to adjust to a new reality where the person no longer exists.
So, if six months later, your heart still skips a beat when you hear your ex’s name, it’s a normal thing. However, if it’s been much longer than six months since your breakup, it means there’s something about the relationship that you’re still not over.
You were not able to overcome certain effects the relationship had on you
“It’s not you; it’s me.”
Yes, you heard me right, something about the relationship. Not about your ex.
From my personal experience, the experience of the people around me, and years of learning and studying romantic relationships, I can safely say that we get over people much faster than we think.
What stays and haunts us even when we actually move on from the person are:
- unresolved issues from the past,
- unfulfilled expectations, and
- hurt ego.
If long time after splitting, you still feel connected to your ex, it is a sign that you were not able to overcome certain effects the relationship had on you.
I’ll list here the three most common reasons you are stuck on your ex:
Your ex triggered a childhood trauma
Even though we’re not always aware of it, one purpose of our romantic relationships is to heal our childhood traumas.
We choose partners that reflect our relationship with our partners or caregivers, subconsciously hoping that we’ll be able to fix what was unfunctional or traumatic during our childhood.
For instance, people who grew up with emotionally unavailable and distant parents will often look for partners that behave the same.
Through attempts to change their partner and make them emotionally available, they’re actually trying to fulfill the need of the inner child that was neglected in some way.
That’s why in some cases, we’re not able to get over partners, even when it’s clear they were not good for us. We cannot accept that we (again) failed to fix our parents. It has little to do with the partners themselves but more with our unresolved issues.
Your ego was hurt
This happens very often when the other side was the one to initiate the breakup, even when we were not happy in the relationship.
Regardless of how we actually feel about the partner and the whole relationship, for our ego, failed relationship is a sign that we were not good enough. And broken ego is harder to heal than a broken heart.
But even when it’s not the case, and we are the ones who left the relationship first, our ego still gets hurt.
- Maybe our partner didn’t try enough to make us stay?
- Perhaps they moved on quickly?
If our self-esteem is already fragile, this can leave serious traumas which can take a long time to heal.
You’re stuck on the image of your partner that you created in your mind, not the real person
Sometimes getting over a situantionship is much more complicated than getting over a long relationship. Even though it seems like a paradox, there’s a simple and logical explanation behind it.
Moving on from a relationship that lasted a short time and was not exclusive is more challenging because we’re left with the question, “What if?”
- What if they were actually perfect?
- What if we could have done something differently?
We didn’t have enough time to get to know our partner, and now we have plenty of space for imagination. In this case, we’re stuck on the image of our partner that we created in our minds, not the real person.
Before you assume that your ex is your twin flame or soulmate just because you still think about them, look within yourself and ask yourself:
“Do I really miss the person, or do I miss how they made me feel?”
Senior Editor, Tandem
As a woman who has partaken in my share of relationships, I know what it’s like to still feel connected to my ex. No matter how hard we try, sometimes it’s hard to let things go, including letting go of people when a relationship ends.
If you are in this situation, you might wonder, “Why do I still feel connected to my ex?”
Some reasons could include:
You share family
If you have divorced or otherwise separated from someone, but you share children with them (even the furry kind), this is a connection that the two of you share.
Every time you visit the child or ask about them, you are reminded of that connection. It’s not just your own children that cause connections.
Even nieces or nephews born during your relationship may have formed a strong bond with you, and you might not want to cut them out of your life even if your ex is no longer in it.
You share friends
Often, when we are in relationships, our partner’s friends become ours, and our friends become the friends of our partner. There are times when you break up with your significant other, and you also lose those friends.
But when you don’t lose those friends, they can be a constant reminder of your ex and something that makes you feel like you are still connected to them.
You have physical reminders
Maybe there are jewelry or gifts your partner bought you or furniture in your home. Tangible items can provide memories about your ex. They might even evoke strong feelings about a holiday or an event when you received the gift or purchased the item.
Keeping these items in plain sight will also provide a connection to your ex. Some items can be sold or donated, thus breaking that connection. It’s when items are necessary — like your furniture — where it’s not as easy to get rid of them.
Don’t keep yourself from moving on to a new meaningful relationship
Sometimes relationships are easy to step away from. You break up with someone and put them and your relationship behind you without looking back.
Other times, family, friends, and physical reminders keep us connected to our exes. It’s important to make sure that if you still feel connected to an ex, you are taking care of yourself and not keeping yourself from moving on to a new meaningful relationship.
Sofia Rivera Escalante
Relationship Expert and CEO, InspirebySofia
This is very common for people that just experienced a breakup.
You shared a lot of intimate moments together
Intimacy creates a strong emotional bond between two people. Even if you only shared a few intimate moments, they can still have a lasting effect on you.
You have unfinished business
If there are unresolved issues between you and your ex, it can be difficult to let go. You may still feel connected to your ex because you’re hoping to resolve those issues and have closure.
You have shared memories
Memories can be a powerful thing. They can make you laugh, cry, and feel all sorts of emotions. If you have shared memories with your ex, it’s no surprise you still feel connected to them.
You miss the companionship
When you’re in a relationship, your partner becomes your best friend. You confide in them, share your hopes and dreams, and rely on them for support.
When the relationship ends, you can suddenly feel very alone. It’s only natural to miss the companionship of your ex and still feel connected to them.
You’re not over the breakup
It’s common to still feel connected to your ex immediately after the breakup. This is because you’re not over the breakup yet. It takes time to heal from a breakup, and it’s perfectly normal to still feel connected to your ex during this time.
Legal Specialist, Adamson Ahdoot LLP
It’s really more about familiarity and chemistry
The love might be lost between you and your ex, but all those years of being connected due to your similarities aren’t erased after a breakup.
There are many cases of people renewing friendships with their exes once the hurt and bitterness following a breakup have worn off. That’s typically a good thing. You shouldn’t turn your back on those who know you best.
It doesn’t always have to be a problem if you’re in a new relationship and you still feel a connection with your ex. Often, that connection doesn’t come with any passion.
It’s really more about familiarity and chemistry — the same kind of chemistry one has with an age-old friend. They just get you and vice versa.
Think of your ex as someone you’ve been friends with for a long time. Maybe you needed a break from one another for a while, but in the end, things are still solid between you because of the long history you’ve had.
You’ll find that those who remain friends with an ex are in a happier state of mind.
Founding Partner, The Snapka Law Firm
You recall the happy moments in your relationship
It is common for people to come out of a breakup and recall the happy moments in their relationship.
Nostalgia plays a huge part in making people reconsider if they did the right thing. You end up focusing only on what made you feel you were in the right relationship.
What made you break things off often takes the backseat amidst these thoughts, and you feel the connection with your ex being intact.
Related: How to Deal With Nostalgia
Reminding yourself of the fun times you had together and feeling connected is completely common and normal. But acting on those feelings and bringing the person back into your life might not be a great decision.
Founder and CEO, Everyday Power
You shared a part of your soul, and you can do nothing to take it back
When you enter into a relationship with someone, you don’t only invest your time and emotions with that person, but you also share a part of your soul.
Sharing a part of your soul involves sharing your:
- deepest feelings and desires, and
- everything that comes in between.
That is why no matter how long ago you broke up with your ex, you still feel connected to them.
This sharing of souls will always connect people who are or once were in a relationship as you have shared moments that will forever be engraved in both of your souls.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can be treated as something to look back to with a smile when the time comes that all of your wounds have healed. And even when that time comes, you will still feel connected to your ex.
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