What should I do if I’m still attached to my ex?

By Dr. Dorothea Flogger
Estimated reading time: 15 minutes
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Letting go can sometimes be difficult

Sometimes you just get stuck in the past. You may be familiar with this: a relationship that is over, but is still present in your heart and mind. It can be difficult to let go and find a fresh start, especially if you are still attached to your ex.


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Processing the break-up and letting go of the ex-relationship can be an emotional challenge. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with this and look for ways to cope with these feelings.

In this article, you will learn various approaches and tips to help you let go of your ex and cope with the break-up. From emotional attachment to your ex to reorganizing your life after the breakup – you’ll find helpful information and support here.

Understanding the emotional attachment to your ex

What should I do if I'm still attached to my ex?
What should I do if I’m still attached to my ex?

It’s completely normal that you still have an emotional attachment to your ex-relationship. This bond may weaken over time, but it is important to understand and acknowledge it.

Why feelings don’t just disappear

Feelings don’t just disappear overnight. It takes time to process and let go of a connection. You are invested in a relationship and have probably experienced many wonderful moments together. So it’s understandable that you still have feelings for your ex.

The psychological processes of holding on

There are psychological processes that can cause you to hold on to your ex. Denial and transfiguration, for example, are two such processes. You might be tempted to ignore the negative aspects of your relationship and only remember the positive ones. This can prevent you from letting go of the relationship completely.

Shared memories and their impact

Shared memories can have a strong emotional impact. It can be images, places or certain activities that remind you of your ex and evoke feelings of longing. This makes it more difficult to let go, as these memories remind you of what has been lost.

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Reasons for clinging to the ex-relationship

There are various reasons why people are still attached to their ex-relationship. These reasons can be individual and vary from person to person. Some people find it difficult to let go of unresolved conflicts from the past. Negative emotions such as anger, sadness or disappointment can lead to you holding on to the ex-relationship.

Fear of change is another reason why people get stuck in the past. The idea of being alone and having to cope without a trusted partner can be frightening. Sometimes it’s more comfortable to stay in your comfort zone instead of getting involved in new relationships or experiences. This fear of the new can lead to you holding on to the ex-relationship.

It is important to recognize and understand these reasons in order to better cope with holding on to the ex-relationship. Through self-reflection and questioning these reasons, you can gain new perspectives and move away from the past step by step. It is a process that requires time, patience and self-care.

In the next section, we will look at the best way to deal with contact from your ex-partner.

When the ex makes contact again

Sometimes the ex-partner unexpectedly makes contact again. In such situations, it is important to understand the motives behind this contact and to respond appropriately. Dealing with unexpected news requires you to clarify your own feelings and boundaries.

Understanding motives: Why is the ex contacting you?

There are various reasons why the ex-partner might resume contact after the separation. She/he may still have feelings and want to resume the relationship. Or there is a need for reconciliation or clarification of unresolved issues.

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In some cases, however, the ex contacts you for other reasons such as loneliness or the desire for sexual intimacy. It is important to understand the motives behind the contact in order to be able to respond appropriately.

Dealing with unexpected news

Dealing with unexpected news from your ex-partner can be challenging. It is important to clarify your own feelings in such situations and to be aware of what kind of contact you want or don’t want. It can be helpful to set boundaries and communicate honestly what you expect from the communication. If the messages trigger unpleasant feelings or evoke negative memories, it is advisable to protect yourself and end the contact if necessary.

Chance encounters versus targeted contact

It is important to differentiate between chance encounters with the ex-partner and targeted contact. Chance encounters can be surprising, but there is often the option of avoiding each other or keeping the encounter brief and neutral.

What should I do if I'm still attached to my ex?
What should I do if I’m still attached to my ex?

If, on the other hand, the ex makes targeted contact, you should be aware that this may have a deeper intention or a specific goal. In such cases, it is important to reflect on your own situation and decide whether you want to respond to the contact or not.

A fresh start after separation: options for reorientation

After a separation, it is important to reorient yourself and find a fresh start. It is the beginning of a new phase in your life, in which you have the opportunity to shape your life according to your own ideas. It may seem challenging at first, but there are various ways to make this new start.

  1. Discover new hobbies and interests
    A separation offers the chance to try out new activities and discover your own interests. You could start learning a new instrument, take a painting course or join a sports group. By engaging in new hobbies and interests, you open yourself up to unknown possibilities and create space for personal growth.
  2. Consider career changes
    You may want to make career changes after a separation. This could mean pursuing a new career, continuing your education or starting your own business. These changes can not only open up new career prospects for you, but also boost your self-confidence and give you a sense of a fresh start.
  3. Plan a trip
    A trip can help you to clear your head and recover from the stress of the separation. You could discover a new city, travel to an exotic location or go on a hike in the countryside. A trip allows you to gather new impressions, get to know yourself better and gain new perspectives.

Whichever path you choose, it is important to give yourself time and go through the process of reorientation at your own pace. Allow yourself to explore your own interests and needs and see change as an opportunity for personal growth.

Clinging to my ex: steps to letting go

Letting go of an ex-relationship can be a challenging task. It requires concrete steps and strategies to break free from emotional ties and find a new beginning. One of these steps is the contact ban.

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Introduction to the contact ban and gaining distance

The contact ban involves consciously creating distance and avoiding any contact with the ex-partner. This can be difficult, especially if there are still feelings involved or if you have habits such as daily text messages or regular meetings. Nevertheless, it is a crucial measure to give yourself the necessary time and opportunity to process.

By distancing yourself from your ex, you give yourself space to focus on yourself and explore your own needs and goals. This allows you to grow independently of the relationship and develop as an independent person.

It can also be helpful to take other support measures during the contact ban. This includes, for example, informing those around you and asking for understanding so that no information or messages from the ex-relationship are passed on to you. You should also consciously focus on positive things, such as new hobbies, friendships or personal growth.

What should I do if I'm still attached to my ex?
What should I do if I’m still attached to my ex?

Letting go as a process: need patience and time

Letting go is a process that requires patience and time. It is important to accept that letting go of an ex-relationship does not happen overnight. Each person goes through this process at their own pace.

Various feelings can arise during the letting go process, such as sadness, anger, relief or uncertainty. It is important to give these feelings space and to feel them consciously instead of suppressing or repressing them.

The process of letting go can also be supported by self-reflection and active self-care. This includes, for example, regular journaling, writing down your own feelings and thoughts, or seeking professional help such as therapy or coaching.

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The picture illustrates the liberation from the emotional attachment to the ex-relationship and symbolizes the step of letting go in order to embark on a new path.

Promoting emotional healing after separation

After a separation, it is important to promote the process of emotional healing. There are various ways and methods to support this healing and restore inner well-being.

Exploring ways to heal emotionally

There are different approaches that can be individually adapted to promote emotional healing after a separation. Here are some ways that can help:

  • Therapy: The support of a professional therapist can be an important step in understanding and processing your own emotions. A therapist can help you work through stressful experiences and gain new perspectives.
  • Self-care: Self-care is essential for emotional healing. Take time for yourself to relax and recharge your batteries. This can mean actively pursuing your interests and hobbies, meeting up with friends or indulging in relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
  • Exchange with others: Talking to people who have had similar experiences can be supportive and comforting. Look for support in your personal environment, be it from friends, family or self-help groups. Open dialog and sharing experiences can help to gain new perspectives.

Seek support from your personal environment

Support from the personal environment can be a valuable resource to promote emotional healing after a separation. Family and friends can be an important source of support, accompanying you through difficult phases and helping you to rebuild confidence and positive energy. Accept the help that is offered to you and be open to new contacts and encounters that can help you to strengthen yourself emotionally.

Are friendships with the ex-partner needed?

After a break-up, many people ask themselves whether it is necessary to maintain friendships with their ex-partner. The answer to this question depends on various factors. It is important to remember that not every ex-relationship is suitable for a friendship. But in some cases it can work.

In order to decide whether a friendship with the ex-partner is possible, individual circumstances should be taken into account. This means looking at the nature of the separation and the individual feelings. If the separation was amicable and without resentment, it may be easier to build a friendship. However, if painful emotions or conflicts are present, a friendship can be difficult.

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It is important to be honest with yourself and respect your own feelings. If you feel that a friendship with your ex-partner would lead to further emotional entanglement or discomfort, it may be best to minimize or temporarily suspend contact.

However, a friendship with your ex-partner can also be an advantage. If you are able to support each other and build a harmonious relationship on a friendly basis, this can help you to cope better with the end of the relationship. It offers the opportunity to preserve shared memories and build a new kind of connection.

Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide whether a friendship with the ex-partner is desirable and possible. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It is important to listen to your own needs and make a decision that supports you in your healing process.

Processing feelings of guilt and shame

Feelings of guilt and shame can arise after a separation. It is completely normal to experience these feelings, as a break-up is often associated with personal disappointment and a sense of failure. However, there are strategies to learn how to deal with feelings of guilt and shame and to work through them.

Dealing with feelings of guilt after separation

Feelings of guilt can arise after a separation if you blame yourself for mistakes or omissions. It is important to realize that a breakup is always the result of both partners’ contributions and that you are not solely responsible for the failure of the relationship. Here are some steps to deal with feelings of guilt:

  1. Accept that break-ups are often unavoidable and that you don’t have to bear all the responsibility.
  2. Forgive yourself and learn from the mistakes you have made.
  3. Practice self-care and look after your own well-being.
  4. Talk to trusted people about your feelings and get support.
  5. Pay attention to positive thoughts and focus on the future.

Why feelings of shame are natural and how to overcome them

Feelings of shame after a break-up can arise due to wounded pride, loss of self-esteem or fear of judgment from others. It is important to understand that feelings of shame are natural reactions and can be overcome. Here are some ways to overcome feelings of shame:

  • Accept and acknowledge your feelings of shame without judging yourself.
  • Practice self-compassion and be patient with yourself.
  • Work on your self-esteem and strengthen your self-confidence.
  • Avoid comparing yourself with others and concentrate on your own progress.
  • Seek support and exchange with people who have had similar experiences.

Overcoming heartbreak and the pain of separation

Heartache and the pain of separation are normal reactions to a break-up. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to understand the pain of separation and deal with it in a healing way.

There are various ways to deal with the pain of separation. Here are some recommendations to help you recover and get back on your feet:

  1. Take time to grieve: It is important to give yourself time to process your feelings. Allow yourself to grieve and feel your emotions. This is an important step in overcoming the pain of separation.
  2. Focus on self-care: During this difficult time, it is especially important to take good care of yourself. Take care of your physical and mental health, exercise, eat healthily and treat yourself to regular relaxation.
  3. Seek emotional support: Talk to trusted friends or family members about your feelings. Talking to others can be very helpful and help you to cope better with the pain of separation.
  4. View heartbreak as an opportunity for personal growth: Although it may feel painful, heartbreak can also be viewed as an opportunity for personal growth. Use this time to get to know yourself better, rethink your goals and values and gain new perspectives.

Remember that everyone is different and there is no “right” way to deal with the pain of separation. Everyone needs their own time to heal. If you feel that the pain of separation is too overwhelming or you have difficulty dealing with it on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

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The process of healing can take time, but with patience, self-care and support, you can overcome heartbreak and emerge stronger from the breakup.

Shaping life after separation

After a separation, it is important to reorganize your life and set new goals. This phase of change offers an opportunity for personal growth and the development of an individual identity. Consciously shaping a fulfilling life after the separation can make it easier to say goodbye to the ex-relationship.

It is quite normal to experience a period of uncertainty and grief after a separation. But there are ways to use this phase as an opportunity for personal growth. By taking a conscious look at yourself and setting new goals, you can gradually find your way back to a fulfilled and happy life.

The first step is to give yourself time to process the separation. It is important not to put yourself under pressure, but to be patient and give your own feelings space. This may also mean seeking professional help to support the process of coming to terms with the separation.

Another important aspect is the development of new goals and interests. If you consciously set yourself new goals, you can focus on your own needs and dreams and open a new chapter in your life. This can mean trying out new hobbies, making career changes or even going on a trip to gain new experiences and get to know yourself better.

It is also helpful to seek support from your personal environment. Family, friends and other close people can play an important role by providing emotional support and helping to set and achieve goals. Exchanging ideas with like-minded people, for example in self-help groups or online communities, can be another valuable source of support.

Support and help with the separation process

Seek professional help

If you are having difficulty coming to terms with your separation, it can be helpful to seek professional help. Therapists and coaches specialize in supporting people in such situations and helping them to cope with their feelings.

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They provide a safe space to talk, where you can explore your emotions and develop strategies to cope with the separation. A qualified expert can help you let go of the past, rebuild your self-esteem and develop a positive outlook for the future.

The role of self-help groups and online communities

In addition to professional help, self-help groups and online communities also play an important role in dealing with separation. Sharing with other people who have had similar experiences can be comforting and inspiring. Self-help groups give you the opportunity to meet like-minded people, talk openly about your feelings and learn from each other.

Online communities offer you the opportunity to exchange ideas anonymously and receive advice from people who have experienced similar challenges. These communities can help you feel understood and supported as you work through your breakup.

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