“Love,” they say, “is a many splendored thing.”
But losing it can sting like the burn of ten thousand suns.
The pain can be so profound that some insist love is an unbreakable, everlasting bond.
The reality is leagues more complicated than a pithy sentiment.
Sure, tucking certain memories in your heart's special place is fine.
But if you want to live your best life moving forward, letting go should be your top priority.
And that's what we're unpacking today.
- Understanding the Complexity of Love
- Why Is It So Difficult To Stop Loving Someone?
- Can You Ever Stop Loving Someone? 11 Steps To Stop Loving Someone So You Can Move On
- Reasons Why People Stop Loving Someone
- How Long Does it Take To Get Over a Lost Love?
- Can Love Be Rekindled and Renewed?
Understanding the Complexity of Love
Witticist Oscar Wilde observed that “the mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death.” We'd agree — because love is an elusive emotion that comes in varied intensities and origins.
The ancient Greeks recognized eight types:
- Eros — Romantic Love
- Philia — Affectionate Love
- Storge — Familiar Love
- Ludus — Playful Love
- Pragma — Enduring Love
- Mania — Obsessive Love
- Agape — Universal Love
- Philautia — Self Love
Neurologists understand love as a ternary of lust, attraction, and attachment — with each stage linked to specific hormones.
- Lust: Testosterone and Estrogen
- Attraction: Dopamine, Norepinephrine, and Serotonin
- Attachment: Oxytocin and Vasopressin
But emotional experiences of endearment are more ethereal, variable, and mysterious. Sometimes, we fall for the “wrong people” and sacrifice our sanity in service of love.
Other times, our affections make perfect sense to us and everyone else.
Regardless, it's an emotion that fills us with a complex mix of dependency, pleasure, joy, fear, awe, and delight that dramatically impacts our feelings, subconscious, and perspectives.
Why Is It So Difficult To Stop Loving Someone?
The breakup is shattering. Your heart droops like a cavernous pit of despair — and the same goes for your gut.
The sadness is suffocating, and you're convinced you're destined for feline-filled spinsterhood — (which could be the sweet life?).
The pain drags on for what feels like “infinity plus infinity,” as you melt deeper into your couch.
What about love makes it so difficult to overcome? Several factors contribute to the phenomenon.
- Lingering Codependency: If you were together for a long time, you likely internalized your partnership routine. It takes time to undo and rewrite those neurological paths.
- Attachment Styles: Experiences, outlooks, and instincts shape our attachment styles. Secure or dismissive-avoidant individuals may move on quickly, while it could take more time for fearful-avoidant and anxious-preoccupied personalities.
- Grieving the Loss: Relationship endings are a type of death. You're closing a significant chapter of your life and stepping into the unknown. So grieving the loss makes sense — and it's healthy.
- Hormonal Realignment: Biochemically speaking, love is all about hormones, and it will take some time for your body to readjust, which can prolong the post-breakup ache.
Can You Ever Stop Loving Someone? 11 Steps To Stop Loving Someone So You Can Move On
In the immediate aftermath of a difficult breakup, loss, loneliness, and sadness grip hold, which makes you feel like a hunk of flaming trash with a migraine on top.
But the pain is just for now. You can and will get over it by following the 11 steps below.
1. Remember Why You Broke Up
People who jump back into unhealthy relationships have a skill for erasing memories of past wrongs.
Sometimes a desire to “think positively” is behind the erasure; other times, it's rooted in fear of loneliness and hanging onto the relationship no matter what feels safer than being alone.
But scrubbing your thoughts of the bad things is a terrible idea. It'll only lead you to turmoil. Processing difficult events and emotions can be hurtful and uncomfortable. But if you do the work, you'll emerge healthier and happier.
2. Keep Busy
If you're navigating a challenging time, one way to persevere and heal it is to keep busy. The more your brain keeps active contemplating other things, the less time it'll have to twist you in knots and ruminate on the past.
At some point, confronting the loss will be necessary. But also give yourself time to release and let go. It'll all be waiting for you when you're ready to siphon lessons from the experience.
3. Reconcile the Relationship's End
Saying you're over a relationship and actually being over it are entirely different things. Many people fake the funk early on and swear they're done.
But it usually takes longer than a bottle of wine and a vent session — especially if you were together for a long time.
Often, time is the only thing that heals the pain of lost love. But mindfulness exercises can also be helpful when it comes to moving onward and upward.
It's not just a bunch of new-age claptrap manufactured by a marketing department. Study after double-blind study has proven the efficacy of journaling, yoga, and meditation.
4. Allow Yourself To Grieve
A relationship's end is its death, which triggers challenging emotions. If things ended badly and it's not your fault, friends and family members may urge you to move on.
They mean well, but you must give yourself time to grieve.
5. Find New Places
We get it. You want to patronize the places you frequented together: your favorite restaurant, the park perfect for jogging, and the dog park with the good fountains.
You may even feel a sense of ownership and firmly believe asking you to alter your preferences is unfair.
In some respects, you're right. It is unfair.
But if you're serious about getting over the relationship, find new places. Who knows, you may discover you've been settling for second-best the whole time!
6. Connect With Friends and Family
If you played your cards right during the relationship, you didn't abandon your friends and family in favor of your now-ex. Keeping those bonds strong, whether coupled-up or single.
Lean on them for help and support. Let them know you're hurting and could use a boost. But they're not swamis and can't read your mind. They're not magic genies. Be clear about what you need; they'll likely ensure you get it.
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7. Focus on Personal Growth and Self-Care
Did the relationship drag you away from your interests and passions? Were you so busy becoming a “we” that you forgot about “me?”
First, if that sounds familiar, don't beat yourself up. It happens to the best of us.
Next, dive back into the things you love. Or try different hobbies and events; you may discover new enjoyments and goals.
Moreover, practice self-care — however that looks for you. Maybe it's taking a bubble bath once a week, getting a bi-monthly massage, abstaining from vices, or diligently sticking to a mindfulness routine. Do what works for you!
8. Cut Contact
It may feel excruciating — impossible even. But if you want to let go of the now-defunct relationship and find happiness again, cut ties.
Sometimes, going “no contact” isn't an option if you're raising children together. If this describes your scenario, consider using specially designed apps that allow you to communicate effectively without seeing one another.
Once you can shake them from your daily life, moving forward becomes a lot easier.
9. Learn the Lessons
One of the most satisfying aspects of a life well-lived is siphoning lessons from even the most challenging experiences.
Walking away with nuggets of wisdom feels like a significant win; correctly applying them to future situations can give you that proud, glowy feeling.
10. Be Open
Are you interested in finding a new love? Then you must remain open to its possibilities.
Doing the work, processing the pain, giving yourself time to grieve, and absorbing the lessons are all essential steps. But finding your next match will prove impossible if you refuse to trust in love again.
11. Forgive Them or Yourself
The last step to getting over a lost love is forgiveness. If your ex did something deplorable, you need to experience emotional release.
If you're the one whose actions caused the breakup, you must figure out how to stop beating yourself up and suffocating in shame.
Ultimately, forgiveness is the answer. Throughout history, many have argued it's the only effective balm for emotional pain, crippling regret, and debilitating anger.
It won't happen overnight, but once you can genuinely sit in grace and release the past, life will immediately feel better — and so will you.
Reasons Why People Stop Loving Someone
Love isn't a guarantee. At times, it's fickle and cruel. One moment it's flowers and butterflies; the next, it's passive-aggressive quips and resentment.
But why? What causes affection to deteriorate and erode?
- Circumstances Change: Are the practicalities of your life wildly different now than they were at the relationship's start? If your current situation is more challenging than the old one, your relationship may be collateral damage and wind up on the cutting room floor.
- Hurt and Betrayal: If infidelity or another significant betrayal broke your bond, feelings can either disappear quickly or linger for a long time, depending on your personality style.
- Incompatible Growth: It happens all the time; two people meet, fall deeply in love, and then proceed to grow in opposite directions and barely recognize one another a few years later, rendering the relationship DOA.
- Mental Health Conditions: Emotional imbalance brought on by unaddressed trauma, anxiety, and depression can crumble a relationship.
How Long Does it Take To Get Over a Lost Love?
Common wisdom says it takes half a relationship's length to heal from it. For example, month-long partnerships take two weeks to overcome; year-long ones may require six months of healing — or so the theory goes.
But studies show that most people who've been in committed partnerships for six months or longer require 10 to 11 weeks of mending time.
Ultimately, several factors will determine how long it takes to get over a lost love, including:
- Relationship length
- Level of commitment
- Quality of relationship
- Intensity of feelings
- Strength of bond
- Family and friend entanglements
- Reason for breakup
Can Love Be Rekindled and Renewed?
As discussed, love is complex, elusive, and unpredictable. So whether a given love still has legs depends on the exact circumstances.
While weighing your situation, consider the following aspects related to renewed affection.
Ask: Is It Worth It?
Not every relationship is worth saving, and you may cling for dear life on the brink of one's demise. But if you let go and give yourself time, a prudent and well-reasoned answer will present itself.
What signs denote it's time to break up?
- You're indifferent to your partner and the relationship
- You're constantly arguing and fighting
- Resentment has settled in and shows no signs of leaving
- One of you has fallen in love with someone else
- You're only hanging on for logistical purposes
Give it Space, Place, and Time
If you want to give a relationship another shot, go about it logically. For instance, it's probably not best to move in together and immediately start spending every second attached at the hip.
Give the reconciliation a healthy start but going slow.
Engage With Emotional Healing
Maybe the thought of woo-woo practices makes your eyes somersault, but emotional healing is rooted in scientific fact.
Humans who heal their hearts and minds move forward on healthier paths and have fewer issues finding new love.
So if you're navigating the dissolution of a long-term relationship, consider enlisting a therapist to help dissect your emotions, learn the tools of forgiveness, and forge a new path.
Consider Your Dwelling Quotient
Dwelling in the past is a psychological death sentence. Getting stuck in a state of arrested development can have a profoundly negative impact on your life.
It triggers mental health conditions and physical ailments and can cause problems in friendships and professional relationships.
So take stock of your mental space. Where are you living? If you answered “in the past,” start learning to walk away from what was so you can enjoy what is and what's to come.
Love is everything and nothing, uplifting and painful, easy and complicated — so trying to control and cohere every step of a relationship's journey is futile.
Sometimes, love is chaotic; other times, it's cooperative. Regardless, it usually hurts when it ends.
But moving on is possible. A bright and loving future lies ahead if you want it. Follow the above steps, and you'll be on a more hopeful path sooner than you may think.