Thought Catalog
August 10, 2014

To Everyone Who Can’t Stop Thinking About Their Ex

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What is the issue?
Tim Roth
Tim Roth

You are not crazy. Moving on is tough work and it happens very gradually. Even when you’re mostly “over” the heartache and the denial of trying to make things work your person is still going to be the “default” setting until you date someone new. This can mean months and even years are spent thinking about them as the person you end up with. It’s not weird, it’s just how we work.

Whenever you think of the concept “high school” you think of the high school you went to — right? It’s familiar, it gives us a shape to think about what a high school is. It doesn’t mean you’re obsessed with only your particular school, it’s just a jumping off point, something your brain identifies as the thing you are talking about.

It’s this way with exes. They are what we are most familiar with when we think about love, even in a future sense we know we’ll never have with them. They are “our person” until someone else comes along and takes that role away.

I used to be really hard on myself about how long it took me to get over someone. I’d feel embarrassed that if he knew I still thought about him, he’s think I was a crazy girl or desperate or whatever else. The truth is that there is no other way. We cannot choose to erase someone from our minds. They are there as long as they are there and there is very little we can do about it. We can’t control when we will stop thinking about them, and that’s okay, it will happen naturally — our bodies and our minds know the best timing anyways.

What we can do is open ourselves up to the future. Move the body and the mind follows. We can get rid of the past we are holding on to whether by keeping physical items of our exes around or by refusing to step out and date someone new. We can remain open to possibility, not tied to a particular notion of who the “perfect person” for us is. We can be happy and hopeful — happy that we are wiser than before and hopeful that it will be put to good use. TC mark