1. They know love is a mental-emotional connection, not just a physical one. Their feelings and loyalties don’t dissolve the second the physical relationship or Facebook status does. That means they understand that love is more than just a hormonal rush – it’s a bond, one that spans past just a physical continuum.
2. Everybody hangs onto their relationships for too long, but only some people are honest with themselves about it. When people can be honest and conscious of their attachments, that usually means they were healthy. If people are ashamed of their attachments, it usually means they’re more to do with an idea than they are a person. What it comes down to is this: people who are aware of their lingering sentiments can actually process and get over them, people who suppress them, can’t.
3. People who take a while to mourn their losses are in tune with their needs, even when all they’re picking up on is how much those needs aren’t being met. They can see and sense how they are beings that desire love and companionship, even if by comparison to how much they don’t have it.
4. They’re seeking something genuine. Nobody gets hurt, or holds on, to the love that doesn’t mean something… and love that means something is love that fulfills a dream. Even if they play it cool, people who are still heartbroken were seeking something real. The degree to which they are crushed that they didn’t find it with the wrong person is half of the degree to which they’ll be ready to have it with the right one.
5. They’re hopeful. Hidden beneath a bit of initial denial, people who can’t get past relationships quickly have little more than hope. It’s often a bit naive and a little misguided, especially right at the tail-end of a breakup, but ultimately, that trait isn’t something that blossoms just out of their loss – it’s indicative of how positive they are in general.
6. They’re humble. People who have been dragged through emotional turmoil eventually learn what it takes to really let go. They know what it’s like to put your everything into someone and ultimately not get anything in return. One of the most humbling experiences we have is in loving something and finding that we weren’t loved in return. (It dissolves any illusions we had about how superior we were as date-able humans, and makes us grateful for every moment we do have with someone who cares.)
7. They’re willing to try, even if that means making themselves vulnerable. A lot of people won’t try so that they don’t fail. But no mud, no lotus, as they say – and people who take a while to get over relationships are the people who actually cared about them in the first place, and who actually gave it an honest attempt.
8. The more you know loss, the more you’re capable of love. It’s just one of those funny paradoxical things about life and happiness and love: the darker something is by contrast, the lighter something appears. People who know loss are more acutely aware of love, not the other way around.
9. The other side of shame and abandonment is gratitude and presence. The first part of mourning a loss consists of a lot of wondering what it is about you that makes you so intolerably unlovable. But once you dig into the DNA of shame and abandonment, you find that what you were missing all along was gratitude and presence.
10. It makes them more, not less, capable of loving you, because the dreams they are holding onto do not belong to the love they lost, they belong to the love that’s in their hearts.