The Big Sign Your Ex Is Holding You Back

by Lindsay Tigar

Everyone handles the end of relationships differently: while you might be the type to cut off all ties and go cold turkey, your best friend might need a few months of drunk texting to get through the heartache. There’s no perfect way to get over someone you used to love and no matter how long you dated or what you experienced together, the pain of separating is a deep one.

Some exes choose to stay in contact with one another, and while some can successfully separate the emotional from the rational, other past lovers just can’t do it. If you’re still friends with your ex, it’s cool, but if you find yourself striking out on meeting someone new months (and even years) after that last significant relationship ended… you might want to reconsider.

Why? Your ex could be holding you back. “If you are hung up on, or too close with your ex, this can keep you from moving forward with their love life,” psychologist and love expert Dr. Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. “Also, staying too close with them and spending too much time with them, does not allow you to move on from them, or to meet new people. You do not have to cut them off, but it is a good idea to maintain a balance, and to not sacrifice progress in your life.”

Here are some signs you need to actually get your ex out of your life, stat:

1. You're Not Comfortable Being Alone

Had a tough day at work and instead of turning to your friends (or taking some time to yourself to zen out), you ask your ex for a drink? Daily communication with an old partner and not being able to simply be at peace in your own company is a major setback when looking for love.

“You’re not ready to be in another relationship until you don’t think about your ex for at least one day and you are comfortable being alone,” dating and breakup coach, Laurel House tells Bustle. “In your lonely moments, moments of emotional weakness, or late at night, be honest — do you still think about your ex?”

2. You Make Time to See Them

The careful balancing act of your social, active, work, and dating life is no easy task and often, requires a lot of compromises. But if you’re going out of your way to make room to see someone that you used to be intimate with, you may want to gut-check your priorities. “If you talk about your ex all the time, and continue to drop everything you are doing for them, it’s clear that your ex is still in the picture and on your mind,” matchmaker and dating expert Sarah Patt tells Bustle. “The only way to know they are completely out of the picture, is when you stop making them the priority and bending over backwards to please them.”

3. You Still Dream Of A Future Together

Depending on why you broke up, you might feel like your ex could have been the right person for you, if only something was different. Or it was another time in your life. Being in touch with someone you still care about — and would get back together with — can not only be unhealthy, but it keeps your heart closed off from someone who you could actually make the long run with. “If you still see a future with your ex after you’ve broken up, you aren’t giving yourself the opportunity to let someone else fill that role in your life. You might be closing yourself off to new loves without even realizing it,” Patt adds.

4. You Compare Every Date To Your Ex

“When you’re constantly comparing your new dates to your ex, you are hurting your chances of finding someone new,” Patt says. “Remember why you two broke up; you weren’t compatible, so stop looking for the same things that didn’t work when it comes to a new potential love interest.” Martinez also tells Bustle that not only is this an unfair advantage to any Tinder match or person you meet through pals, it also puts unrealistic expectations into first dates.

5. You Talk About Your Ex

What you think is what you say, and what you speak of, you become. Thoughts and words are powerful. And if your language is always focused on the past, how can you realistically expect a future? “If you can’t stop talking about it then you’re probably not over it,” Patt tells Bustle. “The more you mention your ex, the more likely you are to keep thinking about them. Once you stop saying the thoughts in your head out loud, they will go away.”

6. You’re Still Seeking Their Validation

“They are the first one a person thinks of telling something to, or going to when something positive or negative happens,” Martinez explains. “You are jealous when you hear about them and someone else, or you are overly concerned with how they will feel about you dating.” Sound familiar?

Part of the bonus of breaking up with someone (even though it’s sad) — is the freedom that comes with it. Not only because you’re not tied to someone else anymore, but you have the chance to reinvent yourself for the next stage of your life. But if you still let your ex have control over your confidence, you’re doing yourself a disadvantage.

Images: Fotolia; Giphy