What To Do If You're In A Relationship & Still Thinking About Your Ex

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Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if you're really over someone. You might think that you've moved on — and really believe it — but, suddenly, you realize that you're still thinking about your ex. Ideally, you know when you're ready to date again and, when you do, your ex is completely out of the picture.

“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?” But other times, missing your ex can sneak up on you when you're already with someone else.

So what happens if you realize that you can't stop thinking about your ex — but you're already dating someone new? What if you thought you were over it, but then they pop back into your mind? Well, just because you're thinking about your ex doesn't always mean that you're not ready to date again — you might just be working through some unresolved feelings about the relationship. Sometimes, however, it might mean that you actually haven't moved on.

It's time to do some soul-searching, and if you can't stop thinking about your ex even though you're with someone new, here's how to handle it.

Figure Out What Your Feelings Are

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Firstly, don't panic and assume it means that you actually want to get back together. There are a lot of different reasons your ex might still be on your mind. Are you thinking about them because you wish you were still together? Were you just together for so long that thinking about them is a habit? Or are you still angry at how the relationship ended? There are endless reasons they might be knocking around upstairs, so you need to be clear with yourself about how you feel.

Even if it doesn't feel like you're still in love with them, having them on your mind constantly — even if you think you hate them — can be a sign that you're not over them. Or at least that you're not over the relationship. After all, the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. "Anger is a form of connection, but disinterest is a form of release. If they don’t pique your interest, you’re over them," April Masini, New York-based relationship expert and author, tells Bustle.

Sometimes, we get so obsessed with how much hate our ex that it becomes impossible to move on — as impossible as it would be if we were still in love with them. And sometimes, it can be tricky to know the difference. If they're on your mind frequently, something may be up, so it's important to figure out what that is.

Talk To Your Partner Once You've Figured Out Your Feelings

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Once you know how you feel about your ex, you should talk to your partner. You don't want to open up a conversation if you're not sure where you stand, but as soon as you become sure then it's only fair to them to bring it up and talk about it.

Whether it's "I'm really struggling to let go of my anger toward my ex," "I'm not sure I've really moved on," or "I'm not sure I've really moved on, but I want to," your partner deserves to know.

It's also important to try to talk to them with a game plan in mind — or at least a plan to make a game plan. When you talk to them, come up with a path forward that works for both of you. If you are still talking to your ex, you may want to take a step back, at least for a while.

You also may want to consider counseling or being more open with your current partner about your past relationship. Sometimes, a professional can help give you a new perspective or allow you to process feelings that you're having problems moving past. Either way, come up with a strategy together.

Decide If You're Really Ready To Be In A Relationship

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Finally, it's important to decide whether or not you're actually ready to be in this relationship. That will come down to the way you're still feeling about your ex and the past relationship, and how your current partner feels about this. It's one thing for you to think that you're ready to move on, but it takes two to tango — and your partner might not agree. Plus, there's a difference between being over one person and being ready to be with another.

"Getting over your ex and being ready to be in a new relationship are often two separate things," Masini says. It may be that you and your partner decide that your feelings still mean you can be in a relationship. If the issue is that you're still feeling hurt or angry at your ex and can't stop thinking about that, your partner may understand — or even have been through the same thing. It might be that you can work through your issues together and help each other.

But, if the reason you're still thinking about your ex is that you still have strong feelings for them — and you're basically using your new partner as a placeholder — that's not fair. It may be time to consider ending it.

Knowing whether or not you're over your ex isn't easy, especially when you're already with someone else. If they suddenly pop into your mind again, try not to panic. Just think seriously about why they're still relevant in your life and talk to your partner about those feelings. You may not be ready for this new relationship or you may still be hurt and have to find new ways to work through it. Either way, your best bet is to be honest about how you're feeling.

Sources interviewed:

Laurel House, Dating and Breakup Coach

April Masini, New York-based Relationship Expert and Author

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