Ever break up with someone while you still loved them?

It’s been almost two years since I left my ex-fiancee. I’m involved in a better relationship now, with someone I really care about. What has surprised me is just how persistent that old relationship has been in the back of my mind. For a very long time the grief was just overpowering; if I thought about it too much I would start sobbing eventually. I’m pretty much past that, but I’m surprised at how often it still comes to mind. It was not a relationship that ultimately made either of us happy, but we did truly love each other once, and we both genuinely tried to make it work. I don’t miss her, exactly … I didn’t get good closure, even though I’m the one that left, and maybe that’s the problem. It probably won’t ever be better; she is the type of person to turn her back and never speak to me again. I just wish I could stop thinking about her altogether, yet don’t want to forget that part of my life at the same time. How weird is that?

I guess I worry about this because it bothers my current g.f., who is a good woman, and good to me, in so many ways the ex wasn’t. I can’t explain or understand these nagging thoughts.

Sounds pretty normal to me. Feelings don’t let go of you all at once.

Nagging thought about “the one who went away” will always be there, no matter why the breakup. I’ve got exes and first-never-second-dates who feel like dodged bullets; any others (the ones where bad timing happened, The Bestest Boyfriend) will always have their own what-if games.

The real question is, how badly is it hurting you and your woman, and what can you do about it. It may be time to use any psychological/psychiatric resources you have handy, whether it is through company resources, some sort of pastor, or an out-of-pocket therapist.

I started dating my first love in the last quarter of my junior year in high school. We had a very good relationship through to graduation but, because I was moving to Chicago and going to university here, I knew that it was an unsustainable relationship. So, I ended it upon graduation rather than have it slowly die from entropy. To this day, though, I still remember him with love.

Yea I got her an art. But whenever i look at that i remember that i feel so bad. But anyways we gotta move on

My last was “on again, off again” relationship. Until finally it took. The last was particularly hard because she just ghosted my ass after our last argument for like two months. Then she texted me wanting to talk.

Fortunately, I was strong and resisted the urge to text her back at the time. But about a month later, an old FB memory popped up, and ALL those feelings came rushing back. I had a moment of weakness, and texted her. THANK GOD she was the strong one this time and declined to text me back.

But yeah, despite all of our heated arguments, I still lover her… sometimes. And admittedly, I sometimes hate her too. All depending on what memories I’m musing over at the time.

Love is a fickle beast. :slight_smile:

Short answer to the question in the OP: yes.

When we were in college, M and I dated for two years. We were deeply in love, got along wonderfully, and we were starting to think seriously about marriage.

But, M was planning to go to medical school. She was very serious about her schoolwork, and given the sorts of courses she was taking, she had to spend a lot of time studying.

And, one evening, M told me that she had to break up with me. it wasn’t that she didn’t love me (she did), it wasn’t that she didn’t want to be with me (she did), but she had come to realize that, in order to achieve her goal of becoming a doctor, for the next six to eight years, she needed to focus on nothing but school; she didn’t feel it would be fair to me to expect me to take “second place” to her studies, and she felt that she wouldn’t be able to devote the time and energy she should, to be my wife.

I was, of course, crushed. I understood her reasoning, and it wound up being, as breakups go, about as positive as it could possibly be. M and I remained friends, and once we got past the initial awkwardness (which took maybe six months or so), she and I would socialize (platonically), have lunch together occasionally, etc.

For my part, I started dating the woman who became my wife two years after the breakup, and while I love her deeply, M stayed in the back of my mind for many years – I would wonder to myself about the road not taken: “What if I told her I would wait for her?” “What if we had tried to stay together?” I still loved M (and, truthfully, I still do), but I’d say it probably took at least a decade, maybe more, before those thoughts of regret finally started to fade.

As it turned out, M wasn’t able to go to medical school – some psychological issues developed for her about two years after we had broken up, and those sidetracked her studies for several years. Once she got past those, she realized that medical schools would be unlikely to admit her (due to that history), and she changed course, eventually earning a Ph.D., and becoming a professor.

But, the other thing that developed for her was that, in the years after our breakup, she came to realize that she was bisexual, and preferred women to men.

M and I have always stayed in touch (it’s now 31 years since our breakup), and, three years ago, after same-sex marriage was legalized, she invited me to her wedding. M’s family (whom I hadn’t seen since 1987) asked me to sit with them at the service. At the reception, I met several of M’s former girlfriends, from many years after she and I had broken up – all of them knew of me, and said that M had always spoken of me in very fond terms.

As the reception wound down, M and I got to sit and talk for a few minutes. I told her that I was so thrilled for her, that despite the issues she’d run into after we had broken up, that she’d done some amazing things with her life, and that she’d found someone wonderful with whom she was sharing her life. She and I both acknowledged that we were, in a way, still in love with each other (and likely always would be), and that, while we both knew that that love would never again manifest in a romantic relationship, we still cared deeply for one another. I don’t think I could ever ask for a better ex. :slight_smile:

That is a wonderful story.

And it shows what I want to have with my ex too: just mutual respect and acknowledgement of what we meant to each other, and best wishes for our separate futures. And it hurts surprisingly bad to know I will probably never have it. :frowning:

I’m sorry that you and she don’t have that, Lizard. As you say, it sounds unlikely that she’s ever going to be willing to talk with you about the relationship. I’m no psychologist, but as you suggest in the OP, I suspect that the fact that your ex doesn’t want to have anything to do with you is what’s keeping you from being able to fully move on from that relationship. (Obviously, I don’t know the details of that breakup, and it’s none of my business, but since you indicate that you’re the one who ended the relationship, I wonder if part of the “closure” you’re looking for is forgiveness from her.)

Since you won’t get that closure from her, it’s going to be up to you alone to figure out how to put that relationship fully into your past, and let yourself move forward with your current partner. Alas, I don’t have any great insight as to how to do that. :frowning:

You don’t say how long the relationship lasted, but I think that plays a part in the process. And I think we don’t always understand our own feelings.

Even though I was absolutely positive that I was no longer in love with my husband of more than 30 years, after we parted ways, all those old feelings came roaring back. It’s been over a year now since we’ve been living apart, but until about two weeks ago, he was all I could think about. It was killing me. I still have to force my thoughts in a different direction or I just get into a really dark place. I’ve had to cut off all communication with him as well and that just makes it harder because he was also my best and only friend.

But I think if I’m honest with myself, what I’m probably really feeling is fear, not love. Fear that I made a mistake, that I’ll never find happiness or love again. I think robots have it easier.

I have, but it was at her request/insistence so I’m not sure it counts.

Yes, it’s pretty normal that at least one party still has strong feelings for the other at the time of a breakup. Also, you don’t get closure from anyone else, you make it. Expecting the other person to say whatever magic words will make the feelings go quiet just leads to disappointment. IMO the most important piece of making closure for the relationship that didn’t work is to realize that you had an idealized relationship in your head that you were ‘in love’ with. Once you make yourself acknowledge that the working relationship was just a fantasy and not what you left, it’s a lot easier to keep the good memories and lessons, but let the deep emotional attachment to the now-gone relationship go.

Are you still glad that you broke up with her?

If so, sharing that feeling and those reasons with NewGF should reassure her.

If not, sharing that feeling and those reasons with a good therapist should help you to find closure.

And with the restraining order, what choice did I really have?

IDK, I don’t think I would want to hear about my husband’s ex that he still had feelings for. For whatever reason. Head-in-sand kinda girl, here. And I certainly don’t feel comfortable telling of my own feelings for a lost love.
It helps that we were both less than very experienced and from a very rural area. Everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows your business.
O.P. I have little advice, except give it more time. Time seems to put many things in perspective.

Well, they think they know your business. Rumors like those tend not to be very accurate. :slight_smile:

Usually. One of the reasons I’m not rushing headlong back into dating.

I’d say what you’re going through is fairly normal. Every relationship you’ve ever had is part of the journey that’s led you to where you are now; why would you want to forget them?

My wife and I have been together for 24 years, and I still think about exes with varying degrees of fondness, and yes, ones that got away too. The way I see it, all of those previous experiences helped me learn, grow, and mature into the person who became a perfect match for someone who had learned, grown, and matured herself by way of previous relationships. Who knows if we’d have been such a good fit if not for our respective pasts?

That said, be careful you’re not dwelling on your ex to the point of obsession. And it’s probably best to leave your current partner out of it when you’re feeling nostalgic for old times with someone else.

IDK, these peeps around here are professional snoops. Plus a good many are actually blood relations to Mr.Wrekker. He has never met a stranger, either. Open book.
Example: He went his doctor 2 years ago for a pulled muscle in his side/flank. She determined he had a hernia and needed surgery. Now mind you the Doctor was a 120 miles away. I found out he was gonna be having surgery at Wal-Mart before he got home from the Doctors visit. I am not even kidding. I ran into a neighbor of his sisters and she informed me, a bit gleefully, I might add.

Aww… That is so sweet.