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Why Can’t I Get Over You?

The deeper you love, the more you suffer if the relationship doesn’t work out.

RANDI GUNTHER Clinical Psychologist & Marriage Counselor

Falling in love is risky. The deeper you love, the more you suffer if the relationship doesn’t work out.


Yet, most initially promising relationships don’t work out, and most people go through the understandable pangs of disillusionment that accompany those losses. As the heartbreak ebbs, they seek to understand what went wrong and how they can be more successful the next time around.


For some, though, the tragedy of a relationship failure is unrelenting. No matter how hard they try to move on, they are haunted by the ghosts of what should or could have been, leaving them at the mercy of seemingly inconsolable grief.


If you are a person who has suffered from extended grief after the loss of a love relationship, there is hope. If you can learn to understand what causes your devastating reactions, you may be able to heal those underlying drivers that keep you from healing. A broken heart, never healed, will prevent you from being able to love again.


Here are the 10 most common underlying reasons that keep people from healing from the loss of a love relationship. Grief and loss are different for each person, but understanding what others like you have done to understand and change those patterns may help.


Trauma Revisited

Inconsolable grief rarely exists in a vacuum. We store every loss in the same place in our hearts, minds, and souls. When we are experiencing a current loss, our bodies create emotional insulation to keep us functioning. When a new loss occurs, every loss that was not fully resolved emerges as part of the present sorrow. When you are grieving, ask yourself, “What else am I grieving?” That allows us to heal what is hidden so it does not emerge again.


Action: Revisit and heal the losses that you have not fully grieved.


Personality Disorders

Some people suffer from genetically inherited behavioral patterns that make them more prone to deep sadness when they feel rejected or abandoned. They truly feel like they can never function again. They tell me they feel as if a part of them has been ripped away and that they will never be able to live life again without pain. If they’ve been suffering from a genetic disposition, there is help to heal that process.


Action: Get professional help to give you the tools to not let these proclivities control your life.


One Too Many Losses

There are some people who have had a number of relationships where they’ve given everything they have to a relationship, only to see it fail. At first, they were able to rebound in a reasonable amount of time, learn from their experiences, and try again. But, if there is a string of failures, they lose hope and the motivation to try again. They feel “done” with believing in love, often bitter and cynical. Those feelings, in turn, push people away, and their life becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Action: Seek the ways in which your past defines your future. Look at your relationship patterns and the types of partners you choose, and work on actively changing your choices.


Depth of Love

For some people love is an adventure and only one compartment of their lives. When a relationship ends, they have many other areas of their lives that are still functioning well, and help heal the loss. Others, though, cannot fathom loving someone without that relationship being central to their lives. They blend lives, dreams, lifestyles, commitments, and everything they have in that relationship. When it ends, they have nothing to fall back on.


Action: Deep love is the most satisfying and riskier. If you choose to love that way, make certain your partner is also willing to take that plunge. See love as a meaningful and wonderful adventure that cannot be without potential, devastating loss.


Betrayals

It is very difficult to get over a love when a partner falls in love with another, especially while still seeming to be in the relationship. The betrayal cuts deep: How long has this been going on? Why was this other person able to replace me? What happened to our trust and commitment? Why didn’t you tell me? Have I just been a fool from the beginning? The level of self-doubt and feelings of total erasure make the grieving process unbearable and not easily healed.


Action: Never just accept a betrayal and try to move on. It can only be healed by time and by two people who want to grow beyond it together.


Broken Dreams

This kind of extended grief often follows an unexpected death. The love that existed did not end, but the shared dreams are stolen and gone forever. People suffering from these kinds of losses, often are unable to stop obsessing about what could have, should have happened. No matter who else may love and cherish them, they cannot feel or see anything but the lost love. They often feel that they will never be able to replace that person and often do not want to.

Action: The most beautiful gift you can give to someone no longer here is to love more deeply again for both of you. Love is big enough to add more. Replacement is never required.


First Love

Not all people experience the ecstasy of a first true love. The partners in them want to play every role in each other’s lives: the parent they never had, the best friend they can share anything with, the child they want to pamper, the perfect dream-sharer, the all-encompassing perfect lover, the playmate who makes them feel innocent and adventurous, the soulmate who will make life last forever. Many people who have had this experience never fully let go of that person, even long after the relationship ends. They are doomed to negatively compare every future relationship to that eulogistic fantasy.


Action. Know that a first love is chosen from the heart as it was open at that time. Staying in that memory will allow you to love more accurately. Were you to go back in time, as you are now, it would not be the same.


Social Stigma and Loss

There are families, cultures, and social circles where the failure of a relationship is a shameful experience, punished by lessened respect and social exile. The person who is blamed may have to face a more global rejection without consolation or support. They may even be driven out into social isolation, forced to grieve alone, humiliated and devalued. Grief can only heal when there is hope for acceptance in a new environment.


Action: You must grow beyond the limitations you were taught. Keep the traditions that you still love, but use them in a more vibrant and free way.


Insecurity and Self-Doubt

There are people who only feel lovable if cared for by another, never feeling desirable enough on their own. They live in fear of anticipated endings and give without expectations of reciprocity. Because they expect to be rejected, they either do not see the signs before it happens, or cannot let the relationship go, and fall prey to begging and self-deprecation to try to save it. When their relationships do end, they blame themselves and are filled with self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness. Their grief goes beyond the loss of their relationship. They are grieving that they will never be loved and each loss proves that fear is viable.

Action: Find your own self-love before you seek it in a relationship.


Mood Disorders

Many people suffer from anxiety and depression. Their afflictions make them more prone to maintaining motivation and the ability to transcend experiences of loss. As a result, they are more susceptible to extended grief when they face failures they cannot predict or control. When facing the loss of love, they may be less resilient because of brain chemistry they cannot control. They may want desperately to “bounce back,” but have a harder road to climb.


Action: Seek the help you need to treat your disorder without any negative self-judgment. This is not your fault.

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