We are all familiar with people who have gone through a break up in which persistent thoughts about the ex seem to linger. The relationship is over, hopes of reconciliation have been exhausted, all communication has ceased…and yet the ex retains a special place in the stricken one’s heart. Could this be a good thing? In our apparent reluctance to let go of an ex, we may be holding on to our capacity to love and the feeling of being loving.
Common wisdom tells us we have to purge ourselves of thoughts and feelings about former lovers and partners. When our loving feelings endure after the break-up, we can feel confused and ashamed. Confused, because we think that as long as an ex is on our mind we must not be “over” him or her, that our romantic lives are stalled. Ashamed because we mistake our loving feelings for a desire to reconcile, to be with someone who no longer wants us or with whom we ended a relationship.