Dear Trouble Moving On,
There could be a number of things going on here, one of which is the lasting impact of Chemistry. We know Chemistry to be literally one of the most powerful drugs we can encounter. If energetically your connection was a driven by chemistry this can take some time to completely leave your system.
The other is very simple... you were together for 5 years. I will assume you developed a deep love for him, even though eventually you discovered you could not live together. This does not mean you have to stop loving him.
Consider parents. We love our children. When they are young and at home we have to think about them daily because we are caring for them. Once they have grown up and moved out, we may not think about them or love them any less, but we are clear that the time for them living at home or being regularly physically in our lives has past. I dont want my children at home. I want them on their own making their own lives. It's my love for them that drives my desire for their happiness.
If you truly care about this man, then accept that you love him, which ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT mean you want to live with him, be with him or engage with him. You simply care for someone that for a sizable period of your life had a major impact on you. Embrace that. Appreciate that and dont for a second feel bad about still thinking about him.
Perhaps when you choose to allow someone to enter into your life romantically, you will have less time to think about past loved ones (or in the case of friends and family—present loved ones).
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I agree with Larry -- and add that when someone who's a better match for you as you are now enters your life, your interest in and regrets about your ex will definitely fade.
Right now it's easy to look in the "rear view mirror," so to speak, just because there's no one walking beside you in your more-satisfying life. Our brain synapses literally create grooves based on what we're familiar with and think about frequently. Since you have over five years of actively focusing on and thinking about your ex, doing so is familiar. So it's natural for thoughts of him to "pop up" when your mind wanders, even though you have moved on.
You might try these techniques to help the old thoughts fade (and create new synapse grooves in your brain-mind): Focus on your future by making a list of the positive qualities you want in your next relationship and also in "the right guy." You can also create a vision board collage with images reflecting how you want your next relationship to feel. These activities can retrain your brain to focus more on who and what's next for you, and help the old familiar thoughts of your ex fade even more.
Meanwhile, when you do think about your ex, be grateful for what you learned by being with him -- about what you do want and what you don't want in your next relationship -- as well as how amazing your life has become!
Your experience of focusing on yourself was definitely a smart move. It's much easier to be open to a new partner who's on your current wavelength when you're happy with your life whether or not you're in a relationship. Then a guy who's vibrating at your frequency can (and hopefully will) find you so you can enhance each other's satisfying lives and learn to be good partners together.
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