After 3 Years I Can’t Live Without Him Still

I can't live without him

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

I’m not sure there is a woman on earth who hasn’t said or felt these five words: I can’t live without him. The words are usually spoken or thought during or after a breakup, a divorce, or a death.


It’s unbelievably heartbreaking to feel like you can’t live without someone you truly loved and/or still love. But as gut wrenching and difficult as it is, I find that most people learn to live with the loss, and eventually learn how to enjoy life, and even fall in love again.


It takes time to heal from a broken heart. I think it’s a process.

Anger, resentment, bitterness, sadness, regret, and loneliness are all part of the path to acceptance, peace and moving forward.


The timetable for letting go of “I can’t live without him” is different for everyone, and no one can tell someone when or how to move on.


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Here is one divorced woman’s position, and I have to warn you, it’s heartbreaking:


I’ve tried for the 3 years since he left and honestly to this day, I still wonder how I got through each day, each week, each month. I struggle through holidays like a big blur. I’m not happy, not enjoying life, sad and just distracting myself anyway I can. My question is, what if really, truly, I can’t live without him? I’m living but am I really living? No. Sadly not. With this aching pain that’s always there, no matter what I’m doing or where I am, it never leaves, never goes away. Will it ever or is this my life now?


Please keep in mind, I have no idea what happened or why her husband left. That said, regardless of the story, I stand firm on the advice I’m about to give.


Jewish people celebrate Passover, a holiday that remembers the Hebrew slaves becoming free out of Egypt. As in any religion, the stories that are studied are meant to have meaning in our everyday lives, and so if you think about it, maybe Passover is a time for us to reflect on our own prisons that we keep ourselves in, and to think about how to free ourselves.



My point is, to me, it seems this woman is keeping herself locked in her broken-hearted prison. My question is, why is she holding herself prisoner?


1. Does she want to stay locked in a place where her ex-husband has clearly moved on, continuing to love and wait for someone who doesn’t want her?

2. Doesn’t she feel she deserves to go free, to be able to put her best self out into the world and see what happens?

“Getting through each day and month and year” is very very disrespectful to her family, her children (if she has children) and most of all herself. Life is a precious gift. None of us were put on this earth to live it for ONE person.


I believe we are here to fulfill countless missions, including two major ones:





Romantic love is included in these things, but it isn’t everything. So to base your existence on one person seems very narrow to me. I promise I am not minimizing this woman’s broken heart. I know she is hurting deeply. But, to “struggle through holidays” seems like a such a waste of love and enjoyment. Why do that to her loved ones, and herself? It’s not fair to cheat herself out of any enjoyment because of ONE person.



To answer her question, “What if I can’t live without him?” my answer is, YOU CAN. You are the only factor holding you back.


As I said above, no one can tell someone how or when to heal from a broken heart. And I promise I’m not judging her. I’m trying to get her to let herself out of her prison. She deserves that!


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My advice is that this woman needs to find her self-worth, her confidence, and her self-love. Doesn’t she love herself enough to say, “I deserve to really live. I deserve to be rid of that aching pain. I deserve to move on from someone who doesn’t love me anymore because I deserve better.”


Her ex is only one person in a world of billions. Does he define her life and her happiness? I hope not.

I’m not saying moving on and accepting what happened happens quickly. I understand that it takes time and that healing from a broken heart is a process. It’s a process that is done through baby steps. When I say baby steps, I mean doing something small every day to try to move on.

Perhaps pursue something she loves to do, like art or reading or going to a museum or hiking or going to a restaurant she loves. Anything that is for HERSELF that has noting to do with him.

Another kind of baby steps are spending time with people she loves. Picking up the phone and calling a girlfriend to meet for coffee or a walk. Thinking of people who make her feel good, who she has fun with, who make her laugh, and then surrounding herself with those people. Making plans with people she knows who have common interests and philosophies.

This is very important:

If you are a healthy person physically, then that is 99% of what you need to have any life you want. Don’t waste time lamenting about someone who doesn’t want to be with you. Instead, focus on little things (baby steps) that make you happy.


He is her past. Love and laughter can be her future, but not with her present mindset.


“Is this my life now?” she asks. My response is, only if you allow it to be.


“I can’t live without him” is a horrible, awful, helpless, sorrowful feeling. But I truly believe those five words are also a choice. I hope she will soon choose seven new words: I deserve to be happy and loved.

Like this article? Check out, “Your Painful Breakup: 9 Things You Might Be Feeling”




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    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

    2 Responses to “After 3 Years I Can’t Live Without Him Still”

    1. Joanne

      This article was one of the best articles I’ve read since my divorce. I, too, am struggling with my husband being gone and feel I can’t live without him. But, this article really helped me see a different side of this. I do need self love, self esteem, which I never had. I will be working on that instead of wanting him back. Thank you

    2. Deanna

      My divorce is fixing to be final. When married, my husband left me 4 times. It’s a long story. I was completely devastated the first 3 times. The last time he left me, I had decided I wouldn’t take him back and I didn’t. He wanted to come back but I didn’t trust that he wouldn’t do it again and I just couldn’t take that. Now, I am heartbroken and wondering if I did the right thing. I got triggered by some old home videos that showed us when we were so happy in the beginning. I thought I was over all of this because I was strong and sure I was doing the right thing for so long. This article has been helpful.


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