Associations and beliefs created during the relationship remain long after the breakup. These create residual tendencies and emotional habits that one continues to experience so long as they remain unexamined. In order to let go, one must understand why these associations were initially created.
An association is essentially a connection.
Generally speaking, the shape of a heart is associated with romance.
The color yellow is associated with sunshine.
Your former flame's cologne is associated with the intimacy of being able to appreciate the scent while enjoying physical contact and comfort.
Associations can easily bring about old memories and the emotions experienced during such occurrences. These emotions may lead one to feeling needy- as if fulfillment can only be found in the past.
By doing so, one idealizes the past and experiences a painful sort of nostalgia.
To combat such nostalgia, one must understand why they reminisce.
Usually, if one's needs are fulfilled in the present moment, they do not feel an urge to look to the past in order to remember and more or less re-experience situations in which their needs are being met.
Still, associations sneak beneath the complex interactions which happen during relationships. You feel fine, until you pass by the place the two of you went on your first date, and suddenly you feel a rush of lack and longing for the past.
In relationships, needs become much more intricate. Duties and expectations create needs. When you are single, you do not need someone to call you on time every Tuesday night. You do not need someone to remember a certain dates that occur every month or year. You do not need the things and gestures that you expect from a partner. Being in a committed relationship creates new needs.
During a relationship,when your needs are met, you create associations with that fulfillment.
You associate the seasonal Starbuck's pumpkin spice latte with your need for someone to hold your hand for ten city blocks while balancing your umbrella and occasionally planting kisses on your forehead when the traffic lights turn a certain color being fulfilled.
You associate red high heels with your need for someone to pick you up and swing you in a warm embrace after not seeing them for two weeks being fulfilled.
You associate a certain song with your need for someone to express gratitude towards you after you forgive them during a 5 hour phone call regarding the very emotional circumstances of a stressful and misleading situation being fulfilled.
You can also create associations of your needs not being met.
You associate that certain street with the time you really expected your partner to show up but failed to do so.
You associate that specific color blue with the color of the girl's eyes whom he cheated on you with.
You associate that certain word with the phrase your partner used when glazing over subjects which you hold dear.
In order to free yourself from the direct impact of your associations, you must analyze them.
You must acknowledge the reasons why you are feeling their resonance in your life in the present moment. You must accept that you are feeling lack in your life in the present moment, but you must also accept the fact that you have the ability to fulfill yourself and free yourself.
You must learn to discern between actual lack of fulfillment during your present life and the lack of fulfillment projected by your associations.
Do you actually feel unsatisfied with your appearance, or is the certain outfit you are wearing reminding you of the time your partner disapproved insensitively?
Do you actually feel unsatisfied with your current friendships, or are your associations with the unique intimacy experienced during your former relationship causing you to project onto your existing relationships?
Associations can create suffering when they take you out of your present moment.
The entire concept of needs being fulfilled depends on expectations to be set.
When you do not set expectations in the present moment, then associations will not have a negative effect on you and they will simply be neutral.
Neutral associations do not trigger emotional or bodily response.
They do not involve the projection of your needs and wants or expectations.
Once you are over someone, your associations with them will be more or less neutral.
You will associate them with their car, but the next time you see that kind of car, you do not feel a longing for the rush of joy you felt during amusing occurrences which took place inside of it.
Basically, you will see the connection but you will not feel any emotional reverberations.
Associations are tied with memory. You will always have memories and associations, but memories and associations will not always possess emotional/mental/bodily triggers that take you out of your present moment.
In order to get over someone, you must get over the majorly subconscious connections created during your time together.
The next time you feel sad regarding your ex partner for "no apparent reason", look around yourself. Observe if you are in a situation which calls upon a bad association. Then discern between that cause of sadness or a cause of sadness created during your present moment.
Do not try and categorize associations strictly. They are simply what they are- residual connections preserved and facilitated by your subconscious. Do not let your subconscious rule your emotions. Process your emotions with awareness. Be in the moment during this process.
Give yourself the time and space you need in order to understand your associations. Listen to your intuition during this process. Nurture yourself- eat healthily, listen to uplifting music, read books that make you happy, go out with people who you genuinely like being around, do yoga, get exercise, meditate.
The more you care for yourself in the present moment, the less you will be subject to pain inflicted from associations.
The more you care and listen to yourself in the present moment, the less you will feel compelled on "working" towards getting over someone.