Getting over an ex, while a universal experience, has yet to be perfected. Instead, it seems some of us are still hung up on him.
So your relationship ended recently (or not so recently…we’re not judging) and while all the reasons for its demise technically still exist, it has been next to impossible to stop thinking about him – imagining running into him, wondering if he’s thinking about you too, and secretly hoping he’ll reach out.
Breaking up with someone is always uncomfortable, even when we know deep down that it was the right decision. To go from talking to someone every single day, having a date for any occasion, someone to go to any movie with, someone to share our meals with, to one day not having them at all goes against our connective nature.
So we snoop around on his Instagram – just to check up, of course, and see if he’s hurting too (or to make sure he doesn’t have a new girlfriend yet). But then we keep on snooping and thinking and wondering, and months go by. We suddenly ask ourselves: shouldn’t we be over this by now? Why are we still so hung up on him?
If this sounds like something you’re going through right now, read on for ideas on how to move on with your life and let go of your ex.
1. Cut Off Communication
If we’re the main character of our life, then every single person in our life is like a character in our movie. If we’re still interacting with someone, they’re still an active character in our story – which is sort of the opposite of what an ex should be.
Even if we one day desire to be on friendly terms with an ex (which isn’t realistic for most of us, in all honesty), continuing to communicate with them while we’re in the midst of attempting to reestablish our life without them as a character, but instead as a part of our backstory, will prove to be confusing and hurtful.
2. Unfollow Him and Stop Snooping
It’s hard to press that “unfollow” button. It feels so hostile, especially toward someone with whom we shared jokes and meals and memories and possibly even love. Unfollowing feels incredibly final.
But it’s also the healthiest option for us if we’re trying to move past a relationship and take back whatever hold our ex has on us. The simple connection of following them makes us feel as though they’re still technically in our life.
The simple connection of following them makes us feel as though they’re still technically in our life.
And let’s say we’ve already unfollowed him…but we’re still taking little peeks at his profile. We tell ourselves it’s harmless, or that we’ll stop soon, or that we’re making sure he’s not posting any veiled criticisms about us. But in reality, it’s because we haven’t totally moved on, and we want to know if he’s stuck too.
Checking up on his social media allows him to continue living rent free in our head and robs us of the chance to get on with our lives. Because even if he did start dating someone new, or posted a shady caption about us, or seemed like he wasn’t in enough pain, what would that accomplish? What positive effects would that bring to our own life? It’s best to save ourselves heartache and keep his name out of our search bar.
3. Ask Your Friends and Family To Not Bring Him Up
Our people (friends, family) want to love us after a breakup. They want to make sure we’re not falling apart, that we know they’re there for us. And they’ll probably bring up our ex in order to do that; maybe they’ll want to talk through what happened, or encourage us that we made the right decision, or attempt to normalize discussing him without it devolving into a pity party.
But sometimes, we just need a break from thinking about him, especially if we already are all the time. While it’s helpful to have friends or family who are willing to listen when we want to talk, it’s not always what we need. Getting over a breakup involves trying to live our life out from underneath the shadow of our heartbreak and not fixating on it. So we can’t be shy about expressing our desire to talk about literally anything other than our breakup.
4. Get Rid of Reminders
Even when someone isn’t around anymore, our life is often cluttered with little reminders of their prior presence. That shirt he always liked on us hangs in our closet; that book he gave us sits on our shelf; that mug we bought him sits on the counter; that ticket stub from our first date sits in our drawer.
There are a thousand little reminders of what once was all around us in our living space. Round all of them up, stuff them in a box, and get rid of the useless, painful reminders. Holding on to little memories will only drag us back to the dark place we’re trying to emerge from. As difficult as it is to let go of things that used to bring us joy, it’s necessary as we leave this time in our life behind.
5. Focus on the People Still in Your Life
So now he’s gone – he’s no longer the first person we text when something incredible happens, or the person we send a funny tweet to, or the person we’ll make plans with every weekend. A boyfriend plays an incredibly large role in our life, so when he’s gone, it can feel like we don’t have anyone.
Holding on to little memories will only drag us back to the dark place we’re trying to emerge from.
But this is the time to focus on the people we still do have rather than the one person no longer in our life. This dispels the feeling that we’re suddenly all alone and allows us to redirect our need and desire for connection to people who will stick around.
6. Invest in Yourself
Romantic relationships have this way of taking over our life – our boyfriend is the focus of much of our time and energy. We invest so much of ourselves in a relationship that when it ends, we find ourselves wondering what exactly we did before our relationship.
It sounds cliché, but we need to take time to get to know ourselves again after a breakup; to invest in ourselves and care for ourselves, to work through a broken heart by remembering and owning the fact that we’re a whole person without our boyfriend. We can use this time to actually like and be at peace being on our own, with ourselves as company.
7. Remind Yourself Why It Ended
As soon as a relationship ends, it’s all too common for us to get hung up on all that was right – what we miss about the way he smiled and joked with us, the sweet and simple moments we shared, the café we walked to every weekend, and the way he used to hold us. The memories and feelings of what we felt was right come rushing back and take over our mind.
But here’s the thing: the relationship ended for a reason. As magical as those moments were, there were probably also things we didn’t love – even things we struggled with about him. Maybe he didn’t control his temper, or made jokes at our expense that were a little too sharp, or lacked any kind of drive, or simply didn’t care about the same things we did.
There was most likely a really good reason for the relationship to end. We need to remind ourselves of that, even in the form of a sticky note on the bathroom mirror or a reminder on our phone.
8. Take Up a New Hobby
Our significant other is so, well, significant to us that our relationship often takes up the grand majority of our time, and we even orient our interests and time outside of work around things we can do with our boyfriend.
Reclaim yourself as a single person by creating new rhythms and engaging in new hobbies.
After a breakup, we’re trying to reclaim ourselves as a single person whose time isn’t being given to anyone else in the context of a committed relationship – and this means creating new rhythms and finding new hobbies to fill the time that would’ve been spent with him, and instead get active by doing something we truly enjoy.
9. Hit the Gym
We’ve all seen the TikToks of girls claiming that getting into a relationship got them off their gym plan and diet. Anyone who has been in a relationship can attest to the fact that so much time is spent eating and lounging together.
But why not make a point of going to the gym now? We’ve definitely got the time to, and there’s no denying that exercising regularly is one of the best things we can do for our mental health after a breakup – it alleviates stress, helps us feel in control of life, and also gives us a healthy dose of confidence.
10. Keep a Journal or Try Therapy
The flood of emotions that inevitably come with a breakup sometimes feels impossible to sift through. We can’t tell what we’re feeling; is it anger, regret, loneliness, embarrassment, despair? These layers of thoughts and feelings need to be worked through.
Journaling is always helpful whenever we’re faced with a particularly rough season, as a way of “getting it all out” but also being able to reflect on the trend of our thoughts and feelings. And if our budget allows, talking to a therapist about it can prove to be one of the most healing, centering, empowering things we can do.
It’s normal to have a difficult time letting go of an ex after a relationship goes south, and our healing process will take time and intention. But thankfully, we’re hardly the first person to go through a breakup, so we can take comfort in the fact that we’re not alone.
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