How to truly ‘forget’ someone you still love

It’s not just about getting over the breakup

Part 1, Part 2

In this part of my article is all about how to forget someone

I know only too well, from personal, as well as professional experience, what it’s like trying to get over someone once and for all.

If you’ve broken up recently, let me start by reassuring you that it’s perfectly understandable and normal under the circumstances if…

  • you can’t stop crying
  • you feel hurt and angry
  • you’re depressed and anxious
  • you’re at risk of falling apart in the face of the slightest upset
  • you wonder if you’ll ever get over it and if you’ll ever be able to forget that person.

I’d like you to also read my article how to get over a breakup for the most helpful advice for you right now.

Let’s start by establishing what kind of relationship it was and how it ended…

What happened to that relationship you want to forget?

There are at least 5 types of relationship endings that can make it hard to let go and forget:

  1. You were in an abusive relationship and the fear and hurt that has caused you still haunts you. If this is you, then I’d want you to hop over to my article on how to cope with PTSD.
  2. They were your first-ever real love. The two of you had a bond so tight you thought you’d never part.
  3. You had a holiday romance. It necessarily had to come to an end, but you had idealised the object of your affection without being able to get to know the whole person.
  4. Your relationship ended very suddenly. You never got an explanation or even a chance to ask questions. Perhaps your partner suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth and you never found out what happened, or he or she, sadly, died. It matters not how long ago that ending happened.
  5. You never had a relationship with them, because they simply weren’t available or never knew of your love. I have an article written specifically for you: How to get over unrequited love.

We have an emotionally-laden TV programme here in the Netherlands. It tells the story of people who have loved, lost touch, and were never able to forget. They often mention one of the scenarios above.

In the programme, endings were caused by critical and even forbidding parents, letters not posted or love letters received but never passed on. Break-ups were also caused by death, illness, accidents, etc.

The common pattern is that people are often left with what feels like a hole in their experience and thereby their memory.

I know many of my clients had secret memories of lost or unrequited love lurking under the weight of their relationship problems.

They were often comparing past, sometimes idealised, partners with their present one. Sometimes their partner or spouse could never match up to the person they had once lost their heart to.

New! Do let me know…

Who do you want to get over?
Someone you had a long-term relationship with
Your ex-spouse
Your ex-fiance(e)
Someone you had an affair with
Someone you wanted to have a relationship with but who rejected you
Someone who never knew how much you liked them
Someone who you knew you could never have
Someone you had a short but intense relationship with
Other
Please Specify:

You may have broken up some time ago and now, you or other people think you should be over it. But, for one reason or another, you just can’t yet forget and move on.

Stick with me – I’m aiming to help you forget…

How to forget someone you love. It's not just about getting over the breakup.

7 steps to help you forget someone

There are some definite steps you need to take if you want to forget someone and build a new life without that person. So, here we go…

Step 1. Start focusing on yourself

Have you been focusing too much on your ex-partner or spouse since the breakup? Or have you been focusing too much on yourself, turned inwards and stopped seeing people?

Either way, it’s time now to focus outwards and engage with your friends and family instead. The need to connect with others is an essential emotional need – neglect it at your peril.

Step 2. Clean up your social media accounts

Delete whatever and whoever needs to be deleted from your social media sites as much as you can.

I don’t want you to be confronted with what your ex is up to – ever. It’s over, so let it be! Don’t waste your energy looking backwards. Use it instead to start creating a new future. Baby-steps are fine!

Step 3: Tackle those physical reminders

Material things and surroundings have a direct link with what motivated you to buy and/or create them, and also how you felt at the time.

They can be physical reminders of what was and is. Even if you’ve moved on, it’s almost as if your ex and past memories are etched across those things. And every now and then they’ll transport you back to how things used to be.

So, here’s what to do about it…

Do whatever possible to refresh your personal space, if you haven’t already. Move the furniture, tidy up, buy new sheets and pillows for your bed, throw away things you don’t need and which are laden with memories. Buy new stuff, find second-hand stuff or swap with friends.

I promise you, this practical action will help you gain a measure of control. And having a sense of control is another important essential emotional need.

Step 4. Help your friends and family to help you

In the early days, it can really help if you have a loved one to whom you can pour out your heart, talk about your relationship problems and ask for relationship advice if necessary.

Depending on how long ago you broke up, you should have seen a decline in that need. So, if you haven’t been able to move on, your friends and family need to know what you need from them – talk more? Talk less about your ex? Stop gossiping? Put your ex down? Stop judging?

Ask friends and family to be sensitive to your needs.

So, if it’s to talk less about it, for example, you could say: “Thank you so much for your concern. I’m just not ready/willing/prepared to talk about it any further.” If they continue to press: “Thank you, but let’s change the subject.” No more!

Or you could say: “It would really help me if you would…”.

Step 4. Take responsibility

This is a big one! Can’t seem to stop blaming your ex or yourself?

I can guarantee you, blaming is the one thing that’s going to prevent you from letting go, moving on and forgetting. It keeps you firmly stuck in the past.

I sooo understand that it’s really tough to move on if you haven’t been given the opportunity to talk it over and/or vent your anger, or when you’ve had no say in what has happened.

But don’t let yourself get stuck in the blame stage. Instead, consider whether you truly have been the best partner anyone could have wished for. This helps you to look to the future and become the best version of yourself.

My article on how to make your partner love you will help you figure it out, in addition to the advice in Steps 5 and 6 below.

Step 5. Build your strength

First and foremost, be kind and compassionate with yourself. Do not allow yourself to say or do anything that undermines *YOU*. Recognise all your achievements, however small. Be your own best friend.

The stronger you are, the more likely you’re going to be able to leave what’s happened behind. Whenever that person pops into your mind you’ll also find it easier to change your focus to something (or someone) in the here and now.

I highly recommend you use self-hypnosis with the aid of a hypnosis download. This is the best way I know to (re)build your self-esteem and become strong and confident enough to face the future without that person slipping into your mind. For more information, see my article: Hypnosis FAQ and downloads.

Step 6. Consider getting professional help

Get professional help if you need to. There’s no need to suffer in silence and there’s no shame in needing a helping hand. It’s easy and so much more affordable these days to connect to a counsellor online. I highly recommend it (as a qualified and experienced counsellor myself, I would of course!).

Remember that by taking control and doing something to deal with the pain of an ending, you’re always going to feel better. You’re also more likely to be able to remove painful reminders to make it easier to forget that person you still love.

I just want you to know that you will survive, once you’ve made the decision to do so. I’m going to help you along with a free worksheet which is designed to help you start looking after yourself and to focus on the now (not on what was).

Can you ever really forget?

The answer to whether or not you can forget someone depends on many factors, including:

  • the strength of your feelings for each other at the time of the breakup,
  • whether or not you were the instigator,
  • how the breakup happened,
  • whether or not you have a history of mental health problems,
  • whether or not this was an on-off relationship.

Your gender also has some impact on your memories. Women, on the whole, tend to have a better memory for emotionally laden experiences.

Whatever happened to your world, read on…

How to forget someone by training your brain

According to Jim Kwik, it’s what you do and how you train your brain that makes all the difference.

Watch this video to learn more about that…

FAST – FORGET, ACTIVE, STATE, TEACH

  1. Forget
    …what you’ve learnt. Your ability to learn is limitless. That includes your ability to learn how to forget someone. That means that the reason you’re having trouble forgetting this person has little to do with the circumstances of the ending, and everything to do with how you handle it.
    Forget what you know about and because of your partner. Don’t exhaust yourself by going over and over all that’s happened. Instead, take action now and create your new future.
  2. Active
    Kwik says that learning takes place when you’re active. For you right now, that means that you need to actively get involved in committing to the self-help steps I’m recommending here.
  3. State (your mood: mind and body)
    Information + emotion = long-term memory. That song – your song – you keep listening to is the information. That, together with the emotions it stirs up, turns into long-term memory.
    Don’t keep listening to your song. Instead, listen to the one that reminds you of your personal successes and good times. That’s the one that creates a really positive state of mind for you.
  4. Teach
    Learn what you need to do to forget that person as if you’re going to teach your best friend how to get over someone and forget them.
    What would you be telling her/him to do? How would you encourage her/him?
Photo: woman sitting on a rock overlooking mountains and lake. Text: 'The most important responsibility we have is controlling how we feel.' -Jim Kwik

What’s preventing you from forgetting and moving on?

Here’s what could be stopping you from letting go and moving on after someone broke your heart…

  • You’ve neglected your physical, mental, emotional or spiritual well-being
  • You’re focussing on your sadness and all the reasons why your relationship ‘shouldn’t’ have ended and why you ‘won’t ever’ be getting over him or her.
  • You’ve tried to put the ending out of your mind and doggedly continued to refuse to think about it? And/or…
  • You’ve believed people’s dodgy advice that you should be over it after a week or so.
  • You’re deep-down, or even on the surface, consumed by hurts from past relationships, including those in your childhood (peers, parents, family, friends, teachers, etc).
  • You’ve found yourself with a very similar partner or encountered similar endings in previous relationships? In other words – have you learnt from previous experiences?
  • You’ve faced the ending of several relationships, and not looked for help in finding out why they ended, so as not to repeat the same pattern.
  • You keep nurturing your memories of the good times with your ex.

When you want the memories of someone or something to fade naturally, you’ll need to tackle each of the above issues.

What to do if you can’t seem to forget that person you still love

Know that the relationship – and its ending – will become part of your life story. Your story includes all your experiences (for as far as you remember them), from the most glorious to the frankly disastrous. Believe me, when I say that we all have those and some will fade faster than others – it’s part of the human condition.

Your life experiences all come together to create the colourful handwoven tapestry of your life.

What you had with that person – good and bad – is partly what has made you the way you are today. It’s part of your history, and the person you’ve become.

Up to now, you’ve probably been focusing on what you’ve lost. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

Rather than focusing on forgetting, choose to preserve the beautiful, the interesting and everything you learnt from the good and the difficult times. And, importantly, learn to be grateful for all that!

Finally

I hope that the information in this two-part article will help you to let the memories fade into the background.

Know, that you have the learnings from these life experiences forevermore in your own personal toolkit. They’ll always be there to help you next time you encounter a difficult or upsetting situation, as undoubtedly you will.

You’re stronger and more resourceful because of what’s happened.

Honour the way you’ve coped and trust that you will move on, with or without those memories. I’m rooting for you! :-)

Part 1, Part 2

Banner: Need advice? Get help - talk to a licensed therapist now.
Your problem is never too small or too big, too silly or too complicated to ask for help from a licensed, professional therapist

Other helpful links

How get over someone you love

What to avoid when you want to get over someone, factors that determine how long it takes to heal, 10 effective ways to help you get over someone you still love, 7 wake-up questions to help you forget someone (with free printable worksheet), 8 tips to help you focus on moving on.

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