What to do when you can’t get over your ex
Discover how to get over someone you love with my expert tips and advice on the most effective ways to get over someone you love and move on.
Just in case you’ve never actually had a relationship with that person or you perhaps never even dated, hop straight over to my article on how to get over unrequited love.
After a breakup, you’re grieving. You just want to crawl away into a corner and nurse your pain. You’re likely to feel deeply wounded.
If only you could forget he or she ever existed, because… oh the pain, the pain! Not being able to be with them can be ‘hell’ and concentrating on anything else or just enjoying yourself is so hard.
It could be that you’re still part of that person’s life one way or another.
You may be…
… working with him or her,
… seeing or meeting them every day,
… bumping into them in the gym, club, or at regular meetings, perhaps even daily,
… parenting your children together,
… part of the same social circle,
… worse – seeing them with your best friend, or someone else you’re close to.
Whatever the circumstances – you wish you could get them out of your mind. It’s like they’re permanently camping inside your head. Yet, at the same time – depending on the situation – you may desperately wish they could still be part of your life.
Perhaps you had no inkling that it was going to end. If it was a shock, I’m quite sure you feel stunned and terribly rejected. Maybe you just want to stay in bed and weep all day, wishing you could just switch off and forget!
You may be torturing yourself with thoughts about who he or she is with.
Do you know them? Is he or she better looking? Are they better in bed? More intelligent? And so on.
In this article, you’ll discover:
- A test to find out what you personally need to do to get over someone
- How you could be making it more difficult for yourself to forget someone
- The 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
- 7 things to stop you forgetting that person
- and much, much more
Getting over someone you love
Take this test for immediate recommendations on what to consider when you want to know how to get over someone you still love…
Before I help you get over that someone, just in case...
Still a chance to mend your broken relationship?
It may be too late, but if there's still a glimmer of hope, get my Loving Communication Kit for Couples. It has a bundle of expert - fun and serious - relationship-enhancing tools and strategies.
If there's no time to lose, speak to a qualified online relationship expert. You'll be able to connect with your counsellor as often as you need to in your very own 'counselling room'. Or you could just chat by text or communicate by email.
But, if you're sure there's no hope, let's get you sorted and help you to get over that person you still love.
Are you making it even more difficult for yourself to get over him or her than necessary?
First of all, know that being emotional costs loads of energy. You may well be tempted to spend your time thinking about the lost love, nurturing every thought about him or her.
Perhaps you're even devising imaginary (or real) plans to rekindle the love if you were dumped. However, that all adds to the emotional overload you're already dealing with just when you're trying to figure out how to forget someone.
Just stopping thinking about your ex isn't going to work either.
I would really like you to ensure that you nurture your body and mind. This will help to 'inoculate' you against the temptation to wallow, and divert your attention to more positive things instead.
Factors that help to determine how long it takes to get over someone
Here’s what could be adding to your distress (bearing in mind the differences between a public and a secret relationship):
- Whether or not you had been able to pursue the relationship without any interference from others;
- Whether or not your love was returned or if you've never dated, or had a relationship with, that person;
- How dependent you had become on your ex;
- How recently you split up (to some extent) (See also: How to get through a breakup)
- How 'intense' or even 'obsessive' the relationship was;
- Whether or not it was an abusive relationship;
- Whether or not it was an 'on/off' relationship;
- How well you now behave towards each other;
- Whether or not you have chosen a collaborative separation or divorce;
- How you found out that it was over and how precisely it ended;
- Whether or not you understand why the relationship has broken up.
Therefore it's worth reflecting on what's underlying your distress and tackle those issues directly.
In any case, there's much you can do for yourself to ease the pain and reduce the time it takes to heal...
Professional advice to help you get over someone you love
Choose one or two things from the list of strategies and commit to them. Today is the first day of the rest of your life - it's time to move on!
10 Effective ways to help you get over someone you love
1. Ensure you sleep well,
but stay off the sleeping tablets. Sleep will return eventually, even if it takes a little while to come. Sleeping (and dreaming) is also vital for your mental health
2. Limit your drinking
Use self-hypnosis to aid your resolve. Too much alcohol places a huge demand on Vitamin B - which is vital for dealing with stress. If you happen to be that 1 person in 10 susceptible to developing a substance addiction, you'd only put yourself at greater risk and scupper your chances of getting over someone.
3. Get plenty of exercise
- aerobic exercise is great form of physical activity, particularly outdoors. Fast walking for half an hour a day or at least five times a week will do the trick. Particularly the feeling of being active in your recovery will help you to feel better about yourself.
4. Calm your mind easily and effectively
with a hypnosis download. You won't believe how relaxed you can be - and you'll be far more able to think clearly and stop those unwelcome thoughts going round and round.
5. De-stress with soothing music
(60 - 80 beats per minute*) - similar to your heart-rate, or meditate.
6. Write 'never to be sent letters'
It will help you to get things off your chest (believe me -it works!) and/or keep a journal to help get stuff out of your head. It will also help you to track your recovery. No, it won't make you feel worse, I promise.
7. Connect with an online counsellor
Do it as soon as possible if you're suffering from depression, or are completely unable to get on with normal day-to-day activities.
Scroll down to the blue box below this article for further information, or visit my page: Online Counselling - Better Help has relationship breakup experts waiting to help you.
8. Give yourself permission to indulge
Indulge yourself in thoughts about the object of your affection. But! For no more than 20 minutes a day.
Get on with the rest of your life, shelving any thoughts about that person until the allotted time.
9. Accept that you are grieving
for the loss of your relationship and the future you had envisaged together with your ex.
It's as if someone has died, and you may feel part of you has died too (see: Broken heart syndrome). I know it can feel as if your heart has been ripped out of your chest. But, I so want to reassure you: it will get better, time heals indeed (to some extent).
10. Take some natural remedies
to calm and soothe you, if you really feel you need 'something' (but remember to stay off the alcohol).
Choose any of these strategies above - the worst thing you can do is do nothing but sit and ruminate!
Pick whatever speaks to you, and commit to it, but don't push yourself too hard early on.
I promise, you will be able to get over that certain someone - even though you may never forget them. But, you will have to put in some effort to help yourself along the way.
More tips and advice to help you get over a relationship
I couldn't include all my advice in one article, so be sure to also read:
Getting over someone may become easier when you understand how much you've given up
One of the ways to get over someone you love is to ask yourself the following probing questions to help you get a different perspective.
(They are a bit advanced though - you may or may not be ready for them. If not... just quickly scroll down to the next section.)
7 WAKE-UP QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU FORGET SOMEONE YOU LOVE
- If you weren't spending your time constantly thinking about this person you love so much, how would you be spending your time?
- What plans - however tentative - can you create to spend the next 2, 5, 10, 20 years of your life?
- What opportunities are opening up for you without that person in your life? After all, you're likely to have made some concessions to accommodate his or her needs and wants.
- What restrictions and limitations would you have been facing if you were sharing your life with that person?
- What hurt, stress and disappointments might you be dealing with if you were still with him or her?
- What stories would you want to tell your children/grandchildren about your life in 20 years' time?
- If you could reclaim all the energy that you have been investing in obsessing about this person (if that's indeed what you've been doing), what would you be able to achieve with all that energy?
Free printable worksheet
New! Do let me know...
There's more you need to know to repair your broken heart
- Pen and paper
- Self-care worksheet
- Self-hypnosis downloads
- Your mobile phone or another listening device
- Mental tools - willingness to take action and learn new skills
- Coping tools - see below...
3 essential strategies to help you move on faster
- Start focussing on yourself
Think about them only briefly when they come into your mind and then focus on yourself again.
Stop giving them your attention by tracking them on social media and, in particular, stop blaming them. Blaming wastes your precious energy just when you need it most. Most importantly, it will lengthen the time you need to get over your ex.
- Change your environment - online and offline
Buy yourself some flowers, new night gear and new underwear. Move your furniture around the place and buy new bedsheets if you're still live in the same place.
Delete whatever and whoever from your social media accounts. Block trolls and other people who drain your energy!
Remind family and friends not to ask you how your ex is doing and generally to keep him or her out of the conversation - unless you haven't had a chance yet to get it all off your chest.
- Allow yourself to grieve
- yes, getting over someone involves a grieving process and don't let anyone tell you when you should be over it. You're very likely to begin to feel a little better within a couple of months, but the total time to get over someone depends on too many factors to mention.
Keep a journal to help you process those tumultuous feelings and track your recovery.
Ask for help - you're going through a hard time. Online counselling (WhatsApping, emailing, chatting) is now widely and easily available. Alternatively, do offload and/or ask for relationship advice from a trusted (non-judgemental) friend, colleague or family member.
All three strategies are really important. Feel free to adapt them, though, depending on your individual circumstances.
Oh, and do make use of the free worksheet!
How you could make it more difficult for yourself
How long does it take to get over someone?
I so understand you want to feel better quickly, but there is no set time. There are things you may do that aren't very helpful...
7 THINGS THAT STOP YOU FROM GETTING OVER SOMEONE YOU STILL LOVE
- Holding on to anger - a waste of your energy, it changes nothing and nobody.
- Spilling the beans all over social media - it will make you feel worse, is likely to appeal only to people who don't really matter, and delays your recovery. So, take care of and with those social media accounts!
- Asking friends for updates on what your ex is doing, and who they're seeing! Yes, I know, you can't stand the thought of them being with anyone else. And you dread the thought of bumping into them unexpectedly, of course. So, be prepared, practice, ensure your body language shows you're happy in your own skin!
- Wearing your ex's clothes even if only for comfort. By all means - hang on to them for a few weeks, but keep in mind you'll be letting them go after that.
- Contacting your ex - telling them how much you miss him or her. If you find yourself pleading, know that your need to be with someone is greater than your self-love and it's time to work on your self-esteem.
- Holding on to memorabilia Pack them up and hand them back. It's okay to do it in stages, but don't drag it out.
- Making it hard for your children to love the other parent. Regardless of how you feel about your ex, your children should not feel the need to 'protect' you. And you're likely to end up feeling guilty. See How to help your children through a breakup.
Get over your ex and start living your life to the full again
You've had an opportunity to think about the ways you could improve your life if indeed you were able to get over this person. Let's now get you on the right track to making a fresh start.
Choose one or two ways to help you get over someone you love, and really move on with your life.
5 Ways to help you get over someone you can no longer be with and focus on the future
1. Consider getting the help of a licensed therapist.
See my page: Online Breakup Counselling. There is nothing quite like being able to get it all off your chest and get some strategies to deal with it. A good counsellor should also know how to 'detraumatise' you. To connect with an online, professional, licensed therapist, scroll down to the blue box below this article.
2. Take on a project
such as voluntary work, studies, a special project at work, DIY, gardening, etc, if you're not now in a relationship. Brainstorm some ideas.
3. Reinvest in your friendships
Make a point of contacting people you haven't seen for a long time. Seek out people who are vibrant and positive. Stay away from those you drain your energy.
Put your mobile aside, actually talk to people in the here and now and make friends. This is the single most effective thing you can do to become a happier person overall!
4. Pay special attention to
- and invest with your whole heart in - your role as an aunt, brother, granddaughter, son or whatever connects you to the family; or connect to whatever you consider your family. Meeting your essential emotional need for a sense of community is one of the best ways to recover from anything. In particular, it can really help you to get over someone you love!
5. Ensure you're meeting new people
Having social connections - in-person, not just online - is an essential human need.
Why is it so difficult to forget someone you really love?
Biological anthropologist Prof Helen Fisher's research confirmed what I had always suspected from my work with couples and individuals. There had to be some explanation of why a seemingly contented and happy partner or spouse would suddenly become besotted with someone else!
Often I did uncover some historic relationship stuff. However, that didn't account for what appeared to be a total personality change.
Fisher has discovered that there are three circuits in the brain that affect how we experience love and affection. One circuit is linked with attachment, one with romantic love and one with lust.
Can you ever forget someone completely?
I doubt you would ever completely forget someone who has meant so much in your life.
That person may always have a special place in your heart however annoying that may be!
It does, though, depend on the intensity and length of your relationship and the circumstances of its ending. The memory, however, will decrease in emotional intensity over time. That is... unless you keep torturing yourself!
Depending to some extent on your personality and the circumstances, there may be some lasting regrets.
If the memory is connected with trauma, then please do yourself a favour and get some professional help. You so deserve to be able to let go of that and you really can!
Finally - getting over someone - the importance of
I hope you've gathered by now that you can really get over someone much faster if you take an active part in your recovery.
I can't promise you you'll feel better overnight - regardless of what you're promised by other 'relationship experts'. For now, allow yourself some space and the time to weep. You will feel better eventually and you'll be living life to the full again. You'll be meeting new people and forgetting you had such a hard time getting over him or her.
Make a plan and track your recovery. You can do it - I'm rooting for you. :-)
APA PsycNET study - Down-regulation of love feelings after a romantic break-up