How To Stop Obsessing Over An Ex: A Five-Step Solution

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated April 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Many individuals spend time and energy looking for significant others and meaningful relationships. It's common to try out different relationships to find the fit that will last forever. But dating can come with a cost – breakups. 

Breakups are often complicated and painful, even if you were the one to end things. Sometimes, you might be able to move on a few months after you split with a partner, but other times, you might find yourself obsessing or still feeling upset a year later. You may even feel guilty or develop a self defeating attitude when it comes to building other relationships. 

This guide explores the healing process and some steps to help you move on from a past relationship and reduce the time you spend thinking about your ex partner. We'll cover everything from getting rid of reminders to talking to an online therapist

How to get your ex off your mind

Are thoughts of your ex consuming your life?
Breakups are a normal part of the dating experience. Research indicates that one in three unmarried individuals between 18 and 35 have experienced at least one breakup in the past 20 months. But that doesn't make them any easier. 

Whether you feel like you're obsessing over your ex or you just want to get them off your mind, these steps might help you with the grieving process and get you ready for future relationships. 

Step 1: Get rid of reminders

Looking for effective strategies on how to get over an ex-boyfriend? Pack up anything that reminds you of your ex, and get rid of it. This includes things they bought you, your pictures together (including pictures on social media), and other reminders. You may find that you're having difficulty moving on because these things serve as a constant reminder of the memories attached to them and make you think of your ex.

Some items might be easy to throw away, while some might take more effort. Others, like books or clothes, can be donated to charity. And others still might be emotionally difficult to let go of – for example, a photo of the two of you at your sister's wedding. Consider putting items like this in storage. 

Step 2: List the reasons you broke up


You might benefit from writing a list of why you broke up – include all the reasons and negative aspects of the relationship, and don't leave anything out. For example, why didn't the relationship work? What about them irritated you? Did they have misconceptions about you? List everything you can think of and add to the list if something comes up later. 

It's common for people only to remember the good memories of their past relationships and forget or minimize the reasons they broke up. And a written list might help you remember why you're not together during moments when you may wistfully remember times with your ex. 

If you weren't the one to end the relationship, you can list things like how they handled your breakup, whether they were respectful, and why they didn't want to be together. If it helps, you can try to list things you want from an ideal relationship paired with reasons why you cannot have that with the previous relationship with your ex. 

Step 3: Remove their contact information

It can be helpful to remove your ex's phone number, unfriend them on Facebook, unfollow them on social media, and remove their email from your contact list. You might even block them on accounts that allow it to prevent them from stirring up old emotions later. According to relationship experts, following your exes on social media is usually a bad idea that can lead to an emotional rollercoaster that causes you to expend even more energy thinking about your ex. 

Then, when you feel tempted to get in touch, which is normal for most people, you won't be able to reach out as easily. In addition, removing contact information can help your brain start to move on and heal, according to relationship expert Amy Chan. 

Step 4: Accept you aren't going to forget them

For most of us, moving forward means learning to accept things. While you may eventually stop hurting over the breakup, it's unlikely that you will forget your ex. That's okay. Your ex is part of your past, and the past helped shape the present you. Accepting this may help you close the door to the relationship post breakup.

Even if a romantic relationship ends badly, it can still positively impact you. For example, you may learn to move on from painful breakups in a healthier way. Or you might have a better idea of the type of people you would like to have in your life and have a better idea of what to look for in new relationships. 

Step 5: Talk to a professional

Are thoughts of your ex consuming your life?

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to admit you need help. If you feel like the above steps only scratch the surface of what you're facing, it might be time to reach out for help moving forward. Consider finding a licensed therapist to assist you as you process your feelings and unresolved issues and get over your ex. 

Losing a significant relationship that feels familiar and comfortable often leads to grieving. Letting go of the goals, dreams, and plans you had for the relationship can be challenging and painful. And there's no shame in reaching out for support in healing from this hurt and disappointment.

Breakups may also impact our self confidence the way we see ourselves. For example, some find that a failed relationship might aggravate or lead to insecurities about themselves. Others may feel discouraged about having a happy and healthy relationship in the future. And qualified therapist can help with all of these concerns.

You can choose between online and in-person therapy, as both options are equally effective for most people. Online therapy is often more affordable and easier to work into your schedule, so it's a better option for some individuals. And since research shows that internet-based treatments can help with issues like depression, anxiety, and a lack of self-care, they can be helpful to those trying to get over a breakup. 

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"I've never been to therapy and so was really hesitant about opening up at first. But Whitney has just been so great! I signed up for BetterHelp because I was going through a breakup with problems I knew stemmed from problems with myself. I knew I felt unhappy in my relationship but could not for certain say why. Therapy with Whitney has been so great in helping me become more self aware and reflective. And, of course, the break up was hard at first. But every day, with Whitney, I was able to feel a little bit better than the day before."


It’s okay if you find yourself asking, “Why can’t I get over my ex”? Getting over your ex can be challenging. Once you've removed reminders of them, removed their contact info, and remembered why you broke up, you may still feel lonely and like you need additional support. And that's okay – talking with a therapist can help. Therapy may be especially helpful if your breakup has led to mental health issues, like anxiety, depression, or feelings of hopelessness or if you’re working to process a toxic relationship or abusive relationship. It can also be beneficial to deal with past trauma from your earliest relationships. 

BetterHelp is a convenient and affordable way to work with a licensed professional online. We'll match you with an experienced therapist or counselor based on your needs and preferences. Then, you can schedule sessions via voice call, in-app messaging, or video chat at times that work for you. And if emotions or thoughts come up between sessions, you can send unlimited messages to your therapist anytime for them to reply to when they're free. 

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7.

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

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