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

Updated October 5, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Are Thoughts Of Your Ex Consuming Your Life?

Having a significant other is something most of us spend a large portion of our lives looking for. We try out different relationships to find the fit that will last forever. Unfortunately, however, this continual "trying on" of relationships comes with a cost - the cost of breakups. Difficult and painful, breakups mean loss, even if the fit wasn't right. That said, normally we expect the pain of a breakup to last for a few months and then for it to be done. This isn't always the case though. On occasion, you can find yourself still upset a year down the road, and when this happens you tend to be desperate to learn how to stop obsessing over an ex. Or you might be left wondering if your ex thinks about you. 

Luckily, there are some steps you can take that will help you do just this.

Step 1: Get Rid Of The Reminders

Pack up anything that reminds you of your ex, and get rid of it. This includes all of the things they bought you and all of your pictures together (including pictures on social media), etc. You may find that you're having difficulty moving on because there are too many reminders around triggering thoughts of your ex, or even thoughts like, "I hate my ex".

Some of these items might be easy to throw out. Others, like books or clothes, can be donated to charity. However, some things might be harder to release. Maybe there is a photo of the two of you at your sister's wedding. Consider putting items like this in a box in the attic or the garage.

Getting rid of or packing away reminders from your old relationships will help keep you focused on the present and your future instead of dwelling on the past. Those old pictures and keepsakes will likely keep reviving a lot of painful emotions until they're out of sight. Now that your relationship is over, it is time to find ways to focus on your bright future.

Step 2: Write A List Of All Of The Reasons You Broke Up

Write a list of the reasons you broke up, and don't leave anything out. Why didn't the relationship work? What about them irritated you? Write down everything you can think of, and then read through it to remind yourself that you are better off without them. Additionally, keep this list, and read it as often as you need to.

When we start missing someone we cared about, we can get so focused on what we missed that we overlook the reasons why the relationship did not work in the first place. Remember that those issues are still there, and there is a difference between who we want the person to be (or even who they could be) and who they actually are. Keeping things in perspective can stop you from returning to a relationship that didn't work for you. Instead, you can focus on the kind of relationship you really want and deserve.

Step 3: Delete All Of Their Contact Information

Delete their phone number, unfriend them on Facebook, unfollow them on Instagram and Snapchat, and remove their email from your contact list. In short, cut off all routes to communication. When you are tempted to get in touch -- and you absolutely will, we all do - this step will stop you before you make a mistake. Nothing will set you back faster than contacting your ex, so prevent this before it happens by permanently removing them the ability to contact them.

After a breakup, we all have emotional moments when it seems like contacting our ex will be a good idea. Yes, contacting your ex may temporarily relieve the difficult emotions you are feeling, but it will only make things harder. Cutting off all channels of communication can also keep your ex from contacting you. If your ex is having trouble moving on or is sending you mixed messages, eliminating those links will help both of you.

Are Thoughts Of Your Ex Consuming Your Life?

Step 4: Accept You Aren't Going To Forget Them

Part of moving forward is learning to accept the breakup. While you will stop hurting, you probably won't forget your ex. That's okay. After all, your ex is part of your past, and the past helped shape the present you. Accepting this can help you close the door on the relationship.

Most people will only be a part of our lives for a season, but just because relationships come and go, it doesn't mean the relationship wasn't valuable. Even if a romantic relationship ends badly, it can still have a positive impact on you. After a failed relationship, it can be so easy to forget what you lost that you also forget what you've gained.

Now that the relationship is over, a new door has been opened, so you can have a happier relationship in your future. You have learned about yourself and about your wants and needs. Chances are this experience will help you discover strength and resiliency that you didn't know you had.

Step 5: Seek Professional Help

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to admit you need help. Admitting you're in pain and can't move forward on your own -- even after you've completed the above steps -- allows you to receive the help you need. Therefore, consider finding a licensed or certified professional to help you process your feelings and guide you to successfully getting over your ex.

Losing such a significant relationship is a grief process. Letting go of all of the goals, dreams, and plans you had for the relationship can be challenging and painful. Some may find they need support in healing from the hurt and disappointment.

Breakups can also impact the way we see ourselves. Some find that a failed relationship may aggravate or lead to insecurities about themselves. Losing the hopes and dreams that you had for a past relationship may leave others feeling hopeless or discouraged about having a happy and healthy relationship in the future. A qualified therapist can help with all of these concerns.

Seeking Help

If moving on from a difficult break up continues to be a challenge for you, talking with a therapist can help. Sometimes the grief we feel after the loss of a romantic relationship decrease fairly quickly; at other times you may need additional support. If a breakup leads to anxiety, depression, or feelings of hopelessness, this is a clear sign that a therapist can help.

BetterHelp is a convenient and affordable way to work with a licensed counselor online. If getting past the loss of a relationship is still hard for you, talking about it can help. When it comes down to it, getting over your ex can be unpleasant and difficult. However, if you put in the effort to move on, these feelings of hurt and loss will inevitably get better. It's simply a matter of time. Read on to hear from people experiencing similar issues, who found support with BetterHelp counselors.

Counselor Reviews

"Julia is a very open-minded, understanding and warm-hearted person. She listened with kindness and without judgement. Her advice helped me tremendously through a bad break up and ensuing personal problems. Her advice and understanding has been very helpful in guiding me to a healthier mind frame."

"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."

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