We’ve all had at least one, and we all collectively agree; breakups are the worst. Regardless of whether you’ve only been together a few weeks or multiple years, splitting with your significant other can leave you feeling depressed, lonely, and at a loss. Thankfully, there are things you can do to help yourself get over someone. We aren’t talking about the cheesy “steps” to forgetting your ex, such as: painting your nails or eating all the ice cream. We are talking the best ways to get over someone, the real-life edition.
The best way to start
First, understand that recovering from any meaningful loss is absolutely a process, and will take some time. It would be great if there was a way around this necessary passage through both the process, and the time, but there really is not. You will be doing yourself a favor by permitting yourself the benefit of living within this reality. While this step may not seem particularly helpful, it can decrease some of your impatience, and expectation, that you should not be experiencing what you are experiencing. It can help you be more patient, and gracious, with both yourself and the process.
Second, focus on yourself. Yes, this part means making yourself feel great by say, getting a new haircut. But more importantly, it means taking a look at your personal goals and reaching for them. Start working on losing that weight you’ve been meaning to for the last year, apply for that dream job, etc. The point is to take your life by the reigns and remember you are more than your relationships.
Second, reconsider the rebound. It can be very tempting to jump right into another dating situation, for a variety of reasons. But the most consistent, healthy, the advice is to allow at least a minimum, reasonable, amount of time to recover, heal, understand, and truly be ready for any future relationship. Instead of finding the first person with whom you can hook up, as a distraction, or way to increase your self-esteem, spend some time alone. Consider this: while finding someone with whom to “hang out” may seem like a great distraction, it is only a distraction from all the emotions you will have to deal with eventually. Then, a few months down the road, when your rebound is no longer around, you will not only have to deal with the loss of the rebounding partner, you will also have to deal with all those emotions you pushed aside from the original loss. This often only compounds the thoughts, feelings, and confusion facing you. Don’t fill the gap with another, even casual, dating relationship.
Third, focus on yourself. Yes, this part can include engaging in some self-care activities that help you feel great by perhaps, getting a new haircut, some massages, manicures, facials, joining a gym, etc. You are likely to need some pampering, and encouragement, to help counter some of the pain and sadness you may be experiencing. But a more productive way to spend this ‘waiting’ period, is to use it for your own personal growth.
It is when you are not in a committed relationship when you have the best opportunity to really look at yourself, who you are, what you bring to significant relationships, what you have learned from this most recent one, as well as all those which came before it; so you gain the most awareness, understanding, and wisdom to take with you into your future relationships. Use this time! Glean as much as you absolutely can to be the best you possible. This does not at all, necessarily, mean you were the primary cause for the demise of this most recent relationship or previous ones. But it is a great time for self-reflection, discovery, and growth.
Vent, release, as much as you need.
Take the time you need to vent and process as much as necessary, to bring you to the point of willingness, and readiness, to leave this past relationship in your past. The more you understand about the entire relationship, and certainly what led to its demise, the easier this process is likely to be. You may find it helpful to give yourself permission to write out your thoughts, feelings, and questions, over a period of days, weeks, or even months, to fully release, process, and understand as much as you are able. While many people journal in some form or fashion, you might try writing at a consistent time every day, regardless of whether you think it necessary. This can serve the additional purpose of almost ‘scheduling your pain,’ and haunting thoughts and questions; which can reduce both the frequency and intensity of such thoughts and feelings appearing throughout the rest of your day. Knowing you have a written record of everything spinning through your mind can be quite powerful in reducing your ‘need’ to intentionally ruminate on troublesome thoughts. Such consistent writing can also help you clarify what you are thinking and feeling, so may serve as a venue for you to do some internal dialoguing and processing. In addition, you always have the option to use some of your daily writing as the first draft of an actual communication to your ex, should you ever decide that is necessary and appropriate.
Focus on what you can control.
It can also be very helpful to focus on those things that are within your control. The effects of stress tend to be greatest the less control we have over the situation. A meaningful breakup creates stress whether chosen by you or not; but if it was not what you wanted, or chose, then it is likely to be more painful, and more difficult to move past. So you may want to pay attention to areas in your life over which you have more control. While such focus will not remove the stress of the breakup, it can decrease the intensity of those effects.
Consider what you contributed to this, and other, relationships.
One thing that is within your control, is what you contributed to that past relationship. You may not have been the primary reason for its demise, but there is always value in choosing to, intentionally, evaluate yourself to be sure you are aware of characteristics you may not want to take with you into your next relationship. What did you bring into that last situation which was not ideal? What did you contribute to difficulties between the two of you? What have you learned? What could you have done differently, which might have produced a different result? If you seem to find yourself in multiple failed relationships, is it reasonable for you to consider whether you are the common denominator? Sometimes, even if your partners have obvious (at least in hindsight) issues or character flaws, you may want to ask yourself what continues to draw you to such unhealthy, or untrustworthy, or emotionally unavailable, partners. It is absolutely possible for one person to lead a relationship to destruction. At the same time, if you notice a trend in being attracted to a certain type of dysfunction in your potential romantic partners, now is a great time to evaluate that further, so you are better able to avoid a similar situation in the future.
Create a ‘non-negotiable list for prospective dating partners.
This is a way for you to consider those characteristics which are mandatory for you, one way or the other, in any long-term, or permanent, relationship. It is to your benefit to be clear about such parameters before entering, or re-entering, a dating situation, since it is possible for us to fall in love with virtually anyone, whether they happen to be a good fit for us, long-term, or not. So, what are those qualities that you MUST have in your partner? Must she have a sarcastic sense of humor? Must he love being outdoors, and actively involved in such activities? Must she share your faith? Similarly, be honest with yourself now, about anything that is a deal-breaker for you. Do yourself a huge favor and rule out anyone who does not meet your foundational criteria. This is most respectful to both you and your future dating partners.
The best way to keep moving forward
Continue focusing on yourself even after you aren’t just doing it for the immediate distraction any longer. We’re talking at least a year after your break up. This might be when you haven’t thought about the other person in over a month and you feel like you’ve really moved on, when – BAM – you have a dream about them and it feels like you are back to square one. This stage can be sneaky, so the best way to guard against these unforeseen pangs of missing is to be consistent in the previous strategies mentioned, so you are less likely to lose yourself all over again.
Perhaps you could benefit from talking with a professional counselor. If more traditional venues are not a good fit for you, consider an online therapist who can work through it with you. The clinicians at BetterHelp are well-equipped to do so and may be more affordable, and more convenient than other sources are likely to be.
Further, take a look at your personal goals and pursue them. Start working on losing that weight you’ve been meaning to for the last year, apply for that dream job, strengthen your other important relationships. The point is to take your life by the reins and remember you are more than your dating relationships.
The best way to get over a relationship
As much as you may not want to hear this, one of the best ways to get over someone is giving yourself lots of time, and ultimately accepting that getting over someone doesn’t mean feeling anything in relation to that person again. When it comes down to it, you may very well always care for that person. This is because what you had was real, and that never completely disappears. It does, however, change. So, if you take the time to focus on you and allow yourself to heal, you will get to a point where you can think of him or her and feel fondness without any longing or hurt whatsoever.