How To Get Over Someone You Never Dated

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated February 8, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Unrequited love can be common. Loving someone you've never dated or someone who does not love you, in the same way, may feel painful. If you've never had an official relationship with this person, you might feel confused about why it hurts to get over them. Validating your emotions, receiving professional support, and working to move forward can be beneficial in these situations.

Having Trouble Getting Over Someone You Weren’t Dating?

Ways To Move On From Someone You Didn't Date 

When trying to get over someone you never dated, you may want to avoid contact with them for a while, putting your energy toward other activities that matter to you. Journaling and self-affirmation may help you sort through your feelings and build your sense of self. Below are a few steps on moving forward from someone you didn't date. 

Create Distance

It's often helpful to avoid contact with the person you've been pining for, at least for a while. Although it could be difficult if you have similar social circles, it may allow you the distance to focus on removing yourself from your feelings. Many people may find it easier to get over a romantic interest when they're not constantly running into them in public. Repeated contact may reinforce your feelings. Digital contact could have the same effects, so you may want to take steps to stop yourself from "checking on" the other person through social media. 

Research on the neurology of love suggests that even looking at a photograph of the person you're yearning for can activate parts of the brain associated with reward reinforcement and habit formation. 

Each time you return to their profile, you might reactivate your brain's reward systems. That's why many people might find it more effective to cut out contact completely. The time it takes for you to feel comfortable speaking to them again may vary. However, consider starting with 30 days to see how it feels. 

Affirm Your Feelings

Feelings of shame or self-blame could cause you to feel embarrassed or angry with yourself for feeling attached to someone you did not have a romantic relationship with. While these feelings can be understandable, they might prevent you from processing your grief. Many people find relief from self-validation instead of suppression. 

It might be helpful to remind yourself that it can be okay to feel sadness over the loss of something you cared about. It can be a form of grief. When you lose a loved one or experience a breakup, some sorrow could be focused on the goals you had in the future. In the case of a relationship that did not occur, you may feel the same way. If you take the time to sit with your feelings without judgment, you may find that they're easier to work through.

Let Go Of The "What-Ifs"

When you feel romantic interest in someone you can't be with, you may fantasize about what it would be like to date them. You might find yourself thinking about what would have to be different for you to be together, coming up with mental scenarios in which things work out between you.

Imaginary experiences can seem real to the emotional parts of the brain. That's why these fantasies may feel genuinely comforting, even if they're accompanied by loneliness. As a result, some people find it hard to stop imagining these scenarios. They might have dreams about the person and think about them often. 

However, it may be easier to move on if you try to avoid mental scenarios. The fantasizing may have a similar impact to checking their profile throughout the day. If you notice thoughts about how happy you could be with the other person, try redirecting them. You could try imagining a different source of happiness or partake in an activity that distracts you. 

Having Trouble Getting Over Someone You Weren’t Dating?

Write Down What You're Going Through

Many individuals find that journaling helps them deal with psychological distress. Writing down your feelings might make it easier to get over the person on your mind. It could help you objectively examine your thoughts and emotions so you can see them logically. You might read past entries to remind yourself how far you've come. 

One way to start journaling is to take five minutes to write down every thought that pops into your head when you think of the other person. Try this without stopping your thoughts or judging your feelings. You may be surprised at what emerges. You might also find that in the process, you identify some positive reasons the relationship you had hoped for didn't work out.

You could also try to draw up a list of every trait you dislike about the person you're smitten with. Then create another list of the traits you'd most desire in a partner. This listing exercise may help you break any illusion that the other person is "perfect for you" while imagining a future relationship with someone else. 

Practice Self-Care

Encouraging yourself not to interact with or fantasize about someone you're attached to could be challenging, even if you're convinced it's the right choice. You may find it easier if you make time for other pleasurable activities. Self-care can take many forms, such as:

  • Watching a favorite movie
  • Going for a hike
  • Getting a massage
  • Practicing yoga
  • Cooking or ordering a delicious meal
  • Exercising
  • Listening to an album you love
  • Prepping healthy meals for the week
  • Cleaning your space at home 
  • Learning a new skill
  • Having a decadent dessert

Self-care doesn't necessarily mean giving yourself treats (though that can often be helpful in moderation). It can also involve activities that improve your physical well-being or make your life easier to manage. By redirecting your focus to what you can do to make yourself happy, you may find it easier to stop thinking about the other person.

Try Self Affirmations

You may find that a lack of romantic reciprocation makes you feel poorly about yourself. Building your confidence back up may be a valuable part of the process if you're trying to move on from someone who rejected you. 

You could try practicing self-affirmation as a first step. Affirmations are based on a psychological technique to strengthen your sense of self-worth by grounding it in your core personal values.

The process can begin by writing down several of the values you have in your life. Next, place yourself within a future scenario that aligns with those values. For instance, if you place high importance on helping others, you could picture yourself volunteering at a charity you care about. 

You might also find that speaking or writing affirming statements about yourself can help. They may be most effective if aligned with your values and morals. These techniques may feel silly, but they are often effective at building a mental habit of positive thinking about yourself.

Pursue Other Goals

Self-affirmation might work best if it's followed by action. If you have listed your values, you may feel ready to identify goals aligned with those values. Focusing on these goals could help you put your mental energy toward an activity that benefits you. 

You could start focusing on your career, going after a promotion or job change, or making new friends. You might start learning a musical instrument or training for a marathon. You could also consider taking a cross-country road trip you've always wanted to take or starting up a podcast you and your friend have been talking about. Spending more time with family and friends may also help if strengthening relationships is essential to you. 

Connect with other sources of meaning, value, and satisfaction besides romance.  It may be easier to forget the person you've been crushing on if you keep yourself busy pursuing these other types of fulfillment. 

Explore Counseling Options

When working through your feelings about a relationship that failed to materialize, it may be practical to talk with a neutral party like a therapist. Counselors trained in love and relationship issues may be able to provide you with helpful strategies for processing your grief. 

Many people in this situation appreciate the speed and convenience of online therapy. Connecting with a counselor online is often quicker, so you can find someone to talk with when you need it most. Online therapy can also be as effective as in-person sessions, according to a meta-analysis of previous research. The authors looked at studies with nearly 10,000 participants and concluded that there was "no difference in effectiveness" between online and in-person mental health interventions. If you'd like to explore internet-based therapy to help you process your feelings, consider a platform like BetterHelp.

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Takeaway

When you're having trouble getting over someone you never dated, accepting your feelings may be more beneficial than trying to suppress them. It can also be helpful to break off contact with the person, redirecting your attention toward the areas of your life that provide meaning and value. Trained relationship professionals may also be able to provide you with strategies for letting go of your attachment and finding closure.

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