Moving On: How To Get Over Someone You Never Dated

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated April 24, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When we imagine love and moving on from someone, we might first think of a relationship that ended with a breakup or mutual split due to circumstances. However, not all emotional attachments come from our time in relationships; unrequited love can be common. Loving someone you've never dated or someone who does not love you in the same way can feel as painful as moving on from a past relationship. When figuring out how you can get over a crush, validating your own emotions, surrounding yourself with your support system, and seeking professional support may all be helpful.

Having trouble getting over someone you weren’t dating?

Ways to move on 

When trying to get over someone you never dated, you may want to get away and avoid contact with them for a while, putting your energy toward other activities that matter to you. Below are a few steps on how to move on after getting stuck on someone you didn't date.

Create distance 

Often, in the time post-breakup – whether it was a long-term relationship or a short fling – there is a natural separation and distancing between your new life and that of your previous partner. If there’s no breakup, though, it may be difficult to create that distance and move toward your new life. Although this avoidance could be difficult if your lives intersect, it may get you to a place far enough away to focus on removing yourself from your feelings. 

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. 

Avoid their social media accounts

Again, in the age of social media, this may mean it’s time to step away from this person’s profiles. If you constantly feel the urge to check their profiles or to watch their TikTok videos, consider blocking that person. This does not have to be a long-term move; you can unblock them when you are comfortable with it.

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 from a few weeks to a few months to potentially even longer. 

If you’ve held onto any physical reminders of the person, like an object that was once theirs or an item they gave you, it may be best to get rid of these as well. This can be a part of getting to a place where you get to let go and to begin the healing process.  

Affirm your feelings

When wondering how to get over someone, the hardest part may be feelings of shame or self-blame that could cause you to feel guilty, embarrassed, or angry with yourself. 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 is normal to feel pain at the end of a relationship, and it is important to mention there are many ways to use the term “relationship” – it does not have to refer solely to “official” ex-romantic partners. When you lose a loved one or break up with a significant other, some of the sorrow you feel may stem from the goals you’d had for your future. In the case of romantic relationships that did not materialize, you may feel the same way. Consider it a personal policy; you are allowed to feel these feelings in your own ways, on your own time, without the criticism of yourself or others.

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 start thinking about what would have to be different for you to be together or coming up with mental scenarios in which things work out between the two of 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 and accept that their feelings are not being returned. 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. You could try imagining a different source of happiness or participate 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.  

Ideas for getting started with journaling

One way of getting started 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 could also try to draw up a list of every trait you dislike about the person you're smitten with. Think about why they might be deal breakers if things had happened differently and you were in a relationship with them. 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" and lead you to imagine a future relationship with a new person. 

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 ideas you can try:

  • 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 practice 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 and self-esteem 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, imagine yourself within a future scenario that aligns with those values. You might also find that speaking or writing affirming statements about yourself can help. These techniques may feel silly, but they are often effective at building a mental habit of positive thinking about yourself and a practice of ongoing self-love.

Pursue other goals and future relationships

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 and makes you feel good. 

You could start focusing on your career, perhaps pursuing a promotion or job change, or you could focus on making new friends or considering the possibility of future relationships. You might start learning a musical instrument or training for a marathon. Remember, laughter is known as the best medicine, so try to spend time with people who consistently bring a smile to your face.

Find fulfillment in other places

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 stay busy pursuing these other types of fulfillment. And, as a bonus, pursuing new goals may open up opportunities for you to meet new people who are aligned with your goals, expanding your options for whenever you feel ready to consider your next relationship. 

Explore counseling options

When working through your feelings about a relationship that failed to materialize into reality, 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 professional help and strategies for processing your grief in a healthy way. 

The benefits of online counseling

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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The truth is, there is no one correct way to get over someone. When you're having trouble getting over someone you never dated, accepting your feelings may be more beneficial than trying to suppress them. Breaking off contact with the person and redirecting your attention toward the areas of your real life that provide meaning and value can also be key. Trained relationship professionals may also be able to provide you with strategies for letting go of your attachment and learning how to heal.

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