Anyone who's gone through a breakup knows how difficult it can be to move on from an ex. Significant others are often close friends, and losing that unique friendship — as well as the romantic and platonic love that comes with it — can be a traumatic and painful experience.
Even when your brain knows exactly why you two shouldn't be together, it might take your heart a bit longer to get the memo. And that's perfectly OK. Everyone heals at their own pace and in their own way, but if you need a little help, here are 17 techniques to get over an ex and emerge from a breakup stronger than ever.
1. Focus on your career.
When you have difficulties in your personal life, putting all your time and energy into furthering your professional life can only benefit you in both the short and long-term. Many people throw themselves into their work as a welcome distraction and positive outlet for any post-relationship pain. Instead of worrying about your ex, set yourself up to score that well-deserved promotion.
2. Listen to sad music.
While laying in bed listening to a sad song may seem like an example of self-torture, a 2014 study showed that people who listened to sad music after a breakup actually felt better. They experienced four different cognitive rewards: imagination, emotion regulation, empathy, and no "real-life" implications. Connecting to another person's expression of pain makes our own feel validated and understood. While listening to Adele and Joni Mitchell non-stop won't make that pain magically disappear, it can lessen it by giving you positive experience to associate with the pain.
3. Spend time with friends.
Unfortunately, losing a significant other often means losing one of your closest friends. That's why it's more important than ever to lean on the rest of the wonderful people in your life for support. They'll let you vent, dry your tears, bring over a bottle of wine, and most importantly, help you finish it.
4. Spend time alone.
Every relationship teaches us something new about ourselves, but every interim period (also known as life) teaches us even more. Especially if you're a serial monogamist, wait longer than you usually would before entering into another relationship. Even if you're just casually dating a few people, give yourself plenty of alone time to figure out what you — and only you — want out of life.
5. Find a creative outlet for your emotions.
Whether it's journaling, dancing, or simply coloring, transforming all your negative emotions into a positive, tangible form of expression will help you process them and, consequently, move on. You don't have to become Leonardo Da Vinci overnight. You just need to create something, anything. When you look back at this time, you'll always have something beautiful — rather than painful — to remember it.
6. Take a social media break.
While you don't need to cut yourself off from the modern world completely, going off the grid for a few hours immediately after a breakup will give you time to refocus on yourself without worrying about the opinions of others. Besides not having to see other couples' happy #mcm and #wcw posts, going off social media completely will ensure you can't cyber stalk your ex.
If you're feeling lonely, remember there are tons of other ways to connect with people IRL from texting an old friend, to video chatting with a family member, to showing up at a friend's house for a movie night.
7. Or at least change your social media settings.
If you can't give up your virtual social life or need to stay connected for your job, you can easily change your Facebook settings so you can't see what your ex is posting, without them ever knowing, and stop the ubiquitous website from drudging up painful ex memories in their "On This Day" feature. On Twitter, you can stop seeing another user's tweets by secretly putting their account on "mute," rather than blocking them.
Instagram and Snapchat have yet to come up with ex-friendly features so, whatever you do, don't look at their snapstory.
Lorelai Gilmore said it best. Everyone needs one day to wallow, but just for a day. After you've watched every sad movie on Netflix and eaten your weight in junk food, wake up the next day ready to kick ass and take names.
9. Try something new.
Sometimes, breakup pain has more to do with shared experiences than the person themselves. Walking by a favorite restaurant or watching a beloved TV show can be plague people with bittersweet memories. While it's important to keep those memories, you won't be able to get over your ex if you focus too much on the past.
Whether it's skydiving or simply diving into a new TV show on Netflix (Crazy New Girlfriend is both apropos and simply perfect), doing something new that in no way, shape, or form reminds you of your ex will help you get over them.
10. Write your ex a letter you never intend to send.
After a breakup, you're filled with a ton of negative emotions you need to get out. While expressing yourself in creative ways and talking to friends and family always helps, another expected from of healing can come from placing your emotional pain into something physical that you can either hide away or rip to shreds. By literally ridding yourself of these negative thoughts, you're lightening your load of emotional baggage, making it easier to move on.
11. Go on a few dates.
While you shouldn't jump into a new relationship too quickly, dipping your toe back into the dating pool will help you realize why you and your ex weren't right for each other and, consequently, help you get over them. And even the dates that don't work out will still give you greater insight into what you want for the next one.
12. Spend time with animals.
Breaking up can be a traumatic and stressful experience. Research has proven that spending time with pets, however, is associated with many health benefits for humans, including improvements in mental, social, and physiologic health status.
Even if you don't own a pet yourself, you can spend time with a friend's or a therapy animal. Besides the mental health benefits of animal companionship, walking a dog is a great form of outside exercise and even playing with an indoor cat will get you up and moving, too.
13. Return your ex’s stuff — or at least get rid of it.
The saying "out of sight, out of mind" may be a cliche, but it's a darn effective one. You can't get over your ex if you're constantly reminded of them, especially in your home, a place you're supposed to feel the most comfortable. As an adult, you should return your ex's belongings at your earliest convenience, but as a broken-hearted human, you can do whatever you want … including, but not limited to, burning them (in an environmentally responsible way, of course).
14. Shake up your surroundings.
You don't have to move across the country to avoid awkward run ins with your ex, and the negative feelings that may follow. Shake up your regular routine simply by walking to work or taking a new way home. By doing something different, you're not just stopping yourself from possibly reliving painful memories but you're more importantly creating new, independent ones.
15. Go on a shopping spree with the money you would’ve spent on your ex.
That bracelet you were gonna get for her birthday? Treat yo self. That surprise holiday couples getaway? Treat yo self. Those overpriced Valentine's Day roses? TREAT. YO. SELF. In the wake of a breakup, you need to put yourself first. After all, you're the only one who will. Of course, money can't buy happiness, so if you don't want to spend any on yourself, consider investing it in yourself, and your future, instead.
16. Acknowledge your crazy ex tendencies.
While you might not live in a rich, delusional fantasy like Rebecca Bunch in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, everyone handles heartbreak differently, and not always in the most constructive way. Maybe you have a tendency to drunk text your ex on a night out or spend hours scrolling through their old Facebook photos on a night in. Either way, admitting your "crazy ex" habits is the first step to fixing them so you can start to feel and, you know, act like your old self again.
17. Look at your relationship like your best friend would.
If your best friend had dated your ex, would you want them to get back together?
Often, people take better care of their friends than they do themselves — and losing a significant other often means losing a close friend. So be your own best friend. By evaluating your old relationship from both an inside and outside perspective, you'll be more honest with yourself and make healthier choices that will, with time, make it easier to heal.
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