One of the most common questions friends, family, and followers ask me is:
How do I get over or stop thinking about my ex?
Most of them say, “I have no idea how you got over that. I can’t even imagine. I would just be a mess.” I suppose they ask me because they think I have super human powers to get over my exes quite easily considering the traumatic circumstances I’ve been put through but that is far from the truth.
I’ve been through two significant break ups in my life. One where I was the dumper and one where I was the dumpee. One happened in my early 20s and one happened in my late 20s, but both had something in common: they hurt like hell and I thought I was going to disintegrate into a pool of heartbreak and DIE. My heart was shattered and I was reaching new lows of desperation. Each time felt like I had been diagnosed with an incurable disease that had no cure. “I’ll never get over it! I love him!,” I would yell to my best friends on the phone while wearing the same pajamas for the third day in a row, sprawled out on the couch in a cesspool of cat hair wondering how the world could still expect me to function when every single thing outside my apartment reminded me of him. The nerve of my boss wanting me to work, can’t he see I am heartbroken? I can hardly get out of bed today. I can’t even drive without hysterically sobbing. This was serious.
I didn’t understand why I could NOT forget this person…it almost became an obsession, an addiction. Even though they were no long in my life they were still part of my daily routine – I would wake up and stalk their social media accounts, start to envision about them moving on without me, finding someone way better than me. When the love of my life finally got a girlfriend just weeks after we parted, it hurt so bad one day I was crossing the street and contemplated walking in front of a car but I have lost a family member to suicide so that will never be an option for me. I just wanted to stop thinking about this person and feeling this ache. Get out of my head already.
The pain hurt so bad often it manifested itself into my body in a physical way (loss of sleep, appetite, weight loss, backaches, stiff neck, headaches, etc.) and emotionally (depression, confusion, loss of self esteem, and even suicidal thoughts.) I was a tragic mess, often throwing myself into a heap of atoms on the floor wishing I could bleach my brain of their memory or at least a higher power could put me out of my misery. Unfortunately none of these options were attainable, so I had to suffer through it and make all my friends suffer too. BTW, shout out to true friends who stick by their friends during their break up. You’re the MVP in their life. I know it is miserable and annoying for you, but you’re so appreciated.
First off, let me say…I get it. You LOVED (or maybe even love) so and so. You loved them soooo much and no one will ever understand how much you loved them and how they were your best friend in the whole world. If you ended on okay terms, you may think you’ll NEVER find someone as great as them ever again. However, your friends and family who truly LOVE you don’t give a DAMN about how much you loved your ex or how great you think they were. They really don’t. And if they were shitty to you, then they REALLY don’t. What they do care about is your happiness and sanity moving forward. I care about your sanity too because I remember being in a place so low I was constantly questioning my entire existence based on this one person and I would never wish anyone to get to the place that I was.
If you were the dumper, you may have feelings of guilt, remorse, or even want the person back (this is assuming they don’t want you back.) I’ve dumped someone and just because I did doesn’t mean that I was exempt from the heartbreak cycle. It was still shitty. It still hurt. I still wanted to die and that relationship actually took me triple the time it took to get over the one where I was cheated on because I knew I was setting free a great prize back into the world and he was going to make the next lady very lucky.
So how do you move on from the grip of seemingly never-ending despair?
If you follow these steps I have great faith that eventually you will get over it. I am not just being hopeful here, I am seriously that confident to to promise you this. Of course this is based on my personal experience, but I truly believe this works.
UNFOLLOW AND BLOCK.BLOCK.BLOCK. If you don’t want to take it from me, take it from Spongebob, block them. If you are truly through with the relationship and still cannot get over your ex, there is zero reason to have their face as a reminder on your twitter, instagram, linkedin, facebook, tumblr, yelp, phone (no excuse iphone users, it’s easy for you!), email, etc. I don’t care if it is Pinterest, you block that ex from everything. If they are toxic for you, you block and unfollow them immediately. This not only stops you from seeing their face and feeling that fleeting pang of wanting to text them after too much tequila, it also stops them from contacting you to ‘fix things’ or suck you back in for the 100th time saying “we’ll make it work, I’ve changed”. And they must stay blocked until you no longer feel that pang of hurt. There is no being just friends after a break up if you are hurting, sorry. If they were toxic to your well-being, they shall be blocked forever. No exceptions. Send them to BlockLand.
If they blocked you, don’t panic!!! You’re in luck. They made getting over them 10 times easier and you’re already ahead. Hopefully they block you for eternity so you have no way to snoop and stalk them which will delay your healing.
Yes, I understand this is super hard. But until you get through Step 1 completely, you cannot move on.
No contact. Seriously, none. This is actually more important than blocking. If you followed step 1 it is going to be extremely hard to have contact unless you are going out of your way to find your ex, you unblocked them, you run into them out, or you have children. If you have children, keep it limited, cordial, and vague and only talk when you need to. Otherwise, none. NONE.
Start with a 2 week challenge. No stalking social media, talking to them, asking family/friends about them, etc. If they contact you from a new screenname or number, block asap. No explaining, no words. It is funny how we will cut a friend off who constantly disrespects us but we will give our significant others who do the same a million chances. Treat them no differently than a toxic friend.
If you slip up, start over from day 1 and try to get to 2 weeks no contact again. Once you complete the 2 week challenge, add on 1 week, then another week, then another week. Each week reward yourself with a manicure, massage, beer, sporting event tickets, or bottle of wine. By the time you get to a few months NO CONTACT you should start to feel some relief from the heartbreak. Trust that this relief will come in due time if you truly go no contact. First will come feelings of immense emptiness, sadness, depression, desperation, and anxiety but once you work through that stage you will find great peace.
This stage and all other stages also include not bashing your ex on any public social media unless it’s witty or vague 😉 but no one needs to hear a paragraph about why Jimmy cheated with Kelly down the street and now she’s pregnant with twins and you hate him sooo much! Like, there’s a fine line here on what’s acceptable to post about your ex. Figure out that line.
Mourn. Give yourself permission and time to grieve the relationship. Only a fool would expect you to be over it the next day. Mourn your ex as if it was a death. If you’ve spent years together a break up can be extremely traumatic and you should treat it as a death. After all my serious relationships I treated it no differently than when my best friend died. I stayed inside alone for days and weeks to allow myself to be a crumpled mess on the floor, eating mochi ice cream, UN-showered for DAYS, asking the universe “why me!”. Even my cats were disgusted with me.
In my experience, I find the mourning stage to be done best alone. When you are alone you can ugly cry, scream, and react however you feel without judgment. You are forced to sit with your feelings. This is extremely important especially for men who are conditioned to not feel vulnerable or sensitive because it makes them look ‘soft.’ Do not be afraid to FEEL the hurt. Too often we don’t heal properly because we shove these sad emotions down into our guts letting them take up space that could be used for good energy. Let it out. Do whatever helps you feel ‘free.’ Write, record music, take hot baths, binge watch a TV show, order self help books.
If you are suicidal, you should not be alone. You should be around people who absolutely love you. This isn’t a time to write a desperate, sad facebook message to get fake sympathy from acquaintances who are happy to see your relationship dissolve and see you unhappy. This is a time to gather the people you trust that love and care about you deeply and truly around you. If you feel suicidal you should reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1 (800) 273-8255.
Yes, your friends are sick of hearing about your ex but if they are true friends they will listen to the same story 10 times until you get it out of your system. But for your friends sake, keep it to a max of 10 times.
There is no certain time frame for the mourning phase, although if you’re still sobbing to sleep after a few months, perhaps it is time for more professional therapy. Some people have PTSD from traumatic relationships, and if you are one, don’t be ashamed to seek a therapist or psychiatrist. Humans absorb so much energy from others they sometimes don’t realize that the experiences we had are bigger than handling it alone and we need to seek help. Don’t put a time frame on when you should be over it and don’t let others tell you either. Each break up is unique and can take years to get over especially if it was abusive. The sooner you learn to FEEL these feelings, the sooner you will start to accept the break up.
When you start feeling better, get some new hobbies and interests. I know this is so cliche when people say this. But if you are like me, you want nothing more than to make your partner happy and it can consume you. In my last blog entry I stated that I lost my identity. This included doing certain things that I loved or wanted to do because I wanted to do everything my partner liked and approved of.
After my break up I booked a ticket to Austin, TX to go to a music festival with some girlfriends. I always wanted to go to Austin and it was nothing short of everything I imagined. I came back feeling refreshed. I also started volunteering…I took part in a blanket drive handing out over 100 blankets and sandwiches to the homeless. Nothing makes you feel as good as when you feel like the world is ending and no one wants you but you realize somewhere somebody on Earth still needs you. I literally have gotten over so many traumatic experiences in my life by going to the gym…it is a win-win, you have a goal AND reap a great reward. It is a fantastic stress reliever as it increases your dopamine levels which is a chemical that is necessary for feelings of happiness and pleasure.
You can learn a language, try new recipes, work towards a new career, travel, read empowering books, volunteer, join a sport, skydive, dye your hair, get a pet, work out, whatever it is you have always wanted to do that will keep your mind busy and active.
Work on building up your self-esteem and confidence. If you’re like me and had been in a relationship for years, you get so used to a routine with your partner and feel lost when you embark back out into the world solo. It’s SCARY. It is why I always recommend people not date for a good 6 months to a year after a break up. The dating world is a clusterfuck of people whom you are not used to and it will feel foreign to get back out there. If you’re not ready, it will be a disaster.
Step 5 does not mean rebounding to use other people and their feelings as part of your self-esteem boost and recovery. That is cruel to lead others on only to experience the same pain you are trying to escape from. Step 5 is about YOU. And it should literally be the longest step out of all of these. In fact, if should be ongoing for your entire life.
I recently told a friend of mine that after my most devastating break up I sat in front of my mirror naked and just stared at myself. You would think after applying make up everyday that I would feel at ease. Wrong. It was very uncomfortable to sit still and stare at myself for 10 minutes in silence with no distractions. Eventually, I started to talk to myself. Sure, I probably looked crazy, which is why I suggest you do this cellphone off, kids away, pets away (seriously my cats were imprisoned in the bathroom), and be completely alone.
Talk to yourself as if you were your own best friend or mother. We often hear these words of encouragement from outsiders, but never ourselves which once again conditions us to rely on outside sources to feel loved. Love yourself.
I specifically spoke to myself out loud that I would never ever allow someone to treat me badly ever again. That I deserved respect. That I am flawed as everyone else, but I am a good human. That I am beautiful. That I was worthy of a healthy, unconditional, faithful love. That I was enough. I kept repeating these things while staring back at my reflection until eventually tears streamed down my cheeks (ugh, I am getting teary-eyed now) because I believed it. I cannot express how powerful this exercise is. We are so busy loving everyone else, that sometimes we forget to love ourselves.
If nothing else, in this stage you need to work on knowing that whatever happened was not your fault. Partners can condition you to feel as if you are to blame for the failed relationship and that is not always true. Please know that no matter how perfect you acted, how great you looked, or whatever else you were made to believe was wrong with you…is not. It is not your fault.
By this step you’re basically already thinking you’re too cool for your ex. It’s no longer word vomit, when you say it you believe it, it’s their loss. You have gained back your confidence because you’ve taken the time and put in the work to become whole again. You don’t need anyone elses approval or love because you love yourself. You’re no longer living in the past but looking forward to what is next for you. In other words, you’re the shit! You now are wiser, smarter, and will now see your failed relationship not in anger or sadness but as a MASSIVE learning experience. You know how many people haven’t experienced true love or true heart break? I don’t believe you can appreciate true love without the heartbreak. You won’t be as grateful.
If anything else, your past has shown you what you want, don’t want, how you can do better, and maybe you even looked back and realized lots of red flags you missed. When we’re excited about someone new they are easy to look over until we are in love and it is too late. If you take the time to heal, all of these revelations will come very easy to you and you will have an introspection into yourself the majority of people on this planet will never possess. Be grateful. You won the self-awareness lottery and will come out well-rounded on the other side.
Eventually you’re going to want to start dating again unless you’re like me and would enjoy a future with 40 cats. I kid I kid. When this happens — MAKE SURE YOU’RE READY. Let me say it again loudly for the people in the back — *make sure you’re ready.* If you want to have fun or have a friends with benefits make that clear to every guy or girl you meet from the get-go. Don’t be a fuckboy or fuckgirl and lead them on. Don’t use people as disposable items to fill your void. Too often I hear people who were used as rebounds get into a relationship with people who didn’t heal beforehand and they get crushed. Treat them with the respect you will learn to demand from others. Don’t hurt people just because you were hurt.
It is also important not to compete with your ex…if they moved on quickly to a new relationship or have slept around with multiple people it will NOT make you feel better or help you in any way to do the same. I do not believe in the saying “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.” That’s only suppressing all the negative feelings and delaying your recovery. This is only done to satisfy the ego in a way that says, “HA! See ex, someone else wants me too. I am desirable. I don’t need you either. Take that!” Most of the time your ex is rebounding to attempt to fill a void or trying to provoke a jealous reaction out of you so really you’re just competing with another unhappy, broken person who is NOT who you want to be. But that doesn’t even matter because you aren’t going to be concerned with what they are doing. Ignore what your ex is doing because you already mourned him in step 3…bury him and create your own path.
The healing process is about YOU and YOU only.
When you start to seriously date *know* what you want in a partner and relationship. That’s the number 1 reason why half of us don’t know what we’re doing and get into the wrong relationships. We think we want one thing, but we are going after another. We rush into love without getting to know the person we are giving our entire being and energy to. Figure out what you want prior to seeking out a partner. If you messed up in your last relationship, learn how to be a better partner this time around. When you start going on dates pay attention to red flags. People often show us who they are right away and we shrug it off. Listen to your gut and instinct. It is not by accident we are given these life tools. Hopefully by now you have connected with yourself enough to trust that it is always right. Seriously, always.
Forgive your EX, if you can. If you never got closure or an apology, don’t wait for one. It is not required for you to heal and move on. You don’t need their permission to do that and you’re delaying your healing by hoping they come around. If you’re granted an apology and it is genuine, it is your choice to accept it. You do not need to reply if you don’t feel the need to. I found myself holding on to unnecessary anger towards my exes and the person it affected most was me. After allowing myself to wallow in anger for a short time, I chose to sincerely forgive all of my exes. I never notified them, they don’t need to know. And If you can never forgive them, that is okay too. The point of forgiving is to release negative emotions for you, not for them.
Trust in the universe that your person is out there. They will be ready and waiting for you once you get over your ex and become at peace with yourself.