So, it happened. Another breakup. And as much as you’d like to be able to snap your fingers and forget all about the “Do Not Text” contacts in your phone, getting over someone is a lot easier said than done. (Even after you tried Googling “How to hex your ex.”)
Sure, you can easily get rid of the pictures, delete their text messages, and block them on social media, but that’s not the hard part. Erasing them from your mind is another story.
Maybe you’re wracking your brain about what went wrong. Maybe you’re replaying your last sex session over and over again. Whatever it is, there’s no denying that the hardest part of a breakup is often not being able to stop thinking about someone.
So while I wish I had an exact step-by-step guide on how to get this person out of your head completely, the reality is that there isn’t one answer. The feelings of love, or even just a really deep “Like” with someone, don’t just disappear overnight. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work on it.
To help, we’ve asked some breakup pros like dating experts, sexologists, authors, and yes, even a psychic, about how to stop yourself from thinking about someone—and trust me, they delivered. While these may not completely clear your mind, they can hopefully help you begin to move on. Just remember, time heals everything.
1. Distract yourself so you’re literally too busy to even think about them.
This is maybe the most obvious one, but it’s true: One of the best ways to stop thinking about someone is to take that energy and redirect it into creating something new.
“Not only can a new project serve as a distraction, but it may also reveal undiscovered talents,” says Bianca Williams, author of the romance series Sidelined. “Whether it’s writing a book, developing a new app, or finally starting that new business plan you’ve been dreaming about, dig deep and let your emotional connection to that individual fuel you. You never know, it may lead you to your purpose.”
2. Establish some boundaries with yourself.
Just so you know, you absolutely have the power to control where your mind goes and what you think about. But that’s a lot easier to do when you set boundaries with your ex after the breakup.
“Early on in the breakup phase, make it very clear what you need and don’t need from your ex in order to make moving forward more bearable,” says dating expert Vanessa Russell, a writer for Women’s Health Interactive. “Let them know that you don’t want them to call/text or under what circumstances it’s okay to reach out.”
She says that it can also be helpful to figure out how to break the news to other mutual friends or close family, especially if you’ve been together for a while. “Doing so will keep you on the same page, and if they hold up their end of the deal and vice-versa, it will make them gradually fade from your mind and give you the time you need to heal and grow,” she confirms.
3. Give yourself some time to feel sad, or mad, or angry, or literally whatever.
You might be tempted to hold it all in and keep it together, but licensed therapist Oddesty K Langham suggests you do the opposite. “It’s important to allow yourself to feel the feelings associated with a breakup or disconnect with another person,” Langham says. “We should always acknowledge our feelings and grieve, if necessary, in a healthy and safe way. We should then begin to let it go, meaning continuing on with our life and going after the desires we have in life.”
Once you’ve allowed yourself to fully feel all the things, you might find that you have nothing left to feel or replay in your head.
4. Understand that you may still have lingering feelings for this person, and that’s okay.
I’m sure we’d all love to just stop caring for someone as soon as we breakup, but we all know that isn’t how human emotions work. Clinical psychologist and relationship advisor to Online For Love Brenda Wade says that it’s okay to still love your ex.
“Love is the greatest gift in life, and if love comes into your life, it’s never wrong. But what needs to be understood is that sometimes love isn’t enough to make a relationship work,” she says. “But moving on from a relationship doesn’t always have to mean that the love you feel ends. Sometimes the only way to let go is to love someone enough to want the best for him or her even if that means not being together.”
In other words, perhaps once you stop beating yourself up over caring about them still, you may stop thinking about them entirely.
5. Indulge in alllll the self care.
Vaishali Nikhade, a psychic whose readings focus mostly on relationships, comes with a great healing potion for the heartbroken mind: “Soak yourself in a bathtub filled with water and epsom salt to relax and rejuvenate,” she says. This should help to “clear out all the unwanted thoughts, feelings, and energies that you are not letting go of.
Afterward, you’ll find yourself feeling less heavy (and hopefully less stressed about your ex), she confirms. You can also try all the other fun self-care things like a massage, new skin care routine, or bubble bath.
6. In some cases, you may need to get closure.
I can assure you, 99.99 percent of the time, closure is a made-up concept that won’t bring you peace. Most of the time, nothing your ex will say is going to make you feel better. If anything, it will delay your healing process even further.
But, that said, “sometimes we can’t stop thinking about someone because there are unresolved issues and things we need to say to them,” says Acamea Deadwiler, author of Single That: Dispelling the Top 10 Myths of the Single Woman.
Write a long letter to your ex about how you feel, why you’re hurt, what you wanted from them, etc. without ever sending it. Sometimes just getting it all out on paper as if you’re actually talking to this person will be what you need. It may also be helpful to talk to a counselor or therapist to help breakdown the problems with a licensed professional instead of your ex.
But if you really, really need to talk to your ex again and unravel the breakup a bit more (again, tread carefully), Deadwiler says it may be helpful to talk with them. And if you know it will give you more of a clear conscience and unburdened heart, it’s worth it.
7. Reconnect with who you are.
Sometimes you get so swept up in trying to avoid thinking about your ex that you forget to think about you. But really, giving yourself the same attention you would have otherwise given them may help clear your mind.
“Grab your calendar or planner and make a list of things you enjoy doing either alone or with friends and family,” says relationship expert K.S. Lewis. “Start at the top and actually ‘make a date’ with yourself to do each and every item. This is a great time to try out a new restaurant, binge watch your favorite show, enjoy a spa day, or try an online cooking class.” Before you know it, you’ll be too busy enjoying your you-time to even think about you-know-who.
8. Again, write it all out.
Like we mentioned before, writing is absolutely key to getting rid of the things inside of your head. And if you want to empty yourself of certain thoughts, pouring them out onto paper can really help.
“Turn on some great music, pour a glass of your favorite wine, and put pen to paper. Once you begin to permit yourself to acknowledge the thought, feel the thought, and write it down, it is amazing how much better you feel,” says matchmaker Jaida Pervis.
By the way, if you’re not exactly the “writing” type, jotting thoughts down in your Notes tab is just as effective.
9. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get over the breakup quickly.
“Getting over someone who has been a part of every facet of your life can be difficult regardless of your relationship’s duration,” says clinical sexologist Rachel Sommer, PhD, co-founder of My Sex Toy Guide. “So, give yourself time to grieve without putting time limits, have someone else on speed dial, and shift your focus to self-care and individual betterment.”
If you focus too much on why it’s taking so long to stop thinking about someone, you’ll only think about them more.
10. Remove the things in your life that remind you of them.
If you want to stop thinking about someone, you’re going to have to get rid of things that remind you of them. “Our thoughts are generated by triggers that remind us of an actual experience, individual, previous event,” says psychotherapist Nicholas Hardy. (This can be a restaurant, a certain gym, clothes, gifts, etc.) “Regardless, being intentional about separating yourself from ongoing reminders is extremely vital with not thinking about someone.”
Keep in mind, we’re not saying you should avoid your favorite restaurant because you went with your ex once. But maybe it would be wise to your mental health if you avoided driving by your ex’s gym around the same time they go every day.