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How to Forget Someone You Love

Two Parts:Moving OnAvoiding Breakup Pitfalls

Not all love stories end happily ever after. Forgetting about someone you love is never easy, but with time, patience, and a few intelligent coping strategies, you can emerge a happy, satisfied person once again.

Note: This article deals with moving on after a romantic split. For advice more suited to the loss of a close friend or family member, see How to Cope with Loss and Pain.

Part 1
Moving On

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    Give it time. The heartbreak of a break-up isn't permanent. We know it doesn't feel like that—it feels like you'll never be whole again. That you can never be happy without them. But it's not true. You will move on, and you will feel like yourself again. At the end of the day, you just need time and a little TLC towards yourself.
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    Treat yo'self! After you break up, you may find that you have lots of extra time and money that you no longer have to spend on your ex. So date yourself! Throw some dollar bills in the air and make yourself feel like a king or queen. Getting used to single life isn't all depressing—it's about putting you first. Remember, there's nothing wrong with showing yourself a little love - especially after a hardship like a breakup.
    • Get what you want. Even better, get what they didn't want you to have when you were dating. Your shackles are off—enjoy the freedom!
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    Get away from all the painful memories and locations. The best ways to leave behind the painful memories? Literally leave them behind. New sights, sounds, and experiences stimulate the senses, making the pain of a breakup seem distant and unimportant. Added bonus: you won't be driven to tears looking at the coffee maker you used to share each morning.
    • Even a short trip, like a new cafe or running route, will shake some of the baggage off.
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    Wipe the traces of your ex out of your life. You want to avoid interacting with people and things that remind you of your ex. You don't have to throw it all out—there is no reason to be heartless—but you do have to pack it away. Throw the old shirts, photographs, and mementos in a box and bury it in the attic or basement. It won't be easy packing all those things up, but it is necessary. Once the mementos are all gone, you don't have to hold back the tears every time you pass that one photo of you two last summer.
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    Make newer, better friends. If you're looking for a change in your life, try changing the company you keep. The world is a big, wide place, and though your sweetheart might have seemed like the bee's knees when you were dating, they're not the only fish in the sea. New friends bring new perspectives, activities, and conversations—and you'll soon be wondering, "ex-who?".
    • This advice is especially important if, after a breakup, you find that some of your friends have "sided" with your ex. Pay these people no attention—focus your energy on finding friends who respect your choices.
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    Rekindle old friendships you forgot in the midst of your torrid love. Significant others take lots of time and energy—leaving your best bros and gal pals wondering if you fell off the face of the earth. This is nothing to be ashamed of - everyone has to budget their limited time between partners and friends. Now that the shackles of romance are off, though, it's time to pay the old gang a visit. You may find that both of your lives have changed since you last had contact, and there is nothing like catching up with old friends.
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    Do something other than just wallowing in pity. During a relationship, when you're splitting time between your own interests and desires and those of your partner, it can be tricky to find time to do all of the things you'd like to. The silver lining of a breakup is that you suddenly have lots more time to spend on yourself. Stop spending that time feeling sad for yourself and go do something! Play a video game, cook a new recipe, go for a hike—anything! Just get out of the house already and use your newfound freedom.
    • Sometimes, after a breakup, the intensely negative emotions that result can leave you feeling like you're boring and that you don't have any hobbies or interests worth mentioning. That's bull—you can go online right now and find a new activity to explore in your area.
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    There may be parts of your life that could use a little clean-up. Work towards bettering yourself physically and mentally. Chances are good you've let your passion project slip away. You've gotten used to sweatpants and Netflix every Friday. You've eaten more stir-fry (your beau's favorite) than is healthy or exciting. You still have a gym membership?! Kick off the dust and get back to basics—you've got plenty of time to focus on you. Most importantly for the lovebirds out there, self-improvement ups your confidence and makes you even more appealing for the next catch to come along.
    • Exercise been clinically proven to fight depression, anxiety, and stress. It doesn't matter what you do, you need to be moving your body.[1]
    • Building muscles isn't the only way to better yourself. Hone your mind by learning a new skill, exploring a new creative outlet, or mastering a new area of study.You may want to try learning a new language (Polish! Swahili! Wolof!), becoming skilled at a vocational trade (Jewelry Maker! Artisanal Jam Chef! Gardener! Amazing Race Contestant!), or learning how to play a musical instrument (you know these already).
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    Get back into the game with a fling or "rebound" hookup. Rebound relationships get a bad rap that they don't deserve. There's not anything wrong with having a low-stakes, lighthearted relationship following a breakup of a major relationship. However, you must be perfectly clear about your goals and intentions from the start. Saying something like, "Hey, I should let you know that I just got out of a difficult relationship, so I'm just looking for something casual" lets your partner know that you're not looking for marriage, just a bit of fun.
    • It should go without saying, a rebound is no reason to get careless. You're with new people now—wear protection and get to know your partners.
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    Fall back on your friends and family for support. The people who love you - your family members, personal mentors, and close friends - want to see you happy. If you're unhappy after a breakup, don't be afraid to ask these people for a little extra love. After all, we all need somebody to lean on. Talking to an old friend, a parent, a sibling, or someone else who's close helps you eliminate built-up stress and patch the whole in your heart. Your love was not the only person that loved you—you just have to remember that and spend time with those that matter.
    • Even if you find that the advice you receive from your close confidants isn't perfect, the sense of comradeship you get from your close relationships can be exactly what you need when you're reeling from the loss of an ex.
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    Move on whenever it feels right. After you've spent time on yourself, had a few flings, and enjoyed the single life, you'll eventually want to start a new relationship. That's great! When you're ready, you're ready—but don't feel like you need to jump into a new relationship to feel normal again. There is no "perfect" amount of time to wait, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
    • It may or may not be appropriate to restart a relationship with someone you had a bad breakup with. At the end of the day, it's your call. However, if they were abusive or manipulative, keep them away with a thirty-nine and half foot pole.
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    Realize that the pain won't leave this morning, or the next Hearts aren't mended in a day's time. Some people take weeks or months to feel "100%" after a painful breakup. Ultimately, there's no substitute for the natural healing power of time. As you get further removed from your breakup, it'll creep less and less into your thoughts. You'll feel normal again. You won't be awkward at parties (not that you were before!), and you'll get an eye for that cute coworker or friend. The pain won't go away immediately, but it will go away with time.
    • There will be bumps in the road—holidays, events you used to do together, watching your favorite "couple's night" TV shows—but this is natural. It will fade.

Part 2
Avoiding Breakup Pitfalls

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    Don't look back in anger. You may feel like you've made a mistake, or like you won't ever be able to find another partner again. These feelings, though nasty, aren't really that weird, it is perfectly natural. But don't let temporary feelings of low self-worth sabotage your chance at escaping a relationship you aren't happy in. The last thing you'll want to do is come begging your ex for forgiveness right after breaking up. Give your breakup time to "set in" before you even think about the decision again, otherwise you're wasting valuable mental energy on the dunce you just dumped or the dummy who just dumped you. Either way, they're not worth your negative energy.
    • If you're seriously regretting breaking up with your ex, wait 2-3 months. If you still feel that way, you can consider calling. But you can only consider it! Chances are good you're starting to move on anyway.
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    Don't allow any contact with your ex until you've emotionally "reset". In the days, weeks, and even months following a romantic split, your emotions are going to be a hot mess. You may find that you feel conflicting feelings of sadness, relief, frustration, and/or nervousness. This is perfectly normal - breakups can lead to long periods of emotional unease where you don't feel "right" for a long time. While you're in the middle of such a period, it's always a good idea to avoid any and all forms of contact with your ex until you feel better. Strong emphasis on the "any and all." Don't see, call, text, email, or otherwise interact with your ex until you're well on your way to moving on.
    • Sometimes, exceptions must be made to this rule in order to reclaim any personal possessions that your ex still has, or to sort out any official business (bank accounts, etc.) that remains unresolved. Keep the interaction as short, basic, and polite as possible. If you can't bear to see your ex, try sending a friend to do your business instead—you should be more worried about moving on.
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    Avoid rash decisions or major life changes without some forethought. It seems like a good idea to blow your savings on a 2-week trip to Cuba after a breakup, but is it really? Don't make any major decisions until you've had time to cool off and calmly consider your possibilities. A single bad decision made in a moment of anger or frustration can have long-lasting consequences that may make it more difficult to move on in the long run. For reference in times of need, here is a list of things you should not do after a breakup:
    • Vandalize your ex's property.
    • Sabotage your ex's next relationship.
    • Confront your ex in public, or spread hurtful rumors.
    • Spend exorbitant amounts of money as a hobby.
    • Move, buy, or sell your house and possessions.
    • Quit your job or change careers suddenly.
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    Don't shove abusive relationships under the rug. If they hurt you, you still need to report things. This is especially important if you are worried for your safety after the breakup. To clarify this last point, if your ex abused you in any way, you can and should tell the proper authorities. No one else, after all, should go through what you went through. See:
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    See a therapist if you're still struggling to move on. Today, unfortunately, the idea of "going to a therapist" carries a certain social stigma, but that stigma is a load of hogwash. It's sometimes thought that the person looking for help is mentally unstable or emotionally "weak". But 48% of Americans have seen a therapist or asked for mental or psychological help—you are far from alone.[2] Millions of average, ordinary people talk to therapists, counselors, advisers, and other professionals for advice and guidance during difficult times.There's no reason at all to be afraid to get help.
    • Some of the people you may consider talking to are professional therapists, psychiatrists, school and occupational counselors, and, if desired, authoritative voices in your community like priests or rabbis. Just find a voice you trust and you're in good hands.


  • If a friend asks about him/her, you can politely say,"I'm sorry but I don't want to talk about it." They'll hopefully understand and drop the subject.


  • Alcohol is a depressant, and abusing it will only make you feel worse. Don't turn to substances to heal the pain—they won't.

Article Info

Categories: Relationship Issues