Here’s a secret: I feel like I take breakups really hard.
Even when it’s not really a breakup.
A situationship ending could make me really depressed, and for an actual relationship, it’s worse. It feels like a part of my life is being ripped out. Sometimes, it feels like it physically hurts my heart too. It almost burns.
It’s hard to find anything that makes heartbreak better. Really, nothing does. I feel like I can’t get over a heartbreak.
Eventually, time just makes it hurt a little bit less and a little bit less…
I found one thing that helps me through every breakup though, no matter how hard: Hope.
Sure, we all know that hope is an option, but how do we actually feel it?
When we’re depressed and the future is gloomy, how is it possible to be hopeful? Is the answer just faking it? No.
To believe in hope, it helps to have a list of logical reasons why it should exist. That way, it’s something tangible — not some mystical concept.
I’ve gravitated to a few exercises every breakup that help me have a more positive outlook.
In this guide, I share 4 specific actions I take to get over a heartbreak.
How to Get Over a Heartbreak
If you came here to get over a heartbreak, I wish I had the magic pill. Unfortunately, part of being human is experiencing loss. Whether our choice or someone else’s, a situation has ended and we’re left alone. And probably lonely.
The first step is to normalize these feelings. For example, did you know that the same brain areas that light up for physical pain light up when you look at pictures of your ex? So yeah, it’s going to be painful!
Next, try to accept your feelings, however difficult they are. Instead of trying to avoid or numb them, feel them to get through them. Accept that healing might take a while.
Come to terms with the fact you can miss someone yet not be with them. If you still love them, understand you can love someone from afar—in thought but not action.
It can be helpful to work through your devastation by having hope for the future. Of course, it’s hard to have hope if you, well, don’t have it. To learn the logical reasons why you should be hopeful, try the exercises below.
Once you’ve gone through the most treacherous first days without them, try other methods to get over a heartbreak—like putting focusing on yourself. What’s ahead for you? What fun things would you like to try? Any new hobbies you’ve been wanting to start? How would you like to grow this year?
A lot of research points to one thing that helps people better get over a heartbreak: Having a clear sense of self. When a relationship ends, you might wonder who you are without that person. Your life and schedule changes. How will you fill that time? Who are you? Having clear answers on that can help you heal, experts say.
Get Over a Heartbreak with 4 Exercises for Hope
Want to get over a heartbreak? You might need a little more hope. But not blind hope. Logical hope. Here’s a few exercises to do that.
#1 Write a List of Their Negative Qualities
Writing a list of all the bad things about your ex may seem petty, but it can help you balance out your overly positive view of them. Even if you’re the one who called it quits, you may still be pining over their positive attributes.
I do this most breakups. Even though I’m steady in my decision to leave a relationship, I’m still sad about the ending because there were some great things about him. Even though the negative thing ruined the entire relationship, I can’t stop thinking about all their positive traits—which makes it hard to get over a heartbreak.
Making a list can help you realize and reinforce that you were right for ending it. Use the notes app on your phone so that you can add a new negative quality whenever you think of one. They can be as big or small as you want. Examples:
- They litter
- Their breath smells
- They can’t communicate well
- Their political opinions are stupid
- They wear sweatpants to funerals
- They make mean comments
- They’re too obsessed with “the hustle”
- They always borrow money from me
- They come over high and act angry and erratic
When you’re sad, read over your list. Face all the bad things about them.
Now, realize that without them, you’re free to meet someone who doesn’t have these qualities. You are open to having a partner with the opposite of these things.
You may not meet them anytime soon. But being available for better will always trump being stuck settling for less than you deserve.
#2 Mental Movie: Playing It Out
Not all, but many breakups are inevitable. That is, that issues are not resolvable. You are too different, have different opinions or both are unwilling to compromise over something. In other words, no matter what, it just wouldn’t have worked.
This is true for many of my past relationships. As much as we liked each other, we couldn’t make it work. Our needs, visions, lifestyles or opinions were just too different.
Still, I’m always devastated at the ending, even if I know it’s coming. It’s never any less sad. It’s tempting to get back with them when I’m thinking, “but what about just one more time, just to make sure?”
When I’m in the midst of it, I try to really hone in on the logic to get over a heartbreak. I try to suspend my feelings for just a moment. I play the situation out. In my mind, I envision growing older with them.
What does our future look like together? Is it what we both want? How can I predict being treated? How can I predict us feeling about each other?
Imagining myself at different stages of life with my ex helps me realize something: I can’t imagine it. That’s because the problems that we’re facing now, we will face down the road. Even if someone broke up with you, you can probably still point out some inevitable endings. Like, maybe they treated you poorly, couldn’t communicate, or something related to the reason for the breakup.
It might not be true for all breakups, but for many, the split would have happened eventually.
Now, armed with this logic, I realize I did something very necessary: I turned back when I realized it was a dead-end road.
I think about my options under this new light. I could have stayed, but that would mean more heartbreak later since I’d get more attached. Or, I could leave — which I did — and deal with the pain now instead of later.
The second option has another benefit too: I’m at least available to meet the person I’m suitable for.
If I’d had stayed in the relationship, I’d have no hope of meeting my person because I’d be too busy wasting time with the wrong one.
#3 Make a “Mind Soulmate”
This one is going to sound a little weird, so I hope you don’t judge me for it.
When I’m so tired of being depressed over an ex, I try to get someone else in my brain. Since I don’t want to date yet, it’s not possible. So I make someone up instead—it helps me get over a heartbreak.
When I’m sitting or laying out relaxing, I’ll envision in my mind scenes with my made-up person. It can be us cuddling, walking, talking, laughing, on vacation — anything happy. I paint the story with as much detail as I want. I make up what I want him to look like, how he’s treating me, talking to me, the kind of life we have, etc.
Remember this is your Mind Soulmate, you can make them and your life into whatever you want. Have fun with it.
After you’re done, step back and think about how that vision is impossible with your ex. Like:
- My need for affection would never be met with my ex.
- My ex would never speak so kindly to me.
- My ex would never surprise me like I surprise him.
- My ex would never dress up for a date.
- My ex would never be that supportive.
- We would never be able to take vacations because of my ex’s criminal record.
A partner who matches you well and a life you love is within reach. You just have to let go of the current one.
#4 Browse Dating Apps
I’m not sure what the “acceptable” amount of time is before you start dating a new person, but my sadness usually makes me surpass it.
It takes time for me to heal enough to be vulnerable again. Sometimes, an embarrassingly long time.
Even though I may not be ready to meet new people, it doesn’t mean I don’t like browsing to help get over a heartbreak. I’ll download a dating app and see what’s out there. Sometimes, I don’t even use my real information because I have no intention of talking to anyone. I just need a profile to use.
Spend some time on the app just looking at other people. Become curious about them. Learn about people. Scroll through whenever you’re feeling caught up on your ex.
This always gives me hope. Even if no one sticks out to me, it reinforces that there’s still so many single people out there (which is helpful when you feel like everyone is in a relationship except you). It alleviates some of the loneliness of heartbreak.
One caveat is to make sure not to get into a new relationship too quick! Being a serial dater makes you feel good in the moment, but it’s really just a form of running from yourself. This can lead emotional turmoil to carry onto the next partner, creating endless heartbreak. To get over a heartbreak fully, take your time before actually dating again.
More Tips on Get Over a Heartbreak with 4 Exercises for Hope
We hope the tips we’ve shared in this article help! But healing isn’t linear and doesn’t happen at the snap of your fingers. If you need more help during your breakup journey, consider our other guides on how to get over a heartbreak:
- How To Get Over Someone You Love: 30-Day Breakup Challenge
- Is My Breakup Grief Normal? Normalizing Heartbreak Pain
- How To Deal With Loneliness After A Breakup: 19 Cures To Try
- 12 Best Breakup Advice Blogs To Lean On Through A Sad Split
- 22 Bright Sides To Heartbreak: Breakup Encouragement And Inspiration
- 104 Things To Do After A Breakup To Stop Hurting | Best Distractions
- Are Breakups Easier For Men? I Asked 15. Here’s Their Response.
- How Long For No Contact: Full Guide On Easily Letting Go
- 14 Ways To Help Friend After Breakup (Or A Daughter)
- 7 Crystals To Help With Heartbreak, Breakups And Divorce
Summary: Get Over a Heartbreak
Ultimately, there’s nothing that can stop the pain of heartbreak. To get over a heartbreak, know that the aches can become more bearable with hope. As you wait for time to ease emotions, try the exercises above. They could make hope a little more within reach.