Everything reminds you of them, doesn’t it?
Every store you pass by.
Foods you eat.
Things that you wear.
People you see.
People who won’t stop bringing it up.
Their things you refuse to get rid of.
Memories that won’t stop popping up.
Good things that happen and you want to share it with them and then remember…
And just about everything you see online too.
When you breakup with someone, it can feel difficult to get away from them. Whether you wish you were still together or know splitting was the right thing, everything haunts you.
Although time is a major factor in lessening those intrusive thoughts, there’s some things you can do now.
In this guide, we’re sharing 20 tricks you can use to stop thinking about your ex.
How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex
There’s no magic to stop thinking about your ex. Let’s face it, if there were, we’d be popping them like crazy. But we have the next best thing… tricks you can use to stop unwanted thoughts.
#1 Break Contact
Nothing makes you think of them more than talking to them, so don’t.
Nobody hates this rule more than me. If you’re in the habit of talking to your partner every day, it can be easy to continue that when they’re your ex. It may even make you feel better in the short-term. But that’s a Band-Aid. In the long-term, all it does is prolong your pain.
If you want to remain friends with your ex, go no-contact and pick up the relationship in months (or years) when you’ve healed. I’ve done this with some of my exes and it’s a much better idea. Every time I kept talking to them, it was inevitable that I’d have to stop because it was just too painful (or we’d end up fighting).
#2 Get Rid of Their Stuff
Passing by their stuff, even if it’s shoved away in a closet, will bring up memories. Even if you can’t see it, you’ll know it’s there, which can bring up thoughts like “what should I do with it?” or “when will I see them to give it back?” Give up the torture and get rid of it already!
If you need to give it back but don’t want to see them, leave it somewhere or outside their home and tell them to pick it up. If your ex doesn’t deserve or want their stuff back, donate it or throw it out.
#3 Delete the Pics
You have pictures of them on social media and on your phone. Delete them already. Knowing they’re there just puts off when you will finally need to delete them. If you’re worried you might want them someday, upload them to Google Drive or put them on a USB. But get it as far away from you as possible.
#4 Get Spiritual
We’re not telling you to believe in anything specific, but believing in something does help. For example, people who problem-drink find help in AA. A large part of that is their introduction to something bigger than themselves. It gives them meaning and purpose.
It could be God in the traditional organized religion sense. But it could also be spiritual philosophy. Or, it could be nature-based witchcraft. Or, a combination of all of those. Anything that makes you see the world from a larger perspective can help focus your energy elsewhere. Need somewhere to start? Read Spiritual Journey: 6 Tools To Develop Your Own Beliefs.
#5 Browse Your Other Options
Here’s the thing: Contrary to popular opinion, getting under someone else isn’t usually a good way to get over someone.
But if you’re stuck in a place wondering if there’s anyone as cool or better than your ex, you may need to show yourself it exists. I don’t recommend getting back to dating right away, but it may not hurt to browse your options. You can do this by signing up for a dating app without posting your real picture (they’ll probably ban you eventually, but you’ll get a few days out of it).
Seeing who’s out there without contacting them can give you a bit of hope for the future. It can show you that better people exist. And, it can even get you excited about your new single life.
#6 Keep Busy
This is probably the most common advice when it comes to anything you can’t stop thinking about. And for a good reason: When you’re busy, you’re more likely thinking of the thing you’re busy with than of your ex.
Fill your time with new hobbies, learning new things or binge watching the newest Netflix release.
When you’re depressed and can’t stop thinking about your ex, you probably don’t want to see other people. I don’t. I don’t want to face the questions and I don’t want to act happy when I’m not. Even though it feels like crap in the moment, it usually makes you feel better.
It’s hard to think about your ex when you’re in a convo with someone else. Try to spend more time with family and friends.
#8 Get a Text Buddy
When I’m with someone, I love to text them throughout the day. It just makes my day better and less lonely, especially if you work from home. So when you break up, there’s a huge gap of no texts. Maybe you check your phone on habit and realize the only person who’ll be texting you is your mom.
Phone checking syndrome will go away with time, but if it’s making you think of them too much, replace it with someone else. Start texting a friend more frequently. You can even ask them if you can lean on them for a few weeks by sending more cat photos, funny memes, or whatever you used to text your ex.
If that’s not an option, you can always download an anonymous chat app to find a new pen pal.
As much as you don’t want to feel, not feeling will prolong the blues. It’s not healthy to keep all those thoughts trapped inside you. Let yourself release them by journaling. If you think this is lame, don’t think of it as journaling. Just open up a page or document and start complaining about how crappy your ex was.
Reflecting will make you think of your ex more, not less, right? Well, that’s true in the moment—but it’s probably not true in the long-term.
Intrusive thoughts—the ones we don’t mean to think—can be harmful. But research shows that when we deliberately think about a breakup, it can least to posttraumatic growth. It can also lead to better “psychological adjustment”, as the experts termed it. And when we feel like we’ve gained something from the hurtful situation, it can be easier to finally let go of.
#11 Blame the Situation
Often times, when we think of a breakup, we’re thinking about pieces to to our personal relationship story. Our brains love stories. They are literally programmed for them. It’s a survival mechanism.
The bad part is that since every story has a villain and a victim, we may be trying to fill those roles in our relationship story. Why did the breakup happen? Who was responsible? This can lead us to non-stop thinking about our bad actions or their worse ones. But it doesn’t change anything.
So, instead of blaming yourself, blame the relationship itself. When two different forces came together and they were incompatible, it’s the relationship that failed. Not you.
#12 Delay Stalking Urges
Yes, I could tell you to delete your ex and you probably should. But you’ll probably cyber stalk them in any case. If you don’t know why that’s a bad thing, read The Science Of Facebook Breakup Creeping: 7 Secret Facts.
Despite our best intensions to stop, we’ll probably find ourselves on their profile. So, how do we quit it? Like any addiction, if you can’t stop cold turkey, wean yourself off it. That means delaying creeping them. If you’re used to checking their profile every day, try to make it every second day. And then every third, and so on, until you never check it again.
You could also block them from all social media. Although you’ll probably find other ways to stalk him despite that barrier.
#13 Stay Off Social Media Entirely
Scrolling through any social media is a good way to distract yourself. But chances are, it also makes you think of them.
For example, while going through my recent ending with a guy, I logged onto Fairytale Facebook to see that one friend was having twins, the other was engaged and the next was leaving sweet comments on their girlfriend’s pictures. It not only reminded me of my ex, but reminded me of how far behind I felt in my dating life. It made me feel worse about myself in general. Yuck. Stop that. Get off of the interwebs for a bit.
#14 Don’t Drink
Drinking through problems is a good way to slowly build a substance use disorder. And, although you can make you feel better in the moment, it could also make you think of your ex more.
I remember going out years ago after a breakup, I was having a fun time in a bar with some friends. Despite enjoying myself, it made me think of my ex more. Which led me to text him something along the lines of, “Even though I’m out having fun, I’m still thinking of you and wish you were here.” His response? “Well, I guess you’ll have to get over that.” Nice.
#15 Put Bad Memories on Loop
While you’re busy thinking about how cool they are and the nice things they’ve done for you, mix it up with some terrible memories too.
What about the time they forgot your birthday? The big fight you got in? The fact you disagree on fundamental human rights and values? Their bad breath? Their ability to escalate any disagreement?
If you’re going to think about your ex anyway, thinking about the bad stuff can make you grateful you’re not with them anymore, leading you to eventually think less about them.
#16 Schedule “Obsession Times”
To stop thinking of your ex, one doctor recommends scheduling “obsession times.” This sounds creepier than it actually is and no, it doesn’t involve making a shrine of your partner.
Pick a time every day when you’re free, say between 8 and 8:30pm. At that time, allow yourself to think as many thoughts as you want to about your ex. After it’s done, try to not think about him until your next session. When the thoughts pop out outside of that time, remind yourself you’ll have plenty of time to think about it in the evening. Of course, the time you set shouldn’t be too close to bed time so you can get a restful sleep.
#17 Get Into Your Body
Just about every dating expert tells you to hit the gym and get sexy after a breakup. Make your ex jealous so they’ll want to take you back. But you’ll be too busy with all the new people lined up for your newfound model-esque appearance.
I’m not going to tell you that because that’s stupid.
You are great as you are and you don’t need some preppy gym person to remind you that you’re still valuable after a breakup.
Here’s what’s not stupid though: Raising your feel-good chemicals so you feel better.
That’s right—there’s an actual scientific reason to get active after a breakup. Exercise releases endorphins, which can make you feel happier, which will probably make you think of your ex less. Another reason: It’s harder to replay memories about them when you’re too busy focusing on your form so you don’t hurt yourself. Blast some motivational music and you’re on your way to getting out of your own head.
#18 Remind Yourself They’re Not Real
How often do you realize that the person you started dating wasn’t the person you broke up with?
Well, technically they’re the same people. You just started to see them differently or see different sides to them. They weren’t who you thought they were.
That means, whenever you miss them, you’re not missing them—you’re only missing the idea of them.
So, next time you can’t stop thinking of them, remind yourself that they aren’t real anyway. The person you have inside your head is made from imagination.
#19 Remind Yourself of the Finality
Every breakup, I try to soften the blow for myself by thinking that we may get back together—even if I’m the one who broke up with them and even though I know it was the right decision.
Eventually though, to truly get over someone, I need to admit to myself that it’s actually over. There’s no going back. This is it. I have to deal with it because it’s it. I can think of all the nice times. All the good things they’ve done. But it doesn’t cancel out the bad. And it doesn’t change what’s best for me. Time to handle it head-on.
#20 Find Your Personal Triggers
This post contains common triggers that can remind you of your former partner. But how do you stop thinking of your ex? By finding your own personal triggers. Next time you’re caught in a thinking fit, ask yourself what led to it. Were you at a certain location? Are you home alone? Once you pinpoint when your intrusive thoughts are the strongest, ask yourself how you can minimize the trigger. You can avoid the trigger, delay it or replace it with someone else.
Summary: How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex
First, you need to feel your feelings. Shoving them down will only work for so long and you’ll be left to deal with the thing you should have dealt with months ago. You should also know that it’s normal to think about your ex a lot—even if nobody talks about it. It’s uncomfortable but it won’t last forever. To shorten your healing period, follow the tricks in this post to find what works for your situation.