Every week, we answer a question from a community member and give them advice on something they are struggling with. This week we heard from Kate, who recently broke up with her boyfriend and is struggling to get him out of her head.
Q - My boyfriend and I broke up a couple of months ago, after being together for 3 years. Everyone’s telling me I’m better off without him and to move on, but I can’t! No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop thinking about him and the idea of getting back together with him, but I know I shouldn’t. Please can you help me move on and get him out of my head?
A - Hi, Kate. The end of a romantic relationship is always difficult, and it is natural to feel lost and unsure of how you are going to live without that person you spent so much time with. One of the hardest things is learning how to stop thinking about your ex and put your mind to other things, enabling you to take the next steps. Here are a few simple tips to help you get your ex out of your head.
- Remove them from social media
One of the biggest mistakes people make after a breakup is ‘cyber-stalking’ their ex. It’s understandable to be curious about what they’re doing or how they’re feeling, but constantly checking up on them isn’t healthy, and it hinders your ability to move on.
Even if your relationship ended on good terms and you decided that you will remain friends, it’s important to give yourself a clean break, even if it’s only for a short while. The best way to do this is to cut off contact, including social media. Deleting them from Facebook, Twitter or Instagram will mean you don’t have to constantly fight the urge to check up on them. It doesn’t have to be forever; just tell them that you need to do this for a while so that you can move on, and if they really are your friend and want the best for you, they will understand.
If you don’t want to delete them, at least hide or mute their posts so that you won’t have them popping up unexpectedly on your feed. Once enough time has passed and you are ready to be friends without lingering feelings complicating things, then you can be friends again/unhide their posts.
- Make a list of the reasons you broke up
It’s easy to see the past through rose-tinted glasses, and it’s common to look back and romanticise a relationship or an ex. Though it’s good to have happy memories to treasure, there’s also a reason the two of you broke up, and you need to keep this in mind in order to move on.
If you find yourself constantly thinking about how happy you were together, you are going to begin wondering about the possibility of getting back together. Instead, you need to give yourself a bit of perspective, and think about the relationship and why it broke down in a constructive way.
It may sound like a negative thing to do, but writing down the things you didn’t like about your ex, or things that weren’t right in your relationship, can really help you to see things clearly and enable you to start moving on. You’re allowed to remember the happy times too, but when you feel like you’re leaning towards taking a step backwards, consult your list and remind yourself that you broke up for a reason.
- Keep yourself busy
Most newly single people find themselves in a slump, feeling down and unmotivated to do anything productive. It’s easy to spend days on the sofa binge watching TV shows, and sometimes that is what you need. However, too much downtime gives you time to think about your ex.
A simple and obvious way to keep your mind off your ex is to give your mind something else to focus on. You need to keep yourself and your mind busy. Maybe take up a new hobby, or learn a new skill; anything that requires concentration and stops your mind from wandering will help.
This is the perfect time to do something that you always said you wanted to do when you were in your relationship, but never got around to. Taking up a new hobby will not only boost your confidence and make you feel productive, it is also a good opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, learn new things about yourself, and maybe even meet some new people.
One thing that stops us from moving on from difficult experiences, is holding on to the pain and torturing ourselves with the memories. If your relationship ended on a bad note, it’s possible that you will still be holding onto a grudge many months later. However, this only hurts you and stops you from being able to move onto more positive experiences.
Though it may be difficult, you need to forgive your ex. You may think that by doing this you are letting them off the hook for anything they did to hurt you. However, you’re not doing this for them; you’re doing this for yourself. By practicing forgiveness, you are allowing yourself to heal. Once you have forgiven your ex and let go of that burden you have carried with you since you broke up, you will feel lighter and able to move forward.