Ways To Get Over Your Ex And Move On To Find Love
A good friend of mine recently broke up with his girlfriend, for very good reasons. He set certain appropriate boundaries related to how he deserved to be treated, and she frequently violated those boundaries. However, after he ended it, he was a mess.
He developed a strong desire, almost manic, to social media stalk her, contact her, and propose meeting for sex and “see what happened,” even though he always knew what would happen (he would enjoy the sex, but be mistreated emotionally within days).
Previously I explained the science of being stuck on an ex, and just how powerful and enduring it can be. So we know the bad news. So, how do you move on from an ex?
The answers below will work pretty well, but won’t be pain-free or instantaneous. There is no pill that will instantly remove the heartbreak and/or desire for an ex, although that would be a nice invention.
Stop Going Down The Emotional Rabbit Hole
Being stuck on an ex is an emotional problem rather than a logical one. If you want to understand this, start thinking and complaining about your ex right now. You may have just started the descent into the emotional rabbit hole. You may call up your friend to complain about him, stalk his new girlfriend’s Instagram, and even negatively comment on some random Twitter accounts that remind you of him, all because you entertained that one thought a little too long.
Now, imagine if instead of telling you to think about your ex, I told you to think about your best friend. You may start to go down that rabbit hole instead…calling her up, looking at old photos of you together, and even planning an event out later in the week. The difference should even be clear with this experiment. Thinking about your best friend and the good times likely made you feel better.
It’s hard to recognize an emotional rabbit hole while it’s happening. It feels good even if you think it feels bad. If it didn’t feel good just a little, why would you spend an hour bashing your ex to your co-worker by the water cooler?
So, if you find yourself emotionally consumed, so that your thoughts, words, and actions are all focused on your ex, I suggest loudly saying “STOP!” (or at least thinking it to yourself). And, then, find something to do or say that is more emotionally energizing that can distract you and allow you to redirect your feelings. It could even be thinking of a few things that day you are grateful for or looking up funny cat memes.
Stop Stalking Your Ex On Social Media
I am friends with certain exes on social media, but that is because I am not stuck on them (or vice versa). However, if I was stuck, to the point I could not move on, I would de-friend them, not because I was mean, but because I know that it would be very difficult to move on if I was consistently feeling jealousy, anger, and resentment every time I saw photos of them.
Many people who are reading this may have already defriended their exes, but still stalk them. I’ve been there! But, if you find yourself doing this, I suggest making some rules. With one ex, I made a rule that I would check her Twitter once in the morning, and once in the evening. Eventually, I moved it down to once a day. After a few weeks, I wasn’t checking it at all. This is one way to “detox” yourself from stalking an ex.
Another way may be to remove certain apps from your phone until you feel as if you’ve emotionally detoxed a little. My friend I mentioned previously had me change the password to his Instagram so he could not reinstall it and log back in, until he was able to not obsessively check his ex’s stories. He knew that whenever he saw them, he would feel a wide range of unhelpful emotions.
Checking social media often starts that cascade of unhelpful emotions, and will lead you down the rabbit hole. Avoiding starting that cascade is very important.
Find Positive Things To Do
As I have done a lot of emotional work over the last few months, I have realized that I tend to feel unhelpful emotions a lot when I’m bored or doing overall “low energy” things. While sitting at a desk bored, my thoughts will often drift toward low energy thoughts and feelings. But, when I’m doing high-energy things, I rarely feel things like jealousy, resentment, and bitterness, and that also includes thinking about exes.
What is “high energy” depends on your needs and interests. Things that are high energy for me are: concerts, 5ks and other races, getting together with my close friends for social time, doing public speaking events, networking events, and more. I even created a “high energy” desk calendar I have on my desk. It’s just an ordinary desk calendar, but I make it a point to list one high energy thing I will do every day.
If you don’t know what these events are for you, then figure that out. If you know but don’t do them, then start scheduling them and filling your days with activities and people that will have you wondering why you even bothered to give your ex so much space in your head.
Challenge Cognitive Distortions About Your Ex
Cognitive distortions are illogical ways of thinking, and despite their twisted nature, we tell ourselves that they are true. Challenging these thoughts is at the heart of the proven therapy called Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Many of us have distorted thoughts about exes, which cause us to not only feel awful, but stop us from moving on. You may have some of the following distortions related to an ex I’ve listed below. Challenging these distortions involves confronting and questioning the assumptions of them, and providing evidence these assumptions aren’t true, which I do in the parentheses below.
– “He is the best I will ever get” (how do you know this? If anything, you could meet someone better tomorrow if you stopped obsessing over him)
– “I can’t be happy without him!” (watch a funny youtube video. There…you just proved you can be happy without him)
– “I will never be over him” (how do you know? Maybe you’ll be over him tomorrow if you go out on a date)
– “I should be over him by now” (The truth is that getting over someone can be challenging; have some self-empathy and acknowledge that if you “should” be over him, you would have been by now. This leads to feeling guilt, which is an unhelpful emotion which will likely lead you to want your ex even more!)
These are just some examples of distortions related to an ex.
Recent trauma research shows that somatic therapies offer help for deep and challenging emotional problems (including PTSD, but lesser ones as well). There are a variety of tools that may be helpful in this regard, including EMDR, but I prefer EFT or “Emotional Freedom Technique” because not only has it been shown to work in a variety of studies, but it’s simple with great results. I’m not sure if I buy the acupuncture-related explanation for why EFT works, but I do think it works for multiple other reasons, including its role as a somatic therapy as well as focusing on honesty about one’s true feelings.
My first experience using EFT was getting over someone I knew wasn’t good for me, even though I felt a strong attachment to her. I was feeling what my associates and I call “the burn,” that addicted, anxiety-ridden feeling you get when you desperately want to talk to someone.
I did the most basic EFT possible. I identified where I felt the stress (in this case, my heart area), and tapped on that area while I said a variation of the EFT set-up statement, something to the effect of “even though I feel jealous and attached to ___, I truly and deeply love and accept myself.”
I immediately felt a ton better. After that, the “burn” I had nearly went away. I’m not going to get into a huge explanation of EFT here, since it’s beyond the scope of this article, but I highly suggest you check out this sheet which will walk you through the EFT “basic recipe” that can be done in a matter in minutes.
Below I walk you through a special EFT script that I wrote just to help people get over an ex. Give it a try!
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