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Years ago, after spending weeks glued to my computer screen after one of my more notable breakups, I saw a big problem with “how to get over your ex” guides: they contained little to no tangible value. They were either sales pitches for a product or shallow fluff pieces full of cliches like “get back out there,” “love yourself,” or “socialize more.”
Don’t get me wrong, these bits of advice can help get over an ex, but they simultaneously put forth a nonsensical and dumbed-down picture of what breakup recovery actually looks like.
I’m not going to bullshit you. Getting over your ex is much more complicated than just “going out there and focusing on yourself.” It will take time. It will take grit. It will take effort. And it sure as shit will suck.
But there are certain pieces of advice that can make this suckage less, err… sucky. Here are 30 of the best ones.
1. Understand Why It’s So Hard To Get Over Your Ex
When you’re in a relationship for an extended period, your identity (a unique mixture of values, beliefs, goals, and lifestyle choices) and your partner’s identity start to intertwine. Gradually they become its own singular entity, called a shared identity — the key element that deepens love, respect, and trust of a couple to the absolute maximum. (1)
Now think about this: something that’s an inherent psychological part of you is suddenly stripped away. Undoubtedly, you’d fall into an existential crisis as a result. And you’d start questioning everything you know, everyone you know, and even yourself, and your deepest held values and beliefs. This is what happens to you when you break up. And it’s this existential suffering that makes getting over an ex so damn hard and painful. (2)
2. Cut Your Ex Out Of Your Life
Don’t just burn the bridges; annihilate them. Don’t call or text your ex anymore. Don’t engage with their social media. Avoid having any accidental encounters with them. Remove everything that’s within your control and has the potential to remind you of them. Throw away any gifts they gave you, or at least lend them to a friend until you’ve moved on. And avoid going to places that elicit (or can elicit) painful memories.
In cases where a clean cut is impossible — like when you live, have kids, or work together — make a note to only interact with your ex when you need to make a decision or agreement around logistics, business, family matters. Avoid mindless chit-chat or emotionally charged conversations. Be short, to the point, and strictly business-like.
3. Feel Your Emotions
Never hold shit in. Don’t suppress your emotions or run away from them. Whenever you feel depressed, sad, anxious, angry, whatever; go somewhere private and let yourself cry, and scream, and punch shit. And then keep crying, and screaming, and punching shit until you’ve let it all out. And of course, don’t judge yourself while you’re doing this.
Feeling your emotions may take from a few minutes to a few hours — it varies from person to person, from breakup to breakup. Don’t be pressured to hit a certain time mark when doing the activity. Also, you’ll want to repeat it multiple times throughout the following days, weeks, or months because painful emotions always regrow overtime. That is, until you’ve got over your ex.
4. Rebuild life-essential areas
- Get quality sleep. Sleep for at least 7 to 8 hours, and be sure to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Also, consider investing in a better mattress, a weighted blanket, a white noise machine, or black-out curtains. (3)
- Get or stay in shape. Maybe take up jogging, join the gym, or start working out at home. Just whatever you do, don’t let yourself go.
- Start or maintain a healthy diet. I usually recommend cutting out sugar and wheat-based food like bread and pasta. (4)
- Keep your hygiene in check. Shower, clip your nails, smell nice, buy new clothes if your old ones are worn out. Just don’t be a slob.
5. Take Care Of Your Well-being
A couple of tips that work best for most:
- Take some time off work if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
- Learn to say “no” more times to the requests of other people.
- Cut back on booze, drugs, and social media.
- Stop watching the news or at least limit it.
- If you’re distracting yourself with something – a.k.a, indulging in escapism, try to catch and stop yourself from it.
- Get new hobbies and/or re-engage with old ones.
- If you’re not employed or don’t have any significant responsibilities every day — child-rearing, school, college — go and get some.
Socializing is paramount when you’re trying to get over your ex. It helps fend off loneliness and depression, increases your overall happiness, self-esteem, stress coping skills, and even helps you live a fuller and longer life. So go outside and meet up with your friends or family. You can even join breakup recovery support groups. These can be accessed via Facebook, Reddit, or obscure online forums. (5)
And while you’re socializing, consider travel. Not only does it broaden your horizons and make you more worldly — a trait that ignites envy in many — but it also forces you to focus on the actual place you’ve traveled to instead of a dead relationship. Oh yeah. And one last thing. Get a dog if possible. Dogs are proven to be therapeutic. (6)
7. Start Dating When Reasonable
Dating right after your breakup means risking an entanglement with a rebound relationship, using dating as a means of distracting yourself from your pain, or as a way to get an ego boost and make yourself feel worthy again. These things will only make you feel worse in the long term.
Here’s my advice: don’t rush into another relationship when you just came out of a fresh one. Take some time off to enjoy the single life, process your grief and other emotions, and get a taste of what living without someone you love feels like. And only start seeing other people when the world of dating starts feeling fun and exciting.
You don’t need any fancy equipment to start with meditation. Just sit down on the floor cross-legged, close your eyes, spine straight, hands on your lap, and start inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth — like you’re blowing a candle. Continue inhaling and exhaling for 10-15 minutes, and try to keep your focus on the breath. That’s it. (7)
Yes, it will be transcendentally difficult to stay focused on your breath for more than two inhale-exhale motions, but it gets easier over time. Don’t judge yourself or beat yourself up when you screw up.
Journaling is one of the best ways of making your unconscious thoughts, worries, and emotions conscious. Why is this important? Because by becoming aware of them, you can process them faster. And the faster you process them, the sooner you’ll get over your ex. (8) (9)
Journaling also doesn’t have to be complicated. You can simply start by writing down what you feel and think at the moment, the lessons your breakup taught you, the hopes you have for the future, the insecurities you have to deal with, or all the things you’re grateful for.
10. Jot Down Your Dreams
Dream reporting boils down to keeping a simple log where you write down the contents of your dreams every morning. Then based on what you’ve written, you seek patterns on what your dreams are trying to communicate in a psychological sense.
The simple act of writing down your dreams has a surprisingly potent therapeutic effect that helps you get over your ex — an effect similar to the one when journaling or meditating. (10)
11. Get Therapy
Therapy is the ultimate breakup-problem obliterator. But lots of people get stuck in the stage of picking the right type. I mean, there are shitloads of them out there: CBT, ACT, AEDP, REBT, existential, gestalt, Jungian, interpersonal, humanistic, psychoanalysis, etc.
Look. Don’t be too nervous about choosing the right/wrong form of therapy. There is no right/wrong. All forms of therapy work to some extent and produce, on average, a relatively similar result. (11) (12)
12. Get Breakup Consulting
Breakup consulting/coaching can help you get over your ex, but let’s be honest: it’s not a replacement for therapy, nor the equivalent of it. That said, where consulting truly shines is when it’s used in tandem with therapy.
For example, sometimes a therapist can help you uncover and process your unconscious emotions and trauma, while a breakup consultant/coach enables you to unearth and change any relationship-sabotaging patterns, unproductive behaviors, or habits and assists you in creating intelligent goals that help you get over your ex faster.
13. Practice Self-Love
The most significant step you can take towards self-love is to accept that you make mistakes and that you’re flawed. Then embrace those imperfections. Sure, you can improve upon them. But you’re okay and worthy even though you have them. Then there’s the more practical side of self-love too: taking yourself on dates, making gratitude lists, taking a vacation, and changing negative self-talk (i.e., I’m a piece of shit for screwing up my relationship) to a realistic variant (i.e., just made some mistakes, as we all do).
But there is a catch with self-love, and it has to do everything with intentions. If you’re doing it conditionally — because of outside influences, like a random blogger telling you to — you’re doing self-love wrong. But when you do it unconditionally — because you enjoy it — you’re doing it right.
14. Practice Gratitude
As cheesy as it sounds, practicing gratitude is a great way to get over your ex and have a more fulfilling existence. It makes you happier, more appreciative, mindful, magnetic, and attractive. It leads to higher self-esteem. It lessens rumination. It helps you deal with stress better. It betters your mental health. (13) (14)
Here’s how to do it: take a few minutes every day to think about what you’re grateful for. This can be anything, although the more specific you can be, the better. Then when you have a few things in mind, either write them down or repeat them to yourself aloud. Keep doing this for a few weeks, and you’re sure as shit going to feel better.
15. Set Smart Breakup Boundaries
Like you establish boundaries around other people’s behaviors, you can establish them around your own to avoid inflicting unnecessary pain upon yourself. Here are a couple examples:
- I will cut contact with my ex and give myself time and space to grieve the loss of my relationship.
- I will not beat myself up mentally or chastise myself for the breakup by neglecting my self-care routines and acting without trust and respect for myself.
- I will recognize half-assed calls and texts from my ex and not stretch their meaning into something like, “Oh shit, they said, “Hi,” they must still love me! Yaaas! Let’s get back together.”
- I will recognise when I am becoming obsessed with my ex and will force myself to step back so that I don’t end up trapped in denial.
16. Take responsibility for your breakup
It may not be your fault that your relationship ended, but it’s always your responsibility how you respond to its end.
A personal story: when one of my exes dumped me, I felt miserable for at least a year afterward. That’s to be expected. But I also held her responsible for my misery, which only made me feel more miserable. And while she was to blame for pulling the plug and hurting me, I was still responsible for how I felt. She couldn’t make me happy; only I could make myself happy. It wasn’t until I figured this out that I started taking responsibility for my breakup and ended up feeling better.
If you’re the reason your relationship failed, forgive yourself. If your ex is the reason your relationship failed, forgive them. And if the breakup is the fault of both — which is most likely — forgive yourself and them. We all make mistakes.
Just don’t misunderstand forgiveness. It doesn’t mean forgetting whatever happened. It simply means deciding to accept it and then remaking that decision in every moment of weakness. While this may sound abstract and unachievable, it’s not. Acceptance simply means you get to a point where you’re okay with your situation. You are where you are. You don’t fight the feeling or try to suppress or deny it.
18. Find New Meaning
You’ll never remove pain from your life. But what you can do to lessen its effect is find something worth suffering for. Find something subjectively more valuable than your dead relationship and focus on it wholeheartedly — something that’s healthy and will keep you moving in the direction of growth and unapologetic self-expression.
This something can be anything: building a business, excelling at a certain career, being a good parent, becoming a Hollywood actor/actress, joining a certain movement, owning a cabin in the woods, buying a new computer, rebuilding your self-esteem, becoming more attractive, and less needy, etc. Go wild.
19. Stop Being Selfish
Any time you find yourself unable to get over your ex, know this: the more you’ll chase after them and force yourself into their life, the more you’re going to push them away, the more miserable you’ll feel, and the higher you’re going to raise the odds of wrecking your life emotionally; as well as your ex’s.
If this is what you’re doing, cease contact immediately. I know you fear giving them up for a variety of reasons (you don’t feel good enough for anyone else, you feel your ex is irreplaceable, you don’t believe you’ll ever find anyone better, etc.), but you must do it. You must stop being selfish. You must stop wasting their time, and yours.
20. Stimulate those genitals
Inversely, and if you’re a dude, you could try “NoFap”. I’ve heard it’s even more beneficial than masturbating frequently. Yet I still have reservations about it since there are no legit studies done on the practice, nor have I personally found it living up to its promises.
21. Reflect On Your Relationship
People often remember only the good times they had with their ex and disregard the bad — this is a psychological bias known as “seeing through rose-colored glasses,” and it’s very frequent with breakup survivors. Don’t give into it. Consciously reflect on your relationship and remind yourself what it actually looked like. (16)
And while reflecting, it’s also useful to ponder on the lessons your breakup taught you. What are your emotional needs? Do you have any needy tendencies? Any weird or toxic hangups? Any boundary issues? A shitty attachment type, perhaps? Self-esteem issues? Worthiness issues? …those kinds of things.
22. Be Patient
Plenty of experts have tried to estimate how long it takes to get over an ex. But there is no definitive answer. The whole thing is depended upon too many variables: the intensity and length of a relationship, attachment styles, age, the amount of sexual experience a person has accumulated, what type of breakup they are going through, are they the dumpee or the dumper, etc. Chances are, it’s going to take months, maybe even years, for you to get over your ex. Accept this. There is no shortcut, no magic pill.
On a similar note, be patient with closure, too. Don’t force your ex to give it to you. None of their answers will be enough. None will make you feel better. The only place closure lies is within yourself. Getting it from others is overrated and dangerous.
23. Avoid Being Friends With Your Ex
Being friends with your ex will only make it harder for you to get over them. I suggest you live your life as dough you never knew them (tip #2!).
A rule of thumb: don’t even think about being friends with your ex until you have absolutely no shards of emotional attachment or the desire for rekindling things present on either side.
24. Make Getting Over Your Ex A Habit
Until now, every piece of advice I covered is useless if you use it only once and forget about it. To get over your ex in the fastest way possible, build tiny habits around the pieces of advice that resonate most with you. For example: maybe meditate each day for 5 minutes, or journal each evening about 200 words, or do 5 minutes of gratitude practice after every breakfast.
Only once you’ve created consistency with a tiny habit for at least a week or two should you add more effort and time to your activities. This will guarantee that your habits don’t become too exhausting and end up killing your motivation to continue doing them.
25. Don’t overwhelm yourself
I see so many people do exactly that, and it never ends well. They take on five daily meditation practices, keep three journals, and do qi-gong, yoga, and tai-chi, all in the same afternoon. And when they feel exhausted, they assume they need even more stimulation. So they dive into green-juice cleanses, intermittent fasting, cryogenic baths, etc. And the next thing you know, they’re spending thousands of dollars on stupid self-help seminars and dodgy online courses.
I know you want to get over your ex. I know you want to become a better, happier person. I know you want to squeeze out all that juicy potential from yourself. I commend you for your bravery. But fuck, dude… you don’t need to force yourself into 10 or 20 different activities to achieve these things. Just focus on the few that you enjoy and go deep with them.
26. Know When To Stop Working On Yourself
The ultimate goal of breakup advice is to reach the point where you no longer feel the need for it. If you keep engaging with it, despite already overcoming all of your personal issues, you’ll paradoxically only end up reinforcing the belief that you’re not good enough as you are now. And the more you’ll chase unnecessary growth, the more flawed and unhappy you’ll feel. You’ll always think that something is missing from your life, that there’s always some area in which you have to improve even more in, that there’s always some next level you have to reach in order to be happy.
The reality is that after a certain growth period, more self-improvement becomes self-defeating. At that point, what you should focus on instead is self-acceptance. If you fail to cultivate it, you’ll be trapped in a perpetual cycle of chasing highs — a hedonic treadmill, per se. You’ll feel like you’re advancing in life, but in actuality, you’ll just be spinning your wheels, going nowhere. (17)
27. Understand that Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds
Time is your biggest ally when getting over your ex. Yet, contrary to popular belief, it’s not a miracle cure. While it makes you feel better, it doesn’t heal the trauma you developed due to your breakup, nor does it eliminate emotional problems like low self-esteem and self-worth or buttloads of neediness and codependency.
Time only gives you the mental space, energy, and opportunity to reflect on these things and overcome them by doing something about them — by taking action and investing in yourself.
28. Understand that it’s natural to still love your ex
There will be times when you’ll hate your ex, times when you’ll miss them, and times when you’ll silently realize that, deep down, you still love them. This is normal. Breakup recovery is never linear. One day you’ll feel one way. The next day you’ll feel another way.
How will you know when you’ve got over your ex? Well, it’s when you start to feel acceptance toward them — when you still love them, but that love is far less intense and “in your face” than it would be otherwise. Think of it as a subtler, more calming sense of love — such where you realize that your ex is not coming back, and despite caring for them, you feel okay about it.
29. Know That There Are Stages To Getting Over An Ex
Also called breakup stages. There are eight of them. And you’ll probably be traversing most. Here they are, as well as what you can expect in each:
- Shock, Disbelief, And Denial (you won’t be able to fathom your breakup).
- Rumination (you’ll constantly think about your ex and your dead relationship).
- Disorganization And Confusion (you’ll under-sleep, oversleep, lack appetite, overeat, be lethargic, etc.).
- Emotional Mess (apart from devastation, anger, sadness, guilt, and anxiety, you’ll be feeling many overwhelming emotions).
- Wanting Your Ex Back (you’ll want to mend your relationship at all costs and against all odds).
- Ambivalence (you’ll feel conflicting feelings about your breakup, and sometimes you won’t even know what you feel).
- Acceptance (you’ll feel little to no negative emotions, look forward to what life will bring, accept that you’re single, grow from your pain, and forgive your ex and yourself).
- Beyond Acceptance (you’ll ascribe meaning to your breakup based on your response to the event — be it stifling or uplifting).
30. Know That One Day Everything You Love Will Be Lost
Life naturally moves toward entropy. We’ll be dealing with loss as long as we live. And this goes beyond our romantic relationships. Throughout our lifetime, we’ll lose jobs, health, friends, and family, and we’ll have to deal with all of it. In the end, we’re even going to start losing ourselves.
Bit by bit, we’re going to begin losing beliefs, values, and goals; even pieces of our sanity, identity, and soul — the pieces that made us who we are — and move towards our inevitable demise, the sweet kiss of death.
Most people want to prevent these changes — they want to protect themselves from loss. But they don’t know that it’s all in vain. For all they’re really doing by trying to protect themselves is striving for an unchanging, static future. They’re clawing for immortality. And that never works out.
So instead of cocooning yourself, welcome and embrace loss. It means you had something special and of immense meaning in your life. Then shift your focus to the present moment, and think about what you can make of yourself in this one short life so that when Death — the inevitable loss of everything as we know it — actually does arrive, you can proudly give her the middle finger as you whisper your last words and exhale your last breath.
In other words, make this life count. Every day that passes is one day closer to your death. So get on with it. Prioritize what’s important to you. Choose your struggles. Strive toward something. Invest in yourself. Have fun. This breakup is a new beginning for you. And I know you don’t believe me, but you really are going to be okay.
More Resources For Getting Over Your Ex
- My Breakup Recovery Cheat Sheet: A quick guide with over 40 tips on how to emotionally recover from your breakup and what to expect along the journey.
- My Youtube Channel: I publish video tutorials and other fun shit every week.
- My Radical Recovery Course: an online course that teaches you how deal with your suffering effectively and heal from your breakup.
- The Breakup Recovery Manual: a workbook filled to the brim with therapy-approved breakup recovery exercises.
If you need more more help healing from your breakup, check out my Radical Recovery Course. With over 5h of video, 200 pages of writing, and personalized 1-on-1 coaching, I'll walk you through every step of the recovery process from start to finish.
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