If you’ve ever been dumped — or been the one to break up with a partner you’re still in love with — you know the feeling of wishing you could fast-forward to six months from now, when the whole thing hurts a little less and maybe you’re even dating someone new.
First, the bad news: There’s no way to skip the pain altogether. You have to go through the natural process of grieving and moving on, and that’s not a bad thing. “Sometimes the rush to speed up the process causes us to miss out on the important steps of self-reflection and processing whatever emotions we are feeling as a result of the breakup,” explains psychotherapist Alison Stone, LCSW.
That being said, there are things you can do to make the breakup experience a more positive one and hopefully move on from your ex faster than you would if you spent hours a day scrolling through their Instagram feed wondering if they miss you.
1. Practice self-care.
If there was ever a time to dive headfirst into taking excellent care of yourself, it’s now. “Go for walks in nature, practice yoga, exercise, meditate, read, start a gratitude practice, and get enough sleep,” suggests therapist Shira Myrow, LMFT. “These are all great ways to create a sense of grounding during a time of emotional turmoil and grief.”
2. Learn how to sit with your emotions.
The emotions around heartbreak are extremely difficult. But instead of pushing them away, feel them. “While it might be tempting to drown your woes in ice cream or distract yourself with a rebound relationship, practicing mindfulness can be one of the most powerful ways to build resilience,” says Myrow. “This is because mindfulness invites you to observe your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations as they arise from a compassionate, non-judgmental place.”
3. Get support.
Now is not the time to isolate yourself. Let the people in your life know what’s going on, and lean on them. “Having the support of family, friends, and especially a therapist can be invaluable in navigating the unknown,” Myrow explains. “Also, if you’ve noticed a pattern in the types of relationships that you are drawing into your life, a therapist can help you understand how you are attracting these particular types of relationships and what subconscious patterns may be playing themselves out.”
4. Create a ritual for closure.
Rituals are an excellent way to soothe your mind and help you start to move on from the relationship in a real way. “Journaling and writing letters (that you may decide to send or not send) are great ways to process and reflect — not just on what wasn’t working in the relationship, but also on how you may have contributed to the situation,” Myrow says. “What value did the relationship provide? How did you grow? Ask yourself these important questions, and be honest about the answers.
It’s important to create closure around physical items, too, like by removing or returning objects that belonged to your ex. “Go about this process with compassion as you seek to honor and close out the past, as well as invite space for what the future holds,” Myrow adds. “Sometimes repeating rituals can help reinforce a sense of closure.”
5. Take the actual relationship and how it ended into consideration.
When it comes to closure, how the relationship ended — and the nature of the relationship itself — can play a huge role in how fast it takes to get over someone. “An out-of-the blue breakup can be extremely blindsiding and traumatic for the partner receiving the news, and an abusive relationship or high-conflict breakup can be equally traumatic and take months, even years to recover from,” says Myrow. “A breakup where the relationship lost steam and went dead long ago may actually feel like a huge relief.”
She notes that because there are so many variables and scenarios in a breakup, it’s important to practice compassion with yourself if it’s taking you longer than you’d like to get over someone. One thing she does advise? Cutting off contact for a bit, no matter how well the relationship ended.
“I would limit contact with an ex for an extended period of time, unless there’s a specific reason to communicate, such as co-parenting or you’re working through divorce and mediation,” Myrow explains. “Limiting contact will open up space for you to focus more attention and intention on moving forward in your life.”
6. Take a long, hard look at how you’re using social media.
For better or worse, social media is a part of our lives now — and it’s not exactly a helpful tool when it comes to moving on from a relationship. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to make your ex less present in your social feeds.
“Get rid of posts on Instagram or Facebook and any messages between the two of you that may serve as painful reminders,” says Myrow. “I would recommend not trying to do this all in one sitting. If it starts to feel overwhelming, take a break.”
It’s also a good idea to unfollow or unfriend your ex, as keeping tabs on them can lead to dwelling. “You have to try to avoid constantly checking your ex’s social media feed to see how they’re moving on or if they’re dating someone new,” explains Myrow. “Make a boundary with yourself, as this may stir up feelings of longing, resentment, anger, bitterness, and grief.”
On that note, it’s probably a good idea to limit social media use altogether during this time. “Social media is an addictive distraction, and it can invite excessive comparison and fuel feelings of inadequacy,” says Myrow. “Research has shown that people who spend extensive amounts of time on social media have a tendency to feel more depressed and anxious afterward.”
She adds that it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap and feel like your life isn’t as happy as it should be. “We all know that people heavily curate their Instagram feeds to give the illusion of happiness. Don’t forget that!”
Will these tips make you completely forget your ex and move on by tomorrow? No way. But they’ll certainly make the process a whole lot better.
If you are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence and are in need of support, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.