How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex? 13 Ways That Work

December 26, 2023 |
how to stop thinking about your ex
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Are you wondering how to stop thinking about your ex? We get you. Getting over someone you likely imagined spending the rest of your life with can be one of the most painful experiences of life. This experience becomes all more excruciating when you weren’t the one to break up. You may find yourself consumed with obsessive thoughts, like “Why can’t I get over my ex?” or “Why can’t I stop thinking about him/her?” Irrespective of who decided to call it off, it’s critical to understand how to stop thinking about your ex in order to get closure and start the healing process.

However, this is often easier said than done. When you’re going through the stages of grief after a breakup, your ex may occupy your mind space almost all the time. While it’s not easy, it’s not impossible either. In fact, learning how to gradually disengage from thoughts of your ex is essential for moving on from the breakup.

We’re here to help get that process started for you, in consultation with psychologist Jyoti Dadlani (M.Sc in Psychology), who is a relationship management expert. She says, “If you’re mentally trapped in a former relationship, it’s like being stuck in a never-ending pendulum that will hurt you on every side you swing. It will keep haunting you and throw off your momentum every time you try to gnaw your way out to a positive place.”

7 Reasons Why You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex

Some people believe that it takes half the time you were together to get over an ex while others say that it takes three months for every year you were together. One study says it takes 11 weeks to start feeling better after a breakup whereas another study pegs this timeline at 18 months for long-term relationships and marriages.

Clearly, experts haven’t landed on a consensus on the breakup recovery timeline. And rightly so, we might add. After all, you can put a specific timeline on healing. Human relationships are complex and so is their end. There are so many different circumstances influencing a person’s breakup recovery – the nature of the relationship, the reason for the breakup, their attachment style, and past emotional traumas, to name a few – that you can box it into predetermined timeframes.

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Even so, going through life with thoughts of your ex on your – day in and day out – isn’t a pleasant place to be either. To be able to move on from it, it’s imperative to understand why you can’t stop thinking about your ex. So, if the question, “Why can’t I stop thinking about him/her?”, has left you feeling confounded, read on to discover the 7 reasons why this might be happening:

1. You’re still healing from the breakup

One of the very first reasons why you’re experiencing lingering feelings for your ex is because you are still healing from the trauma of a painful breakup. Breakups can cast a shadow of gloom over the best of us. It’s important to not rush yourself through this process. You’ll know when it’s time to get up and dust yourself off. The fact that you’re here, trying to figure out how to stop thinking about your ex indicates you’ve already started the healing process.

2. You have unresolved feelings for your ex

Unresolved feelings are when you experience lingering emotions or attachments to your ex. This may be unresolved love, rage, sadness, difficulty moving on emotionally, or even regret. These painful feelings can be difficult to shake, especially if the relationship ended on a sour note.

3. You jumped into a new relationship too soon

If you start dating too soon after a breakup, it can prevent you from properly healing your old wounds and moving on from your past relationship. Sharing her experience, a Reddit user says, “For about the past month, however, I have been having a lot of feelings for my ex and not too many for my current boyfriend. I truly do care for my current boyfriend, but I feel like there are a lot of unresolved feelings for my ex.” 

4. You have mutual friends

If figuring out how to stop thinking about your ex during no contact is hard, getting someone off your mind when you’re reminded of them frequently can be a lot harder. If you’ve been wondering how to stop thinking about someone and why you haven’t succeeded so far, then having mutual friends could be the reason. It may be helpful to limit your contact with mutual friends or take a break from socializing with them for a while. Seeing mutual friends with whom you and your ex spent time together might bring up memories of your ex and prevent you from moving on without closure.

Jyoti says, “Spending time with mutual friends after a breakup can create an awkward situation, and it can not only bring back memories of your ex more often but also might make you feel guilty around them. Try to cut them out and make new friends with whom you can make new memories and start your journey of healing and happiness.”

5. You shared many first experiences with them

You likely have a lot of pleasant shared experiences with your ex. These might include your first kiss, first dance, or first sexual encounter. Additionally, they may have introduced you to new activities like cooking or hiking, which have now become an integral part of your personality.

It’s obvious that these memories can never be replicated in a new relationship. So you are constantly reminded of them whenever you engage in these activities. If you’ve been grappling with the question of how to stop thinking about your ex-girlfriend/ex-boyfriend, it may well be because there is just so much history between you two and/or special memories that are hard to shake off. 

6. You made a significant investment in them

You may have put a lot of effort into your ex, which may be one reason why it’s difficult to let them go when your relationship ends. We are talking about things like working hard to develop a relationship, planning a future together, traveling, and even money. You may ask yourself how to get over your ex after investing so much energy in them and making such wonderful memories. 

Related Reading: What To Do When You Miss Your Ex? Expert Tips To Ease The Pain

7. You’ve made them your goal

Perhaps, you convinced yourself that if you could mend your ways and become the person they want you to be, you would reunite one day. You’ve made getting back at your ex your aim, and for that, you are improving yourself. Not for your own benefit but to win back your ex. 

Unfortunately, this is really harmful and will eventually lead you to feel sad when you understand that it has all been for nothing. You will find yourself lacking the motivation to continue. When things don’t go as planned, you get upset and angry because you’ve been so focused on the idealized version of your ideal life that you have built in your head.

How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex – 13 Ways That Work

Breaking up with someone you previously loved can be a sad and challenging experience. It’s natural to experience overpowering feelings such as anxiety after a breakup and find yourself thinking about your ex all the time. Although it’s normal to feel sad, it’s crucial to realize that concentrating on the past will only delay your recovery. You can begin to focus on the future and let go of the past by utilizing these 13 strategies, which will help you understand how to move on from an ex. 

From embracing your interests and spending time with friends to setting new objectives and putting a strong emphasis on self-care, these techniques can assist you in regaining control over your thoughts and emotions so that you can start moving forward with confidence. Are you ready to begin a new chapter in your life? Read on!

Related Reading: 9 Reasons You Miss Your Ex And 5 Things You Can Do About It

1. Establish no contact

If you’re searching for an answer to questions like “how to stop thinking about what your ex is doing”, then this one’s for you. Going no contact is one of the best strategies to stop thinking about your ex. This entails cutting off contact with your ex on social media, text messages, and phone conversations.

The no-contact rule could be challenging, especially if you were in a committed relationship or have mutual friends. But it is necessary for your healing process because, after all, they’re your ex for a reason. Hence, there is no point in maintaining contact with them. Here are a few tips on how to stop thinking about your ex during no contact:

  • Don’t snoop around their social media handles, wondering how they’re doing, or if they’re already in a new relationship
  • Obsessive thinking about your ex will lead you nowhere. Make peace with the fact that you both have separated
  • Your mental health comes first. Seeing your ex living their life without you will only deteriorate your peace of mind

2. Engage with family and friends

Oh the urge, to send that “I can’t stop thinking about you” text to your ex at 2 am. You know as well as we do that it’s not healthy and won’t get you anywhere. The best way to counter these pangs of longing and stop thinking about someone you once loved deeply is to surround yourself with your loved ones and lean on them for support.

Sure, spending a fun day at the beach with your family and friends or playing that board game you all like won’t instantly flush out your ex from your system. But these light-hearted moments will help you see that you can not just survive but thrive without your ex. By surrounding yourself with people who love and care about you, You can remind yourself that you are not alone. 

Jyoti advises, When going through a difficult time, it’s helpful to have friends or family members you can rely on for emotional support. Talk to them about how you’re feeling and let them help you through this tough time.” The people you love and who care about you can help you process your emotions and offer emotional support, and also guide you on how to move on.

3. Take up a new hobby

If you’re confused about how to stop obsessing over someone, then taking up a new hobby might be a terrific distraction. This could involve picking up a new skill, such as a language or sport. Maybe, in the process, you discover you write very well, or are extremely athletic, who knows?

A new pastime can help you make new memories and soak up new experiences while giving you something to concentrate on. Jyoti suggests some unique hobbies to take your mind off your ex and help you bounce back to a healthier mental state:

  • Take up a new sport, such as rock climbing, surfing, or hiking
  • Learn to cook a new dish
  • Pick up a new skill, like painting, photography, or woodworking
  • Volunteer at a local organization or animal shelter
  • Join a new club or community group, such as a book club, hiking group, or chess club
  • Take up meditation or yoga to focus on self-care and mental wellness
  • Enroll in a dance class or pick up a new dance style
  • Start a new creative project, like writing a novel or composing music

Related Reading: The 7 Components Of Male Psychology During No-Contact Rule – Backed By An Expert

4. Write about how you feel

Sometimes nothing can help you feel the plethora of emotions you feel better letting them flow on paper. Writing is a wonderful approach to processing your thoughts and emotions. Maybe write a letter to your ex, saying all the things you would have said to their face. You don’t have to send a letter to them. Just channeling your thoughts might help bring you a step closer to the closure you seek. 

According to research, expressive writing provides a convenient method for individuals to confront and work through unresolved feelings and thoughts related to stressful events. Whether you like to write in a journal or a blog, writing, and documenting are healthy habits and can support productive emotional expression. 

5. Concentrate on your physical health

Just like mental health, it’s simple to overlook your physical well-being while you’re going through a breakup. However, one of the most effective methods to stop thinking about your ex is by caring for your body. How will I care about my body, you may ask. Here’s how: 

  • Exercise: Endorphins are released through exercise, which is a terrific way to improve your quality of life 
  • Dieting: A nutritious diet can also help you feel more energized and enhance your general well-being
  • Get enough sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, as it can improve energy levels, mood, and cognitive function
  • Engage in outdoor activities: Spending time in nature can boost mood, reduce stress, and increase physical activity levels
  • Take care of your hygiene: Regular grooming and self-care practices such as showering, brushing teeth, and grooming hair can improve self-esteem and overall physical well-being
On Ex

6. Be accountable for your emotions

It can be simple to blame your ex for the emotional turmoil you’re in but it’s crucial to accept responsibility for them. Keep in mind that only you have authority over your thoughts and emotions. You can learn to let go of the past and move on by taking ownership of your feelings. If you’re wondering about how to stop thinking about your ex after years, then owning up to your emotions can be a good method.

Jyoti says, “It’s important to avoid anything that reminds you of your ex after a breakup. This can be anything from places you used to go together to things that remind you of them. Seeing reminders of your ex can trigger thoughts and feelings about them, making it harder to move on and will affect your present.” 

7. Keep in mind that time heals

Although it can be difficult to accept, time does indeed help heal all wounds. Even though the grief of a breakup can seem unbearable, and your mind is full of obsessive thoughts, this phase will pass. Remind yourself that you will recover from this experience and emerge stronger and happier. Eventually, time will teach you how to move on from a relationship.

8. Get expert help

If you are having problems letting go of your ex and stopping thinking about them, it can be beneficial to get professional help. A relationship counselor or therapist can offer you emotional support and help process your emotions better. They can also help you learn techniques on how to move on from a relationship. 

Jyoti says, “Getting closure can be the first step to the staircase leading to healing and recovery. You need to accept the fact that you may be the only one mourning the relationship, and getting closure, whether it be through your ex or self-reflection, can shine a brighter light on the whole situation and help you move on better.” If you’re considering getting help in moving on from an ex, skilled and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel are here for you.

counseling services from Bonobology

9. Let yourself fall in love again

It may sound paradoxical but finding a new partner and getting into a new relationship can be a terrific answer to how to get over your ex. The presence of a new partner can serve as a reminder that you are attractive to other people. After you’ve spent some time mourning your relationship, consider putting yourself back on the dating scene instead of wallowing over your ex.  

10. Make fresh memories

Erasing your past memories of ex and making new memories can help in eradicating old ones that make you think about your ex. You can accomplish this by taking a trip, enrolling in a course, or simply just hanging out with pals. If you’re stuck on questions like “how to stop thinking about your ex after years”, then it’s likely that you’ve put your life on hold since the breakup. It’s time to change that with a conscious effort to make new memories and open yourself up to new experiences.

11. Learn new skills

Learning new skills might be a nice distraction from your ex. Your self-esteem and confidence can both benefit from it. This could involve anything from attending a cooking lesson to learning a new language. Go ahead and explore skills like:

  • Public Speaking
  • Calligraphy
  • Photography
  • Learning a new language
  • Mandala art or resin art 
  • Basic Video Editing Skills
  • Content creation

Related Reading: How To Love Yourself – 21 Self Love Tips

12. Spend some time alone

Why can’t I get over my ex, you ask? The only way to find an answer to this question is to do some serious introspection. For that, you need to get to know yourself and comprehend your emotions by spending time alone. Jyoti says, “It’s important to keep yourself busy after a breakup so that you don’t dwell on your sadness and loneliness. But it is equally important to be able to just be by yourself and find peace in that experience.”

Get over a breakup alone by spending some time enjoying yourself and keeping in mind how significant you are. Being in your own company can be a great answer to how to stop thinking about what your ex is doing. 

13. Keep in mind that your ex is history

Still wondering, how to stop thinking about your ex-girlfriend/ex-boyfriend? It’s essential to keep in mind that your ex is now in the past. Remember, they’re your ex for a reason and you should stop caring about them now. Remind yourself that you deserve to be happy and there is someone better suited to you out there.

Jyoti shares some of the ways that can help you visualize your ex as history, “You may think how cringe it is when people burn their ex’s photos in movies, but the physical act of burning your ex’s photos, or your diary pages filled with recollections of moments spent with them or deleting their photos from your phone, are all powerful ways to get the closure you’re looking for and make your ex a thing of past.”

Key Pointers

  • Figuring out how to stop thinking about your ex can become especially hard when they’re the ones to end the relationship and you still have feelings for them
  • It’s never wrong to ask for help. You can always reach out to your family and friends, or a counselor, for additional support
  • If things get too overwhelming for you, it’s best to cut off communication. Completely disassociating yourself from your ex will do wonders for you
  • Always allow yourself to feel your emotions. You’re a human being with feelings. Forcefully restraining your emotions after a breakup will only deteriorate your mental well-being
  • It is always suggested to seek closure to end “that” chapter of your life and look forward to new beginnings. Remember, you don’t need another person or answers from them to find closure, it comes from within

Ending a relationship can be challenging, but it is possible to forget about your ex and go on. Going no contact, putting your physical health first, spending time with a family member or friends, taking up a new hobby, writing about your feelings, owning up to your feelings, remembering that time heals, getting professional help, finding new love, making new memories, picking up new skills, spending time with yourself, and keeping in mind that your ex is in the past are all ways to move on from an ex-partner. These are but a few strategies that can assist you in putting your ex’s memory to rest so that you can look forward to a better and healthier future. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself the time you require to recuperate.

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