Layne believes in sharing life experiences. Acceptance and surrender are two important ingredients for personal growth.
How to Forget Your Ex If You're Still in Love With Them
When a relationship ends, heartbreak is often inevitable. Whether the relationship ended abruptly or declined over a long period of time, those who have loved are left devastated.
My last relationship with my partner lasted close to 5 years. I was madly in love. As boyfriend and girlfriend, we sailed together, surfed together, skied together—we had all kind of adventures and shared hobbies. I'll skip all the details, but jump ahead 5 years later after a relocation for a professional career and some long distance, problems arose and we broke up. Some on-again-off-again makeups and breakups took place, but eventually, it was over. My heart was broken. I felt like I would never find another love like this.
It took me months if not years to get over that relationship. Every song, every movie, every place, the mentioning of their name—it all stirred me. So whether you are going through a divorce, suffering from your first heartbreak, or parting ways with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or romantic partner, here is some advice to help you move on for good to get past the heartache once and for all.
Decide That Today Is the Day of Change
If you are reading this article it is likely because your heart is still an open, raw wound. Trust me, I was there. I woke up each morning aching and hard a hard time falling asleep. I would even dream about my ex—it was miserable.
You need to decide that today is the day everything changes. Today is the day you start your new chapter and open yourself up to possibility and change. Today is the day you embrace your new identity.
1. Retrieve Your Belongings
In order to reduce the need to see each other, it's important to acquire your belongings if you share some important things. If you live together and one of you has chosen to move out, begin the process.
Gather the non-negotiables: your beloved animal companion, your identification, sentimental and irreplaceable belongings, valuable belongings, etc. You may choose to pick these items up later once things have settled down, but I recommend doing it beforehand as not to reopen the wound later. Trust me.
2. Cut Off Contact
If you can't cut off all contact for various reasons (kids and visitation), you need to limit your contact immediately. If you have asked for space but your former is not respecting it, than you need to take matters further.
Every time my heart was beginning to heal from abiding by "the no contact rule," my ex would reach out to me via phone or email. Immediately, the wound in my heart would reopen because I thought there was hope for a future. I learned over time, however, I would be let down and get hurt again and again. I eventually decided to:
- change my phone number
- create a new personal email account
- block them
3. Do Not Drink and Dial
If you are over the age of 21 and go out regularly or drink at home, turn your phone off or turn it on airplane mode. Do not drunk dial your ex!!! It NEVER goes well and it will only set you back so much so that you'll have to start over.
4. Stop Worshiping Them
By now you must hate the saying "there are plenty of fish in the sea." You hate this saying because no, your love was beyond compare to any love you have ever felt in your lifetime. You still love your ex. You feel like you can't go on without them. But has it ever occurred to you that you could be infatuated with them? Did you know that infatuation is much different from unconditional love? How can your ex be the most amazing person in the world if someone else's ex is supposed to be the most amazing person in the world?
If you've ever felt the need to work for love by making the perfect meal, dressing sexy, saying the right things, doing the right things, making enough money, giving the right gifts, outcompeting the competition, being the right weight—you may have been working for love rather than living in love.
5. Put the Memories in a Box (or Sell Them)
This choice will differ for everyone. I've definitely experienced both extremes. When I was younger and less mature, I definitely donated the gifts my ex gave me. I couldn't stand to look at them because the sentimentality broke my heart. I did miss some of the items later on when I finally healed—I wish I had kept some (like my skateboard).
A better option is to create a memory box. Seriously, pack up your photos and tokens of love in a box and stash them away. If you need money and the item is replaceable, for example, a watch or a purse . . . sell it! If it's the bed sheets that remind you of all the times you spent being intimate together, change them!
If you have big belongings, figure out what you want to do with them. My ex shaped a surfboard for me. It was absolutely beautiful, but I was never going to ride it. Instead of selling it, I gifted it to my current significant other's brother. It felt good to pass the gift on to someone who would use it.
A Word About Pictures
I recommend putting all of the pictures or digital pictures on an external disk and stashing the device in your special box. One day it will feel okay to look at them, but you don't need to do that right now—it will only hurt.
7. Write Them a Letter and Dispose of It
This can also be done in front of candlelight or some other meditative aid, said out loud or whispered. I recommended doing this in private when no one else is around and you are feeling emotional.
- Take a piece of paper and write out all of your feelings and confessions. Even if you are still in love with them, tell them in the letter. Right out your memories, your wishes, your dreams. Hold nothing back.
- You can choose to recite your thoughts in front of a candle. Do not hold anything back. If you cry, cry.
- When you are finished putting all of your words out there, use your fireplace (if you have one) to dispose of the letter, or tear it up and dispose of it. If you are using the verbal method, release the words into the light of the candle and blow it out when you are done.
- Alternative: You can text yourself or email yourself the message. This may feel even more therapeutic because you get the satisfaction of clicking "send."
8. Get Yourself Together
I know . . . sleeping all day and binge eating or drinking is how some people choose to cope with their issues but this isn't going to help you and you know it! You need to get on that exercise program and continue to live life! Now is the perfect time for that "revenge bod." But guess what? That revenge bod is all about you!
9. Use Your Emotions for Motivation
If you need to use the fuel of your breakup as motivation for change, so be it. When my ex and I separated, I was so broken over the fact that I wouldn't have anyone to sail with.
The next morning I woke up and googled "sailing schools near me." I found a sailing that operated on a beautiful alpine lake and the sailing instructor was a woman. I called the number right away and enrolled in summer classes. Done and done! I took matters into my own hands. Looking back now, I can thank my ex for introducing me to sailing.
10. Make New Memories
You can use exposure to reset your brain. Did you know that love actually may mimic addiction? According to a published study "Addicted to love: What is love addiction and when should it be treated?":
" . . . cycles of alternating ecstasy and despair, desperate longing, and the extreme and sometimes damaging thoughts and behaviors that can follow from love’s loss—bear a resemblance to analogous phenomena associated with more 'conventional' addictions like those for drugs, alcohol, or gambling."
You know that nostalgic song of yours—the one that makes you cry? There are two solutions to break the addictive triggering potential of it:
- Play that song but play it in scenarios that are totally unrelated to your ex. Play it with a good female friend when you are on a road trip to go somewhere fun, play it while you're working out in the gym; get used to it being played and lessen your reactivity to it.
- Remove it from your playlist.
11. Allow Yourself to Wallow in the Heartache
So what if you don't want to brush your hair, get dressed, or change your clothing? Maybe you want to mope and mend your heart. You are allowed to do this. If you haven't let yourself experience the 5 stages of grief, then one or several of those stages will hit you later, so do it all now:
Keep in mind that these stages may not happen in a linear order.
12. Don't Stop Looking Your Best
When you are ready, get yourself together. This time you want to brush your hair, you want to get dressed, and you want to change into clean clothes. Don't give up on cleaning your room, making your bed—you need to prepare for the best version of yourself now! Invest in your future.
Even if it feels like you're going through the motions and only notice every person who is in love and not single every time you go out, stop believing the illusion. Even couples that seem happy on the surface may actually be struggling.
13. Consider Relocating
If you moved to a town to be with your significant other but are not particularly attached to the place or anyone in particular there, move. Better yet (if you can afford to and can take the time off), travel! There's no better way to say goodbye to heartache than traveling and seeing the world. The constant stimulation will allow your brain to keep busy and create new memories.
14. Find Your People
This is a perfect time to start that hobby your ex was never into—join your succulent-plant club or start rock climbing at the gym. You will meet tons of people and extend your social network. There are good groups to explore like meetup.com. I was able to join and all women's rock climbing group and met lots of cool ladies that way. I also started volunteering at a local farm and got engaged in activities I loved.
15. Stay Off Social Media
Do not and I repeat DO NOT check your ex's social media. Don't have a friend do it either. You do not want to know what they are up to. The very best thing to do here is to block them temporarily and remove them.
If you see your ex spending time with people of the opposite (or same sex) depending on their attraction, you may feel your wounds reopen. Do not do it. It's self-destructive.
Do Not Fall for IG Love
Do not compare yourself to these staged Instagram romances either—couples get paid big money to imitate romance. It's not real—the majority of it. Don't buy into it.
16. Do Not Go Back to Them
If your ex is a charmer and tries to get you back every time you are just about finally moving on . . . do not fall for it. They will let you down again! They are likely toying with you. If they wanted a longterm relationship, they never would have left. Don't buy the excuses and the apologies. You will only get hurt again and have to start over.
17. Date for Fun
Let yourself date for fun—this took me a few years and I was still a skeptic of love. The good news is that I was able to meet someone who took my attention—we've now been together for 5 years and I am over my ex. I can look at old pictures of my former or hear old songs from our time together and my heart doesn't break.
18. Do Not Jump Into Another Relationship
This one is super important. While it is okay to date when you feel ready, do not jump into another relationship right away. Give yourself time. There's no rule for how long that might be. I took me over a year at least—but my ex was also still trying to get back into my life. When I finally went on my first date with my now partner of 5 years, I didn't even dress up! I was so over men! We still laugh about it to this day.
19. Live for the Now
Yes, one day you may be friends, but some people simply need to be apart and let each other live their separate lives. I truly believe this was the best thing for me and my ex. We tried to make it work so many times. You may always have a place for them in your heart but the wound will heal and you will move on.
I do think it's best that we don't contact each other. I intend for it to stay that way. As for my only other serious relationship in my life (my high school sweetheart), he and I are on friendly terms. You never know what type of friendship will emerge once the dust as settled.
20. When You Are Ready, Manifest New Love
This will take TIME! But it offers hope, and you should not give up on love. The best part about living and learning is that you know what you want in the future. When you are ready, manifest new love. You can even do this exercise if you are not ready and use it to bring good things into your life.
When I was finally ready to open up my heart (rather hesitantly, might I add), I took a piece of paper and pen and wrote down the qualities I was looking for in my future partner. Many of them were things I didn't get in my last relationship. I wanted someone who was spiritual, open to the supernatural, musical, loyal, and cultured. My wishes came true.
The Love I Manifested
Open to the supernatural
21. Live for You
This advice is all based around the concept of self-preservation. Not everyone needs to follow these directions as some splits are amicable. This advice is for people who feel like they can't go on without their ex. You need to be strong and live life for you—you need an identity separate from theirs, and you need to find yourself.
If you've found yourself, you will be ready for love again and in the future. If you cannot stand on your own feet, you will only experience heartache again and again and again. You want to be ready for new love so that you can experience and attract the right love.
Best of luck healing.
© 2018 Layne Holmes
Best of luck healing! Please share your story.
Sukia on June 08, 2020:
I cannot forget my first love .after l marriage 30 yrs , even I have 4 kids. I always seen in my dream.she also marriage have 3 kid with other? HOW TO FORGET HER?