How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex: 20 Ways To Try

How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex: 20 Ways To Try

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You had a beautiful relation, but now that it is over. The transition from a relationship to being single or getting close to another person could be agonizing. It’s not easy to get over an ex as you invested time and shared emotional commitment. They were a big part of your life. So, when your relationship falls apart for whatever reason, it can be devastating.

That is why it is essential to put the past relationship behind and move on. It’s difficult to get away from their thoughts, but keeping them in mind would take a toll on your health and life. This post brings some tips that can help you stop thinking about your ex.

Before we dive into the tips, let us understand the reasons why you are still thinking about your ex.

Reasons Why You’re Still Thinking About Your Ex

One of the most important things for moving on is understanding and processing the reason that’s keeping your ex on your mind. Not everything can be controlled at times. Before heading to knowing the tips, try figuring out why they are on your mind.

1. Your breakup is still fresh

If you’ve just come out of a relationship, it’s completely natural to think about it from time to time, no matter how it ended. You are more likely to contemplate it if they broke up with you. It’s something you cannot control, but it is better to respond positively.

2. Your relationship ended on a sour note

If the relationship didn’t end well or it wasn’t a mutual decision, your feelings are hurt, and bitterness may linger. Think what it is about the relationship and breakup that has broken your heart and try to process it.

3. Your relationship mattered

Meaningful and positive relationships are the hardest to forget. It is perfectly natural to miss such a loving bond and your ex-partner even after the relationship ends.

4. You had a future planned

One of the things that make it difficult to get over an ex is when you have made plans and commitments with them. If you had plans to move in with them, get engaged or married, or even move to cities to be close to them (in a long-distance relationship scenario), it won’t be easy to adjust to the new normal post the breakup.

5. You experienced trauma in the past relationship

In many cases, relationships end because of toxic behavior or habits that cause one or both parties to end it. If you were the victim of abuse or toxic, unhealthy behavior, it would naturally traumatize you for some time.

6. You frequently find your ex

Not everyone has the luxury of not having to see their ex often. People who date often share mutual friends, hangout spots, or even workplaces. You might even be neighbors. When you frequently see your ex, it becomes difficult to get over them.

7. You have dated them in a formative period of your lives

Suppose you dated your ex in your formative period of life and had experienced significant milestones. The memories can stick with you for a long time. Also, if you started dating when young, you may have similar worldviews, making it difficult to get over them later on.

How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex?

Relationships come and go, and they all add their unique value and learnings to your life. Lingering over an ex for a long time is not healthy for you and your future. Here are some tips on how to stop thinking about your ex.

1. Avoid contact

If you are unable to positively reframe the relationship after the breakup, avoid any contact with them. It might seem like an apparent move to get over an ex, but it is not easy if you share mutual friends or a workplace. If avoiding your ex becomes impossible due to these constraints, try to keep your interactions with them short and limited. If you are certain you are done with your ex and do not want them in your life, take the steps you need to, to make that happen.

2. Do not call or message them

Another obvious tip that people miss to follow after a breakup is to message or call their ex. While interacting over the phone might seem easier and less painful than in person, it should not be used as a crutch. While these interactions might give you short-term relief or contentment, they’re detrimental in the long term.

3. Remove them from your social media

Social media has made it easier than ever to have an insight into what someone is up to without even being in touch with them. While this is mostly a good thing, it can lead to a very unhealthy obsession in the context of exes. Knowing where they are, who they’re with, or what they are doing will only make you miss your ex. So, block or unfriend them as soon as possible.

4. Avoid mutual hangouts when possible

Try and avoid meeting them at places where you’re likely to run into them often, such as the gym at certain times, a bar you both like on certain days, or a popular restaurant on the weekend. Instead, use alternative places for some time. Running into your ex can not only be awkward but also set back whatever progress you’ve made to get over them.

5. Get rid of any objects that remind you of your ex

While we don’t advocate burning everything your ex ever gifted you, it is in your best interest to remove objects that are either from your ex or remind you of them. It could be anything from a phone case to a birthday gift. Try to distance yourself from the objects that bring your ex to mind.

6. Distract yourself

Until you’ve stopped thinking about your ex and moved on, you will still be reliving your moments with them, on a subconscious level. It would help if you find new hobbies, new favorite TV Shows, movies, and books for distraction and maybe even make some new friends. The sooner you start a new chapter of your life, the sooner you can forget the old one.

7. Do not ask or listen to anything about your ex

In the age of social media and mutual friends, we are not disconnected from anyone, even if we choose to do so voluntarily. You might hear from your friends about your ex’s job, health, or even a new romantic partner—something that might cause you more pain. The smart option here is to opt-out of these conversations whenever possible and not enquire about your ex at all.

8. Avoid talking about your ex

While there are two sides to every story, especially when it comes to breakups, we recommend you not talk about your ex. Close friends and family will naturally want to know what happened, and it is okay to tell them about it. But after a point, talking about the breakup, finding fault, or criticizing your ex will only cause pain to you.

9. Don’t scroll through old photos or messages

You do not want to get caught in the memory trap of reliving the good times through old photos and messages with your ex. It can cause you to feel nostalgic about the relationship and miss it even more, severely hampering your ability to stop thinking about your ex. Above all, avoid texting them again.

10. Start new hobbies

While it is a good idea at any point, there’s no better time to sink into a new hobby than after a breakup. It could be gyming, learning an instrument, cooking, or even reading. Regardless, investing your time and energy into these new hobbies will leave you with less time to think about your ex and occupy your time productively.

11. Start or resume a journal

Self-awareness isn’t something that happens overnight, and it’s a journey. And while we think our memory is a good narrator, it can become hazy at times, and you may fail to remember exactly how things were at some particular point in time. To this effect, you could start or resume a journal. It will help you express your emotions, and later on, you can read these entries to see how far you’ve come from with regards to moving on from your ex.

12. Talk to close friends or family about it

It’s not always possible to keep these emotions bottled up, and we don’t recommend you do it either. Friends and family are there for a reason, and they will be there to listen to you when you need them. Talk to close friends or family about the breakup or your ex. They will likely be supportive and non-judgemental.

13. Don’t play the blame game

A relationship ends for several reasons, and not all of them are in your control. To move on, you shouldn’t get into the blame game. Both parties will likely feel that the other person is at fault, but thinking about it will help no one. Dwelling on who made what mistake will only lead to bitterness, and negatively affect your ability to stop thinking about your ex.

14. Consider dating again

A breakup is nothing but a speed bump in your life. Setbacks are common in romance, and this is one of them. Don’t let it affect your willingness to open up to someone again. After you feel you are ready to meet the right person, consider dating again. Every breakup is a learning experience, for better or worse.

So, every relationship should logically be healthier than the ones that came before. There are plenty of people out there with whom you could potentially complement and  share a healthy relationship. Once you reach this stage, it will be much easier to stop thinking about your ex.

15. Do not idealize the past

When we look back at old relationships or even friendships, we tend to romanticize things and idealize them. It can often lead to believing things were a lot better than they are, and thus, you may feel gloomy about the breakup. If you want to stop thinking about your ex, you need not idealize your relationship. Keeping it realistic and neutral will let you move on faster.

16. Don’t try to make your ex jealous

Another thing some couples do is try to make their ex jealous. It could be something as simple as dating someone soon after the breakup or even dating their ex’s friends. That could only lead to harmful decisions. Acknowledge that you and your ex have gone separate ways and have your own lives. You don’t have to be happy for each other, but you should not hurt the other person on the way. It is also unfair to the person you date only to make your ex jealous.

17. Take the time as a gift to yourself

Often, when we are in a relationship, we invest a lot of time and mental space for our partners. When you are single, you can redirect it towards yourself. Take the time to reflect, meditate, improve, and pamper yourself. In due time, you will meet the right person, but for now, enjoy the free time you have to be your whole self without worrying about what others might think.

18. Learn to forgive your ex

Regardless of how your relationship ended, you have to forgive your ex. If you harbor hatred or grudge against your ex, it may not help you stop thinking about them. Learn to forgive your ex and make it easy for yourself to move on.

19. Don’t try to “win” the breakup

A lot of couples often get into this toxic game of trying to “win” a breakup. It could be a race to see who gets a new partner first or an attempt to show their ex that they care less. Avoid such behavior at all costs, as it only proves that you aren’t ready to move on from your ex.

20. See if there is any chance to be friends again

Not all breakups are catastrophic disasters that hurt everyone involved and take months or years to get over. There is such a thing as a mutual need for separation and space, and couples will often end a relationship amicably. Even if your breakup or the end of your relationship wasn’t very smooth or there were arguments, always leave the door open to being able to be friends with your ex again someday. There is no healthier way to stop thinking about your ex and move on than being platonic friends with them.

Relationships can be deceptive in the short term that everything feels much exaggerated than it is. At that moment, a breakup might feel like the end of the world or your romantic life. A major falling out might seem like the worst thing to happen to you. But with time and the right perspective, we realize that these are setbacks in life. There will be other people and relationships, and this pain will fade over time. Give yourself some time and space, and you will be able to stop thinking about your ex and move on with your life.

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Dr. Carlos Juan Carmona-Goyena

(PhD (Counseling Psychology))
Dr. Carlos Juan Carmona-Goyena is a board licensed therapist in the USA and Puerto Rico with a specialty in couples, families, and relationships. Dr. Carlos possesses a PhD in Counseling Psychology granted at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. His two-decade professional experience also includes scientific research in family emotional and relational processes and its effect on psychological functioning. Dr.... more

Rohan Sinha

Rohan was an HR analyst before transitioning into a freelance writer/ editor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resources and previously worked as an analyst in Goldman Sachs. Having also worked in a media and post-production firm, he has special interest in films. Rohan is an avid reader with a passion for defense,... more