Sometimes, it might be hard to get over your ex. Some people take a few months, while others require years. And if we look at the movie “Love in the Time of Cholera,” sometimes people might spend their whole life hung up on a long-lost lover.
You can find a gazillion advice pieces online, from online publications to therapists and self-proclaimed “dating experts” on TikTok. Some of the advice is good, while some can be borderline toxic, but most of it neglects to mention the essence of heartbreak.
A neuroscientist, Dr. Huberman, explains that breaking up with someone you love, whether you choose it or not, creates a deep feeling of grief. The same type of grief that we might feel after we lose a loved one or even a pet.
So, instead of thinking about heartbreak as simply getting over an ex, let’s look at it from the perspective of grieving someone you used to love. While everyone might deal with grief and heartbreak in a different manner, there are some strategies that are effective across the board.
Best Ways To Get Over Your Ex
1. Find New Love
You know how the old saying goes: “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.” Rebounds usually have a bad rep because we’re not supposed to jump into a new relationship before we are a hundred percent healed.
However, rebounds might not be as bad as we tend to think. A study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships looked into “rebound” relationships and their effect on people’s healing process after a heartbreak. And what they have found might be shocking to you – rebound relationships can be beneficial.
Dating a new person soon after a breakup might have multiple advantages. The good feelings and emotions from the new relationship help to keep you distracted from any bad emotions you might feel from your heartbreak.
Researchers also found that a rebound relationship might boost your self-confidence, proving that you are desirable to other people despite a recent rejection from your ex-partner. Overall, people who found a new partner after a breakup were better off compared to people who stayed single.
2. Focus on Activities That Make You Happy
Shifting your attention from your ex to pleasant things in your life, like hobbies, a dream career, people you love, and places you want to travel, can be an effective way to heal a broken heart and get over your ex.
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that when people were focused on activities that made them happy and kept them distracted from thinking about their ex, they felt better about the breakup.
While distracting yourself from your feelings will not minimize how much you love your ex, it can be enough to help you (in the short term) get over the heartbreak and find joy in life again, whether you choose to remain single or find a new partner.
3. Bad-Mouthing Your Ex
That same study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology looked into what effect remembering all the bad things from the relationship had on how fast people were able to move on from the heartbreak.
While researchers found that people were not feeling better bad-mouthing their ex, the feelings of love decreased. Focusing on the negatives of the relationship also minimized people’s need to go back to their ex and obsess about them. Which, in turn, made it easier to get over the unpleasant feelings that might occur when they have to come face-to-face with their ex again.
Psychologist and author Dr. Guy Winch works with couples and helps people get over breakups. In his TED talk on how to get over a broken heart, he talked about one of the strategies he uses with his clients – he asks them to come up with a list of things why the relationship and the partner were not good.
Then, he asks his clients to keep the list on their phones in a place where it’s easily accessible. This way, when the urge to obsess over the long-lost lover emerges, people can quickly look up the list of the negatives and speed up their healing process.
So, if you find yourself daydreaming and obsessing about how perfect your last relationship was, it might be worth it to sit down and make a list of all the ways that relationship was anything but perfect.
4. Reflect on It
While thinking and talking about your last relationship and breakup might be the last thing you want to do when you’re still in pain, reflection is an effective way to let go and move on. Reflection can help you understand your feelings, figure out what lessons you should learn and how to become a better person for yourself and your future partner.
One small study published in SPPS looked into 210 young individuals who were dealing with fresh breakups. What the researchers found after asking the participants a multitude of questions was that talking about the relationships helped them develop a stronger sense of who they are as single people.
Talking about the breakup also helped the participants to process their breakup better. And that is the key to speeding up the healing process. Tools like journaling, turning to your friends and family, and even talking with a therapist can be a way to help you reflect and understand your feelings better.
5. Acceptance Exercise
In his podcast episode on grief, the Huberman Lab, Dr. Huberman explains that every relationship has three dimensions. Through these three dimensions, we relate and connect with another person, animal, or even a thing. And these three dimensions are:
- Space: how well you know where somebody is in physical space
- Time: when someone is aware of time – when the last time you saw them is, and when you’ll get to see them again
- Closeness: how attached you are or how well you know somebody
Our relationship with people in our lives consists of our emotional attachments to them, intertwined with the three dimensions of relationships. It might sound complicated, yet understanding this concept is key to learning how to get over grieving losing someone.
So, what Dr. Huberman suggests, activity or exercise is this – everyday or every other day, set aside a few minutes to sit with your grief. During this session, focus on embracing the feeling of closeness and attachment you have to someone, but make a conscious effort to understand that someone is not here with you in time and space.
It might be a hard exercise to do if the heartbreak is fresh. Sitting and thinking about your ex can be hard in that case. However, with practice, you’ll train your body and brain to understand that they’re not here and won’t be here in the future, which will help you get over the grieving period and heal the broken heart easier.