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15 Tips To Forget Someone (That Actually Work)

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Nearly four in ten1 unmarried adults (age 18-35) experienced a breakup in the past year and a half. Heartbreak is common! And so is the desire to forget someone. 

Whether it was a long-term partnership that ended in a difficult breakup or a crush who broke your heart, we’ll give you all the tips you need to know to leave this person in the past, let go, and move on. 

How Your Brain Reacts to Heartbreak

One study observed individuals who had just gotten broken up with. These folks reported thinking about their previous partner 85% of their waking hours. Many of these people struggled to control their emotions and would inappropriately call or email their ex, drink too much, and show up dramatically in their ex’s home to express their feelings. These people were hurting!

And their brains showed this as well. When put under brain scans looking at pictures of their ex, parts of their brain lit up related to impulse control. This makes sense; if you’re fresh out of a breakup, you might have the impulse to either light your ex’s car on fire or show up at their workplace, and some part of you needs to make sure those things don’t happen. 

And another part of their brain lit up related to addiction. And this relays why forgetting someone and letting go is so hard—your brain is effectively still addicted to them.

So if you are experiencing difficult emotions and impulses in your heartbreak, that’s normal.

With that said, let’s go over some tips to help you with your process of forgetting this person.

Tips on How to Forget Someone

To move on and forget about this person, try out some of these tips.

Write a letter that you never send

It can be powerful to take out a pen and a piece of paper and write a letter to your ex.

Put it all on the page. Don’t hold back. Say everything you didn’t say. Say everything you need to say. Pour your thoughts and feelings onto the page.

And then, when you’re done… burn the letter.

Just the process of writing it can be cathartic and clarifying. And burning the letter can serve as an act of symbolism, letting go of the relationship.

Science backs this up and suggests that writing can help someone find coherence in their grieving process.

If you’d like a deep dive into the science behind writing to process your mental health, check out this Andrew Huberman video:

Action Step: Set aside 15 minutes to write a fully honest letter to your ex. Then burn it when you are done.

Cleanse your space

If your goal is to let go of this person, it can be difficult when there are reminders of them throughout your life. 

You might have their sweatshirt in your closet, their teddy bear in your bed, and a spatula they gifted you. And each time you look at one of those items, you immediately think of them again.

These constant reminders make it very hard to let go!

If your goal is to move on, putting all the sentimental items out of sight could be helpful.

Action Step: Scan your living space for items that remind you of this person. Consider putting these items in a box in your closet or garage. You can take them out again if the nostalgia would feel nice. But since they’re causing you pain, consider removing the reminders.

Unfollow on social media

Similarly, letting someone go when they pop up on your Twitter or Instagram feed can be hard. It’s easy to dig into their photos to investigate who they spend time with and how they do.

It’s as if you have an emotional wound that needs healing time. But each time you see this person on social media, it’s like picking at the scab, re-opening the wound. 

For many, it’s helpful to get space from seeing updates from their ex so that they can let that wound fully heal.

Action Step: Try unfollowing, unfriending, or blocking notifications from this person on all the social media you use.

Reconnect with friends and family

Social support is crucial during tough times. Loved ones can provide comfort, emotional support, and a sense of belonging. And studies suggest that social support helps us move through negative feelings more effectively.

Especially if you didn’t make as much space for friends when you were with your ex, inviting these folks back in can be vital. They can offer fun distraction, advice, and a listening ear. And they can help you return to yourself.

Action Step: Who is someone in your life that you trust and could use a little more connection with? Ask them to meet up or hop on a call to catch up. And maybe even plan a regular meet-up.

Set personal goals

Many people might feel a confidence dip after a breakup. And one way to find some confidence and self-esteem is by achieving goals for yourself

When you achieve goals, it gives you a feeling of progress, and the confidence that you can accomplish what you set your mind to. 

I can attest to this in my own life. Not too long ago, I felt a confidence dip in my life, so I dedicated myself to weight training for a few months. I hit goal after goal. And as I saw my numbers steadily increase, my confidence trailed not far behind.

Action Step: If you’d like support with setting the right goals for yourself, consider taking this free training:

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Feel your grief

Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross2 pioneered the five stages of grief.

These stages describe a person’s feelings when they experience a loss. These feelings can come up if someone in your life dies and also in the aftermath of a breakup.

The five stages don’t necessarily occur in order. They may cycle in and out. The stages are:

  • Denial. This is where you struggle to accept the reality of your breakup. Denial is a defense mechanism that protects you from shock. It can help folks to numb and pace the acknowledgment of their loss.
  • Anger. You may feel frustration, helplessness, and anger. You might be angry at your ex, other people in your life, yourself, God, or the whole situation.
  • Bargaining. This is where you might ruminate on “what if” and “if only” sentiments, trying to rewrite the past. You might even barter with a higher power to try to reverse or lessen the loss.
  • Depression. This is when you feel the full extent of the loss. This often results in sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty. In this period, you might withdraw from life and begin to confront how the breakup might impact you.
  • Acceptance. Acceptance does not mean being okay with the loss. Instead, it means acknowledging the reality of the situation and finding ways to live with it. This is where you accept that the person is no longer in your life, and you can start to plan for your future without them.

If you want to forget about the person in your life, then it is vital that you feel all these feelings.

It is normal to experience these five feelings and more. Trying to suppress, deny, or bury your feelings won’t make them go away. They will stay under the surface, waiting to be felt. And you won’t be able to move on until you feel them through.

Action Step: Set aside a few minutes to journal on each of the stages of grief. Here are a few prompts:

  • In what ways am I denying the situation?
  • In what ways do I feel angry?
  • Am I trying to bargain to get this person back in my life?
  • In what ways am I feeling depressed?
  • Have I begun to accept this situation? (It’s okay if not).

Don’t rush the process

As the musician Trevor Hall3 sings, “You can’t rush your healing.”

And it’s true. Healing takes time. And it goes at its own pace.

Plus, there are a lot of factors that go into how long it will take to heal.

Was this your first partner? How long did you date for? How intimate and vulnerable were you with each other? How entangled were your lives? Had you planned a future together? Did the breakup come suddenly? Do you have an anxious attachment style?

Depending on your answer to these questions, your healing journey could take a month or more than a year.

One team of researchers4 tracked thousands of active Reddit posters who had suffered a breakup and analyzed their language use over time. The researchers found that people experience massive distress in the first week after a breakup and that they tend to return to their emotional baseline after about six months. 

Expect your healing to take time, and don’t try to make your feelings go away faster than they’re ready to

Action Step: Assume your healing process will take six months, and don’t rush into dating until you feel ready!  

Practice mindfulness

Studies5 suggest that mindfulness practice can help lessen the severity of grief and help people think more clearly when going through a loss.

Mindfulness and meditation can keep you anchored in the present and reduce the tendency to dwell on memories. It also puts you in touch with your body sensations, which can help your emotions pass through you more easily. 

Action Step: Dedicate five minutes today to meditating and paying attention to your breath and body sensations.  

Check out the video below if you’d like to try a 5-minute guided meditation.

Be kind to yourself

Heartbreak is tough. But offering gentleness and compassion to yourself during this time will expedite your healing and make your experience a lot easier.

Healing is not linear, and having good and bad days is okay. Just remember that you’re doing a good job 🙂

Action Step: What self-care practice would help you feel cared for? See if you can make space for it today! Here are a few options to think about:

  • Take a warm bath
  • Cook a healthy meal
  • Take a walk in nature
  • Spend time listening to music
  • Create a piece of art

Give up hope that you’ll get back together

It can draw out the healing process if you cling to the hope that you might get back together.

When you cling to this hope, you never fully accept the reality of what has happened. You live in a bubble where you haven’t accepted the past and are holding out for a future that may never happen.

Action Step: Ask yourself honestly and lucidly if you think you two will get back together. If the answer is no, take some time to visualize your future as a single person, or possibly with another partner. This will help cut off the false future that you might be holding on to.

Stay physically active

Physical activity boosts endorphins6 , which create more positive feelings and reduce stress. 

If nothing else, picking up an exercise habit can boost your mood and pull you out of the dumps. And at best, it can put you in a flow state and help break the rumination cycle. 

Action Step: Schedule 15 minutes of exercise for the next day or two. You could try a brisk walk, a jog, a yoga class, or a gym session. 

Dive into your hobbies

Studies7 suggest that engaging in hobbies and leisure activities improves our well-being. 

Consider picking up a new hobby to find a fresh perspective and new source of joy. Or you could dig into tried-and-true hobbies that you know can teleport you to a place of timeless enjoyment.

Hobbies can be a haven and allow you to be with yourself. Some hobbies can give you space from your pain so you can breathe fresh air, and other hobbies allow you to dive into your feelings head first and process them.

Action Step: Pick up an old hobby or try something you’ve always been curious about. Give it a go, whether it’s a cooking class, an art workshop, or a new sport.

Avoid idealizing the person or relationship

If you’ve just broken up with someone, it can be easy to get stuck in thought loops like, “But what we had was perfect!” or “I’ll never meet someone like them again!”

If your goal is to forget someone and move on, you must accept that the relationship wasn’t perfect for one reason or another. That’s not to say it wasn’t beautiful. And that’s not to say that you didn’t love that person and learn much from them.

But to move on, you must take that relationship off the pedestal.

Action Step: Journal on the following questions:

  • What were the challenges in the relationship? Reflect on the difficulties, disagreements, and areas where you and your partner were incompatible. Writing these down can help you see that the relationship had its flaws.
  • How did I grow or change during the relationship? Consider both positive growth and possible negative changes in yourself. This can help you appreciate the experience for what it was—a part of your journey, not the destination.
  • What aspects of the relationship do I not miss? There might be habits, behaviors, or dynamics that you’re relieved to be free from. Acknowledging these can further ground your perspective in reality.
  • What have I learned from this relationship that I can take into my next one? Every relationship teaches us something. Identifying these lessons can transform your perception of the relationship from something you’ve lost to something that has contributed to your personal development.

Spend time volunteering

Studies8 suggest that volunteering to help others boosts your wellbeing and alleviates depression.

Volunteering can shift your focus away from your troubles and put your awareness on helping others. It can also give you a sense of community and purpose. 

If you feel like you’re stuck spinning in circles on the person you’re trying to let go of, consider spending some time volunteering.

Action Step: Check out VolunteerMatch9 , where you can find volunteer opportunities near you.

Seek professional support

Working with a professional is another terrific option to move through the pains of a breakup.

A therapist or coach can provide strategies to cope with loss and create space for you to work through complex emotions. 

Action Step: Consider scheduling an appointment with a counselor or coach who can offer personalized guidance. For a therapist, try Psychology Today10 . And if you’d like to take a different approach with a relationship coach, try a coach specializing in breakups from the Somatica Coaching Institute11 .

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About How to Forget Someone

How do you emotionally forget someone?

Emotionally forgetting someone involves actively redirecting your focus and energy towards self-improvement and other interests. Engage in activities that fulfill you and help create new memories without that person.

How do you truly move on from someone?

Truly moving on from someone means accepting the reality of the situation, acknowledging your feelings, and giving yourself time to heal. It’s a gradual process of focusing on personal growth and looking forward to new opportunities.

How do I move on quickly?

Unfortunately, healing happens at its own pace and is not always fast. But if you want to help facilitate the process of moving on, first explore and express your emotions. Then, actively work on detaching yourself from the person by removing tangible reminders and avoiding dwelling on memories.  

How long does it take to get over someone?

The time it takes to get over someone varies greatly and depends on how long the relationship lasted, how deeply connected you were, how unexpected the breakup was, and your attachment style. While there’s no single rule, you can expect to stabilize from most breakups within six months.

Why does heartbreak hurt so much?

Heartbreak hurts so much because you are losing a future you were counting on; there is a huge pain that comes with losing an attachment figure. You probably also lost a sense of your identity when you broke up with your spouse, lover, boyfriend, or girlfriend. All this together can make breakups extremely painful.

How do I stop crying after a breakup?

To stop crying after a breakup, allow yourself a designated time to grieve but also engage in activities that boost your mood and distract you from the pain. Connecting with friends and expressing feelings through journaling or art can also be therapeutic.

How to forget someone who hurt you?

If someone hurt you in a breakup, it can make letting go even more difficult, but it’s important to feel your emotions. You might have experienced betrayal, a trust wound, and anger if they hurt you. Don’t skip over these emotions and rush to forgiveness. But when the time feels right, you might try forgiving them.

Takeaways on How to Forget Someone

Best of luck getting through this period. Try to follow some of these tips:

  • Feel your grief: Take time to process your feelings. 
  • Don’t rush your healing: Let it take as long as it takes.
  • Practice mindfulness: Anchor in the present.
  • Be kind to yourself: Ease your healing with self-compassion.
  • Give up hope on getting back together: This can free you to live a new life for yourself.
  • Write a letter you never send: Release all your pent-up feelings, then burn the letter.
  • Cleanse your space: Removing reminders aids emotional recovery.
  • Unfollow on social media accounts: Reduce constant reminders to let the wound heal.
  • Reconnect with friends and family: A supportive network can give you strength.
  • Set personal goals: Achieving goals boosts confidence and self-esteem.
  • Stay physically active: Exercise enhances mood and reduces stress.
  • Dive into your hobbies: Engaging in new activities that offer joy and distraction.
  • Avoid idealizing the person or relationship: Realistic views facilitate moving forward.
  • Spend time volunteering: Helping others can get you out of your head.
  • Seek professional support: Try calling on further support with therapy or coaching to help you process.

And if you’re specifically trying to forget someone who ghosted you, you might find this guide helpful on what to do if you’ve been ghosted.

Article sources

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