A friend asked, “How do you unlove someone?” Love makes us so happy when it’s reciprocated and so hurt when not. We can even love someone and still leave them, hopefully for good reasons. No matter how we part ways with our significant others, it’s never a walk in the park. The longer the relationship, the more entangled our lives and dependent on each other we are, the harder it is to sever the connection and therefore, it takes longer to fully heal the wound left in place of where a person used to be.
That being said, there are definitely good ways to help yourself along in the recovery process. Here are some tried and successful strategies.
- Out of sight, out of mind! It was easier in the age before Facebook and Instagram keep constant reminders of the person out of your life. Take down the pictures off the wall, donate their left behind clothes, and delete their phone number off of your address book. Now, though, they pop up in your newsfeed, and in your phone’s gallery, their face smiling at you and making you question your sanity.We all need quarantine time to refocus on ourselves and what matters in our lives, to digest the break-up experience, and to heal. So, scrub this person off of your life, at least until you realize you’re pretty much over them. Block them off social media. Not just defriend. Block. That’s because Facebook and Instagram will keep sending you suggestions to “friend” this person since they track your activity and want to you have as many friends as possible. If you block them, they can’t see anything related to you too. This minimizes the change of them stocking you and showing up to events and at places you are going. Even if they are not stocking you, it’s still better for you to keep your beeswax to yourself.
Remember, people post the highlights of their lives on social media because they want to believe that their lives are as awesome as they look on Facebook. But they are not. You don’t know what happens when the lights go dark at night and what monsters hide under your ex’s bed. But you definitely, do not want to be staring at these picture-perfect moments and start feeling like you may be missing out, or worse. You don’t want to watch your ex with their new “someone” and compare yourself to him or her. The truth is, you are you and whatever you are, your ex will never get that, because it’s only available in the package of you. And you are not available!
If you work together or share children or other commitments, minimize contact and keep it only relevant to work, children, or said commitments. Set these boundaries so you won’t be tempted to hang out and end up in the sack just one more time, rehashing your feelings and setting yourself back.
Also, archive or delete all pictures from your phone, and definitely, the one of him or her you are using as your phone’s wallpaper. Chances are you have your pictures somewhere saved on a cloud, in case you want to look at them in the future, so even if you delete them off of your phone, they’ll be there somewhere, safe and sound. Just remember, looking at smiling pictures of yourselves enhances your mind’s forgetfulness of the bad times… Which leads me to the next point.
- Assume that you are going to forget a lot. And a lot of what you are forgetting while feeling lonely and vulnerable are the things you need to remind yourself the most. Such as why you broke up. Such as how this relationship was not good for you. Such as all the reasons why it’s a terrible idea for the two of you to be together. Those are the things you should write down and stick it on the fridge, so every time you find yourself sentimental and confused, you can clarify for yourself why you are not together anymore. This works even if you are not the one walking away on your significant other.
- Get busy doing things you love doing with your friends, or without. Take care of yourself and self-esteem by getting healthier, working out, enjoying the great outdoors, learning new things like dancing, or a language, or whatever you always wanted to learn but never had the time to do it because you were too busy with your relationship. In other words, get busy filling up your emptiness with useful, fun, and growth-related activities. Focus on what matters – you!
- Go talk your year off of your best friends. They’ll listen because they know you’ll be there for them when they end up in a funk. Vent all you want, a few times, and get it out of your system. That’s what friends are for. Then show your gratitude to your friends with a nice meal, a card, or however you think they’ll enjoy hearing from you how meaningful your friendship is. Get lots of hugs while you are at it. Hugs are awesome! More hugs!
- The above is not the same as getting into another’s bed on hour/day/week 3 of break up unless you are sure it’s “just sex.” Too many people jump right into another relationship before fully figuring out what just happened to them, therefore, exporting their current problems to their future partner. Really? How selfish is this? How much unnecessary drama can be saved down the road when you wake up one day and realize that you are done with this rebound relationship. And here you go again… another breakup.
Yeah, I know. You already knew all this. Now do it! Give yourself some space and time and see how things move along. It’s always harder in the first few days and weeks. It always gets better. Everyone who’s been through a break up knows that. It always gets easier and better. You may never really “unlove” the person because the time and sharing you’ve had together have brought a degree of familiarity that you don’t have with everyone. But you can definitely love them happily from a distance and without any emotional discomfort. Someday you can be with them in the same room and feel like friends and yet have no desire to be with them beyond that. It goes without saying, that if the relationship was abusive, that day should never come. You can forgive them but you should always keep your distance and stay alert.
Please, understand that the above are general suggestions. You, personally, may need more help from a therapist, or a coach like me. Or more time. Or if the relationship was physically and emotionally abusive the work ahead of you is big. But do know that, whoever you are, whatever your situation is, the sun will rise again tomorrow. And each day, you will rise with the sun and feel just a smudge better until one day you are whole again and tall, and free!
Good luck to you.
And now that you go this far, you can watch me talk about this on YouTube and if you subscribe to my channel, you will get the more videos on all sorts of cool stuff.
Here’s the video: https://youtu.be/ZzIjaoz8dIo
I have not had a real romance, since my wife passed on, seven years ago, but I have had friends say they love me, even peck on the lips, in one case- and the next day, I am a stranger again. Detachment is a very good skill to have.