We’ve all been there…whether it’s unrequited love, knowingly pining for the wrong person or a relationship gone south, we’ve had to collect ourselves and not look back so we can move forward. But how exactly do you do that, when habit and yearning (and misdirected dopamine) pull you into that vortex of familiarity and hurt? Here are some tried and true techniques on how to make yourself fall out of love.
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Go through the motions…to a point
Allow yourself the emotional bandwidth to feel all the feels; the good and the ugly, the sadness and the disappointment for what didn’t work. Moving through this mourning stage (and it is mourning a loss) allows you to grapple with the feelings without denying them (denial is a short-term strategy that while tempting, doesn’t allow you to heal in the long-term). Do give yourself a timeline on what is a reasonable amount of time to dwell in this space, though. You want to acknowledge, and reflect, not ruminate.
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Reflect on what you found attractive
This is the time to go inward and examine what drew you to this person. Often, we have well-established habits or patterns, and they aren’t always healthy or good for us. This is your opportunity to hit reset, and get out of the vicious loop by expanding your horizons and seeking relationships that are actually healthy and have lasting power.
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Whether it be a close and trusted friend who isn’t afraid to tell you how it is or a therapist to hold you accountable, do reach out when you feel you need it. If it helps to write things out first in a journal or letter (to yourself) as a way to grasp exactly what emotions you are going through, do that first.
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Recognize that you do have some control
The popular saying goes that you can’t help who you fall in love with, but it may be possible to help who you fall out of love with by actively modifying your thoughts, behaviours – and yes, don’t forget your physical environment too. It’s time to remove the ex from all socials, and get rid of those pictures and trinkets. You need physical distance from your relationship as much as a mental one so you can properly reconfigure your life in a new direction.
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Evict them from your mental real-estate
Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher found that actively busying your mind with something that requires your full concentration is a good way to redirect your thoughts when you find yourself ruminating on a former love. This requires discipline, but over time those well-established neural pathways that formerly fired off a storm in your brain with cues of your ex will subsequently fade over time. Turns out it’s true: time can heal. Look for a task that is mentally challenging and engaging enough that you don’t have room for wandering thoughts. An intense HIIT workout or challenging recipe may do the trick.
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Take off the rosey-rimmed glasses
Memories tend to cast our past in a self-selective and easily digestible, rosey light. Often we may only remember the good without acknowledging what wasn’t working for us in the relationship. Here too, retrain your brain to recall all the points of tension and conflict, and what wasn’t working too. There’s a reason you’re no longer together so try to use this experience as an opportunity to grow.
Related: 10 signs your breakup is your fault.
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Build a circle
If you don’t yet have a network of love and support, dedicate this time to establishing one. Relationships, with yourself as well as with non-romantic partners also take time and care, and being surrounded by those who sincerely have our back with all of life’s ups and downs is invaluable, partner or no partner. Spend time on your circle.
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But be comfortable on your own
This is a skill many of us haven’t yet mastered: being OK with being alone. You want to give yourself adequate time to process the experience and heal, not just leap to the next hot thing. Avoid the temptation to jump at the first next possible future ex. Enjoy this time dating yourself.
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Focus on what fulfills you
Often, in relationships, we can lose our identity, independent and separate from that of our partner. Spend time cultivating hobbies, and interests that you find restorative, and nourishing and that open your world. In the end, not only does this make you a more interesting partner to someone else down the road, you may find you also like yourself a whole lot more.
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Fall in love with YOU
Recognize what makes you unique and embrace all your quirks and flaws, while continuing to work on areas you’ve recognized you need improvement in. When you’re in this space, you’re likelier to make healthier choices about who deserves your time and attention – even if for now, that person is just you.
Written ByDragana Kovacevic