The Only Formula You Need To Completely Get Over The Memory Of Your Ex

by Jamie Webben
Marija Kovac

You fell for someone, and it didn't work out. By "not working out," I mean it ended badly, in a way that still feels a lot like an open-ended question.

You thought time and distance would make it better by now. The problem is, you're not good at that emotion thing. Or maybe you are, but only sometimes.

This isn't one of those times.

You can't forget your ex and, what's worse is, you feel like you're not quite whole. You know you're sick of feeling this way, though.

Luckily, you're better at quantifying things. So, you develop a five-part solution – a type of broken-hearted Pythagorean theorem – in order to move on. This is what you tell yourself you need to do:

1. First, you need to deduct whatever you're still holding onto.

Subtract out the “what ifs,” the “should haves” and the “what could have beens.” Forget the imperfect words you said or sent, and know that taking them back would change nothing. Throw away all the convictions you had about the other person.

Delete the 2 am texts that hint at love or desire. Delete the instant messages about the monotony of everyday life. Get rid of those little conversations you seem to miss more as time goes on, but that probably never meant anything to him.

Withdraw the acute angle of his smile from your memory. While you're at it, mentally erase his calendar from your mind.

Forget the tattoo appointments, the weekend trips and his birthday. Let the dates and numbers become unknown variables.

2. Next, divvy up the leftover reminders of him.

Divide the evidence of whatever you two felt for each other. Take the playlists that remind you of him and put them in a metaphorical box. Label it “Do not open until you're over it.”

Before you seal it, throw in the books, the poems and the pictures. Segment the memories in a corner of your mind so you can forget about them.

Let yourself skip the songs that come up on the radio: the ones that only seem to echo the person's name over and over. Isolate the part of you that is weak for telling him you miss him, and forgive that part.

Partition off that corner of midtown where you two first kissed because you can't pass it without feeling nostalgic. Tell yourself that you'll be able to stand on that corner again one day and feel nothing. Find comfort in that thought.

3. Add back some of the things you lost along the way.

Add in the negatives that you allowed yourself to ignore, like how you always knew the flame was going to burn out quickly, or how you could only be the one he invested in for so long.

Somehow, couple enough of these thoughts together. Turn those double negatives into positives.

Tally up the times he was closed off, withdrawn and quite frankly, mean. Remind yourself you were the opposite of those things, and that fact alone means you're better off without him, even if you feel like the one who got burned. Remind yourself that he was always a complex number, and that your relationship was an unsolvable equation.

More importantly, add back in the things that made you happy before he came into the picture. Become that girl again. Be the one who doesn't turn down dates or put up walls.

Become the girl who was unabashedly herself. She was funny. But most importantly, she was strong.

Do what you have to do to get back to being that person. Read, run and write.

Write too much. Write 100 drafts about him, and throw them all away until you get one right. When you do get it right, use the words to value everything that happened in those months.

But also leave things in the past. Turn the words into a rope you use to climb over that mountain.

After that, add some perspective to the situation. Appreciate the fact that you still have the potential to feel so strongly about someone, even if it makes you say and do crazy things at times.

Admire the guy who liked you, but also respect that same person who stopped liking you for whatever reason. Also, stop wondering what that reason was.

4. Multiply everything amazing that remains, and subtract anything bad that's left.

Multiply the things that make you happy by infinity. Realize how much good you have around you: the job you love, the friends who are always there and the family that keeps you grounded. These are the things and people that will keep you from reaching across the bar for your phone at 3 am, when his name is in the back of your mouth and at your fingertips.

Double the nights you stay out until the sun rises. Laugh until you cry. Go to too many concerts. Dance until you can't stand.

Square your vacations to the nth degree. Plan trips to the middle of nowhere Nebraska, where you remember how the peacefulness and silence of a small town can feel magical.

Go home. Let the sun in California take some of the pain away. Go camping in upstate New York. Let these places help you feel like your old self.

Then, subtract some more. Let go of any hate that's left (if there was even any to begin with). Forgive him just like you forgave yourself.

By forgiving him, remind yourself that sometimes, things don't work out. It's sad, but it's not the end of the world. It's just life. It's nobody's fault.

In knowing that, let him go. Then, let the person who you've become since it ended go.

5. Lastly, sum it all up to see how far you've come.

After all that, total up your losses and gains from the past few months. You should be left with a bottom line that you've always known was the answer.

But you may just be seeing it now. It's you. You're the one. You've always been whole on your own.