How To Get Over Someone You Want To Get Back Together With, But Know You Shouldn't
Here's a list of things that I am not over: the fact that Drake was on Degrassi, that time Rose and Jack totally could've fit on that door in Titanic, all of our President's tweets this week, oh, and every person I have ever dated that things didn't work out with. That's a stretch; I'm not over, like, three of those men. (I also just really like winning.) In complete seriousness, there are a few people in my life that I have desperately struggled to let go of, despite knowing they weren't good for me. I mean, it's hard to know how to get over someone when you can't even make it through a day without thinking of them.
I know some people who, when dumped, are very capable of saying "that relationship didn't work out, that person wasn't for me, on to the next one," without falling apart forever. I am jealous of these people. I am not one of these people. When rejected, I prefer the "steep decline into a depression under my blankets" route, followed by a few pathetic attempts at rekindling things via text. Finally, I find a way to see how amazing the new girlfriend is, so I can crumble into a pile of self-loathing dust. HEALTHY AF, right?
If, like me, you have ever had a hard time getting over someone, even if you know you weren't meant to be with them, you've probably felt a bit helpless. I like checklists and actionable steps, and when broken-hearted, the only steps I seem to be able to come up with are to drink wine and listen to sad songs on Spotify. So I spoke to Los Angeles-based licensed psychotherapist Dr. Gary Brown about what steps you — or I — can take to actually move on from a past relationship that you know isn't good for you.
Put Pen To Paper
Writing can be therapeutic. Buy yourself a pretty new journal and fancy pen (I am thirsty for fancy pens) and "list all of the reasons this person isn’t good for you," says Dr. Brown. "Remember specific examples of things they said or did, or didn’t say or didn’t do as a reminder." I think this is a great way to sort through some of the complicated emotions that run through your mind after a breakup. They get jumbled up there in your brain. Additionally, I think that writing down all of your feelings and thoughts, stream of consciousness-style, can be extremely cathartic. Remember, no one's ever going to see it.
Get Specific About What You Didn't Like About Them
You don't have to be nasty about your ex, but thinking about concrete examples of times when they left a bad taste in your mouth will keep you from going into "everything was perfect and we were meant to be" mode. "Examples [of negative traits] would be self-centered, narcissistic, selfish, inconsiderate, mean, untrustworthy, hyper-critical, withdrawn, substance abuser, violent, inconsiderate, and any other qualities that demonstrate they weren’t a good fit for you," explains Dr. Brown. I personally would follow this step up by finding a pillow to punch. Delightful!
Start To Think About What You'd Like In The Future
After tearing your ex to shreds via private diary and not a weirdly moody Instagram post because you are an adult, think about the kind of partner you'd like to be with in the future. "Make a list of the positive qualities you want your next partner to have," recommends Dr. Brown. These qualities might include "that they are loving, kind, genuine, trustworthy, friendly, affectionate, humorous, generous, concerned about others as much as themselves, and any other qualities that are important to you." Most notably, include qualities your ex did not have.
This exercise is not to encourage narrow-mindedness when it comes to finding future partners, but, instead, to leave you feeling hopeful about the fact that there are definitely people out there who have got what you're looking for going on. And why write it down? "You will literally have something in writing that you can refer to," says Dr. Brown. "Read this every day for 90 days." A challenge... I like it.
Don't Talk To Them
"Do not see them or interact with them in any way for at least three months," says Dr. Brown. "This includes in person, on the phone, or any contact via social media." I know, I know. This is the hardest step of them all. That said, it is very actionable.
How serious are you about moving on? Aren't you tired of crying every time you watch that damn Parks and Recreation episode you and your ex were obsessed with? Not talking to your ex for a bit is something that you can do starting right now. "My clients who have ended bad relationships have found that they have a much better chance of moving on if they cut off all contact with their ex for at least 90 days," says Dr. Brown.
I know that the social media stalking will be tempting, and writing down your feelings might seem a little weird at first, but heartbreaks are truly incomprehensible moments in human life that take some extra care. Above all, I would say that you should insist on taking care of yourself. It's so cheesy, but so true: If you show yourself respect, kindness, and love, you'll attract it from others. Did you accidentally call your ex on day 32 of your 90-day pact of silence? It's OK. You're doing just fine. After all, an internet troll was elected leader of the free world, Rose did let Jack go in the end, and Drake was just caught pouring a drink at a Raptors game. We're all human. Wishing you all the luck!
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