Imagine a world where you can choose who you love and pining over people who are so obviously wrong for you isn’t a thing. Sounds like paradise, sure, but unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Still, while you can’t turn your feelings on and off, there are a few things you can do to train yourself to stop loving someone when you know you have to. The hard part—being honest with yourself—is done, so here’s what’s next.
This might sound obvious, but too many people choose to live in denial and hope the person they love will miraculously change and be everything they ever wanted. Ask yourself if you’re in love with who the person is right now or if you’re in love with who you think they could be. If it’s the latter, you’re selling yourself short and there’s someone else out there who will be what you’re looking for right now.
Cut off all contact. Yes, even social media.
You might think you can immediately transition to friends, go for the occasional dinner, and like their Instagram posts without a care in the world. You can’t. Think of it this way: loving this person is a habit you need to break and the best way to do that is to go cold turkey. Talking to them will only fuel your feelings. To suffocate the flame, you have to go not contact.
Replace them with something else you love
. All that time you spent with them and thinking about them and planning the next time you’d see them? It’s all yours again, so fill the hours with things you love to do. Read more. Catch up on your favorite reality shows. Paint. Knit. Go antiquing. Perfect your peanut butter cookie recipe. Do a 5K. Every time you start to revert back to pining, redirect your attention to something positive.
Replace them with people you love.
Your friends, family and even acquaintances are your greatest allies when you’re trying to move on from misguided love. They want the best for you and they were probably well aware that the object of your affection wasn’t exactly the best you could do. They’ll be there to remind you that you’re making the right choice and be the distraction you need when you need it.
Think of everything you won’t have if you’re with them.
If you’re with someone who is wrong for you, that means you’re missing out on a lot of things you need to be happy. Instead of mourning the good things you’re losing, think about the compromises and sacrifices you no longer have to make since you finally came to your senses.
Focus on their bad qualities.
Love and rose-colored glasses go hand in hand. But now that you’ve ended things, you can see this person for who they really are: a terrible communicator who never listened to you and always insisted on getting pineapple on every pizza you ordered. Reminding yourself why it would never work will help you stop putting them on a pedestal and move on with your life.
Make self-care a bigger priority.
Going through a breakup can be draining and disorienting. That’s why you need little rituals that make you feel centered and calm. Pamper yourself a little—go for a predicure, take a long bath, buy yourself a new outfit. Stay active by taking a yoga class, going for walks and getting back into your usual workout routine. Just keep living your life and putting yourself first and you’ll see that you really don’t need them in your life to be happy.
Don’t beat yourself up.
There’s nothing wrong with you for falling for someone you shouldn’t have and there’s nothing wrong with you for having a hard time letting it go even though you know you have to. Love is like an addiction and breaking free isn’t easy. Even if you have to spend the occasional evening binge-sobbing over episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, you’re still going to be fine. Give yourself permission to fall apart, then take a deep breath and pick yourself back up.
Look forward to the future.
It might not feel like it right away, but getting out of a negative relationship is the first step towards finding someone who is right for you. Instead of mourning the future you thought you’d have with them, think about the life and love you want for yourself. Hope can be a lot more powerful than you think.
Picture your life without them.
You’ve probably spent plenty of time fantasizing about the wonderful life you could have together, but those thoughts are only holding you back from moving on now. Instead, get used to the idea of spending your weekend without them, attending your cousin’s upcoming wedding without them, and planning your next vacation without them. If you’ve already wrapped your brain around them not being around for bigger things, the day to day won’t feel so daunting anymore.
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