Getting over an ex is never easy. How do you move on when all you want is to go back and fix what went wrong? You can always go a traditional route, drowning yourself in chocolate or burning your ex's stuff in a ritualistic ceremony. But eating your pain — especially if it turns into pints of Ben & Jerry's consumed to the dulcet tones of an SVU marathon — will probably make you feel like a character in a bad rom com, and it's amazing how an innocuous little bonfire on your fire escape can turn into a 5-alarm blaze. Alternatively, you can try any (or all) of these nine unexpected, surprisingly effective methods for getting over even the most excruciating break-ups:
1. Buy yourself a nice notebook and a fancy pen.
Then, make a list of things you didn’t like about the relationship. It’s important to spend time reflecting on why you broke up in the first place. “Sometimes when people break up, they romanticize the relationship, remembering all the good times but conveniently forgetting about what didn’t work. Pain has a short memory,” Neely Steinberg, dating coach and author of Skin in the Game: Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur to Find Love , told Bustle. Steinberg recommends writing two (detailed!) lists: one for all the things you look for in a relationship, and the other for all the ways that your ex did (or didn’t) meet these ideals. “If he [or she] didn’t bring many qualities that you wrote about in your first list, well, then you have a tangible reminder that [this person] isn’t the right match, and it’s time to move on."
2. Offer gratitude to your ex — without communicating with him or her.
(Note: Do not, NOT go near the person or call. It will only further break your heart.) This may seem like the absolute last thing you’d want to do after a torturous break-up, but it’s crucial to transform the narrative of your split from my life is over to my life is just getting started, and your ex is partially to thank for this new beginning. “It seems counterintuitive,” Steinberg told Bustle, “But your ‘failures’ and wrong turns, as difficult as they may be, can be assets.” She advices asking yourself: How can I make my failures work for me? How can I find opportunity in this really awful, hurtful situation? It might feel silly, but writing it all down will help you remember these secret benefits to breaking up.
3. Delete, delete, delete.
Remove all technological ties with your ex. This means un-friending, unfollowing, and deleting his/her number. “Research has been pretty clear that sadness following the end of a relationship is much more heightened and longer in duration if you stay involved technologically,” says Dr. Wendy Walsh, relationship expert and author of The 30-Day Love Detox. “Facebook stalking is the easiest way to wallow.” Dr. Walsh also recommends deleting all pasts texts and email exchanges.
4. Need help? There’s an app for that.
While getting over exes in the social media age can be a huge pain in the ass, a new class of “break-up” apps are actually making it easier. The manual process of de-friending your ex, untagging old pictures, and changing your relationship status can be incredibly painful. KillSwitch removes all traces of your ex from Facebook, giving you the option of deleting all of his/her information, or saving it to a hidden folder. Ex Lover Blocker, a hilarious Brazilian app, alerts your friends when you try to call your ex and posts your shame on Facebook, so everyone knows you relapsed. While Never Liked It Anyway isn't an app, this online shop is the perfect place to sell anything you still have of your ex’s, like his or her cheesy gifts or annoyingly comfortable sweatshirt.
5. Go 60 days without contacting your ex.
Not 57 days, not 32 days, not 3 days—60 days. In It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken: The Smart Girl’s Break-Up Buddy , Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt recommend avoiding any form of contact with your ex, even for seemingly harmless things like asking for a sweater back, for 60 days. You'll need a good, patient friend to help enforce this; text your friend whenever you have the urge to get in touch with your ex.
6. Work more.
Keeping yourself busy with real, achievable tasks will not only keep your mind off of your ex, but it may also lead to a promotion, raise, or recognition from your boss. Your personal life might feel like it's in shambles, so let your career satisfy and sustain you. The more time, energy, and effort you put into yourself and your goals — whether its exercising more or taking up woodworking — the less you'll think about your ex.
7. Buy a vibrator.
Seriously. While you're new love toy can't cuddle with you or gaze into your eyes — the technology isn't quite there yet — it can provide a much needed release. Take this opportunity to explore what you like independent of anyone else's taste. Allow yourself to embark on a golden era of sexual self-discovery.
8. Go out. Out-out.
Put on pants with a non-elastic waist band, close the box of Lucky Charms, force yourself out of the house, and hang out with all of your friends, preferably at a bar frequented by other attractive single people. The point is not to make out with a random stranger. It's to be with people who love you and feel like part of the world again. Distractions—especially ones in which you can focus on the other, more valuable relationships in your life—are key. Plus, you’d be surprised at how many sympathetic bar tenders will hook you up with a free drink upon hearing your news. Warning: the free drink thing only works within one week of the break-up.
9. See a therapist.
There is nothing embarrassing about seeking professional help for the depression and anxiety that break-ups can provoke. While support from friends is invaluable, it's often useful to seek the opinion of an outsider, who can help you understand the situation more clearly and objectively — especially when that outsider has been trained to help you with this very situation. A therapist can also help you develop strategies for countering negative thinking, finding self-worth, and coping with the inevitable triggers that will remind you of your former relationship.
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