After a breakup, it’s tempting to just lie in bed, listen to sad music and think about the person you lost. But there are better strategies to get over heartbreak. (Illustration by Katie Moss, University of Kentucky)
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After a breakup, it’s tempting to just lie in bed, listen to sad music and think about the person you lost. But there are better strategies to get over heartbreak. (Illustration by Katie Moss, University of Kentucky)

Yes, you can trick yourself out of sadness.

Imagine you just got dumped out of the blue. Or maybe someone who you were really beginning to warm up to no longer felt the same way and dropped you the next chance they could. Or perhaps you ended up breaking up with someone you truly loved due to a mutual decision to abandon a relationship that just wasn’t working.

In any case, whether it’s a serious relationship coming to an end or a short-lived fling fizzling out, the heartbreak that sometimes ensues is never easy to overcome. Here are five ways to minimize its intensity and push yourself to get over someone.

1. Make yourself busy.

You can’t obsess over someone when you don’t even have the time to think about them. The best way to deal with the loss of a romantic partner is finding a way to keep busy without them and taking whatever you’re going through and turning it into productive action. This could mean throwing yourself into clubs or activities, taking up hobbies you always meant to try, doing fun things with friends or even focusing on your schoolwork and making the best of your classes.

Stimulating distractions are everything in this initial stage of romantic disappointment, and the more you fill up your schedule with premeditated activities and projects, the more you succeed in keeping your body and mind occupied, empowering your sense of individual self in the process. Also, why not take this as an opportunity to do all the things you always wanted to and never got the chance to?

2. Deflect momentarily.

At some point down the road, you will reach a moment where self-reflection will be the preferred — if not the necessary — course of action and will no doubt lead to significant self-growth. But right now, when the breakup is ripe and you’re still reeling from it, is not the time. Hold off from agonizing over everything that just happened, and push aside the emotional distress that is so bent on consuming you.

While deflecting is obviously not a healthy mechanism when it comes to recovering from heartbreak and attaining closure, it’s invaluable as a transitory emotional crutch, keeping you sane and protected until you’re ready to confront what comes next. Coming to terms with everything you learned from the experience of heartbreak will come with time; right now, just focus on finding some peace of mind.

3. Cut them out of your life.

There’s a reason “Out of sight, out of mind” is a popular saying. If the person you dated and are consequently trying to get over happens to be in your immediate social circle or in your place of work (meaning you might run into them here and there), this one inevitably becomes a little trickier. In those cases, especially ones where the person is still a close friend or acquaintance, it might be that the complete severance of contact is simply unrealistic.

But if there are any feasible ways to reduce or otherwise remove that closeness, whether it be by blocking or deleting them off of social media apps, not keeping up with their online presence, deleting old messages or getting rid of old items of theirs, then by all means take full advantage of them.

The less material you have that might make you think of them or that could act as a trigger for a memory or an emotional reaction, the more space you have to tend to your own needs and emotions. There are times when forceful disconnection is what you most need to gradually forget about the person directly contributing to your feelings of sadness and inadequacy.

4. Put yourself out there.

As uncomfortable as this might sound, remaining open to future romantic possibilities and maintaining a willingness to re-enter the dating world might help in easing the pain of heartbreak. Bear in mind, no one’s saying you should actively try to jump into another relationship or that you should treat it as a race to find a comparable substitute. It’s the act of getting back up and taking the steps to remind yourself that the world is vast and options are plentiful that might actually put things in a rewarding perspective.

Right now, though, the worst thing you can do is succumb to isolation and dupe yourself into thinking that the person you lost was this divine being who you’ll never find a way to get over. Meeting a new romantic interest, or at least being in a position where you’re open to the idea of it, can act as a necessary reminder that life is nothing but an endless cycle of people coming and going.

5. Focus on the reasons why it wasn’t meant to be.

This one might seem a little negative, but if your mind does eventually go down the rabbit hole of analyzing everything that went wrong, try instead to zero in on reasons you’re actually thankful for things coming to an end. Maybe, deep down, you knew for a while that you and this person weren’t compatible in the long-term. Or maybe there were things about them — potential red flags — that you subconsciously chose to sweep under the rug because you were blindly in love or wanted your relationship to succeed.

Whatever these things might be, exaggerate them in the aftermath of a breakup as a way to rationalize the outcome as having been for the best even though it caused you heartbreak. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a process of demonizing the person and absolving yourself of any responsibility in what happened. It can be as much as taking the stuff that you didn’t necessarily love about them and recognizing it as having factored into the inevitable conclusion of your relationship. More importantly, though, is to keep reminding yourself that for reasons that may be unbeknownst to you right now, everything that happened did so for a reason.


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