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49 Proven Secrets to Stop Thinking About Your Ex & Forget Them for Good

Breaking up is never easy, but you can learn how to stop thinking about your ex if you use these secrets and steps to get over your breakup.

stop thinking about your ex

You know deep inside your heart and soul that you are over your ex. You have made peace with the past. Maybe you’re even in a new, happy, and fulfilling relationship. But sometimes, you can’t help but wonder, in spite of the time that passed, ‘why do I still think about my ex?’

Does it mean you want your ex back? Are you secretly still hoping for another chance? Do you miss the times you shared with your ex? In all honesty, probably not. But the mere fact that your ex crosses your mind should mean something, right?

Of course, it might also be that it’s not that long ago you broke up, but you’re still plagued by thoughts of your ex. [Read: Letting go of your ex – 15 ways to make it easier]

Why do you still think about your ex?

Don’t jump to conclusions and think that keeping your ex in your mind means the universe is telling you to give it another shot. There are rational explanations that don’t entail trying to get back together with your ex.

Here are some of the most likely. [Read: Should I talk to my ex?]

1. You run in the same friendship circles

You both know the same group of people. It’s not uncommon that you and your ex have a lot of common friends. Sometimes, it is even through a common friend that couples meet.

If this is the case, then you will come across your common friends on social media, and they might have status updates, photos, or tweets that would include your ex.

At that moment, you would be reminded of the past. It is normal, and it doesn’t mean that you still have feelings for your ex. [Read: Staying friends after a breakup – Can you actually make it work?]

2. “I used to order this dish here”

Do you find yourself remembering how many times you have eaten in a particular restaurant with your ex? Or, do you remember which dishes tasted the best and which ones you hated?

It is all about the experiences that you had with your ex in the restaurants that you have eaten in, especially if it was their favorite.

This is actually pretty normal. Remembering something your ex used to like doesn’t mean you’re still hung up on them. It just so happened that you recalled a fond memory of eating something with your ex, hence the flood of memories. [Read: Foolproof ways to quit thinking of your ex]

3. “I was here almost a year ago”

With the ex. And now that you are back in the same place, you had a flashback of what you did here with them. It’s okay for anyone to have flashbacks, especially if you have been to the same place several times and you’ve actually enjoyed your time there.

Call it déjà vu. You may have been in the same spot with your ex before, but now you’re in the same spot with the person you’re currently with. Your mind just associates the place with a memory, and that’s why your mind gravitated towards thoughts of your ex.

4. You still see your ex everywhere

It’s impossible to see someone you know and not think about them to some extent. If you see your ex in your favorite deli or at your neighborhood dentist, you can’t just push thoughts of them to the back of your mind. [Read: Mutual breakup – Why they happen and how to recognize the signs]

5. The social media generation

It is both a blessing and a curse that social media is this generation’s bible. You get to be connected with everyone and have updates about anyone, anywhere in the world. So when your ex posts something, you’re bound to see it, and to some extent, you think about what that post might mean to your ex.

6. The power of the senses

You know, science is a bit tricky. Whenever you smell the same scent or hear the same music, and there is a particular memory connected to it, you will be reminded of the same feelings you had when you first heard or smelled it.

It could be the perfume that your ex used to wear or your ex’s favorite song turned into a ringtone – anything can become a reminder of your ex. You can’t control these thoughts because it’s just your brain reminding you of something from the past. [Read: Ways to deal with your ex seeing someone new

7. These are a few of my favorite things

Just because you broke up doesn’t mean you have to return every single thing your ex gave you, right? So you’re bound to still keep a couple of gifts from your ex, not as mementos, but as regular items that you just happen to use.

When someone asks you where you got your Louis Vuitton bag or that chipped mug that you always use, you can’t help but recall the fact that your ex gave it to you for your anniversary, your birthday, or for Christmas a couple of years ago. You’re just remembering the origin of something you’re still using.

8. Heart-to-heart talks

We have particular moments where we open up to friends about our past relationships. It could either be for advising them or for sharing experiences you learned lessons from. One of these stories could be about what happened between you and your ex.

That is likely to make you think about them. [Read: Secrets to let go of the past, be happy, and look to the future]

9. The doppelgänger

You were quietly making your way to work, sipping on your hot cappuccino, when you suddenly needed to stop. Then, you see your ex about a couple of meters from you, ignoring you completely. You become annoyed because you both ended things peacefully and agreed to stay acquaintances.

Oh wait, but that’s not your ex. It’s just someone who looks exactly like them. Of course, you’re going to think about your ex in that moment. . [Read: Things to keep in mind when you run into your ex]

10. Events with the ex

You used to go with your ex to your usual friend and family affairs like holidays, birthdays, and other events of celebration. You no longer do, but sadly, not everyone got the memo. So when the next get-together comes, everyone is going to look for your ex. And you have some explaining to do.

You can explain the absence of your ex in a polite and casual manner, or you can go on an hour-long pity fest with whoever bothers to listen. If you end up doing the former, congratulations! You’re over your ex, and thinking about them shouldn’t be a big deal for you. [Read: Resolute ways to resist the urge to call your ex]

11. You have an anxious attachment style

We all have specific personality types and habits. If you have an anxious attachment style, it’s very likely that you’re going to find it hard to let go of things, and, as such, you may find yourself thinking of your ex far more than others.

12. You didn’t get closure

A good answer to the question of ‘why do I still think about my ex’ is that you still don’t really understand why you broke up. In that case, you never got closure, and it’s playing on your mind.

The dangerous thing about this is that you may choose to try and find closure, but it may end up hurting you more in the long run. Think about this carefully before taking any action. [Read: How to find closure with yourself after a relationship]

13. You didn’t allow yourself to grieve

When a relationship ends, you need to allow yourself to feel the pain and go through the process of grieving. After all, you’ve lost something dear to you that you might have thought was going to last forever.

However, some people can’t bear the pain, and they try to keep themselves so busy that they block everything out. As such, they’re not grieving, and they can’t move on properly. That is one reason you might be thinking about your ex.

14. You haven’t forgiven yet

You might need to forgive them or even forgive yourself, but if you’ve not done either of these things, your ex is bound to play on your mind. Forgiving doesn’t mean actually telling them you forgive them or doing anything; it means letting it go in your mind.

Until you do this, you’ll keep your ex on replay. [Read: How to forgive and forget – 24 thoughts to decide on the right step]

15. You’re bored

It really could be as simple as that. Maybe you need to occupy your mind a little!

The big things to consider when you start thinking about your ex

Ignoring thoughts about your ex isn’t really the easiest thing to do, especially if the breakup wound is still fresh. But the next time your ex comes to mind, don’t shut them away. [Read: Do you miss your ex or think about them often?]

Instead, give these five things to think about some consideration, so you can truly understand just why you’re thinking of your ex and what you need to do about it:

1. Thinking about your ex does not necessarily mean it’s a sign

For whatever reason, you are thinking about your ex again, but it does not mean the universe is sending you a sign to hook up with them one more time. 

You can think about an ex and muse over old memories, friendships, and the massive life changes they pulled you through. But that does not mean you should try to rekindle what has already been extinguished. [Read: Things to keep in mind when you bump into your ex]

2. *Most* exes are better left in the past

There is a reason, or sometimes several, why you broke up with your ex in the first place. It is crucial to mull those over if you are debating whether you should try to get back again with your ex.

Whether it was a lack of communication or emotional availability, unaligned life goals, or abuse, the chances that your ex has truly changed are often slim to none. 

After all, people are stubborn. But you know that already, don’t you? [Read: 16 scenarios when you should and shouldn’t be friends with an ex!]

3. If you think your ex is the exception to #2

If you think that your ex has truly changed, and without a doubt, you should try again because things will be different this time, fine. 

You can try and reconnect with your ex, but you should be very clear, very early on, about what you truly want, need, and expect to be different this time around.

4. Are they truly worth fighting for, or are you relying on the familiar?

This is something to consider when you are debating whether your ex is worth another chance. [Read: How to move on from a break up without compromising your dignity]

Are you truly in love with the person, all of their traits, ambitions, and disgusting habits, or are you just falling back on what you know because it’s all so familiar?

The familiar is safe, and often we run to it because we have enough to deal with on a day-to-day basis. 

But, if you want that true love, it probably isn’t always going to be familiar, and you are going to have to take risks. [Read: Are you still madly in love with your ex?]

5. Take what you can from the experience and leave the rest behind

The best piece of advice when you can’t stop thinking about an ex is to remember the good and the bad and take what you can from the experience.

We can all learn a lot from our past relationships, like what made us happy and what was missing. 

If we take these lessons once we get into a relationship again and leave the past where it belongs, we can often find true love and happiness in a relationship with someone new. [Read: 20 ways to stop thinking about someone you still like]

How long is it okay to miss your ex?

How long is a piece of string?!

It really depends on how long you were together, how close you were, and why you split up. It can be months for some people and years for others. Most people generally agree that you start to really get over someone around three months after you broke up. But does that mean you no longer miss them?

What you need to consider is whether you miss them or you miss being in a relationship. The two are very different things. However, if you’re still missing your ex and many months have passed, you really need to start addressing why you still feel this way and start looking to the future. [Read: How to forgive yourself and free yourself from the weight of guilt]

How to stop thinking about an ex – the steps you need to take

If you were emotionally bonded with someone, it will take a lot of strength to break away from that bond. You’re no longer a couple; you’re transitioning to strangers. It’s a weird transition to make, and that’s why it’s so hard to do.

Most of the time, breakups happen on a whim, leaving you feeling displaced and shocked. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to move past your feelings about the breakup.

Yes, it’s a shock, and it’ll be hard, but it’s entirely doable. In other words, your life isn’t over, and you will find love again. It’s time you moved on and learned how to forget an ex for good. [Read: The 9-step guide you need for how to get over a heartbreak

1. Accept the breakup

The worst thing you can do is hold on to hope that you’ll get back together. Right now, if you want to process the breakup and move on, accept what happened. It’s the only way you’ll start your healing process. 

You are not going to get back together, so you need to move on. By accepting what happened, you’ll feel sadness and, most importantly, a little relief. [Read: Should I block my ex? 17 signs to help you decide what’s best for you]

2. Grieve

Breaking up with someone is a grieving process. You no longer have your ex in your life, and it’s a transition. Give yourself the time to be emotional. 

Cry, scream, yell, get all your emotions out, and go through the process. If you want to learn how to forget an ex, give yourself time to grieve the loss of someone who impacted your life. [Read: 5 stages of grief in divorce and everything else in between]

3. Write your feelings down

Your friends and family will eventually get tired of talking about the breakup. This isn’t a bad thing. Really, there’s only so much other people can hear about it. 

So, if you feel the need to write your painful feelings down, get a pen and paper and get out everything that’s running through your mind. Just get it out. [Read: How to express your feelings & get your point across the right way]

4. Feel your emotions

This is quite possibly one of the hardest to do. Honestly, who likes sitting with their heartbreak? But if you want to heal from your breakup and genuinely stop thinking about them, this is a necessary step.

If you don’t feel your emotions, you’ll constantly be running toward distraction after distraction. It’s okay to use distractions as a coping mechanism, but only to an extent. [Read: Why am I so emotional? Science has the answers you may not expect]

5. Don’t blame yourself

It’s so easy to blame yourself when you’re going through a breakup. But thoughts of them will constantly consume you if you keep putting the weight of the blame on yourself.

Remember that a breakup takes two, so if you want to learn how to stop thinking about your ex, stop indulging in self-blame. Your ex also has a part in why things ended, you know. [Read: How to stop feeling guilty and finally start living for you]

6. If you’re still sleeping together, stop

Yeah, we know you think you can continue sleeping with them without having feelings, but that’s a fairytale. You’ll never be able to move on if you’re still intimate with your ex. 

The sex may be good, but you know what’s better? Moving on. Sleeping with your ex is one of the worst mistakes you can make. [Read: What you need to hear if you’re sleeping with an ex]

7. Don’t text them

Oh, we know you want to send them a text to test the waters, but don’t do it. If you’re still texting with your ex, even in a friendly way, you won’t be able to get over them. 

This can become compulsive. Delete their number from your phone, so you won’t be able to text them first. [Read: Resolute ways to resist the urge to call your ex]

8. Follow the no-contact rule

Seriously, this is something you really need to follow. If you want to move on, you cannot contact them for at least 30 days. That’s right, a whole month. [Read: Why the no contact rule always works]

You need one month to process your feelings and breathe. If you’re still talking to them, you won’t be able to move on.

You might’ve heard this popular rule as a tactic to get your ex back, but you’re not doing this to get them back. You’re doing it to stop thinking of them altogether. We repeat, you’re not doing this to get them back! [Read: No contact rule – what it is, how to use it, and why it works so well]

9. Don’t be friends with them

So your ex broke up with you. You probably think you could continue to be friends with them, but let’s get real here. It’s not going to happen, at least not right now. 

You can’t grieve and move on if you’re still hanging out with your ex-partner. So take a solid break from them, and when you feel you’ve moved on, then bring them back into your life. [Read: How to make up your mind when your ex wants to stay friends]

10. Remove everything that reminds you of your ex

The teddy bear they gave you, the framed photos of you two, and the flower vase that you bought together. Remove them all. 

You don’t need to burn them in a fire; instead, keep them in a box and put them in your basement or attic. If you’re not ready to remove the memories, at least make sure you put them somewhere out of sight. [Read: Deleting pictures of an ex – The psychology behind it and why we do it]

11. Change your space or redecorate

This is an underrated aspect of learning how to stop thinking about your ex, but it’s necessary. Especially if your ex was constantly around your place, everything within your space would remind you of them. [Read: The best things to do when you’re stuck at home & feel productive]

From waking up in the morning to watching Netflix in the evening, everything around you is stained by memories of them.

By decluttering your space and even redecorating, you’ll be surrounded by fewer reminders of them, and you’ll naturally find yourself thinking of your ex less. [Read: Things about love you’ll only learn from experience]

12. Stop stalking

We know you want to see their social media and make sure they haven’t moved on yet. But you need to stop checking for their status updates if you want to start feeling better.

Delete them from all social media and whatever apps you have them on. How can you move on if they’re constantly in your face? Stop caring and stalking, as that will not be good for your mental and physical well-being. [Read: Social media detox – ways to wean yourself off social media]

13. Focus on yourself and get busy

Um, hello, you’re single now! Which means you have all the time in the world to focus on yourself. This is the season for self-care, and now, it’s time you practiced it. 

Find new activities, spend time with your friends and family, or go on hikes. Whatever it is, focus on doing things you enjoy and that make you happy instead of ruminating on negative thoughts. [Read: How to focus on yourself: 27 ways to create your own sunshine]

14. Reflect on your part of the breakup

Just as we talked about your ex having some responsibility over the breakup, so do you. Now, that doesn’t mean you should blame yourself for the end of the relationship, but you should use this as a learning excuse to reflect on the relationship and see what went wrong. [Read: Letting go of your ex: 15 ways to make it easier]

What were the things you did in the relationship? What should you work on for yourself? Prevent yourself from making the same mistakes in future relationships. [Read: A helpful reflection: What am I doing with my life?]

15. Realize why the breakup had to occur

Breakups might hurt, but they often happen for a reason. There’s usually a lesson in every breakup, and to stop thinking of your ex, you need to realize why you had to break up.

Pinpoint and reflect on why you had to end it, as that’s the best way you can stop thinking of them. [Read: Do you regret breaking up? 15 signs you should give it another chance]

16. Think about the things you didn’t like

Every relationship has its ups and downs. There are things you liked about your partner and the relationship and things you didn’t. 

During a breakup, we tend to only look at the good times. But this is when you should focus on the attributes you didn’t like. [Read: How to feel better after a breakup – 22 steps to find your happiness]

17. Hang out with your friends and family

Spend time with your support group, as they’re the ones who will stand by you through the ups and downs. Listen to their advice and accept their love and support. 

And if you want to pull through, you’ll need those people around you. As easy as it is to isolate yourself from those you love, you must refrain from doing so.

18. Volunteer and give back

We underestimate the value of giving back. When we’re stuck in our heads, it’s hard to see the good things we have in our lives. [Read: How volunteer work can help heal depression]

But volunteering will keep you busy and will direct your time, focus, and attention toward giving back.

19. Plan a trip

Sometimes, you just need to get out of your environment to help you put things into perspective. The great thing about this is you don’t even need to travel the world. [Read: Quick pick-me-ups for the recently broken hearted]

A weekend trip to the next town over can do wonders. Plus, a change of scenery can help you reflect and inspire you for the future. [Read: Top 50 really fun things to do on a road trip to have a great time]

20. Don’t go down the self-sabotaging road

You won’t learn how to forget an ex by destroying yourself through destructive habits – it works the opposite way. If you just use unhealthy habits to run away from the pain of your breakup, it will inevitably find a way to catch up with you. 

So if you want to really move on, you won’t achieve that by drinking or partying your sorrows away. You have to address the heartache head-on. [Read: Want to fall in love? Change these self-sabotaging habits]

21. Don’t date before you’re ready

Another common way we tend to deal with breakups is by going for rebounds, flings, or really just burying ourselves in the next person we see. It doesn’t really matter what the official label is as long as we date someone else.

Again, while this works enough as a powerful distraction, it’s not a healthy way to get over your ex, so it may be a good idea to wait until the old wounds have fully healed before you reenter the dating pool. [Read: 19 clear signs you are ready for a serious relationship]

22. Focus on improving yourself

Self-improvement truly is a powerful thing when you can’t let go of a painful experience. Whether it’s working on your career, hitting the gym, investing time into your hobbies, or something else entirely, improving yourself is a healthy distraction from your breakup.

Eventually, you’ll be so invested in improving yourself that you’ll no longer have the time to miss your ex. [Read: How to better a relationship and improve your love life]

23. Stay away from the bottle

Ah, yes, drinking to get over an ex sounds like the perfect answer. And yes, almost everyone who drinks will use a breakup as an excuse to get roaring drunk. But is it the healthiest choice? No, not a chance. 

Oh, it’s easy to have a couple of drinks after an emotional breakup, but then those drinks turn into a bottle every night. You don’t need that. [Read: How to stop self-destructive behavior and change your life for good]

24. Accept that everything happens for a reason

It might not make sense right now, but everything really does happen for a reason.

The breakup ended for a particular reason, and even if things didn’t pan out in your favor, it can be helpful to realize what those reasons were. [Read: How to make letting go of your ex a little easier]

25. Be appreciative of the memories

This is quite an unusual thing to say when you’re learning how to forget an ex for good. But being grateful and appreciative of the memories you shared with them can help you forget them and let them go. [Read: Achieving self-acceptance: Little steps for one big change]

It will help you see the relationship on a good note, even until the very end. Just because you didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate all the good memories you shared with them. [Read: How to show your appreciation to someone and express your gratitude]

26. Time heals everything

If you just broke up with your partner, you’re not going to get over them in a week or two. It will take time for you to process the breakup and move on emotionally. 

Give yourself some time. It could take months, even years, for you to move on fully. And that’s okay. There’s no time limit for these things. [Read: How long does it take to get over a breakup? The exact timeline in months you can expect]

27. Establish some boundaries with yourself

If you’re thinking about your ex a lot, it’s time to establish some boundaries and be strict with yourself. Remember why the relationship ended and force yourself to think of something else. Distract your mind and understand that your behavior isn’t healthy or useful.

28. Understand that you may still have lingering feelings

Look, breakups are hard, and feelings don’t just disappear into thin air. When you’re asking yourself, ‘why do I still think about my ex,’ the most obvious reason is that you still feel something for them. And that’s okay.

Even the worst breakups still feature lingering feelings. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do anything about them.

29. In some cases, you may need to get closure

If the relationship ended very suddenly and you don’t really know why then you’re going to find it hard to stop thinking about your ex. In some cases, you might need to reach out and find out the real reason, so you can get closure and move on. [Read: Unpopular opinion – Why not to seek closure after a breakup]

When is thinking about your ex a problem? And when to see a therapist

You can only stop thinking about your ex if you make a conscious effort to follow the steps we’ve shared here.

Listen, moving on isn’t something you can rush. Finding yourself thinking about your ex is normal, no matter who broke up with who. [Read: How to move on from a relationship in a healthy and happy way]

But what’s unhealthy is when thoughts of them consume you so much that it prevents you from living your life or moving forward. There’s more to life than your ex, who’s now in the past.

Forgetting your ex is a matter of patience, kindness, gentleness, and consistency with yourself. 

Stick to healthy habits that will distract you from missing them. If you go down the route of chasing destructive distractions, you’ll just be suppressing the emotions that you really need to sit with and face. It’s easier said than done, but one day, you won’t miss them anymore.

However, the whole thing becomes a problem when you simply can’t move on or don’t want to try. In that case, reaching out for professional help could be a great way to overcome the past and look to the future.

[Read: Obvious signs your past relationship is holding you back from a happy future]

Knowing how to stop thinking about an ex isn’t something that can be done overnight. But you need to know that just because you remember them, it doesn’t mean that there may be lingering feelings. Remembering the past and pining for things to go back to the way they were are two different things.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...