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How to Stop Obsessing Over an Ex & Free Your Mind for Something New

Obsessing over your ex can feel like being stuck. Read on to learn how to stop obsessing over an ex

how to stop obsessing over an ex

If the breakup is pretty fresh, it’s normal to be upset or find yourself obsessing over an ex. There is no way to stop these feelings– the emotional roller coaster of a breakup often lasts much longer than you want it to, but it is supposed to pass.

At some point, you must accept the breakup and move on. But for many, it is easier said than done. [Read: Should I talk to my ex? 23 steps to help you find the answer to your feelings]

Why am I obsessing over my ex?

The breakup is long behind you, but you are still obsessing over your ex. These feelings can be complicated– a combination of wanting your ex, hating them, loving them, and shame for not being able to move past the situation.

In order to stop obsessing over your ex, you need to get to the root of why you are doing it in the first place. This involves asking yourself some tough questions. For example, what did your ex mean to you? What aspect of your past relationship are you fixating on, and why?

Maybe you remember the relationship with nostalgia, when in reality, it wasn’t all that great. After all, you two did break up. Or maybe you are angry with your ex for dumping you, while refusing to see how it was the right choice for you both.

Whatever it may be, you need to get to the root of your obsession in order to properly move on from your ex.

Is ruminating and obsessing over your ex normal?

Absolutely. In fact, being able to reflect on past relationships honestly can help you improve as a person. You can learn from your own mistakes, accept the things your ex did wrong and use what you learned for your next relationship.

However, there is a line. Obsessing too much over your ex is harmful. After all, we are all supposed to move on at some point.

If you are spending all your time thinking about your ex, you won’t be available for someone new in your life. [Read: How to stop ruminating and 18 steps to leave your past and be present]

Is it heartbreak, or obsession?

Heartbreak is, by its nature, a little obsessive. After all, if you weren’t obsessed with them, you wouldn’t be so sad that they are ending your romantic relationship. But heartbreak and obsession are not the same things.

Heartbreak is more like an injury. It has a cause, and it takes time to heal. This painful emotional period is caused by the ending of a close relationship, and is a normal grief reaction.

On the other hand, obsession is not the same thing as heartbreak. The pattern of thinking that causes obsession doesn’t have to have a cause, and obsession doesn’t need to come from love.

Obsession is more of a negative cycle of thoughts around a person that prevents you from moving forward in your life. [Read: 16 lessons to recover from a breakup one day at a time & move ahead]

Signs you are obsessed with your ex and how to stop

If you are wondering if you are obsessed with your ex, you are not alone. It’s normal to wonder if we should think about an ex too much.

1. Neglecting your life for your obsession

Has your obsession with your ex caused you to lose friends? Has your social-media stalking of your ex’s life made you completely forget your own? These are signs that you are obsessed with your ex, and it needs to stop. You need to focus on your life, not theirs.

2. You only talk about your ex

Obsession is very self-serving. When you are obsessed with your ex, it is all you want to talk about. Your friends, family, and even coworkers will all stop wanting to hear about it after a certain point.

If your loved ones are begging you to change the record, you might be obsessed with your ex.

3. Thinking about your ex makes you feel crazed and frantic

Thinking about an ex is often painful, especially after a breakup. But it shouldn’t make you feel delirious and panicked. If the thought of your ex makes you want to run to your phone and frantically text them, it’s because you are obsessed.

4. Your breakup left you in despair, even long after the fact

Lots of people go through breakups, and a brief period of grief and mourning is to be expected. But if you are deep in depression even long after the breakup, it could be an obsession with your ex that is keeping you down.

[Read: More signs of obsession! The subtle signs of obsessive love you can’t ignore]

How to stop obsessing over an ex

Eventually, someone, you or your partner, will move on first. And, of course, it’s going to sting. Your ex was someone who you were intimate with, someone who knew everything about you. But this is a part of life that you need to accept. [Read: How to get over someone when your heart refuses to]

Obsessing over your ex isn’t going to get you any closer to being with them again, and it won’t help you meet someone new. In other words, the only person it hurts is you. So, it’s time you stopped driving by their house. Put the binoculars down. You should live your life, and it’s about time you did.

It’s time to move on, and here are some steps to help.

1. Remember why you broke up

Things weren’t always so rosy and cheery as they are in your memory. You’re focusing only on the good parts of the relationship, but there’s a reason why you aren’t together anymore.

Remember why you broke up and that it was for a reason. It’s important to look at the reality of your relationship and not the fantasy in your head. [Read: 34 valid reasons you should break up with someone]

2. Don’t act on emotion

Heartbreak is all emotions, and the raw pain of rejection can make people crazy. That’s why it is important to not act on emotion during heartbreak.

When you’re hurting, it’s easy to engage in behaviors that you’ll regret later on. Calling your ex at three am because you’re sad isn’t a smart move. Neither is sending them 30 angry texts.

3. Give yourself some time to heal

If you’re trying to figure out how to stop obsessing over an ex, you need to remember that a breakup isn’t a small thing. This was someone you felt a connection with, and possibly planned your future with.

Now, everything is up in the air. So, this isn’t the time when you should be hard on yourself. Give yourself time to heal. You will feel anger and sadness, and that’s a part of the healing process. [Read: The best books to read help you heal after a breakup]

4. Process those emotions

If you don’t take some time to sit down with your feelings, you’re not going to really move on. People hate dealing with their emotions because it hurts.

These are painful feelings to experience. But, you should never suppress them. If you do, you won’t be able to truly move on and be at peace with yourself and your ex.

5. Spend less time on your phone

When it comes to facing an awkward situation, we turn to our phones for comfort. But this isn’t what you should be doing.

Reflect and process your feelings. Your phone isn’t going to help you achieve that. Get off your phone and focus on healing yourself. [Read: How to say goodbye to someone you love and find closure and happiness]

6. Delete your ex from your social media

Ah, yes. Along with getting off your phone, delete your ex from your social media. True, it’s your only way of creeping them, but it’s time to move on.

If you are looking at pictures of your ex every day, you are only going to obsess more. Out of sight, out of mind. [Read: The psychology of deleting social media pictures of your ex and what it says about you]

7. Find a healthy distraction

But, within reason. Distractions are great because they take our minds off of our ex. But they can also hinder the emotional process.

Healthy distractions are fine, go to the gym, read, and hang out with friends. But make sure you’re checking in with yourself and reflecting on your feelings. If not, you can make the mistake of suppressing them.

8. Reclaim the memories

You’re going to have a lot of memories of your partner; some of them good, some of them bad. But instead of letting them bring you down, reclaim them, and use those memories to help you move on.

For example, if you and your ex loved to travel to Mexico every winter, do it with your friends. Make new memories. [Read: How to deal with heartbreak in a healthy way]

9. Accept you’ll never forget them

This is someone who was important to you, not just someone you bumped into on the bus.

You will never forget them. And that’s okay; you shouldn’t forget your ex. So, avoid trying to erase them from your memory because it won’t happen. Accept the fact that you won’t forget them.

10. Own up to being obsessive

While trying to get over your ex, there will be moments where you’re going to have obsessive thoughts. It’s normal. What you need to do is be aware of them, and be honest about where they are coming from. Give yourself a time period for how long you can have these thoughts for.

You can give yourself fifteen or thirty minutes to obsess, and then move on. Slowly but surely, the time will reduce. [Read: Why your ex still crosses your mind from time to time]

11. Talk to a therapist

Your friends have probably heard everything you had to say about your ex, and are probably a bit tired of hearing about it.

If you’re feeling stuck, maybe you need the help of a professional. Your friends are a great support, but they’re also biased. Sometimes a third perspective can help you understand yourself in the situation you’re in. [Read: What to do after your breakup? Heart soothing tips that will help]

Obsessive Ex Syndrome

If you’re still having a very hard time stopping yourself from obsessing over your ex, this is something you must know. And perhaps, you could discuss this idea with a therapist as well.

Obsessive Ex Syndrome are people who really can’t let go. They refuse to accept the ending of a relationship, and continue to attempt to be involved in their ex’s life. This can include monitoring their ex, stalking them, and trying to interfere with their dating life.

Obsessive ex syndrome is quite dangerous, and can quickly escalate to stalking and harassment. So if you feel like your obsession with your ex is out of control, and something that has turned into an addiction that is ruining every other part of your life, take note and speak to a professional about it.

[Read: 19 proven ways to stop thinking of your ex and move on for good]

No one said moving on would be easy. But use these steps for how to stop obsessing over an ex and hopefully, you can learn to live your own life again.

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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 ...