5 surprising habits that will keep you from moving on after a breakup, according to experts
It doesn’t matter if you were in a relationship for five months or five years; moving on after a breakup can be incredibly difficult. You get used to having your partner in your life, sharing inside jokes, and dreaming about the future. And when it comes to an end, you might not know what to do next—especially if the breakup was dramatic or unexpected.
For many, the days, weeks, and months following the end of a relationship will be nothing short of intense. “A breakup can trigger feelings of hurt, loneliness, and sometimes abandonment in many people,” Risa Williams, LMFT, a licensed therapist and life coach, tells HelloGiggles. Cut to you waking up alone, and spending weekends alone, and feeling like nothing is right in the world.
If that sounds familiar, talking to a therapist, your friends and/or family can be a huge help, as can refocusing your energy back towards yourself. It’s important to get lots of rest, Williams says, and to purposefully look for ways to move forward. For instance, creating a few personal goals can serve as a great distraction, she says. So start there, and take baby steps in a positive direction.
Even with the best of intentions, though, it’s still incredibly easy to fall back on old habits, and accidentally do things that make it difficult to move on from an ex. Here’s a list of the top culprits, according to experts, so you know just what to avoid, all in the name of feeling better, sooner.
5 surprising habits that will keep you from moving on after a breakup
1Constantly checking their social media accounts
Since you’re used to having your partner in your life, it can take a while to break the habit of checking their social media accounts. But the next time you reach for your phone, try to stop yourself.
“I know it’s tempting, but do not keep tabs on them by looking them up on Instagram or Twitter,” Dr. Daryl Johnson, a psychologist and couples therapist, tells HelloGiggles. “This is done mainly to see if they’ve moved on.” And yet there’s absolutely nothing beneficial about seeing an ex smiling next to their new partner, or drinking coffee in a cafe, without you.
Instead, unfollow them on every platform, and consider deleting your apps for a while, too, so you don’t “accidentally” take a peek. And when you stop looking at their face every single day, you’ll, eventually, no longer wonder what they’re doing.
2 Sending them texts
It doesn’t matter if they’re responding, or if you’re just hoping they’ll respond, “keeping in contact with the ex is a big, painful problem,” Dr. Anna Yam, a clinical psychologist, says.
Constant communication keeps a seed of hope alive that you may get back together, and it also prevents you from learning how to function without them. And that’s just not worth it.
Do yourself a favor by deleting their number, and focusing on other aspects of your life, for the time being. You’ll feel so much better once you’re no longer looking at your phone, or expecting to hear from them.
3 Rehashing what went wrong
It’s perfectly understandable why you might spend hours thinking about your relationship, and what went wrong. But beyond a certain point, this is one habit that keeps you stuck in the past.
“It’s important not to beat yourself up about what happened,” Johnson says. “We tend to want to go over every detail of the relationship and every action of our ex to see if it were any red flags.” The key is to learn from these experiences, he says, and torture yourself with them.
If you find yourself zoning out and overthinking what happened, practice distracting yourself immediately. Text a friend, or go outside for a walk. And if the issue is ongoing, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist, either. They can help you come to a few conclusions, so you finally have peace of mind.
4 Holding onto mementos
While you may be able to hold onto a photo or two, be careful about surrounding yourself with artifacts from your old relationship. You won’t, for example, want to curl up in bed with their T-shirt, as that can be unnecessarily painful.
Instead, “get rid of the photographs, texts, emails, and gifts given,” Dr. Tricia Wolanin, PsyD, a clinical psychologist, tells HelloGiggles. And consider doing so in a ceremonial way, she says.
This will help you to honor what happened, while also giving yourself permission, so to speak, to move on. You could burn a love note, or donate a sweater they gave you, or have a friend over to delete old photos. Whatever you need to do, do it with the intention of ending the relationship once and for all.
5 Sticking to your usual routine
I know it can be tough to create a whole new life for yourself after a breakup, but changing up your routine can be incredibly helpful, when it comes to moving on.
If you used to go to a specific coffee shop with your ex every day, now’s the time to find a new favorite spot. And if you used to walk by their apartment on your way to work, now’s your chance to carve out a different route.
The same is true for restaurants, bars, movie theaters, museums, and even cities, Wolanin says. If specific places fill you with bad memories, don’t go there! Even if it feels like you’re simply being nostalgic, it’s actually a habit that’s holding you back.
Be wary of any habits, like these, that may be preventing you from creating a brand new life for yourself. If you’re constantly thinking about your ex, reliving what happened, or wondering what could have been, that’s your cue to change thing up. Go to therapy, hang out with friends, and adopt a whole new routine. And before long, you’ll feel like you have a whole new lease on life.