The moment you accept that you need to fall out of love usually feels like a punch in the stomach. It probably came after a lot of time thinking you could make it work. That love was enough, or that you could convince someone to love you, or that maybe it was just bad timing and things would get better.
Maybe it was a long relationship that ran its course. Maybe it was the unique pain of falling in love with someone you never dated. Maybe it was a mutual split based on incompatibility.
Either way, falling out of love is a process. It doesn’t happen in a day, or a week, or a month. You can make the decision in a split second yes, but it usually takes a while for your emotions to catch up. Your mind falling out of love is one thing, but your heart falling out of love is a different beast altogether.
You can’t force falling out of love, but you can take steps that will greatly help you. Below are some practical ways to help your heart in the process.
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Fantasizing feels good in the moment but really it’s slowing down your moving-on process. Love cannot fade if you’re constantly watering it with hope and attention. This is usually where your head and your heart are at war; your head recognizes that it’s time to move on, but your heart is desperately clinging on and fueling fantasies that maybe, just maybe, your love isn’t expired yet.
This looks like secretly holding out hope that this person will text you one day because they realized they want you back. It looks like noticing that they’re lurking on your social media and making it mean something. It looks like continuing to talk to or see them as “friends” while your feelings of love are practically exploding out of your chest. All of this seemingly feels better than accepting an ending, but it’s really just confusing you and delaying the inevitable.
Trust that if you’ve been trying to fall out of love, it’s probably for a good reason. And the more you can live in reality instead of fantasy, the more successful you will be at making room in your heart for new love.
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Pinpoint How They Made You Feel and Look for Those Feelings Elsewhere
So much of falling out of love is letting go of the way the person made you feel. When you’re in the throes of trying to move on, it’s likely your brain is playing cruel tricks on you. You’ll probably find yourself constantly replaying all the times you felt so giddy and warm and like anything was possible. You’ll probably have reoccurring depressive thoughts like will I ever find someone who makes me laugh so much? Will I ever feel so seen and wanted again?
Yes, yes you will, and the first step is to notice how you felt around this love of yours. Notice how you felt inspired or safe or fearless. Notice how you felt understood or accepted for your weird side. Notice how you felt somehow funnier or more brave. And then (this is the work) — begin to seek out other parts of your life that give you glimpses of these same feelings. Maybe this is in friendships and looking for people who cherish your authenticity. Maybe this is in pouring yourself into a natural talent of yours and noticing how good it feels to succeed as an individual.
Remember to have patience too. You probably won’t find the same depth of feeling in new people or activities right away. But love of any kind takes time and attention to develop.
Eventually though, you’ll notice that your heart can flutter with joy in the same way without that old love of yours.
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Remind Yourself Constantly Who the Person Really Was
Again, when you’re trying to fall out of love, your brain probably tries to play tricks on you by painting the person in a rosy, idyllic light. You’ll loop the same painfully perfect memories over and over, like your favorite road-trip together, or a particularly magical late night looking at the stars, or the way they always kept you well-fed because they adoringly knew your propensity towards getting hangry.
You’ll tend to cling onto an idealized version of this person, rather than the less-than-ideal reality. That’s why, when falling out of love, you have to relentlessly remind yourself of who this person really was, flaws and incompatibilities included. Remind yourself of how they wouldn’t keep commitments, or how you never felt like you could make them truly happy, or how often you two bickered. Remind yourself that you didn’t feel seen, or prioritized, or chosen.
This isn’t about placing blame or villainizing, it’s about accepting all of reasons a person isn’t for you.
Write it all down in a list if you have to, call it “why he/she is not the one”, and refer back to this list when you find yourself wondering why it didn’t work out. Grounding yourself into the reality of an ending takes repetition and dedication, but it’s one of the most effective tools for falling out of love.
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Give Yourself a Lot More Time Than You Think
One of the worst things you can do to yourself while falling out of love is putting a timeline on it. Emotion of any kind and especially love doesn’t follow a linear path. Love and the dissolution of it can dig up parts of you that you’ve been at war with. You’ll be faced with your wounding. The parts of you that are the most tender, anxious, angry, needy, and hopeless.
The best medicine for healing these hurting parts is your time and attention. Lots of time. Not just arbitrary limits like, okay it’s been 2 months, time to find someone new! Or, it’s been half the amount of time we dated, so I need to be over it now! No, don’t insult your heart by putting bounds around it like that.
Trying to rush falling out of love is like checking on a plant that you planted yesterday to see if it’s sprouted a leaf yet. The more you keep checking “am I over it yet?” the more frustrated you’re going to get.
Instead, release any expectations you have around when you should be over it. Maybe it’ll take another year. Maybe you’ll keep dreaming about them for months. So what? Who’s counting? The softer you are with yourself and your heart, the more you’ll see that falling out of love is really just about giving yourself permission to feel really deeply about the loss of someone who once meant the world to you.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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Photo credit: Unsplalsh