The break-up was bad and you decided you can’t be friends with your ex. Still, you’re aware of every new picture he’s uploaded on Facebook, his tweets keep popping up on your timeline and you can’t help but text him when you get lonely. It’s hard to let go of someone you cared so deeply for, but you know what you need to get over him: a clean break.
After being so close to someone, it will, undeniably, take time and effort to break the habits you’ve built while being together (constantly texting, phone calls every day, maybe being attached at the hip). Though easier said than done, it’s definitely not impossible. So how do you really let go? We spoke to collegiettes who learned some important lessons on how to finally cut ties with their exes — for good.
Don’t forget why you broke up
Whether it was you or him that called it off, someone wanted it to end and there was a reason. Collegiette Katie realized she had to cut ties with her ex-boyfriend after regretting a drunken hook-up with him on a lonely night.
“I just kept thinking of the reasons why we broke up: he didn’t treat me right, he owed me a lot of money, he hated my friends, et cetera,” says Katie. I just kept thinking of the bad things and how they outweighed the good when I think about the good things it made me want to go back to him. I made myself realize that I am better than that.”
Keep reminders of the pain
If you’re tempted to go back to an ex who continues to hurt you, remind yourself of the pain he’s caused and how you never want to feel that again. Caroline, a student at Vanderbilt University, found out that keeping old texts from her ex served as a virtual reminder of why things went wrong.
“One thing I did was save my texts with my ex, which may seem like a bad idea, but as it ended we would fight a lot over text. So if I ever went to text him I would see all the mean texts and remember why it ended.
Have a mantra or theme song
Sometimes, even having a theme song can empower you and keep you from any dial-regrets.
“A lot of my strategies were internal things,” says Catherine, a collegiette. “Repeating a mantra or a line from a song (in particular, “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know”), that would remind me why [he] is a jerk and that it’s healthier for both of us if I stop creeping.”
Remove him from your technological grasp
Delete your ex’s number off your phone, unfriend him on Facebook and unfollow his Twitter account. Doing this is the first step that symbolizes a break. As an extra step, try any one of these ex-blocking apps:
- Block Your Ex: Download this plug-in to erase any mention of your ex online. Take note: it only works on Firefox and Chrome browsers.
- KillSwitch: Download this app to delete all photos, videos, and any other tagged documents of your ex on Facebook.
- Drunk Dial NO! Block Mistakes!: If you’re planning a night where you know you’re going to get drunk and want to avoid drunk dialing your ex, this app lets you lock their contact information for up to 48 hours.
Briana, a collegiette from Georgia College & State University, not only deleted her ex’s contact information off her phone, but also unfriended him on Facebook. “Deleting and unfriending him meant that it would be a lot of work for me to talk to him, so I stayed away.”
Catherine, a student at Chatham University, discovered the hard way that keeping tabs on your ex can only hurt you more. She made a habit of creeping his Facebook and Twitter after she found out her ex started dating someone else.
“When I would look at his tweets, they would make me so angry that it upset my day; so I stopped,” Catherine says and she eventually stopped followed him. “When I looked at his tweets more recently, they’re all just reinforcing the reasons why I broke up with him.”
But just because you erase him from your social media or phone, doesn’t mean you’ve erased him from your heart or mind. Olivia*, from West Virginia Wesleyan College, cut off all contact with her ex, but realized that it takes more than just deleting his number to keep her from dialing — because she still memorized his number!
“Cutting ties can be simple in itself, but it takes a lot of willpower to maintain it. Remembering that you’re better off without him is what helps you stick to your guns. Yes, it hurt that I couldn’t talk to him, but the pain was only temporary. I knew I’d be better off without him.”
Get a team of friends on your side
One of the reasons girlfriends exist is to stop you from making the mistake of returning to the infamous ex. If you’re tempted to call him, set up a system where you can call her instead, giving her time to talk you out of it and remind you why you broke up in the first place. If you bump into him at a mutual friend’s party, having girlfriends around you can keep you strong and make sure you’re taking the high road.
“If I wanted to hang out with [my ex], I would call my best friend and make her come over for an emergency wine night or I would go hang out with my roommate,” says Katie from Western Michigan University.
Know that it is for the better
Jenna*, a student at Hamilton College, realized that spending time apart after a break-up can help preserve any kind of potential friendship you might have in the future. After she broke up with her boyfriend, he requested no contact be made between them for a while. Although hurt by the suggestion, she respected his wishes by deleting his number and deleting him off Facebook.
“When we run into each other now, things are friendly enough and I don’t feel like I need to avoid him like I often do with exes. We haven’t had any messy post-relationship hook-ups or fights or any of that nonsense, and are now both in healthy relationships with different people that neither of us are ruining for each other.”
But it won’t be easy.
“The best way to cut out an ex is to spend some serious disciplined time apart right after the split. The first few days are going to feel terrible,” Jenna warns, “but if you were confident that your break-up was the right thing to do at the time, it really is the best for both parties.”