How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex

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Want to know how to stop thinking about your ex? Want to be able to regain your power and control, so that you decide when you think of them, what you think about and how that makes you feel? Then you’re in the right place!

See it’s good to process what’s happened. It’s an important part of healing. But if you want to feel better after a breakup, you cannot let your ex rule your mind. You must learn how to stop thinking about your ex when it’s no longer healthy, productive or serving you.

It’s not about COMPLETELY removing your ex and EVERY SINGLE MEMORY you may have of them. Nor is it about not being able to think about them at all, without it making you break down.

Instead, our guide to learning how to stop thinking about your ex is about:

  1. Being able to control and re-direct your focus.
  2. Thinking about your ex in a neutral or positive way, but only when you want or need.
  3. And being able to let them go, instead of replaying the past over and over in your head, and getting stuck back there.

How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex

So what do you have to do to be able to stop thinking about your ex?

Well, let’s start with some simple “essentials” – your starting “tick-list” for things you should and shouldn’t be doing if you want to stop thinking about your ex.

Then, we’ll finish off with a simple yet effective coaching strategy to literally re-wire you to stop thinking about your ex, and focus on yourself instead.

Sound good? Awesome! Then let’s get stuck in.

If You Want To Stop Thinking About Your Ex, You Need To…

Here’s your starting tick-list of essentials when it comes to how to stop thinking about your ex.

1) Cut All Contact

We’ve all heard of the “No Contact Rule” after a breakup, and as hard or as daunting as it may seem, remember – it’s there for a reason.

Yes, I know it’s difficult to go from having this person as a significant part of your life, to suddenly them no longer being there at all. (Trust me, I completely get and feel your pain around this.)

No contact may feel like the LAST thing you want. But it’s necessary.

So, whether you’re looking to move on after a breakup if you’re still in love, or whether things are left amicably and feel “more like friends“, it doesn’t matter.

No contact is essential, regardless of your situation.

After all, “out of sight, out of mind,” as they say. And sure, it’s not quite that simple. (If only!)

But you’re making it an awful lot harder for yourself to stop thinking about your ex if you’re still speaking or seeing each other.

I mean, every time you do speak to them or see them (plus all that time before and after you speak to them or see them), they are naturally going to be on your mind more.

So stop finding excuses (or “reasons”) to still see your ex, stop texting your ex, and cut the contact, to the highest level that you can.

Please Note: There are some circumstances where some contact with an ex is required. Like for example, if you have children together, or work together. But in these cases, when we talk about no-contact, it’s no contact aside from what is 10000% mandatory… The rest still applies okay?

So this is the first core essential for how to stop thinking about your ex. On a similar note…

2) Stop The Stalking!

I know, we’ve all been there, we’ve all done it… But if you’re still doing it – it’s got to stop. I mean it.

Block your ex on social media if you can’t resist the temptation. And even if the temptation isn’t there right now – block them in case it DOES come.

You may find your ex does that anyway. Maybe your ex has blocked you on everything and you don’t know what to do. Well the answer is – do nothing.

It’s a good thing. They’re doing it to help themselves and it in turn helps you too, so let it happen.

If you want to stop thinking about your ex, you have to do the things that are going to help you, and watching their life without you, certainly isn’t.

Remember, just because you see something on social media, doesn’t mean it’s even an accurate reflection of their life. Yet you’ll see these things and it will hurt, and it will drive comparisons, and consequently – keep your ex on your mind.

So stop them “stalking”, stop obsessing over your ex, and decide right now that it’s time to start over. It’s your fresh start. And this next chapter is all about you.

Here, use these empowering breakup affirmations to really embed that in your mind and make these changes easier to do and apply.

3) Get Rid Of All The Reminders

Another helpful activity if you’re looking to stop thinking about your ex, is to remove the reminders. So we’re talking:

  • The photos on your phone.
  • The things he/ she bought you.
  • Or the things you have, which remind you of him / her.

You don’t need to throw them out or delete them for good.

With the photos for example – just transfer them onto a backup drive so that they’re not easily accessible but it doesn’t break your heart getting rid of the memories forever.

After all, they were still a part of your life and you may look back one day and smile at this chapter, without feeling any sadness or anger.

But for now, things are still too raw so – out of sight, out of mind.

Box up any of your old gifts. Or if you don’t really need to be holding onto them, give them to charity – there’s a better cause out there that can give you that feel-good boost, too!

4) Accept That It’s Over

One of the biggest things that keeps you thinking about your ex, is not truly accepting that it’s over.

And yes, you could say that you have, but – deep down – there’s a part of you that is still clinging onto the hope that you will reconnect… But it’s that part that you have to FIGHT, and BEAT.

Here, read this process for how to accept your relationship is over.

When you click the text, it will open in a new tab so you won’t lose your place on this post. This article runs through the process of gaining acceptance and allowing yourself to let go.

Because hey – accepting your relationship is over is a whole task in itself, aside from stopping thinking about your ex. So work through it fully and properly, alongside this.

Remember: you’re moving onto bigger and better things – not only with the right person next time, but more importantly for yourself now.

Repeat after me: “Today is the first page of the next chapter of my life. Today, I decide to turn the page and look forward. This is my time, my life. And I’m doing this for me.”

5) Remove The Rose-Tinted Glasses

Another thing that’s going to help you not only accept that it’s over, but also help you stop thinking about your ex so much, is to remove those rose-tinted glasses. 👓

They’re not cool, they’re not nice, they’re not fun, and they’re not serving you in any way.

You might have had some good times with your ex, but the chances are – if you broke up – there were their fair share of bad times too.

Or even if it wasn’t bad as such, it certainly wasn’t everything that it should have been. If it was, you honestly wouldn’t be here right now.

So as hard as it is to hear, you MUST remind yourself:

The relationship wasn’t perfect, your ex wasn’t perfect, but most importantly – regardless of how great of a person they may have been – they ultimately, weren’t the right person for you.

So stop glorifying them, stop putting them on a pedestal, and start to see your past relationship more honestly, openly and accurately.

This isn’t a loss, truly it’s not. This breakup will lead to even better things, honestly.

But if you want to stop thinking about your ex so much, you have to stop replaying all the good times that are distorting your outlook, and remember why it did end.

Rose-Tinted Glasses Activity

You can also try this…

Every time your ex pops into your head, and you’re thinking about a good time, or a good quality of theirs – replace it with a bad one.

Literally kick that good memory out of your head and see the bad thing take over. It sounds negative, but you need to shift your perspective right now, to start to balance it out.

Eventually you won’t need to do this. You’ll just see it for what it was and have less extreme emotions when thinking of your past relationship.

But if you’re struggling to get your ex out of your mind, you’re not quite there yet, so we’re going to have to try some different strategies to keep you feeling sane!

This leads me onto another suggestion…

6) Try The Elastic Band Technique

When it comes to how to stop thinking about your ex, this is probably my all-time favourite recommendation, so don’t scoff until you’ve tried it, okay?

The elastic band technique (or otherwise known as the rubber band technique) is used to destroy negative thinking or negative habits.

It’s so simple, but it’s so effective, because it changes your automatic response and snaps you back into reality! 

  • Basically, you wear a rubber band around your wrist (day and night!) It should loosely fit around your wrist, comfortably.
  • Whenever you start thinking about your ex, you snap the elastic band, pulling it back so it hits your wrist.
  • You then replace that line of thought with something new… It could be a different focus, a positive affirmation, anything really. Just decide beforehand on what you’re going to try, then stick to it.

Excessively thinking about your ex is not helping, so by using the elastic band technique, we’re training our mind to become more aware, to stop the thoughts in their tracks and focus on something different instead.

Pretty neat huh? I actually used this immediately after my breakup and it was an absolute godsend, so rest assured – I can share first hand – it works!


7) Focus On Yourself More

Do the things that make you feel good, make self-care a priority, spend more time with your friends and family, hit the gym hard, progress in your career, work on developing yourself as a person.

Whether you like it or not, you’re entering a new chapter in your life, so try to stop going over the past by focusing on how you’re going to move forward.

Write a list of all the things you want to do, all the things you want to experience, all the places you want to go… and start working through it! Get excited about life, and appreciate it.

I know it’s easier said than done, but even just committing a small amount of time daily, to doing things for yourself… over a short period of time, it will start to build up to change the way you feel. Especially when you adopt the right mindset.

You need to see that there are far better things ahead, and the best way to do that, is to embrace everything that you can, and live a little more fully.

8) Cut Out The Bad Habits

When we’re in a bad place, it’s easy to do more bad things because we think “f*ck it!” but this is only going to make things worse.

For example, we’re not over the breakup, we can’t stop thinking about our ex and how badly we want them back – so we hit the bottle to drown our sorrows… only it doesn’t work.

In fact, if anything, we overthink things even more and end up feeling lower. It’s like when people go out and have a rebound straight after, thinking it will help them to move on, only to find it makes them feel worse.

So before you make any decisions, ask yourself – is this actually going to help me? Not necessarily momentarily, but long-term? Is this going to support my progress? To move me forward?

And if it’s not, then it’s probably a good idea to go back a step and focus on the things that you know will help you feel good. Like burning that frustration off in the gym instead, or getting stuck into a good book to escape for a little while.

When you do less or the bad stuff and more of the good, you will gradually get yourself back to feeling like you again, which in turn means you’ll be thinking about your ex less and less.

9) Learn To Forgive

So I’ve spoken about not accepting that things are over, reliving the ‘best bits’ of your relationship and not seeing it for what it is… but what if you can see it?

What if your ex betrayed your trust and shattered your heart and you just can’t quite believe it, which is why they keep coming into your mind?

On the flip side, what if you made mistakes, or played your part in the breakup, and you can’t stop going over the ‘what ifs’ and regrets?

Both are completely different situations, but each require forgiveness – either for yourself or the other person. Sometimes even both. Until you forgive, you can’t truly let go, which is why your ex is now still on your mind.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to like the other person, or agree with what you did / how you behaved – it just means that you’re choosing to accept it and let go of it.

This post runs through how to let go of the mistakes you’ve made in past relationships. I also then have a couple more about how to move on when people have mistreated you, so if you subscribe to this blog at the bottom of this post, I’ll notify you once it goes live.

There’s a process you have to go through through, and it’s important. So don’t overlook it or think you can brush it under the carpet. Also remember, this is what’s going to help you grow and become stronger. So it’s actually a good thing.

10) See That There Are Other People Out There

Last but not least, it’s time to look forward. Like I briefly mentioned above, I personally don’t think that jumping from one person to the next will help you to stop thinking about your ex.

Why? Because you’re not actually dealing with things properly. You’re looking for an escape. And it won’t last.

But if you’ve accepted that it’s over, began to see things for what they really were, have started to focus on yourself again – then I think you’re ready to get yourself back out there in the dating world… Not because you’re desperately searching to find someone, but because you want to have some fun again!

And dating CAN be heaps of fun – but only when you’re in the right headspace. So when you’re ready, try out some dating apps, get speaking to different people, enjoy getting to know people, maybe go on a few dates.

Once you start building a connection with someone else and have that person there to speak to, your ex will be on your mind far less – trust me. So this one is a big one!

How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex

I hope this give you a little insight into how to stop thinking about your ex.

Remember, we’re not trying to block out feelings here. We’re just stopping bad habits that are holding us back and looking to move forward again.

For this reason, talking is also good – to friends, family and professionals. Also allocate set times to work through this kind of stuff, so that your ex isn’t still taking over your life even after things are over.

For one-to-one private breakup support – click here for more details. Just know that you’re not alone, okay?

Take care.


How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex
Photo of author
Ella Stearn
Ell is a Breakup, Dating & Relationship Specialist & Coach, with over 3 million annual readers, globally. As the Creator of Forgetting Fairytales, her mission is to help you learn to love yourself, find the right person to give your love to, then make it a love that truly lasts.

21 thoughts on “How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex”

  1. Indeed we all make mistakes and there is no point dwelling on them. You have offered some real and practical tools. Thanks so much 👍

    • This is really helpful. And I liked how you came straight to the point and said “cut all contact”. Haha. That’s has to be the first thing to do. You’re so right!

  2. You know people are making fun that there are people who will talk to their ex because of the lockdown…but it’s really important for the mental health to follow what you are saying. Amazing!

  3. This post is so helpful. I definitely agree with your tips. Cutting off all the strings attached is the perfect place to start. Antonia x

  4. I think that the guidance you give is a way for a person to set boundaries with their ex (and even in that person’s own mind). Helpful for those of us trying to move forward – thank you.

  5. Searched this to help my friend who is stuck in her previous relationship. So gonna share. Thanks for the advice 💛

  6. I’ve been in this situation a few times and I find cutting all contracts and learn to forgive to be very effective. Rather than overthink I prefer to let things go … out of my system. Thanks for this helpful tips!

  7. All of these are so true. I am so glad I haven’t had to deal with this feeling in over 20 years. But you do have to cut all contact or it will linger on!Great article x

  8. I think number 6 and 7, and also 8, are especially useful. It’s very difficult isn’t it. I really love the rubber band technique! Will definitely be trying that.

  9. What great tips. I have been over my ex for about 8 years now. We talk from time to time but not too much. I could never have had that contact to begin with though so your strategies are spot on!

  10. Letting go of someone you have feelings for is not easy, even when you know its the best thing for you. Cutting off all contact is best, for sure. The ease at which we can stalk people online does not make things easy! Your suggestions are really helpful for getting your ex out your head.

  11. I don’t have an ex but still applicable to my past almost-relationships 😉 HAHA. This really helps… thank you!

  12. Being able to forgive yourself, the situation and the former partner, is probably one of the hardest things to do but it is definitely one of the most important parts. Thank you so much for supporting us through this breakup. I’m going to start using these tips to get my ex off my mind starting now!

  13. Wonderful tips, definitely be sharing this to my friends who had an unlucky encounter with bad relationships. But thank you so much, these are so helpful!


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