Tips For Letting Go Of An Ex Who Has Completely Moved On

Because breaking up isn't hard enough, sometimes we're forced to watch our ex move on first. When this happens, so many emotions come with it. It's not just about sadness but also anger, jealousy, and the inevitable feelings of rejection that make you question why you weren't enough.


"Most people don't want to feel expendable, rejected, or out of control," sex and relationships therapist Cathy Beaton tells Bustle. But while no one wants to feel this way, it's hard not to let your mind go to thoughts that are about you and what you were lacking when it's actually not about you at all. It's what life is all about: moving on to the next chapter when the other one comes to an end. Just because you're not ready or have yet to meet someone with whom you want to move on to the next chapter with doesn't mean your ex shouldn't — no matter how much that fact might hurt. It's a reality check no one wants.

"For some, when the ex [partner] falls in love with someone else, [the break up] can become more real than before," BACP psychotherapist and interpersonal coach Vasia Toxavidi tells Cosmopolitan. "When [they were] still single, there was the possibility to get back together, but when someone else enters the equation the hope starts to be questioned."


Dealing with self-esteem issues that come with feelings of rejection and the wake-up call that getting back together isn't in the cards can be overwhelming. While you may not be able to make sense of it or erase the pain completely, you can at least take baby steps in trying to let your ex go for the sake of your mental and emotional health.

Remind yourself that you broke up for a reason

As much as it might be hard to see it when you're initially in the throes of a breakup, eventually, you'll come to realize one of the most important things about a relationship coming to an end: you broke up for a reason. Even if you don't want to revisit why you broke up, it's important to realize that, like all couples, there was a reason for the breakup. This is something you need to cling to and remind yourself of as you try to process the fact that your ex really has moved on. 


"It can feel really deflating to see [your ex] with another person, particularly if they broke up with you," intuitive dating coach and author of "The Dating Mirror: Trust Again, Love Again," Diana Dorell tells Elite Daily. "But remember, you broke up for a reason, and even if you don't know why, if someone is meant to be in your life, they will be."

Block them on social media

Social media has brought a lot to our lives. It's fantastic for killing time (doomscrolling, anyone?), keeping in touch with people, and giving small businesses the chance to grow. But it's also caused problems like making keeping tabs on our exes way too easy. With nearly half of Americans admitting to stalking an ex or current partner online, it shows how easy this behavior can become a pattern (via Business Wire). But it's such an unhealthy pattern, especially when trying to let an ex go.


"[Continuing to look them up on social media] just keeps you preoccupied with them and it makes it easy for you to make faulty assumptions about how their life is going compared to yours," clinical psychologist Gina Delucca tells HuffPost. If you don't think you can keep your curiosities to yourself by just unfriending them or muting them, then blocking is the best thing you can do for your sanity.

Change the narrative of the story

The problem with breaking up with someone is that, in time, things become skewed in the way we see them. For example, you might romanticize a relationship that was unhealthy, or you might paint yourself as a victim when it was a mutual breakup. When you shift your perspective and retell the story in a way that empowers you, you'll find that letting go will feel easier (via Tiny Buddha).


Negative thoughts and emotions never encourage people to look toward the future with open arms. Instead, it keeps them trapped. So do yourself a favor and take a page from Nora Ephron's novel "Heartburn": "Because if I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me. Because if I tell the story, it doesn't hurt as much. Because if I tell the story, I can get on with it." And, yes, you want to get on with it. 

Don't jump to conclusions

When you realize your ex has completely moved on, it's important not to jump to conclusions about anything regarding them. If an ex appears to have moved on quickly, it might be easy to think they cheated on you or had someone waiting in the wings. But to do that to yourself is cruel and the type of thinking that will drive anyone out of their mind. "You don't know whether or not they're moved on emotionally," sexologist Dr. Jess O'Reilly tells Ask Men. "You only see what's happening from the outside, so don't make assumptions about what they're feeling."


The why and how of them moving on is a mystery you don't need to solve. If anything, it's better to not try to solve it. If you do, you'll just be confronted with more questions to which you just don't have the answers and might never will. Sometimes it's just best to take a deep breath and put any and all "what ifs" in a dark corner in the attic of your mind. 

Be kind to yourself

When we find out that our ex has completely moved on, the emotional pain can be really severe, so it's up to you to make sure you don't add to this pain by putting yourself through the wringer. In other words, allow yourself the space to feel all the things you need to feel and grieve in all the ways you need to grieve.


"Even if you and your ex dated eons ago and you think you should be 'over it,' the waves of grief often feel fresh because, really, they are," marriage and family therapist Lynsie Seely tells HuffPost. "You are facing a new part of the grieving process that you haven't had to process yet."

Grieving is essential to moving forward. It doesn't matter if it's the death of someone or a breakup — a loss is a loss and must be recognized. Finding a way to channel your feelings in a productive and healthy way is paramount to dealing with the ocean of emotions you're swimming in. Consider journaling, getting out into the world by taking a class, getting active, or finding new hobbies (via Redbook). You need to be one step ahead of yourself so that you won't go down the rabbit hole of despair. You deserve more than that.


Talk to a professional

If you can't cope with the fact that your ex has moved on, despite your most valiant efforts, then it may be time to talk to a therapist. And that's okay! "If you're having panic attacks or don't feel emotionally safe to feel those feelings on your own, you may want to seek out a counselor who can support you through your journey," psychotherapist Haley Neidich, LCSW, tells Insider. Not everyone is wired to go it alone when these types of things happen, so there's no shame in reaching out to a professional if you realize you just can't get through it on your own.


Eventually, even if you can't believe it now, you'll get to a point where you're okay with your ex moving on because you've moved on too. When that happens, you'll be able to finally reach into your pocket and adhere to Dr. Seuss' advice on loss: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." It happened, it mattered, and you are who you are today because of it.