You haven’t seen him in years, yet you still remember the curl of his lips when he would smile at you.
You haven’t seen her in years, yet you still catch whiffs of her strawberry shampoo you loved so much whenever you buried your face in her hair.
It’s been so long; you’re a completely different person now. Your body looks different, you’re older now, you don’t listen to the same music, but whenever that song comes up, you catch yourself smiling because it was the song you both listened to all the time.
Maybe you’re married now, or you’ve dated multiple people since then. You’ve loved and been loved, but you still find yourself thinking about their touch late at night when you’re sipping on a glass of wine or reading a book.
It’s almost instinctual; your mind drifts away and thinks of them as naturally as you think of what you’re having for dinner the following day.
You were crazy about them, and they’re long gone now, but you can’t shake them off, no matter what you do and who you love. You can’t move on.
Get rid of the mementos.
You’re sentimental, and you like to keep memories you’re fond of forever. Even if it means it hurts you when you look at old photos — you can’t bear to part with them.
But ask yourself honestly, how can you truly move on if parts of them are collecting dust in the dark corners of your mind?
You’re not hurting them by getting rid of it all, but you are hurting yourself by keeping it all. It doesn’t have to be something physical; sometimes, we tie the people we once loved to things like music or places. For example, I once met someone at a gym I used to go to.
He was the epitome of a Greek god, and I was completely obsessed. I saw him every day at the gym, like clockwork. I knew when he would show up. I could feel goosebumps on my skin the moment he walked into the room. It’s as if the air changed, the people around us faded, it was just his warm brown eyes and me.
He greeted me every day with a kiss on my cheek. I remember thinking how odd that was, I’d never been kissed on the cheek before. He was a gentleman. I thought.
As the days passed, we spent more time together, training, texting, laughing, and enjoying one another’s company. When he moved to a different state with his wife and child, I felt like a wine glass with a crack in it.
I tied that gym to him and stopped going because I hated knowing he was never going to show up. I kept the membership in hopes that one day I’d see him again.
Get rid of the gym membership if it reminds you of him. Get rid of the photos you have stored in an old box in the corner of your closet. Do a detox of everything that ties you to the individual you can’t seem to move on from.
When the song comes on, press next or, better yet, learn to detach yourself. Delete the photos you saved in your phone, the ones that are so deep down your camera roll it takes you 10 minutes to find them.
Get rid of the cute texts you saved, the ones you hid, and ponder late at night, wondering how things could have been so perfect and yet still managed to go awry. Get rid of all of it.
Take some time before returning to the places you both went to.
Remember how you always went to the movies together and now you don’t like to go because you associate that place with that special person? Take some time, and then go by yourself.
See a movie alone, and see for yourself that it’s just a place. It’s just a place you go to; you don’t need to associate it with the person you once cared about.
Then, go there again with friends. Let yourself emotionally detach from the memory of the person who sat next to you holding your hand while you munched on overpriced popcorn.
I went back to that gym one day; I remember sitting outside as people trained around me. I waited for him, almost instinctually. I surprised myself that day because my heart didn’t drop when the minutes passed, and he didn’t show. I simply accepted it for what it was and went back to my workout.
I also deactivated my gym membership that day, and it felt good.
You’re going to fall in love with so many wonderful people, and you’re going to experience so many incredible things in life.
Don’t dwell on circumstances that are irreversible. Don’t avoid restaurants, activities, or places simply because they remind you of someone. You can’t hide from the good parts of life just because you’re afraid to be sad.
Go to the movies, sit where you once sat with your person, reminisce for a minute, ten, an hour — whatever — and accept that they’re no longer a part of your life. The best thing to do is to keep living your life to the fullest.
Think about the future.
If you haven’t fully detached yourself from your ex, it can be extremely hard to move on. You’ll start comparing every aspect of your new relationship to your old one.
You’ll start disliking certain things about your new partner, not because they’re actually bad — but simply because you’ll think to yourself, my ex didn’t do this, so neither should my current partner.
You’ll compare your sex life, how they make you feel, where they take you, what they order, how they dress, and how they smell, and you’ll never truly be happy.
Think about your future. Your relationship with your ex didn’t work out for a reason, and instead of dwelling on it and letting them linger in your mind as the world moves on, you’re holding yourself back from bigger and better things.
How would you feel if your partner had lingering thoughts of their past lovers? How would you feel knowing they compared you to them?
Don’t put yourself in that type of position. When you start a new relationship, you should go into it fresh with no attachments to people from your past.
These are a few methods I’ve personal utilized to detach from old relationships in my life. I know it’s hard to let go of the person you thought was “the one”, but holding on to them is like holding on to a sweater that no longer fits.
It’s just taking up space.
Take your time letting go, but learn to do so prior to jumping into a new relationship. And, if you do find yourself thinking about someone you once loved when you’re with someone new, maybe you haven’t learned how to fully detach. Take a step back, and reassess how you truly feel.
It’s not going to be easy, but it’ll be well worth it because you’ll come out of it feeling stronger, more powerful, and emotionally ready for something incredible.