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Love Letters

How do I get over my ex?

We broke up more than two years ago, but I need help moving on.

Submit your questions for Meredith here.

Q. I’ve heard it said that the only way to really get over someone is to “get under” someone else.

The phrase is somewhat scoff-worthy and a little vulgar, but has gained legitimacy in my mind as I confront the frequency and sadness with which I still think about my ex more than two years after our (albeit pretty horrendous) breakup.

It took me ages to even consider that my former partner is not the only person in the world worthy of my affection. I also didn’t want to rush back into dating because I knew I had so much self-work to do. The problem is, self-work is a lifelong process and if I wait until I feel “set and ready,” I may never date again.

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Obviously, the pandemic also doesn’t help in terms of organically meeting new people. But how can I push myself along in the process of moving on when I still feel so averse to being with someone new?

– Over It

A. You’re right; if you put off dating until you’re a perfect version of yourself, you might never date again. We’re not supposed to be finished products. We’re always going to be learning and getting better.

Yes, there are times in life when it’s best to be alone — when a person needs time to process and heal. Sometimes it feels great to be single. But if you, in particular, want to be partnered, and you’ve been thinking about the same breakup for a long time, 1) consider professional help — because a therapist can teach you ways to break patterns of thinking, and 2) consider dating — because it might remind you that there can be romance after your ex.

The thing about dating right now is that you don’t really have to be with someone new. You can communicate with strangers, swipe on apps, maybe talk to a friend on Zoom while you do it so you feel social. Try not to compare what new people offer to what you got from a big relationship. Remember that most people have their own history to bring to the table.

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FYI, we did our very first podcast episode about “getting under someone,” and how sex affects the brain after a breakup. We had a doctor explain why a breakup might even make some people desperate for sex (strange, right?). There was a lot of interesting science in the episode, and the conclusion was that getting under someone is not required for moving on. You can pursue that activity when it sounds like fun.

– Meredith

READERS RESPOND

It’s not the “getting under” part that helps. It’s developing feelings for someone else that helps you forget about the other person. OUTOFORDER

I don’t think getting under someone new is the only way to get over your ex. If you’re forcing yourself to do something, it could make you feel worse. But I do think you should try dating. LEGALLYLIZ2017

New relationships help a lot, but they don’t have to be sexual or romantic. Lots of people are worthy of your affection, and a big part of getting over someone is coming to understand that the average person out there would be better for you to be around than your ex. IABERVON

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Catch Season 4 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen.