Few experiences are so excruciating as continuing to love someone who has ceased to love you. But can you really switch off so powerful a feeling as love? People who find themselves in such a situation often have to endure the cliches of well-meaning friends, from “he was never good enough for you” to, worst of all, “you’ll meet someone new.” As those in love know, you don’t want to meet someone new!
If you wish to stop loving someone, try the following:
When trying to sever a bond with someone, you need to get away from all reminders of them. Don’t walk along the riverbank to the place where you first kissed or go for a drink in the bar where you had your first date. If the relationship was long and intense, consider getting away for a bit. Could you take a couple of weeks vacation? Go somewhere completely different. If you live in a cold climate, for example, book a vacation somewhere bright and hot. A change of scene will help you see things in a new light. Those who have been entirely shattered by the end of a relationship often move to a new town or city. In the short term, you may find so dramatic a change difficult to cope with. And it would be foolish to move too far from those who support and comfort you. But in the longer term it will almost certainly speed your recovery.
Change as many things about yourself and your life as possible
In order to stop loving someone, you must create a sense of distance and detachment. By making lots of small changes, you will begin to feel that you are no longer the same person who loved him (or her). Try changing as many things as possible. Could you move apartment? Why not change your hairstyle and clothes? Did the two of you love watching old black and white films together? Give the DVDs to a charity shop and fill your shelves with a whole new genre of films. If you both loved folk music, and often attended festivals together, perhaps you could buy a selection of blues and reggae albums.
Delete all traces of them
It will demand great self-discipline, but you could try blocking them on social media, throwing away old letters, and deleting photos and emails. This may seem brutal, but things will not change until you move on. Some love affairs are sweet and work to a natural end, leaving nothing but pleasant memories behind. In such cases, it would be fine to keep a few photographs and letters. But when you are tormented by your feelings, and they are holding you back, you need to take drastic action. Life is short; do you really want to spend the precious time left to you moping over someone you can never have? Of course, you should not deny your feelings. Deleting all trace of them must not be confused with denial and repression. No matter what you do, you must always acknowledge your feelings.
Learn to love yourself again
People often miss the way their lover made them feel about themselves more than the actual person. Did your partner fill a void? Maybe it is time to start loving yourself. Of course, this is easier said than done. Therapy would be useful at this point. No therapist can show you how to switch off the love you feel for another, but they can teach you how to love yourself.
Remember the bad times
Buy a notebook and write down every miserable, unpleasant experience you can remember. Once you begin, you may be surprised by how many incidents you recall, so always keep the notebook within reach. When in love with someone, people tend to idealize them and to ignore the bad times.
List their faults
Buy a second notebook and write down all their faults. Again, you may have ignored and suppressed such things. Remember how boring she could be? How about her silly, petty jealousies? And don’t just focus on personality flaws. Be ruthless. Remember the physical imperfections as well, from pot bellies and chubby ankles to bad breath and thinning hair.
Love someone else
When a relationship breaks down, but one person continues to love the other, there is always the danger of a so-called “rebound relationship.” Sometimes these can be sad to watch. Women in particular often find themselves used by men. Feeling vulnerable, and searching for the affection and love they have lost, many are talked into bed by men who simply want sex. More generally, there is the danger of beginning a serious, committed relationship with someone unsuitable. But, though it is important to be cautious, nothing will help you quite like loving, and being loved by, someone new.
Love is a tremendously powerful emotion and never easy to master. Sadly, you cannot choose who you fall in love with, or how intensely, or for how long. In order to stop loving someone you must throw the normal human relationship into reverse. When you first meet a new lover, you seek to establish intimacy, to form a deep emotional bond. This is true of all relationships. And such a bond takes time to develop. To fall out of love you must move in the opposite direction, dissolving the bond and withdrawing your affection. Unfortunately, severing such a bond requires the same thing as forming one – time.