Why Can’t I Stop Thinking About Him? How To Move On

Updated July 01, 2020

In a 2010 study, researchers found a group of college-aged men and women who had recently experienced heartbreak.

They found people who had recently been rejected or dumped still reported feeling intensely ‘in love.’ Under a brain scan, the participants first had to look at a photo of the person who had broken their hearts. Then they completed math problems as a distraction, almost like a brain palette cleanser, then they looked at a photo of a person who they knew, but towards whom they didn’t experience romantic feelings. This second person acted as a control.

Afterward, the scientists compared the parts of the brain that reacted when the subject viewed the first person, as opposed to when they viewed the second person. When the subjects viewed the person who had rejected them, parts of the brain associated with craving and addiction became active. Other active parts of the brain included motivation, reward, and even physical pain.

This study demonstrates that people in situations of heartbreak really are experiencing an addiction.

This addiction doesn’t have to be to an ex. A person who rejected us or a person who we were never with romantically can have the same effect. We crave the high of the reward of being with this person in the same way an addict would crave a drug.

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If you can’t stop thinking about someone, don’t worry, that behavior is normal. Heartbreak is a common and nearly universal problem, and with time, we can even learn to be grateful for it. Don’t mentally punish yourself for experiencing this completely normal part of life.

Fortunately, there are ways for you to move on from a person who is no longer interested in you, or who never was.

You may think that moving on is about distraction or focusing on other things. But there are various potential reasons for why you can’t stop thinking about them and may still be focused on this person because there is unresolved trauma or a lesson that you still need to learn from this past experience.

Consider why you can’t stop thinking about this person and ask yourself if you really want to. If there is still potential for a romantic relationship with them or her, and if you believe the other person genuinely might be interested, then it’s normal to think about this person all the time and enjoy the excitement that comes with a new love. But if he or she has expressed that they aren’t interested in going further with a romantic affair, then you’ve received your answer.

If a person wants to be with you, then they will make an effort to be with you. If you’re getting mixed signals, they are probably not on board in the same way that you are. Your best option might be moving on and finding a person who feels the same way.

Letting go isn’t easy. It’s a bitter-sweet process that could even take years. But there are ways that you can control your thoughts and form healthy habits.

If you can’t stop thinking about this person, and if you even think about him when you don’t want to, then you should investigate methods designed to help you move on.

How To Move On

1)     Learn From This Experience

Consider what lessons you can take away from your experience with this person. Perhaps one of the reasons you can’t stop thinking about them is because you still haven’t learned all the important lessons this relationship had to offer.

Your moving on the process may take a long time. You may have revelations, then realize later that there was still more baggage left to unpack. But there will be a time when this person is a distant memory. Believe that there will be a day when looking at this person’s photo will trigger no emotional reaction at all.

We can learn to be grateful for even the most painful memories from the past. These experiences serve to teach us and help us grow into better people. Try to be thankful for this person, because even if things didn’t end how you once hoped, they’ve helped you become the person who you are today.

Think about how you would have carried out this relationship differently if you’d met this person today. Think about how you will act differently in important relationships in the future. Also, remember to think about the things you did well, and the behaviors you’d like to repeat. Perhaps this person punished you or made you feel strange for loving and attentive behaviors that would be encouraged in another relationship.

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It’s okay to take the distance and time to review the past and learn from it. Try to think from your own perspective. Now, you may find yourself with the luxury of considering the experience from your own perspective, uninfluenced by the feedback of the other person.

2)     Stop Idealizing

When you can’t stop thinking about someone, you spend a lot of time with an image of this person on your mind. You may build them up and tear them down a thousand times a day.

But this person isn’t the angel of your dreams, nor or they a heartless monster. They are a complex person, and they are certainly not the ideal that you’ve created in your mind.

You’ve built an entire world around this person by thinking about them so often. You are trying to get over the image of this person more than you are trying to get over the person themselves.

Try to unpack exactly what ideals you projected onto this person. What was it you were really hoping for? What role did they fall into? What ideal did you think they fulfilled? Remember that these are images and fantasies, all of your own design. If you created them and attached them to this person, you can just as easily detach them.

3)     Reduce Contact

Perhaps you are constantly thinking about this person because you’re still constantly in contact.

If you’re in an environment where it is impossible to avoid him or her, consider your options for leaving or at least spending less time there. This may sound excessive, but heartbreak has the potential to significantly affect your happiness and quality of life. You may find yourself a lot happier and capable of looking forward to the future in a different space.

Reducing contact doesn’t just mean in person. You won’t stop thinking about someone if you see their name every day on your phone. All the time that you spend speaking with someone or chatting with someone is adding fuel to the image of him or her in your head.

4)     Work On Your Confidence

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If you are accepting an on-and-off love affair with a person who isn’t sure about you in the same way that you are sure about them, then perhaps it’s because you believe that is the most affection you deserve.

You are a whole, loving person. You deserve to be with someone who is sure about you.

Personal growth can come from exercise, self-care, and spending time doing things that you love. Take the time that you used to invest in this person, and invest it in keeping your space clean, a new friendship, a new wardrobe. Make yourself feel desirable, not because you crave the attention of another, but because you deserve to feel attractive.

One of the reasons you can’t stop thinking about this person might be because you think he or she was the best option you will ever have. As soon as you leave the house, you will see that this is not true. There are plenty of people out there, and many of them want love in the same way you do. You don’t want to miss out on your next great romance because you can’t get the last person out of your head.

Invest time in your own interests. Meet other people who like the same things as you. Early-stage love can produce euphoria, and it’s normal to want to find that feeling again. But you can find happiness and fulfillment from other activities and behaviors as well. Oscar Wilde once said that “to love yourself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

5)     Speak With A Counselor

Some people worry that their affections for a past partner overshadow the love that they have with their current partner. Even if you don’t have a current relationship, many people worry about being able to fall in love again if they can’t let go of the past.

Online counseling sites like Regain.Us offer options for individual and couples therapy, and they also offer a free consultation. A counselor will ask you questions and get to know you, then they will offer techniques for controlling your thoughts.

If you are on the fence about speaking to a therapist, try just one session, and the counselor will honestly tell you if they believe you need more attention.

6)     Practice Meditation And Mindfulness

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Mindfulness is the practice of understanding your thoughts and your environment.

Through mindfulness, you can watch your own thoughts like a backseat observer and understand them without judgement.

Take a little time to meditate and focus on your breath every day. After a time, you will become disciplined. You may be able to break old habits and form new, healthy ones.

Whether you’re thinking about this person out of habit or because you subconsciously don’t want to let them go, you ultimately have control of your own thoughts.

Try practicing gratitude and breathing exercises. Mindfulness and meditation are a whole world that is beneficial to both your mental and physical health.

Thinking about someone constantly is very normal, and there is no reason to feel alarmed by your behavior.

If you want to let go of someone and move on, the resources are available. Everything you do is a habit that you learned at one point, which means you’re equally capable of letting it go.

One day, you will feel nothing but gratitude for this experience. Forgive the people from your past, thank them for the ways they’ve helped you grow, and start looking forward to your hopeful and exciting future.


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