When my friend Rebecca asked me for tips on how to lose feelings for someone you love, I prayed that she’d handle it better than I did after I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, Aaron. Love is a powerful feeling. But breaking up with someone and moving forward from it all, while incessantly missing them in your life – that bag of feelings is just as strong.
Our friend Sandra had quite a few ideas for Rebecca on how to get over someone. So she tried everything. From casual sex to shooting ranges to spending a bomb on wellness resorts. Rebecca seems so much better now, while I still struggle. Sandra and I still argue about what really worked for her. She thinks it was either all the guys Rebecca met in Vegas or the iguana she adopted. But I wanted to dive deeper into the science of how to lose feelings for your boyfriend or girlfriend. Is the healing process just about crushing your feelings of love? Or is there a more sure-shot route to stop having feelings for someone? Let’s look into it.
Can You Lose Feelings For Someone You Love?
Research suggests that falling in love is closely linked to dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone, released as a reward to encourage certain activities. When you fall in love, you’re essentially floating in a pool of dopamine. Naturally, falling in love is such a great feeling. It’s hard to control your feelings for that person. But when you separate from them and feel emotional pain, there is a dopamine withdrawal, which makes you depressed and experience anxiety after the breakup. This dopamine deficiency keeps you thinking about the person you are madly in love with.
Indeed, if I were to ask you what is the opposite of love, nine out of ten times you’d say the word ‘hate.’ But that is wrong. The real opposite of love is apathy. Being able to set yourself free from those intense, developed feelings is not hate. It is indifference. Apathy isn’t always a bad thing. It just means that to lose feelings for a crush, you need to make your mind indifferent to them. That way your brain can learn to not release dopamine at their thoughts.
How To Lose Feelings For Someone You Love And Let Go – 15 Tips
Research suggests that a breakup can induce depression-like symptoms, similar to the loss of a loved one. No wonder, moving forward after a failed relationship is difficult. That is true whether you’re trying to lose feelings for a mindless crush or if you’re trying to get over someone you were madly involved with.
But the only way you can let go of the pain and become whole again is with time, and when you choose to get better as a conscious choice. Do you want to stop having feelings for someone? A few ways you can do that is by analyzing your relationship. At the same time, you need to keep your mind distracted so that your brain can release dopamine through other ways. It could be learning a new skill or adopting a pet to love and care for. Let’s help you get started through the following steps:
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1. The important thing is to acknowledge the reality
After my breakup with Aaron, I found myself fantasizing about getting back with him. I just felt like there was no point in denying romantic feelings for him and dived into them even more than before. It provided temporary pleasure for a while but the pain remained or, sometimes, came back worse than before. Such maladaptive daydreaming has become a coping mechanism for many people post-Covid as suggested by research.
Research also suggests that though it may feel good for a while to fantasize about unlikely scenarios, it deprives one of real-life experiences. So, don’t live in denial and seek clarity during this process. If you haven’t broken up yet, analyze your relationship and acknowledge where it’s going. If you’re experiencing gaslighting in the relationship or not getting the kind of commitment you want, then you need to let it go and consciously start losing feelings for this person.
2. Put yourself first
Rebecca, by now, seemed to be a complete professional at moving on from her ex. So I asked her for advice. She said, “I had to put myself first. The reason I could lose feelings so fast was that I was constantly aware of the pain that I would be in if I was still with them. Think about how that pain affects you long-term. Stop thinking that this is the best you can get. If you’re not getting the respect you deserve in a relationship, then it’s not worth it.”
And I have to agree with her. Constantly thinking about how to give your energy to someone is just going to invite more trouble into your life. Instead, refocus all of it on yourself and indulge in self-care. It won’t make you instantly stop loving them, but it might make you love yourself more. And that is one step closer to the end goal.
3. Don’t suppress the pain
If you want to cry, cry. If you want to listen to the famous Charlie Puth song, We don’t talk anymore, do that too. If you want to get drunk and watch John Tucker Must Die, go for it. A breakup can make you feel like hell, and for a while, you have to let it. Give yourself enough time to grieve and do not rush the process of trying to control your feelings for someone.
Don’t play the hard nut who’s not affected by heartbreaks or act like you are heartless. Let it come out in a healthy, organic manner. Research says that bottling up emotions can make them stronger. So you better get it out instead of burying it all inside you.
4. Don’t look for another relationship immediately
Do rebound relationships ever work? Not in most cases. The important thing to know is that you should not end up denying your feelings for someone. You shouldn’t dive into another connection, assuming that a chain of future relationships will help you get over your old one. Dealing with emotions head-on with a healthy balance of distractions is recommended if you’re exploring how to lose feelings for the one you love.
But keeping your mind distracted doesn’t mean you create dependence on another person, as it will only ruin your next relationship. Right now, it may seem that losing feelings for someone requires you have to gain feelings for someone else, but that’s not healthy. You will find yourself in a complicated mess with conflicted feelings about two different people. At this point, your emotions really cannot afford that.
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5. Work on yourself
Once you’ve vented your emotions healthily, visualize yourself as the person you want to be. Work toward becoming that person. If that individual is healthy, exercise and focus on your food habits. If they are successful, focus on excelling at work. Shop for yourself, not your vanity. Maintain a journal every day. Write your goals and keep a track of them. Practice mindfulness.
Do whatever suits you, just try to be the best version of yourself after the first few waves of grief have passed by. Know that this process takes time and be patient with yourself. Don’t think that dropping ten pounds in ten days, or hanging out with new people every day will make you feel better. There are days when you will still feel bad about how it all went down. Validate your feelings but keep going. Let time do the rest.
6. Distance yourself from them
To break up with someone, you need to stay out of touch with them. Even if they feel like the only person you want to talk to, you need to cut them off entirely. Stop meeting them. If they insist on seeing you, explain to them that you need space. Get rid of any reminders from them at your place; that is also a part of the healing process. Avoid social media scrolling of their online profiles. Especially at night, when you are about to go to bed.
Aaron and I worked in the same team for two years after our breakup. It was an office romance but I did not want this separation to affect my job. However, I had to see him every day. I realized that I had an option to work from a different floor, so I did that, and avoided having lunch at our old restaurant as well. I still had to attend meetings with him, but not seeing him every day did help take my mind off things eventually.
7. Reach out to family and close friends
It is possible that while you were doe-eyed in your love bubble, your other relationships took a backseat. Well, it is time to revive them. Friends and family are your saving grace at this point. It’s a great idea to go back to familiar spaces and let their warmth and comfort heal you. I found myself almost forgetting about Aaron during holidays when I spent time with my extended family.
In the same way, your close friends, too, are your biggest supporters at this point. Being with your loved ones will make you forget about all the negatives and just focus on the happy parts. So, reconnect with some old friends, or start getting more involved in their lives. Ask them what’s going on with them and what is new in their lives. These are the more permanent people whose love you need.
8. Talk about your feelings with someone
Your denial of feelings for someone is never going to help you get over them. Instead, you need to process everything. And one way of doing that is by talking your heart out. Find a support group of people going through the same thing. Talk to a friend or a sibling. Consider investing in a mental health professional to deal with loneliness after a breakup.
Tell them what you feel and why you’ve decided to let go of your feelings. Denying your feelings for someone by ignoring how crushed you feel will actually keep hurting you. Talking doesn’t just help you feel better, it also helps get the closure you need to let go of someone. Suppressing your feelings might seem easy, but it comes back to bite you in the long run. Instead, find a healthier way to give yourself an outlet.
9. Interested in losing feelings for someone you never dated? Analyze your thoughts
Could it be because you looked up to them as a role model? Were they reminiscent of another person from the past? Is the heartache due to the loss of the relationship or the loss of how they made you feel? Research also suggests that analyzing why this dynamic was bad for you could help you in moving forward from them. Hence, for the sake of your mental health, sit down and meditate on why you felt so attached to this person.
10. Get out of your comfort zone
They are not your person anymore. And one way of letting go of the hurt is by keeping your mind distracted by newer things. The same old routine might just keep reminding you of them. Instead, you should use this time after the breakup to explore another side to yourself. Do things you’ve never done before. Something that scares you a little.
Distractions like these can help take your mind off the heartache. Try new dishes. Wear that dress you thought you couldn’t carry well. Go on a solo vacation away from the city. Contact with nature can help create a positive outlook as suggested by research. Make new experiences to leave the old ones behind.
11. Find yourself again
I love reading books, but Aaron always mocked literature. Eventually, I stopped reading during our relationship. It was only after my breakup I realized that I had missed reading. So, I started to do the things I had avoided because of him. I even began painting, which I had not done since I was 12. I realized it made me happy to get back to what I loved, and also to try a new hobby.
Consider this: Have you made any changes to yourself to accommodate this person? Did it make you miserable? Do you want to go back to your interests and habits again? If yes, then go ahead. Find the person you were before you met your ex. And we promise, it will help you find happiness as well.
12. Learn a new hobby or skill
Distracting yourself with a new hobby will work wonders if you want to get over your old relationship. It can be anything that makes you happy or it can be something toward your financial independence, that you can use to build an alternate career path, like digital marketing. Or an essential life skill like woodwork that you can use to save money. Learning a new skill is a useful gift that keeps on giving. It not only gives you a way to save/make money but also gives you pride and belief in yourself.
Do you want to feel ready to take on the world? Then develop yourself. Instead of thinking about how unlucky you are or worrying about never finding the right person, try to feel comfortable in your skin by working on yourself. Moreover, you might even meet people during the process who are like-minded, adding even more value to your life.
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13. Don’t be hard on yourself
An important part of moving forward is practicing kindness with your thoughts. Do not chide yourself if you feel you’re more affected than you should be. Let go of the self-doubt and stop measuring your worth based on the bad days. Your process doesn’t have to be like everyone else’s. Do what makes sense to you.
A study found that people with higher self-esteem and lower attachment anxiety report fewer adverse effects of a breakup. What I’m trying to tell you is that your heartache may not just be a result of your breakup but is worsened by your self-esteem issues too. Research suggests that the belief that one will get over heartbreak with the help of a certain activity, even if it’s not substantiated, helps in the process. So if you believe you will get better, you will. Good things will come to you, if you tell yourself that.
14. Be patient
It can take so long to get over someone who doesn’t feel the same way about you. That kind of rejection is hard to get over, and can create a lot of feelings of self-doubt. But if you want to fall out of love with someone, know that it won’t happen in one day. Or even a few months.
You have to trust the process, and keep going every day. Even if it’s taking long, never take back an ex who dumped you. As cliché as it sounds, time heals. But no one can guarantee how long it may take. Physical distance, distractions, and support groups help, but still, it is a long recovery process. So, be patient if you want to lose feelings for someone who does not feel the same way about you. Have faith, it will all work out in the end.
15. Seek help from a mental health professional
If you feel that you can’t take it anymore or if nothing is working, then seek professional guidance. Your mental health is an investment. All the things that are confusing you or bogging you down can indeed be done away with. If you want to seek clarity about your situation, we, at Bonobology, offer an extensive panel of skilled and experienced counselors for any of your relationship concerns.
- To lose feelings for your boyfriend/girlfriend, analyze why you revered this person and why they are not right for you
- Prioritize yourself. Do things you love, allow yourself time to grieve, and seek support in family and friends
- Distance yourself from the person you have feelings for
- Keep yourself distracted by learning new skills and seeking new experiences
- Believe in yourself and that you will get better
Unnecessarily denying your feelings for someone or indulging in negative self-talk will not work. What worked for Rebecca was her determination that she wanted to leave an unsuccessful relationship behind. She moved to a different job and prioritized her need for space and well-being. She journaled and traveled, and doesn’t call me as much now to cry on the phone.
Sandra and I feel so happy for her. Not everyone has the liberty to quit jobs or to travel to get over someone when they are in the same situation. But what you can do is believe in yourself. Only you can influence your feelings. We all get there, eventually.
This article was updated in June 2023.
Time, distance, and distractions are able to give you the respite you need. But essentially, it’s the will that matters. Your process begins the day you decide you want to leave that person behind.
No one can pinpoint a time range that it takes for most people to lose their feelings of love. It’s different for everyone. However, one can shorten this period if they can vent their feelings healthily and focus on other things.