Nothing sucks as bad as a broken heart, plain and simple.
Even if you didn’t have time to fall in love, the sting of rejection and betrayal can strike at any stage of a relationship.
In no situation is that truer than when a guy has played you. The rage, pain and humiliation can sometimes overwhelm you, leaving little room to focus on the good things in life … and on getting over the jerk.
Don’t worry, though. There is a way through this mess that you did nothing to get yourself in.
With the right approach, you’re likely to come through this stronger and more empowered than before.
In this post we’ll show you how to get over a guy who played you using accessible strategies that you can implement right now.
1. Determine Whether It’s Time to Let Go
Let’s be real. If you’re reading this article, chances are it’s time to let go.
However, If there’s one thing we all know about relationships, it’s that it can be hard to see the truth when we don’t want to let go.
If you’re still not sure about whether you should let go of this guy, ask yourself a few questions:
- Does he refuse to give you an answer about whether you’re exclusive, even after months of spending lots of time together?
- Does his behavior toward other women or men make you feel insecure or sad?
- Have you expressed this to him and gotten blowoffs or no response at all?
- Is he keeping you around even though he shows no sign of actually wanting a relationship?
- Is he inherently selfish, so although he says he wants you, he keeps putting himself first and hurting you or not meeting your needs?
- Does he treat you badly, then come back and promise he’ll treat you well – but never does?
- Is he cheating, online or otherwise?
Also keep in mind that the object of your affection doesn’t have to outright lie or cheat in order to play you.
If he’s taking your feelings for granted, over and over again, that counts!
And you don’t have to take it!
So, the first step in how to get over a guy who played you is to recognize what’s happening.
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it certainly sucks.
But it’s better to face the truth now than later.
2. Understand That It’s Not About You
All right, you accept that it’s time. Now what? You need to change your mindset and understand that it’s really not about you.
Easier said than done, sure.
“It’s not about you” sounds like the kind of advice a mother gives a sad middle schooler when they don’t make the team at competitive tryouts.
Grain of salt and all that, but that doesn’t make it bad advice. The truth is, if you’re wondering how to get over a guy who played you, then this advice is for you.
Because when someone has trouble committing, it genuinely is not about you.
You’re not an uncommittable hag; they are the problem. Commitment issues go far beyond romantic relationships, in fact.
People who have a hard time committing to:
- Where they live
- College majors or other education decisions
- Their job
- Family and friend events
- Even personal values
The first step in how to get over a guy who played you, therefore, is to take deep breaths and remind yourself: “It’s not about me.”
You are likely but one symptom in the offending party’s inability to choose a life path.
As is carved on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, to live a truly full existence, one must “know thyself.”
If you’re reading this, you’ve got a much better shot at that than your flame does.
Choose compassion and remember that you are not the problem.
3. Develop a Mantra for Times of Need
Again, you’ll have an easier time understanding the above concept cognitively than putting it into practice.
After all, you can’t control what your heart is feeling.
So, to get over a guy who played you effectively, you may need to create a mantra reminding yourself.
Mantras are powerful. Anything you repeat over and over does start to sink in, no matter how woo woo that might sound.
“I am not to blame” or “I am worthy or love and affection, even if he doesn’t see it” are important messages.
Create a powerful mantra that will help you through the rough patches, and say it whenever you need to.
4. Understand the Addictive Quality of Relationships
Nothing can make a person bristle faster than being told they’re addicted. To anything. Be it alcohol, food, exercise or a person, we don’t want to hear that we have an unhealthy relationship with anything.
Well, sorry. The truth hurts. When we spend a lot of time with someone (or even a lot of time thinking about someone), we start to habituate to them.
Eventually, if we experience enough hormone spikes over time (from sex, cuddles, laughter and other bonding activities), our brains do react as though we are addicted.
If you’re not convinced, then remember: a habit morphs into an addiction when you keep doing it even though it’s hurting you.
The destructive element is key. If you go back to someone again and again, despite the pain and humiliation, can you really say you don’t have a problem?
Addiction is a nasty beast in other ways. Sometimes it will appear to have been lifted completely, only to return with a vengeance later.
This is to be expected. You have done nothing wrong. Ride those waves with strength, do not give in to the urges, and you’ll eventually get over him.
5. And Understand Intermittent Rewards
Another step in how to get over a guy who played you is to understand the psychology of intermittent rewards.
Unpredictable payback is counterintuitively a lot more exciting to our brains than reliable rewards, which is why we love email and social media so much.
Who knows what we’ll find when we check? Maybe nothing, maybe a free cruise or a thousand new followers!! *grins like a maniac and opens Instagram*
The problem with the reinforcing power of unpredictable or intermittent rewards is that they’re the perfect breeding ground for addiction.
If he makes you feel over the moon sometimes and lower than a snake’s belt buckle in a wagon rut other times, then that is more likely to make you want to come back than good treatment.
The antidote? Just recognize that sometimes, your brain’s ancient wiring can really work against you.
Ah, well. Moving on.
6. Don’t Play the Victim
Okay, real talk. If you really want to get over a guy who played you, you can’t play the victim.
For several reasons:
- No one likes it, so you’ll lose your support group faster
- Playing the victim removes your sense of agency and makes it harder for you to take the rest of these steps seriously
- Your brain will start to believe you are a victim
The last point is the most important. If you think you’re a victim, you will get lost in a vicious cycle of belief that this will happen again, so why bother trying to prevent it? Why improve, if you’re an unlovable sucker anyway? What’s the point of it all?
Soon, you’re climbing into the bathtub with a handle of cheap wine and no intention of emerging this century.
Granted, sometimes that’s a great breakup strategy. But let’s keep it to once a month, shall we? The rest of the time, don’t play the victim.
7. Distance, Distance, Distance
This is closely related to the oft-repeated phrase “location, location, location.”
Except instead of wanting to find the right location, you already know the wrong one … and you want to stay far, far away. Distance is a critical step in how to get over a guy who played you.
First, make a list of all places you expect him to be. That might include:
- Spots he studies on campus
- His work and home
- His gym or hobby haunts
- Favorite restaurants or coffee shops
- His friends’ houses
If you’re serious about getting over him, you should consider staying away even from your mutual friends’ houses, if you have any.
Yes, you’ve got a right to be there. But are your “rights” more important to you than moving on?
Once you’ve got your list, give it to a friend or family member you trust.
Explain that you want them to check in with you about whether you’ve successfully stayed away. It will be hard at first – #addiction – but you can do it with support.
Over time, the check-ins will become less frequent until finally you don’t need them at all.
8. Say Goodbye to Him on Social Media … Permanently
Social media obviously had to make an appearance in any article about how to get over a guy who played you.
If you don’t try to stay away from the digital places you expect to find him, then there’s little point in avoiding the physical. In our connected world, you must be militant. Constant vigilance!
Without further ado:
- Unfriend/unfollow/mute all his accounts so that his content doesn’t appear in any of your feeds (here’s a comprehensive guide to all platforms, so you have no excuse!)
- If he is truly toxic or dangerous, cheated or otherwise REALLY broke the rules, block him
- If he just isn’t committing, but you don’t want to make “a thing” out of it because of mutual friends or the workplace, you can skip the above step
- Unfriend/unfollow/mute any friends of his that you won’t see hereafter, again using your gut to figure out whether blocking is necessary
Whew! Online freedom. Now the best way to ensure that you’ll stick to this approach is by making it too embarrassing to go back. Send him messages on all platforms saying something like:
Now that we’re moving on, just a friendly FYI that I would prefer you didn’t contact me here or anywhere else. Thanks for understanding that this is what I need right now. Wish you well,
That way, when you’re tempted to “relapse” (and you will be), you have guardrails.
How likely are you to send a message when you open up chat and see your “see ya, sucka!” message from last time?
Far less so, we’d wager.
It might seem a tad pathetic to announce your departure like a Karen, but trust us, it’s better than leaving the gates open for future weakness.
8. Don’t Put Up Unnecessary Walls
Humans are pack animals. We need each other; you will need social support to get over this breakup. One of the most important steps in how to get over a guy who played you is to stay open to the help you need.
Problem is, it’s not uncommon to respond to pain by putting up walls. It’s our heart’s way of saying Never again. We won’t let that happen anymore!
The downside of putting up indiscriminate walls is that they’re, well, indiscriminate. They block everyone.
Studies show that having a robust social network – in the real world, not just online – is one of the most important facets of psychological wellbeing.
Don’t risk further breakdowns by shutting out the people who truly have your interests at heart.
9. Engage in Activities that Make You Feel Secure and Lovable
Still not quite sure how to get over a guy who played you?
That’s because to date, the steps have been about what not to do.
What traps not to fall into; what unhealthy activities to avoid. Now it’s time to proactively go after what makes you feel good and healthy.
We’re not saying you don’t deserve to wallow. It’s a key step to healing, and if watching The Notebook eighty times in a row makes you feel cozy and like love exists, then watch The Notebook eighty times in a row.
This also goes for self-care and esteem-building activities such as:
- Getting exercise that soothes your spirit as well as works your body
- Spending time with friends and family out of the house
- Cooking good, nourishing food as well as fun treats … or if you’re not a cook, shopping for both
- Finding novel activities once in a while: knitting? climbing? wood etching?
Bottom line: you do you.
10. Process How You Feel
We can’t control our thoughts, so we need to accept them for our mental health. One of the best ways to get over a guy who played you is to journal. This will help you move forward productively and avoid the pitfalls of last time.
Remind yourself that you are worthy of love. You will fall in love again, fast or slow, with the next person you meet or three people down the line. It doesn’t matter. It will happen for you, so just keep that in mind, and repeat your mantra when necessary.
11. Get Rid of His Stuff
Holding on to a few items just in case? Well, don’t. Your desire to cling to the toothbrush or tee shirt he left behind is totally natural, but also totally unhelpful.
Even if he were coming back for it, you don’t want that. If you’re still at the beginning of the breakup (even if you weren’t officially together), you can put all of his things in one box and:
- Drop it off at his house, no explanation necessary
- Give it to a mutual friend to deliver for you
- Leave outside your house and message him a time to come get it by, otherwise you’ll toss it
If you’re sincerely trying to learn how to get over a guy who played you, then you need to learn to close doors. It’s hard, and the left-behind possessions are a big door to close. It’s worth it, though, to keep from caving.
12. Play That Tape Forward … Each and Every Time
Sure, it sounds good to see him right now, when you’re sad and lonely and he’s just the hit you need. But will it feel good when the betrayal happens again? How much did you enjoy being played, after all? Because once a playah, always a playah.
Most men are reliable and loving, unafraid of commitment (or at least not pathologically opposed), and kind. Don’t lose faith in your ability to provide what men want in a relationship just because someone has hurt you.
Instead, play the tape forward. What will happen if you see him? How will you feel when the cycle repeats? Then, choose a healthier activity to replace it: do a sweep for his stuff, see friends, journal, knit a hat for your cat.
13. See Other People!
Yes, see other people. No, don’t expect it to feel as exciting at first as the guy who played you. Your attachment to the guy is still in full swing, and chocolate cake just doesn’t substitute for much at first.
But you know what? It does over time. Chocolate cake is amazing! We all love it! Someday you will again too. Go ahead and:
- Let your friends set you up
- Go to parties, climbing clubs, camping trips or wherever else you meet people
- Try a dating app or two
14. Be Prepared for Him to Come Back
The sad truth is, you’re not the only one who’s addicted. Many toxic relationships have to have more than one breakup.
If you were the one to recognize the relationship was going nowhere and left him, he’s even more likely to come a-knocking.
Just remember that even if a guy doesn’t treat you particularly badly, he might still be bad for you. Maybe he’s married and isn’t leaving his wife. Maybe he dated your good friend and never told you. Maybe he leaves town for weeks without telling you. Whatever the case, be prepared for the fact that he might not be ready to let go. Here are some of the phrases you might hear:
- “I’m so sorry I didn’t treat you right. Can I try again?”
- “I love you, and doesn’t love conquer all?”
- “Come one, one night can’t hurt.”
- “Do you really expect to find anyone as good as me again?”
- “But we’re made for each other!”
Yeah, no. Again, if you’re reading this article, it’s because you got played. Remember that, whip out your notebook – or hey, even The Notebook – and prepare to stand firm.
15. Understand Your Own Needs
The final step in how to get over a guy who played you is to understand your own needs.
When you know what you will and won’t allow next time, you’re likelier to feel safe and confident.
Because there are so many conceivable ways to get played, building case studies for each is beyond the scope of this article.
Instead, you need to come up with the boundaries that make you feel secure. That means asking questions such as:
- What were the red flags this time?
- How could I have gotten out of this relationship sooner?
- What do I expect out of a partner next time?
- How will I communicate that to my partner?
Part of this is exploring what you’re genuinely comfortable with. Some people, for example, accept one-sided open relationships, which to most of us are a non-starter. To others, they know their boundaries and they’re okay.
If you really want to understand how to get over a guy who played you, you need to construct rules for yourself as well. They don’t have to be traditional. Others don’t have to agree.
But they must fit you. Most importantly, those boundaries need to be able to prevent a recurrence of what happened this time.
Move Forward Confidently
With these steps in hand, you’ve got everything you need to move on. Even though you have all the information on how to get over a guy who played you, though, this will take time.
No matter how hard you work, sometimes the heart needs a minute.
The point is not to rush through the healing, but to do everything right while you’re healing so it will stick.
This is so much more effective than burying the trauma or letting it happen again.
In short: you got this. Remember that you deserve better and move forward through this season with the confidence that it will not last forever.
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