The average person is literally asleep for 33% of their life.
Being heartbroken and obsessed over unrequited life is even more time-consuming.
When I add up how much of my life has been spent depressed over someone I can’t have, the percentage is probably just as high or higher.
Here’s how to break the cycle.
How to stop obsessing over someone you can’t have: 15 important tips
1) Be harshly realistic
First off, be harshly realistic.
As the saying goes, the ugly truth is better than a beautiful fantasy.
If you can’t have someone, you need to face that. You just need to.
If it makes you feel any better, this is literally one of the hardest things anyone in the world can go through.
Doing so will make you tough as steel.
Where it gets tricky is the idea of being unable to have someone, so let me look at the specific cases:
- That person is dating someone else
- That person has told you they don’t want to be with you
- That person is otherwise away from you or unable to be in a relationship or any type of connection with you.
Let’s focus on the first two reasons. The third reason is more in the case that there has been a severe illness or tragedy that you have no choice but to live with.
The first two cases tempt you to believe there is still a chance and can cause untold suffering.
But you have to be extremely realistic.
2) Letting go
Given the two situations above, let’s break them down. I’ve personally dealt with both, and they did not feel good, not even one bit.
My ability to stop obsessing used to be nonexistent. Now it’s on the radar and I have at least some more self-control.
In situation one, even if you feel there’s a connection, you need to face facts: the person you want isn’t available.
Do you want to be responsible for breaking up a relationship? Maybe the answer is yes.
But you still have to contend with the fact that this girl or guy may hate you or be unwilling to be with you after having gone through the end of their relationship due to getting close with you.
In the second case, you are chasing someone who has already rejected you. This is both humiliating and useless.
Even if you do “get them back,” they are never going to truly love someone who lowered themselves to this level to pursue them.
3) Look inside yourself
Another extremely important consideration here:
Why are you so obsessed with someone you can’t have?
I know in my case it’s because
Have you ever asked yourself why love is so hard?
Why can’t it be how you imagined growing up? Or at least make some sense…
When you’re faced with unrequited love or somebody you want who’s unavailable, it’s easy to become frustrated and even feel helpless. You may even be tempted to give up on love or just start hooking up randomly to kill the pain.
I want to suggest doing something different.
It’s something I learned from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê. He taught me that many of us are looking for love in the wrong place.
In fact, many of us self-sabotage and trick ourselves for years, getting in the way of meeting a partner who can truly fulfill us.
As Rudá explains in this mind blowing free video, there’s a whole new perspective on how to find love that won’t leave us lying to ourselves.
While watching, I felt like someone understood my struggles to deal with unrequited love for the first time – and finally offered an actual, practical solution.
If you’re done with unsatisfying dating, empty hookups, frustrating relationships and having your hopes dashed over and over, then this is a message you need to hear.
I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
4) Accept that you don’t own them
Various religions teach that marriage is a form of spiritual ownership or spiritually sealed partnership.
But at the very basic level you don’t own anyone, and if you do try to restrict someone’s physical freedom or basic rights it’s illegal.
With that in mind, this person you can’t have needs to be put in the past.
I’m not saying to force yourself to forget all the fond memories you have with them or the magic you felt when seeing them smile.
That’s probably going to stick around. Love does that.
But allow yourself to start focusing on other things in life.
This individual you loved isn’t going to be with you. It’s sad and horrible, but all too often it’s life.
Here’s a song about a man who falls in love at first sight with the most beautiful and enchanting woman he’s ever seen.
He dreams of a future with her, but knows he can never be with her in reality.
You may have heard of this masterpiece song.
5) Avoid situations that remind you of them
Next up on the practical recommendations for how to stop obsessing over someone you can’t have is to avoid places and situations that remind you of them.
That old cafe you always talked at? No longer in your daily loop.
The movie you both used to watch so many times you can quote every line? No longer on your playlist.
Just don’t do it to yourself.
It feels like a magnet is drawing you back to places and situations that remind you of your ex, but it’s still ultimately your choice.
Utilize the last shreds of your willpower to stop obsessing.
In the first few weeks this is likely close to impossible, but if months have gone by you need to put this person behind you and accept that thinking of them all the time isn’t going to bring anything good.
It may even blind you to the chance of new relationships and connections.
6) Leave behind the idea of being ‘just friends’
The idea of remaining just friends can be appealing when you aren’t able to be romantically connected to the person you want.
This is fine if you want to be friends without anything more.
However, if you have feelings for someone and you use staying friends as a way to hope maybe things can work out, you’re only fooling yourself.
It won’t work.
And the last thing you’d want is for it to sort of work but the other person to only date you out of pity or mild, non-sexual affection for you.
That sounds like a horror novel.
So: if you can’t have someone you can’t have them. That includes friendship unless you are comfortable with it only being friendship.
7) Stop texting and calling them
If you’ve been in touch with this person, slow down on that and eventually stop.
This will only remind you of them and make you even more heartbroken.
The brutal truth about unrequited love in the modern age is that we end up putting ourselves through a lot of suffering, and oftentimes it’s for the wrong people.
Stop texting and calling this person if you can’t have them.
It’s like staring at the brochure for a trip you’ve always wanted to take your whole life and knowing that you will 100% never get to take that trip.
Don’t put yourself through it.
8) Mute or block them on social media
As hard as it’s going to be, blocking or muting this person on social media is a must.
Even if you are still on neutral or friendly terms, muting can be a good alternative to removing or blocking someone.
They will still be there on your list of friends or followers, but you’ll no longer see any updates about them on your feed or random temptations throughout the day.
As for messaging on social media, that falls under the prior category about texting and calling.
Just avoid it.
And avoid scanning through their photos and manually seeking out their new updates as well.
If you have a romantic history, it hurts even more to see them move on with their life and potentially dating someone new.
If you never were even together but desperately want to be, seeing more of what you can never have is just counterproductive and hurtful to yourself.
9) Get expert assistance
The idea of calling an expert may not appeal to you, but you’ll be surprised how effective this can be.
And you can do it all from the comfort of your home and your own computer or cellphone.
While this article explores the best advice for how to get over somebody you can’t have, it can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach about your situation.
With a professional relationship coach, you can get advice specific to your life and your experiences…
Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations, like being stuck on the ideal of being with somebody that’s not going to happen.
How do I know?
I reached out to them about exactly this situation after a breakup that left me devastated and unsure about what to do next.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
10) Become more active on other projects and goals
One of the best ways I know for how to stop obsessing over someone you can’t have is to become more active on other projects and goals.
Like anything in life, what we focus on keeps gaining in importance and takes more and more of our energy.
Much of what happens to us is simply out of our control. But what we do about it is in our control.
And the best thing you can do to stop being in love with someone you can’t have is to focus on other objectives.
You may not be able to stop the thoughts and strong emotions as you lay down to try to sleep…
Or get them completely out of your head…At least not right away.
But don’t beat yourself up about that. It will happen naturally as you begin reorienting your life and consciously using your willpower to direct your attention to other things.
This could be your job, new hobbies, friendships, reconnecting with family, helping others in the community or going on a trip to explore somewhere new.
11) Smash the pedestal you put them on
Many times it’s hard to stop thinking so much of someone we can’t have because we’ve placed them on a pedestal.
Almost always, they don’t deserve or merit being on that pedestal.
But here’s the thing:
As the French writer Stendahl described in his writings about falling in love and limerence, infatuation and romantic love often involves a process of crystallization.
This is basically where we find someone so beautiful or captivating that we excuse or even glorify their dark side and faults.
We overlook what’s wrong with them or even tell ourselves it’s charming and unique.
This is why you’ll get couples ending up together who later realize they actually more or less hate each other once the first spell of emotional and sexual love wears away…
Be careful of the pedestal. It will trick you.
Consider the possibility that you dodged a bullet with this guy or girl and that they weren’t nearly as good as you thought.
Consider a few of their faults you excused and flip around to see them in a more negative light. Could it be these faults were just a bit worse than you realized at the time?
12) Get a little help from your friends
Friends are those who are there for us in our good times and bad.
One of the best ways for how to stop obsessing over someone you can’t have is to spend time with your friends.
Go for a beer, go for a day at the spa.
Do what it takes to wash your mind away just a little from the troubles you’re going through.
I know it feels like this is all just going through the motions, but don’t forget that your good friends may be some of the most meaningful relationships you’ll have in your whole life.
As the band Hanson sang in their 1997 smash hit Mmmbop:
“Hold on the ones who really care
In the end they’ll be the only ones there
And when you get old and start losing your hair
Can you tell me who will still care?”
13) Do you have ROCD?
Some psychologists refer to an ongoing obsession with measuring the state of your relationship or worrying about the emotions involved as Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Dr. Steven Phillipson discusses this here from his perspective as a psychologist.
The fact of the matter is that even inside relationships we can sabotage them in many cases by checking the temperature too much and analyzing them to death.
As Dr. Phillipson says, “The idea of looking for love detracts from experiencing love.”
In a context in which you can’t have a person it’s exactly the same.
You become so fixated on them that you begin to experience pathological symptoms of obsession and intrusive thoughts.
You can’t let the idea go that you are responsible and should have done more or less while with them.
Or that if you were just slightly different they’d see your true value.
The analysis continues on and on, taking up all your time and energy.
14) Find your purpose
Earlier I talked about the necessity of finding other objectives and projects to focus on, and this is very true.
At the same time, it’s also essential to have a larger mission or purpose to your life.
This will redirect you away from focusing only on the sad love story that won’t come true.
What would you say if I asked you what your purpose is?
It’s a hard question!
And there are far too many people trying to tell you it will just “come to you” and to focus on “raising your vibrations” or finding some vague kind of inner peace.
Self-help gurus are out there preying on people’s insecurities to make money and selling them on techniques which really don’t work for achieving your dreams.
The truth is that visualization and positive vibes won’t bring you closer to your dreams, and they can actually drag you backwards into wasting your life on a fantasy.
You want solutions, but all you’re being told is to create a perfect utopia inside your own mind. It doesn’t work.
So let’s go back to basics:
Before you can experience a real change, you need to really know your purpose.
I learned about the power of finding your purpose from watching Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s video on the hidden trap of improving yourself.
Justin used to be addicted to the self-help industry and New Age gurus just like me. They sold him on ineffective visualization and positive thinking techniques.
Four years ago, he traveled to Brazil to meet the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê, for a different perspective.
Rudá taught him a life-changing new way to find your purpose and use it to transform your life.
After watching the video, I also discovered and understood my purpose in life and it’s no exaggeration to say it was a turning point in my life.
I can honestly say that this new way of finding success by finding your purpose actually helped me to stop obsessing over someone I couldn’t have and move on in a proactive way.
15) Don’t make this a central part of your storyline
Being heartbroken, stressed and frustrated about someone you can’t have is a painful experience for anyone to go through.
Anybody who tells you differently hasn’t been through it for real.
However, you have a choice whether to make this a central part of your storyline.
Clearly this kind of experience is going to leave a mark and may even make you hesitant to trust someone again or respond when you fall in love.
But in your inner monolog and what you present to others about yourself, try not to make this center stage.
Yes, it happened and maybe you’ll open up to close friends about the experience in more depth.
But at the end of the day I highly recommend trying not to weave your identity around this.
You are not “the guy who got screwed over by that one girl he really fell for but still keeps talking about her all the time…”
Nor are you “that girl who totally got into some guy and then he cheated on her and left her but she’s still obsessed with him…”
You may be a person who that happened to, obviously, but that does not define you.
This is one chapter in your life that will make you stronger. But don’t let it shape your identity, because if you do then getting that person back will also be a part of your identity.
16) Moving on
Moving on from someone you can’t have feels impossible.
It’s like jumping off a cliff.
But you won’t ever be able to get on with your life until you do.
And although it feels like you’ll never meet someone new, you will.
This person you can’t have is a brutal and harsh opportunity:
To either get stuck and cycling around the disappointment forever…
Or to let the disappointment and heartbreak build you into a stronger person…
You have to let the memory and the fantasies go. That person is not going to be in your life. Fair or unfair, this brutal truth won’t change.
The upside of this is that the act of managing to move on despite loving someone you can’t have is going to make you a much stronger person.