My ex is dating someone new and it hurts

Scenario A: You broke up with your ex two months ago and are in the middle of getting your life back together when one of your mutual friends mentions that they’re dating someone new.

Scenario B: You just went through a breakup a week ago and are on season three of Friends (and your nth tub of ice cream) when you scroll through your Instagram feed, only to see that your ex just posted a photo of a date with another person.

It may just be a slight twinge in your chest or it could feel like the world is ending. Either way, they’re dating someone new and it hurts.

In this article, we’ll give you all you need to get through it. Starting off, here are some things to remember.

3 important things to remember when your ex is dating someone new

1) There’s a reason why it ended

Now that your ex is with someone new, it can leave you thinking about whether you should try getting them back.

You might start plotting different ways to catch their attention again like posting selfies in a revenge outfit or going out with someone new too to make them jealous.

Before pulling out all the stops to get your ex back, the question to ask here is: do you want them back?

It’s perfectly normal to feel hurt after a breakup (even if you were the dumper and not the dumpee). It’s also normal to feel hurt after finding out that they’re with someone new, whether you’ve moved on or you’re still going through one (or all) of the five stages of grief.

It doesn’t always follow that you need to get them back if you do feel hurt.

So when you’re starting to feel like you want to send them a text message at 3 in the morning, ask yourself why you broke up in the first place.

Relationships end for a reason.

To keep you from contacting your ex, focus on why it ended and — most importantly — see the relationship as what it really was.

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It can be tempting to look back on your relationship with your rose-colored glasses back on again.

“Maybe it wasn’t so bad. Maybe I was too hard on him. Maybe we gave up too easily.”

If that’s what’s on your mind — maybe’s — then you’re chasing a relationship that you might have had.

Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D. advises letting go of the fantasy. She says that after breaking up, we tend to forget who the other person actually was and instead dream about what they could have been.

The truth is that this idealized relationship does not exist; what did exist was the relationship with all of the reasons to end it.

An effective way to get rid of this illusion is to stop seeing only the good things about your relationship. Though it may seem harsh, you could even focus on the negatives. Grounding yourself in all the reasons why the relationship had to end can help shatter those rose-colored glasses.

Were they always abrasive when you tried communicating with them? Did they never take any responsibility around the house (or worse, add to the mess)?

It’s also a good idea to look closer at the relationship and see if there were any signs of disrespect that you may have been ignoring. Were they inconsiderate of your boundaries? Did they lie often or use your insecurities against you?

These are all things that we can sweep under the rug during the relationship for the sake of keeping it alive.

Now that you’re trying to remember why the relationship ended, lift the rug and unearth all of the very real flaws you had previously ignored.

2) Their new relationship has nothing to do with you

Your ex didn’t “upgrade” with their new partner. You need to remember that their relationship has nothing to do with you.

Their new relationship is a “them” thing. If your ex is currently with someone new, chances are they’re thinking about being with them — not about hurting you. The new relationship is completely separate from you and what you two had, and that’s okay.

Your ex may also be unhappy in a new relationship

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You can easily overthink yourself into a dark hole about being an “older” model of the new partner, but it’s important to accept that newer doesn’t automatically mean better. What they have is something that stands on its own, not something that’s being done on purpose to hurt you.

Both of you have a chance to move on from your relationship now, and it’s an opportunity you should be grabbing as well.

Another important thing to remember is that even if you’ve made mistakes in the relationship too, they didn’t necessarily break up with you and find someone new because of your mistakes.

You need to forgive yourself for the mistakes that you made while you were together. This is an experience that both of you learned from, even if the relationship didn’t last forever.

If you keep hanging onto what you did wrong in the relationship, you’re always going to think something’s wrong with you just because your ex found someone new.

Once you forgive yourself for the mistakes that you made, you can focus on moving forward.

3) They didn’t “win”

Your ex didn’t win with finding a new partner because breaking up isn’t supposed to be a competition.

The notion that someone has to come out as the more successful person after the breakup does more harm than good.

It triggers a sense of negative competition between you two where you’re both trying to outdo each other when what’s really supposed to be happening during a breakup is acceptance and moving forward.

Just because they found someone else doesn’t mean they’re automatically better off than you are.

Feeling like you lost at something will only make it harder for you to move on from the breakup. Ground yourself in these thoughts to keep from spiraling into a place where you lose the true sense of what’s happening.

Now that you have a firm handle on the things to remember throughout this process, here are some tips on how to cope with your ex dating someone new.

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Tips to cope with your ex dating someone new

1) Let yourself feel what you’re feeling

Accept what you’re feeling

Suzanne Lachmann, Psy.D., says that:

“Your reactions, regardless of when you have them, are part of the process”.

Before anything else, it’s important to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. It doesn’t matter if you’ve moved on already or if you’re still in the grieving process. It also doesn’t matter if you were the dumper or if you were the dumpee.

If you’re feeling hurt or distressed right now, it’s okay to feel that way because this is a natural part of breakups and your emotions are not something you can ignore.

Let yourself feel what you’re feeling and accept your grief.

Don’t try to repress it

By not acknowledging our emotions, we only make them stronger.

Forcing yourself to stop thinking about something is counterproductive. Instead of fighting your feelings, allow yourself to feel them.

Identify what they are and process it either by yourself (in ways such as journaling) or with your friends who can help you through the process.

2) Leave the past in the past

Stop looking them up

No matter how tempting it is to check their Twitter to see what they’ve been up to, don’t check your ex’s socials.

There’s no reason to and lurking will only hurt you even more if you find something about the new relationship that you aren’t ready for.

Don’t compare yourself to their new partner

The social comparison theory states that when we compare ourselves to another, it’s a way of evaluating ourselves against that person. While it can be healthy in some ways (like using others’ progress as inspiration or motivation), it can be more harmful overall.

In this case, avoid comparing yourself to their new partner; no good will come out of it.

Don’t check if they’re more successful than you, if they’re younger than you, or if they work out more like your partner had asked you to do in the past.

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Doing this makes you evaluate yourself against the criteria that that person sets. At this point, there’s no need to.

It will only leave you feeling inadequate because it’ll feel like this is the person your ex “chose” over you when in reality, they’re just the person your ex chose for themselves.

To put it again: their new relationship (and their choice of partner) has nothing to do with you.

Don’t try to be friends with them right now

If they’re still in your life at this point, avoid contact for a while — at least until you’re ready.

Of course, exes can be friends but give yourself the time and space to move on without their presence.

If you’re hurting, hiding it would be like repressing it. Unless you’re extremely close friends and it’s totally unavoidable to keep in contact, take the time to move on. You can revisit the friendship in the future when you’re ready and if you both still want it.

If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind; they’ll take up less of your headspace if you see them less often, and the surefire way to avoid seeing them is to put a stop (or a pause) to your friendship for now.

3) Focus on you

Channel your energy into something productive

A good way to go when moving on is to distract yourself with something more worthwhile than sulking.

Find a way to express yourself and release your energy into something productive, like getting a new hobby or working on an old one.

The less idle time you have, the better — if there’s less time to think about your ex, that’s time saved, spending it on something that you enjoy or adds better value to your life.

Come up with a “letting go” or closure ritual

Find your own concrete way to let go.

Finding a physical way to let go of the relationship can help with finding a mental and emotional way, too.

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It could be anything from packing up all of the gifts they gave you and throwing them away to more introspective approaches like journaling or writing a letter to them that you’ll never send (bring out your inner Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before).

Just try to avoid the good old burning route; you want to let go of these things in a healthy way, not an angry and vindictive one.

Focus on the positive things in life

Now that you know things are truly over with you and your ex (since they’ve got someone new), you’re free to focus on other things.

Right now, it might all seem bad. Your ex is enjoying their relationship with someone else and you’re left single and hurting.

There’s so much in your life that you can be happy about. Think about it.

Even though they’re gone, what are you lucky to have? What are you looking forward to in your future? Identify what will bring you joy and follow that path.

Be patient and take your time to recover

Be patient with yourself.

There will be days when you might be stuck in denial, still caring about the situation because you feel like you should have moved on by now, but progress isn’t linear. There isn’t a proper order in going through the steps of moving on.

It’ll suck at first, but like most things, it gets better over time.

Work on self-love and finding your own worth

A study in 2011 found that among participants who broke up with their significant others in the past year, those who attached their self-worth to their partners were more likely to experience higher levels of distress after the breakup.

If you allow for your worth to be measured by being in a relationship with someone, losing them can be more painful than normal; not only did you lose your ex, but you also lost yourself.

Now’s the perfect time to focus on finding your own self-esteem, outside of any person and only within yourself.

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It isn’t the end of the world. Start rebuilding yours.

What if you want to date someone new?

Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D., lists seven questions to ask yourself before dating again after a breakup:

  • Do I feel that I’m ready to date again?

Is this a decision that you’re making on your own, free from peer pressure?

  • How does my body physically feel when I think of saying “yes” to a date with a particular new person?

If it’s butterflies that you’re feeling in your stomach and not fear or repulsion, it’s a good sign that you’re ready to go on that date.

  • Can I spend time with a date and not feel the need to compare this person with my ex?

This is especially relevant to exes who are now dating someone new. If you can’t go out with another person without sizing up their qualities against your ex’s, maybe you’re not ready to re-enter the dating scene.

  • Am I able to objectively look at my past relationship and take responsibility for the part I played in its demise

When breaking up with someone, it’s important to have learned something from the relationship. It’s equally important to look back and learn what you could have done better so that you can improve yourself both for your own sake and your next relationships.

  • Am I going out with this person because I actually like them and enjoy spending time with them or am I going out to make my ex jealous?

When your ex is dating someone new, it can be tempting to rebound with another person just to make your ex feel jealous.

Not only is this an unhealthy way of coping with your breakup, but it’s also not fair to the other person. If you decide that you do like this person once you’ve fully moved on from your ex, you’re ready to take it further.

  • Am I going out with someone just to fill the void that the breakup created?

You don’t need to fill the space that your ex left in your life. What you need is to feel whole yourself and eventually, when you’re ready, go out and meet new people.

  • Am I going out because I need validation from someone that I am still attractive or likable or sexy or desired?

If you’re feeling cast aside because your ex is dating someone new and you just want to feel attractive again, that’s a valid feeling but not something that you should act on.

Again, it’s not fair to the person you go out with, and it won’t help you accept yourself in the long run. If this is your concern, work on finding your self-worth on your own first.

Remember: you deserve to be with someone who wants the same things you do.

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Bob Taibbi, L.C.S.W says that you need to be able to communicate with them, have the same values, manage conflict together, feel safe with each other, support each other’s dreams, and so much more for you to be compatible with each other.

You need to try building a relationship with someone you don’t have a disconnect on ideas with, but also, you have to be ready to learn about that in the first place.

There’s no need to rush back too quickly into the dating scene. It’ll still be there when you’re ready.

What if they break up and you want to get back together?

If your ex breaks up with the person they’re dating and you’re thinking of getting back together with them, remember that it’s natural to want to fall back on somebody who made you feel like “you”.

Mariana Bockarova, Ph.D., says that before doing anything to get back together, answer these four questions.

  • Why did you break up?

Part of letting go of the fantasy of your could-have-been relationship is facing and accepting the reasons why it ended.

Are the causes of your breakup in the first place still there? If they are, maybe it’s not a good idea. You broke up for a reason; if that reason is unchanged, nothing new will happen and you’ll simply break up again.

  • Are you going back for the right reasons?

Do you want to go back because you truly believe that doing so will allow both of you to mutually grow in a healthy relationship, or do you just want the emotional or material comfort of a romantic partner back?

If you both want to go back because of love and a desire to be partners again, maybe you could consider getting back together.

  • Are you truly committed to making it work?

Something has to change if you’re planning to rekindle a previously ended relationship and that can take work because it’ll mean changing the way you operated before you broke up.

It’ll mean something new and possibly uncomfortable at first. Are you ready for that commitment?

  • Is your partner on the same page?

It can’t just be you answering these questions; is your ex as committed to this as you are, and wants this as much as you do? If the answer is no, nothing will change and things won’t work out.

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Despite the possibility of getting back together, research has suggested that partners who are in relationships that were previously broken off appear to be less satisfied with their relationships than those who hadn’t broken up at all.

Studies have also shown that adults might feel more uncertainty with their relationships and can then go back and forth between their relationships with their exes and being single.

Taking everything into consideration, what this means is that making a previously-ended relationship work takes careful thought and real commitment.

All in all…

It’s not the end of the world if your ex starts dating someone new.

It’s also completely alright for it to feel that way, just as long as you pick yourself up and move forward towards focusing on yourself and your own happiness.

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