Whenever a relationship ends, well-meaning friends and family can be relied on to repeat this litany of move-on musts until it’s etched into your brain: Cut off all communication with the ex, delete him from your social networks, take a break from dating, turn to your friends, cry all of the tears, get totally wasted, and OMG GIVE ME YOUR PHONE AND STOP DRUNK-TEXTING HIM. While these basic pieces of advice all work, each person who has ever been heartbroken has developed little hacks for moving on that might just work for the next heartbroken soul.
Here, we got 17 men and women to reveal the unique tricks and unlikely hacks that have helped them move past that dark tunnel of grief and through to the other side. If you’re in a dark place yourself, prepare to find comfort in their ways. And maybe get a cat.
Bombard yourself with reminders of why it will never work with your ex.
“When I feel alone after a breakup, I back-read all the conversations my ex and I had over text or Facebook Messenger. I would always begin reading from the time I courted her, and then I’d realize how cheesy I was all that time, and then I’d say to myself, ‘Fuck this shit, I wish I never did this.’ The disgust I feel with myself kinda helps me move on.” –Lou, 27
“My mom told me to think of all the negative things about my ex so that I’d be able to forget about him. So I kept screenshots of our conversations which showed how badly he treated me, and I’d read them to remind myself of it. This trick made me get over him faster than I’ve done with other exes.”–Maree, 23
“It helped that I wrote this on a piece of paper and placed it on my desk by my laptop: ‘He’s gay. You’re not the life he wants or needs. MOVE ON.’ This worked, because, as someone who had a weak gaydar back then, it reminded me of signs I missed and made me realize, ‘Why didn't I see that before?!’”–A, 31
Also: Bombard yourself with reminders of how pitiful you’re being, still hanging around for that same ex.
“Whenever I’m in an emo, self-pitying state and want nothing more than to just get back together with my ex, I allow myself to compose a message pouring my heart out to him. However, instead of texting him the message, I send it to my own number so I can see for myself how pathetic I sound. It’s a sobering exercise.” –C, 33
“When I went through a breakup, I’d pray out loud, asking God why this was happening to me. The mirror in my room helped a bit; I watched myself speak with tears running down my face every time as I assessed my situation. I longed for somebody to listen to me, yet I couldn’t talk to anyone because I knew that I wouldn’t like what I’d hear from them. Crying in front of the mirror was the next best thing to having someone who would share your pain, without them admonishing you for being so stupid with your heart.” –Anton, 35
Keep track of your little progresses—each day apart is a cause for celebration!
“I don’t know how true it is that it takes 21 days to form or break a habit, but I find that counting down the days from the time I promised myself to stop talking to an ex really helps. For every day that goes by that I keep my promise, I cross a day off my monthly planner until I reach 21 days crossed off. Just the sight of all the progress I’ve made represented by cross marks on a calendar really helps me move forward.” –Patrice, 33
Do the things you used to do with your ex—only without him this time, duh.
“Do the last thing you did together before you guys broke up. Alone. That way you know it’s going to be okay, and you can do it alone. After my breakup, I watched a movie alone for the first time, and I watched it in IMAX. It was worth it. I walked out of the cinema feeling like a winner.”–Baia, 26
“Get close to a friend of the opposite sex, whether he or she is single or in a relationship—just make sure the boyfriend or girlfriend is not the jealous type. That way you kind of simulate the dates you used to have, but in the context of a safe, platonic relationship. When I was heartbroken years ago, I had that kind of a female friend; she had a boyfriend who just didn’t have time for her, so fortunately he was okay with the setup. Spending time with her somehow assuaged the pain.” –Ian, 38
Immerse yourself in your interests—they might just save you in ways you never imagined.
“When I was going through a breakup, I was in the middle of a Paulo Coelho phase where I collected all of his books. I turned to his book Warrior of the Light to help me heal, as I would read one page a day and reflect on the passage’s message. Keeping a daily journal of my reflections helped with the healing process.” –Abby, 34
“DoTA 2 helped me redirect my focus. It allowed me to release my emotions, anger, and frustrations. Instead of thinking about the past, I got to exercise my motor, sensory, and analytical skills, too. It also allowed me to have more quality time with friends.” –John, 30
Two words: Get physical.
“I took my feelings to the mats. I trained and played jiu-jitsu whenever I could, just to release my frustrations and keep sane. It was a good way to keep my feelings and my whole self under control. I competed, too, to build my self-esteem as an individual. And my team was there, always encouraging me that there are better things in the world.” –Kat, 25
“I was trying to move on after a heartbreak but I continued to feel like something was missing. When my cousins invited me to go to Siargao for two weeks, I took the opportunity. I surfed non-stop for two weeks, and even after that trip, I continued to surf. Now, I am on my seventh year of surfing. Even though I’m not that good at it, surfing makes me happy. After that heartbreak, surfing brought me to a better path in life that makes me enjoy nature more deeply.” –Adam, 30
The sooner you start feeling like a hot little number, the better.
“I was in my second year of college when I experienced a heartbreak. I decided to wear heels not only to boost my self-esteem, but also to make my feet hurt on purpose so that my attention would be focused on my aching feet instead of my broken heart.” –Gem, 25
“I went to Europe, sat on a bench at a park beside some hot guy, hoping he’d talk to me. Luckily, I only had to wait less than a minute. Discovering a connection with strangers in random places reminded me that I’m not invisible—and that I was never this little piece of shit I was made to feel.” –Jones, 32
“Here’s what helped me move on: Have as much sex as possible. Filthy, no-holds-barred, kinky sex. Start feeling good about yourself again, regain your momentum, power yourself up with testosterone, pheromones, and endorphins, too. So fuck everyone—including those who get in your way!” –Stef, 28
Turn to your pets; they’ll never leave you the way these despicable humans do.
“Coming off from one of those non-relationships, a guy broke my heart. I got home, sat on the bed, and bawled my eyes out. My cat, Yurine, jumped on my bed and looked at me with concern. I gazed into her eyes and asked her to take my heart and keep it because it hurt so much. And she did. She understood with one look what I was going through and stayed by my side to comfort me, as she did through all the times that I was sick or tired or both. She has kept it for the better part of the last 10 years or so.” –Ene, 46
Finally, like Carrie Fisher said, "Take your broken heart, make it into art."
“I was a third party once, and despite the guy’s admission that he loved me more, he didn’t break up with his then-boyfriend. I was full of questions that needed answers, but I decided to move on by writing a script about our last night together, which eventually became a film. I’ve also had unrequited feelings for a friend for seven years, but I’ve been too afraid to tell him because I know he’d just reject me. I tried to move on by making a film about us and everything I wanted to tell him. Then when I was moving on from that unrequited love, I went backpacking around Asia and met this great guy—who turned out to have a boyfriend. I made a film about it again. Love and relationships may be fleeting, but a film is forever.” –Lucien, 28