10-step guide for getting over the ex so you can move on

Q My best friend is going through a break-up and we are all glad for her - he wasn't the right guy for her - but she is devastated and I, and her other good friends, are worried she might go back to him. What advice can I give her to get over her ex?

A Getting over a break up is an agonising process. It's enough sometimes to make people even swear off love. (That's usually temporary). And if a person hasn't cried buckets wailing they'll never love again, they might do worse: go back to the ex, for sex, to beg to give the relationship another chance, to fight, to find out why and all of it, every reason and then some, is a bad one to go back to your ex. Never do it. Time is your friend. Your ex is not. Yes, yes some people will be friends with their exes and if they share children that's a goal to strive for, however for all other newly singles, the real reason to try to "stay friends" is simple a reluctance to let go.

But you've got to let go to move on.

So how do you get over an ex when it's such tricky terrain, fraught with missteps, emotional triggers and land mines?

1 Disconnect your ex from all social accounts. Yes, every single one. "I unfriended them from Facebook but a little Instagram won't hurt". Yes it will. Every account. Every last one: delete them!

2 Remove their number from your phone. Yup - why do you need it? If you share kids, skip this step.

3 Stop going to any venue you went to together. Create new memories in new places.

4 If you shared mutual friends, stop seeing them for a while or definitely see them when your ex isn't going to be there. Eventually you can change this, but not for the first 3-6 months until you've gained enough time on your own that you feel healed.

5 Go out with your friends and family or whoever your support network is, or have them over. Don't wallow alone.

6 Give yourself a time limit to feel nothing but sad and then force yourself to get back out to land of the living. Not date, but have fun.

7 Take stock. What have you learned? Don't go bounding into the next relationship with baggage.

8 Do something new to yourself. Sometimes therapy comes in making ourselves feel a bit refreshed, with the traditional - or cliché but effective - new haircut, or a new exercise regimen or a new outfit or even a new hobby. Get back to discovering who you are as a person.

9 If you ever find yourself asking how your ex is, stop and change that to "how are you" - and say that instead to either yourself if you're wondering in your own head what your ex is up to, or ask it of the person you were about to inquire about your ex to.

10 Thank your ex. Not directly. To yourself or in a letter or journal or in a talk with friends. What can you be thankful for having experienced or learned?

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