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COSMO features Dr. Rebecca Gladding/YOU ARE NOT YOUR BRAIN

Posted by Levine Communications Office on June 27, 2011

How to Finally Stop Obsessing Over Your Ex


Breakups suck. And what’s even worse? The gray area you’re left in with the guy afterwards. We got expert tips on how to see through the fog…and get over him once and for all.


Pippa Middleton may practically be royalty (and be able to get any guy she wants), but we wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few weeks she finds herself reaching for the phone to dial up her now-ex, Alex Loudon. And we can’t really fault her—after all, it’s damn near impossible to just quit a guy cold turkey when you split. But according to Rebecca Gladding, MD, author of You Are Not Your Brain, if you handle that post-breakup period in the right way, you can actually get over the guy quicker, move on sooner, and cut back on the number of tear-streaked-face-first-in-a-pint-of-Ben-and-Jerrys moments.

And if you think that just because you did the breaking up or you know rationally that he’s not The One, you’re going to get off scot-free, think again. “Since your of-the-moment desires are processed in a different part of your brain than your rational mind, you’re likely to act without considering your long-term goals,” Gladding says. She goes on to explain that regardless of what prompted the end of the relationship, a split leaves women with a huge urge to fill the void left behind. And what’s the easiest way to fill that void? Here’s a hint: it starts with E and ends with X. But like we said, there are ways to avoid that trap and move on with your life. These tips will make it super easy to get back on the right track…and find someone 10 times better than your former boyfriend, what’s his name again?

1. Follow the 30-minute rule. Sure, in the moment you may think that the reason you’re asking if he’s free one Friday night is because you genuinely miss him and want to catch up, but chances are you’re either just a) lonely or b) bored, and are turning to him since he used to always occupy you on date night. “If you stop and dissect this ‘pull’, you can differentiate true desire from temporary, emotionally-charged desire,” Gladding says. So use the 30-minute rule: When the urge to call/text/drop by hits, do something to shift your focus, like going for a run or catching up on your favorite blog. It’s sounds too simple (and kinda unbelievable), but chances are after a half hour of focusing on something else, you’ll be less inclined to call him. “You’ll see that the urge was only fleeting,” says Gladding, “and that you can stay on track if you give yourself the right things to distract yourself with.”

2. Identify your triggers (ahem, Facebook). “Most women have very specific triggers—something that will set them off and make them start thinking about him,” Gladding explains. Take a few minutes to think back and identify the behaviors that cause you to feel like crap over the breakup and get all wallowy—stalking his Facebook wall, listening to a band you both love, going to that restaurant—and then take action. Maybe it means blocking his posts on FB for a while, or temporarily stashing other things that remind you of him in your closet. “When you’ve just broken up, you’re still pretty vulnerable to that emotional tug,” Gladding says. “Getting rid of all those reminders can help get you over the initial hump.”

3. Dial up your chattiest friend. One of the best distractions you can find? Good old-fashioned girl talk. The problem is that talking with a girlfriend often turns into you venting about the guy or rehashing the relationship. “Sure, it’s nice to feel like someone’s in your corner, but it’s just another way to fixate on him. And rarely in those conversations do you actually walk away feeling better about your newly single status,” Gladding says. “You just end up asking yourself how he’s doing, wondering if he has a new girlfriend and so on.” So call up or meet with that friend who could talk to a wall if she had to. You want someone who’s going to steer the conversation and keep it focused on topics like her bitchy coworker, the trip she wants to take, or why she’s most definitely on Team Ramona. It doesn’t matter what, just that you know who’s name does not get mentioned…more than once or twice.

4. Make a list. Brainstorm the top three reasons you’re better off without him than you are with him, whether it’s that he didn’t get along with your mom, he never would have been able to support you, or he didn’t have the same taste in movies. It’s tempting to view your relationship through rose-colored glasses, but it’s important to think realistically about why you’re better of without him. “Once you have a chance to see the bigger picture, you’ll be able to squash those impulses to cling to the guy that’s not right for you just because it’s comfortable…and prevent them from coming back,” Gladding says.



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