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18 Ways To Cope When Your Ex Moves On (And You Haven’t!)

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Going through a breakup is never easy, whether it’s you that chose to end things or them.

You might feel like you will never get over your ex, or that you will never be happy again.

This is totally normal, but you need to remember that things will get better.

If you’re worried about your ex moving on while you’re still stuck in the ‘grieving’ period, here are some ways to cope…

Speak to a certified relationship counselor about this issue. Why? Because they have the training and experience to help you deal with an ex who has already moved on. You may want to try speaking to someone via for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances.

18 Tips For When Your Ex Moves On Before You

1. Consider the fact that they might be faking it.

Consider why you think they’ve moved on.

Photos on Instagram, someone mentioning they saw your ex with a new person, them popping up on a friend’s Tinder?

Regardless of how things look in your ex’s life, you’ll never know how they truly feel about the breakup.

And that’s okay.

It can be really hard to lose someone in your life and suddenly not know how they feel or what they’re doing.

We get so used to knowing pretty much everything about the person we’re with that half the pain of breaking up is not having that knowledge!

It’s okay to feel angry or upset if they seem to have moved on before you have, but they will be dealing with their own thoughts and feelings, just like you are.

They might seem to have it all together and to have moved on, but remember that you don’t know what’s really going on with them!

Whether they’re faking it or not, try to forget about your ex and focus on yourself and moving on with your own life. 

2. Don’t let it invalidate what you had together.

One of the worst things about an ex moving on before you do is wondering if they ever really cared about you, right?

You see that they’re going out and having fun, or your friend mentions that they changed their Facebook relationship status, and you start to question if they ever loved you!

This is totally normal, but try to take a step back from this kind of thinking.

We all move on from relationships in our own ways and at our own pace. That doesn’t mean that the person we were with didn’t matter to us at the time.

Think about the last job you left – yes, you left and you’re happy in your new job, but you took that old job because you wanted it at the time, and you stayed because you enjoyed it.

The fact that you’re now in a new job doesn’t mean that the old job didn’t matter to you; you’ve just moved on because it wasn’t working anymore.

Try to see your relationship in this way.

Yes, they may have moved on, but what you had together was still special and it’s okay that it’s over now.

You both still have great memories together and it still meant something to you both. 

3. Remember why you broke up in the first place.

As much as you should try to look at your past relationship in a positive light, don’t forget the reasons why it ended the way it did.

Something wasn’t working the way it should have. There were issue that you perhaps tried to overcome but couldn’t.

If you are struggling to watch as your ex moves on, it can help to think about why you broke up. It can reaffirm that it was 100% the right decision and that them moving on is a good thing for them AND you. It puts a final line under things because there is little, if any, chance of you getting back together now.

Try to look at the reasons objectively without too much feeling otherwise you risk tarnishing the good memories you may have.

4. Remember that it’s not a race.

People move on from relationships at different speeds. It’s not a race, and them moving on before you doesn’t make you the ‘loser’ in any way, shape, or form.

It also doesn’t mean that they cared less about you than you did about them. It doesn’t really matter how they managed to move past the breakup, and you shouldn’t overanalyze the fact that they have.

You will move on in your own time and in your own way, and that’s all that matters. Being single for a little while is the right choice for many people.

5. Time heals all wounds.

This saying is a cliché for good reason.

Right now, you might feel like you’ll never find anyone else attractive, that you’ll never wake up and feel good again, or that you’ll never be happy again.

This is okay to feel, for a short period of time… but it will pass.

You don’t need to make a goal or have a plan in place – things will just get easier on their own, in their own time.

Give yourself a little while to cry and mourn the relationship. Let yourself feel what you need to feel without trying to fight it. And don’t be too harsh on yourself for still caring about them. It’s perfectly natural.

Jut don’t wallow in self-pity for too long.

Be patient and be kind to yourself and, before you know it, each day will get a little bit easier and you’ll feel more and more like yourself again.

Until, one day, you’ll feel ready to start dating again. Or you’ll realize that you’re happier on your own for now, and you just spend your time having fun and looking after number one! 

6. Stay busy and sociable.

So, if you want to speed things up a bit and get out of that horrible wallowing phase as soon as possible, stay busy!

It can feel almost impossible to do anything but cry and mope sometimes, like you’re paralyzed with heartbreak, but you need to try to do things.

We would tell you to stick to some kind of routine, but we know this isn’t realistic for most people in the early stages of a breakup!

Instead, do things that make you happy and do your best to keep yourself distracted.

Be sociable. It’s so easy to hide away from family and friends during a breakup – especially if your ex has moved on before you and you feel rejected and upset – but this is when you need people around you more than ever.

Spend time with loved ones, keep your mind off feeling upset, and you’ll naturally start to move on as well.

If you shared a lot of friends with your ex, set some boundaries – hang out with them, but make it clear you don’t want to hear about your ex from them!

It’s so tempting to ask how they’re doing or if they’ve gotten a new partner already, but you’ll just be torturing yourself and you’ll never get the exact answer you want.

Instead, continue to hang out with them, but make it an ex-free zone! 

7. Delete them from your life.

This might sound harsh, but it will help.

We all hate the thought of never ever seeing our partner again once we’ve broken up!

It’s horrible – you’ve spent all this time together and shared so much, and now it’s just… over?!

The way to move on from this is to get on with your own life, on your own.

It might feel scary and upsetting, but it’s for the best.

Delete your message history with them on your phone, unfollow them on social media, and stop yourself from going to the bar you know they’re always at!

If your ex has moved on before you, you need some time to yourself to move on too.

Stop checking in on them or stalking their Instagram and get used to your life without them.

It may take a while, but going cold turkey will really speed things up when you’re moving on from your ex. 

This will also prevent you from comparing yourself to their new partner because you’ll no longer be able to see the photos of them together.

8. Get rid of reminders.

We’ve all got something that reminds us of our ex – their hoodie, a card they gave us, or their toothbrush in our bathroom.

Whatever it is, it needs to go!

These items mean a lot, but they also remind us of our relationship and will only ever make you feel sad.

This tip really is that simple – out of sight, out of mind, after all.

9. Talk to someone about it.

When you keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself, it’s harder to let go of them. They circle around your mind and keep you locked in place, emotionally.

You need an outlet. You need to find someone who you can pour your heart out to because it will make you feel so much better. But it is better if this person is not a mutual friend or contact of yours because that will put them in a difficult position.

Just try not to trash talk your ex or their new partner. It’s okay to be upset, but it doesn’t reflect well on you as a person if you are overly critical or unkind about them.

If you don’t have someone you can turn to, why not speak to an experienced relationship counselor from Relationship Hero to work through your feelings and let them go for good.

10. If they hurt you, forgive them.

It’s not that easy, of course, but if your ex hurt you during your relationship – whether that led directly to the breakup or not – you should try to forgive them.

That hurt is a lasting emotional memory that makes it all the more difficult to see them with someone else. After all, you may ask yourself why they deserve to be happy after what they did to you.

That’s why forgiveness is a must if you are to stop caring what your ex is doing or what their relationship status is. Forgiveness is a process – and it’s one that you do for you, not for them. You can start by forgiving them rationally, before working on the emotional side of things too.

If you need some more guidance, read our article on how to forgive someone.

11. Remind yourself that you have not been replaced.

Your ex’s new partner is not a replacement for you. There is no one who can replace you or what you and your ex had.

It’s not healthy to think in terms of them being the ‘new you’ because it will drag you into all sorts of comparisons. This will never end well. It will damage your self-esteem because you will likely focus on what this new person has that you don’t, rather than on everything you have to offer.

Your ex’s new relationship is entirely distinct from the one you shared with them. Just as, when you finally find someone else to be with, your relationship won’t replace your previous relationship. It follows it in time, but not in any other respect.

12. Don’t ‘accidentally’ bump into them.

If you’re missing your ex and feel like they’ve moved on already, it can be so tempting to stage a little run-in.

You know which bar they’ll be at on a Friday night, you know which restaurant they go to on Sundays, and you know their schedule off by heart.

Resist the temptation to be where they’ll be.

This saves you a lot of dignity and will help you learn how to live without them. It might seem impossible at the moment, but you’ll get there!

By steering clear of any staged run-ins, you’ll be really helping your future-self out, trust us. 

13. Remember the science.

If you feel like this is impossible right now, remember that it will pass.

Your brain is having a chemical reaction at the moment, which is why you feel so upset and overwhelmed – and why you’re struggling to get over them.

Knowing this can be quite soothing, as you realize you just need to ride out that chemical imbalance for a little while.

Our minds get addicted to how good it feels to be happy, and when the source of that happiness goes, our brains experience a sudden drop in those happy feelings (namely, dopamine).

You just need to get through that short period of time where you’re readjusting.

Knowing that heartbreak will end soon is quite a comfort, really!

14. Work on yourself.

A breakup can seem like the end of your world, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to put the focus back on yourself for a while.

The rest of your life is still ahead of you, and you have the power to grow personally and emotionally; to be a better version of yourself. It’s a lot easier to dedicate the necessary time to this endeavor when you are single.

Consider all of the things you’d like to work on. Perhaps you want to be a more grateful person or overcome your particular anxieties or fears. Or maybe you want to find new hobbies that push you out of your comfort zone.

Whatever it is, if you focus on the work you need to do, you won’t have any time to worry about what your ex is doing or who they are seeing.

15. Do things that make you happy.

Your ex may be looking for happiness in the shape of a new relationship, but that doesn’t mean you have to.

Happiness comes from many different things, and you might find that a relationship isn’t one of those things for you right now.

Instead, focus your time and energy on the things that you know do make you happy like your friends, family, hobbies, personal growth, etc.

The more you can boost your own emotional well-being, the less bothered you’ll be by what your ex is doing or who they are seeing. It just won’t factor into your consideration because you’ll be too busy enjoying yourself.

16. Be realistic.

If you’re finding it hard to get over an ex and they’ve already moved on, maybe you need to be more honest with yourself.

It’s so easy to put on the rose-tinted spectacles and only remember the good bits of your relationship, but you might need to think about the bad stuff to move on too.

We’re not saying to suddenly invalidate your relationship and act like it was all horrible, but be honest with yourself.

You can still have happy memories of them, but remind yourself of the things that you’ve doubted along the way, or the fact that you’ve maybe thought about other people while you’ve been together. 

17. Try to be happy for your ex.

Ok, so you probably aren’t entirely happy for your ex right now, or you wouldn’t be reading this article.

But you can try to be. You can think about how you cared for them – how you still care for them – and how, ultimately, you want what’s best for them.

One way you can do this is to say it out loud. Tell your friends or family that you are happy for your ex. Tell yourself this in your mind and in front of a mirror. The more you say it, the more you will feel it, and the easier it will be to cope with the fact that they have moved on.

Bonus tip – meet someone else.

This is a bonus tip because it’s not necessarily something that will work for everyone!

Depending on your personality type, you might need to be with someone else in order to really get over an ex.

Some people will find that processing their feelings and taking the above steps to move on from a breakup will help a lot…

…but other people might find it really helpful to be with someone else in order to get over an ex.

Make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re doing and have thought about it first – don’t go for a drunken one-night stand as this may create more drama!

Be safe, think about what you’re doing, and go from there.

Still not sure how to cope with your ex moving on before you have? Don’t suffer alone when you don’t have to. Talking to a relationship counselor by yourself is an effective coping mechanism for the feelings you are having. So why not chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How on earth could they move on so quickly?

There are two possibilities here: the first is that they haven’t really moved on and are just on the rebound because they weren’t coping with being single. The second is that this new relationship of theirs isn’t new at all. It’s an unfortunate prospect to consider, but perhaps something had been going on behind your back for some time.

I thought they were the one – now what?

There’s no such a thing as ‘the one’ because, in reality, you are likely to be compatible with any number of people. This is the mindset you must adopt if you are to get over the fact that your ex has moved on.

Yes, you can be disappointed that the relationship is over (probably for good now), but try not to get hung up on the idea that you have missed out on your one and only opportunity for happiness. You will meet someone else and you will be in a relationship again – it’s just a matter of time and being open to the possibility.

How do I stop imagining them being intimate with their new partner?

It’s quite common to think about an ex being physically intimate with their new partner, so you aren’t alone in this. And the solution is somewhat paradoxical. You must not turn away from these thoughts because the more you try, the more you’ll be tempted by them.

Instead, try to maintain that mental picture for a prolonged period of time. Imagine them kissing or having sex with their new partner, but make it a boring, matter-of-fact scenario. Don’t picture them getting frisky like some romantic movie fling because it won’t be. Imagine a dull bedroom, make it an unimaginative position like missionary, perhaps even try to picture it in black and white.

Take all of the energy and excitement away from it and you’ll find that this physical act is insignificant, and quite frankly boring. And once it bores you, your mind won’t want to drift to that thought anymore.

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About The Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.