Break-ups suck, but figuring out how to get over someone you never dated hurts even worse. The pain comes from the fact that you can’t clearly mark the endpoint of a love affair that happened entirely in your head. Or maybe that you’ll never know if it would work out since you never tried. When you don’t have pictures to burn or social media relationship statuses to change, no one tells you how to survive having your heart broken by your heartthrob.
Here are some tried and true tips for how to get over someone you never dated.
1. Give yourself a “mourning period”
When you find out someone doesn’t like you back, it hurts. A lot. Limit the sadness for your own sake. Pick a period—anywhere from three days to two weeks (depending on how close you were to the person)—to cry and stuff your face and hate on anything romantic. Then get over it.
“Get over it?” you say. “How am I supposed to get over it?”
You can still be sad about your crush after that time. But being sad about something so small and out of your control for too long can do a lot of damage. If you try to get all the sadness out in whatever period of time you pick and then focus on moving on, not only do you know ahead of time what day you’ll wake up and put on your hottest outfit to start finding someone new, but you’ll also find it much easier to move on because you’ve spent so much time thinking about it. This method may not be easy, and it does (unfortunately) take practice to be able to move on after the “period” ends, but it works.
2. Go forth and crush further
“My best advice for getting over someone you were never with is to not let it get in the way of falling for people in the future,” says American University junior Laura Gerson. “When your heart gets broken over someone who never loved you, it’s easy to think, ‘Well, this is it,’ and vow to yourself that you’re never going to do it again. But don’t do that.”
Human nature makes it so we work to prevent ourselves from getting hurt (again) in the future. It hurts to constantly fall for people, and saying “It’ll work out one day” offers very little solace, but you will find someone eventually and it will end happily someday. We just have to do the same song and dance time and time again. If it makes you feel any better, remember that all of us have to go through it (because yes, even your crush who you’re sure could win anyone over has been hurt, too).
3. Realize it’s not you, it’s them
Don’t change yourself for the sake of a crush. Let me repeat: Don’t change yourself for the sake of a crush. “You might think that they’re the perfect person for you and that if you just do everything right they’ll eventually see that you’re the one they want. And while that did happen with Jim and Pam [from The Office] it’s just pretty unrealistic,” says American University sophomore Ilana Schreiber.
You may think that changing yourself will increase your chances of getting someone to notice you. It won’t, and if anything, it’ll just hurt you and your friends in the process.
“Even though it hurts like crazy there just gets to be a point where you need to accept that if they haven’t changed and realized how amazing you are by now, they’re not going to. And that really hurts. But then it very slowly starts to get better,” added Schreiber. Don’t bend over backward for someone who won’t even give you the time of day. And when you find someone worth your time, doing the things they love that you may not like won’t hurt as much. They’ll do the same for you.
4. Avoid rebounds
Moving on to new people stands out as an important and liberating step in the “getting over it” process. But avoid rebounds at all costs. How would you feel if you knew you were a rebound?
While it may feel gratifying to have someone to hook-up with right away or even “flaunt” in front of your old crush to make them jealous (or whatever), rebounds ultimately will only cause more damage in the end. Don’t move on before you’re ready.
You still can go to a party and make out with a bunch of cute people or whatever, but don’t enter a new relationship just because you’re bored or need someone to “fill the hole in your heart.”
Replacing a crush with someone else can feel like the right thing to do and soften the blow of the rejection. But it never works out in the end. Treat yourself right and be kind to your heart. You wouldn’t walk on a sprained ankle right away, so why would you crush on someone when you’re still heartbroken?
5. Learn to love yourself first
Repair the tear in your heart with self-love. You decide your own value. You don’t need a romantic partner or significant other to grant it to you. Validation feels good, but you can get that from platonic relationships and even yourself. If they wouldn’t take you on a date to that Italian restaurant, go on your own. If you hear a song that makes you think of them at a party, scream-sing the lyrics and dance ridiculously. Feel like crying? Take a hot shower and use your nicest soap until all your tears wash away and you smell like sweet pea or lavender fields.
Sometimes, that self-love comes in the form of tough love too. “It’s also important to remember that just because you love someone, they really are not obligated to love you back. And sometimes that’s a hard truth. But you can’t really change it. Closure isn’t real, so just cut your hair and pretend it didn’t happen, I guess,” Gearson said.