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How to Forget About Your Ex

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Inspired by a love parable and a reader’s comment, these five tips on how to forget about your ex will help you move on. You’ll also learn why it’s so hard to forget your ex – even when you know your relationship was unhealthy and even toxic.

how to forget the exIn How to Let Go of Someone You Love, I share 75 things that help people move past the past, forget about the ex, and even get excited about the future. I wrote that ebook because of a heartwrenching breakup I experienced. I knew I couldn’t figure out how to forget about my ex alone, so I interviewed several psychologists and counselors for tips on letting go. I share what I learned in the ebook.

These tips on how to forget about your ex are inspired by a woman who commented on one of my articles here on Quips and Tips for Love and Relationships. She calls herself “Abandoned”, which immediately made my Spidey senses tingle. That’s how she sees herself – no wonder she can’t forget her ex! She is holding on to the perception that she was abandoned. Maybe she was, but if she clings to the label, she won’t forget her ex.

Here’s what she said on How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex: “For 14 years I have been fine [after my husband left me]. I found a better love and have a great 5th grade son. But I found out that my husband married one of his [college] students. He is 26 years older than she is. Suddenly, I am overwhelmed with thoughts of anger and sadness that are impacting my life negatively, as well as my wonderful, current husband’s well-being. Why can’t I let go when my life is so much better now than it was then?”

If you’re in the same situation – you can’t figure out how to forget your ex even though your life is better now – read the Parable of the Pearl Necklace. Then think about the tips I offer.

The Parable of the Pearl Necklace

Long ago, in a land far away, there lived a happy girl called Penelope. She was five years old, and had bouncy golden curls. A traveling salesman came through her village. He showed her the toys and dresses that he was selling, but what caught her eye was a strand of beautiful, translucent white pearls in a pretty pink satin drawstring bag.

“Mother, may I?” Penelope asked. “They’re so beautiful, and fit perfectly.”

“How much are they?” Penelope’s mother asked the traveling salesman.

“That necklace is worth two gold coins because they are real pearls,” he said. “But I have a less expensive strand of pearls, which only cost five pieces of copper.”

“Why such a huge difference in price?” asked Penelope.

love parable of the pearl necklace

How to Forget About Your Ex

“One necklace is made of genuine pearls from the sea, and it comes in the pretty pink satin drawstring bag,” said the salesman. “The other is made of fake pearls from my shop, and is sold by itself.”

Penelope had earned a few copper pieces by helping the elderly ladies in the village with their washing, mending, and cooking. She decided to spend all she had on the fake pearl necklace – and she loved it! She wore it every day, even when she did her chores. They made her feel beautiful, like the Queen of her land.

Penelope’s father told her a story every night before bed. One evening, after he finished his story of princess warriors winning great battles, he asked Penelope an odd question.

“Do you love me, Penelope?” he asked.

“Of course I do, Papa! You know I do.”

“Then give me your pearls,” her father said.

“Oh, Papa, not my pearls,” she cried. “I’ll give you anything else – my collection of beautiful carved animals, my pretty ribbons and bows. Even my favorite rope belt! But not my pearls, please.”

“That’s okay, honey,” said her father. “I love you. Sleep well.”

A week later, after story time, her father asked again, “Do you love me?”

“Papa, you know I love you.”

“Then give me your pearls.”

“Please don’t make me give you my pearls,” said Penelope. “I wear them all the time and love them so much! You can have this pretty new blanket Mama made for me, okay?”

“No thank you,” said her father. “Sleep well. Iove you.” And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

The next night when her father came in to her bedroom for story time, Penelope was sitting up in bed. One silent tear rolled down her cheek.

“Penelope!” said her father. “What is wrong?”

Penelope lifted her hand up to her father. Not saying anything, she opened her hand and there was her precious pearl necklace. “I love you Papa, and I want you to have my necklace.”

Her father’s eyes filled with tears. “Thank you, my sweet girl. Now I can give you this.”

He reached into his pocket, and pulled out the pink satin drawstring bag that contained the genuine pearl necklace. “I was waiting until you could give up what you had, before I gave you something infinitely more precious.”

4 Ways to Forget About Your Ex

The moral of the parable – in relation to forgetting about your ex – is that there is something or someone better waiting for you. If, that is, you trust in a Father. If you have hope and faith

Look forward in expectation, with hope and faith

The key to moving on and finding peace after a breakup is trusting that, for some reason, your relationship was not good for you, your ex, or other people. If you have faith that everything is working in your favor – which I believe it is – then you can look forward in expectation. You can rest in the knowledge that there is a Master Plan, and you are part of a dynamic whole that is unfolding the way it’s supposed to.

Be open to any possibility for your future

forget about your exI would never say the best way to learn how to forget about your ex is to tell yourself that “someone better” will come along. You may not meet a more attractive, more loving, more considerate partner than your ex. You may not fall in love the way you loved before. You may be single the rest of your life – or you might be like my reader, who can’t figure out how to forget about her ex even though she is remarried. There are no guarantees. We are not Penelopes with fathers who give gifts of beautiful pearl necklaces if we give up our cheap imitations.

Let go of the control you think you have in your life

In the parable, the only way Penelope would get the beautiful pearl necklace was if she let go. She had to take a risk, a leap of faith. She had to trust her father’s love for her. She had to believe he knew what he was doing. If I was a Christian (which I am), I might think this is a parable of God’s children trusting Him. When we can release our hold on the things we think we want, then He’ll give us things that are better. Or maybe He won’t. The truth is that even God’s children get hurt, and don’t get what they want. If you don’t know how to forget about your ex, you’re not focusing on the right things in your life.

To forget about your ex, deal with your regret and guilt

Sometimes we can’t forget about the past because we haven’t squared with it. We haven’t processed our regret and guilt, or our feelings of betrayal or anger. And abandonment! Just like my reader said, we don’t let go of the feelings of being abandoned. Maybe this is an obstacle for you, and is getting in the way of learning how to forget your ex. If you regret the separation or divorce, read What to Do When You Regret the Breakup.

I welcome your thoughts on how to forget about your ex after a breakup. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but it may help you (and others!) if you write about your experience.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol.

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3 thoughts on “How to Forget About Your Ex”

  1. Dear Samantha,

    It sounds like you’re having a hard time figuring out how to forget about your ex. I’m curious… What have you done to help yourself heal and move past this relationship?

    Also, how does it make you feel to still talk to your ex-boyfriend? Does it help you heal, or make healing harder?

  2. i had this long distant relationship a couple years back that lasted over 7 or 8 months with this guy i started talking to.
    well we broke up and got back together again (that happened last year) but now we’re officially over.
    he’s moved on, i think. we still talk.
    every relationship i’ve had after just felt like a rebound. i think about him everyday and it’s really hard to stop thinking about him.
    i don’t know what to do.

  3. Hi Laurie,
    Thank you for time and thought you put into your response to me. The Parable of the Pearl Necklace is helpful. The part that hurts is that, even though (in hindsight) my first necklace was a poor imitation, I was nonetheless faithful to my vow “to honor and to cherish till parted by death.” Like the little girl in the parable, I loved that first necklace for what it was. I invested a lot of money in him, paying off his student loans so he could become a professor. Then, as soon as he realized he had sexual currency with his students, he left me. After all I did for him – – nobody should be treated that way.