Search icon

How to Lose Feelings for Someone You Can't Have

January 13, 2023

Our emotions are a direct response to the world around us. We feel afraid when things are dangerous and happy when everything is going well. 

Love is the emotion of connection. From the time that we are born, we seek out connection with our families and friends. And as we get older, we might seek romantic connections. And so we fall in love.

Falling in love doesn’t mean your feelings will be returned. And even if those feelings are returned, that doesn’t guarantee that you will be compatible with that other person.

Sometimes, we have to let go of our feelings. But how do you stop loving someone you can't have?

How to Change How You Feel

This is not a quick guide on how to get rid of love. 

Being able to understand and manage your emotions is a skill called emotion regulation1.

Regulating doesn’t mean that you suddenly don’t feel your emotions. Instead, it’s recognizing when your emotions are intense and reducing their strength. You will still feel your emotions, but you’ll be able to choose how you respond to them, instead of just reacting.

Changing the way you think is the first step to emotion regulation. More than what has happened in our lives, our feelings are based on what we think about those situations2. Even changing our focus to something neutral can help reduce the impact of unpleasant or unwanted emotions. 

Thought-stopping exercise: Think about the last email you read. Then, count ten numbers backward from 569 by 12. Can you do it? Did you notice that you couldn’t think about the email at the same time?

When it comes to the sadness and disappointment of rejection or the end of a relationship, just thinking differently doesn’t always work. Another effective method for changing the way you feel is to do something that is guaranteed to make you feel different.

Opposite Action exercise: Stop reading this article and listen to your favorite song. Sing along and dance if you have the space! When you come back to this article, note how you feel more relaxed than when you started the song. 

Sometimes the unpleasant emotions we’re feeling are justified. In that case, we have to identify what the problem or source of pain is and come up with solutions to deal with it. When it comes to love, we can’t always solve the exact problem of unrequited love. But you can solve other problems, like loneliness, boredom, or a lack of self-confidence.

Problem-Solving exercise: Identify one thing you want to change about your current situation. Maybe you want to go out with friends more because you’re lonely. Think of 3 normal ways to spend time with your friends, and one that’s a bit outside the box. Do you think you could text a friend about doing any of those activities?

11 Tips for How to Lose Feelings for Someone

I can’t give you magical tips on how to stop loving someone you can't have in five minutes. Like I said before, you can’t “lose” feelings like throwing out the trash. But you can learn how to make those emotions less intense.

1. Accept your feelings

accept your feelings

The first step to losing feelings is to accept them, completely. There’s a reason you feel the way you do. If you try to pretend that you’re fine, intense feelings are just going to get stronger and more unpleasant.

You might feel a bit sad and disappointed that your crush doesn’t like you back. You might feel awful, like if you start crying you might not stop. If you have rejection-sensitive dysphoria, not having your love returned might make you feel unlovable. You might be mad at yourself for being so affected.

To move forward in the healing process, you have to acknowledge these feelings without trying to change them. Be curious about what you’re feeling. Explore your thoughts. Note how the emotions change in intensity over time, like tides coming in and out. Seek out what need your emotion is a response to. How are you motivated to respond to that need?

2. Accept their feelings

It doesn’t matter if the relationship lasted years or hadn’t been official yet, not being connected with someone you love hurts. 

It makes sense, then, that you might reject the disconnect. There is probably a part of you that has hope that they will change their mind. Maybe you think you can change enough for them to want a romantic relationship. 

You’re not going to stop being in love with someone you can’t have if you aren’t honest with yourself. That person does not want or is not able to be a part of the relationship you’re hoping for. 

Try to see things from their perspective, resisting the urge to “fix” whatever problem you think you see. Think about the last time someone you weren’t interested in asked you on a date. You had your reasons for declining, and now you have to accept that you’re on the other side.

3. Acknowledge why you’re not compatible

Another tip for how to lose feelings for someone is to acknowledge why the two of you aren’t right for each other. 

When you’re interested in a romantic connection with someone, it’s easy to forget about all of the sources of incompatibility. Attraction and humor can make a person appealing, of course. But you also need someone who shares your values, priorities, and goals.

Take the time to write a list of things that you or a friend found even mildly annoying about the person you are in love with. Is he emotionally unavailable? Does he have worrying financial habits? Are you annoyed with his friends? Is he mean to waitstaff?

It can be hard to see past the rose-colored glasses, but list at least ten things. Don’t hold back. Make sure you include things that are “cute” now, but that would normally be annoying. This exercise can help you see them as a person with flaws, not a picture-perfect match.

4. Be your own girlfriend

It doesn’t matter if you’re partnered or single. Your relationship with yourself is the most important one in your life. You are the person who walks through your daily life, so you’re the only person who can shower you with self-love. 

When you’re learning how to control your feelings for someone, you’re likely to see a dip in your self-esteem. So it’s important to treat yourself as worthy of love, instead of just relying on other relationships. 

By engaging in active self-love, you increase your confidence and sense of control over your life3.

For a lot of people, it’s easy to get lost in relationships. Get lost in romancing yourself. Take yourself on outings, buy yourself flowers, indulge in a bit of extravagant self-care, and compliment yourself, often. Take control of how you are treated every day.

5. Spend time with your support network

spend time with your support network

It might be tempting to stay hidden in your apartment watching movies. In fact, that’s not actually a bad idea for a couple of days. But eventually, spending time with friends and family is an important next step. 

Socializing is an extremely effective way to change how you feel4. People respond to their environment, and spending time with people provides a stimulus for other emotions. Secondly, Being around people we care about reinforces our sense of connection.

Romantic love can be an important part of our social network. And while love for friends and family can’t replace that type of love, it’s still powerful. These long-standing relationships reinforce our sense of self and community.

Schedule at least a couple of hours a week to spend time with a friend. You might stay in, order a pizza, and watch a movie. Or maybe you can dress up for a night out. Whatever you decide to do, promise yourself to focus on spending time with them, not the person you’re in love with. 

6. Find activities to distract yourself with

If you’re still trying to figure out how to lose feelings for someone, chances are you spend a lot of time thinking about those feelings. The most effective way to stop thinking (besides the thought-stopping exercise above) is to find a way to distract yourself. 

Distractions tend to get a bad rap. But of all of the coping skills, distracting yourself is one of the best ways to change how you feel long-term. By filling your time with enjoyable and productive activities, you are creating new habits when it comes to how you think and act.

Heartbreak can be a great reason to re-engage with a favorite hobby or get into something new. Check your closet for an old project or activity. Chances are, getting back into it will take just enough concentration to help you to stop loving someone. 

(While you’re in the closet, you might as well get some spring cleaning done as well!)

7. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is simply a practice of being aware of the here and now. Simple as it sounds, the practice can be tricky, especially when you’re feeling bad.

When experiencing unpleasant emotions, our minds are likely to ruminate on the past or try to predict the future. Unfortunately, that leaves little room for us to stay in the present. And because we respond to what is holding our attention, we’re not really engaged with our current selves.

Practicing mindfulness is as simple as reminding yourself that your thoughts, emotions, and actions are separate from each other. You are not your emotions, and there is always a choice for how to respond to them.

Mindfulness allows you to remind yourself that there is more to your life than unrequited love5. When waves of hurt feelings come up, this skill can let you feel the emotions and deal with them effectively.

Becoming skilled in mindful thinking requires commitment and practice. Every day, ask yourself these questions: Are you seeing things with your mind or your eyes? Are you hearing with your mind or your ears? Take a moment to take in the world with all five of your senses.

8. Work on your goals

work on your goals

Self-care takes many forms, and setting and working toward your goals is a form that’s often overlooked. Often, unpleasant feelings keep people from moving forward toward their well-being. 

Identify your goals. Try to make them SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, achievable, and time-based. By structuring your goals this way, you can create a roadmap for yourself of steps toward that goal. 

Even when you’re not feeling your best, youdeserve to be able to move forward.

9. Don’t play the rebound game

People generally aren’t taught how to stop loving someone, leading to unhealthy habits for dealing with relationships. Rebounding, or getting into another relationship to get over the last one is one such habit.

Some people can exit a relationship and jump into something soon after without problems. But that requires that everyone know what the relationship is: a way to work through feelings for someone else. And it requires that both parties be upfront with what they want.

Before you dust off your profiles on Hinge and Bumble, ask yourself if you’re really ready to start dating. Are you ready for the war zone of online dating, or do you need more time to recover? What are your intentions for a relationship? Can you focus on your dates, or will you be silently comparing them to the one that got away from drinks to dessert? 

10. Give yourself time to heal

I cannot say it enough. Giving yourself space to lose feelings for someone is not going to happen overnight. There’s no way to fly past the part where you feel bad and emerge fresh as a daisy on the other side. You have to give yourself time to grieve.

Grief occurs when we experience loss. That might be the loss of a loved one, losing a job, or a relationship. The loss we experience in these situations is a loss of a potential future. There are experiences that we have anticipated that are not going to come true.

“Time heals all wounds” may sound cliche, but it’s true. In the beginning, you need space to distract yourself and time to process your hurt. Over time, you will have new experiences, put energy into other relationships, and feel differently about yourself.

11. Talk to a professional

When you’re in the depths of the feelings, it can be impossible to imagine talking to someone about your heartbreak. But many people find it helpful to talk with someone outside of the situation entirely.

Talking to a trusted friend, a mentor, or even a spiritual leader can serve as an effective way to process your feelings. If nothing else, they will probably help you see the situation differently. 

It’s not a professional's job to teach you how to stop loving someone. It’s their job to help you process your thoughts and emotions so that you can choose how to move forward. If you think you might find support helpful, consider working with a life coach or mental health professional.

How to Stop Loving Someone Who Hurt You

how to stop loving someone who hurt you

It’s difficult to learn how to cut someone out of your life when you still love them. However, love isn’t always enough to sustain a relationship. A relationship may have to end, even when both parties still care about each other very much. 

There are many complex emotions present in these situations. Just like in any other situation, you’re not going to know how to lose feelings for someone if you don’t know how you really feel. 

If you still love someone, you have to be honest about how the hurt will impact you moving forward. Not just the influence it will have on your relationship with your partner, but also how it will impact your sense of self-worth.

You are not likely to feel ready to walk away, even if you’ve already ended the relationship. In fact, if someone hurts you enough, you may find it hard to imagine not being with them. If you are leaving an abusive relationship, consider reaching out to a local domestic violence resource for support. 

In order to keep yourself from second-guessing yourself, write down, in your own words, why you’re hurting. Limit contact with your ex as much as possible. Find healthy ways to vent and distract yourself. 

FAQs

How long does it take to lose feelings for someone?

I don’t know how to stop having feelings for someone overnight. Depending on the intensity of your feelings, it could take weeks or months to change how you feel. The process can take longer if you are particularly sensitive to rejection.

How to cut someone out of your life when you still love them?

You will probably feel bad ending a relationship with someone you love, especially if they love you, too. In these situations, it’s important to create distance. Limit all contact as much as possible and remind yourself why you ended the relationship in the first place.

Can you ever stop loving someone who hurt you?

You might find it hard to leave someone who has been abusive. Consider speaking with someone with an outside perspective about your feelings.

Can you lose feelings for someone and get them back?

If you think that losing feelings for someone is best for you right now, chances are that person doesn’t want the kind of relationship you want. Things could change in the future, but for now it’s better to accept their feelings and let them go.

Conclusion

You might not feel instant relief, but I hope these tips on how to lose feelings for someone help you to feel better. If you feel like you could use some support, consider working with a professional.

5 Sources:
  1. Linehan, Marsha M. “Chapter 9: Emotion Regulation Skills.” Dbt Skills Training Manual, Guilford, 2017.
  2. Puff, Robert. “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 26 Mar. 2021, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/meditation-modern-life/202103/the-power-positive-thinking.
  3. Pu, Jun, et al. "The Mediating Effects of Self-Esteem and Trait Anxiety Mediate on the Impact of Locus of Control on Subjective Well-Being." Current Psychology, vol. 36, no. 1, Mar. 2017, pp. 167+. Gale Academic OneFile Select, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A493823675/EAIM?u=21667_hbplc&sid=bookmark-EAIM&xid=252f3273. Accessed 31 Dec. 2023.
  4. Sanchez, Alvaro, et al. "Depression-related difficulties disengaging from negative faces are associated with sustained attention to negative feedback during social evaluation and predict stress recovery." PLoS ONE, vol. 12, no. 3, 31 Mar. 2017, p. e0175040. Gale Academic OneFile Select, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A487976467/EAIM?u=21667_hbplc&sid=bookmark-EAIM&xid=720c9655. Accessed 31 Dec. 2023.
  5. Martelli, Alexandra M., et al. "When less is more: mindfulness predicts adaptive affective responding to rejection via reduced prefrontal recruitment." Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, vol. 13, no. 6, June 2018, pp. 648+. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A606922479/AONE?u=21667_hbplc&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=43821f5f. Accessed 31 Dec. 2023.
Subscribe

Join Our Newsletter

Receive weekly tips & tricks to improve your love life.