Nothing quite compares to the butterflies you feel in your stomach when you realize you have a crush. When just the thought of dating this person is enough to set an embarrassingly big smile across your face, you know you have it bad. But what happens when you have to get over a crush?
While crushes can turn into beautiful, long-lasting relationships, they can also go the other way. Maybe this person has feelings for someone else, they’re already in a relationship, or they’ve ghosted you because they’re just not that into you. Even if you never even uttered two words to them, it can be heartbreaking to be totally infatuated with someone who isn’t available, into you, or right for you.
So, sometimes you just need to cut a crush loose. The ups and downs can be too much to handle, and taking a step back can be crucial when it comes to self-care. Seriously. To help you through the grueling process, Dr. Stephanie Freitag, licensed clinical psychologist, and Natalie Kohlhaas, licensed mental health therapist, explain exactly how to get over a crush.
1. Think about how the crush is affecting you
So, how do you know if you need to get over your crush? The answer: When the bad feelings start to outweigh the good. Do you feel amazing after talking to them or do you leave feeling a little empty? Are you seeing a side of them that you don’t like? You might want to get over a crush because the rollercoaster ride of emotions is making you want to vom. Or maybe, they just aren’t into you or available. If that’s the case, moving on will free you up to become available for someone who’s actually right for you.
“At a certain point, it is worth taking some distance from that person [and] reflecting on if, to some degree, you are crushing on the idealized version of the person or who they really are,” Dr. Freitag explains.
There are a million reasons why a crush might not become more. Love and even “like” can be complicated AF. If you feel like something just isn’t right, trust yourself. We know you probably hear this from your friends all the time, but seriously: If they are not treating you like gold, they are not worth it.
Sometimes, it pays off to be honest with your crush. That might be absolutely sweat-inducing, but being upfront about your feelings could clarify the situation — especially if this other person is sending mixed signals. The feelings could be mutual between the two of you, but you will never know unless you ask.
If it turns out that they’re not interested, then you can begin the healing process. At least you now know the truth. “If it will help you process your feelings and move on, that can be beneficial,” Dr. Freitag says.
“However, context matters,” she adds. “If the person does not treat you well, then it is unlikely to have a positive outcome. If there is mutual respect, then it could possibly be worthwhile.”
3. Think about how the crush started
Consider the origin of the crush and why these feelings even sprung up in the first place. “Remind yourself what you do know and what you are fantasizing about,” Kohlhaas advises.
It’s totally possible that your emotions are circumstantial and maybe even a bit superficial — maybe you’re only crushing because this person laughed hard at one of your jokes, or you’ve been really loving their style lately. If it’s difficult to picture how you’d actually interact or get along with this person regularly, that could be a sign that your feelings don’t go as deep as you think.
4. Focus on yourself
While you might be really feeling down in the dumps, this period can be the perfect time to work on the most important relationship you have: the one with yourself. Focus on what you can control. Go for a walk, make a list of your goals, work on a new skill.
“Place your energies into things that are important to you,” Kohlhaas says. “Growth helps you move forward.”
5. Do something special for yourself
Don’t know where to start when it comes to focusing on yourself? Start by doing something that makes you feel special. Go get your nails done, make your favorite meal, or buy that cute workout set you’ve been eyeing forever. You deserve the world and this will help remind you of that.
6. Distract yourself
“Dive into your friends, school, music, or art, and surround yourself with people who appreciate you,” Kohlhaas suggests. And be super proactive about it. Max out your group text with plans for fun stuff to do on the weekends. Is there an after-school club you dropped that you want to get back into? Do it! Is there a new Netflix show you’ve been eyeing? This is the perfect time to start it. If someone isn’t going to make time for you, then you need to make more time for yourself.
7. Don’t go looking for a new crush
Just to be clear: when we say distract yourself, we don’t mean with a new crush. You could end up in the same situation all over again. “It takes time to process your feelings and it shouldn’t be rushed,” Dr. Freitag says.
Besides, instead of idealizing someone you may never be with, try to find someone more accessible that could result in a healthy, loving relationship. For now, though, maybe just lay off the crushing — for at least a little while. “Give yourself space to process your feelings and let feelings for a new person develop organically,” she advises.
“Treat yourself well and enjoy your time with you,” Kohlhaas adds. “You do not need someone else to define who you are.”
8. Don’t force a friendship with them
If you and your crush aren’t compatible romantically, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re meant to be besties, either. “You don’t want to enter a relationship if there isn’t reciprocity. [You] won’t be satisfied that way,” Dr. Freitag explains. “It sets you up for an uneven and unhealthy dynamic.”
Although developing a friendship might seem like the best way to keep this person in your life, it could make it even harder to get over them. “In the back of your mind, you will always have the expectation that you will be able to change their mind and something magical will happen,” Kohlhaas says. But, that’s not always the case and you could end up hurt in the end. Revisit the idea of friendship after you’ve given yourself the appropriate amount of time to heal, and you’re sure the romantic feelings aren’t there anymore.
9. A little distance goes a long way
One thing to think about: Crushes are kind of like bug bites — the more attention you pay to them by itching and scratching, the harder it is to heal in peace. If you usually sit by them in math, maybe switch seats for a little bit. And if you know they always hit up Chipotle after school, maybe get your after-class burrito delivered or from somewhere else for a week or so. Trust us, the distance will help.
10. Don’t look at their social media accounts
This is probably both the most obvious advice and the hardest to follow. Stop refreshing their profiles on social media. Even though you see them in school, it doesn’t mean you need to suffer through them popping up on your Snapchat and dominating your Insta feed. Say it with me: unfollow them (or at least mute their profile). Scrolling endlessly through their profile is only going to make you feel worse.
11. Ask for a temporary ban on crush-related conversations
While you’re talking to your friends, ask them to not bring up your ex-crush for a little bit. No more sending their Instagram Stories in your group messages or discussing who they asked to prom. It’s normal that you need a little space for a bit, and your friends should respect that.
12. Don’t rush it
Ok, this next one might sound awful right now, but stay with us. It practically goes without saying that getting over a crush can make you feel like your heart is literally on fire. Why? Because these tricky things called feelings have minds of their own. “Acknowledge your feelings and that we do not have a ton of control over how we feel,” Dr. Freitag says. “If you feel strongly about someone, it is unlikely you can shut that off very easily.”
It might take some time — days, or even a few weeks — to get over a crush, but give yourself grace and be patient with yourself. We promise it’ll be worth it.
13. Allow yourself to be sad
And along with not rushing it, take some time to really be sad. Don’t ignore your emotions or keep them bottled up. They’re there whether you like it or not. We’re not recommending that you lay in bed for a week straight, but maybe take out a journal and write down how you’re feeling. Or, just grab your pillow and enjoy a good cry. Remember, you’re only human.
14. Acknowledge that the hurt is temporary
Although it may seem impossible at the moment, this too shall pass. While it will take some time for your feelings to dissipate and for your heart to heal, the pain will not last forever. In the meantime, fill your days with supportive friends, binge-worthy shows, and the activities you love most.
15. Write it out
Actually, let’s talk about the journal for a second because even if you’ve never used one or you don’t consider yourself to be much of a writer, getting your feelings out onto paper can be extremely cathartic. It doesn’t have to be the next Great American Novel — let your thoughts spill out onto the page, or write a letter to your ex-crush that you aren’t going to send (just don’t address the envelope, *ahem* Lara Jean).
16. Stop idealizing your crush
When you were crushing hard, you were probably putting your crush on a pedestal. Maybe you thought they were perfect in every way and that’s why you were so into them. Now, stop doing that. No one is perfect, even your crush, and if you continue to think that, it will make the healing harder.
Crushing and daydreaming about a potential relationship is fun, Dr. Freitag says. But, “that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have boundaries because it can head into unhealthy territory,” she explains. “It is worth considering that the idea of a person we have in our head is likely quite different than who they are in reality. People have flaws, even our crushes.”
17. Know that you aren’t alone
You’re hardly the first person to experience unrequited love and you won’t be the last, but sometimes, when going through heartbreak, it can seem like no one understands how you feel. In reality, almost everyone has felt the same way at some point in their life, and reminding yourself of that can help you feel less alone.
18. Find a way to get closure
It can be hard to get closure when there was no actual relationship to get closure from, but finding a way to end the narrative may help you get over the situation. ”Acceptance of your feelings and not trying to rush the process is key,” Dr. Freitag says. “Almost treating it like a grieving process can be helpful because it does involve loss.”
Maybe get rid of some things that remind you of them. Revisit the journal idea, and write a letter to them that you’ll never send. Or when you are feeling better, prove to yourself that you’re over your crush by chatting with them in between classes without analyzing the conversation afterwards. Trust us, doing that will make you feel like a complete rockstar. “Work on wishing them well, and always remind yourself they were not the person for you,” Kohlhaas suggests.