In the beginning, crushes are thrilling—the swarm of butterflies invading your stomach every time you’re near them, the ridiculous outfit-planning on days you know you might see them, the conversation starters you log into your brain **just in case** you run into them unexpectedly. But getting over a crush? Not so thrilling. Nope, not at all.
The concept of a “crush” comes from this very sucky truth: You like someone who doesn’t like you back—or isn’t available to rightfully do so—leaving you straight-up crushed. And even though the term sounds totally juvenile (perhaps it stirs up thoughts of that dreamy–looking camp counselor), crushes happen to adults, too.
Who hasn’t found themselves geeking out over a colleague, friend of a friend, local Starbucks barista, or (eek) hot roommate? Developing feelings or falling for someone is all part of this messy thing called life—but luckily, so is getting over them.
“At first, we might feel rejected that the person feels differently,” explains Shannon Chavez, licensed psychologist and sex therapist. “When we’re feeling hurt, we may feel more vulnerable, which means we might make more negative assumptions about why this person felt the way they did.” That often translates to feeling like you’re not attractive, intelligent, kind, or worthy of love, Chavez explains. (All of which are not true!)
Basically, the best way to get over a crush is to stop dwelling on it. “Don’t obsess about the outcome of feeling rejected,” Chavez says. Doing so will only lead to problematic behaviors like stalking their social profiles, low self-esteem, and negative thoughts, all of which will make you feel worse.
While it takes time to mend a bruised or broken heart, these expert-approved tips will help you get over your crush and confidently move on.
1. Focus on the relationship you have with yourself.
Your relationship with yourself will always be the most important one in your life, Chavez explains. “We can feel vulnerable when we’re rejected. If we’re trying to get over the relationship, it’s kind of easy to fall into negative behaviors,” she notes. That said, you can still use this period of heartbreak to your personal advantage.
Use this time to focus on your goals—on the things you can control. Sign up for that online cooking class you’ve been eyeing or treat yourself to some gorgeous views on a hike. Chances are, you’ll notice your self-confidence will have gone up a few notches because you channeled your energy into something meaningful to you. Even though heartbreak sucks, it’s sometimes the push you need to just do you.
2. Get sexual while solo.
Odds are you feel all kinds of things in your ~downstairs~ area when you think about your crush. And while that’s totally normal, having super-sexual feels about someone you’re trying to forget about is probably not the best thing in the world, explains Shan Boodram, a certified intimacy educator.
“Instead of focusing on this possible sexual relationship you would’ve had, try exploring the fantasies that you have with yourself,” Boodram explains. Fantasize about your own body and the way you can make yourself feel. That can mean incorporating new toys and products into your masturbation routine like stimulating lubes, vibrators, and different hand techniques, she adds. You may find out more about your sexuality on your own time and your needs in the bedroom in the process.
3. Do something to make yourself feel special.
Okay, cutting bangs in stressful situations is usually a no-no, but Jane Greer, PhD, a relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, says updating your look, splurging on a fancy meal, or even trying a new workout routine might just be the temporary mood booster you need to jumpstart the moving-on process.
It’s hard feeling like you and your crush didn’t grow old together because they didn’t notice you or preferred someone else, so to start treating that bruised ego, she suggests doing something to remind yourself that you deserve the best because you do.
4. Allow yourself to lean into the heartache.
You know you’ll get over this. Remember how much you lusted over your middle school chemistry partner…whose name you totally can’t remember now?
But bottling up your feelings is going to do you jack in the emotional department. “Feeling what you feel, without judgment is the only way to get to the other side,” says licensed marriage and family therapist Lesli Doares, author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage. “Berating yourself for having feelings isn’t going to help.”
While you don’t want to agonize over this crush forever, it’s important to “give yourself the time and space to fully experience painful emotions,” says clinical psychologist Suzana E. Flores, PsyD, author of Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives. That means sitting with whatever comes up, as it comes up, instead of telling yourself that you’re silly or stupid for having developed unrequited feelings for another person.
“Doing so can help you to properly examine your emotions, so you can then release them,” she says.
5. Spill your feelings to a friend.
Sometimes, you just need a good vent session. So make a date with a friend, open a bottle of wine, and let loose. “It really does help you get out to the pain,” says Barton Goldsmith, PhD, author of The Happy Couple.
Talking it through with someone can help you get more clarity on the situation and encourage you to move on faster, he adds. (Plus, being around other people you love—who love you back—will remind you of how awesome you are.)
6. While you’re at it, ask them to lay off talking about your crush.
If your friends know your crush, ask them to pull back on talking about them so that you can more easily get them off your mind. There are absolutely zero benefits to hearing about when your friends ran into your crush or the promotion they just got at work. It’s hard enough already to stop fantasizing about them at all—your friends don’t need to add to the struggle.
“It’s hard to get over a crush if people are constantly bringing them up,” explains Boodram. That’s why it’s totally fine to ask your friends if they’ll stop speaking about your crush in front of you for a short period, she explains.
Boodram recommends putting it this way: “Hey, I’m still kind of struggling with this. If for the next two months you kept that person out of our conversations, that would be awesome, because it’s kind of a downer for me.”
7. Go big on distraction.
“It’s not easy to stop the brain, so distraction is a fine way to get through this,” says Brandy Engler, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in relationships.
The alternative is sitting around and obsessing, which is seriously unhelpful. “Obsessing or ruminating are just ways to get stuck in your head,” Doares adds.
So to actually move forward, spend time pursuing activities that make you happy. Go all-out in yoga, hit up happy hour with your friends, or plan girls weekend away.
“Spending time doing things you enjoy isn’t just a distraction—it’s reminding you that there are still things you enjoy that don’t involve your crush,” Doares says. “The more enjoyment you have away from your crush [or thoughts of them], the faster you will move through the grieving process.” Preach.
8. Stop looking at their social media accounts.
Seriously, this is important. Not only does continuing to follow or “check-in” (you know what I mean) on your crush’s social media accounts put them right there in front of your face, you’re also seeing an airbrushed version of their life, abs, etc.—which isn’t reality. “You’re not seeing the full picture,” Doares says.
Plus, “following a crush on social media can keep you from moving on, since constant exposure to their posts gives the illusion that they are still a part of your life when they are not,” she says. If straight-up unfollowing them would raise suspicions, hide your crush’s posts from your feed (or “mute” them) to give yourself time to heal.
9. Try to limit contact with your crush, if you can.
Your ability to pull this one off depends on how often you see your crush. If you work together, it’s going to be tough; if they’re a friend that you wish was something more, you can dodge their invitations to hang for a while.
“Every time you see that person, it’s going to cause an emotional zinger,” Goldsmith says. “Those zingers aren’t comfortable. Why would you put yourself through that?” I know why: You probably think that the more time you spend around them, the greater the chances they’ll develop feelings for you, too. Well, it’s time to let that go…for your own sake.
Also, keeping them out of sight for a bit allows you to experience other things—and people—in your life while you’re trying to move forward.
10. Repeat this to yourself: I’m not the first one who has gone through this.
When you’re going through a heartache (even if it’s not from an actual breakup), it can feel like you’re the only person, ever, who knows what this feels like. But the reality is that most people have experienced this on some level—and reminding yourself of that fact can make you feel less alone in the whole thing.
“Knowing you’re not alone in having an unrequited crush can make it easier,” Doares says. You can also try thinking back to your younger self, when she got over a painful crush, too. If you did it once, when you had less life experience and healthy tools to get you through it, you can do it again.
11. Dive into a new hobby.
“New is always good,” Doares says. “It gets you out of the old routine and doing something that requires attention and effort.” A new hobby can help connect you with people who aren’t familiar with your crush—and that can help you move on, she says.
Plus, you can get so wrapped up in learning or doing something new that you won’t have time for thoughts of your crush.
12. Stop idealizing your crush.
Here’s the thing: Crushes are usually based on a fantasy, not fact. Sure, your crush seems perfect, but nobody is.
In reality, they have annoying habits just like everyone else. “They’re not perfect,” Goldsmith says. Reminding yourself of that can help you take the fantasy part out of the whole situation.
Once you ditch the heart eyes you had for your crush, says Greer, you’ll be able to “take a step back and take a good look at them.” Getting a peek at how needy they actually are, or realizing they have a tendency to speak with their mouths full, will help you see them as more human, less godlike, and, in the end, way less crush-worthy.
13. Whatever you do, DON’T go looking for a new crush.
Remember what I said about going big on distraction? Well, I wasn’t talking about another person.
“While [a new crush] would help take your mind off somebody,” says Greer, “the goal is to move from fantasizing about somebody to actualizing an interaction and an encounter where you can get into a relationship.”
Besides building up your self-esteem and getting the bad taste of your former crush out of your mouth, what you really need (when you’re ready) is someone who’s accessible and with whom you can establish a healthy relationship. Otherwise, you’ll just end up having to read this list again if and when your crush doesn’t blossom into something substantial.
14. Go on a few “practice dates.”
Yeah, you’re probably not ready for anything serious at the moment. But going on dates (not hookups!) increases the odds that you’ll meet someone who is into you the way you deserve.
Goldsmith recommends looking at these as “practice dates” since you’re likely not emotionally available right now. And if you happen to meet someone new, exciting, and into you, it’s just an added bonus. Proceed if you’re feeling it, too.
15. Give yourself some closure.
Sure, this wasn’t a full-on romantic relationship, but you still had feelings for your crush and they don’t just dry up overnight. That’s why Engler recommends giving yourself some closure around the whole thing. Maybe it’s getting rid of things around your place that remind you of them, or no longer going to a place that you feel like was “yours.”
Whatever is it, “creating meaning and a narrative about the relationship and its ending helps people get closure,” Engler says. “You don’t need the partner for closure—you can do it on your own.”
16. See a therapist.
If you try everything on this list and still feel stuck, and it’s impacting your work or everyday life, it may be time to consider talking to a therapist, Doares says. Ditto if you have to see your crush all the time and you just can’t let your feelings go.
But in general, you’ve got to cut yourself some slack. “It can take a little time to get over this kind of thing,” Goldsmith says. And there ain’t no harm in that—you’ll come out the other side stronger.