20 Ways To Forget Your Ex And Enjoy A Relationship Gap Year

Inspirational, Lists, Other, Social

Breaking up is hard to do, but it doesn’t have to be and it can have benefits. One of those benefits is having a ‘gap year’ from relationships, which will not only be better for you in the long run, but also for your next partner. Here are some tips for self-discipline to get you through the hard times, and how to really enjoy your life on your own until your true soul mate comes along.

Block And Delete

Sure, you can do the whole “let’s still be friends” thing, but most of the time it doesn’t work. It’s best to cut contact completely. The easiest way to avoid temptation to contact your ex is to immediately delete their contact details. Keep their number written down in case of any emergencies, but put it in a drawer or notebook where you don’t look very often. Deleting their number from your phone will avoid any awkward drunken 2am texts, and also bring home the point that they are no longer part of your every day life. Same goes for social media – you don’t have to avoid going onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn because you’re afraid you’ll cross virtual paths or feel the desire to have a quick online stalk. Go straight into your settings and block them, plus any of their family members and friends who you didn’t like and are glad to be rid of!

Make a List

Whenever you feel that twinge of missing them or wanting to contact them, write a list as to why it’s better that they’re no longer in your life. Keep the list on your phone, or in a notebook you carry around, so that you can access it whenever you need to, and add to it whenever the twinge strikes again. Jot down anything that annoyed you about them, or any other reason not to miss them, to remind yourself that it’s for the best. Anything from “You never supported me when your parents were mean to me” or “You always picked what was for dinner and never asked me.” You’ll know you’re moving forward when you stop adding to it. Keep it handy for a few years, especially when you start a new relationship, to remind yourself of what’s important to you.

Allow Time to Heal

Imagine using a broken arm before you’re ready to – you would put yourself in agonizing pain and make the healing process longer. It’s the same with your heart and your soul. Don’t be afraid of being alone, taking some time out for yourself is beneficial in the long run and will make your next relationship (when you’re ready) much healthier too. So no dating, don’t jump into another relationship straight away, and give yourself a break from sex so that you can appreciate it more in a healthier relationship down the track. Don’t worry, it won’t be forever, and you’ll be thanking yourself later for taking the time out. This time is for for you, no-one else.

Reconnect With Your True Friends

A break up is a great way to gauge who your true friends are, and also which of your family members are truly family! Get rid of the people who clearly aren’t supporting you or care about you, or who were more his friends than yours – quality is better than quantity! Then spend time reconnecting with them, showing you appreciate their friendship, and making stronger bonds. We often get so involved in our relationships that we put our friends and family on the edge of our lives, so this is the time to make up for it and be a better friend. Remember, though, not to spend too much time moaning about your break up, it’s okay for a couple of months, but can’t go on forever – that can stretch any friendship!

Some Tips If You Work With Your Ex

Well, this is awkward, but sometimes office romance happens, and sometimes it falls in a heap! Gently explain to your supervisor what the situation is, and see if someone else in your team can liaise directly with your ex, at least for a few months until you can get used to the idea of it, and ease yourself back in. If this isn’t an option, remain professional at all times: call each other by full first names (not shortened casual names), spend as little time with them as possible, and try to do most of your work via email. Don’t punish yourself by seeking out reasons to see them, or sit next to or across from them in a meeting – you’re not doing yourself any favors. Pretend that your ex is that fellow worker who you’ve never really liked, and try to avoid at all costs!

Speaking Of Work

Now is the time to throw yourself into it! Not only will it be a welcome distraction from your broken heart, it’s also part of spending this time to improve yourself, your surroundings and your future. Look for training opportunities to up-skill, ask for special projects, or just spend some time improving your workflows and getting all those little jobs done that you haven’t gotten around to yet. Don’t bite off more than you can chew though – putting a bit more effort into work and improving your career doesn’t mean 14 hour days or changing jobs. It just means channeling the energy you would normally put into grieving for your ex into something for yourself, and setting yourself up for a better future.

Count The Days

Grab an old school hard copy calendar, and count the days you’ve made it as a single person. It’s like counting down to Christmas, but in reverse. And don’t think of it in a negative way – think of it as time passing and, as they say, “time heals all wounds”. While you’ll have bad days and good days, every day is a win because you’re living your life how you want to, learning to love yourself, and improving your future. As an added bonus, treat yourself when you hit a milestone like 100 days – there’s something to look forward to!

Compromise? No thanks!

You know those inane conversations that couples have like “What do you want for dinner?”, “I don’t know, what you do want?”, “I’m happy with whatever you feel like” … guess what? You get to have a break! If there’s ever a time to do what you want, when you want, it’s now. Want toast for dinner? HAVE TOAST FOR DINNER! With butter! And strawberries! This year is about you, what you like, and what you want to do. Within reason, of course, you still have to go to work and bathe.

Get To Know And Love Yourself

Being in a relationship for a long period and all of the compromises that come with it often causes us to lose sight of who we are as individuals. Take the time to really figure out what you love and what you don’t, strengthen those characteristics, and appreciate them because they’re you. Are you really on a paleo diet because you like it, or because he wanted you to? Time to find out, and stick to it. Then, in the next relationship, you won’t be one of those people who morphs into their partner. Spend some time by yourself – at first you will feel lonely, but that’s just at first. You’re always going to be stuck with you, so now is a great time to enjoy your own company. This will be harder for people who are naturally extroverts (don’t worry, there are tips in this list for you too), but you have to learn to enjoy your time alone so that you understand that it won’t hurt you. And anyway, how can you expect other people to like you if you don’t?


After a few months, even your closest friends will be sick of hearing about your break up. They may not say so, but they are. Another way to vent is to write out your sadness and frustration. You can keep a traditional diary, or why not fictionalize what’s happened and what you’re feeling, which will help put some distance between you and painful real life. You never know, you may find you have a gift and move on to writing about other (and more enjoyable) topics!

Observe And Learn

The best way to learn is to observe, so take this time to note how other couples – successful and not so successful – interact with each other. Being out of a relationship will help you to be more objective in your observations. Note what it is successful couples do, how they communicate with each other, and how they maintain their individuality. More importantly, learn from those couples who don’t get on well, and how you can avoid those pitfalls in your next relationship.


Every now and then you need an escape, and the best way is to read. Watching a movie is good too, but reading requires more concentration. A great book will really suck you in to its world, and give you a reprieve from yours for a while. Explore different genres, get recommendations from your friends and websites, and stretch yourself. So while you’re escaping, you’re also broadening your language and knowledge.

Save Cash!

Okay, so you’re single, you’re alone, you don’t have anyone to share your life with … BUT you’re also not spending money on expensive birthday and Christmas presents, Valentines Day craziness, going to movies you don’t want to see, and paying for awkward dinners. Do you know how much cash you can save just on those few relationship related expenses? Save up, spend it on socialising with your friends, travel – it’s your money now, and yours alone!

Focus On Your Health

Sure, the first few months will be spent eating a lot of chocolate and overindulging in wine. But that has to stop eventually, and that’s the time to focus on yourself. Fulfill all those promises you’ve been putting off: joining the gym, learning how to cook better meals, getting to bed earlier. You don’t have to put yourself on a Rocky style training regime, it can just be small things that will help put some great habits in your life, like having a walk every day, or exploring different food options.

Learn To Rely On Yourself

There will be times when you feel completely alone: your family aren’t answering, your friends are busy, and it feels like everyone has deserted you. Rather than spending this time sulking, use it to prove to yourself that you are all you need. It’s already that way – you’re the one who gets yourself up, gets yourself to work and feeds yourself – you just have to realize it. There will be times and situations in our lives when we are on our own, don’t be afraid of it, and realize how strong and capable you are and have always been. You’re the only one who will always be there, so know that you can rely on yourself.


You know all those fantastic interior design images you’ve pinned? Time to make them reality! If you’re now living alone, this is a great time to make your home a true reflection of you. Remember, no more compromises, and you’re saving money! You don’t have to repaint or wallpaper the whole house, but you can treat yourself to some pieces you’ve had your eye on, change colors of your soft furnishings, put some new pictures up, rearrange your furniture, and get rid of junk you don’t want anymore (like all those presents your ex bought you that you didn’t like). Erase your ex out of your home, and make the space completely yours. It will be a spring clean for your home and your heart, and make your house somewhere you want to come home to.


If you haven’t already spent all the money you’ve saved on new furniture, books, gym memberships or nights out with friends, use it to explore your world. Do it alone or with others, go overseas or the next town, check out the festival that you’ve always wanted to be part of – the possibilities are everywhere. Start off with a weekender to visit a friend in another city, and build up to bigger trips. Remember, no compromises, it’s about wherever you want to go. Travel broadens the mind, so it’s all part of making yourself a better person. And you deserve a holiday! Just remember to travel sensibly.

Find Your Cause

A lot of friends will offer advice to help you fill your time, like “find a hobby”. One step further is to volunteer your time for a cause close to your heart. There are so many great causes and programs that are always looking for help: volunteer at an animal shelter; lobby government for changes to human affairs and education; organize fundraisers for health charities; help out at a book fair; deliver meals on wheels; get involved in tree planting – you know what’s important to you, so all you have to do is a quick internet search to find programs in your area. You’ll fill up your spare time, meet some new people, get some new skills and feel great for it. There is always someone who needs help, so be the person who gives it to them.

Don’t Dwell On Anniversaries

For most couples, important parts of relationships are anniversaries and celebrating them. These will inevitably come up, so acknowledge them, but don’t dwell on them. Create new anniversaries, like your break up date, which can now become your Freedom Day. Or celebrate your own milestones, like your first trip alone, or your first $100 saved. Anniversaries can be for anything, so make them yours and celebrate your own achievements.

Know It Won’t Last Forever

As upsetting and heartbreaking as a relationship break up can be, remember that it’s not the end of the world. Worse things can happen to you – not to trivialize a break up, but those who have lost a loved one will tell you that a relationship break up is less heartbreaking and the grief is not as deep in comparison. Isn’t it better for something bad to be over, rather than for it to drag on and on? Isn’t it better to have someone who treated you badly out of your life? Sure, you had some good times, but at some point that stopped happening. Relationships end for a reason, and once you’re out the other side, you will feel better that you are free to find someone who truly loves you. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it could be closer than you think. In the meantime, enjoy your life and who you are. Grow as an individual, and become strong. Your future relationships will be so much healthier and better for it, and you will be a happier person than you were a year ago.