To get over an ex, do I have to get under someone new?

We'll skip chat today and have one early next week to close out 2020. I am ready to close out 2020. Please have a safe day tomorrow, and keep others safe, too.

I'll be eating Chinese food and watching "The Mandalorian" as one named Goldstein does, so please interrupt me by sending the letters you've been holding back. Write them down and press the button. Send to [email protected] or fill out this form.

I'm also still taking updates from former letter writers. What happened after you wrote in? Was the advice any good? Send your update to [email protected] with "update" in the subject line, please.

I've heard it said that the only way to really get over someone is to "get under" someone else.

The phrase is somewhat scoff-worthy and a little vulgar, but its sentiment has gained legitimacy in my mind as I confront the frequency and sadness with which I still think about my ex more than two years after our (albeit pretty horrendous) breakup.

In addition to the fact that it took me ages to even consider that my former partner is not the only person in the world worthy of my affection, I also didn't want to rush back into dating because I knew I had so much self-work to do. The problem is, I now realize that self-work is a lifelong process and if I wait until I feel "set and ready" in that department, I may never date again.

Obviously, the pandemic also doesn't help in terms of organically meeting new people. But how can I even mentally push myself along in the process of moving on when I still feel so averse to the idea of being with someone new?

– Over It


You're right; if you put off dating until you're a perfect version of yourself, you might never date again. We're not supposed to be finished products, pretty much ever. We're always going to be learning and getting better.

Yes, there are times in life when it's best to be alone – when a person needs time to process and heal. Sometimes it feels great to be single. Being on your own can be the best. But if you want to be partnered, and you've been thinking about the same breakup for a long time, 1) consider professional help because a therapist can teach you ways to break patterns of thinking, and 2) consider dating – because it might remind you that there can be romance after your ex.

I do think you could benefit from therapy, if you're not already in it. Again, it might help you stop replaying the past.

The thing about dating right now is that you don't really have to be with someone new. You can communicate with strangers, swipe, look at some faces, maybe talk to a friend on Zoom while you do it so you feel social. Try not to compare what new people offer to what you got from a relationship of two years. Remember that most people have their own history to bring to the table.

For the record, we did a podcast episode about "getting under someone," and how sex affects the brain after a breakup. We had a doctor explain why a breakup might even make some people horny (sorry for that word). There was a lot of interesting science in the episode, but the conclusion was that getting under someone is not required for moving on. You can pursue that activity when you feel like it would be fun for you.

– Meredith

Readers? Did getting under ever help you get over? Advice for someone who's trying to work on themselves before dating someone new? When does that simply delay the moving on?