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How To Stop Caring About Someone Who is Bad For You

Relationships are complicated things. They can become messy when they end or don’t go as planned. When you don’t know how to stop caring about someone, it permeates every aspect of your life.

Sometimes it is all you think about.

You know you shouldn’t care about this person, but your heart and head are not listening. The more you try to stop caring, the harder it becomes.

More than anything, you just want to flick the off-switch and be done with this person.

I have been there on more than one occasion.

Continuing to care for someone who can’t, or won’t, return your feelings simply sets you up for misery later on.

There is no reason you should allow someone in your life to have that kind of control over you, which is why I want to help you take back some of that power.

Let’s Unpack Why You Might Want To Stop Caring For Someone

For the sake of this article, I’m going to focus on romantic relationships, but many of these strategies apply to toxic friendships and family relationships that you need help to move on from. 

We catch ourselves wishing we could stop caring about someone in various situations. 

Maybe we’ve experienced a breakup and can’t seem to move on. Or maybe we have strong feelings for someone who doesn’t return those feelings, and it’s torturing us. 

Did somebody you were starting to care about suddenly ghost you? Or maybe someone in your life is stringing you along, and you can’t take it anymore. 

Whatever your reason, you’re here because despite knowing better, you can’t get your brain to stop thinking about them or your heart to stop caring. 

You want to understand why it’s so hard and what you can do about it. 

Woman looking contemplatively to the side. There is a white heart with a black X over it to her right and a black question mark to her left. The title reads How to Stop Caring About Someone
How to stop caring about someone

13 Steps to Stop Caring About Someone

There are many unhealthy ways to try to forget someone, and none of them ultimately work. So instead of getting drunk and hooking up with strangers or making rash life decisions, we’re going to approach it from a different angle.

We’ll dive into the healthier, deep work of understanding why you’re so caught up on someone and what you can do to finally move on. 

1. Establish why you care as much as you do. 

How did you get here? If you feel you can’t stop caring about someone, it’s a sign that something is off. 

Your emotional health and well-being should be the most important thing, but right now, it has taken a backseat. 

We need to figure out how it got so bad. Why do you care about this person or situation more than your own happiness? 

Do you feel afraid to be on your own? Does this person breadcrumb you and keep you hanging on?

Is there a lot of back and forth in the relationship?

Have you invested too much of your sense of self in this relationship, and now you feel lost?

There are so many reasons we end up in this place. What’s yours?

2. Examine the reasons behind your attachment

Emotional attachments are a normal part of human existence, but your attachment is not serving you well right now. 

Secure emotional attachments arise from an established trust and emotional bond between two people. 

Insecure attachments are much more dysfunctional and can lead to emotional dependence. 

Is that what’s happening here?

Signs of Emotional Dependence

If you’re struggling to stop caring about someone who doesn’t deserve or return those feelings, the question is, why are you so stuck on them?

Emotional dependence might be the answer. 

Common signs include:

  • You rely on their approval to feel good about yourself and your decisions.
  • You’ve lost your sense of self and changed core elements of your personality, lifestyle, and habits to maintain this person’s attention.
  • The relationship is unbalanced (which we know your relationship is because you are here trying to figure out how to stop caring about them).

How did you form this unhealthy attachment?

Unhealthy attachments have many root causes. You need to connect with yours. 

Did you grow up with parents who struggled to meet your emotional needs? 

Do you have a history of self-esteem issues?

Is there a history of manipulation or abuse in this relationship? 

Your ability to emotionally detach and let go of this person hinges on understanding these things, so take time to dive in. It’s worth talking with a trained therapist or relationship specialist to help you unpack this.

3. Feel Your Feelings (Don’t Avoid Them)

This includes anger, jealousy, resentment, disappointment, and shame. Whatever you are feeling, allow yourself to acknowledge it all.

Fighting your feelings does not help you move on from them. We often suppress our feelings because we think we shouldn’t feel them. But that’s ineffective and only makes us feel shame.

Instead, feel your feelings and become interested in them. Ask a lot of ‘why’ questions. 

Why do I feel so angry right now? Why do I feel unlovable? Why do I think about this person so much?

This is an excellent opportunity to grab a piece of paper or journal and get it out onto the page. 

Sometimes the act of writing it out is cathartic.

By getting it out, you start to let it go. You also glean important insights into what’s happening beneath the surface. 

If nothing else, these writings can help an outside person like a therapist or counselor understand what’s going on with you so they can help you work through it. 

Related Post: 65 Free Shadow Work Prompts For Beginners

4. Accept the situation. 

The Serenity Prayer is not just useful for people in recovery. It’s a good roadmap for life. If you’re unfamiliar, it goes like this:

“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can’t accept, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

It’s also true in matters of the heart.

I don’t know how your situation got to this place, but now it’s time to move on. 

Whether you’re hanging on after a breakup or stuck in a situation with another person that will never get better, the bottom line is it’s time for a change.

5. Learn How To Detach 

This one is put simply, but it is anything but. “Detaching” can have a lot of contexts, but I’ll limit ours to romantic relationships we want to move on from. 

Your primary goal is to let go of this relationship and establish healthy boundaries moving forward. 

Detaching gives you the emotional space you need to take care of your own needs, which is the most important thing.

It’s possible you’ve forgotten that in the midst of the hurricane that is your former relationship. 

Here are some quick tips for detaching:

  • Know your reason: Write down exactly why you want to detach from this relationship or person. This will help you remain firm in moments of weakness where your resolve wavers and you have the bright idea to reach out. 
  • Find an outlet to release your emotions: Give yourself private space to grieve and then commit to dusting yourself off and moving forward. 
  • Stay busy: Reinvest the energy you put into caring about this person. Spend your time with people you care about and doing things you enjoy. Rediscover abandoned hobbies and interests. If this feels impossible to you, consider the next step. 
  • Get help: Sometimes, detaching from a person we are profoundly mixed up with is too much to take on alone. Do not be afraid to join a support group or find a therapist to help you with this part. 

6. Cut All Ties with Them

Here comes the hard part. 

If you want to learn how to stop caring for someone and move on, you have to remove them from your life. 

This is particularly true for romantic and toxic relationships that harm you. 

Sometimes we are the problem. Despite knowing better, we still send a text to the other person to see how they’re doing, only to be let down by the response (or lack thereof). 

Other times, they are the problem. They may not be good for us, but continue to reach out and try to string us along. 

You might be stuck in a combination of the two. Neither situation is good. 

This is the time to erase and block numbers and remove them from your social media. It is one of the hardest parts, but you must do it.

Rip off the bandaid.

Block everything at once, and then allow yourself space to grieve. 

7. Prioritize Self-Care and Emotional Healing

Now comes the hard part of working on your relationship with yourself. 

Right now, it’s in bad shape.

True self-care involves taking care of your emotional and physical needs first. 

Now is the time to reconnect with what makes you tick. 

Woman in yellow scale is holding hands above her heart with a peaceful look on her face. Her head is crowned by white graphic hearts. The title reads Prioritize your own self-care and healing
How to stop caring about someone: prioritize your own self-care and healing.

You don’t want to make the mistake that self-care means buying yourself lavish gifts or trying to fill the emotional void with things and experiences that don’t help you heal and move on. 

How can you start to feel good again? What can you do to feel at peace with who you are and to feel like you are enough?

Start by doing good things for yourself. Get out and exercise, even if it’s a 20-minute walk daily. Eat nutritious food. Do some meditation. Spend time with friends and loved ones. Invest in a good therapist. 

Make feeling better and whole a priority. 

If you’re interested in starting shadow work, this practice helps people wrestle with some of their darker parts and feel more complete. My shadow work beginner’s guide can help you start.

Related Post: 9 Guided Shadow Work Prompts for Self-Love

8. Stay busy. 

This was mentioned already, but it’s worth highlighting separately. It’s also loosely related to #7. 

Keep busy. 

A busy mind has less time to wander onto unhealthy things, like people who don’t deserve your time or attention. 

Make (and keep) dates with friends.

What are your interests? Attend events around those interests. For example, if you love music and there is an artist coming to perform near you you like, go see them!

Get outdoors. Find a new restaurant to try. Sign up for a class. 

Push yourself to try things that bring joy to your life that are just for you, and require no external validation. 

9. Volunteer.

This one is related to staying busy but has additional benefits, so it gets its own slot. 

Did you know that volunteering has many physical and mental health benefits?

Incidentally, these benefits address many of the issues currently plaguing you. They include:

  • Reduces stress
  • Combats depression
  • Prevents feelings of isolation
  • Increases confidence
  • Gives a sense of purpose and meaning
  • Ignites passion
  • Makes you happy

One of the healthiest ways to build confidence and compassion for yourself is to be of service to others. 

If you are struggling to feel good right now, volunteering can help. 

10. Identify your relationship needs. 

After you’ve spent some time detaching, consider your relationship needs. 

What do you need from a relationship? Who is your ideal partner? What are your non-negotiables? What are your boundaries?

You might think about things like communication styles. When you send a text, what is considered a timely response? Several hours? One day? Is that reasonable? 

If you continue to struggle with moving on from the last person, consider honestly how they did not meet your relationship needs. This can be helpful as it allows you to see how wrong they are for you. 

11. Find the lesson in your experience.

I was in a horrible on-again-off-again relationship with a man for roughly five years. He was an expert at love-bombing and ghosting for extended periods of time, but I was madly in love with him and could not figure out how to stop caring. 

If you had known me in those days, you would’ve seen a masterclass on what not to do. Fortunately, I can look back objectively and see that entire situation differently. 

There are two basic choices when a relationship wreaks havoc on your life. You can:

  • Wallow in the shame and regret of your past relationship, or
  • Learn from your mistakes and grow as an individual

What did this relationship teach you?

Maybe you learned that your ideal partner has to be a strong communicator with ambition. Or maybe you learned the importance of setting clear boundaries in the beginning and holding firm on them. 

No experience is a waste.

At the very least, find the lesson in the experience and commit to using what you learn to become a better version of yourself. 

Access should not be a barrier to help.

Soberish is proudly sponsored by BetterHelp. If you have tried (and failed) to find a therapist with the knowledge and background to help you navigate your specific issues, try BetterHelp. Learn more about my counseling journey with BetterHelp or visit their website below.

12. Prioritize other relationships

It is common for people grieving a romantic breakup to forget about the other important relationships in their lives. 

That’s why it is important to nurture stable, positive relationships in your life when healing from a breakup.

I’ll add a caveat here – this is another good lesson. 

We’ve all been guilty of neglecting our friendships in favor of a romantic relationship. Especially in the early days when we’re all wide-eyed and smitten.

Pro Tip: Don’t do that. (Please, I beg you.)

Balance is so important. 

When we lose our sense of self and independence in a relationship, the end of that relationship can feel isolating and traumatic.

Having a strong support system in place can negate that impact. It also safeguards you from becoming absorbed into an unhealthy relationship. 

Make sure that when you’re back on your emotional feet, you still dedicate time to being a good friend and family member. These relationships are important, too. 

13. Don’t focus on getting closure.

As human beings, we crave closure. It’s why ghosting hurts so much.

Studies show that a lack of relationship closure can lead to poorer mental health outcomes and weakened romantic connections. 

We combat that by nurturing our relationship with ourselves and allowing the lack of closure to be all the closure we need. 

If somebody ghosts us or a relationship ends with many questions hanging in the air, we can choose to accept the situation as it is. 

You can say, “I don’t know why this person changed all of the sudden, but I know how it makes me feel, and it sucks. So, I will focus on healing, spending time with people who care about me, and giving myself space to move on.”

Final Thoughts On How To Stop Caring About Someone

Here’s the TL;DR.

When you can’t seem to move on or stop caring about someone, it’s a sign that deeper wounds need healing.

By doing the deeper work of understanding why you formed an unhealthy attachment to this person, you can start to undo it.

Beyond that, I hope you have gained strategies and insights into how you can not only move on but build a stronger emotional foundation.

We can’t control other people’s behaviors or the success of every relationship, but we can make sure we are secure in ourselves and what we want in a partner.

Did I leave any important tips out? Drop them in the comments or share them on social!

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