Thinking “I miss my ex” can lead to a spiral of thoughts and feelings about a past relationship.

Share

Thinking “I miss my ex” can sometimes lead to a spiral of uninvited thoughts and feelings about a past relationship. Perhaps there is sadness and regret about what was lost or curiosity about what could have been. You might long to be back in a relationship with your ex, and perhaps you might be wondering if your ex feels the same way. Missing an ex is a normal and universal experience. At the same time, everyone heals from a breakup in their own way and in their own time. This article covers five common reasons for missing an ex, and some things that you can do to help yourself cope better.

“I Miss My Ex”: 5 Common Reasons and How to Stop

Reason 1: Not Having Grieved the Loss of the Relationship 

Mention grief and loss, and people tend to think of losing a loved one through death. There are, however, various other losses that one may have experienced. These include the loss of a childhood home, the loss of a friendship, the loss of a job, and more to the point of this article, the loss of a romantic relationship or a breakup. Grief is our response to loss.

It is hard to heal from grief without first acknowledging it’s presence. Because grief is often accompanied by heavier emotions such as anger and sadness, people sometimes try to avoid feeling anything altogether. This can be through alcohol, video games, or other escapist behaviours. While such avoidant behaviour may seem helpful in the short term, it can make healing more difficult as time goes by, because your underlying thoughts and feelings remain unaddressed.

On the flipside, it can also be difficult to grieve the loss of a relationship if you are still keeping tabs on your ex on social media. It can be difficult to move on from missing your ex when you are constantly seeing updates about their life.

What You Can Do: Process Your Feelings 

Instead of avoiding your feelings or bottling them up, talk through them with a trusted friend or family member. Talking about your emotions can help to make you more aware of what you are experiencing.

Some of us may feel that we might be burdening those around us, while others may feel as though they are gossiping about their ex, which they would prefer not to do. There could also be the worry that the person we choose to confide in may take sides. In such instances, therapy is a common option. Professional therapists are trained to be neutral and objective, and to hold a safe space for you to air your concerns.

Different people grieve in different ways; there isn’t a wrong or right way to feel. Feelings are  your body’s way of signaling to you cues about yourself and your situation. As you start to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, one thing you can do is to ask yourself what exactly it is that you miss. Do you miss your ex (the person)? The constant companionship? Being physically close to someone? The activities you both enjoyed together? Or is there something else about the relationship that you miss? When you find out what your current unmet need is, you can then find other ways to fulfil that same need.

Reason 2: Reminiscing Through Rose-Tinted Glasses

One possible reason why we might still miss an ex is that we reminisce only the good times and overlook the less desirable aspects of the lost relationship. In other words, we view the lost relationship through “rose-tinted glasses”. For instance, we might fondly recall how spontaneous our ex was on a trip together, and how much fun that was. Meanwhile, in reflecting about a past relationship, we may downplay or dismiss our ex’s tendency to frequently behave poorly and being passive aggressive or emotionally abusive.  

What You Can Do: Adopt a More Balanced Perspective

Instead of being swayed by the good memories, consider adopting a more balanced perspective of the lost relationship and your ex. No one is perfect, and no relationship is perfect. That being said, the idea here is not to convince yourself that the relationship was a terrible one. After all, you had your reasons for choosing to be in the relationship in the first place. You know that there were desirable aspects of your ex and your relationship.

Rather, the gist of it is to take a step back and assess the entire relationship more holistically and realistically, for everything that it was (and was not). What were the things that went well? What were some things that did not go as well as you would have hoped? What possible reasons might have contributed to the end of the relationship? Are these reasons still relevant, or were they resolved? Is there anything you might want to do differently in your next relationship? If an unbiased observer were to comment on your relationship, what do you think they might say? If your friend was in a similar situation and came to you for advice, what might you tell them?

Unpacking these questions allows you to arrive at a more objective understanding of your past relationship, as well as consciously single out elements you would not want to repeat in your next relationship.

Looking at things from a balanced perspective helps us to recognise the merits and flaws in the relationship objectively.

Reason 3: Losing Your Identity Along With the Lost Relationship

If a large part of your identity was intertwined with your relationship or your ex, a breakup may leave you missing your ex and feeling empty. It might even feel as though a part of yourself is gone. For example, if you and your ex had plans for the future together, the sudden loss of this imagined future can be quite daunting.

What You Can Do: Spend Time on Things That Are Meaningful to You

Spend time on things that are meaningful to you. This may include building up your sense of self. For instance, who are you as an individual? How would friends or family members describe you? What activities did you enjoy before you got together with your ex? What values are important to you? How did these values come to be important to you?

You may also wish to focus on other aspects of your life. This may include engaging in your hobbies or spending time with those who matter to you.

Reason 4: A Lack of Closure

Sometimes, we might still miss our ex due to a lack of closure following the breakup. For instance, we may have disagreed with the decision to break up in the first place, or the reasons for the breakup. It is also possible that we were blindsided and never even saw the breakup coming. Some exes may decide not to provide any reasons for the breakup. Imagine the shock and confusion! After the breakup, we may keep thinking about the breakup and trying to make sense of why it happened.

What You Can Do: Accept That Some Things in Life Will Be Out of Your Control

There will be many things in life that are out of our control. Generally, this includes what other people choose to say or do (or not). It can be helpful to remind ourselves of what is within our control and what is not within our control.

In a breakup, for instance, asking why our ex has decided on a breakup is something we can control, but whether an ex wants to respond to that question, or how they choose to respond, is not within our control (no matter how hard we try).

Reminding ourselves of what is and is not within our control allows us to do what we can and acknowledge that the rest is not up to us. Being able to accept that some things are out of our control can contribute greatly to healing. Much easier said than done, of course! This is where practice comes in handy.

 Reason 5: Having Harsh Self-Expectations

At times, our struggle with missing an ex stems from our own expectations of ourselves. These expectations may be conscious or unconscious. Examples include expecting ourselves to “just get over it already”, or that we “should not” or “must not” miss an ex, for example. We may also have expectations of how fast we “should” move on from missing an ex. What expectations might be present in your situation? Where could these expectations be coming from?

What You Can Do: Be Kinder to Yourself

Missing someone after a breakup is normal and happens all the time. It simply means that you had a real connection that meant something to you. It is perfectly alright to give yourself time to heal and grieve the loss of the relationship. If the struggle does not subside with time, allow yourself to confide in your loved ones, or to seek professional help. People seek professional therapy for all sorts of reasons – struggling with missing an ex is no exception. However, if your feelings ever get too overwhelming, or you feel hopeless or helpless, reach out to your local suicide crisis hotline for more immediate support.

Many people tend to be nicer towards others than they are to themselves. For instance, when a friend has gone through a breakup and is missing an ex, we might be kind, gentle, and patient with them. However, when we miss an ex, we might berate ourselves instead. Does the saying, “We are our own harshest critic” resonate with you? If so, consider challenging yourself to be as kind with yourself, as you would be to a close friend or family member.

Missing an ex may bring about negative feelings, and finding the root of why you miss them is key.

Conclusion: Why Do I Miss My Ex? 5 Common Reasons and How to Stop

Missing an ex is experienced by people all over the world. There could be many reasons why a person may struggle with missing an ex. None are right or wrong; different people grieve and heal in different ways. Various coping techniques and forms of support exist – you may need to try out a few to find out what works best for you, given your situation and your preferences. Each person’s situation is unique. A professional therapist can help you to get to the root of why you may be struggling with missing an ex, and explore some ways in which you may cope better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I miss my ex so much? What causes people to miss their exes?

There are various reasons why people might miss their exes. Some examples include not having grieved the loss of the relationship, viewing the lost relationship through rose-tinted glasses, losing your identity along with the lost relationship, a lack of closure following the breakup, and having harsh expectations of ourselves.

Is it normal if I miss my ex? (eg I miss my ex who dumped me, I miss my ex physically, I miss my ex girlfriend, I miss my ex boyfriend, I still miss my ex, I miss my ex so much, I miss my ex husband, I miss my ex wife.)

Yes, it is normal to miss your ex following a breakup. Afterall, you both shared good times together too. Many people seek professional therapy after a breakup to make sense of the loss, and to work on coping better or being more resilient. You do not have to wait for a situation to get worse or “bad enough” before you start trying to make it better. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed and thoughts of suicide have crossed your mind, contact your local suicide crisis hotline for support.

What does it mean if you still miss your ex?

Missing your ex is a common and normal experience. What it means is that you had a connection with someone, and that that connection meant something to you. Missing an ex does not mean that something is “wrong” with you.

When will I stop missing my ex? How long will you miss your ex for? (eg I miss my ex after 2 years, I miss my ex years later.)

The grieving process may look different for each person. Common emotions associated with grief include sadness and anger. There is no fixed timeline on how long you will miss your ex for. Also note that you might feel better on some days, and you might not feel as good on other days – this is all part of the healing process.

Join our newsletter

Latest mental health insights, tips and news delivered to your inbox monthly

Is it normal to miss your ex when in a new relationship?

It is normal to miss your ex. However, if missing your ex is putting a strain on your current relationship or is affecting your life significantly, you may wish to speak to a professional therapist to process your feelings. Couples therapy is another common option.

I miss my ex so bad but I found out a way to get back together!

Many couples do get back together after a break up. What is important here is awareness of your own thoughts and feelings. What exactly did you miss – your ex, or companionship? What made you decide to get back together with your ex? What were some of the reasons that contributed to the breakup in the first place? Are those reasons still relevant, or have they been addressed?

I miss my ex so much - How to stop missing your ex? What to do when you miss your ex? What do you do when you really miss your ex?

Different people cope in different ways. It may take some time to find something that works for you. Seeing a professional therapist can help with this process. Some of the things you can do when you miss your ex include processing your feelings, adopting a more holistic and realistic perspective of the lost relationship, focusing your time and energy on things that you find meaningful, noticing what is and is not within your control and practising acceptance for the things that are not within your control, as well as being kinder to yourself.

How to forget my ex?

It might be difficult, if not near impossible, to forget a person entirely, especially when you have had a close bond with them at some point.

Some people may find it beneficial to cut communication lines with their ex, unfollow their ex on social media, or get rid of things that remind them of their ex.

Yet, even as one moves on from their ex, reminders of one’s ex may occasionally pop up – some of which are not easy to rid oneself of – such as, mutual friends, places, and even calendar dates (eg anniversaries). Avoiding all such reminders of your ex may not be realistic or practical. What matters more is how you respond to these reminders, and the degree to which it impacts your current life.