Why Do I Miss My Ex So Much?

So it’s been weeks, maybe even months, since your breakup, but your ex is still the first thing on your mind when you wake up and the last thing you think about before you drift off to sleep. You find yourself constantly checking their social media, hoping for a glimpse into their life, and wondering if they miss you too.

If this sounds familiar, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why do I miss my ex so much?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

In this article, I’ll share some of the reasons why your ex still holds a special place in your heart. From the comfort of familiarity to the fear of the unknown, we’ll go through these complex feelings and emotions together. By the end, you might just find the clarity you need to move forward.

You Haven’t Fully Processed the Breakup

When a relationship ends, you might feel a storm of emotions or none at all, thinking you’re okay when, frankly, there’s a lot more going on underneath. Not fully processing a breakup can leave you with unresolved feelings that make you miss your ex terribly.

What can you do? Start by recognizing that it’s okay to feel lost — it’s part of the human experience. Seek out a friend to talk to or consider journaling. Pouring out your thoughts can bring you clarity and lead you toward healing.

You Haven’t Achieved Closure

Achieving closure with an ex means you’ve made peace with the past and the shared story has concluded in your heart. When we skip this step, we trap ourselves in a cycle of ‘what-ifs’ and ‘if-onlys,’ making us miss our ex as we search for an ending that makes sense.

But here’s a reality check: sometimes, relationships don’t give us the closure we crave. In those cases, you have the power to create your own closure.

How? Accept that some questions might remain unanswered. Instead of looking for closure from your ex, focus on closing the chapter yourself with self-compassion and affirming that it’s time to move forward.

You’re Not Allowing Yourself to Grieve

Grieving isn’t just for those who have lost someone to passing. It’s also for the end of relationships that were a big part of our lives. If you’re not giving yourself permission to grieve the loss of your connection, those feelings don’t vanish — they’re just buried, and they can make you miss your ex even more.

What you can do:

  • Let out your feelings rather than bottling them up.
  • Allow yourself to cry if you need to, without shame.
  • Don’t rush the healing process — it takes as long as it takes.

Remember, there’s no ‘right way’ to grieve. Find a method that feels right for you, whether it’s taking long walks or talking things through with someone you trust. By walking through the grieving process, you are acknowledging the loss, and with time, the weight of missing your ex will begin to lift.

You’re Experiencing Heartbreak and Withdrawal

It’s common to feel a sense of longing after a breakup, with moments that make you reach for your phone to text them, only to remember that chapter is closed. You’re missing the constant presence of someone who was a significant part of your daily life.

This transition can trigger withdrawal symptoms similar to those experienced when weaning off a habit. These symptoms might include the inability to focus, a loss in appetite, or even a physical ache.

To combat this, try to:

  1. Change your environment. Rearrange your room or explore a new coffee shop to create new experiences and possibly a new routine.
  2. Set small, achievable goals each day to find a sense of accomplishment and progress.
  3. Allow yourself small, healthy rewards when you hit those goals, whether it’s a favorite snack or an episode of a loved series.
"Even if you triggered the breakup, if the relationship was a close one, you feel the loss and suffer... A breakup means you are experiencing heartbreak and withdrawal.

The brain experiences massive withdrawal almost identical to a heroin addict quitting cold turkey. Withdrawal symptoms should be expected for at least six months. It’s important to increase your self-care during this time."

Dr. Brenda Wade | Clinical Psychologist | Relationship Advisor, Online For Love

You’ve Developed a Strong Emotional Attachment

Think of your past relationship like your favorite pair of shoes. They were comfortable, they went everywhere with you, and now even though they’re gone, you can’t stop thinking about how good you had it with them.

This attachment isn’t just about missing your ex; it’s about missing the intimacy and connection that you’ve grown to rely on.

What you can do: Don’t forget to spend time with friends and family who remind you of your worth outside of a relationship.

You’re Struggling With Low Self-Esteem

When we go through a breakup, it’s common to question our worth. We might think, “If I was good enough, why did they leave?” But here’s the thing: relationships end for a multitude of reasons, and it’s not a reflection of your value as an individual.

To build back your self-esteem:

  • Write down your personal strengths and accomplishments.
  • Engage in activities that make you feel capable and confident.
  • Avoid negative self-talk and replace it with supportive statements.

Remember, your value doesn’t hinge on someone else’s presence in your life.

You’re Idealizing the Past

Looking back, it’s tempting to see your relationship through rose-colored glasses, where everything seems sweeter. When we focus on the happy memories, the laughs, the holidays, and the quiet moments of connection, we tend to forget the not-so-perfect days.

Idealizing the past is one reason you may find yourself missing your ex a lot.

But let’s be real: every relationship has its ups and downs. To move through this, try to balance your reflection by also acknowledging the tough times and the reasons why the two of you are no longer together.

You’re Stuck in Constant Thoughts of “What Might Have Been”

Do you often find yourself playing scenarios in your head where things didn’t fall apart? Maybe in these daydreams, you both managed to work things out and are still happily together. It’s human to wonder “what might have been,” but getting stuck there can be a roadblock to moving on.

How to tackle this:

  1. Challenge these thoughts when they arise by asking yourself, “Is dwelling on these hypotheticals helping me move forward?”
  2. Redirect your energy toward personal growth and future aspirations.

Remember, your life story is not defined by one ‘what if’ but by the choices you make every day from this moment on.

"When a truly wonderful partner has moved on, the person left behind can become stuck in constant thoughts of “what might have been.” On another level, even if both partners chose to part ways, it can be easy to idealize the relationship by focusing on the high points.

When we consciously or unconsciously focus only on the positive elements of a former partner and the relationship, we can actually “brainwash” ourselves into forgetting the negatives—the very reasons that the breakup occurred."

Dr. Carla Marie Manly | Clinical Psychologist | Author, "Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend"

You Miss the Familiarity and Comfort

Good morning texts, shared inside jokes, a familiar hug – these are just a few of the things you might be missing now. It’s not unusual to yearn for the comfort of a routine built with someone you cared about; it’s like your favorite series ending abruptly – you’re left wanting closure and more episodes.

What this looks like: You may be seeking out places, songs, or even food that remind you of the comfort you used to find in your relationship.

Instead of staying stuck in the past, try this – create new memories with friends or find a solo hobby that excites you. New experiences can become the next comforting routine in your life.

"...Your partner was the person you called when you had exciting or difficult news. They were the person you called when you were having a bad day. Your partner was the person you texted throughout the day and the person you hung out with during your free time.

Once that relationship ends, you are now confronted with regular reminders that your partner is no longer there. You are no longer able to text them, call them, or invite them over, and you now have to readjust life..."

Melissa Wesner | Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Founder, LifeSpring Counseling Services

Your Ex Was the Center of Your World

When your ex was the main person in your life, it’s natural to feel unsteady once they’re gone. You may have built your routine, social life, and even your dreams around them. Now that the relationship is over, it can feel like you’re adrift in an ocean with no land in sight.

What to do about this feeling: Start by reconnecting with yourself. Rediscover old interests or find new passions. Create a life that’s centered around you – it might be time to learn that instrument or simply catch up with old friends.

You Feel as Though a Part of Yourself Is Gone

It’s not unusual after a breakup to feel incomplete, like you’ve left something behind. It’s as if the parts of you that grew and thrived within the relationship are suddenly inaccessible.

To address these feelings:

  • Acknowledge that it’s normal to feel this way. A breakup is a significant change, and it can take time to adjust.
  • Focus on the parts of you that are still very much present – your strengths, your talents, and your ability to love and be loved.
  • Envision your life as a mosaic – your relationship was just one piece of a much bigger, beautiful picture.

You’re Lonely and Craving Companionship

Loneliness post-breakup is like a quiet house that used to be full of noise and life. It’s normal and valid to miss the companionship you had with your ex – someone to share your thoughts with at the end of the day or to simply sit in silence with.

Here’s a tip: Cultivate connections that reach beyond a single person. Reinvest in friendships, nurture family relationships, and don’t shy away from making new connections. Social networks, community classes, or volunteer work can be excellent ways to feel connected.

Interacting with others can help ease the loneliness, and over time, you’ll find that the companionship you crave begins to fill in through a community, not just a single individual.

"...The sudden void and journey to acceptance is a shock to your emotional brain and can increase the perception of loneliness and isolation... When we miss someone, we tend to romanticize their good qualities and bypass the ickier ones, leaving us longing for someone who might be a lot more awesome in our imagination than they were in real life."

Kati Meyers | Associate Marriage and Family Therapist | Certified Life Coach and Mental Wellness Expert, Coaching by Kati

You May Be Dealing With Other Issues (Codependency and Trauma-Bonding)

If you find you’re missing your ex more than seems reasonable, it might be a red flag for underlying issues.

Codependency and trauma-bonding are complex dynamics that often keep people tethered emotionally to relationships long after they’ve ended. In codependency, you might have relied heavily on your partner for self-worth, while trauma-bonding can occur when intense emotional experiences have tied you to your ex.

If this feeling persists, it might be helpful to talk to a therapist who can provide insight and ways to cope.

"If you are still missing your ex-partner and it’s been a year or longer, we may be dealing with some other issues that are making it hard for you to move on, such as codependency and trauma-bonding... When we are trauma-bonded with someone else, we can make excuses for them, even if they are abusing us. “Oh, they didn’t mean to; they just had a rough childhood,” etc.

Regardless of the reason why you miss your ex, the remedy is always the same: Self-love, as well as working on improving our own confidence and self-esteem."

Katie Utterback, CLC | Life Coach and Founder, Elevated Aura

You’re Pleased by The Dopamine Boost After Thinking About Your Ex

It might seem strange, but reminiscing about your ex could be linked to the brain’s reward system. Each time you think of the good parts of your relationship, your brain can release a small amount of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter, which makes those memories oddly gratifying.

To shift away from this cycle, engage in activities that bring you a similar sense of joy or achievement. It could be as simple as finishing a workout or as significant as starting a project you’ve been dreaming about.

"...Think of it this way: your brain is a dog, and love is the treat. The dog does tricks and jumps through hoops just to get that treat. 

When you miss your ex, it's because the brain associated the reward "love" to that person, and it seeks those surging emotions that motivate and drive you to obtain that reward... So when you can't stop thinking about your ex despite cognitively knowing that you shouldn't, it's because your brain is pleased by the dose of dopamine that comes after repetitively thinking about your ex."

Sam Nabil | CEO and Lead Therapist, Naya Clinics

You Miss Who You Were With Them

Nostalgia can be incredibly powerful, and sometimes what you’re actually missing is the version of yourself that existed in the relationship. With your ex, you might have felt more adventurous, more outgoing, or simply happier. It’s important to recognize that you are still you, and those traits are still a part of who you are.

How to reclaim your identity:

  • Make a list of things you enjoyed doing both during and outside of the relationship.
  • Now, pick one of those activities and do it. Yes, it’s okay to enjoy these things on your own or with other people.
"Missing your ex is about feeling lonely that the person who had a great impact on your life isn’t connected to you anymore... It’s not just about missing the person, but it’s also about who you were with them and those beautiful memories you had with them.

You have invested so much in the relationship, and both of you have done everything to make the relationship survive different ordeals so, it's only human to feel like there's a missing puzzle in your life for the time being."

Davina Ramkissoon | Wellness Director, Zevo Health

You’re Afraid of Being Single

The fear of being single is like walking into a room full of strangers: it can be intimidating and uncomfortable. After a breakup, this fear might be one of the things that has you clinging to memories of your ex.

It’s not just about missing the person; it’s about missing the security of being part of a “we” instead of just a “me.”

To ease into this new chapter, focus on the benefits of single life. Reclaim your independence, explore new activities, and reconnect with friends and family. Embrace the flexibility to make decisions on your own and to rediscover your personal preferences and interests.

They’re Still in Contact With You at Some Level (Through Social Media)

Social media can create a persistent connection to our ex, making it difficult to let go. Seeing their updates can feel like reopening a wound just as it starts to heal. It’s a string that keeps you tied to them, their lives, and potentially, to the heartache.

What you can do:

  • If necessary, give yourself permission to mute or unfollow your ex. It’s not about being petty; it’s about your well-being.
  • Be mindful of your social media use. Instead of scrolling through memories, maybe take a break or use the platforms to join new groups with interests that inspire you.
"...Being able to still see what they are up to and who they are seeing or even liking statuses or viewing stories can keep a person attached and engaged, and they are more likely to miss them. It will make it really hard to move on without a clean break and distance at all levels."

Rebecca Weiler, LMHC | Licensed Mental Health Therapist

They Made You Feel Like You Don’t Deserve Anyone Else

After a breakup, especially one peppered with negative comments about your worth, it’s easy for those seeds of doubt to grow into a belief that maybe you don’t deserve anyone else. This emotional manipulation can anchor you to the idea that your ex was your only shot at love.

Remember, those thoughts are not the truth.

What you can do:

  • Reflect on the relationship objectively. Were those comments fair or were they a reflection of your ex’s own issues?
  • Affirm your self-worth daily. You deserve happiness and a partner who recognizes your value.

The journey of rediscovering your worth can be tough, but it’s necessary. It leads you back to a place where you know you deserve not just someone, but the right someone.

You Believe They Were “The One”

Believing that your ex was “The One” can wrap you in a narrative that maybe isn’t as helpful as it feels. It’s like locking away your best outfit because you think there will never be an occasion grand enough for it again.

This belief can make you miss your ex intensely because it suggests you won’t find someone who fits you so well ever again. But let’s take a step back. Sometimes “The One” is actually just a beautiful chapter in your life, not the entire story.

People change, grow, and what you needed back then might be very different from what will fulfill you in the future.

To open up your perspective:

  • Consider the idea that there can be multiple “Ones,” each suited to different stages of your life and growth.
  • Look around at friends and family who have found love more than once, and how their stories unfolded in ways they couldn’t predict.

Life, much like your story of love, isn’t a one-act play — it’s a series full of surprising turns and new beginnings. Your belief in “The One” doesn’t have to be the belief in a singular soulmate but in the hope that love will find you again, in another time, another place, maybe when you least expect it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I ever stop missing my ex?

Most people find that as time passes, the intensity of missing their ex decreases. It may not disappear entirely, especially if the relationship had a significant impact on your life, but the sharpness of the feeling typically dulls and becomes more manageable.

How can I tell if my longing for my ex is becoming unhealthy?

If your feelings are interfering with your daily life, causing depression, or preventing you from engaging with others and pursuing your personal goals, it may be time to seek guidance from a mental health professional.

What if I still have to interact with my ex due to circumstances like co-parenting or working together?

Maintain a professional and courteous relationship in those scenarios. Set clear boundaries, and focus on the task or responsibility at hand rather than the past relationship. It’s also helpful to establish clear communication channels that are used solely for necessary interactions.

Final Thoughts

Missing your ex is a complex and emotional experience that many of us go through after a breakup. It’s a journey filled with ups and downs, but by understanding the reasons behind your feelings, you’ve taken the first step toward healing and personal growth.

Remember, it’s okay to miss your ex but don’t let that longing hold you back from the amazing future that awaits you.

Embrace the lessons you’ve learned, cherish the memories you’ve made, and know that you have the strength to move forward. Your story doesn’t end here – it’s just the beginning of a new chapter.

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Leah is a creative soul with a passion for telling stories that matter. As an editor and writer at UpJourney, she channels her natural curiosity and imagination into thought-provoking articles and inspiring content. She is also a registered nurse dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact.

In her free time, she indulges her artistic side as a hobbyist photographer, capturing the world's beauty one shot at a time. You can also find her in a poor-lit room playing her favorite video games or in a corner somewhere, reading and immersing herself in the rich worlds of fantasy and dark academia.

At home, Leah is surrounded by love and laughter, living peacefully with her partner and their three adorable shih tzus.