Have you ever found yourself missing your ex, even though you know you shouldn’t?
Learn the reasons why you miss your ex so much, according to relationship and mental health experts.
Here are their insights:
Table of Contents
- You are experiencing heartbreak and withdrawal
- You miss who you were with them and the beautiful memories you had with them
- You may be dealing with some other issues that are making it hard for you to move on
- Your brain is pleased by the dose of dopamine that comes after repetitively thinking about your ex
- The person left behind can become stuck in constant thoughts of “what might have been”
- The sudden void is a shock to your emotional brain and can increase the perception of loneliness
- It takes time to fill in the gaps after a breakup
- They are still in contact with you at some level especially through social media
- Frequently Asked Questions
Dr. Brenda Wade
Clinical Psychologist | Relationship Advisor, Online For Love
You are experiencing heartbreak and withdrawal
Relationship breakups can be a painful part of your love journey, whether you are dating to mate or a serial monogamist. Most breakups are not mutual, and being “dumped” is a blow to your self-esteem and a rejection of your affection.
Even if you triggered the breakup, if the relationship was a close one, you feel the loss and suffer.
You miss the cuddles, the sex, the secret language you both understood, and the things you laughed over. All of that built connection, which means your body, especially your brain, has released a flood of bonding hormones.
If you are in a female body, you secrete oxytocin when you have sex, the same bonding hormone nursing mothers secrete when they hold their babies. Just imagine how strong that feeling is.
Because whether you’re in a male or female body, you get that orgasnic rush of feel-good hormones that light up all your physical, emotional, and even neurological circuits.
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.
This is how you heal the heartache, too. Create a self-care routine and follow it.
- Send out a friend alert and call a friend in the morning, one at noon and another one in the evening, for a quick affirmation that you are still lovable.
- Eat well.
- Get ample amounts of sleep.
Put down the beat-up stick, don’t kick yourself because negating yourself makes you feel worse. Instead, catalog what you did well and list what you would like to improve in your next relationship.
Don’t rush into the next relationship — out of desperation — you will likely double your pain.
Again, it takes about six months to recover fully, so use that time to evolve your “love skills” so that you can create a greater love next time. Self-care is imperative during a breakup.
Things you can do to help yourself move on:
Cut off contact
While it’ll be hard, you have to do it for at least a little while. Keeping your ex in your life while trying to move on is not a good idea. You have to take care of yourself and your emotional well-being.
Let go of the fantasy
One of the hardest things is not mourning the relationship you had with the person; that relationship obviously went bad. It’s mourning the relationship you could’ve had with the person.
You have to let go of that idea. That relationship didn’t exist.
Know that it’s okay to still love them
Love is the greatest gift in life. If love comes into your life, it’s never wrong. What needs to be understood is that sometimes love isn’t enough to make a relationship work.
However, moving on from a relationship doesn’t always have to mean that the love you feel ends. Sometimes the only way to let go is to love someone enough to want the best for him or her, even if that means not being together.
Learn to forgive and make peace with what happened in the past. Every experience is a lesson; every loss is a gain.
Wellness Director, Zevo Health
You miss who you were with them and the beautiful memories you had with them
Breakups are absolutely brutal, and it can leave you feeling empty for who knows how long. It feels like it’s the end of the world, well, maybe not the whole world but the end of the potential of what you could have been together as a couple.
“Why do I miss my ex so much?” It’s one of the most common questions from people who have gone through a breakup.
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 doesn’t have anything to do with whether you like to get back to them or not.
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.
While it may seem impossible at the moment because of the pain you’re feeling right now; you would want the pain to stop somehow and move on. There’s no magic potion that can make us forget the pain in an instant.
There are no shortcuts.
Everybody deals with breakups differently and at a different pace. Some people can move on within a month; some take years. We are all different, and we have different coping mechanisms. However, the first process you have to do is acceptance.
We all know it’s not easy and it takes time, but remember, it is a process that you have to get through to feel happy again, even without the person who made you happy once.
How do I stop missing my ex:
Get rid of the things that remind you of your ex
This is the most obvious thing to do. It’s even what your friends tell you to do, but a lot of people actually don’t do this. We like to hold on to happy memories. Looking at an old picture of you together will make you feel like maybe someday, there’s still hope that both of you can smile as you did in that picture.
Getting rid of those mementos feels like we’re deleting them into our lives.
Every time you spot something that reminds you of them, you’ll just keep on thinking thoughts that could even make you feel worse. Your “what if’s” won’t do you any good. Start thinking of “what will be” and hope that there will be brighter days ahead of you even without your ex.
Don’t contact them anymore
If not all, most of us have gone through a phase in our lives when we want to pick up the phone and beg them to get back to us. It is a tempting idea for sure, but it will do more harm than good.
The more you stick around, the harder it is to break habits and the harder it is to detach from the relationship. Use your time apart to move forward.
Related: How to Break Codependency Habits
Reconnect with friends
If you’re someone who spends time with your partner most of the time and he/she has recently broken up with you, it’s only human to feel like we’ve lost our person and feel empty.
Even if one person has walked out of your life, remember that you still have a lot of people who care for you, and they’re your friends.
You may not have been with them most of the time because you’re with your partner, but our friends will always be someone we can run back to. They are our shoulders-to cry on.
Reconnect with them. Share your feelings with your friends to make you feel better. You can do your favorite hobbies together as it will take your mind off your ex.
Start new hobbies
Some of us may have experienced that we were not able to do what we like to do because our partner doesn’t like doing those kinds of things. Maybe you wanted to go hiking, but your partner doesn’t like the outdoors.
It’s crucial to plan to spend your time for you to not think about your ex. Seek this opportunity to finally be free to express yourself. Go do that hike you’ve been dying to do. Go work out or discover new hobbies.
This is a time to make yourself better.
Give it time
It’s cliché to say that time heals all wounds, but it really does. The heartache of the moment weighs so heavily on us that it feels like there’s no moving on from the pain, but it will get easier with time.
Time may not heal all your wounds, but it gives you an opportunity to process your feelings.
Katie Utterback, CLC
Life Coach | Founder, Elevated Aura
You may be dealing with some other issues that are making it hard for you to move on
The first thing that I wonder about when I hear someone say they miss their ex-partner is “how long have you been separated?” If it’s only been a few days or months, I find that missing someone who was such a large part of your life makes sense, and I can empathize with that feeling.
Before I met my husband, I had my heart broken a few times, and I would wonder the same thing:
- “How can I miss someone so much when I used to be fine without them?”
- “How can I miss someone who hurt me so badly?”
The truth is that it takes time when we end a relationship – not just romantic relationships, but also friendships and estranged familial relationships.
In the Victorian Era, they would mourn a loss for a year and a day because they believed that you must get through the year of firsts without this person in your life. So if you just got out of a 10-year relationship, even if you were not married, this person was a major part of your life.
It’s going to take some time to adjust to your new normal, so be gentle with yourself. Give yourself lots of self-love and positive affirmations, such as:
“I am safe; it is only a change.”
And that segues me to my next point, which is 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.
Codependency is a term used to describe those individuals who are fearful of expressing their true thoughts, wants, needs, and desires out of fear that they will be abandoned.
A trauma-bond is more-so having a traumatic experience that keeps you feeling close and connected to another person, even if they are the one who abused you and created the trauma-bond, to begin with.
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.
Healing our codependency and trauma-bonds, and changing our mindset so that we know we are enough. We’ve always been enough, and we won’t settle again for less than what we deserve.
CEO and Lead Therapist, Naya Clinics
Your brain is pleased by the dose of dopamine that comes after repetitively thinking about your ex
Missing the people we’ve cut ties with excessively is a sign of unmanaged emotional withdrawal. It’s our brains perceiving “love” as a reward that you now lack — it craves the emotional and cognitive stimulation that “love” provides.
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.
After a breakup, increased levels of dopamine are released by the ventral segmental area of your brain. It prompts obsessive and repetitive thought processes driven by dopamine as a 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.
Sometimes, people still think about past relationships because of lingering insecurities and unfinished emotional businesses — even subconsciously.
The path to healing here is to divert your thought into focusing on your own growth and paying full attention to your own self-evolution.
Clinical Psychologist | Author, “Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend“
The person left behind can become stuck in constant thoughts of “what might have been”
It’s easy to miss an ex-relationship, particularly if the person was kind, loving, and a positive influence in your life.
If the ending of the relationship was not something you wanted, it could be truly difficult to let go of one’s hopes and dreams. 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.
It’s also common for people to reminisce about former partners when life feels difficult.
Whether a person is without a new partner and feeling lonely or in the midst of a dysfunctional relationship, turning to thoughts of an ex can fill an emotional void. Particularly if you are in a relationship with someone else, thinking about a former lover can certainly be a form of emotional betrayal.
In general, if you find yourself missing an ex, it’s important to take the time to explore why you are missing the person. Whether you’ve found yourself in a lonely funk and want to reconnect or are simply pausing to appreciate a wonderful former partner, pause to look inside.
Associate Marriage and Family Therapist | Certified Life Coach and Mental Wellness Expert, Coaching by Kati
The sudden void is a shock to your emotional brain and can increase the perception of loneliness
In no uncertain terms, break-ups generally suck- and on a variety of levels. A really difficult part of break-ups is not only parting with the person but also letting go of the “future fantasy” where everything worked out with this person.
The sudden void and journey to acceptance is a shock to your emotional brain and can increase the perception of loneliness and isolation, especially in current times where most of us are more isolated than we have ever been.
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.
We also tend to ruminate on the good memories and the “what could have been,” especially when we find ourselves lonely or missing that person or seeing other happy couples.
Understand that the good times you had with your ex are still totally possible, albeit with another partner.
Things that help in the “getting over it stage” are time and things that make you feel good. As much as I wish, there is no magic fixer to make you stop missing your ex.
However, there are plenty of things you can do to make the time a little less painful, such as:
- Allowing yourself to feel the emotions that come up
- Using your freed-up time for hobbies and other activities that invest in you and your confidence
I had a client who reached a very deep level of depression from a break-up and then to give herself something to do, she revamped her LinkedIn profile and started applying for her dream career positions.
Other people take up baking, or spin classes, or a new language. Also, as cheesy as it may sound, affirmations really do help.
If you are feeling down, flood your day with positivity.
Try listening to a motivational podcast in the morning. Also, know that even though what you’re feeling may seem like it’s going to go on forever, know that it is temporary – and yes, you are allowed to fake it ‘til you make it.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Founder, LifeSpring Counseling Services
It takes time to fill in the gaps after a breakup
It makes absolute sense that you miss your ex. You’re grieving! A relationship with someone you love and care about has just ended.
While many people find it annoying to miss their ex, it’s completely normal. What would be unusual is for someone to experience a breakup and not feel sad about it. In such cases, we might question whether or not that person actually had feelings for their partner in the first place.
While we most commonly think of grief as something related to death, there are many forms of loss, and a change in relationship status certainly is one of them.
After a breakup, there are gaps in your life that your partner used to fill.
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.
It’s no wonder you miss your partner. It takes time to fill in those gaps.
Licensed Mental Health Therapist
It’s is hard to lose someone we love. There could be valid reasons for ending a relationship, but it’s possible for feelings to linger on months or even years later, especially if there was a long history.
People go through stages of grief that are similar to a death, and as I often explain, it doesn’t always go in an upward direction of healing.
It can be more of a roller coaster where there are times where a person may feel healed or “over it” and other times when it still really hurts, and you may miss a person.
Sometimes people also still miss their ex because they are still in contact at some level, even just through text, especially when it comes to social media.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can missing an ex affect future relationships?
Missing an ex can affect future relationships, especially if it prevents you from moving on and investing in a new relationship.
If you’re still emotionally attached to your ex, opening yourself up to new experiences and building a deep emotional connection with someone else can be difficult.
If you’re struggling to move on from your ex, it’s important to take the time to work on yourself and your emotional well-being before entering into a new relationship.
This may mean engaging in therapy or counseling to address your thoughts and feelings, self-care, or focusing on your personal growth and development.
It’s also important to be honest and transparent with your new partner about your emotional state and unresolved feelings about your ex-partner. If you’re open and communicative, together, you can build a strong and healthy relationship based on mutual trust and respect.
The key to overcoming the impact of missing an ex on future relationships is to focus on healing and growth. By developing a strong sense of self and addressing unresolved emotional issues, you can confidently move forward and find happiness and fulfillment in a new relationship.
How long does it take to stop missing an ex?
There is no set timeline for how long it takes to stop missing an ex. The healing process is unique to each person and can be influenced by factors such as the length and intensity of the relationship, the reason for the breakup, and one’s coping skills and support network.
Generally, it’s normal to feel a sense of longing and nostalgia after a breakup, especially if the relationship is significant. However, with some time and effort, most people manage to move on and find happiness again.
If you’re struggling to stop missing your ex, it might be helpful to seek support from others or work with a therapist or counselor to develop healthy coping strategies and gain new insight into your situation. Remember that healing is a process that takes time, but you can and will overcome this difficult time.
Is it okay to stay friends with an ex if I miss them?
Staying friends with an ex(s) can be a tricky proposition, especially if you’re still struggling with feelings of attachment or longing.
In some cases, staying friends can provide a sense of comfort and support, but in other cases, it can prolong the healing process and make it harder to move on.
If you remain friends with your ex, setting clear boundaries and expectations is important. This may include limiting contact immediately after the breakup or avoiding certain topics of conversation that might trigger negative feelings.
It’s also important to be honest with yourself about your motives for staying friends. If you remain friends with your ex because you hope for a reconciliation, it may be better to take some time apart to work on yourself before considering a friendship.
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