Let’s paint a picture: It’s been seven months since you broke up with your ex. Things weren’t too good, but you’ve come a long way. You’re doing great at work and your social life is getting back on track. Gone are the days of sobbing at midnight or comfort-eating a tub of ice cream. There are no signs you miss your ex at all. But as you walk past a café on an ordinary Tuesday, you see a couple sharing a milkshake.
You find yourself thinking, “What if he’s doing the same thing with someone else now? Who will I share such moments with? Will I find anyone again?” And before you know it, there you are, falling through the rabbit hole. My friend, we’ve all been there. It’s very common to miss someone you love(d) and wonder what to do when you miss your ex. We’ve got you covered.
To give you a better understanding of what happens when you’re missing someone, I have roped in an expert. Kashish Vyas, an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) therapist and practitioner who believes in working with the ‘inner child’ within everyone, sheds light on the reasons people miss their exes and some healthy coping mechanisms to deal with these feelings of longing. Now on to exploring why we miss our exes and how to get rid of these old patterns.
Why Do I Miss My Ex – 9 Reasons
The first person to ask me why they miss their ex was a close friend of mine. Almost two years after her breakup, she broached the subject randomly, “Why do I miss my ex so much even though I left him?” I answered in abstract terms because I had no appropriate answer or words of advice. Now, all this time later, I know why she was feeling that way. My knowledge comes three years too late but I know just how crucial this phase can be. Armed with this new knowledge, I suggest you read this when you miss your ex so much it hurts.
We’re at our most vulnerable when our partner’s absence dawns on us; feeling empty after a breakup is quite common. Calla Quinn’s hauntingly beautiful words come to mind: “But nothing makes a room feel emptier than wanting someone in it.” It is important to be steered in the right direction when our emotions are reigning supreme. The first thing to do is to understand what we’re dealing with by exercising reason.
Missing an ex can stem from manifold reasons but a common denominator is certainly present. Kashish explains a common mistake we are all prone to, “When we start dating someone, we eventually try and fill the gaps within us through them. This happens quite unknowingly but our partners can never fill any void for us. It is not their responsibility or prerogative. We have to do our own emotional work. This is important to remember when you’re in a relationship, and when you’ve broken up as well. Perhaps you’re still trying to accomplish the same with an ex.”
On this note, let’s start exploring the possible reasons behind your questions – Why do I miss my ex after a year? Why do I miss my ex so much I feel sick? I miss my ex but I want to move on, how can I do so? And the trickiest one of the lot, why in God’s name do I miss my ex-girlfriend who treated me badly or my toxic ex-Prince Charming? Hope you’re buckled up because this ride is going to top every rollercoaster that exists.
Related Reading: 9 Expert Tips To Cope With Depression After Breakup
1. Your breakup is a watershed moment
A watershed moment is a turning point – nothing will be the same after it has occurred. A relationship becomes a huge determiner of routine. People become habituated to their partners – phone calls, texts, dinner dates, sleeping at each other’s place, or living together in case of a long-term relationship. Breakups fundamentally change that set way of life by disrupting routine.
Many people experience a loss of direction because the ground beneath their feet shifts. How to go about the day? Who to go back home to? Relationships lend context to our lives, and you might not be able to stop missing your ex because you are profoundly confused about where you are headed now. Therefore, it’s really no surprise that you’re asking: “Why do I miss my ex-girlfriend?” or “Why can’t I forget my ex-boyfriend?”
2. Why do I miss my ex? Hunky-dory flashbacks
There are times when you miss them but don’t want them back and yet wonder what to do when you miss your ex after months. It’s a frustrating, emotional, downward spiral, isn’t it? Sage, an artist from Ohio, laments that they are still in love with an ex, “Why do I miss my ex so much even though I left him? I made the decision, shouldn’t I have moved on easily?” Ah, it’s not so simple. You may not want them back for practical reasons, but your heart wants what the heart wants. You may have connected with them on an emotional, intellectual, sexual, romantic, or spiritual level.
It’s natural to miss them in this scenario and have flashbacks of how things were. Flashbacks of the past are a lot like a donut. They’re very sweet and appealing to look at, very well-rounded too – but they have a huge gaping hole in the middle. Things are always rosy in retrospect. Reminiscing about the shared moments is one of the primary reasons for missing your ex. It comes from a place of craving intimacy.
Kashish says, “It is a basic evolutionary need – we all want intimacy. And there’s a history with the ex as you’ve spent so much time together. I would say that you’ve experienced different types of intimacy with each other. And it’s always the good parts that you keep revisiting. It’s natural to circle back to them in your mind.”
3. “I won’t give up nah-nah-nah, let me love you”
These lyrics by DJ Snake could define your life. If you’re still in love with your ex, then you might be harboring hopes of a reconciliation. You’re missing them because you are hoping that they find their way back to you. Nothing wrong with an optimistic outlook as long as you aren’t losing sight of what’s real.
Being away from the one we love is difficult for sure. The feelings are so evidently there, and maybe they aren’t over you too. If there really are chances of you both getting back together, I’m sure it’ll happen in due time. Perhaps it’s just a right person at the wrong time situation.
But what if you don’t want to get back together with them? What if you’re dating someone new? Is it normal to miss your ex at night when in a new relationship? Yes. It is. When you miss them in a new relationship, it might make you feel guilty or ashamed or even make you doubt your love for your partner. That’s because we’ve grown up believing problematic myths regarding relationships. You may try to ignore these feelings in an attempt to “get over them.” But you already know it won’t work.
Missing someone who was close to you and was a safe space for you is normal. Spend time with yourself to heal from the past within the structure of a new relationship. Wouldn’t you miss a close, trusted friend if you had a falling out with them? Then why torture yourself with the question of what to do when you miss your ex? Why doubt yourself and ask, is missing your ex normal when in a new relationship?
If you are currently in a healthy relationship where you are open about your feelings, you can even talk about this with your partner. Or speak to a mature friend who won’t judge you. The last thing you’d want to do is shame yourself. Accept the flow of these new feelings. Understand where they are stemming from instead of nipping them in the bud.
Related Reading: 10 Signs To Know Your Relationship Is Over
4. Why do I miss my ex-girlfriend who treated me badly? Trauma bonding
An abusive relationship can have a lasting impact on people. Trauma bonding refers to the bond that victims of abuse form with their abusers. They can even fall in love with partners who have tormented them emotionally and physically. Since the trauma runs deep, missing an abusive ex is very common after breakups. Several such people note: “I miss my ex so much I feel sick.”
“Most people try to complete themselves through a relationship. Even abusive relationships are an attempt at the same. The dynamics become twisted when one person begins controlling the other. A lot of work goes into healing and moving on from an abusive relationship because much reflection is required,” shares Kashish while explaining the dynamics of abuse.
5. Others don’t match up
Try to figure this out: When does missing your ex hurt the most? Is it when you have a falling out with a friend? Is it when you’re drunk and uninhibited? Is it when you see another couple madly in love? Or hearing about someone’s passionate night of sex is when you get heartsick over your ex the most? But here’s the worst part. It feels utterly ridiculous when dating makes you long for your ex. Here you thought you are taking five steps forward by dating new people and they seem to pull you back toward your ex. Ugh.
The yardstick for measuring your rebounds is invariably your ex. When you start to meet people after a breakup, you automatically compare them to your ex. You might think, “She laughs too loudly, Susan was never this loud in public.” Your disapproval of the current partner, even a certain trait of theirs, can make you miss an ex.
Every person will fall short unless you move on completely. When you wonder what to do when you miss your ex after months of going on dates, you either need to step away from dating for a while or allow yourself gently to miss them – knowing that one day, this feeling will pass.
The standards that the previous partner has set are hard to erase. You’re used to dating in a particular way, and rebound affairs or hookups can serve to bring back those memories. This is the last one in the stages of a rebound relationship. Dating others might make you think that what you had was special and irreplaceable – that such a connection won’t come by again.
6. You’re missing yourself
Post-breakup blues put a real damper on our lives. We become pessimistic and experience depressive phases. Lethargy, loss/gain of appetite, and insomnia can drag us down to rock bottom. This version of ourselves is quite disappointing to watch. Productivity is at an all-time low, and let’s not even get started on the lack of emotional stability.
“Why do I miss my ex even though they caused me pain in the end?” Because a partner brings out the best in us, you could be missing who you used to be with the ex. Outgoing, thoughtful, driven, and passionate. You might’ve learned new skills together too. Questioning your identity and wanting to go back to your own self can make you miss your ex.
Related Reading: Ways To Move On And Find Happiness All Over Again
7. Why do you miss your ex more as time goes on? No closure
Kashish puts it best when he explains, “Closure is so vital. It’s quite unfortunate that not everyone gets it. Missing an ex can come from a place where there are many unresolved feelings and issues, where you have regrets about the way things panned out. And the solution to this is not forcing a closure. Rather, you have to heal by yourself and move on in the absence of closure.”
So true. Maybe you regret saying something harsh or doing something hurtful. My sister’s ex could not get over her for three years because he cheated on her. The guilt and desire to make things better did not allow him to move on. This is also one of the reasons that parting ways amicably is essential.
8. Why do I miss my ex after a year? The internet is the culprit
Social media is the iceberg and your journey of moving forward is the Titanic. Everything is great until the ex’s photo pops up on your timeline and you see her with another person. She posts a status update that announces that she’s ‘taken,’ and boom! You’re spiraling and asking yourself repeatedly, “Why do I miss my ex-girlfriend?” This is precisely why you should block your ex on social media.
Being friends on Facebook, following them on Instagram, or even pestering mutual friends complicates things. You find yourself stalking them or having “midnight conversations” (WE ALL KNOW HOW THOSE GO) with them. Of course, you miss them, they’re present in your life all the time. Take my advice and unfollow the ex ASAP.
9. A for acceptance
This is the part where you get defensive. A strong possibility is that you’re missing the ex because you haven’t come to terms with the breakup. Your self-esteem is over-dependent on the fact that you are with someone. What’s the word I’m looking for? Denial. Registering and processing the event (as well as the emotions it entails) are crucial to moving on. You can’t be an ostrich and bury your head in the sand.
Not acknowledging what you’re going through, dismissing your feelings, or bottling them up is a recipe for emotional disaster. If you find yourself saying things like “Why do I miss my ex more as time goes on?”, then you need to properly grasp the end of the relationship. Did any of these reasons resonate with you? Did you have a moment where you thought, “Oh God, THAT’S what it is?” If yes, it’s time to take the next step. Scroll down to continue reading about what comes after unraveling the “why do I miss my ex” mystery.
Related Reading: 22 Tips To Forget Someone You Loved Once
What To Do When You Miss Your Ex
When you miss your bygone love, everything becomes a ball of pain. Your insides twist and you’re full of longing. You miss them as you’ve only spoken to them yesterday, but in truth, it’s been a year and a half. All your recovery, all that therapy, all your meditation, and self-care reminders seem to have been in vain. You wonder at this moment, “What was it all for? Have I not moved on at all? Has he moved on? Are they over me?”
Listen, you better read this when you’re struggling to stop missing your ex. Of course, you’ve made recovery. Of course, you’ve moved on significantly. You don’t double down in emotional pain every now and then anymore. Note your frequency of breakdowns or when the longing gets too much. You’re moving on. You’re healing. Even if you’re dating again after the breakup, it’s normal to miss them. Remind yourself of these things when you are bereaved with the constant question of what to do when you miss your ex but you have a boyfriend.
The fight to stop missing your ex after a year and a half can still feel like the first time you began to miss them after the breakup. It’s because our minds can access those feelings easily, and bring them back to us whenever we spiral. Just because your remarkable storehouse of information and memories chose to make you think you’re still in danger of loneliness, it doesn’t mean it’s true.
Observe this information your brain is trying to give you when you can’t stop missing your ex after a year or so. See what your body and mind are trying to tell you. Which unfulfilled need(s) of yours are they trying to pinpoint? Look at your longing with a feeling of curiosity, and then go back to your self-care routine to soothe yourself. It’s also good to make a list of the reasons you broke up so that you can look at it when you’re wistful about your ex but don’t want them back. This will help you handle self-doubt and clear your mind.
Since you now (hopefully) know WHY you’re missing your ex, half the job is done. We now move toward how to cope with the breakup and its consequent feelings. In this segment, we are going to roll up our sleeves and talk about the plan of action. Because awareness is incomplete without decisive action. To stop missing your ex, read through these five tips. Almost all of them have more to do with you than with them. Get ready to make a to-do list of self-improvements because you’re in for an emotional makeover.
Kashish gives us another valuable (and comforting) reminder before we begin this journey of healing, “I have had cases where my clients have taken a very long time to even reach a place where they can talk about what needs work. So, no healing method or practice is an instant formula. You have to go in remembering that it takes time. Healing is scientific, it is logical, but it is also messy. And of course, it is never, ever linear.” Hold this close to your heart, and dive into these answers to the hallowed question — what to do when you miss your ex?
Related Reading: How To Get Over The Depression Of Breakup?
1. “I miss my ex but I want to move on” – First, grieve the relationship
And honor it too. Kashish explains, “When a relationship ends, it’s important to recognize the role it played in your life. Honor it (and your ex) because this was a place where your time, efforts, and heart were invested. Of course, don’t romanticize it – just be cognizant of the place it once held. The first step is to stop blaming your ex and the relationship.”
Instead of suppressing emotions, cry it out. Finish several boxes of tissues, and cry over pictures or memorabilia. Sleep in their t-shirt, and read old texts. Do all that you need to for the pain. You’re allowed to be a sobbing, snotty mess lying in bed. This is the very first step in healing from this loss.
2. Resist temptation constantly
“I can resist everything except temptation,” so said Oscar Wilde, but you needn’t take inspiration from him. My message to you is the opposite. When it comes to your ex, resist temptation constantly. Feel like sending a text? Resist. Want to call them? Resist. Thinking of a friends-with-benefits or an NSA relationship with them? RESIST. Acting on any of these impulses wouldn’t be a good idea and you’ll keep wondering: Why do I miss my ex?
If you can’t stop missing your ex without having any contact, imagine what will happen if you establish a line of communication. Shun all these poor choices. If you’re planning on going drinking, give the phone to a friend or delete the ex’s contact. If I had a penny for each time a friend said, “I miss my ex when I’m drunk,” I’d be seven dollars richer by now.
3. Take time to reflect on the relationship and the reasons for the breakup
When you reflect on your past, it reveals a bagful of things that you missed in the chaos of overwhelming feelings. Think of all the tragic events that you have endured in the past. You can only gather information in hindsight, right? It is important that you calm yourself down and think about what was what and why things unfolded the way they did.
It can be helpful to reflect on the relationship and the reasons for the breakup. You gain insight into what went wrong in the relationship and what you can learn from the experience. Reflection can also help you identify any patterns or behaviors that may have contributed to the breakup. Were there always signs you’re entering a wrong relationship? To reflect, you can try a number of things:
- Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal can be a helpful way to reflect on your relationship. You can write about your experiences, your emotions, and your hopes and fears
- Talking to a trusted friend or family member: Talking to someone you trust can provide an outside perspective and help you process your emotions. A friend or family member can help you reflect on the relationship and the reasons for the breakup
- Seeing a therapist: A therapist can provide a safe and non-judgmental space to reflect on your relationship. They can help you gain insight into your thoughts and behaviors and help you develop coping strategies
- Practicing mindfulness: Mindfulness practices such as meditation or yoga can help you reflect on your relationship and your emotions. Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and develop greater self-awareness
- Writing a letter to your ex (but not sending it): Writing a letter to your ex can be a cathartic way to express your emotions and reflect on your relationship. However, it’s important not to send the letter, as this can lead to further emotional distress
4. Avoid idealizing your ex or the relationship
Look, we all compare our present with our past. It is just natural human behavior. When it comes to things like intimate relationships, this just becomes an involuntary response. When we are down, our mind automatically reminisces about the positive memories in a sad attempt to cheer us up. But what it forgets is the negative emotions, and the reasons that you broke up in the first place. So, you need to avoid idealizing the past.
After a breakup, it’s common to idealize your ex or the relationship. This can prevent you from moving on and finding happiness and new love. It’s important to remember that the relationship had its challenges and that there were reasons for the breakup. When you find yourself idealizing your ex or the relationship, try to focus on the negative aspects of your bond and go through your list of why it didn’t work out. This can help you move on and find closure.
Related Reading: 18 Proven Ways To Get Over Your Ex–Boyfriend And Find Happiness
5. Focus on another relationship
Namely, the one you have with your own self. After you have mourned the relationship and come to terms with some of the pain, sit down and reflect on the progression of events. Look back to your relationship and see where you went wrong. Could things have been done differently? Are you noticing a pattern? Do you tend to repeat certain self-sabotaging behaviors? Are you attracted to a particular kind of person?
Here are some ways exercises in self-awareness can help you move on:
- They help you identify your emotions: Self-awareness exercises can help you identify and understand your emotions. This can help you process your feelings in a healthy way and move on from your past relationship
- They help you understand your thought patterns: These exercises can help you become more aware of your thought patterns and the way you perceive and interpret situations. This can help you identify any negative thought patterns that may be holding you back and work on changing them
- They help you develop self-compassion: Self-awareness exercises can help you develop self-compassion and a greater understanding of yourself. This can help you treat yourself with kindness and forgiveness as you move on from your past relationship
- They help you set healthy boundaries: They can help you understand your needs and values, which can help you set healthy boundaries and prioritize emotional intelligence in relationships. This can help you avoid repeating the same patterns or behaviors that may have contributed to the breakup of your past relationship
- They help you develop a growth mindset: Self-awareness exercises can help you develop a growth mindset, which is the belief that you can learn and grow from your experiences. This can help you approach the end of your past relationship as an opportunity for growth
These exercises in self-awareness will go a long way in guiding you toward self-improvement. Everyone is flawed and perfection is a myth but we can prevent ourselves from repeating certain mistakes by being mindful. And introspecting after some time has passed gives us some objectivity. We come out of the ‘hurt mode’ we were in. This gives us a more detailed answer to “Why do I miss my ex?”, ultimately preventing us from making rash decisions.
6. Become a busy bee
Buzz-buzz your way to joy. Settle on a duration of time in which you won’t date anyone. Get comfortable and happily single; try something new, go out on me-dates, take up a new hobby, socialize with friends and family, travel for leisure, go to a counselor and heal, channel your energies into building your career, engage in some physical activity you enjoy, and more, much more. Think of it as Mission Me!
When you refocus from the ex to yourself, your life will become much simpler. Strive to find satisfaction and fulfillment by pursuing things you like and stay busy with them. You’ll realize that taking care of yourself is much more fun and much needed too. Once you’re a little more stable by yourself, you can think of dating again.
7. Seek professional help
Being independent is an awesome life skill but healing can require some professional help. Reaching out to a counselor or therapist is a great step forward. Kashish elaborates, “When there’s a discussion about relationships or attachment styles, you have to go way back. The formative years – that’s where it all begins. You have to look at the relationship you share with your parents because that plays a very valuable role in your present relationships.
“I call this the ‘shadow work.’ You have to do it for your well-being. When you go to a counselor, they make this journey easier – they speak to your inner child and fill the emotional gaps within. You gradually find peace as the sessions progress, and emerge as an evolved and emotionally stable individual.”
8. Be patient with yourself
Healing from a breakup takes time, and it’s important to be patient with yourself during this process. Don’t rush the healing process or expect to feel good overnight. It’s important to allow yourself to feel your emotions and to take things one day at a time. Celebrate small victories along the way, such as going a day without thinking about your ex, or doing something that makes you happy. Remember that everyone heals at their own pace, and it’s important to be kind and gentle with yourself as you work through your feelings.
- Missing your ex even after substantial time has passed is normal if you have been in a close and intimate relationship
- You may miss your ex because you are remembering the good times you shared together. It’s important to remember that the relationship ended for a reason, and focus on moving forward rather than dwelling on the past
- Sometimes, you may miss your ex simply because you’re attached to the idea of being in a relationship
- If you still have unresolved feelings for your ex, it can be difficult to move on
- Remember that hindsight is always 20/20; try to learn from any mistakes you may have made with your ex to improve future relationships
To sum up, your partner or ex can never do your emotional work for you. Healing is a slow process but you have to give it (and yourself) time. If you’re thinking, “I miss my ex but I want to move on,” we’re here to tell you that you definitely will. The best thing to do is to seek professional help which gives you the extra nudge that’s required. At Bonobology, we have relationship counselors ready to help, just a click away. Reach out to us if you need help. We’re always here for you.
This article has been updated in February 2023.