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. But as you walk past a café on an ordinary Tuesday, you see a couple sharing a milkshake. You innocently think, been there done that.
But then you find yourself thinking, “Does he share a milkshake with someone else now? Who will I share my milkshakes with? Will I ever share a milkshake with somebody again?” And before you know it, there you are, falling through the rabbit hole of milkshakes and exes and memories. My friend, we’ve all been there. It’s very common to miss your ex. And this is where most people (including you) need help.
Today, we’re talking about the 9 reasons you miss your ex and the 5 things you can do about it. We’ve got you covered. To give you a better understanding of missing someone and healing, I have roped in an expert who’s one of the best in his field. 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 pining and longing.
Now on to exploring why we miss our exes even when we know they aren’t good for us. Why do we slip into these old patterns repeatedly? And most importantly, what can we do about our feelings?
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:
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 even though I left him? 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-boyfriend? 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 very 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 the case of a long-term relationship. A breakup fundamentally changes 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 be missing your ex because you are profoundly confused about where you are going. Therefore, it’s really no surprise you’re asking, “Why do I miss my ex-girlfriend?” or “Why can I forget my ex-boyfriend?”
2. Why do I miss my ex? Hunky-dory flashbacks
There are times when you miss your ex but don’t want them back. Sage laments, “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.
And being away from the one we love is quite difficult for sure. The feelings are so evidently there, and maybe they aren’t over you too; perhaps it’s a right person at the wrong time situation. But if there really are chances of you both getting back together, I’m sure it’ll happen in due time.
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 when in a new relationship? Yes. It is. When you miss your ex 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. Taking time to heal from the past within the structure of a new relationship is normal. Won’t you miss a close friend if you had a falling-out with them? Then why torture yourself when you miss your ex? Why doubt yourself and ask, is it normal to miss your ex 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 important thing is to not shame yourself, and accept the flow of these 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 the partners who have tormented them emotionally and physically. Since the trauma runs deep, missing an abusive ex is very common after the breakup. Several people note: I miss my ex so much even though I left him/her.
Kashish explains the dynamics of abuse, “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.”
5. Others don’t match up
Try to figure this out: When do you miss your ex 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 miss your ex the most? But here’s the worst one. It feels utterly ridiculous when dating makes you miss 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 seeing other 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 dating makes you miss your ex, 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 fourth stage of rebound relationships. 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.
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. Questioning your identity and wanting to go back to your own self can make you question, “Why do I miss my ex?”
Related Reading: Ways To Move On And Find Happiness All Over Again
7. Why do I miss my 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 closure. You have to heal by yourself.”
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 in the absence of closure. 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 on is the Titanic. Everything is great until the ex’s photo pops up on your timeline and you see her with another man/woman. 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 or following them on Instagram 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. 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
Things To Do If You Miss Your Ex
When you miss your ex, everything becomes a ball of pain. Your insides twist and you’re full of longing. You miss them like 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 in this moment, “What was it all for? Have I not moved on at all?”
Listen, you better read this when you miss your ex so much. 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. And it’s normal to miss them. Remind yourself of these things when you miss your ex.
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 start 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 miss 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. Missing an ex can be tackled in 5 main ways, and 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 things to do if you miss your ex.
1. I miss my ex but I want to move on – Grieve the relationship
And honor it too. Kashish explains, “When a relationship comes to an end, it’s important to recognize the role it played in your life. Honor it (and your partner) 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.”
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 and getting over an ex.
2. Why do I miss my ex? “I can resist anything except temptation”
So said Oscar Wilde, and 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. Don’t act on any of these ideas.
If you’re missing them 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. 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.”
Related Reading: 18 Proven Ways To Get Over Your Ex–Boyfriend And Find Happiness
4. 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 people?
This exercise in self-awareness will go a long way in helping you. 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 a little bit of 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.
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5. Become a busy bee
Buzz-buzz your way to joy. Settle on a period of time in which you won’t date anyone. Get comfortable and happily single; 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, 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. Once you’re a little more stable by yourself, you can think of dating again.
To sum up all that’s been said, 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 way to recover 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.