Going through a breakup can be extremely distressing; it can fill you with self-doubt, anger, sorrow, and in some cases even remorse. The emotional upheaval can raise innumerable questions in your mind that may linger on even after you’ve moved on to a better relationship than the last one. One such question is: “Why do I still think about my ex?”
Thinking about your ex, again and again, is not unusual since it is human nature to compare the past with the present. Letting go of a past relationship is never easy. You might have found yourself in a quandary, wondering, “Why do I still think about my ex when I have someone new?” Let us put our heads together to ponder over the probable reasons you keep on going back to your ex (thankfully, only in your mind).
What Does It Mean When You Keep Thinking About Your Ex?
When Marie caught herself thinking about her ex for a good one hour, she was horrified. She was in a new relationship and the guy was so nice, so why was she thinking about the past? Thoughts like unresolved feelings and unfinished business began to haunt her. She called her best friend, Tiana, right away, who helped her ease her mind. Tiana explained thinking about an ex is normal and doesn’t mean she still has strong feelings for her former partner.
Human beings are a creature of habit. Our brains love to follow a routine, we take the same route home from work, we eat sandwiches the same way (edges first and then the juicy center), and we slip into the same comfy pajamas night after night, ignoring the fact that they’re begging to be discarded. The same goes for the routines we formed in a former relationship.
It is ok to get flashbacks of memories when you do something with your new partner that you used to do with your ex. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have not found closure, it is just how your brain is wired. But if this keeps happening to you frequently, then you need to get to the bottom of why it is happening.
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9 Probable Reasons You Still Think About Your Ex
Being stuck in a timeless loop of the good ol’ days, reminiscing about your ex, can get really annoying to the point of you exasperatingly asking yourself, “What are these long-lost memories popping into my head? Why do I still think about my ex after 10 years?” (Yes, an ex can continue to haunt you even after 10 years!) Your feelings for your ex can linger on longer than you would have ever thought, for a thousand reasons you would have never imagined. Let us get to the heart of the matter to help you comprehend, “Why do I still think about my ex?”
Related Reading: Being Friends With An Ex You Still Love – 8 Things That Can Happen
1. The X-factor in your ex
One of the reasons for thinking about your ex again could be little things that you enjoyed the most in your previous relationship but are missing in your present one. It could be compatibility, comfort, passion, chemistry in your relationship, or anything else! Because you’ve experienced that fiery relationship before, you continue to long for it.
One of my dearest friends, Liz, has been in an incredible relationship for the last 2 years. While she is grateful for everything that she has found being in love with Sam, she keeps on returning to what she once had. During one of our night outs, she confessed, “I still think about my ex but I have a boyfriend. I miss the camaraderie we had, I miss how we got along like a house on fire.” You see my point here? You might have everything that you ever wished for in your relationship, but there would still be that one thing that may keep you longing for more (and that is invariably the thing that was the best part about your failed relationship with your ex).
2. You are still following them
When we say you are following them, we don’t mean to say that you are stalking them physically. Following your ex on social media platforms to keep tabs on them will eventually lead you to think of them in innumerable ways. If you are someone who questions, “Why do I still think about my ex after 10 years?”, the answer lies in your Instagram. You have not removed them from your life completely. You are still a witness to their existence and their life experiences and are unwittingly inviting them into your thoughts as well.
Keeping a regular check on your ex can actually do you more harm than good. It can make you sulk thinking about your ex again, especially when you see them moving on after the breakup. Couples who part ways following a bad tiff are more likely to feel distressed and even jealous on seeing their ex getting into a new relationship. Either way, keeping your old connection with them intact via social media can be one of the strong reasons you are allowing your ex room in your thoughts.
Related Reading: Should You Delete Pictures Of Your Ex From Your Instagram?
3. You miss the person you used to be in your ex’s company
Do you often wonder: why do I still think about my ex? Let me tell you, it is not your ex you miss; you miss the person that you were in your past relationship. It is an undeniable fact that every relationship and partner is different; likewise, we become a different version of ourselves in the company of different people. You miss your “self” from the past relationship more than your previous partner.
You might have been more carefree and spunky in your previous relationship, while now you may have become a more accommodating and understanding partner. A colleague of mine, Jane, found herself in a similar situation and she was cautious enough to identify the root cause. When she couldn’t help but return to the thoughts of her old flame every now and then, she deduced, “I still think about my ex when I have someone new because I miss who I used to be with him. I was so much more comfortable in my skin than I am now. Even though my present relationship is going steady, I haven’t cut the mental cord with my last one.”
4. You did not get closure after the breakup
“My sudden breakup struck me hard like a bolt from the blue. He did not bother to explain what went wrong… we could have worked on it together,” rues my neighbor, Ruth. The lingering feeling of loss, pain, and angst is evident in her tone. “And now…,” she continued, “I still think about my ex but I have a boyfriend.” This is what lack of closure does to you. Your brain is traumatized by the sudden emotional turmoil and it seeks an explanation for your breakup by taking you back to the old memories. You are thinking about your ex again because your brain is burdened with whys and what-ifs.
If you haven’t had closure after a breakup, you will find the process of letting go a lot more challenging. Without any finality, the transition might seem unacceptable even 10 years down the lane. And, once again you might find yourself in a conundrum: why do I still think about my ex after 10 years? It is the absence of closure that doesn’t let you get over your ex.
Related Reading: The Difficulty Of Moving On Without Closure
5. You have some great memories to go back to
We understand that your previous relationship wasn’t a bed of roses or it wouldn’t have reached a dead end. Equally understandable is the fact that you two have made some great memories together, memories that remain close to your heart, enveloping you in their warmth and giving you butterflies in your stomach. It is because of these special moments spent together that you keep revisiting the past, and then, ask yourself, “Why do I still think about my ex?”
It could be the little milestones achieved together, the celebratory occasions, the sweet stages of the relationship, the small obstacles faced together, or any other special memories that keep your ex fresh and alive in your mind. When you find yourself thinking about your ex, you need to remind yourself, “It’s because of the memories that I still think about my ex when I have someone new.” It is absolutely normal to relive those special moments; pleasant memories are meant to be cherished forever and your ex can be a healthy part of your reminiscences.
Related Reading: How To Get Over Someone You Love Deeply – 9 Steps To Follow
6. Underestimating yourself and thinking about your ex again
You continuously undermine your self-worth, wallowing in self-doubt. You seek refuge in the familiar territory and go back to the good times you have spent in your relationship. “I still think about my ex but I have a boyfriend”, says Tania. She admits how she struggled with low self-esteem following her breakup, considering herself to be the reason behind it. Wary of getting into a new relationship, lest she might end up getting her heart skinned again, she kept on holding on to the time spent with her ex.
Plagued by past experiences, your confidence caves in and you think of patching up with your ex. You think you had the best partner one can ever have, and the onus of losing them is on you, so you try to mend the ways and fix the relationship. As these thoughts of self-doubt make their way in, you get further embroiled in the thoughts of your ex, setting off the whole why-do-i-still-think-about-my-ex confusion.
Related Reading: 18 Proven Ways To Get Over Your Ex-Boyfriend And Find Happiness
7. You keep on comparing the present with the past
Wondering, “Why do I still think about my ex when I have someone new?” One of the reasons could be that you are holding your ex as a yardstick to measure your present partner. Even though you have moved on after your breakup, you never really got over them. You still look at them through the rose-tinted glasses, secretly wishing your partner would match up to the standards set by your ex. The comparison becomes even more pronounced when you disapprove of something in your current partner.
Your partner cracks a joke which you don’t find funny and you are instantly reminded of your ex whose sense of humor resonated closely with yours. The answer to your question, “Why do I still think about my ex?”, lies in your expectations from your partner being defined by your experience in your past relationship. In cases of rebound relationships, the previous standards are more often revisited, making you think about your ex over and over again.
8. You are yet to accept the harsh reality
Breakups are difficult to accept, let alone get over. Coming to terms with the fact that it is all over is indeed distressing and painful but that doesn’t make it any less of a reality. One of the reasons you’re not able to get your ex off your mind could be that you are yet to accept the fact that the relationship is over. Your innocent heartstrings strum to sing a melodious song out of the raucous clash.
You are not ready to acknowledge the end of the relationship and are still holding on to the hope that you can work things out. A sudden breakup is like a bitter pill: you don’t know how bitter it is unless you taste it, and once you do, it seems impossible to swallow. Living in denial offers you no solution and you only end up being in a muddle of thinking about your ex again. You need to accept the fact and try to move on, lest you find yourself ruing, “I still think about my ex when I have someone new.”
Related Reading: 18 Subtle Signs Your Long-Term Relationship Is Over
9. Your breakup has been a huge turning point
Your breakup has led to an important turn of events that left a lasting impression on you. It is no less than a watershed moment for you. Your life is never going to be the same again. No mushy talks, no late-night conversations, no date nights, and certainly no one to call a partner. But as they say, old habits die hard. It is next to impossible for you to imagine your life without the routine surrounding your relationship.
Even as you try to settle into a new relationship, the set old patterns tend to haunt you. You involuntarily pick up the patterns determined by your previous relationship and once again you are left to ponder over the rhetorical question, “Why do I still think about my ex when I have someone new?” However, it needs to be acknowledged that all this is natural; it is natural for the human mind to seek solace in the familiar and comfortable.
5 Things To Do When You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex
Love is like a drug. It gives you a high, it leaves you craving more. But most of all. it gets you hooked. So, it is not surprising that you think of your ex, who even if for a short while did make you feel loved. And like any addiction, the first thing to do is to admit there is a problem. Once you do, the following tips can help you in your journey of healing.
1. Cut all ties to your ex
This is the first and foremost step in the process of getting over an ex is to go cold turkey. Believe me, the no-contact rule works. If you are in touch with your ex, talk to them often, or you text each other a lot, then now is the time you stop. Having your ex in your life when you are not completely over them is painful. You keep thinking about what could have been and the dreams and wishes that ended along with the relationship.
Even when you think you’re completely over them or find yourself saying something along the lines of “I had a dream and now I am thinking about my ex all of a sudden, let me quickly see what they are up to”, don’t do it. You know you have moved on when you have become indifferent to a person. Until then, keep your ex out of your life, real and virtual.
2. Get rid of the shared items and reminders
If you want to forget someone you once loved, you need to declutter. Take a garbage bag, and start dumping all the things that remind you of your ex. That pebble you picked up on the beach, that soft toy he won for you, that dream catcher she made for you, dump it all, or sell it off (a little money from a yard sale never hurt anyone).
The idea is to not keep anything that reminds you of the best things about your ex or the time you spent with them. These thoughts will trigger painful memories. And you have no idea how therapeutic “out of sight and out of mind” can be.
3. Alter your routine
“Eating sushi has me thinking about my ex.” Go to a sushi bar that doesn’t have a very good rating and binge eat. The resulting upset stomach will make sure you will think of diarrhea and not your ex whenever you have sushi. Ok maybe this is too extreme, but you get the gist.
The idea is to create new memories and replace the old ones. So you used to walk down the beach together. Now start running down that stretch to help you keep in shape and distract yourself when you are thinking of your ex. A good way to let out all that pent-up frustrations too.
4. Remind yourself why you broke up
There is no denying that breakups are painful. You invested time and effort in a relationship, thinking this person is the one for you and this relationship will last forever. And it can be frustrating to think of all that you went through and the sacrifices you made for nothing. The truth of the matter is some relationships cannot be saved. Maybe the relationship took too many hits, or maybe it didn’t have a strong foundation, to begin with. No matter the cause, the relationship did end for a reason.
With time, you may forget all the pain and are left with memories of the best things about your relationship. So, thinking about an ex is normal in such situations. But it is also important to remember why you broke up in the first place and if it was something that you could have saved, you would not have been here. Acceptance is the key.
5. Seek help from a professional
Thoughts of an ex do crop up from time to time. It is natural. However, if your thoughts of your past love haunt you so much that it is affecting your current relationship or even the possibility of future relationships, no matter whether it’s a rebound relationship or a serious one, then maybe it is time to seek help from a professional.
If you are experiencing difficulties while trying to move on from a relationship, then trust me you are not alone. People who seek help in such situations are often able to get out of this mental rut and regain a sense of well-being. Bonobology counselors have helped many people lead better lives through online counseling and you could avail it too here.
- Breakups are difficult and it is normal to think about your ex once in a while
- Thinking about an ex doesn’t always mean you have lingering feelings for them
- If the thoughts of your ex are affecting your current relationship or possible relationships, then it is a good idea to seek help
Now that you have the answer to your question, “Why do I still think about my ex?”, you must have perceived the workings of your mind and heart in a different light. Which one of the above reasons is it that forces you into thinking about your ex again? Although it could be anything that triggers past memories, what is worth noticing here is its impact on you and your present relationship.
This article has been updated in October 2022
Yes, it is absolutely normal, and as we said, it is in human nature to compare the past with the present. I still think about my ex but I have a boyfriend and it is totally acceptable. There is nothing wrong with thinking about your ex again as long as it doesn’t hamper your present relationship.
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