Whether you haven’t been together in years or the separation is still new, missing your ex can be unsettling, frustrating, and alarming.
It can make you feel guilty if you’re with somebody new and can cause you to question if you should reunite with your former flame.
If you find yourself saying, “I miss my ex,” you’re probably wondering if it’s normal to feel this way, why you’re having these feelings, what they mean, and how to deal with them.
Is It Healthy to Miss Your Ex?
There’s a lot of concern about whether it’s healthy to miss your ex after a breakup.–especially if you’re in a new relationship.
- Does missing an ex mean you don’t care about your current partner?
- Did you make a mistake by ending your previous relationship?
- How long is too long to still miss them? Does it mean you’re still in love with them?
Regardless of the reasons for your breakup, your current relationship status, or the length of time since the relationship ended, the matter is you were with someone, and now you aren’t.
A loss is a loss, and there’s a process to coping with no longer having someone in your life.
Missing your ex is completely normal–as long as it isn’t obsessive and doesn’t hinder new relationships or experiences.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you still have feelings for them or that you should try to get back together.
Why Do I Miss My Ex? 9 Reasons They Are Tugging at Your Heart
You certainly had your share of bad times, but you most definitely had your share of good times, too. Missing your ex can happen for a variety of reasons.
Here are nine common reasons you might find yourself asking, “Why do I miss my ex so much?”
1. It’s still fresh.
Breakups take time to process. They are, after all, a loss–similar to a loved one dying or moving away. For whatever reason, your ex is no longer in your life, and that might take some time to get used to.
There’s no set amount of time it should take for you to be over it–in fact, chances are you might never get over it completely. But time is required to move past it. Be kind and patient with yourself. You’ve been through enough without beating yourself up even more.
2. You miss a feeling, not them.
It might not be them you’re missing at all, but instead a feeling or state of being. Maybe your ex made you feel alive and spontaneous or secure and confident.
Perhaps you miss the closeness and intimacy. The point is, it’s possible you don’t miss your ex, but who you were or how you felt when you were with them.
3. You miss their friendship.
Your ex wasn’t just a romantic partner–they were also your friend. Undoubtedly, there were good times in your relationship when you shared memorable moments, funny stories, and a close bond.
It’s also possible you miss something about them rather than them as a person. Maybe they had a great personality, made you laugh, or gave excellent advice. Just because you’re no longer together doesn’t mean they’re a terrible person. It just means they weren’t the right one for you.
4. You feel lonely.
You were comfortable with your ex, and you miss their companionship. You got used to having them around, and likely shared intimate moments. Missing the person who used to satisfy your cravings for love, attention, and affection doesn’t mean you crave them but can mean you aren’t currently satisfied in those ways.
Even if you have a strong support system, you might feel lonely. The closeness from romantic relationships is different from the closeness you feel from friendly or familial relationships. It’s normal to crave romantic intimacy.
5. There’s someone new in your life–or you want there to be.
Maybe you’re in a new relationship or feel ready to start dating but feel guilty. On a rational level, you know you shouldn’t, yet you can’t help feeling bad for moving on. New relationships remind you that your previous relationship ended. They can create fear and worry around expectations for the future.
Additionally, it’s common to compare potential new mates with your ex’s best qualities. It’s good to know what you do and don’t like in a partner–as long as you don’t put your ex on a pedestal.
6. You’re not over it.
Whether you are still in love with them or you’re still angry with them, it’s possible that you aren’t over your ex or haven’t made peace with the reasons the relationship ended.
You might need closure–or you might just need time. Note that closure does not mean you should contact your ex. Instead find a way to process what you need to process, learn what you need to learn, and move on.
Don’t rush it, though. Remove any timeline for when you think you shouldn’t miss them anymore.
7. It’s not him; it’s them.
You might have formed bonds with some of the people in your ex’s life. You spent a lot of time together and likely got to know his friends and family, maybe even considered them part of your own circle.
It’s okay to miss having those people in your life–those feelings don’t just go away. You need to process losing them the same way you lost your ex.
8. You’re trying too hard to forget.
You want to just be over it already! You’re sick of missing and thinking about them, and you want to be able to move on. Understandable for sure, but trying to force it only hinders the process.
You have to allow yourself time to work through your emotions naturally and fully. It might hurt, but you just have to bear with it until it passes.
9. Old habits die hard.
You likely picked up some habits when you were together, and you probably held onto them after the breakup. Consider the activities you used to do together and ask yourself if it’s something you did for them or if you genuinely enjoy it.
If it’s the former, replace the activity with something new. Otherwise, switch up the details to make it your own–do the thing in a different location or with different people.
Why Do I Miss My Ex All of a Sudden?
There might be periods where you don’t think about your ex at all, and then you suddenly find yourself missing them again.
- You experience reminders: Seeing a picture, passing a particular location, smelling their shampoo, or encountering a look-a-like can make you think of your ex.
- Certain events or times of the year: Birthdays, holidays, a work event you always attended together can trigger memories of old times with them.
- You need a shoulder to lean on: Maybe you’re under stress and miss the support your ex used to provide.
- The mind is a mystery: Sometimes, things enter the mind for unknown reasons. Have you ever found yourself randomly thinking about an episode of your favorite childhood TV show? Or had a song pop in your head out of nowhere?
What to Do When You Miss Your Ex
There isn’t a right or wrong way to deal with missing an ex. You have to work through your feelings in your own way–what worked for your best friend might not be the right solution for you.
However, here are a few guidelines to follow if you find yourself missing your ex:
Recall the reasons it ended
It’s easy to fixate on the good times when you’re missing someone. But keep in mind that the relationship ended for a reason. Instead of thinking about all the wonderful feelings and memories, consider the negative aspects that caused your separation.
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Express your feelings
Don’t hide your feelings or try to suppress them. Let yourself feel how you feel and find a healthy way to express yourself. Meditate, journal, talk to a trusted friend or relative, whatever you need to process your emotions.
It’s difficult to not think about someone when you sit around trying not to think about them. Pack your calendar with things you enjoy–dinner with friends, the movies with your sister, or a new Pilates class by yourself. Make sure you choose activities that don’t remind you of you-know-who.
Resist reaching out
This one is tough but crucial. It can be tempting to contact your ex when you’re thinking about them, but don’t! Talking to them can make it harder to move on, and think about how much worse you might feel if you find out they’re seeing someone. Refer back to #1 on this list–and then #3.
Hopefully, you’re doing this anyway, but showing yourself a little extra TLC when you’re feeling down is a great way to pick yourself up.
Make sure you eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Also, spend time doing something just for you–go shopping, get a massage, learn a new skill–choose something that brings you joy.
You can’t get rid of the Applebee’s where you had your first date, but you can toss or put away tangible reminders, delete “your” song from your playlist, and unfollow him on social media.
You can also do things the two of you didn’t do together. Don’t redesign your whole life–just rearrange certain aspects of it until your feelings pass.
If all else fails or you believe there are underlying issues, consider speaking with a therapist to process your feelings and find ways to deal. Know that there’s nothing wrong with you for needing help–and talk therapy might be just what you need to heal.
It’s common and normal to miss your ex–at least to an extent. Don’t obsess about the relationship, plot ways to get back together, or miss out on other opportunities for something that, however good it was, ended for a reason. Let yourself feel your feelings, then find constructive ways to better use your time.