“I Miss My Ex” — 20 Things To Do To Ease The Longing

Sipping that morning coffee and catching a familiar scent, hearing that song on the radio, or just having one of those days—sometimes, we’re hit with a wave of nostalgia and a pang of longing for that once-significant someone and all you can think is, “I miss my ex.” While it’s natural to feel this way, you also need to channel that emotion constructively, especially if you know there’s no chance of reconciliation.

Below are some suggestions to help you deal with the overwhelming feeling of longing for your former partner. While they may not stop you from missing your ex immediately, in combination and when done often enough, they should help you begin to let go of that feeling and move on to a new and bright post-relationship phase of your life.

What to do when you miss your ex

  1. Engage in self-reflection. Before diving into any action, take a moment to introspect. Understand the root of these feelings. Is it genuine longing, or is it loneliness, boredom, or another emotion masquerading as missing your ex? It’s important to be honest with yourself about what’s motivating these feelings, especially if you want to change them.
  2. Journal your feelings. Put pen to paper. Keeping a journal may sound like something for melodramatic teenagers, but it can give you so much clarity, offer release, and even reveal patterns that may benefit from addressing. If you’re not sure what to write about, why not try some self-love journal prompts to help bolster your mood and remind you that you’re amazing with or without your ex.
  3. Reconnect with old friends. Often in relationships, we end up drifting away from our close pals. Now’s the perfect time to revive those connections and surround yourself with love and support. They’ll welcome you back with open arms and remind you of the bad b you were all along.
  4. Try out a new hobby. Ever wanted to learn the guitar or try pottery? Channeling your energy into something new and creative can be both therapeutic and empowering. Not only will this help with self-enrichment, but it’ll also act as a distraction to keep you from feeling like you miss your ex 24/7.
  5. Get a sweat on and do some exercise. Whether it’s hitting the gym, joining a dance class, or just taking regular walks, physical activity releases endorphins—the natural mood boosters. I know you don’t want to hear it but it’s totally true. Plus, something like boxing can help you take out all that anger you’re still hanging on to with your ex.
  6. Avoid drunk dialing/texting him at all costs. While it might be tempting after a few glasses of wine, resist the urge to reach out. Actions in the spur of the moment might lead to regrets later. You don’t have anything to say that he needs (or wants) to hear. Maintain your dignity and avoid this.
  7. Limit the social media stalking. While it’s natural to be curious, constantly checking their online activities only prolongs the healing process. Consider muting or unfollowing if necessary. Block him if you can’t keep yourself from looking. It’s just too painful sometimes.
  8. If you can afford it, travel. Change in surroundings, even if it’s a short weekend getaway, offers a fresh perspective and a chance to create new memories. Of course, jetting off to another country isn’t feasible for everyone, but even a few days away can do a lot to help you feel better (and like you don’t miss your ex so much anymore).
  9. Get back to pursuing your personal goals. Focus on personal aspirations, whether it’s climbing the career ladder, learning a new language, or any other passion that was on the back burner. This time is for you to do with whatever you want, so use it to your advantage!
  10. Talk to your therapist about how you’re feeling. That’s literally what they get paid for. Sometimes, talking to a counselor or therapist can offer invaluable insights, coping strategies, and a safe space to process emotions. They also just let you vent without feeling bad like you do with your friends.
  11. Limit triggers that put him back in your head. If certain places, songs, or activities magnify the feeling of missing him, it’s okay to avoid them for a while. Trust me, I know how tempting it is to wallow in that album you both loved while crying over pictures of you guys together, but that’s not going to do you any favors.
  12. Have plenty of self-care days. Treat yourself to spa days, pamper sessions, or simply a quiet evening with a book and wine. You deserve it! This helps you show yourself love and gentleness at the time when you really need it most. Don’t let that go!
  13. Remember the reasons the relationship ended.  Recall why the relationship ended. Understanding and accepting the reasons can offer clarity and prevent backsliding. This is one of the easiest ways to stop yourself in your tracks when you miss your ex. Focusing on the negative comes in handy here!
  14. Volunteer to help others.  Helping people, whether it’s through community service or charity work, can offer a sense of purpose and take the focus off personal drama. Nothing provides perspective more than seeing how bad some people really do have it. Do your part to make a difference.
  15. Accept the emotions you’re feeling. It’s okay to miss someone. Instead of fighting it, acknowledge the feeling without judgment, and trust that it’ll pass. You can’t compartmentalize to the point that you don’t feel that way anymore — let yourself feel your feelings. The only way out is through, they say.
  16. Reconnect with the old you who existed before the relationship. Explore yourself anew. Understand your desires, strengths, and what makes you unique, independent of any relationship. You were a strong, independent, vibrant woman before you met your ex and you will be again. Remember that.
  17. Avoid rebounds, however tempting. Jumping into another relationship hastily might seem tempting as a distraction, but it’s essential to heal and rediscover oneself first. Plus, you might think you’re doing yourself a favor by having no strings attached fun with someone new, but it rarely works out like that.
  18. Start a gratitude journal. Counting blessings and focusing on positive aspects of life can gradually shift the focus from the past to the present. Just make sure not to veer too far into toxic positivity. After all, not everything is all sunshine and roses in the garden. It’s okay to admit things suck sometimes — it’s all about striking a balance.
  19. Seek closure (and if he won’t give it to you, give it to yourself).  If it feels right and is feasible, consider seeking closure. Whether it’s a conversation or a letter never sent, find what helps you move forward. However, keep in mind that your ex may be unwilling or unable to give that to you. Accept that, and give yourself closure if necessary.
  20. Believe that better times are coming.  Every end is a new beginning. Trust that life has better and brighter things in store. Stay open to possibilities.

Is it normal to miss your ex?

Missing an ex after a breakup, even if they were less than stellar in their treatment of you, is absolutely a normal facet of human emotion. Our brains are intriguingly wired. For one, we have this innate desire to bond with others, and when those ties are severed, a sense of loss can envelop us. Moreover, our memories can sometimes play tricks on us.

After a relationship ends, we might find ourselves thinking back to the good times, conveniently sidelining the not-so-great moments. There’s also the inevitable disentanglement of lives that were once deeply intertwined. The routines you built, the shared experiences, and even mutual friends can make the absence feel more pronounced. Plus, if there were instances of manipulation or emotional ups and downs, you could have grown used to seeking validation from that relationship, making the detachment all the more complex. And let’s be honest, there’s often that little voice in the back of our minds whispering about the possibility of change or a different outcome.

All these feelings can be disconcerting, but they’re a natural part of the healing process. It’s vital to give yourself the space to feel and process. Remember the reasons the relationship ended and lean on your support system. Time has a way of putting things into perspective, and as it passes, these feelings will begin to find their rightful place.

Do you ever stop missing your ex? How long does it take?

Missing an ex is undoubtedly one of the worst feelings ever. One day you’re convinced you’re completely over them, and the next, a song or a familiar scent sends you spiraling back into a memory lane you’d rather avoid. It’s a rollercoaster that many of us have unwillingly found ourselves on. The big question, of course, is: will it ever end?

The truth? There’s no definitive timeline. Some people find peace in a matter of weeks, while others might occasionally revisit old feelings even years later. It’s a deeply individual process, influenced by factors like the depth of the relationship, the reasons for the breakup, and your personal coping mechanisms. For some, establishing a routine, diving into hobbies, or leaning on a support system can fast-track the healing process. For others, it might take a little longer as they grapple with lingering emotions and questions.

While it’s frustrating not to have a clear end date to these feelings, it’s essential to recognize that it’s okay to miss someone. But remember, healing isn’t necessarily about never thinking of them again; it’s about reaching a point where those memories don’t carry the sting of pain. As you navigate this journey, give yourself permission to grieve, to reflect, and most importantly, to grow. Over time, those moments of longing tend to soften, making way for new memories and experiences.

It’s important to remember that healing isn’t linear

Navigating the aftermath of a breakup often feels like wandering through a maze with no clear exit in sight. Some days you wake up feeling empowered, confident that you’re finally moving on. Yet other days, you’re blindsided by a wave of nostalgia, a sharp pang of longing, making you question if you’ve made any progress at all. It’s a sentiment many of us are all too familiar with: will I ever genuinely stop missing them?

Healing is a funny thing—it’s not a straight path, but more of a winding journey with its own set of unpredictable twists and turns. Picture it like a game of Chutes and Ladders. Some days, you climb higher, feeling light and free, only to unexpectedly slide back down into those emotional pits. And that’s perfectly normal. Healing isn’t linear. While we often measure recovery in terms of “getting over someone,” it’s really about understanding and processing those emotions, which can come in ebbs and flows.

That said, when you find yourself having one of those rough days, caught in the throes of old memories, it doesn’t mean you’re regressing or failing. In fact, these moments, however painful, are an essential part of the healing process. They give you a chance to confront and understand your feelings, to delve deeper into what you’ve learned from the relationship, and to figure out what you want in the future. It’s less about erasing someone from your memory and more about integrating the experience into your personal growth narrative.

In this journey, self-compassion is key. Cut yourself some slack. Understand that healing is messy, it’s imperfect, and it has its own unique rhythm for everyone. Over time, as you continue to engage with your feelings and prioritize self-care, the intensity and frequency of those “relapse” days tend to diminish. The focus shifts from what was lost to the newfound wisdom and resilience you’ve gained. Remember, every step, backward or forward, is a part of your growth story.

Originally from Australia, Emma Mills graduated from the University of Queensland with a dual degree in Philosophy and Applied Linguistics before moving to Los Angeles to become a professional matchmaker (a bit of a shift, obviously). Since 2015, she has helped more than 150 people find lasting love and remains passionate about bringing amazing singletons together.

Emma is also the author of the upcoming Hachette publication, "Off the Beaten Track: Finding Lasting Love in the Least Likely of Places," due out in January 2025.