Do You Really Miss Your Ex? What You Might Actually Be Feeling & What To Do About It

You broke up with him a while ago, but you still miss your ex — or so you think. It might be tempting to believe that these feelings mean you still have feelings for him and want him back, but save yourself the pain of getting back together with him. Chances are you’re not really looking to bring him back into your life anyway — you’re actually feeling these things.

  1. You miss the girl you used to be. Maybe you were carefree and filled with passion when your ex was dating you. Now you wish you could get that FEELING back — not the man who helped you be that way. This is great because you can get it back without needing a guy, just by working on yourself. Time to put “Project Me” at the top of your list.
  2. You want to feel the sparkAh, the spark. So much is said about how amazing it is to feel the spark with someone and it’s quite addictive. But instead of going back to your ex in the hope of rekindling it, find it with people who don’t make you unhappy… or find your own spark by doing things you love.
  3. You want to feel loved. Sometimes what you think is ex nostalgia is really just the need to be loved, so take a deep breath and forget about calling your ex. There are so many other ways to feel loved and valued. Surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you, like your friends and family — and most importantly, start loving yourself.
  4. You want the inspiration he brought you. Think about what your ex brought to your life during the good times. Maybe he inspired you to be creative or to be more daring. Whatever it was, just because you’ve ditched him, it doesn’t mean you have to lose those cool qualities that walked out the door with him. You can be whatever you choose and don’t need anyone’s permission.
  5. You want to feel lust for life. That feeling of being so in love with life that you can’t wait to get up in the morning is amazing. Maybe it’s tied to your ex because you felt that mad love for your life when he was around, but you can get it just by focusing on things that make you feel excited, like old passions you’ve left to collect dust on the shelf.
  6. You miss his friendship. If you and your ex were really good friends as well as partners, it’s only natural that you’re going to miss the friendship — perhaps even more than your romantic relationship. But it’s not always possible to be friends with an ex, especially if there’s still bad feelings or baggage between you. So use the need for friendship to get out there and increase your social circle. It’s a great way to breathe some new life into your days.
  7. You want to escape your life. Sometimes, instead of being in love with life, you actually wish you could escape from its demands and daily stresses. If the relationship with your ex was a distraction and escape, then chances are you’re thinking about him because you want to put a “be back in five days”‘ sign on your life and take off to do something fun. Maybe it’s time for a holiday that you’ve been meaning to take forever. Or, try doing something different, such as a new hobby. You could even change your appearance by getting a new haircut or color to feel invigorated.
  8. You’re bored. If you’re feeling bored, you might long for the drama your ex brought to your life because there was never a dull moment. Heck, even the fights were passionate. But just think about how draining and exhausting that was. You can find a good kind of excitement in your life in other ways. Do things that scare you and push you out of your comfort zone every day. This is such a better adrenaline fix than having to bail your ex out of jail or pay his rent for him. SMH.
  9. You want to work towards something. You and your ex were together for a long time and worked towards a future together. This probably contained “couple goals” that you were going to achieve. Maybe what you really want when you miss your ex is that feeling of working towards something and achieving it, but screw your couple goals. Now’s the time to focus on what you want from your life and go about making it happen.
  10. You miss great sex. If you and your ex had an amazing sex life and the thought of him still turns you on, you might think there’s no harm in going back to him for a few booty calls. But things can become messy. If you’re in need of great sex, you can go out and get it — or get it with yourself! There are so many options available. You really don’t need to bring your lousy ex into the picture.
  11. You want to feel hope for the future. Getting with an amazing guy can sometimes have a mood-boosting ripple effect on the rest of your life. You start to feel good about everything, the little annoying things in life don’t bug you, and you see hope in the future. When that relationship ends, it can make you feel dark. But instead of thinking that hope is tied to your ex, create it for yourself. There are so many things to get amped about and to look forward to in your own life that don’t depend on other people. In fact, that hope for your future never belonged to your ex — it was in your hands the whole time.

Questions to ask yourself to get to the root of your feelings

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  1. Are you being too hard on yourself? The aftermath of a breakup is rarely easy. Even if you were the one to put an end to the relationship, there’s usually still a feeling of loss that comes along with it. It’s a huge shift in dynamic from having your life connected to someone else to suddenly being on your own. In the wake of such a shift, feelings of longing are to be expected. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you miss your ex.
  2. Are you missing a person or missing a status? In the midst of that longing, there are usually a lot of different emotions flying around. You could be feeling a mix of pain, anger, liberation, sadness, curiosity, loneliness, and excitement all at the same time. Along with that, there’s probably a part of you that feels like someone is suddenly missing from your life. It’s important to figure out if you’re actually missing your ex or if you’re just feeling the loss of your relationship status. Of course, you probably miss your ex in some ways—you were together for a reason—but missing a person is not the same thing as missing the way you felt with that person.
  3. Why did the relationship really end? Every breakup happens for a reason and no matter how much you might miss your ex, it’s important to keep in mind the reason that it ended between you. Were there insurmountable incompatibilities? Did your life paths lead in different directions? Were you no longer able to be happy together? Did one of you fall out of love? Paying attention to the things that prevented the relationship from continuing can help you recognize whether you’re painting a rosy picture of someone who wasn’t good for you.
  4. Are you thinking of your ex in particular? When you get that sense of longing, what is it that you’re missing? Is it the way he laughs, his particular sense of humor, the pet names he had for you? Or is it simply laughing with someone, sharing jokes, and being given terms of endearment? This is an exercise in self-honesty and it can be hard to separate one from the other sometimes.
  5. Are you just missing what they were able to provide you with? There’s nothing wrong with wanting someone to share your bed, whisper sweet nothings in your ear, and share your life with. Desiring companionship is a totally normal thing, but it’s good to remember that those things aren’t necessarily attached just to one person. If you’re not sure whether you’re missing your ex or just missing a companion, try to feel what it is your body wants. Is it really your last lover or just a lover?
  6. Could you imagine being with someone else? This thought experiment is maybe the best way to tell what it is you’re actually craving. Imagine the moment you miss sharing with your ex—cuddling up to watch a movie, going for a walk through your favorite neighborhood together, making love. Now, could you imagine doing those things with someone else? It doesn’t have to be a real person, a faceless companion will do. Take note of how open our body and mind is to imagining someone by your side who is decidedly not your ex.
  7. How does flirting feel? If you’re still getting over your relationship, it could be too early for this, but if you feel comfortable with it, see how it feels to flirt with other people. Is it exciting? Fun? Invigorating? If so, you could just be missing the warm fuzzies that come from connecting with another human being. That doesn’t mean you have to go jump into another relationship immediately (in fact, I’d recommend not to). However, it could at least offer some clarity on what it is you’re missing. On the other hand, if you feel scared, uncomfortable, or a sense of betrayal, you’re probably still hung up on your ex.
  8. If you’re in contact with your ex, how does it feel? Sometimes contact after a breakup is the best way to gauge what your feelings are moving forward. This is a delicate balance since too much contact can prolong lingering feelings and not allow for a clean break. With occasional contact though, it’s possible to see how you feel with and without your ex. After contact with them, how do you feel? Is there a sense of yearning or a sense of relief? Are you convinced that the breakup was necessary or are you still questioning if it was the right thing? Either way, you can use this contact as a way of figuring out what it is you’re really longing for,  the person or the relationship.

How to stop missing them and start moving on

curly-haired woman at laundromatiStock/garetsworkshop
Pensive brunette girl thoughtfully looking in camera in self service laundry
  1. Block them on Facebook. Don’t unfriend them, just mute them for a little bit. The more you see them on your feed, the more tempted you’ll be to reach out. Getting back together with an ex isn’t always a bad idea, but when you’re highly emotional, you’re not yourself. You may be feeling a bit more lonely than ever before, and those emotions will drive you to make irrational decisions. This situation is a little different if the two of you still chat on occasion. If that’s the case, you can check and see how they’re doing, but leave all of the “remember when we used to date?” speech until later.
  2. Think about what you liked about the relationship. Don’t focus on the person — focus on their attributes. Did you like that they always checked up on you? Did they make you feel secure? It’s possible that a lot of these traits resemble things you’re missing from other people. Maybe your best friend has been MIA, and you’re longing for a connection. Maybe you’re just scared. Try to address your general needs in other ways.
  3. Reach out only if you think it would benefit your mental health. Mental health is a big topic right now. It’s really easy to feel out of control and on edge. Those with anxiety aren’t necessarily living their best lives 24/7. That said, reach out to your ex if you really feel like it’d be beneficial. Maybe you’re overly worried about them, or just want to see how they’re doing. The only thing to remember is that you might not be able to converse the same way you used to. Don’t expect to fall back in a relationship with the person. Just expect a casual text or two back.
  4. Write a letter to a friend. Writing letters is a great way to stay preoccupied and feel as if you’re connecting with someone. It’ll also make their day. It’s great to choose a friend who you’ve known for a long time and trust. If they happened to know your ex and how the relationship went, even better. You can use it as an opportunity to talk about your feelings with someone who has your best interest at heart.
  5. Try online dating. Online dating hasn’t stopped. There are still plenty of ways to connect with new people online who are also looking for love. If you think about it, now may be the best time to online date, especially if you’re a little intimidated by the process. All correspondence will be from the safety of your own home, and you can end up learning a lot about someone if you just talk through text and FaceTime. Plus, even if you miss your ex, you’ll soon get over it.
  6. If they were really a good person, don’t be afraid to apologize. If you know that the split was completely your fault, maybe you’re having some trouble moving on. Your goal right now shouldn’t be about how to get that person back because that’s their call to make. The goal is to apologize. Tell them that you’ve been reflecting, and you’re really sorry for your actions. Don’t expect forgiveness or even a response back. This is mostly for your closure, and for you to let them know that you regret how things went down. Don’t turn it into a fight or try hard to re-assess the past. Just say you’re sorry.
  7. Focus your energy on a celebrity crush. It may seem a little silly, but it can really work. One of the best parts about celebrity crushes is that in your head, you know it’d never happen. But, there’s a safe enough distance for you to safely swoon over them. Unless they get caught in a scandal, celebrities won’t break your heart. They can easily be a placeholder for whenever your next legitimate love connection comes around.
  8. Don’t rule out therapy. If you feel like you’re consumed by thoughts of your ex, you may have a bigger problem at hand. Don’t be afraid to contact someone you’ll help you move past it. It’s possible there’s a lot of baggage in this situation that you’re currently afraid to unpack. But, getting help is one of the strongest and most noble things you can do. Working on self-improvement is a wonderful way to spend this time at home.
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Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.