I Miss My Ex: Why You Miss Them And 15 Powerful Solutions
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I Miss My Ex: Why You Miss Them And 15 Powerful Solutions

By Max Jancar | Published: January 16, 2024 | 27 Minute Read | Ex-Back

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I spent months missing my ex after she dumped me. As you’d expect, everything reminded me of her during that time.

The business strategizing I’d been doing at my marketing job reminded me of when we prepped for exams together. The long evening walks in the park reminded me of the many unforgettable dates we had at that place. The table I sat at while munching on a mayonnaise sandwich at home reminded me of that one euphoric time when I fucked her on it.

I occasionally missed my ex so much that my mind started playing tricks on me. I kept seeing her face in the crowd of faceless people. I thought I heard her voice echoing through the halls of my home. I dreamt of her constantly, often bursting into tears after regaining consciousness and realizing it wasn’t real.

The point of all this is to say I understand what you’re going through. Like most people, I’ve been there. Missing an ex is probably one of the most exhausting parts of grappling with a breakup. For this reason, a definitive guide on the topic seems pretty damn necessary. Well, here it is.

I’ll start by delving into why you might miss your ex. Next, I’ll unpack 15 solutions to missing them less, whether you want to get them back or get over them. Then I’ll explain what you can expect once you apply the solutions. Finally, I’ll address a common pitfall many people who miss their ex fall for.

It’ll be a bittersweet ride, so grab a box of tissues and let’s get this shit over with.

Why Do You Miss Your Ex So Much

You probably miss your ex because of one or more of the following reasons.

1. The Surface Level Reasons Why You Miss Your Ex

2. A Deeper, More Biological Reason Why You Miss Your Ex

Thanks to evolution, our brains have been wired to miss our ex after a breakup.

We’ve been programmed to miss the people we love and care about. Whether monogamous or polyamorous, we’ve been programmed to create meaningful relationships with those people. We’ve been designed to want familiarity, comfort, and the commitment their existence provides us. And we’ve evolved to where once a meaningful relationship that provided all these benefits implodes, we suffer. Sometimes violently.

Except for psychopaths, it’s impossible to let this programming go. So don’t even try. The best you can do is manage it better, which we will get into later in the article. For now, however, note that this is yet another valid reason you miss your ex.

3. An Even Deeper, More Psychological Reason Why You Miss Your Ex

When we’re in love with someone, our brain tells our body to release a cocktail of adrenaline, serotonin, testosterone, estrogen, and, most importantly, dopamine. We call these The Love Chemicals(2)

These chemicals not only make us feel good and help us maintain a sense of well-being, but they also lead us to seek out the stimulus that gave us those feelings in the first place. The stimulus, in your case, is being close to your ex, physically and emotionally.

The theory goes that the more you’ve fallen for them, the more Love Chemicals your body releases and the more your emotional bond toward them hardens. And the sturdier the bond, the more infatuated you become. And the more infatuated you become, the more you miss them after you break up. (3)

4. A Super Deeper, More Philosophical Reason Why You Miss Your Ex

When we’re in love with someone for an extended period, our identities — our beliefs, goals, and values — begin to amalgamate. One partner figuratively fuses with a part of the other partner’s identity and vice versa, forming what’s called a shared identity. (4)

A shared identity deepens the love, respect, trust, and emotional connection between two people, and it helps them live a longer, mentally healthier, and more meaningful and fulfilling life. It also promotes an intense feeling of oneness, hence the name. (5)

Now think about this: a relationship that gave you meaning and fulfillment and, on a biological level, homeostasis, is suddenly stripped away. What do you think would happen?

Exactly. You’d likely fall into a deep existential crisis. A crisis where you’d not only start to miss your ex like crazy but also begin to feel alienated, aimless, numb, and sometimes even depressed. At its extreme, you might even feel as though there’s not much point in living altogether.

How To Miss Your Ex Less

When you miss your ex, you might give in to your urges and stalk them, contact them, mindlessly chase after them, or even show up at their door unannounced and try to convince them to take you back.

Next, you get yourself rejected and start feeling even worse. So you try to numb yourself from the pain by abusing booze, drugs, social media, or sex.

And once your feelings are all nicely bottled up and you’re freaking out why you can’t feel anything, you reach out toward the razor.

We want to avoid responses like these. Obviously they’re ineffective in ending your longing. So here are some better ways to handle missing your ex.

1. Cut Contact With Your Ex (Or At Least Distance Yourself From Them)

To miss your ex less, it’s best to stick to the following:

A popular term for this approach is “going no contact.” If you’d like to read a deep dive about how it can help you get back with your ex or get over them, consider this article: The Ultimate Guide To The No Contact Rule.

Generally, the longer you make your “no contact period,” the sooner you’ll miss your ex less. In contrast, the shorter you make this period, the more difficult ceasing to miss them will become — not to mention the unnecessary suffering you’ll need to deal with.

2. Manage Your Stress Effectively

Based on a renowned Harvard study, here are three ways to do it. The better you manage it, the sooner you’ll miss your ex less. (6)

1. Relaxation modalities: meditation, mindfulness, journalinggratitude practices, guided imagery, art therapy, yoga, breathing exercises, and a good night’s rest.

2. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): an approach based on the idea that changing unhealthy thinking or replacing it with a different form can change your emotions.

3. Goal setting and healthy habit formation: be that in your career, fitness, health, self-care, business, relationships, social life, or spiritual health. The thinking goes that people who set goals for themselves and cultivate habits that get them closer to hitting those goals feel more in control of their lives, propelling them to focus more on themselves and miss their ex less.

3. Rally Your Support System And Lean On It

Apart from making you miss your ex less, a well-established support system will also improve your ability to perform under pressure, alleviate emotional distress, increase self-esteem, fend off loneliness, and lead to a more stable lifestyle. (7)

If you don’t have a support system in place yet, here’s how to build it:

Once you have a support system in place, lean on it shamelessly but without expecting a certain answer in return. So vent a bit, ask for advice, gather feedback, or simply request a listening ear.

4. Date Yourself For A While — Date Others When Ready

Looking for your next partner while you miss your ex isn’t a good idea. Instead, use this period to become comfortable with solitude. A decent way of doing this is through dating yourself.

So next time you feel like it, go to the cinema, a museum, a hike, a fancy restaurant, whatever you like to do for fun. Indulge yourself a bit and be selfish.

Regarding dating other people, start only when it begins to feel fun and exciting. Because the last thing you want is to date only to push your pain deeper down. That’s a one-way ticket to misery.

5. Throw Yourself Into Self-Care, Hobbies, And Responsibilities

The more you double down on them, the more bearable you’ll make those urges of missing an ex.

Self-care: straighten out your diet, improve your sleep, exercise regularly, keep your hygiene in check, and don’t let yourself go. For more information, read: A No Bullshit Guide To Self-Care After A Breakup.

Hobbies: make a bucket list, pick a random activity from it, and do it. Then optimize further — either pick a new activity or go deeper with the current one.

Responsibilities: work, school, child-rearing, and so on. Pick one of these responsibilities and set a goal tied to it. Then work on hitting that goal. Note that the intensity of this goal should somewhat match the degree of how much you miss your ex. Put differently, if you’re still missing them while clawing towards it, you could probably set an even more meaningful goal.

6. Rebuild Your Routine And Structure

Whether it’s prepping meals together, going to the gym, watching certain TV shows, or having a morning coffee — the absence of these shared activities often leaves a void in you, making you miss your ex more.

Therefore, regaining structure and routine post-breakup is essential. It’ll basically be one of the few things filling in your void so you can move forward more smoothly, reducing the intensity of missing an ex.

Here’s another way to think about it: your new routines and structures, whether it’s adopting a new fitness regimen, exploring new hobbies, or simply altering your meal schedule, serve as healthy distractions that offer a sense of normalcy amidst the emotional turmoil.

7. Don’t Resort To Blame

Blaming your ex for your breakup does feel good in the short term but has dire repercussions in the long — inability to move on, rumination, anger problems, and the summoning of repeated, intense spurts of missing your ex.

So, how can you avoid the blame game? By taking responsibility for your breakup — by acknowledging that while it may be your ex’s fault, it’s always your responsibility how you’ll respond and deal with it.

You can feel like shit right now, and it may be because of your ex, but it’s not their job to pick you up and straighten out your emotions — it’s your job to get your emotional shit in order.

8. Move, Make, Meet

Another solid way to stop missing your ex is leveraging Nick Wignall’s popular 3M Formula. (8)

9. Set Time To Miss Your Ex And Let It All Out

This is one of the simplest ways to stop missing your ex. It boils down to four easy steps:

  1. Go somewhere you won’t be bothered.
  2. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes.
  3. Let yourself miss your ex as much as you want.
  4. If you’re angry, scream. If you’re sad, cry. If you’re frustrated…er, masturbate.

Once the timer rings, your longing for your ex should deflate a bit. However, this effect will only last briefly. So I suggest you repeat this activity multiple times. Whenever you essentially feel like you’re carrying pent-up emotions.

10. Humor Yourself

Whenever you miss your ex, close your eyes and bring whatever ex-related thoughts are on your mind to the forefront, then give them a humorous twist.

Here are a few examples of how to do this:

This solution isn’t for everyone, but play around with it. Think of it as an experiment. Besides, you don’t really lose anything by trying. Maybe It’ll help you miss your ex less, maybe it won’t. Fuck around and find out.

11. Find Something More Important Than Your Ex

Lots of people who miss their ex miss them because they failed to adequately diversify their identity. They make their ex the center of their world instead of letting them be one of the many meaningful things going on in their life.

And so, they’re completely fucked once their relationship fails because they have nothing else to really care about and look forward to. As a result, they usually fall into an existential crisis, experience spells of depression, and generally suffer more than the average breakup survivor.

If you’re someone who has nothing but a dead relationship going on in their life, start searching for something else to care about — something that feels more important and meaningful than your ex: striving toward some goal, fighting for a particular cause, caring about another relationship, or following some life purpose.

12. Leverage Mental Health Professionals And Support Groups

Seeking help from mental health professionals, such as therapists or counselors, or joining support groups can be extremely beneficial when you miss your ex. In fact, it’s probably super beneficial regardless of what post-breakup challenge you’re dealing with.

Therapists and counselors can provide you with a safe, welcoming environment, nonjudgmental guidance, and a litany of proven strategies, approaches, and tools to help you navigate through your emotions in a healthy and productive way.

And support groups offer a platform where you can connect with others who are going through a similar experience. This not only helps you feel less alone and isolated, but it’s also just super comforting seeing that you aren’t alone in this — that your problems aren’t special or unique.

As a side note, breakup coaching can also be useful, granted you’re curious about the more surface-level, technical stuff. For example, how to get back with an ex, maintain no contact, or figure out the reasons behind the breakup. If those things interest you, consider my coaching offers.

13. Realistically Reassess Your Relationship

Instead of focusing solely on the positive aspects of the past relationship you had with your ex, strive to develop a more balanced outlook. After all, everyone has flaws and no relationship is without its challenges.

Don’t get me wrong, though. The intention here isn’t to bullshit yourself that the relationship was all bad. All I am saying is that you should take a step back and evaluate it in a more comprehensive and realistic manner, acknowledging all its highs as well as the lows.

So ask yourself:

Reflect on these questions; write down your answers. They’ll likely lead you to a more realistic understanding of your dead relationship and, consequently, knock your ex off the proverbial pedestal, which will propel you to miss them less.

14. Don’t Force Yourself To Stop Missing Your Ex

As counterintuitive as it sounds, the harder you try to miss your ex less, the more you’ll miss them. This is The Backwards Law in action.

A great way to illustrate it is with a Chinese finger trap. You’ve probably played with it as a kid. It’s a woven bamboo-shaped tube with two holes on each side. You stick your finger in those two holes or ends, and then it happens: the harder you pull, the more stuck you get. The not-so-secret secret of getting your finger unstuck is to push it farther in the tube instead of pulling it out with full force.

The same philosophy applies when you’re trying to miss your ex less. Don’t be harsh on yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t force yourself to stop missing them. Try to coast with the feeling, acknowledging it but not attempting to remove or suppress it.

15. Know That There Is Always An End To Missing Your Ex

In the intricate journey of recovering from a breakup, an interesting truth resides: sometimes, the yearning for your ex may not require intervention at all. Sometimes, all you need to do is surrender, allowing time to weave its healing tapestry.

And while time doesn’t heal trauma or needy tendencies or shitty self-esteem, it does get you to feel like yourself again when enough of it passes. So, don’t be afraid of simply waiting for time to make you stop missing your ex.

Chances are, it will eventually — even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

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This cheat sheet reveals a simple yet potent approach to getting back with your ex. One that takes the guesswork out of re-attraction and helps you increase your chances in a way that respects both your dignity and your ex’s.

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What To Expect When You Try To Miss Your Ex Less

In short, a fucking shitshow. There will be pain and uncertainty, there will be intense emotional ups and downs, there will be bad decisions.

Echoing the stages of any breakup, once you apply the tips I’ve shared so far, you might first find yourself in the throes of shock, disbelief, and denial. This will, in turn, usually make you think, “How could this have happened to me?” “It was the furthest thing from my mind,” “Is this even real?” “They probably didn’t mean it,” or “They just need time to cool down, and then they’ll come back, and everything will be back to normal.”

Then comes the rumination. During this period, you’ll often find yourself caught in a loop of repetitive thoughts, analyzing what went wrong, re-examining past conversations or events, and questioning your own actions or decisions. Generally speaking, this is the period during which you’ll miss your ex most intensely.

And then begins the disorganization and confusion, where you’ll grapple with days of oversleeping and undersleeping, days when you lack appetite and days when you overeat, days when you’re hyper-productive and days when you’re sluggish.

Next comes the emotional mess period. In it, you’ll be inundated by a plethora of intense emotions — most commonly, devastation, anger, sadness, guilt, and anxiety. As a result of these feelings, you can also expect emotional fragility, tamper tantrums, frustration, irritability, powerlessness, loneliness and isolation, self-blame, dumpers remorse and regret, fear of the future, and even physical symptoms like restlessness, racing thoughts, insomnia, and increased heart rate.

You’ll probably also go through a period of wanting your ex back sooner or later. Basically, a period during which you’ll experience a surge of nostalgia, reminiscing about the good times shared with them. You may also find yourself idealizing your relationship, remembering the positives while downplaying or overlooking the negatives — as well as reasons that led to the breakup in the first place.

After a few days or weeks of suffering, you’ll find yourself feeling ambivalent. You’ll miss your ex like crazy one day and then feel indifference towards them the next. Sometimes ambivalence will grab you by the neck, and you’ll have no control over it. But other times, you’ll quickly be able to calm yourself down. As you’d guess, these shifts of ambivalence will most often be sporadic and random.

Finally, you’ll begin to accept your situation — you’ll begin to accept the fact that you miss your ex. While residual feelings may still linger during this period, as well as a desire to reconcile, acceptance does allow you to focus more easily on personal growth and envision new possibilities for the future.

Of course, not everyone who tries to stop missing their ex goes through these exact stages or periods, or however you want to call them. They’re only a pattern I and the other people in my industry keep seeing.

The Dangers Of Missing Something Other Than Your Ex

I’ll end this piece with a warning.

Lots of people think they miss their ex, but in reality, they only miss who they could’ve been — they don’t miss their ex as a person but simply feel bad for the self-constructed potential they ascribed to their character that went to waste in their opinion.

Oh yeah, and other people simply miss having a warm body by their side to quench their need for connection and sex and don’t even care about anything remotely related to their ex — even when they think they do.

Maybe you’re facing a similar dilemma to any of the above. So, just to be safe, here are some questions that’ll help you get to the bottom of who or what you’re actually missing:

If, after rigorous self-examination, you conclude that you are, in fact, missing something other than your ex as a person, consider getting therapy. Because if the above rings true, you’ve likely adopted some emotional blind spots and limiting beliefs that stymie recovery and sabotage re-attraction. A therapist can help you address these psycho-blemishes and provide a productive way to bounce back to a healthier and more attractive headspace.

(Optional) Top Questions About Missing An Ex

Should I contact my ex when I miss them (I want them back)?

The only time you should reach out to your ex if you want them back after they dumped you is if you weren’t clear about your desire for rekindling things prior. In which case, reach out and express your desire honestly. But without over-explaining, being dramatic, or apologizing for no reason.

After stating your interest, if your ex is receptive, invite them on a date. But if they’re unreceptive and cold or if they blocked, ignored, or rejected you, end the conversation and move on with your life.

For more information on how to get your ex back in general, give this article a read.

Is it Okay to To Tell My Ex I Miss Them?

In the following cases, YES — it’s okay to tell them you miss them:

  • You want them back but haven’t yet communicated anything along those lines yet.
  • You’ve decided that getting back together is not a good idea, but you still want to maintain a friendship with your ex (not recommended).
  • You don’t want to reconnect but want to apologize for your past mistakes or behavior.
  • Your are dating, already in regular communication, and feel comfortable with each other.
  • Your ex reaches out to you expressing that they miss you.

In the following cases, NO — it’s not okay to tell them you miss them:

  • If your breakup is recent and you are desperate to get them back.
  • If you are contacting them solely to get them to talk to you again, using your feelings of missing them as a manipulative tactic.
  • If your ex is dating someone else.
  • If you are currently in a new relationship.

How Long Will It Be Till I Stop Missing My Ex?

How long it’ll take to stop missing an ex is different for everyone. That said, there are several known factors that influence the timeline.

  • Self-esteem/worth. If you have low self-esteem or self-worth, you’ll probably miss your ex more than the average person.
  • Lifestyle quality. Similar to the above. The shittier your lifestyle (health, social life, habits, goals, ambitions, etc.), the more you’ll generally miss your ex.
  • Resilience. You can either take your breakup poorly, keep revisiting it, and judge and persecute yourself for it, or you can counter the feelings of rejection and disappointment. The better you counter them, the sooner you’ll stop missing your ex on avarage.
  • Relationship length. An obvious one. The longer and more serious your relationship was, the harder it will be to let it go and the more you’ll miss it.
  • Previous breakups. The more of them you had, and the fresher they are, the harder it will be to put an end to your longing.
  • Unforeseen circumstances. These are things like breaking up with a friend or family member, having someone close to you die, losing a job, having your business go bankrupt. The more such problems you face, the more difficulties you’ll have when trying to stop missing your ex.

I’m trying to Stop Missing My Ex but they keep texting me. What should I do?

If your goal is to move on and you don’t need to stay in touch (due to kids, pets, working or living together, etc), change your number and block your ex everywhere. And if your goal is rekindling your relationship, invite your ex on a date the next time they reach out and go from there.

Is it normal to miss my ex even though it has been a long time (months or years) since my breakup?

It depends on how often you miss your ex, how long you’re missing them, and how strong those feelings are. For example, If you’re consistently missing your ex for an extended period and with high intensity (you’re obsessing), you have a problem. But if you miss your ex lightly and only occasionally, then missing them is perfectly fine.

I Miss My Ex Even When I’m In Another Relationship? Why Does It Happen?

As with the previous question, it depends on how often you miss your ex and how strong the feeling is. But when it comes to causation, things get interesting.

There are many reasons you may miss your ex when you’re in another relationship. Maybe your partner is not meeting your emotional needs. Maybe you have problems with intimacy and vulnerability. Maybe you have an insecure attachment style. Or maybe you’re with someone incompatible.

I Miss My Ex, So They Must Miss Me Back, Right?

Not necessarily. You missing your ex is in no way correlated to your ex missing you. While you’re feeling various negative emotions around your breakup, your ex may be feeling an entirely positive set of emotions.

That said, it is more likely that your ex does miss you. For signs on whether or not that’s the case, read this article. But don’t forget that them missing you doesn’t mean they’ll reach out or want to rekindle things. I still miss my exes for instance, even though its been half a decade since I saw them. But would I give any of them another chance? Hell no.

How Do I Stop Missing My Ex When I’m Still Single And They Found Someone Else?

In the same way, you would stop missing them if you weren’t single, and if they wouldn’t be dating anyone else. Still, it’s worth noting that you should be focusing only on what you can control to maintain your sanity — what’s left of it at least. For you can’t control whether or not your ex dates other people. So stop trying to. Instead, focus on your love life and consider meeting new people yourself.

I Miss My Ex So Much It Hurts. What Can I Do To Lessen The Pain?

Breakups are notorious for morphing your emotional pain into psychical if you put up with it for too long. A severe form of physical pain is officially called broken heart syndrome. An obvious sign of it is a tightness in your chest. If you sense it, immediately see a doctor.

Still, if you’re only feeling mild physical pain or discomfort, a combination of meditation, journaling, dream reporting, self-love practices, and therapy should suffice.

Is it okay to miss my ex if my relationship was toxic or my ex a narcissist?

Yes. Missing a toxic or a narcissistic ex is normal and there’s nothing wrong with it. Just remember to not return to such a person as most people do. After all, a toxic relationship has a tendency to keep you hooked due to all the gaslighting, codependency, and drama surrounding it — lots of people get addicted to these things.

To avoid rebounding, realize that your relationship was unhealthy in numerous ways and prioritize your own emotional well-being. And if necessary, seek professional support.

What does it mean if i miss my ex?

This is a loaded question. Missing your ex doesn’t have any inherent meaning — it’s not a sign from the universe indicating you’re soulmates, it’s not your inner child telling you how you should reach out, it’s not faith trying to get you to mend your relationship. Those are only things an average person makes up about their feelings of longing.

How long is it normal to miss your ex after a breakup?

There is no set period. It varies from person to person and depends on the circumstances surrounding their relationship and breakup. Some people may stop missing their ex within a few weeks, while others may take months or even years to fully let go.

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