When you’re thinking “I miss my ex”, it can be incredibly difficult to shake that feeling.
You may have a massive pit in your stomach or literally feel nauseous anytime you are reminded of your ex (which can feel like a hundred times a day!).
Though it seems like you are alone in your pain, it’s important to know that it’s an incredibly common experience and with the right approach you can move forward whether you decide to get back with your ex or not.
In this article, we get into everything you need to know about missing your ex and how to bounce back from a breakup.
I’ll then list the 14 big things you can do right now to feel better about yourself and (if you want to) actually win them back.
Thinking “I miss my ex” is completely normal
Here’s the thing about breakups – they can make you feel so isolated and alone in your pain and suffering.
We can find ourselves wondering thoughts like “Why is this happening to me? What’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong? Will I ever love again? Will anyone ever love me again?”
For many people, it’s easy to ruminate on these types of post-breakup thoughts over and over again, attacking these questions from all sorts of different angles.
The problem with ruminating after a breakup is that it keeps you trapped (like a hamster on a wheel), questioning and questioning without ever finding any real, conclusive answers right away.
Ruminating keeps us stuck in our pain and suffering, and that’s why it can feel so hard to get out of it when we experience a painful event like a breakup.
Finding a path forward from a breakup
When you break up with someone what you really need is a path forward. It’s necessary to your happiness and ability to bounce back that instead of staying in a place of rumination, you get off the hamster wheel and take care of yourself at a deep level.
The irony is when you start to move forward, the answers you’re looking for often show up much more quickly than when you just ruminate on them.
When we go through painful life experiences, it’s essential – even an opportunity – to discover who we are and what makes us truly happy at our core.
When you take the time to do that, you will always be happier whether you decide to get back with your ex or not.
Why break ups can be as painful as losing a loved one
With that said, sometimes well-meaning family and friends can respond to our break up with comments that make us feel misunderstood or like they don’t understand the depth of our pain.
They may say things like “You’re better off without him/her anyway” or “Don’t worry – you’ll love again.”
And while they are trying to cheer us up, it makes us feel worse and more alone because it feels like our pain is so much heavier than they realize. We begin to wonder, “Should I be feeling this upset over a breakup?”
The truth is yes – it makes complete sense that you’re devastated and maybe even feel like you’ve lost your compass you use to navigate the world.
Everything that felt familiar and certain in life has now been turned on its head.
Dr. Tricia Wolanin, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist, says “The process of dealing with a breakup is comparable to grief.” And adds, “It’s the death of a relationship, hopes and dreams for the future. The person we are losing was [a big part of] our world and therefore has taken up so much of our mental and heart space.”
Why “I miss my ex” Is such a powerful thought
When your expectations and the direction of your life are turned upside down, there is a healing process that you have to go through to regain a feeling of wellness.
Brene Brown, a research professor and best-selling author, argues that if you don’t allow yourself to feel the magnitude of your painful feelings, that you’re doing a disservice to the people around you – even the rest of the world.
On her popular podcast, Unlocking Us, Brown said:
“When we practice empathy with ourselves and others, we create more empathy. Love, y’all, is the last thing we need to ration in this world. The exhausted doctor in the ER room in New York doesn’t benefit more if you conserve your kindness only for her and withhold it from yourself or your coworker who lost her job. The surest way to ensure that you have a reserve of compassion and empathy for others is to attend to your own feelings.”
Feel the grief of a breakup to move through it
So while people may not fully understand your pain, do not fall into the trap of thinking you “should” feel any differently.
Breaking up with your ex is hard. Make sure you allow yourself to feel the grief, so you can truly move through it.
If your grief is interfering with your ability to do day-to-day tasks or has you feeling despondent at times, it’s also a good idea to talk to a therapist about your breakup. A good therapist will help you make sense of your grief so that you can move forward in a healthy and positive way.
“I Miss My Ex” – The 14 best things you can do
The problem of not attending to our own grief and loss from a breakup can cause us to respond in ways that aren’t healthy for us.
Here are 12 common approaches to take when you miss your ex – some are healthy, others perhaps less so. I delve into the pros and cons of each one.
Whether you want your ex back or not, you’ll find very some helpful pointers in these 12 approaches.
1. Reflect on the relationship
If you miss your ex, then you need to do some reflection about the relationship.
What went right? What went wrong? And most importantly, what will you do differently if you get back together?
Because you can’t repeat the same mistakes from your past.
For women, I think it’s essential to take some time to reflect on what really drives men in relationships.
Because men see the world differently to you and are motivated by different things when it comes to love.
Men have a built in desire for something “greater” that goes beyond love or sex. It’s why men who seemingly have the “perfect girlfriend” are still unhappy and find themselves constantly searching for something else — or worst of all, someone else.
Simply put, men have a biological drive to feel needed, to feel important, and to provide for the woman he cares about.
Relationship psychologist James Bauer calls it the hero instinct. He created an excellent free video explaining the concept.
As James argues, male desires are not complicated, just misunderstood. Instincts are powerful drivers of human behavior and this is especially true for how men approach their relationships.
How do you trigger this instinct in him? How do you give him a sense of meaning and purpose?
You don’t need to pretend to be anyone you’re not or play the “damsel in distress”. You don’t have to dilute your strength or independence in any way, shape or form.
In an authentic way, you simply have to show your man what you need and allow him to step up to fulfill it.
In his video, James Bauer outlines several things you can do. He reveals phrases, texts and little requests that you can use right now to make him feel more essential to you.
By triggering this very natural male instinct, you’ll not only supercharge his confidence but it will help you guys to get back together – for good.
2. Work on growing and evolving yourself
The irony is that if you want to truly make your ex jealous, you have to not focus on them at all.
So what do you focus on?
When you’re experiencing a traumatic or life-changing event, it’s always an opportunity to learn more about who you are as a person. Instead of focusing on your ex, turn your attention inward to ask yourself questions like:
- What did I enjoy doing before I met my ex?
- Was there anything I loved doing that I didn’t do a lot when I was with my ex?
- What did I love doing as a kid that I could do more of now?
- What would make me feel happier now?
Here’s why growing yourself works:
When you start to reflect on what makes you happy as a person and do more of those activities, you will naturally begin to shake your grief in a healthy and positive way.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t get back on the dating scene or meet new people, but the mindset from which you do it is completely different. You’re operating from a place of curiosity and joy instead of jealousy. This will make you much happier in the long run no matter how things unfold.
As an added bonus, people are always attracted to other people who are living their best lives. So whether you meet someone new in the process or want to get back with your ex at some point, you’ll be more attractive to potential partners as well.
3. Thinking of your ex as “the one”
“My ex is The One” is another thought many of us have probably experienced at one time or another. We live in a culture that hypes up the idea of the “The One” and especially through the movies and shows that we watch.
Think back to the Disney movies you saw as a kid – there was always just one perfect match for the main character. Cinderella and Prince Charming. Rapunzel and Flynn. Mulan and Shange.
We’ve been trained to believe there is “The One” from a young age and that’s what will bring us happiness or our own happily ever after.
Here’s why focusing on “The One” doesn’t work.
The irony here is that when we are dependent on someone else to make us happy, we will never actually be totally happy in any relationship.
In fact, Randi Gunther, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor practicing in Southern California says the more we project our own desire for happiness on to our partners, the more likely the relationship is to fail in the long-term.
4. Give them space
Always give your ex some space. This is absolutely essential.
Because by giving your ex space, you’re giving them time to reflect on the good things about the relationship and ultimately to miss you.
You may think that your ex is just going to move on once they have some space. This is a risk you have to be comfortable taking.
I know giving your ex space seems hard and counter intuitive, but leaving them alone is one of the best ways of actually getting them back into your life.
However, you have to do it in a very specific way. You don’t want to simply cut off all communication. You have to talk to your ex’s subconscious and make it seem like you really and truly don’t want to talk to them right now.
Send this “No Communication” text
— “You’re right. It’s best that we don’t talk right now, but I would like to be friends eventually.” —
This one needs to be sent to your ex at the right time for it to be truly effective.
But why I like it is that you’re communicating with them that you don’t really need to talk anymore. In essence, you’re saying that you don’t really need them to play any role in your life anymore.
Why is this so good?
You induce a “fear of loss” in your ex which will trigger their attraction for you again.
I learned about this text from Brad Browning, who has helped thousands of men and women get their exes back. He goes by the moniker of “the relationship geek”, for good reason.
In this free video, he’ll show you exactly what you can do to make your ex want you again.
No matter what your situation is — or how badly you’ve messed up since the two of you broke up — he’ll give you a number of useful tips that you can apply immediately.
Here’s a link to his free video again. If you really want your ex back, this video will help you do this.
5. Become emotionally independent from your ex
So what is the key to maintaining a long-term relationship in the future with a new partner or even your ex?
Learning about what makes you happy and confident independently from your partner.
As Alyssa “Lia” Mancao, a licensed clinical social worker and certified cognitive therapist, shares on mindbodygreen:
“[Emotion dependence] is very common: It’s the idea that our happiness depends on something outside of us. This is known as emotional dependence; it is when our feelings and self-worth are based on external factors such as how another person feels about us. But if we want to find a sense of peace within ourselves and our relationships, then it is important to shift from emotional dependence and into emotional independence.”
This is why emotional independence works.
By focusing on becoming happy whether your ex returns or doesn’t return to your life, you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term happiness either way.
Lasting happiness is something you cultivate from within and not something that you find outside of you. So developing emotional independence will serve you not only now, but for the rest of your life.
6. Distract yourself
Here’s the thing – you definitely want to stay busy after a breakup. It’s a great idea to be getting out doing things you enjoy and spending time with people who love you, make you laugh, and feel good.
It’s also a great idea to start meeting and dating new people to remind yourself that you are attractive and desirable. These are all great things to do!
But, as we discussed, it’s best to use this time to discover your own sources of inner happiness and joy. So how you choose to distract yourself is incredibly important.
Why distraction for distraction’s sake doesn’t work:
Many times people fall into the trap of distracting themselves with things that don’t actually make them feel better like binge-watching Netflix and YouTube, staying out too late, or eating and drinking too much.
Use this time instead to stay busy with positive things like taking a new class, reconnecting with an old friend, volunteering, or doing something special for a loved one “just because.”
7. Set purposeful goals so that you miss your ex less
But it’s even better if you can get very purposeful about how you distract yourself. A breakup is a wonderful opportunity to assess your entire life and what may or may be out of balance.
Instead of staying busy just to stay busy, make a plan for how you can work on the key areas of your life, and track your progress.
- How are your fitness and your health? Could you be exercising more or eating healthier?
- How is your career going? Are you doing something that you love and brings you fulfillment?
- How are your finances? Would this be a good time to learn more financial literacy skills and work on creating more financial security in your life?
- How are your beliefs about life and your true purpose? Could you use this time to explore some of the bigger questions of life?
- How are your other key relationships? Do you have any other relationships that need attending to and improvement?
- How is your self-care? Are you doing things every day that add to your energy, passion, joy, and happiness?
If anyone of these areas feels out of whack, now is a great time to explore and work on that topic.
Make a plan that will help you not miss your ex by instead focusing on things that are helping you to improve your entire life.
Why setting purposeful goals works:
It’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture of our lives when we are distracting ourselves with unfilling activities. Setting purposeful goals about areas we want to improve in our lives helps us to focus on ourselves.
The action – or, the distraction – we take becomes about adding something meaningful to our lives rather than simply running away or escaping. It’s a small mindset shift that makes a huge difference.
The more you focus on “distracting” yourself with things that improve your overall happiness, the less and less you will inevitably miss your ex.
Want to win back your ex? 8 to 14 has you covered
Some people will find that after they have focused on cultivating their own happiness, they still miss their ex and want to get back together.
The great news is that if you’ve been using this time to focus on you, your desire to get back together is likely coming from a place of clarity. And that means the chances of your chances of the relationship working out in the long-term are much greater.
So what do you do?
8. Make your ex jealous
Who hasn’t experienced this thought after a breakup?
It’s an incredibly common reaction because our mind automatically jumps to the logic “If I can only make him/her jealous, then he/she will miss me, too.”
The thing is, sparking jealousy in your ex can actually be pretty effective if you do it right.
Probably the best way is to spend time with other people.You don’t have to sleep with them or even date them. Just spend time with others and let your ex see that.
Jealousy is a powerful thing; use it to your advantage. But use it wisely.
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, try this “Jealousy” text
— “I think it was a great idea that we decided to start dating other people. I do just want to be friends right now!” —
By saying this, you’re telling your ex that you’re actually dating other people right now… which will in turn make them jealous.
This is a good thing.
You’re communicating to your ex that you’re actually wanted by others. We’re all attracted to people wanted by others. By saying that you’re dating around already, you’re pretty much saying that “it’s your loss!”
After sending this text they’ll begin to feel attraction for you again because of the “fear of loss” I mentioned earlier.
This was another text I learned from Brad Browning, hands down my favorite “get your ex back” online coach.
Here’s a link to his free online video. He gives a number of useful tips that you can apply immediately to get your ex back.
9. Show your ex how you have changed and evolved
First thing’s first – you need to show your ex that you’ve grown and changed since the breakup.
Whether you broke up with your ex or they broke up with you, you need to show him or her that you are not the same person as when you parted ways.
Because you’ve done the work, they will be able to see this change in you and are much more likely to take your overtures seriously.
10. Fight for your ex
Your ex may need some convincing that you’ve sincerely changed, so make sure to show them through meaningful and purposeful actions.
This may be through making right a wrong that you previously committed. This may be a gesture that shows that you’re really hearing and listening to their concerns. Give it your best shot, but know at the end of the day, it is ultimately their decision. If they are feeling pressured to get back together with you, then they’ll likely resist reuniting more.
So metaphorically fight for them by being purposeful in your actions, but don’t overdo it to the point that your gestures feel calculated or insincere.
At this point and because of all the personal growth work you’ve done, you should have the peace of mind of knowing that you will be okay – and find happiness again – whether or not they decide they want to get back together, too.
11. Process unresolved emotions
Often thoughts and memories come into our consciousness because we haven’t fully processed and worked through them. So it’s important to take time to process unresolved emotions from your relationship with your ex.
Journal, talk through feelings with a trusted friend, or discuss such things with a therapist. Then you can make sure you aren’t bringing any old emotions into your new relationship.
12. Resist the urge to compare others to your ex
It’s natural to want to compare others to your ex, but when you do this, you miss the opportunity to get to know new people in your life more fully.
Approach dating and meeting new people with curiosity. Look at discovering the uniqueness of each new person as an adventure to embark on.
It can be tempting to put your ex on a pedestal, but when you take him or her off the pedestal, you make it much easier to believe that 1) you are worthy of falling in love again, and 2) that other people are worthy of your love, too.
13. Date yourself for a while
Who says that you need to date someone else to have fun? Having a weekly date with yourself can be an amazing way to discover what you most enjoy doing while building your own confidence.
Take yourself out to a movie. Visit a favorite museum. Grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine with your favorite book. Go for an epic hike or mountain bike ride. Peruse your favorite store just because.
As you shift your focus to doing things you love and spending time on you, you may just discover that you can have just as much fun on your own as you did with your ex – if not more!
14. Track your progress
A great motivator anytime you are learning a new skill or developing a new habit is to track your progress.
Keep a journal or jot down a few notes each day about how you’re feeling and what you are doing. Though you may still find yourself thinking about and missing your ex, it will be easier to spot how far you’ve come if you have a record of your progress.
With a record to refer to, the thought “I miss my ex so much” can quickly turn into “Wow! I miss my ex so much less now than I did a month ago.” And that’s a huge win and motivator to keep moving forward.
Keep moving forward
As we’ve discussed – and no matter whether you want to get back with your ex or not – the key is to keep moving forward and growing who you are as a person.
The feeling of missing your ex is completely normal, and it’s also an opportunity to do a deeper dive into what truly makes you happy on your terms.
Whether you decide to return to your ex or not, you will be taking your next steps as the most whole and happiest version of you, which is exactly the place you want to start your next chapter from – whatever great adventure it may be.
FREE eBook: 4 Steps to Starting Over With An Ex
Do you want to get back with your ex?
Then you need to check out our FREE eBook, The Ex Back Handbook.
We have one goal in mind with this book: to help you win back an ex (for good!).
If you want a foolproof plan to reverse your break up, you’re going to love this guide.
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