10 reasons you can’t stop thinking about your ex (and what to do now)

After my last relationship ended, I spent months obsessing over my ex. He was constantly on my mind.

I learned that this is normal – especially for couples who were together for a long time or shared an intense connection.

But whilst it may be a natural reaction to losing someone so special to you, it’s also unhealthy to dwell on the past. Here are a few key reasons why you can’t stop thinking about your ex, and importantly, how to move on!

Why you can’t stop thinking about your ex:

1) You’re in denial

Your relationship is over, but you haven’t accepted it. You’re sure that things will turn around and you’ll get back with your ex.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but sometimes “over” really means it’s over.

But I get it, when you’re in denial about something, it plays on your mind. It’s not easy to switch off from what was probably a meaningful relationship and then a hurtful breakup.

In cases like this, it’s usually the person who was dumped who refuses to accept the breakup. Sometimes, the pain and shock can be so intense that it’s actually easier to avoid facing it.

But this isn’t going to help you, nor will it lead you to getting your ex back.

So, what can you do?

Stop playing this game with yourself. You’re making it harder to move on, and whilst I sympathize with how you feel (I was certainly in denial at the beginning of my breakup), a bit of tough love is needed right now!

That’s why you need to surround yourself with good people. Friends and family that’ll give you a shoulder to cry on, but will encourage you to face reality.

It’s also important to listen to your emotions and gut feeling. In your mind, you’re saying that it’s not really over. But the pain in your heart and the sinking feeling in your stomach confirm the reality:

It’s time to move on.

2) You’re angry

And maybe rightly so!

If your ex pissed you off and you see red whenever you think of them, it’s no wonder they’re on your mind.

Maybe you want revenge?

Maybe you want to understand why they did what they did while you were together/during the breakup?

Whatever it is, it’s angered you enough to take over and it’s time to do something about it!

I went through a lot of anger when my ex left me. He did it in a shitty way and then acted like he did nothing wrong.

It took a while for my anger to simmer down, but once it did it was much easier to move on and stop thinking about him.

So, what can you do?

When I finally had enough of feeling crappy and thinking about him all the time, I asked myself this:

  • Will my anger improve the situation? I.e, will it make him realize his fault in all this?
  • Who is my anger really hurting?

The answers are as follows…

No – my anger will not change the situation. He knew I was mad at him, but if someone lacks respect for you then they’re unlikely to care about your feelings anyway.

Who is my anger really hurting? ME.

It doesn’t change his life. It doesn’t keep him awake at night. It certainly didn’t stop him getting into a new relationship.

So it was at that point I made the active decision to let go. I was never going to get the apology I thought I deserved, but rather than wait around stewing in bitterness, I decided to start living my life again.

And you can do this too.

Every time you start to feel that familiar rise of anger bubbling up, ask yourself the two questions above. Eventually, you’ll realize it isn’t worth your time or energy.

3) You want them back

It’s very possible that the reason you can’t stop thinking about your ex is because you love them, miss them, and want them back for good.

Here’s the thing…

If you broke up because the timing wasn’t right, a lack of communication, or external situations playing a part, there’s a good chance you could get back together.

But if you broke up because you were toxic for each other, or because one or both you seriously hurt each other, you should consider trying to move on.

It’s the sad truth that whilst we may love certain people in our lifetimes, it doesn’t always mean they’re good for us.

So think carefully about this, and whether you can realistically create a healthier relationship the second time around.

So, what can you do?

Well, if you do really want your ex back, you have to create a whole new relationship.

Don’t try to make everything “how it was before”, because how it was before didn’t work out.

In this situation, there’s only one thing to do – re-spark their romantic interest in you. Start afresh, make them see how they used to when you first started dating.

I learned about this 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.

4) You’ve got unfinished business

Another reason you can’t stop thinking about your ex could be that your lives were heavily entwined and now you’ve got unfinished business.

For example:

  • You have kids together. You can’t just walk away and never speak to your ex again. You’ve got custody agreements, schooling, and more to discuss.
  • You’ve got shared assets like a property or car together.
  • You had future plans organized, even something seemingly small like attending your cousin’s wedding next month and he/she was your plus one.
  • You’ve got outstanding money issues, i.e, one owes the other and the debt hasn’t been settled

There are tons of reasons you might have unfinished business with your ex. But this is a pretty common reason as to why you can’t stop thinking about them – you want to get things resolved before moving on.

So, what can you do?

Get practical!

If you’ve been avoiding facing your ex to sort this stuff out, you’ve got to gather your inner courage and just face the issue head-on.

If it’s something that you physically can resolve, i.e, money issues, reach out amicably and see what the two of you can work out.

You may realize that once you resolve these issues, your mind starts to focus on other things rather than just on your ex.

5) You’ve not cut them out of your life yet

If you’re still in touch with your ex, it’s probably not helping you get them off your mind.

This includes:

  • Having them on social media
  • Texting/phone calls
  • Meeting up (alone or with others)

Now, I get it. If you have a reason to be in touch with them (i.e, you’ve got kids together) there’s not much you can do except limit the amount of contact you have with them.

But if you’re still in touch because you’re trying to be friends or even friends with benefits, it’s not going to help you move on.

Granted, some exes can become friends eventually, but there needs to be some breathing space after a breakup.


Because you need time to process what has happened.

If you’re constantly seeing your ex’s face plastered over Instagram or their name lighting up your phone, it’ll stop you from reflecting on the relationship and working through this big life change.

So, what can you do?

This one is pretty self-explanatory – stop all unnecessary contact!

I know this is easier said than done. Trust me, I struggled with this a lot.

But it really will be a defining moment in getting over your ex.

So, remove them from social media. Politely decline meeting up or talking on the phone.

Explain that you need some time to gather your thoughts and emotions, and let them know you’ll be in touch when you’re ready.

And don’t let yourself slip up in a moment of loneliness. Make sure you’ve got plenty to keep yourself occupied with, and if needs be, remove their number from your phone.

I had to do this (otherwise he was likely to receive a 3 am tipsy text from me)…so I saved his number in a notepad in my car which meant it wasn’t accessible when I was feeling blue in bed or out on the dancefloor missing him.

6) You’re still hurt

This one is completely understandable.

You can’t stop thinking about your ex because they hurt you tremendously.

It’s only natural they’re on your mind. You’re trying to work out why someone you loved, trusted, and cared for would do this to you.

This can be especially true if they did something dodgy out of the blue, such as cheating on you.

The shock can be just as devastating as the hurt.

So, what can you do?

Unfortunately, there’s no one thing you can do to speed up getting over being hurt by someone. You need time and lots of self-love and care.

Don’t rush your healing. Don’t give yourself a time limit (although if you’re hitting the 1-year mark and you still can’t get them off your mind, it might be worth speaking to a professional therapist).

Healing is different for everyone, but you can start by doing the following:

  • Spend time with your loved ones. Surround yourself with positive and uplifting people and avoid those that are closely linked to your ex
  • Spend time with yourself. Take yourself out shopping, and get yourself a fresh haircut or trim. Treat yourself to something you’ve always wanted.
  • Do something you love every day. Even if it’s as small as allowing yourself your favorite chocolate and scrapping the diet, or watching your favorite film, do one thing that makes you happy daily.
  • Work on yourself. Contrary to the last piece of advice about chocolate, use this time to look and feel your best. Pick up a new sport, drink more water, and get more sleep. You’ll feel better for it.

And remember, you won’t feel this way forever.

It may seem like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, or that you’ll never love again, but humans have an amazing amount of resilience, and you will find your spark once again (it just takes time!).

7) You’re still caught up in “what could have been”

Ahh, the daydreams of “what if”…I know a thing or two about these!

You constantly find yourself wondering what you guys could have been “if only”. If only your ex had tried harder. If only you’d spent more time with them.

It’s easy to look back and wonder what you could have done differently to avoid breaking up, but the reality is, neither of you did those things. You broke up for a reason and in time you’ll probably come to appreciate the breakup as it leads you to better things.

But right now, you’re in reminiscing mode.

Here’s the thing:

It’s easy to idealize a relationship. Make it sound better than it actually was. Big up emotions that weren’t really there.

I found myself romanticizing my relationship a lot after the breakup. Once I got over the denial and anger, I couldn’t stop imagining what would have happened if only I’d done things differently.

“We weren’t that bad, were we?”

WRONG. We weren’t right for each other, but my broken heart wanted me to believe that it was the best relationship of my life and the breakup was bad luck, an unfortunate turn of events.

So, what can you do?

Simple: Be honest with yourself. Don’t sugarcoat your relationship. Try to remember the bad as much as the good.

By holding onto the past, you’re only hurting yourself more. You’ll never fully appreciate the present or make space for the right person in the future if you keep living in it.

8) You’re jealous

Another reason you might be struggling to get your ex off your mind could be because you’re jealous.

If your ex has moved on already and got a new partner, this could cause you to obsess over their newfound love (and potentially your lack of a new relationship).

This is a tough one – although it’s normal to feel this way, jealousy isn’t a pretty emotion.

It causes you to compare yourself to their new partner, and that’s the last thing you should be doing.

It may also bring up hurtful thoughts such as, “They never did that with me but they’re doing it happily with the new partner.”

The truth is, you’ll never know the ins and outs of their new relationship. Your ex could just be rebounding.

So, what can you do?

When my ex got into a new relationship a few months after we broke up, I got mad.

I couldn’t believe after all his talks of “not wanting to be tied down anymore” he’d already set up house with someone else.

So, I decided to make it none of my business and leave them to it. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing I was bothered by his new relationship.

Every time I felt the need to snoop on his profile or enquire about his new girlfriend to a mutual friend, I reminded myself of every flaw he has.

I forced myself to think of every annoying habit, every single negative thing I could think about him.

And you know what?

After a few days of doing this, I actually started to pity his new girlfriend!

“She has no idea what she’s got herself into.” – That became my mantra, and it definitely helped me with my jealousy.

Low and behold, they didn’t last long. So, stop thinking about your ex’s new partner, and start focussing on yourself instead!

9) You want closure


You want explanations. You want to understand why they did what they did. You feel like you’re owed at least that much, right?

Well, unfortunately, closure isn’t guaranteed to any of us.

Although it can be helpful in the moving on process, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel any better after receiving it.

And if you sit around waiting for it to come, or even go out and chase it, you’ll potentially end up hurting yourself more, especially if your ex isn’t willing to sit and talk honestly.

So, what can you do?

Find your own closure!

You don’t need your ex to determine when you get to move on, only YOU can determine this.

Remind yourself that you are in control of your life and emotions.

Don’t give so much power to a person who’s hurt you.

Write down your feelings, talk to a loved one, and draw a line under situations you’ll never resolve.

It all starts with you and how much you want to stop thinking about your ex. Just bear in mind that very few people actually receive the closure they really need, so it’s best to work on building up your confidence and finding happiness again by yourself.

10) You have regrets

If you did something you regret to your ex, there’s a good chance you can’t stop thinking about them because you feel guilty.

Don’t feel bad about this – it’s actually a good thing. It shows you have a conscience, that you recognize you made a mistake, and that you care about the feelings of others.

And here’s the thing:

Maybe you didn’t even do anything terrible. Maybe it was something hurtful you said, or a special occasion you forgot. Even the small things we regret can play on our minds.

So, what can you do?

You need to forgive yourself. Especially if you’ve already apologized to your ex. Whether they accept your apology or not, if you know it was genuine, then it’s time to let it go.

Torturing yourself won’t change the past. It’ll only stop you from embracing your future.

So, be kind to yourself. Make sure you learn from your mistake but don’t let it hang over you like a dark cloud.

And if you never apologized to your ex?

Maybe now’s the time. It could be what sets you free and allows you both to move on.

Final thoughts

We’ve covered 10 reasons you can’t stop thinking about your ex, and I hope you found the answers you were looking for!

Remember to give yourself time, especially if the breakup was recent. Contrary to the movies, most people don’t move on within a week, for some it can take many months.

So give yourself a break, try to focus on things that make you feel good, and when the time is right, you’ll wake up one day and realize you haven’t thought about your ex in a while (it’s a great feeling!).

But with that in mind, if you really can’t stop thinking about your ex and your gut is telling you that you should get back together, you’re going to need a bit of help.

And the best person to turn to is Brad Browning.

No matter how ugly the breakup was, how hurtful the arguments were, he’s developed a couple of unique techniques to not only get your ex back but to keep them for good.

So, if you’re tired of missing your ex and want to give the relationship a second chance, I’d highly recommend checking out his incredible advice.

Here’s the link to his free video once again.

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a freelance writer with a degree in multimedia journalism. She enjoys exploring spirituality, psychology, and love in her writing. As she continues blazing ahead on her journey of self-discovery, she hopes to help her readers do the same. She thrives on building a sense of community and bridging the gaps between people. You can reach out to Kiran on Twitter: @KiranAthar1

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