9 reasons you keep thinking about your ex

Whether you were with your ex for five months or five years, it’s natural that you’ll think of them from time to time.

But if you feel like it’s too all-consuming and affecting your daily life, it’s time to do something about it. 

Here are 9 reasons that will help you get to the bottom of your feelings.

1) You’re not over your ex

I’m going to go straight in with the obvious, which is that you might not be over your ex.

Don’t beat yourself up about this, but just remember that healing takes time and healing isn’t linear.

Even if you feel like you’ve put a lot of work into processing your emotions and dealing with the aftermath of the relationship, you just might, on some level, still not be over your ex.

When you think about your ex, ask yourself: do you think about them favorably? Do you see them through rose-tinted glasses?

Psychology Today suggests that thinking favorably about your ex might suggest you’re not over them.

But, you see, the mind has an amazing way of warping reality and blocking out all of the bad times. 

In my experience, I spent months after breaking up with my ex thinking about how great he was. I would spend time thinking about how wonderfully creative he was, and how we had so many meaningful chats and such an ease about us. 

I forgot all of the blazing rows and horrible comments made to one another that cut deep. And, believe me, they were bad.

I’ve been able to tell that, clearly, I wasn’t over the breakup even though I felt like I was doing better.

As I say, the healing process isn’t linear and time and space is necessary – so have patience with yourself and be kind to yourself, and just know things will get easier in time!

The best thing you can do is to have no contact and to work on finding your footing without them by your side.

2) You didn’t get closure

One reason for thinking about your ex continuously is because you feel like you didn’t get ‘closure’.

The end of a relationship doesn’t guarantee closure. It can take a while to actually come to terms with the relationship end.

In my experience, one day we had a conversation where we agreed to go through with the separation, then next we were no longer together. He was suddenly gone out of my life.

I spent so long saying that things felt ‘surreal’ for me because they did…

Truth is, I dwelled in this space for so long. It was so hard to move on because I didn’t have closure. 

I couldn’t pull myself out of this loop.

Maybe you’ve spent the time since splitting wondering ‘what if’ and ‘if only this…’.

It went on like this for me until I saw my ex again.

The funny part was that it wasn’t even planned. I literally bumped into him in the street and we chatted for almost thirty minutes.

It was like bumping into an old friend and not as painful as I had imagined. Time had healed the wound of heartbreak. 

Everything changed after that and I felt like I was able to move on. It wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined in my mind. I’d go as far as saying it was a nice experience.

If you feel like you can’t seem to get your ex out of your head and you’re thinking about how great they were consistently, why not arrange a time to get together and talk in person?

It will allow you two to get closure and move forward with your lives. You’ll be able to see each other in the place you’re in today, rather than the past versions of you two.

3) You might be idealizing the relationship 

Those rose-tinted glasses I spoke about might be causing you to idealize the relationship and what you two had. 

The reason you’re finding yourself thinking about your ex might be that you think it was better than it was.

There’s a chance that the thoughts you’re having are unrealistic and not a true reflection of the relationship you had with your ex.

Look closely at the different thoughts you’ve been having to see if this could be true.

Don’t take your thoughts on face-value; instead, interrogate them! Ask yourself: is the memory actually true?

For example, after my break up I spent time thinking that we just had so much peace between us. My mind would wander back to times when we’d sit in silence and read, holding hands.

I’d think about how great we were. 

As my thoughts go back to these scenes, it causes me to forget what made us separate in the end. 

Truth is, our arguing became unbearable and we had no tolerance for each other. 

We’d spend days feeling exhausted and drained – mentally and physically – and it was affecting our lives for the worst. 

We ended the relationship because things became so toxic.

However, I’ve had a tendency to forget this. I’ve found myself romanticizing what we had and how things were on numerous occasions. 

Of course, what we had was beautiful at times, but it became ugly.

To combat the romanticization, I’ve returned to old journal entries that confirm how I was feeling.

“I know I need to end this for us both,” one entry says.

If you don’t have journal entries from the time that can remind you how you were feeling, give yourself the time to sit down and to write out the reasons you two separated. 

Be honest with yourself: it will help you get perspective and be able to let go that bit more.

4) Situations might be triggering you

There are numerous things that might trigger you post-breakup, no matter how much energy you’ve put into the healing process. 

It could be places you used to visit, a time in the year, or even a scent.

For example, you and your ex might have always gone away for a summer holiday at the beginning of the season, you might have hung out in a certain corner of the city together or you might have always had a certain incense in the house.

I was triggered continuously in the first year of my break up with my ex. 

Almost on a daily basis, I was getting triggered. 

Everything from my own clothes to places and smells triggered me.

I moved out of the area at the time of our break up and I literally couldn’t be within a few miles of it without getting super triggered.

It was as though I pretended it no longer existed; facing it and thinking about the memories was too painful.

I realized I was reminded of my ex every time I went to put on the clothes I’d worn during our relationship, so I started dressing differently. 

I stopped wearing my trainers and started wearing boots; I left all of my old things in bags.

I got new perfume, new hair, new everything…

I was just far too triggered by anything reminiscent of my ex.

It might sound radical, but making changes in your life to how you dress, where you live and where you hang out might allow you to stop thinking about your ex. 

Instead of viewing change as a bad thing, think about change as a form of evolution!

By taking yourself away from the things that surrounded you and your ex, you might just stop thinking about them so much.

5) Letting go is easier said than done

If you’re thinking about your ex more than you’d like to, be kind and compassionate with yourself. 

You’re only human and it’s natural to miss the person that was so close to you.

Going from spending a lot of time with a person, and talking to them regularly, to nothing is hard. 

I won’t sugarcoat it.

So, don’t feel bad if you’re having a hard time letting go and finding yourself thinking about your ex often.

Letting go is easier said than done, but there are things you can do.

One thing I found incredibly powerful was writing a letter to him, which I never intended for him to see.

It was a letting go ritual, if you like.

I wrote down how I was feeling and the thoughts I was having about him and the relationship. I said I was sorry for certain things and I wished him well.

This was incredibly symbolic in helping let go. 

What’s more, I actually sent a letter to his parents to thank them for the role they played in my life. Another symbolic act, it helped me release that little bit more and let go of him and the relationship.

Don’t underestimate the power of symbolic acts!

6) You may be holding on to anger or regret

When you think about your ex, what are the emotions that come up?

Ask yourself whether you ever brush up against feelings of regret or anger. 

These heavy emotions can keep you feeling stuck in the past and unable to move on.

If you’ve not processed these heavy emotions, it might be causing you to keep thinking about your ex. 

In my experience, it pays to have family and friends to talk to about these emotions to help release them.

What’s more, speaking to a therapist might be able to help you process emotions you didn’t realize were bubbling away inside of you.

It’s not a sign of weakness, but an act of courageousness to speak honestly and openly about what’s going on internally for you.

By letting go of feelings of anger about the situation or regret that you two separated, you’ll be freeing yourself and allowing yourself to move into your next phase of life.

7) Your ex is in a new relationship

Something happens when you find out your ex is with someone else.

At least, it did for me.

Even though it was over a year down the line and I’d bumped into him and thought ‘yep, I’m good’, things changed as soon as I saw he was with someone else.

I came across a post on Instagram of them together.

Suddenly, I found myself thinking about him all the time again. I kept having the same thought process each day – almost like an obsessive thought loop.

I started stalking this girl and wondering what she was like. She had a similar look to me, so I went down the rabbit hole of wondering whether he’s just longing for me.

I wondered what she liked about him and how he was on dates.

My mind was suddenly going into overdrive. I was getting distracted while doing my work and staring at the ceiling in bed.

Suddenly, it was like all of the pain from the breakup had risen to the surface again. 

It felt quite unexpected, given I thought I was fine. What’s more, I was in a new relationship so it felt confusing to be so upset.

The point of this story is to illustrate that even if you feel like you’ve done all of the processing humanly possible, the emotions can come back up again. And that’s OK. 

Sit with them, allow them to pass through you and keep looking forward.

8) You’re making comparisons 

There will come a time after the heartbreak that you start dating again and eventually end up in a new relationship.

While this is an exciting time that should be enjoyed, you might find that you start thinking about your ex again. 

This will be because you might start making comparisons between your new flame and your ex.

It’s a natural response. I’ve been there. 

Ultimately, you need to work on getting a handle on these emotions and to not allow your mind to go there. It can be a dangerous place! 

It’s not helpful to compare two people ever – especially not a new potential love interest with your ex.

Of course, they’ll be different, and there might be things you liked more about your ex. But you can’t live like this!

Rather than focusing on how your ex did this or that, switch your focus to the things you like about your new partner and keep your attention there.

9) You’re missing the things you enjoyed together

You and your ex partner likely had loads of good times that legitimately were good.

These might have been little things you enjoyed together, like catching a film at the cinema and making an evening of it, or going for a drink at a nice bar together.

It could have the chemistry and passion you two shared in the bedroom.

You might find yourself longing for these good times… much more than you’d like to be doing!

These feelings might even follow you as you enter a new relationship. 

They can be confusing thoughts to navigate, but just remember that was then and what you have now is different. 

It’s not supposed to be the same. 

Look back on the good times with fondness and a smile, not with longing and regret. The latter will only cause you pain and anguish!

In my new relationship, I found myself thinking about all the little things my ex and I used to do that I loved and it really started affecting how I was experiencing my new relationship. 

My focus was in the wrong place. 

You might feel like your feelings towards your ex are affecting your new relationship. If this is the case, it could be worth speaking to a relationship coach to work through your issues.

Find a coach that suits you on Relationship Hero, where you’ll find hundreds of skilled people that know how to navigate difficult love situations. 

Unpicking my thoughts with a professional really helped me get to the bottom of how I was feeling. 

I felt like I was in a safe space to explain the thoughts that were coming up on a daily basis. At no point did I feel judged or embarrassed for the thoughts that were coming up.

My coach helped me see that my thoughts were irrational and they nurtured me through the process of moving forward. 

Click here to get started and to find someone who can support you on your journey and stop the thoughts of your ex interfering with your life. 

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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