Why Do I miss My Ex So Much?

Breakup pain often seems infuriatingly nonsensical — as if our own mind suddenly becomes our  worst enemy. Conjuring our ex’s image everywhere, suffocating us in thoughts and draining our strength. What is it that prevents us from moving on? Even when we know they weren’t right for us, even if they were abusive, nothing our objectivity can make sense of seems to satisfy the subjective mind. The ghost of the past persists, but the pain is as real as it gets.

Trauma and the subconscious mind

Before labelling yourself weak-willed or weird, realize that consciously moving on is only half the battle. While you may marvel at the absurdity of suffering “futilely”, the subconscious mind is desperately trying to figure out what is happening.

Ironically, part of the deep sense of longing you feel is your brain’s way of trying to help. The brain adores clinging to routines. In this case, no matter how much the breakup made sense, the brain wants its comfort zone back. The thing about comfort zones though, is that they aren’t always comfortable. And while this may be apparent to you, the tribunal of your mind isn’t quite sold yet.

[alert-success]This is precisely why moving forwards and remaining active are the best ways to minimize pain. You are actively training your brain to accept and erect a new comfort-zone to replace the old one.[/alert-success]

Guilt and pride will bring us down

While our brain is busy attempting to mend the rift that was torn open after a breakup, our conscious mind also has a battle on its hands. Managing the trinity of self-destruction; guilt, pride and self-esteem.

Low self-esteem can catalyse existing insecurity and make difficult situations seem insurmountable. One way to limit its detrimental impact on our lives is by becoming conscious of how it is colouring our perspective, and by realizing that it is a temporary ailment that usually self-corrects with time. Admittedly, this is never as easy as it sounds, and many of it’s effects are subtle.

[alert-success]Managing stress directly combats emotional distress. In addition to remaining active (as discussed earlier), traditional stress-beating techniques also have a profoundly positive affect on post-breakup stress.[/alert-success]

Some ideas include:

  • Physical exercise produces naturally occurring emotional and physical pain-killers. Additionally, getting in shape not only improves self-esteem and self-worth, it also improves your health and helps erect new brain-approved comfort-zones.
  • Picking up new hobbies or reacquainting yourself with old passions also provides a creative vent for pent-up stress.
  • Talking yourself out with friends and family is important not only because it provides yet another on-demand vent. But also because it helps us realize that we are our own worst critics.

Why do I miss my ex so much?

Not all instances of longing are figments of our imagination, however. Sometimes pain is born out of genuine loss. There’s no way around it, everyone has an element in their nature that is worthy of missing. Just because the co-dependency had become cannibalistic, or you simply weren’t attracted to them anymore, doesn’t mean that there wasn’t something you would have liked to keep.

When you add time into the mix, things get really murky. A breakup is so inherently traumatic, that much of what we took for granted becomes immediately apparent. It is precisely this traumatic and abrupt separation which makes the pain deeper than it objectively should be.

It can be a shocking experience to realize just how painful small, previously insignificant details become over time. But it is also imperative to weigh this against all we stand to gain — even if we feel that we don’t have much of anything right now.


Images courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2 Comments Why Do I miss My Ex So Much?

  1. Mathandi

    Excellent and eye opening writing! I really enjoy your articles, they are a breath of fresh air and for the first time they explain things the way i understand them… Thanks man!

    This article reminds me a lot of myself. I broke up with my ex about four years ago but i still miss him so much sometimes. Other times i get convinved that i am over him. I am actually married, and the person i got married to would have been my rebound, but at the time when i met him i was determined not to ever go back to my ex, in fact i was determined to move on with my life and never make contact again. He however contacted me after a year of breaking up and we got talking again, but we never talked about what happened. Him contacting me made it a bit difficult for me cause i had to make a mental decision not to break up with my boyfriend (now husband). We sort of kept contact as friends. He contacted me before my wedding, reminding me about our good times, then told me that he was also getting married, on the same weekend as my wedding. I was relieved that i was getting married because i would have been upset that he was getting married. According to him, he can never be friends with me cause he still has feelings for me… I decided not to ever speak to him again because i don’t want to get confused. However, i do miss him sometimes, i guess i will always miss him…. Does that make me a bad person?

    I talk too much i know, I guess i am just trying to understand myself as well…

    Thanks for listening :)

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      A bad person? No, it makes you honest and quintessentially human. You chose to honor your future with resolve and take steps to protect your current partner. The fact that you still care about someone with whom you were close is something to be proud of.

      I have the occasional pang of pain for exs all the time. But much like you, I prefer clarity to confusion. I think the biggest lie perpetuated about long-term relationships is that once they’re over you tend to lose your feelings in the process. They may have diminished and become compartmentalized, but they are still there for me. And probably always will!

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