I Am Happy Now, Why Do I Miss My Ex?

By Jessica Saxena|Updated April 26, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Denise Doster, LCSW, LISW, CCTP

It is often difficult to stop caring about someone you once loved so much, this is why breakups are hard, but know that you are not alone. A therapist may be able to help you understand why you miss your ex, as well as help you find ways to cope with those emotions and overcome them. Regardless of what you may be feeling, a therapist will help improve your overall wellbeing, perception of yourself, and anything else you may be looking to improve.

Going through a breakup can be hard, even traumatic. Even though you have moved on and are happy in your life, it can be hard to shake the feelings you have for your ex. Getting fully over your ex will take time, but there are things that you can do to help put these feelings aside. Addressing these feelings can help you identify the underlying cause of them, so you can be truly happy in the present moment.

Feeling Guilty About Missing Your Ex?

Missing Your Ex Is Normal

Every relationship is different, and there is no set timeframe for you to move on when it ends. Some relationships you may be able to move on from quickly, while others will leave you with lingering feelings for weeks, months, or even years. Once you have come to terms with the breakup and moved on, it's entirely normal for thoughts of your ex to drift into your mind from time to time.

People have been getting their hearts broken and holding out hope for a reconciliation with their ex throughout history. Just as those before you, you will eventually stop missing your ex. While they may still drift into your mind from time to time, there are techniques you can use to help move past these thoughts and focus on what you currently have that is making you happy. If you find you are struggling to move on from these feelings on your own, getting help from a counselor can be beneficial.

Why Do I Still Think About My Ex?

Loving someone means that you have deep-seated feelings for them. When feelings towards your ex linger, oftentimes it is the feeling of being loved and the feeling of loving someone else that triggers these thoughts—not always your ex themself. It becomes even more complicated when you begin to analyze your feelings. Many times, an individual is actually in love with their internal image of their ex, not their actual ex. In other words, they are in love with the good things they choose to remember about their ex. These murky feelings begin to arise when the individual cannot differentiate between their internal image and reality.

How Abuse Affects the Ability to Let Go

An abusive relationship can wreak havoc on an individual's emotional and psychological state. Even if an individual breaks up with their abusive ex, they are likely to struggle with feelings of missing them. In fact, 85 percent of the women who successfully leave an abusive relationship return. According to Forbes magazine, the primary reason for this is financial. In the majority of domestic abuse cases, there is also financial abuse. The abuser withholds money and controls, or at least keeps a tight rein on, the finances. Some abusers want their wife or female partner to account for every penny spent. Facing financial insecurity is one of the primary reasons that people in abusive relationships do not report the abuse.

Those who have gotten out of their abusive relationships and are in shelters or living with friends or relatives can be prone to returning to their abuser. Some studies show that women who have left their abuser experience more psychological problems than when they were in the abusive situation.

Finances and fear are not the only reasons women return. Some return or stay because they genuinely love their partner, and/or live with the hope that the abuse will stop. Most abusers do promise they will stop, and some may well intend to end the abuse.

There is a stigma associated with disclosing abuse to friends, relatives, or even doctors. Most doctors, who suspect their patients are victims of abuse, hear every excuse imaginable for bruises, abrasions, and broken limbs. One doctor advises that general questions regarding abuse should be included in history intake questionnaires; especially those who are admitted for in or outpatient psychiatric care. According to this doctor, a large percentage of his patients admitted for depression-related disorders did not report to their medical providers they were abused, but they did so in group sessions or even regular conversations with other patients.

The stigma associated with admitting to the abuse is great; however, the stigma for returning to an abuser is even greater. Friends and family members, who aided in the "get-away," who provided shelter, and who gave emotional and even financial support, often feel sad, angry, frightened, and even betrayed. It is very difficult for some to understand why a woman would return to her abuser. Even when the victim can fully and rationally articulate her reasoning, it is still incomprehensible to the listener.

Without help, an abuser does not suddenly become cured. In fact, there may not be a cure for an abuser any more than there is a cure for an addict. There are resources; there are support groups; there is therapy. A person should never remain in an abusive relationship in the hopes that the abuser will get better. Nor should they stay upon the promise of the abuser attending therapy.

Domestic abuse can occur in the homes of the poor as well as the wealthy, in the homes of the educated as well as the uneducated. It can occur to men, as well as women; however, the highest number of reported domestic abuse cases involved women as the victim. This could be for many reasons, such as men being less likely to admit they're being abused due to societal pressures to be "strong." What some don’t realize is that admitting you're being abused is a sign of incredible strength because it is the first step you take before you can move forward to healthy relationships.

Ways to Move on From Your Ex

If you find that you keep thinking about your ex even though you are happy, it may be time to try some different techniques for moving on. Here are some ways to help you finally put these feelings aside, so you can move on with your life—without thoughts of your ex.

Write Out What You Liked and Disliked About Your Ex

Take time to write a list of qualities and characteristics you liked about your ex, as well as what bothered or annoyed you about your ex. Making this list can help you clarify the internal image of your ex that you find yourself still pining for.

Lean On Your Support Group

Having a group of people you can depend on when times get difficult can help you get through this period of transition. Seeking out those who make you feel good can help you move on quicker than hanging with people who will simply commiserate with you.

Be Kind to Yourself

Having a bit of self-compassion can have a massive impact on your ability to heal after a breakup. Rather than entertaining the negative, focus on giving yourself grace, and acknowledge that it's time to finally move on.

Practice Mindfulness

There are several different techniques you can use when practicing mindfulness, which can help you stay focused on the present moment rather than dwelling on the past. This practice can help you reduce stress, cope with your emotions, and focus on the healing process.

Feeling Guilty About Missing Your Ex?

Seeking Help

If you find that you are still having trouble getting over your ex despite being happy, it may be time to get some help from a licensed counselor. A licensed counselor can help you work through your emotions and identify areas where you need to focus energy to heal, so you can fully move on and enjoy your new life.

Studies show that online therapy can be an effective way of dealing with complicated feelings associated with a previous relationship. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, web-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective method of working through symptoms of mental health issues that can arise out of various situations—including breakups. Internet-based platforms for providing CBT often combine counseling sessions with therapist-guided exercises, lessons, and other resources. The aim of CBT is to reframe unhealthy thoughts that can lead to anxiety, depression, etc. In this way, online therapy can help those experiencing sadness, loneliness, or other emotions related to an ex move forward in a healthy manner.

Oftentimes, there is a stigma attached to getting help from a counselor, and general nervousness about being seen in a waiting room or going into a counselor's office. With BetterHelp, you can access counseling from the comfort and privacy of your own home, or wherever you have an internet connection. You will also have the option of remaining completely anonymous, if you choose. Read below for what others have to say about their experiences with their BetterHelp counselors.

Counselor Reviews

"I've tried other counselors that I liked but didn't seem right for me but Margaret has been amazing! I love her honesty, compassion, and realness! It was really easy to open up to her and she's helped me get through a very tough breakup that nobody else could seem to get me through. I would recommend her to anyone! She makes it so comfortable to talk to her as if you've known her for forever!"

"When I signed up for BetterHelp I was in the midst of a major life crisis. I was seeking a compassionate, experienced counselor like Jillian to help me cope with the initial pain, anger, and anxiety. Also, I chose Jillian because in her self description she states, "I'm a big believer in seeing life challenges, especially the most painful ones, as a catalyst for self-discovery, personal growth, and positive change." This really resonated with me. I knew that I wanted my experience to be an opportunity for personal growth. I am incredibly grateful that Jillian indeed helped me grieve and work through the challenges of divorce and early motherhood. She helped me learn about myself and transform my life in a positive way. She offered practical, specific tools to incorporate into my daily routine. She helped me to reconnect with myself and clarify and move towards my life goals. She offered constructive advice for interacting with my ex-husband and maintaining boundaries. Through working with her I was able to care for myself so that I could be a mindful, present mama and really soak in the precious moments with my newborn daughter. My sessions with Jillian made a huge difference as I navigated this time in my life. I could not recommend her more highly."

Moving Forward

Many times when there are lingering feelings for an ex- despite being happy without them-, there are underlying issues that have not been addressed. While there are techniques that you can use to help you get over your ex and move on, sometimes working with a licensed counselor can give you direction and help you heal faster. With the right tools, you can finally and completely move on from your ex and enjoy your new-found happiness and fulfilling relationships. Take the first step today.

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