What To Do When You Miss Someone After A Breakup

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated February 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

A breakup can be difficult to cope with when you miss your ex-partner. It may help you to know that feelings of anger, sadness, grief, or longing can be normal during this time and that the emotions you're currently experiencing may be temporary. 

If you're missing someone, consider allowing yourself to grieve, treating yourself with kindness, and embracing healthy distractions. You might also find that expert guidance from a mental health professional offers personalized support. However, you're not alone in your feelings; missing someone can be a normal experience after a breakup.

Getty/AnnaStills
Explore healthy methods of moving forward after a breakup

How do I stop missing my ex? 

For many people, missing a partner comes from challenging emotions after a breakup or disbelief that the breakup has occurred. Disbelief can be numbing and might feel more like a detachment from reality than an emotion. Perhaps you struggle to imagine how the connection between you and your loved one ended. Maybe you can't remember seeing any signs that your relationship was about to end. You might also not be sure how to proceed in your life without this person by your side. 

Although it can be challenging to accept that your relationship has ended, acknowledging what occurred may help you move on, whether that means rediscovering yourself or connecting with old friends. Although you might desire to hold onto the connection you had, skills like radical acceptance from dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) may help you move forward healthily. To practice this skill, consider the following steps: 

  1. Observe how you might be questioning or fighting your reality.
  2. Remind yourself that your reality cannot be changed in this situation.
  3. Try to note any causes for the reality. Acknowledge how many people do not have control over who they fall in love with, but you can control how you proceed.
  4. Practice acceptance with your mind, body, and spirit. Use positive self-talk to tell yourself you are willing to accept this situation, even if it is difficult.
  5. List all the behaviors you'd partake in if you already accepted this situation. Then act this way until you find it aligns with your reality.
  6. Cope ahead by thinking of ways to accept the situation if it worsens.
  7. Attend to your body sensations using mindfulness or meditation to connect with yourself.
  8. Allow disappointment, sadness, grief, or anger to arise if they do. Note them and do not act on them. Give them the space to exist.
  9. Acknowledge that life can be worth living, even when there is pain.
  10. Create a pros and cons list if you are resisting acceptance further.
When you are in the heat of a breakup, it can feel difficult to see past each moment and have hope for your future. It may also be helpful to reflect on the other challenges you've been able to overcome and the strength you displayed in those circumstances. If you've already experienced a breakup or grieved another significant loss, you might know that grieving can become easier as time passes.
Getty/AnnaStills

Navigating anger after a breakup

Losing a significant relationship can be disillusioning and disheartening, including when you've put time and emotions into it. The feelings you may be experiencing after a breakup could range from sadness to anger. When you are grieving a loss or missing someone, feelings of anger may not be uncommon. 

Anger is a natural reaction, but it can be healthy not to let it take over your social life or cause you to partake in behaviors that may be unhealthy. If you're angry after a breakup, consider channeling this emotion through healthy activities like exercise and journaling. You may also use your anger to fuel projects to embrace this new phase of life, like rearranging your home. If your anger does not lead you to harm yourself or anyone else, it can be a healthy and normal emotion to experience after a breakup. 

In some cases, anger may be a secondary emotion, meaning other emotions could prompt this emotion. After losing a cherished relationship, you may feel betrayed, abandoned, rejected, or sad. Although those other emotions may be difficult to face, getting to the root of your anger and addressing them could help you move forward.

How to let go of an ex-partner 

If you miss your former partner after a breakup, know your feelings are normal and understandable. However, if you're ready to move on, the following steps might support you in letting go and focusing on the future. 

Take time to grieve

Consider starting your process of letting go by giving yourself time to grieve your loss. Although this step might seem counter-intuitive, suppressing emotions in an effort to move on may be associated with adverse health outcomes. Until you move through grief and come to a place of acceptance, it may be challenging to stop missing the person you once were in a relationship with. 

Practice self-compassion 

When a relationship ends that you aren't ready to let go of, you might turn to self-blame or look for faults in yourself to justify the end of the relationship. However, treating yourself with compassion and understanding may shorten the grieving process in the long run, while being unkind could worsen your emotional state. You might think about how you would treat a friend going through a tough breakup, then treat yourself the same way. A few ways to practice self-compassion can include the following: 

  • Eating healthy meals
  • Spending time in a beautiful natural location 
  • Journaling about your feelings
  • Practicing mindfulness or meditation 
  • Allowing yourself to cry when the urge appears
  • Validating your emotions as they occur
  • Taking time to think before you react regarding your ex-partner
  • Partaking in hobbies or interests you haven't considered recently
  • Learning a new skill, like how to play an instrument 

Lean into distractions

Focusing on healthy distractions may take your mind off the feelings of missing your ex. It may be helpful to arm yourself with activities that take up a lot of time or focus, like a fitness class, a spay day, or a therapy session, to keep you from dwelling on the past. Hobbies and time with friends might also be effective distractions to help you support your mental health while you cope with missing an ex.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Explore healthy methods of moving forward after a breakup

Talk to a therapist 

If you find yourself longing for a partner you can't have back, you might consider enlisting the support of a licensed mental health professional with experience with such situations. A therapist may help you work through your emotions and identify underlying factors that may be contributing to you still missing the other person. They may also suggest coping skills you can try at home that are personalized to your needs.

If you're struggling with a breakup, you might not feel up to seeing a therapist in person. Online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp may be more convenient for you than traditional in-office therapy while you process these feelings. If you're grieving your breakup to the point that it has become challenging to get out of bed, it may comfort you to know that you can talk to a therapist over the phone, via video chat, or over live messaging from any spot in your home. 

As one study explains, online therapy can effectively alleviate symptoms of depression, many of which can be common after a difficult breakup. Online therapy can address various mental health concerns, so you can talk to a therapist no matter which emotions you're experiencing. You do not need a diagnosis or a specific mental health condition to ask for support. 

Takeaway

Breakups can be heartbreaking and challenging to cope with, but it may be possible to stop missing someone over time. The emotions you're experiencing now can evolve and recede as you move forward and let time take hold. 

To stop missing someone, consider treating yourself kindly and engaging in healthy distractions like hobbies and time with friends. You can also try talking to a therapist if you feel you'd benefit from the support of a mental health professional.

Build healthy relationship habits with a professional
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started