I Miss Him: Is It Healthy To Miss Him After Breaking Up?

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated March 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

When you miss someone, it can seem like a piece is missing in your life. For many people, a breakup that ends a romantic relationship is a common cause of these emotions. Even if you're trying to move on from the relationship, the question "Why do I miss my ex?" may sometimes cross your mind. For some people, it could seem strange not to have a partner if they have been in a relationship for a long time. Whether you or your partner initiated the breakup, you may experience challenging emotions. 

Try to practice self-care and patience when recovering from a breakup. Breakups can hurt for many reasons, and missing someone is often a healthy way to cope with grief. However, your behavior in response to these emotions could be unhealthy. Learning healthy ways to cope when you’re missing someone can be valuable. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
How can I stop missing them so much?

I miss him: Is it healthy to miss someone after a breakup? 

When you break up with someone, it can be natural to miss them. You may continue to miss them, even when they are dating someone else or moving on. However, missing your ex might become unhealthy when these emotions linger or dominate your thoughts, causing distress. For example, if you still experience a deep longing for your ex even after months or years have passed since the breakup, you might be struggling to process what occurred.   

Try to distinguish between missing someone and wanting to be with someone. Many people miss their exes, but that does not necessarily mean they want to return to the relationship. You can have fond memories of your love life with this person and miss those times while still being conscious that the relationship has ended. 

Note that everyone may move on at a different pace. Some people might love their ex for years after a breakup if a painful or unhealthy relationship left them with residual urges from a push-and-pull dynamic. Other people might move on after a few weeks or months apart. Some people move on while the relationship is still happening. 

Breaking up from a healthy relationship 

Breaking up may not be unhealthy for many couples. People break up for a variety of reasons, and a relationship may sometimes have run its course. At other times, people may have grown apart or experienced a transition that doesn't fit their relationship. 

When people break up, new life elements like geographical or lifestyle changes may merit the parting of ways. While you both may agree that the nature of your relationship needs to change, breaking up after any relationship, including healthy relationships, can still be painful. You both may have lost romance and companionship that you relied on in the past.

Before recovering from your breakup, there may be a season of mourning during which you choose to participate in self-care and engage in other supportive relationships. Even though it can be challenging, breaking up for the mutual benefit of both parties may be healthy.
Getty/Halfpoint Images

Breaking up after an unhealthy relationship

In some cases, partners break up due to an unhealthy relationship. An unhealthy relationship may involve various dynamics, ranging in severity from incompatibility to abuse. In these relationships, there is often a power imbalance. Negative communication, like name-calling or gaslighting, may also be weaponized. Additionally, harm can be inflicted in these relationships through emotional manipulation and physical violence. 

Leaving an abusive or harmful relationship can be painful for many people, and loving feelings may remain long after breaking up. If you are still missing your partner after an unhealthy relationship has ended, reaching out for professional support may be beneficial. 

I miss him: How to cope after a mutual breakup 

Even if there are no significant changes, lifestyle alterations, or adverse incidents, some relationships end. The realization that a relationship is over could be evidenced by a lack of interest or growing apart. Preferring other people's company and experiencing a mild dislike of your partner are signs you might benefit from addressing these concerns and deciding whether it may be time to move on. 

If you miss someone after mutually deciding to break up, give yourself time to process what has occurred. You might find that after your immediate emotional responses have subsided, you can return to a logical mindset and understand why the relationship ended. If you continue to experience difficult emotions, you might also consider talking to a therapist. 

I miss him: How to care for yourself in the days and weeks after a breakup 

Whether a breakup is healthy or due to a harmful relationship dynamic, the days after a breakup can be filled with many emotions. You may feel confused, regretful, resentful, bitter, angry, fearful, or relieved. 

These emotions may hit you at different times during a given day. You might also revisit memories and relive the breakup conversation. Try to guard your mental well-being during this vulnerable time by practicing the following forms of self-care. 

Be patient with yourself 

Try not to hurry through the pain or ignore your emotional experience after you've lost a relationship with someone you care about. Engage with your emotions respectfully and healthily to move forward. Studies show that suppressing emotions can cause mental and physical pain, so ensuring you give space to how you feel may help you heal faster. 

Set goals 

Setting goals after a breakup might initially involve "baby steps" and could include running errands or finding a new gym. Consider how your life will change and take positive steps toward your future without your ex-partner. 

Get moving 

Moving out of town or into another relationship may not be necessary, but moving your body can be beneficial. Move by working, exercising, or going out with friends. You can also move by cleaning, reading, and journaling. Move in the way that best enables you to reflect and adjust to a different reality. 

Spend time with friends and family

Enlisting the support of the people you trust, such as your best friend, can be vital to a new phase in your life. Try not to feel ashamed of your vulnerability. Ask for help, hugs, advice, or whatever else you need from your friends and family. Spending time with people who allow you to talk and process can be beneficial. If you do not have a support system or the support of your loved ones is not enough, you can also reach out to a mental health professional.

Be careful with social media

While social media can be a means of connecting and finding support during a difficult period of your life, spending a lot of time on social media immediately after a breakup might not be good for your healing process. With some breakups, you’ll find you might have the urge to check on your ex’s activities via social media. Social media could also provide painful reminders of more happy times in your relationship in the form of old photos and messages between the two of you. If you suspect your social media use may be impeding your ability to move on from the relationship, it may be wise to take a break for a little bit.

How can I stop missing them so much?

See a therapist 

There may come a time after your breakup when you are having difficulty with moving on. If you have exhausted your support system and are experiencing loneliness, speaking with a counselor might be beneficial. Whether you need to vent or process, a counselor can work with you to offer the care you need and assist you as you move into the next phase of your life.

Many studies point to online counseling as an effective method of helping individuals deal with complicated emotions after a breakup or divorce. In a study published in Trials, a peer-reviewed medical journal, researchers outlined the potential efficacy of online therapy in helping those experiencing separation, grief, or divorce. In similar studies, researchers have concluded that online therapy could significantly reduce feelings of grief, depression, embitterment, and loneliness while increasing quality of life. These studies have similar results to in-person studies on related topics. 

Through platforms like BetterHelp, you can choose over 30,000 counselors and therapists from across the United States. You're not limited to those that operate in your area. With more options, you may have a better chance of matching with someone who understands your situation and knows how to help you move forward. In addition, through online therapy, you can get resources like worksheets, webinars, or journaling prompts to assist with your therapeutic process.  

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!"

"Brenda has been a lifeline to me in a very difficult time. In one month, she has helped support me by quitting alcohol, partaking in self-care, and helping me through the process of a breakup. She asks the questions that your friends won't, a real chance to understand what's happening to you as well as able to evaluate it healthily. Brenda also gave me very good practical advice on how to manage my anxiety and how to handle those first few days of a breakup which can feel impossible. I've loved that I can message her whenever I get those awful feelings and she usually responds pretty quickly. You can also schedule weekly phone sessions which have also been helpful some weeks when I've really been really struggling."

Takeaway

Love and relationships can be complicated, and moving past a breakup can be painful for many. It can also be empowering. You may uncover newfound strength you did not know you had while learning about yourself and refining your goals and desires. However, this might not be the case for you if you still miss your ex-partner. A counselor can provide a unique perspective on your circumstances. Take the first step by reaching out and asking for support.

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