Why Do I Miss My Ex So Much?

By Joanna Smykowski

Updated January 25, 2019

Going through a breakup can be one of the most emotionally painful experiences in the world. All of the tears, jealousy, questions, and anxiety - we ask ourselves: isn't there a secret that can make all of these feelings disappear? Because every person and every relationship is different, there's no one secret other than to understand yourself and the reason that you seek out relationships.

One option is to contact your ex-partner and attempt to rekindle your relationship. This would be an immediate solution to your problems; there would be no more tears because everything is back to normal. After all, sometimes the hardest part of a break up isn't the loss of the romantic relationship, it's the change that that break up leads to. Your whole schedule might change, your living situation will almost certainly change. These things alone can be very difficult.

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However, there is a reason you and your partner broke up. A short-term solution to address your heartache may only make things worse in the long term. You may have encountered insurmountable differences, or your partner may have even been physically or mentally abusive. Sometimes relationships are ended prematurely and are worth resurrecting or repairing. Other times, however, they are worth leaving behind even if it is hard.

Also, it is important to address the differences between "I miss my ex so much" and "I miss what my ex represents so much."

I miss my ex so much - or do I?

It is very important to differentiate between missing your ex-partner as a person or missing their companionship, as the healing process behind both can be entirely different.

If it's your partner you're missing - their scent, their look, their quirks, their antics, and their personality - then it is completely healthy and normal to grieve their absence from your life. You held a deep affection for them, and this affection has been taken away. Realizing what it is that made you love them in the first place will allow you to search for these characteristics in others. Perhaps you were attracted to their motivation or their sense of humor, in which case, you know that these are the qualities which your future ideal partner should possess. Remember, however, that the idea is to find a new partner, not to replace your old partner. Every person is unique and looking for someone who is the same has some downsides. For one thing, you will never find that person. Further, all of the people that you meet along the way will have to deal with the heartache of liking you but not being your ex.

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Nothing bad can come from experiencing love at some point, even if that love is no longer present. It is something which teaches us and allows us to apply our findings to our future endeavors. If love has enriched our lives at some point, no matter how brief, it is a cause to be thankful for.

Is it just their companionship I miss?

When you think of your past relationship, do you worry that you won't have someone to spend the weekends with? Will you miss having someone to make love with, or someone to go to dinner with?

If these are some of the first things you think of, you may be missing their companionship as opposed to the person.

Humans are social creatures, and it is natural to want to have someone to spend time with. Not all meaningful relationships are sexual or even romantic, however.

The time following a break-up may be a good opportunity to strengthen or renew relationships with family and friends who can help you to fill your social needs without all of the hassle and hazards of emotional relationships.

You may also want to dedicate more time and effort to your work. This may not seem like a relationship but if you think about it, being successful at work can provide many of the same benefits that you may be craving from romantic relationships. The feeling that you are needed, support, praise, a sense of purpose and belonging. All of these are most commonly associated with romantic relationships but can also come from a supportive work community.

One of the main differences between romantic relationships and filial or platonic relationships is that these people are not all the time. It is normal to feel lonely from time to time, but if you feel lonely whenever you are alone, it may be a sign of something more serious.

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What the Need for Companionship Means

Unfortunately, this desire for companionship can be indicative of a much deeper issue. It may suggest that your biggest concern is loneliness, and you are doing whatever you can to avoid it. If you are not happy in your own company, then it will be impossible for anyone else to make you happy.

If this is the case, you need to work on your internal happiness. Accept your flaws and realize that you're human like everyone else. Everyone gets lonely at some point, and it's completely fine to do so. Emotional unhappiness with oneself can stem from being neglected during childhood, and it is important to address these issues with a professional therapist before they develop further. Simply filling the void in your life with another person's presence will only cause further emotional trauma down the line. When you care more about the relationship than yourself or the individual that you are in a relationship with, it can lead you to tolerate unhealthy relationships or relationships that aren't unhealthy but that are unfulfilling.

This kind of relationship often called "rebound relationships" may be fun for a while and may even distract you from the pain of your breakup. However, they are seldom successful and seldom long-lasting. In the end, they only lead to more breakups and more pain, if not for you then for the other person. After all, if you look at it, the concept of rebound relationships is based on the idea of using other people to make yourself feel better before moving on to something else.

It can be hard to tell when it is okay to move on from a devastating breakup. One approach is not deliberately to move on but to spend your time and energy doing other things that are important to you. As long as you are still getting out of the house, the opportunity for a fresh start to a new relationship will always be there.

A better understanding of why you want to be in a relationship and what a healthy relationship looks like can also help you to develop happier, healthier, and longer lasting relationships in the future. If nothing comes along, hopefully, you will realize that people don't need someone else to complete them. While it may be nice to have someone who compliments us, we are all already complete, and many people live happily and fulfilling lives without finding a partner.

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