The nature of your relationship has changed, but your feelings haven’t. Despite all your efforts, you miss him so badly.
The good news is that you aren't crazy; your mind and body are working against you. The bad news is that your mind and body are working against you.
Things to know
- After a breakup, recovery can take up to 11 weeks and it is normal to go through the stages of grief, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
- The length and investment in the relationship can affect how you cope with a breakup, so can your attachment style and gender.
- While the stages of grief do not necessarily follow a linear sequence, it is important to find healthy ways to express emotions, such as confiding in trusted friends or seeking professional help, to move towards acceptance and healing.
To help you move on, we'll be looking at these things:
- Symptoms Of Missing Someone
- Why You Miss Him So Badly: The Science And Psychology
- How Long It Takes To Get Over A Breakup
- The Stages Of A Missing An Ex After A Breakup
- How To Deal With Missing Him
Symptoms Of Missing Someone
You’ve lost all interest in the things you used to enjoy. The loneliness is so unbearable that you cry multiple times a day. Concentrating on day-to-day tasks has become difficult. All you can focus on is how badly you miss your ex.
Breakups have far-reaching psychological effects. In addition to feelings of intense longing, you may also experience the following:
- Low self-esteem
- Mood changes
- Obsessive thought patterns
Can’t sleep? Feeling a little under the weather? Missing him has everything to do with it. Missing someone you love can affect you on a physiological level. After a breakup, the body goes through all kinds of hormonal and physiological changes.
Research even suggests that going through a breakup triggers similar brain activity to being in actual physical pain. When stressed out, our bodies release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones are pretty helpful when we’re faced with immediate threats.
Over the long term, like when we’re recovering from a breakup, elevated levels of these hormones can throw us into a state of chronic stress. Increased cortisol levels can lead to memory loss, digestive problems, and weight gain.
High adrenaline levels can result in high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. When stress becomes a chronic condition, it doesn’t just rob us of our mental health; our physical health suffers too. Some of the symptoms to look out for are:
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stomach pain
- Weight gain/loss
Why You Miss Him So Badly: The Science And Psychology
It's an innate drive
Contrary to popular belief, romantic love is a physiological motivation, not an emotion. This has profound implications for how we process the loss of a romantic partner. Physiological motivations like hunger and thirst exist to keep us alive. So does love. Romantic love drives us to form relationships and ensure our legacy lives on.
When these fundamental motivations are disrupted, we experience serious mental and physical side effects. The overwhelming emotions are a natural response to romantic loss. We’re social creatures. And this is why we process rejection similarly to physical pain.
It’s an addiction
The pleasurable feelings associated with love are addictive and light up the same brain regions associated with drug addiction. Love withdrawal syndrome occurs when we’re cut off from a romantic partner.
Suddenly our lives feel devoid of joy and purpose. We go through extreme highs and lows and obsess over every little detail about the relationship. We’re tossed into a period of extraordinary suffering that feels unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.
Modern science tells us that love results from chemicals in the brain. The feelings associated with love are caused by dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Dopamine is responsible for the addictive nature of love. It’s why you couldn’t seem to get enough of your ex when you first started dating.
Norepinephrine is responsible for all the exhilaration that comes with falling in love. Remember how your heart used to race when you saw him? What about the butterflies in your stomach each time you kissed?
Serotonin regulates behavior and mood. It's also responsible for the obsessive nature of romantic love. Interestingly, serotonin’s effect largely depends on gender. While serotonin levels decrease when men fall in love, in women, they increase significantly.
This is why women are prone to obsess over a romantic partner. It’s why you couldn’t get him off your mind and why you felt incomplete when you were apart. After a breakup, serotonin levels drop, and cortisol levels rise, causing your brain to release dopamine, producing norepinephrine.
While you’re trying to get over him, the hormones that make you anxious and excitable are sky-high. And serotonin, which should be keeping you stable, is declining. Essentially, all the hormones that should be making you feel good are now making you miserable.
Research shows that when in romantic relationships, our sense of self becomes entangled with our partner's self. Simply put, we begin to view our partner as a part of ourselves. We adopt their characteristics, confuse our memories with their memories and take on their identity as our own.
This can be a very good thing for a budding relationship. When we first get to know a new romantic partner, we find ourselves captivated by their identity and interests. We get to expand our worldview and enrich our perspective. We also get to broaden our sense of self.
We're exposed to new ways of thinking and exciting experiences that help the attachment process along. Unfortunately, breakups can make us feel like we've lost a part of ourselves. The more a relationship contributed to our personal growth, the more significant the impact of the breakup on our self-esteem.
The emotional distress caused by this change in self-concept tends to linger. You’re not only missing him, but a small part of you might miss who you were when you were with him.
The attachment formed between romantic partners can provide a sense of well-being and stability. This is why the end of a romantic relationship can be so devastating. When faced with the loss of emotional support, it's not unusual to experience anxiety and despair.
The strong bonds we form in long-term relationships can be hard to break. We’re also hardwired to yearn for attachment. It only stands to reason that the attachment between you and your ex is what's causing you to miss him so badly.
Missing him could also be tied to your attachment style. Although we all have a strong need for attachment, we don’t all ‘attach’ in the same way. Our earliest experiences of love and affection affect whether we are secure or insecure in our relationships.
The four main attachment styles are secure, anxious, avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. Except for secure attachment, all the other types are insecure attachment styles.
Individuals with a secure attachment style are more capable of accepting rejection and tend to take breakups better. Insecure types, particularly anxious types, tend to have a more challenging time coming to terms with things and moving on. They tend to tie their identity and sense of worth to their partner. They are also more likely to stay in toxic or abusive relationships.
Here’s where it gets even more interesting: while men tend to be avoidant, women are more likely to be anxious types. Reflect on your attachment style. It may very well be why you can’t seem to move on from your ex.
How Long It Takes To Get Over A Breakup
According to research, it takes between 18 and 24 months to fully heal from love rejection. Other studies suggest that it takes 11 weeks to get over a breakup.
There’s also the idea that it takes half the time you were with someone to move on. One thing that experts do agree on is that there’s no definitive time frame. The grieving process looks different for all of us.
It depends on the nature of your relationship
Recovery also depends on several factors, such as the duration of the relationship and our emotional investment. If you relied on your ex for approval, acceptance, or validation, losing him might take longer to come to terms with.
If your ex ended things, you might feel ashamed, hurt, and even angry that you still miss him. Even if you ended things, it's normal to feel the same. It might not necessarily mean you regret your decision. You might simply miss the companionship.
It depends on gender
It’s not all in your mind; you’re experiencing higher levels of physical and emotional pain. Breakups tend to hit women the hardest at first.
You miss him so badly now, but the good news is you will get through it. Research shows that while women tend to be more negatively affected by breakups, they tend to recover more fully. You’ll be able to move on and form new relationships. Better yet, you’ll be ready to put all you’ve discovered into creating a better relationship.
The Stages Of A Missing An Ex After A Breakup
Breakups tend to follow a similar trajectory to other forms of grief. The five stages of grief have long been used to explain how we process loss. Experts agree that grief hardly follows a linear sequence. This means that we may not necessarily experience the stages in order.
If you and your ex were together for a long time, and if you were invested in the relationship, your recovery will look a lot different than someone getting over a more casual or long-distance relationship. If your ex broke things off, contending with the pain of a romantic relationship and a broken heart is a major blow.
It may prolong your healing process. Again, even if you decide to end things, you’ll still experience intense feelings of grief and loss. If you’re having a hard time letting go of your ex-boyfriend, understanding the stages of a breakup can help you make sense of your grieving process.
At this point, the breakup doesn’t even seem real. You can't wrap your mind around losing your favorite person. You've given them your all, and you made many wonderful memories together.
It can feel like your world is ending. Your mind does the only thing it can to protect you. It distorts reality to protect you from the unbearable pain. You pore over your ex's last words and reason that things aren't really over. You're even hopeful that you'll be able to convince them to patch things up.
If you’re in this stage and missing him badly, understand that your response is a self-protective measure. Understandably, you’re having a difficult time accepting your new reality.
If you've been stuck in the denial stage for a while or if you keep coming back to it, confide in someone you trust. This will allow you to truly process what happened. It would also be beneficial to reflect on how you and your ex weren't right for each other. When you stop idealizing him and the relationship, you can start to let go.
How dare he dump me? How dare he throw away everything we've built? When you're in this stage, the hurt and confusion you’re feeling turns into anger. Your ex becomes public enemy number one, and you relish the opportunity to lash out. You might even be tempted to vent about every little thing associated with your failed relationship.
If you've been here before and you're back, the fact that you still miss him could be triggering you. Try not to suppress your feelings but don't do anything you'll regret. Find healthy ways to express your anger and lean on your support system.
If you’re stuck and the anger is consuming you, consider seeing a professional to help you work through it.
The inability to accept a breakup often leads us to behave in strange ways. The bargaining stage is when you'll do just about anything to win your ex back. You might beg or change the way you look. You're willing to do whatever it takes— no measure is too drastic. If you're in this stage and missing him badly, you're probably beating yourself up.
You're thinking about how you could have been a better partner. To move on, you need to stop blaming yourself for everything. The reality is you were both responsible for the relationship's demise. You might be prepared to do anything to get your ex back, but is he willing to work on himself and change too? Remember, it isn't healthy or realistic for one person to carry a relationship.
You need to resist the urge to reach out to him. Your time and efforts are better spent focusing on your emotional recovery.
When you’ve raged and tried all you can, you slip into the depression stage. Your dopamine levels plummet, and you're no longer motivated to do anything. You wallow in sadness, and thoughts of your ex drive you to tears. During the depression stage, it's common to miss your ex badly.
Your personal experience is unique. There isn't a wrong or right way to deal with a broken heart. Don't bottle up your feelings. Find healthy ways of expressing them. Cry as much as you need to, write things down and confide in your best friends. Try not to stay stuck here for too long. Depression can be debilitating. If you start to feel overwhelmed, get professional help.
In the final stage of the grieving process, you'll start to realize that breaking up was the right thing to do. Life won't be dull and dreary anymore. You won't miss your ex so badly, and you'll finally be at peace with the situation. You'll know you've reached the acceptance stage when you don’t think about him as often.
If you do happen to think of him, you won’t feel crushing grief or burst into tears. Checking his social media won't be a part of your daily routine anymore. The thought of being without him won't scare you, and you'll even entertain the idea of finding love again.
Before you finally get here, it’s possible to make many stops and starts. It’s not uncommon to keep cycling through the stages until you finally accept the breakup. No matter what these stages look like for you, you can work through them. It might feel awful, and it may take some time, but you can make it through and learn some valuable lessons.
How To Deal With Missing Him
Getting over someone you love is hard work. Accept that it's not going to look anything like how to get over a crush. It's going to require plenty of self-love and support from loved ones.
Here’s what you can do to move on:
1. Give yourself time
Time is a healer. It grants us the gift of perspective and helps reshape our perception. Free yourself from the idea that you need to move on in a specific amount of time. Be patient and feel what you need to feel.
With breakups, the only way out is through. Accept that missing your ex is part of the process, and allow yourself to process these feelings. Suppressing them will only make them stick around longer.
While you can’t control time, you certainly can distract yourself. Keep spending time with family and friends. You could even put yourself out there and make new friends.
Pursue your hobbies and interests. Focus on crushing your personal and professional goals. Embrace new experiences and try to see personal development as a lifestyle as opposed to a recovery measure.
2. Cut off all contact with him
When you've become accustomed to routines and patterns, your brain longs to return to the routines you know and love. No contact is particularly effective because it allows you to reset your body and mind.
It's also the best way to break the trauma bonds associated with toxic relationships. Remember that being in love is a lot like having an addiction. And that breakups tend to cause love withdrawal. To stop missing your ex, you've got to detox.
This means getting rid of any constant reminders of him. Stop following him on social media and ignore his text messages. Don't try to be friends with him. Avoid mutual friends if you can. Simply cut off all contact and allow yourself to heal.
It's going to take at least 12 weeks of no contact to recalibrate. Because you're going cold turkey, it's probably going to feel like the hardest thing you've ever done. Once all the hormones associated with the intense longing have stabilized, you'll feel better, and you'll be able to move on with your life.
3. Reflect on the relationship
To help you move on, experts recommend reflecting on the relationship. Resist the urge to ruminate on the negative parts or look for signs that your ex misses you. Focus on the positive aspects of the breakup instead.
Research shows that when we focus on the positive aspects of a breakup, we tend to heal better. This is because the entire process encourages us to accept our new identity.
Getting closure is a necessary part of moving on from a breakup. In an attempt to understand what happened, you might dwell on every little detail about the relationship. All that does is keep you stuck in a cycle of pain. And that’s exactly why coming up with your own positive perspective to justify the breakup can be a very effective way to move on.
Journaling your perspective can be cathartic. If you'd rather not write things down, try talking to a close friend or a family member. The key is to let go of negative emotions and start viewing your life in a more positive light.
4. Take advantage of the benefits of exercise
Try not to mope around or think about how much you miss your ex. You're going to obsess over everything if you spend the whole day in bed. A great way to boost your feel-good hormones and keep you distracted is to get active. Being active increases your levels of serotonin and boosts your mood.
In fact, research has shown that physical activity helps keep depression at bay. When it comes to treating depression, exercise can be just as effective as therapy or antidepressants.
5. Practice self-compassion
Self-compassion can speed up your recovery process. Rather than punishing and blaming yourself for missing your ex, treat yourself with kindness.
This means not skipping meals, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, and engaging in activities that make you feel good about yourself. Understand that what you're going through is a natural process and not a character flaw.
Whenever you start to feel ashamed or frustrated, remind yourself that you've got to be patient. Use the power of positive thinking to rewire your thought patterns. You will get over him and will find love again.
6. Rediscover who you are
An increasing number of studies suggest that gaining a clear sense of self is the key to moving on. Rediscovering who you are can be a powerful way to speed up the healing process. For the longest time, you and your ex were a unit. Your lives and identities were intertwined.
For the longest time, you and your ex were a unit. Your lives and identities were intertwined. You made decisions together and relied on each other for companionship, acceptance, and validation. It's time to figure out who you were before him and restore your self-concept.
7. Lean on support systems
Following a breakup, 40% of people experience moderate depressive symptoms, and 12% of people experience severe ones. People who lack support systems are three-to-four times more likely to commit suicide.
Don’t isolate yourself from your friends and family. Keep them in the loop about your mental health, and lean on them for comfort. If you feel like your emotional state is starting to affect your day-to-day life, seek professional help as soon as possible.
8. Look forward to the future
The low self-esteem and heartbreak brought on by a breakup can make you feel like you’ll never live a happy life or find love again. A positive outlook may be just what you need to get excited about the future.
Try not to see your previous relationship as the worst thing to ever happen to you. Cherish the special moments and see them as learning experiences. Take the time to ask yourself a few questions about your next relationship. What are you looking for in a partner? How are you going to approach things differently?
There’s a pretty good chance all the self-awareness you’ve gained will lead to a more satisfying relationship down the line.