It’s hard when you miss someone. Especially when you’re missing someone you love. So in this post, we’ll look at what to do when you miss someone, focusing specifically on what to do when you miss your ex. But it could also be someone you dated, someone you were “seeing” or a friendship even.
If this person was someone who meant a lot to you, and now they’ve gone – we’re going to work through the process to heal from that. They’re still in this world, they’re getting on with their life, but they’re no longer in yours and it can be difficult to adjust to.
Why It Hurts So Much When You Miss Someone
So before we look at what to do, I want to first start by explaining why it hurts so much when you miss someone. See, after a breakup, you’ll so often hear…
“Oh, just get over it. Let go, move on! Onwards and upwards my friend…”
And yes, there are processes to help you do that. Many of which we talk about on this blog. But fundamentally, it’s still difficult to do when you still really miss someone.
And it’s not you being silly. It’s not always something you can brush off, because things happen when we miss someone and that’s what I want to try to explain here.
The Science Behind Missing An Ex
Let’s go back to when you first got together with your partner and you were in the early stages of falling in love.
Neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin flood your brain in areas associated with pleasure and rewards. It’s a good feeling – and it effects you on the inside too.
But there’s a lot more bubbling below the surface. Essentially, when you’re in love – you become addicted. Addicted to the feeling. Addicted to the person.
As a result of that, after a breakup – you’re going to get withdrawal symptoms. And as part of the withdrawal, there comes the feelings of missing the person.
Technically speaking, this interview with anthropologist Helen Fisher, breaks it down a little further. Click the link to read…
Love is not an emotion – it’s a motivation system, it’s a drive, it’s part of the reward system of the brain.
After a breakup, the ventral segmental area of your brain is activated, producing increased dopamine. Do you find yourself constantly thinking about your ex? Dopamine is the culprit; it’s responsible for obsessive and repetitive thought processes.– Helen Fisher
The idea behind this research is not to make you feel like love doesn’t exist, or that there’s no point trying again in the future. Instead, it’s that understanding where these feelings come from can help you get over your breakup, and forget that failed relationship.
Recognising that your thoughts and feelings are normal can also help. Remember that these chemicals will decrease after some time. Missing your ex is temporary.
Why You Miss Your Ex
The other interesting thing about love and relationships is the fact that, as explored here…
When you first start a relationship, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex in your brain turns off. These areas are usually in charge of helping you make judgment calls before making decisions. With these areas turned off, it prevents you from being judgmental and thinking negative thoughts about your new partner.
It’s one of the influences for why we can, without meaning to, start to see someone for who we want them to be, as opposed to who they really are.
It’s also worth remembering that often when you miss someone, you’re missing the feelings, as opposed to the person.
Of course there were certain things that you loved about them, this does play into it too. But it’s how they made you feel that is the biggest influence. And how much that feeling means to you, how much value you put on it.
For instance, you could be in a relationship that you know isn’t quite right. You could be in one where there are HUGE things that are wrong. But if you value love and security, and there were intense highs in the relationship where you did feel loved, safe and secure – you’ll still miss your ex. You’ll still miss what you had in those moments.
What To Do When You Miss Someone
So now we have a better idea of what makes you miss someone, and specifically why it’s so difficult when you miss your ex… We can now start to move on to the “what to do part.”
Like everything, I just want to highlight the fact that it’s fine to read – but unless you read and apply it, it’s going to make no difference to your life.
So as you go through this, I want you to pick one thing that you’re going to do right at the end of this. One thing that’s going to help you when you miss someone – that’s going to help you work through this.
Start with one thing then set an alarm on your phone for when you’re going to do the next thing. Get into the habit of doing more – of really focusing on this so that you are actually able to move forward.
Promise? Alright then. Let’s get stuck in…
1) Feel Your Emotion
So first off, it’s really important – whenever you’re struggling with anything actually – is to feel your emotion. Click here to read how to do it properly. (Instead of falling into the trap of emotional avoidance!)
See often, when we’re down, we don’t like it. We try to brush it off, distract ourselves, find “solutions”, fixes. Which is good in a way. You don’t like where you are, so you’re doing things to stop feeling that way.
But in order to let go, you HAVE to feel your emotions, and feel them properly. Otherwise all this action to get you out of that state – will just be temporary. Unless you’ve dealt with things properly, you’ll keep coming back to where you were and what you was trying to avoid.
Now it doesn’t have to take over your life. You can still allocate “times” where you can lose yourself in it. For instance – see friends, see family, get on with work, keep busy, but allow yourself a little time in the evening (please note: evening, not night) to let out anything you was holding in.
Depending on your situation, this may be a bigger or smaller thing. You may need more, or less, time to do this. And that’s fine.
Just whatever emotions are being brought up by missing someone – allow yourself to feel them instead of instantly looking for fixes. And recognise that it’s not only okay to miss someone, but okay to feel down because of it.
You’re in a period of readjustment. Things will get easier. But it doesn’t have to be – nor will it necessarily always be – straight away.
2) Get Clear On What You Miss
Like I said above, sometimes it’s not just the person you’re missing – but more so the feeling. If – when you miss someone – you can understand what exactly you’re missing: what emotion you’re feeling and where it’s coming from, it makes it so much easier.
Example 1: Let’s say you notice that you really miss the closeness, the physical contact, the intimacy. Once you know this, once you’re specific on this being the biggest factor at that moment in time, you then have more power. See, there are actually things you can do to still feel intimacy – even if you’re on your own. Click here to read more on that one.
Instead of feeling lost and helpless, when you find what exactly you’re missing the most, you can take action and do things that help you the most with that specific issue.
Example 2: Now let’s say it is the person you miss – or more specifically, you miss how funny your ex was. You miss how much they made you laugh. Now maybe there’s not a “replacement” person in your life to fill that void, but you can still think about what you can do to still get that feeling.
Because it always goes back to feelings. In this situation, you might put on some stand-up comedy, or call a friend who is pretty funny, for a light-hearted distraction call. It may not be quite the same, but you need to accept and embrace that – feeling happy with the things that you can.
3) Shift Your Perspective
They say, “if you can’t change the situation, change the way you look at it”, which is exactly what you have to do when you miss someone. If you can’t do anything about it, if they won’t be coming back into your life, you have to accept that this is how it is.
Become aware of your internal dialogue. Instead of thinking, “This is so rubbish. I miss them so much. I need to speak to them, need to see them one last time. Oh, I just can’t cope with this…” Shift that to:
“Yes I miss them. Yes, this is hard. But I won’t feel this way forever. This is a fresh start, a new opportunity and I will get through this.”
You have to be your own best friend, your own little motivator. Managing your self-talk is essential. When you recognise your thoughts spiralling out of control in a way that is not constructive, pull it back – give yourself a little talking to! Don’t let it escalate.
Literally any negative can be turned into a positive, or at the very least, you can find at least one positive thing in any negative situation. So train your mind to better look for this.
Take back your power and control by choosing to see things in a better light.
4) Deal With The Memories
It can be difficult to deal with memories when you miss someone. You probably do one of two things, or both things – but alternating. So it will flip from one to the other. See,
- You’ll keep those rose-tinted glasses on. You’ll only remember the good times you had with them, the good memories. In fact, many of the good memories you’ll actually romanticise, glorify, see them as even better than they were. And this then makes you sad. It makes you miss them even more and really feel that loss that you aren’t in the same place right now.
- You’ll avoid the memories completely. You’ll push them out because you find it too painful. This makes you fear them in a way, and gives your past the power instead of feeling in control of your mind and emotions yourself.
What you want to do is get an even balance. You need to be able to remember the good times, look back and smile – be thankful for those times. But you also need to recognise there was bad in there. That’s why you are where you are today.
When you do this, when you see the bigger picture – the full picture – it pulls you out of a toxic cycle and back into reality. You appreciate where you are, and why you’re there.
You see that this is for the best, and start to look back at that as a chapter of your life, but not necessarily one that you’re stuck in or want to get back to.
What if you made mistakes? If it’s difficult to look back because you’re beating yourself up about the mistakes you made in your past relationship, then I want you to click here and read this article. It’s exactly what you need to do to free yourself from the guilt and turmoil. Uh huh, there will be nothing stopping you from moving forward now!
ADDITIONAL READ: How To Deal With Memories After A Breakup
5) Embrace Life Without Them
So you’ve allowed yourself to feel your emotions, you’re taking more notice of the things that you’re saying and are challenging your thoughts where they’re unhelpful or unnecessarily negative.
You’ve also got clear on what exactly you feel and what specifically you miss when you’re missing someone – then taking positive action to help with that.
You’re also dealing with your memories. You’re not avoiding them. But you are detaching yourself a little os that you’re able to see them more accurately… and feel okay when you think about them. They don’t stir up too much discomfort.
After that, the final piece of the puzzle, if you like, is to embrace life without them.
This isn’t just a mindset shift, or thoughts being challenged. It’s not even just positive action being taken in response to missing someone. It’s about deciding to make the most of this – doing things for you.
Instead of focusing on the past and how to get over it, appreciate where you are in the present – appreciate who you are and everything that you have… Then look to the future, build for your future, become who you want to be. Recreate yourself if you need to even!
There’s so much power in that. And there’s no better time than when something ends, to think about what’s new… Not because your life before was bad, or it sucks where you are, but because it’s good to look to improve. To keep striving. To never settle.
Every day is a new start, a fresh opportunity – to do the things you want to do, have the things you want in your life, and be that person you really want to be.
What Else Can You Do When You Miss Someone?
Aside from our step by step formula listed above, some other things to do when you miss someone, are as followed…
1) Take Time For Yourself
If you’re missing someone, you’re thinking about them, you want to get them off your mind – then shift the focus from them to you. Not always.
This isn’t about avoidance, but about doing things which are positive, productive or enjoyable – and doing them because it makes you feel good.
These feelings of missing someone won’t last forever, so part of it is in riding it out and knowing that it will get easier. In the meantime, give yourself the time for you and appreciate the time you have to do things for yourself.
2) Be Around Those You Love
Feelings of loneliness only make everything feel worse when you miss someone.
There’s a loss in a way, but that can be filled by instead surrounding yourself with friends and family – people who love you and will support you. People who will be there for you.
So don’t shut them out. Let them in and use it as an opportunity to not only get closer to them, but remind yourself how lucky you are to have them.
Exercise is often the best medicine. It’s a natural mood booster, filling you with feel-good endorphins. Instead of moping around, missing someone you love (or loved), get out and sweat it out!
It will distract you in the moment, give you a focus when you need to – especially if you’re finding the same things are going over and over in your head. It also makes you feel damn good after.
Remember, this isn’t about avoiding or escaping, but not allowing the fact that you miss someone to take over – setting times out to do that, and in the other times, finding ways to make it easier.
4) Make New Connections
Out with the old, in with the new as they say! And by this, I don’t mean that if you miss your ex you should try to find a new replacement… Jump into a new relationship and hope that that’s the fix. No, no, no!
But it is good to get out there, meet new people, form new connections and see that there are other people out there in the world! Other people who are just as cool…
Especially when you go into it with no expectations, other than to appreciate everyone you meet. And you don’t have to just date. Forming new friendships can really help when you miss someone too.
5) Give Yourself Time
At the end of it all, you can’t rush yourself when you miss someone. Your brain is processing this all, you’re trying to readjust. And you will.
Keep doing the things that will help you, keep doing things that will make it easier. And then simply ride it out. It’s better to not rush yourself but to actually heal properly, then to try to force it and take one huge leap forward, only to find yourself stumbling back!
Should You Tell Someone When You Miss Them?
So there we have it – a full formula for what to do when you miss someone. But now comes the question of, should you tell someone when you miss them? Well, this is a tricky one to answer because every person and every situation is different…
See, if you’ve done the work on yourself – you’ve reflected, you’ve grown, you’re probably going to be in a different place at the end of it all and so wondering if you should tell someone, won’t really come up.
You might want to send a message after to wish them well, that may give you a final bit of closure around it all. But if you’re at the point where you feel like you want to reach out, you’re probably not in the best place.
You may have made progress – and perhaps that’s one of the reasons why you want to share that progress with the person… Especially if it’s an ex. But before your reach out, ask yourself:
- What is the purpose of telling them?
- What would I want to achieve here?
- And is that actually a good idea?
- Would this be for the best?
- What’s driving this – the right or wrong thing?
- Is there anything else I could do instead?
How To Tell Someone You Miss Them
If you want to tell someone you miss them, if you’re wondering how to tell someone you miss them, I recognise the following:
- Write it all out. Get everything that you feel and want to say, out on paper or texted out on “notes” on your phone. You won’t send this, you’re just getting everything of your chest.
- Sit on it. I then want you to sit on it for a few days. How you feel can change, and telling someone you miss them isn’t always the best idea so it’s not something to be impulsive about.
- Consider. You may find that simply getting it off your chest was the release that you needed – especially once you’ve spent some time to mull it over. At this point I want you to go back to those questions I asked you above. Is this really going to help? Would you even get the outcome you want? And would that outcome even be for the best?
I mean, best case scenario is what – they tell you they miss you too? Then what? Because if the two of you fundamentally aren’t meant to be together, it would only leave you with a more difficult decision from there. Think long term.
If from there, you still feel like you have to tell someone you miss them – then go back to your initial writing and pick out the key bits. If you’re going to message – or call and leave a voice note – then it is far far better to keep it short and sweet.
At the end of the day, if you miss them and you tell them, just hearing from you will be enough for them to return it. If they get back to you, you can discuss things in more detail, but for now – short, sweet, then see what happens.
What Happens After That?
If you tell someone you miss them and they don’t reply or they do – but it’s really not what you wanted to hear, then it’s going to hurt.
You’ll have to start the process again for what to do when you miss someone… Only this time, you’ll have a little more fight and a little more acceptance which should make it easier.
If they do get back to you, well, it depends why they left your life and whether they’re really meant to be in it – especially to the degree that they were before.
There’s too many different types of situations to try to cover in this article, although if you want specific advice, you can reach out to me directly here. What I would say however is:
- What is easy, is not always right. Going back to someone just because you miss them, won’t take away from all the problems before – in fact, it just prolongs the pain.
- You’re stronger than you think. I know it’s hard when you miss someone, and I know once you get it into your head that you need them – it can be difficult to let go of that idea. But it’s always hardest at the beginning. And I know this is pushing you, but it will get easier.
- Always go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, deep down, don’t ignore it. If you’re trying to convince yourself that reaching out to an ex is a good idea, look within because in more cases than not – you’ll know that deep down, you’re just trying to clutch at straws. Just like if someone you miss does come back into your life but it doesn’t quite feel right, it doesn’t feel how you wanted it to feel and the “instant fix” you imagined isn’t there, then don’t force it. Do what you have to do, even if it’s hard.
That’s All For This One…
Whether we like it or not, not everyone is meant to stay in our life. It goes back to people being life passing ships. Some dock for longer. Some part ways before you’re ready, leaving you behind.
But you’ll still keep moving forward. You’re on your own path and that’s the only one you need to be concerned about.
So keep pushing. You will get through this. Take care!