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Why do I keep thinking of my ex?

It’s common to find your thoughts returning to an ex, even after the relationship has ended. Here are some potential reasons why this happens and tips for moving forward.

You’re still grieving the loss of the relationship

A breakup is a major life event. Even if ending the relationship was the right decision, you may still feel profound sadness and grief. Thinking about your ex is part of the grieving process. These thoughts will likely become less frequent over time as you heal.

Your life has changed significantly

Your ex was a big part of your everyday life. Now that the relationship has ended, there’s a void. You may think about your ex when experiencing things you used to enjoy together. With time, you’ll adapt to your new normal.

You miss certain qualities about your ex

It’s possible to mourn the positive traits of an ex, even if the relationship wasn’t right for you. Reflecting on their good qualities can make you miss what you had. Try to remember that you can find those same qualities in a more compatible partner.

You’re idealizing the relationship

People tend to ignore the bad memories from past relationships and focus only on the good. Thinking your ex was perfect is an illusion. Make a list of the ways they hurt you or the relationship was unhealthy. This can bring a more balanced perspective.

You haven’t found closure

Getting closure after a breakup is important. If lingering issues or unanswered questions remain, you may keep mulling over your ex. Getting needed closure will help you stop idealizing the past and move forward.

You’re lonely

Feeling lonely can make your thoughts drift to your ex, especially if the relationship was recent. Socializing with friends, picking up new hobbies, and making meaningful connections with others can ease loneliness.

You’re doubting your decision

Second-guessing the breakup is common. Thinking “did I make the right choice?” and imagining reconciling can occupy your thoughts. Listing the reasons the relationship wasn’t right can reaffirm that ending it was for the best.

You have unresolved feelings

It’s possible to still have romantic feelings for an ex even after splitting up. Or you may feel lingering resentment or anger. Working through these emotions, such as with a therapist, will help you stop dwelling on your ex.

Ways to Stop Thinking About Your Ex

  • Remove reminders of your ex from your surroundings
  • Avoid stalking your ex on social media
  • Focus on self-care and activities you enjoy
  • Spend quality time with friends and family
  • Pick up new hobbies or projects
  • Join a support group for those going through a breakup
  • Start a journal to get thoughts and feelings out
  • Try mindfulness and meditation techniques
  • Seek professional help from a therapist if needed

When to Seek Further Help

It’s normal to think of an ex occasionally after a breakup. But if intrusive thoughts about your ex persist for months and continue to disrupt your ability to function, it may be time to seek professional counseling. Signs it’s time to get additional support include:

  • Depression or excessive anxiety
  • Unable to perform daily responsibilities
  • Trouble sleeping and loss of appetite
  • Obsessively stalking your ex online
  • Difficulty concentrating at work or school
  • Constantly crying and feelings of despair
  • Drinking or drug use as a coping mechanism


Thinking about an ex is normal after a breakup. Allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship. With time, these thoughts will become less frequent. Avoid idealizing the past, focus on self-care, pick up new hobbies, spend time with loved ones, and seek closure. If obsessive thoughts persist, counseling can help you move forward.