Have you ended a toxic or abusive relationship, only to find yourself missing your ex?
It’s a confusing situation – why would you want someone back when they have mistreated you?
Rest assured that you are completely normal.
There are sound psychological reasons why you miss your ex-partner. Here are the 5 most common explanations:
1. You still romanticize them and are holding on to false hope:
Is a part of you still clinging on to the hope that they will see the error of their ways, grovel at your feet, and then give you the relationship of your dreams?
If so, you need to shed this illusion before you can move on.
Give yourself a reality check.
Perhaps they were romantic and kind at the start of your relationship, or perhaps they are nice to you for a few days after a fight, but this doesn’t change the fact that they are toxic.
Write a list of all the things they have said and done that reflect their real personality. Read it several times a day.
2. You made them the center of your universe:
When you love someone, it’s normal to spend a lot of time and effort getting to know them and trying to make them happy.
However, in a toxic relationship, one or both people often take it too far and become obsessed with their partner.
This can leave behind a gaping void when the relationship ends.
If you are co-dependent – that is, you take on too much responsibility for other people’s emotions – you might have based your whole life and even identity around trying to solve your partner’s problems.
For instance, if you were in a relationship with a drug addict, your primary concern on a day-to-day basis may have been to stop them giving into their addiction.
If they leave, you may want them to come back so you can resume a care-taking role.
3. They made you believe no one would ever want you:
If you were in an emotionally abusive relationship, your partner may have damaged your self-esteem to the point where you believe no one else will find you desirable.
When you hold a low opinion of yourself, it’s easy to conclude that you’ll be alone forever without your partner.
Remind yourself that you are good enough as you are, that you are worthy of love, and the cruel things your ex said reflect their ugly personality than your looks or character.
Abusive people tear down their victims’ self-esteem as it makes them easier to control.
4. They had some good qualities:
Few people are completely evil. Your ex may have been toxic, but they probably had some positive traits – otherwise, why would you have fallen in love with them?
It’s OK to acknowledge that your ex sometimes made you feel genuinely happy.
However, it doesn’t change the fact that they are an unhealthy influence and you have done the right thing by removing them from your life.
Every relationship is a learning experience.
Your ex may have taught you some valuable lessons about spotting toxic people, but they might also have shown you the kind of traits you like in a partner.
5. You’ve had to change your lifestyle since the relationship ended:
If you were financially dependent on your ex, your standard of living may have dropped when the relationship ended.
You might feel as though you miss your ex, but in fact you may be missing the trappings of the old life you shared together.
You might also have lost some friends when you split up.
For example, if you met most of your friends through your ex and they decided it would be too awkward to hang out with you after the breakup, you might feel lonely.
You will need to rebuild your social network, which is a big challenge.
It can be doubly hard if your self-image has been left in tatters.
Remember, missing someone isn’t a reliable sign that they deserve a place in your life.
You can also miss someone and yet realize that they have serious flaws that make a healthy relationship impossible.
If you’ve recently left a toxic relationship, you can expect to experience a mix of feelings.
You might be relieved and happy one minute, then sad or wistful the next.
This will pass with time as you make sense of what happened in the relationship. If you need further support, reach out to a good friend or therapist.
They can give you the space you need to talk about your emotions and start looking forward to a brighter future.