Alejandra Gutierrez, LCSW

Why it’s okay to miss your (toxic) ex

Do you ever wonder why you can’t get over him even thought he wasn’t good for you? We’ll dive deeper to understand the process of emotional entanglement. Leaving a difficult relationship, letting go of that relationship, and moving on are all separate steps of grieving the separation.

You’re not alone in this

Missing a difficult relationship, nostaligia as we call it, is more common than you think. Often the remnants of a difficult relationship stay with you years later. They show up in future relationships as wounds, preferences, and fears. So why don’t we talk about it? Shame. Society tells us that we should be able to move on in no time. If you dont you are “desperate” or “pathetic.” Did society tel you that, or did you tell yourself. Regardless, I hope you’ll take this moment to open yourself up to the truth of what your heart has been telling you. You still miss him. That sense of loss is completely normal and here’s how to process it so you can put it to rest.

It’s not a linear Journey

I’m sure we’d love it but the process of letting go and/or moving on is not linear. You may make it weeks without thinking of him and then something reminds you of him. It may be a smell, an expression on your child’s face, a snack in the grocery store you’d always share. The reminders are everywhere. You’ll send that late night text you know you shouldn’t. You’ll let him come back. And it’s okay. Create space for the messiness of break ups and divorce. In therapy we talk a lot about unconditional acceptance of yourself, of life, and of others. You have to accept that this won’t go the way you want it to and accept the complicated emotions you will feel. Accept that you made the right choice and somehow that choice also feels wrong. Balancing these conflicting thoughts is how we increase our own emotional awareness. Things are not usually as black and white as we may think. That’s why you miss him even though you knew it was right to leave.

How do I know when I’m ready to move on?

Okay let’s talk about the stages of transitioning out of a relationship. These stages aren’t depicted well in movies or love songs or wherever you may learn about love. Leaving a relationship, letting go of the connection, and moving on with your life are all separate stages. Similar to the five stages of grief. And in the same way, They don’t happen in the same order for everyone. Some people stay physically present long after they’ve emotionally left. And some struggle to take that first step of leaving. So if you still miss your ex. Chances are you had the courage to leave. And you aren’t yet ready to let go. that is OKAY and it is NORMAL.

How do I keep myself from going back?

There are ways to create accountability and still be kind to yourself throughout this process. One thing I always recommend is to create a list of the reasons you left. The sooner you can do this. The better. It won’t take long for nostalgia to set in. Your brain will run a highlight reel of your best moments and you may find yourself questioning your decision. Make a list of the worst moments in your relationship. The ones that broke your heart. Don’t hold back. Write everything down. You’ll need this over the next year. When your brain plays tricks on you. Pull this out and read it. If you have someone you trust, give them a copy.

If you reach a point where you feel you are ready to let go and ready to move and still aren’t able to. That’s when its time to seek support. This may look different for everyone, leaning into your support systems, taking time away, getting back into therapy, or joining a support group. If you’re ready to move forward don’t let yourself get stuck in the past. If you’re wondering what role therapy can play in help you processing and moving past a previous relationship reach out for a free consultation.