4 Painfully Honest Reasons You Can't Stop Thinking About Your Ex

Here's why you can't get your ex off your mind.

Last updated on Jan 05, 2024

Woman thinking Dean Drobot | Canva 

By Jenna Birch

Hurt feelings, anger, tons of tears... and a lot of doubts. Lots and lots of doubts about whether or not you made the right decision to let go of a relationship. Even years down the road, you might still find your mind drifting back to what might have been.

If you’re starting to consider the idea of maybe reaching out to your ex to rekindle, pause first and consider ways for how to move on. We asked experts for some of the real reasons ladies yearn for their former loves. Spoiler alert: Not one of them is because he’s “the one.”


Here are 4 painfully honest reasons you can't stop thinking about your ex:

1. You feel lonely

Boston-based dating coach Neely Steinberg says loneliness is probably the most common reason exes wind up back together. “But it’s not a good reason, especially if it’s the only reason,” she says.

It’s completely natural to miss an ex, who was likely a big part of your life for a while. But it’s important to note when you’re thinking of your ex before acting on an impulse to get involved with him again. Is it when you’re lonely, or when you’re out having the time of your life?



“Shouldn’t you be wishing that he was next to you when you’re happy and doing something really fun so that he could share in those moments with you?” asks Steinberg. If you’re only thinking of him while you’re all doom and gloom, don’t dial him up.


“Remind yourself of how lonely you felt in that relationship,” Steinberg says. “There’s nothing lonelier than being in the wrong relationship.”

RELATED: 12 Cold-Turkey Tactics To Get Over Your Ex Once And For All, According To A Love Coach

2. You feel bored

If you’re lacking a hot flame in your love life, your mind might start wandering back to an ex’s company. But it’s purely to fill the space, Steinberg says.

“The problem is, this just takes away your time and energy from focusing on either yourself or from actively getting back out there in the dating world and giving other men a chance,” she says.

Boredom might also be masking other problems. “Your own intimacy or commitment issues may be at play, so it’s easy to get back in touch with someone you know it will never work with rather than get back out there and start fresh with someone who might be a better match,” Steinberg explains. “And that’s something you have to confront solo.”


RELATED: 10 Signs Your Ex Will Eventually Come Back

3. You're afraid he's the best you'll ever find

This reason tends to rear its ugly head after you’ve gone on a few bad dates post-breakup, without any new connections.

“Sometimes, a woman convinces herself he’s the best she’ll get,” Steinberg says. “Maybe her clock is ticking, which adds pressure. Maybe she’s afraid to go back out there and face rejection from other men, or have to start fresh in the dating world. After all, there are a lot of unknowables about dating and that can be daunting.”

But you should do it anyway. A relationship must make you feel happy and safe, and if you broke up with your ex, there’s likely a reason it wasn’t doing that for you. If you think your standards were way too high back then and are convinced it’s worth a second chance, make two lists: one that states all the positives and negatives of your past relationship, and one that states what you’re really looking for.




“Compare the lists,” she advises. “It will be a good reminder of why it’s not worth going back, why your needs are important and should be honored, and why you’re better off single than in something that is stifling and draining.”

RELATED: 11 Psychological Tricks To Make Your Ex Regret Losing You

4. You hate the idea of sunk costs

Think of your former relationship like a business, with money you’ve already spent that cannot be recovered. “You may look at this relationship in terms of all the time, energy, heart, tears, and conversations you’ve put into it, and think, ‘How can I just let this go when I’ve given so much to it?’” Steinberg says.


But with matters of the heart, think of the investments you made in that person as ones that you’ve made to learn more about what you need in a partner and a relationship.

“If you didn’t have those experiences, how would you know?” asks Steinberg. “You can’t get the money back in the business analogy, and you can’t get the time back in the relationship. All you can do is learn the lessons, understand how to move on, know what you want and need in a relationship, and apply those learnings when meeting new people.”

When you find yourself consumed with thoughts of your ex, it’s easy to mistake those thoughts for meant-to-be love. It’s natural to try to avoid discomfort (being alone) or fear (getting out into the dating world). But the sooner you’re able to put the past to rest, the sooner you can open yourself up to brand-new experiences. 

RELATED: 6 Telltale Signs It's Not Over Between You And Your Ex


Jenna Birch is a freelance journalist and author of The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life and Love. Her work appears regularly in publications like SELF, The Washington Post, Vogue, Harper’s BAZAAR, Well + Good, HuffPost, Man Repeller, and many more.