We know that day, the day we break and “accidentally” text our ex because we’re feeling lonely or sad. We don’t think it through; we just want to be in touch. There’s a void we’re trying to fill. And then we wait… and wait… the anxiety increases and we consistently check our phones because we swear it buzzed. Then the sinking feeling comes and we’re sad and angry as we “know” we shouldn’t have texted. In enters feelings of being rejected. We start to wonder, “Maybe they didn’t get it?”, “Are they with someone else?”, and “Did they ever really care?”
Okay, so we committed the cardinal sin of “texting the ex”, now what? The key is to create a plan for the next time. Fact: Often times the urge to be in touch with your ex doesn’t stem from missing them but comes from other contributing factors. First, consider what was going on internally and emotionally in the moments or hours before you texted.
- What triggered the “need” to text your ex?
- Were you feeling lonely, bored, uncared about, left out, or nervous about your future?
- Maybe something went wrong at work or we have no plans that evening.
Here is a list of possibilities contributing or causing “missing” feelings. Instead of missing our ex, could we possibly be missing:
- physical touch
- having someone one with shared values, hobbies or ideas
- the idea of being a couple or having a partner; the dislike of being alone
- feeling different from friends/peers
- identity as a couple aka the “we” the “us”
- your old routine
- someone needing you
- fear of the future and the unknown
- feeling behind in life or not where you “expected” to be
- or that indescribable/special connection
These categories are extremely important to identify for coping and relapse prevention. The great news, if it’s numbers 1 through 9 we’re in luck! These have less to do directly with our ex and more to do with a need we’re yearning for or fearing. If we had someone else there to fill this void, it probably would not feel so bad. So, fill this void in healthy ways other than texting the ex. Find ways to supplement the things we are missing. It may not be a perfect substitution but it will decrease our pain and increase our coping. If we’re missing physical touch, get a massage or hug a friend. This releases Oxytocin and reduces stress. Spend time with someone that shares similar values or hobbies, join a new club or group, remind ourselves that everyone faces being alone at some point. If at the end of your day you used to talk to your ex, for example, pick a friend to fill that void for the time being. Again, it’s not a perfect substitute but it does help.
Now, if we are feeling #10 – missing that indescribable special connection, unfortunately, this is part of the loss that we need to keep grieving. There is no rule of thumb for how long this will take. Be extremely careful about turning to the ex to make this part feel better because that relationship and connection has evolved and they can’t offer us what they once could. So grieve and cry for as long as you need to. Crying has many physiological benefits for your body and releases stress hormones.
We all have vulnerable, open and hard moments. Learning what you’re missing, other than the ex can keep you in control and invite self-refection and healthy coping.