Romantic relationships can be so tricky. Just when you think you're over an ex, suddenly the idea of getting back together starts to sound pretty promising. Before making any major decisions, though, consider the signs you don't miss your ex, you just miss the idea of them. Don't send that late-night "I miss u <3" text quite yet.
Although moving on from a relationship is almost never easy, getting some perspective on the whole experience is wise. "Most people don’t want back the relationship they actually had. What they mourn for is the relationship they thought they could have had if things had just been different," said Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D. in Psychology Today. You can use this time to think seriously about what you do want in a future relationship, and how you'll meet someone with those traits. That fantasy-perfect relationship with your ex never really existed, after all.
That said, I totally understand how difficult moving on can be. Even when you want to get on with life, your ex gets stuck in your head like an annoyingly catchy song. It will get better over time, but until then these points can help refrain your current thinking. Read on to see your ex in a new way.
1. Idealize The Partner
Once a little time has passed, it's super easy to idealize a past relationship. It's a common and natural tendency. "Specifically, idealization occurs when we generate positive illusions by maximizing virtues and minimizing flaws. These illusions grow from our tendency to overlay our partners’ actual traits with the (misguided) belief that his or her faults are minimal," said Kristine Keller M.A. in Psychology Today. Your ex wasn't some perfect and irreplaceable superhuman. They were just another person, after all.
2. Downplay The Conflicts
There was a reason you broke up the first time, and whatever issues caused the breakup will probably still be present between you two. Really, relationship problems tend to persist. "In the studies that Bob Levenson and I did, we brought couples back into the lab every couple of years to find out what they are arguing about. And people resolved only about 31 percent of their disagreements," said relationship super-expert Dr. John Gottman in Observer. Chances are high that any fundamental differences didn't magically resolve during the time of your breakup.
3. Focus On Potential, Not Reality
Relationships aren't DIY home improvement projects. "The truth is, when you try to fix something that is already broken, you’re settling for something so frail that it could easily break again. You’re settling for something that could potentially break you," said poet and author Rania Naim in Thought Catalog. If it feels like you could have had the perfect relationship if only X, Y, and Z were different, then it's a pretty far cry from perfection after all.
4. Miss Your Shared Activities
When you think about the good times with your partner, are you really just missing the shared activities you enjoyed? It's easy to miss the restaurant you used to frequent together instead of the relationship itself, as explained in Bolde. Reach out to friends and enjoy these restaurants again.
5. Reminisce Over Pics
Pics don't tell the whole story. I used to reminisce over pics of this particular ex, because we looked so happy in those sunny parks and glittering theaters. But in reality, I was pretty miserable throughout that relationship, because we were terribly mismatched.
If you're single, then it's natural to miss the romantic gestures that come along with a relationship. But maybe you just miss romance itself, and not that particular person.