Is it normal to miss an ex after 2 years?
August 25, 2014 10:14 PM   Subscribe

I've noticed every so often (every few months?) i start thinking about my ex boyfriend i dated 2 years ago. Should i do anything about this?

We dated for almost a year but at some point everything became very mundane and boring, the same things all the time and very predictable. I guess we could have tried to work things out, but i guess i just thought it easier to end things. Anyway, we never kept contact after that until this year when he randomly messaged me on facebook and mentioned how he and some of our other friends meet up once a week and play board games and i should come some time. I never did though, i think i might have been afraid to?

Every so often though i find myself missing our conversations and just having someone to hang out with. So i'm not sure if i just miss having someone to talk to, or if i genuinely miss him.

Is this considered fairly normal? Should i even try talking to him just to say hello?
posted by earthquakeglue to Human Relations (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Nostalgia is powerful. I think of two of my ex-boyfriends nearly every single day. One I left 2 years ago and the other I left 5 years ago. I do not need or want to be with either of them; that's why we broke up. I trust my past self's judgment - she was much closer to the situation than I am now. Things change over time, and our understanding of the past is greatly influenced by how we feel in the present.

I would focus on learning something new about yourself. If you are lonely, you can change that by being a good friend to yourself. Pick up a hobby that you have always wanted to try like reading Agatha Christie novels or knitting a scarf or rock climbing and stick to it for eight weeks or so. See what you learn about this new thing and about yourself along the way.

Learning new things about myself usually makes me feel less lonely and makes me miss the people that used to love me a bit less.

Good luck.
posted by sockermom at 10:21 PM on August 25, 2014 [17 favorites]

I think if you bear both your loneliness and rosy retrospection in mind, it would be fine to hang out with a board gaming group that includes your amicably-resolved ex. He may not be the one there that you connect with, you know? That said, board gaming groups are not hard to find and perhaps not hard to arrange for yourself.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:25 PM on August 25, 2014

When you feel something, it just means you're feeling it. It doesn't mean anything else. Missing people and being nostalgic and being unsure of what you want just means that you miss people and are nostalgic and are unsure of what you want. They are not signs from the universe or your subconscious that you missed out on some fated thing. Even if things with your ex had been absolutely wonderful and there had been some other reason to break up, your occasional nostalgia still wouldn't be a sign of anything in particular.
I don't mean that introspection isn't a good thing—obviously it is—but be very careful, when you're feeling romantic and lonely, not to confuse feelings with facts. Recognize that it is, at best, a symptom of your loneliness, and then work towards fixing the root cause. You'll be fine.
posted by you're a kitty! at 10:56 PM on August 25, 2014 [29 favorites]

I think it's absolutely normal to miss an ex.... even if you'd never actually get back together again if given the opportunity.

I think it's normal to miss the feelings we had at that particular time. Those feelings can never be replicated--they are created under so many variables that occur in just the right way. It may not necessarily be him you're missing, but perhaps the feeling of love you experienced when you recall memories of you two. But remember, you're no longer the same person, nor is he. And those feelings those memories stir up in you can't be replicated. That relationship is dead.

Then again, 2 years is a long time to go some places, do some things and develop some hobbies. If your relationship was doomed because it was mundane or boring, perhaps there's no harm in going and reconnecting with your other friends and seeing what everyone has been up to. You don't have to focus your attention on him---your other friends are there too.

But if that isn't an option or seems daunting, perhaps you could reach out to those other friends (that you mention play games with him weekly) individually and hang out outside of board game night. You seem a little lonely and perhaps hanging out with some friends (not the ex) will make your feelings about your ex clearer.
posted by stubbehtail at 11:54 PM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

You dated him for a year. Surely, he had some wonderful qualities that drew you to him. It's okay to miss those qualities. Coupledom has many things to recommend it: companionship, security, familiarity. It's okay to miss those feelings. Missing those things doesn't mean you need to return to them.

If you're over the break-up and you are confident that he's over the break-up, then there's no reason that you can't have contact and friendship. However, if either one of you isn't ready, then you should leave it alone.
posted by 26.2 at 11:59 PM on August 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

i'm not sure if i just miss having someone to talk to, or if i genuinely miss him.

I take it this the real question here - I'd say the best way to find out the answer is to say hello, and yes this is all fairly normal.
posted by mannequito at 12:02 AM on August 26, 2014

I think you're just lonely and miss having a companion. It's been two years, so a simple hello shouldn't rip open any old wounds too badly if you want to figure out if you miss him and not just having a boyfriend.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:12 AM on August 26, 2014

Yup, totally normal.

I still miss an ex that I broke up with many many years ago, despite having an incredibly wonderful wife and tiny child.

For a long time we didn't see each other at all and I had somewhat mythologised her. Now we meet up occasionally and I realise that although she is perfectly pleasant, we have both moved on to be very different people.
I still miss the time when we were both 19 and in love. But that time was that time, and it is that which I'm missing, the person she was then and the person I was then and the time that it was then, not her now.
As a result, I am entirely uninterested in this person romantically, but it is pleasant to meet up now and then.

I would say meet up with them.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:54 AM on August 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think this is totally normal. I still think back to someone who played a very pivotal role in my life a couple of years ago, and usually around late August, certain memories start cropping up: it might be a group of people we hung out with collectively, places, conversation topics, etc. Sadness of the loss and the change in our relationship made me avoid certain contexts for a while, and the thing that helped me (after a couple of years) was to create new associations, reclaiming them with new activities. River paths for long walks in the past became the place where I started long distance running. Make new memories not to crowd out the older ones, but to grow in ways we can't predict.

Sometimes I'll get a text, or email and there will be a wave of memories both good and bad. I've noticed that with time, I am more cognizant of observing the waves rather than wading in them listlessly. When that happens, I pat myself on the back. If I'm feeling down, I do the same thing.
posted by wallawallasweet at 3:10 AM on August 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

It's normal. This person was a big part of your life for over a year. Of course you'll think about him, and of course you'll miss him.

I'm very happily married. I still think about certain of my ex-girlfriends on occasion, particularly those who I was with for a long time. I don't think it's missing them (anymore) so much as remembering good times. The relationships were definitely not right for me, otherwise I'd be with them and not with my wife.

I'm still friends with two of my ex-girlfriends, though because we all live in different states, we don't see each other, so this is probably easier for me than it would be if we lived in the same area. One of the most enjoyable weddings I've ever attended was that of my ex-girlfriend -- and I went to that one alone -- though I think that is largely because we had A LOT of common friends, and so the wedding was more of a reunion than a wedding.

Depending on the relationship and the breakup, you'll have to decide this for yourself. There's no harm in saying hello, and probably no harm in seeing him in the context of a social board gaming group. Enough time has likely passed. You'll have to monitor your own feelings, and if you start feeling any more than platonic, then you should go find another gaming group. The two of you broke up for a reason.
posted by tckma at 5:51 AM on August 26, 2014

Hi, two of my best friends are exes. I also randomly renewed contact with someone I dated 20 years ago - I didn't even miss him as such, it was just curiosity - and I'm tremendously glad I did.

If you are keeping honest with yourself about what you want out of the situation, and if you can accept that you may not get it and you trust yourself to protect your own self if things go sour, I say go for it - because maybe they won't go sour, maybe something else equally as good can happen. (I'm not in the SLIGHTEST bit interested in any of these guys romantically any more, but I'm SO glad they are in my life in a different way.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on August 26, 2014

I still have days where I miss my high school sweetheart (it's been 15 years). You never stop loving people. It's totally normal!
posted by katypickle at 6:49 AM on August 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

Nthing that it's totally normal. There's one ex-boyfriend I have increasing appreciation for because he has an enduring positive impact on my life. And this was a relationship that was hopelessly doomed because we did not have long term compatibility as a couple. I can understand that and still appreciate the positive. I'm glad I knew him, and I'm glad I can say that about him. (The same cannot be said for other relationships.)

I agree with tckma that depending on the relationship and the breakup, there's no harm saying hello. I'm a big believer in going "no contact", but in the case of an otherwise functional, healthy relationship, once it has helped you to get over strong romantic feelings, it can be very worthwhile to reconnect and see if you can make a go of being friends.
posted by jazzbaby at 8:38 AM on August 26, 2014

Do the two of you have a particular reason to avoid being social again? It sounds like you two split up out of disinterest rather than something painful or acute.

My partner and I dated (well, "dated" in that we hooked up whenever possible but otherwise didn't socialize together) for quite a long time, but ended our casual relationship when we each went in different geographical directions. Eventually we started talking across that distance. We never really talked when we'd been in the same city; it had been too easy to give in to horniness and avoid the complicated differences in our lives. But the distance gave us the time and context to stretch our legs out of our old habits and learn about one another more deeply, and we fell in love. Hard.

I eventually moved to his city to live with him and give it a shot. That was almost seven years ago. We just bought a house together, and I've been stepdad to his kids since we moved in with one another.

I go into this much detail because the other opinions here seem to overrepresent the opinion that a break-up is some immutable wall in your past, rather than a simple barrier to cross over should you both desire. Reconnecting doesn't have to be romantic--it can be purely social and platonic if you choose. But it is entirely feasible, and you wouldn't be the first people to reconnect after having been in a different kind of relationship.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:39 AM on August 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: @ late afternoon dreaming hotel: No, we don't. If anything, i guess i'm just worried about seeing him for the first time in 2 years. It wasn't a bad breakup at all, i mean it was sad and somewhat upsetting for both of us but it wasn't the kind where it was painful or anything.

I'm not even sure what i want at this point besides saying hello and seeing if he'll reply back for starters. I guess i'd have a better feel for what i'm looking for (a friend or more) after talking to him some.

I love hearing stories like yours though, it's nice to hear a happy ending. :)
posted by earthquakeglue at 10:22 AM on August 26, 2014

Life is short. See what happens, judge accordingly. I wish you both well, whether that means simple peace between you, an acceptable kind of acquaintance, a renewed friendship, or whatever you so desire.

My one bit of actual advice, though, which you might like to hear, too: be prepared to work harder than you (both) did before, because relationships wither without real, honest, not-bullshitting attention. That's not a judgment, it's a realization from my own process of growing up and opening my eyes a little wider. If you put in effort, and I mean real effort, then it's less ambiguous when you feel like the outcome tells you to stay, leave, add, subtract, modify... you get the idea.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:39 PM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is normal, don't try to force anything out of it. I still miss ex-boyfriends periodically (especially the terrible ones) before my mind speaks up and yanks on the emergency brake by recollecting exactly how terrible those relationships were. I've been in my current relationship for over 9 years, and I wouldn't change it for the world or a billion dollars.
posted by domo at 10:30 AM on August 27, 2014

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