By Chris Seiter

Published on October 26th, 2023

Today, we’re diving into a fascinating topic that many of you can relate to—the experience of missing your ex as time goes on. It’s a phenomenon deeply rooted in psychology, particularly behavioral psychology, and it’s the very essence of “absence making the heart grow fonder.” I’m Chris Seiter, and let’s explore why you might find yourself missing your ex more as time passes.

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10 Reasons Why I Miss My Ex As Time Goes By

1. Behavioral Conditioning:

At the core of this longing lies behavioral conditioning. During your relationship, your ex was a constant presence, and your behaviors were deeply intertwined. Over time, your mind and body became conditioned to expect and react to her presence.

When the relationship ends, this conditioning doesn’t disappear overnight. Instead, it lingers like a habit. Your mind, accustomed to your ex’s presence, continues to send signals, triggering emotions and behaviors associated with her.

2. Extinction Burst:

Psychologically, the absence of a rewarding stimulus (in this case, your ex’s presence) can lead to an “extinction burst.” This burst is a surge of intensified longing and desire as your mind grapples with the absence of something that once brought you joy.

Imagine this like an addiction. When you stop giving in to an addiction, your cravings often become more intense before they start to fade. Similarly, when your ex is no longer part of your daily life, you may find yourself missing her more intensely as your mind experiences this “extinction burst.”

3. Selective Memory:

As time goes on, your brain has a peculiar way of playing tricks on you—selective memory. It tends to highlight the positive aspects of your relationship while conveniently blurring out the conflicts and frustrations.

You remember the laughter, the shared experiences, the warmth of her presence. These memories, often idealized, contribute to the sense of longing. Your mind selectively focuses on the good times, intensifying your desire to relive them.

4. Loss Aversion:

Behavioral psychology tells us that humans are hardwired to avoid loss. Losing something we value, like a loving relationship, activates our brain’s loss aversion mechanism. It intensifies the pain of separation and fuels the longing to regain what we’ve lost.

You might find yourself missing your ex more as time passes because the fear of losing her forever triggers this innate aversion to loss.

5. The Power of Routine:

During a relationship, you and your ex often establish routines and shared activities. These routines become part of your identity as a couple. When the relationship ends, these routines are disrupted.

Psychologically, routines provide stability and comfort. Their absence can create a void, and your mind, seeking stability, might long for the familiarity of those routines. As time goes on, you miss not just your ex but also the life you had built together.

6. Ambiguity and Uncertainty:

Humans have an inherent discomfort with ambiguity and uncertainty. The end of a relationship often brings a wave of both. Your mind seeks clarity and certainty, yearning for the familiar stability of your past.

As time passes, the uncertainty of the future without your ex can amplify your longing for what was known and predictable.

7. Cognitive Dissonance:

Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that when our beliefs and actions contradict each other, it creates psychological discomfort. After a breakup, your belief that the relationship had value may contradict the action of ending it.

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This dissonance can lead to a longing to reconcile these conflicting beliefs and actions. You might miss your ex more as you grapple with the discomfort of this dissonance.

8. Imagined Reconciliation:

In the absence of your ex, your mind may create scenarios of reconciliation. Imagining a future where you and your ex are together again can be a comforting mental escape.

These imagined scenarios become a source of hope and amplify your feelings of missing her. They offer a tantalizing glimpse into a future that your heart yearns for.

9. Attachment Theory:

Attachment theory, a cornerstone of behavioral psychology, explains how our early attachment experiences shape our adult relationships. If you had a secure attachment with your ex, your longing for her (or him) can be even more pronounced.

Secure attachments form strong emotional bonds, and the loss of this attachment triggers feelings of loss and sadness. Your longing is an attempt to restore the secure attachment you once had.

10. Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder:

The saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” isn’t just a platitude; it’s grounded in psychological truth. The absence of someone you love creates a void, and in that void, your mind and heart yearn to fill it with what once was.

Time, in this context, isn’t always the great healer we hope for. Instead, it can intensify the longing, as your mind navigates the intricacies of behavioral psychology, habit, and the deep emotional imprints left by your past relationship.

Extinction Burst Is The Prime Driver of Why the Passage of Time Causes Us To Crave and Long For Our Ex

Among the myriad reasons behind the intensifying longing for an ex as time goes on, the concept of “extinction burst” stands out as particularly important to delve into. The “extinction burst” is a psychological phenomenon that holds significant implications for understanding the complexities of post-breakup emotions.

In the context of a breakup, the extinction burst can be described as a surge of intensified longing and desire for your ex. It occurs when your mind grapples with the absence of something that once brought you joy and emotional fulfillment. This phenomenon is crucial because it sheds light on the powerful role of behavioral conditioning and the human mind’s resistance to change.

The importance of the extinction burst lies in its ability to explain why missing an ex becomes more pronounced over time. When the relationship ends, the once-constant presence of your ex is suddenly removed. However, your mind, conditioned by the routines, habits, and emotional bonds formed during the relationship, continues to expect and react to her presence.

As time passes and your ex becomes more distant, the absence becomes increasingly noticeable, triggering the extinction burst. Your mind sends heightened signals, intensifying emotions and behaviors associated with your ex, such as longing, desire, and nostalgia.

Understanding the extinction burst is vital because it underscores the challenge of breaking free from the emotional conditioning established during a relationship. It highlights the natural human tendency to resist change and yearn for what was once familiar and rewarding. Recognizing this psychological phenomenon can aid in navigating the emotional rollercoaster of post-breakup life and ultimately help individuals on their journey toward healing and personal growth.


In conclusion, the experience of missing your ex as time goes on is a complex interplay of behavioral psychology and the profound emotional connections we form in relationships. I

It’s a testament to the enduring impact of love and the human tendency to long for what we once held dear. Understanding the psychological underpinnings of this phenomenon can help you navigate the journey of healing and moving forward after a breakup.

Remember, it’s okay to miss your ex.  The passage of time can play with our minds in that way.  But it’s also essential to prioritize your own well-being and growth as you journey the path ahead.	

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