Missing Someone Who Doesn't Miss You

It's normal to miss someone who isn't around anymore, as nostalgia is normal. If you get stuck in the past, however, and those memories become a burden, maybe it's time to seek help.
Missing Someone Who Doesn't Miss You
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

You know that missing someone who never gives you a second thought isn’t healthy. You know it’s a mistake to dwell on what you wish would happen instead of facing reality. You’re aware that you’re making yourself suffer but you just can’t stop. You can’t seem to avoid all the things that remind you of the past and make it impossible to move on.

No drug can turn off your memories or erase the pain of missing someone who’s no longer in your life. Thus, your only option is to deal with it in the healthiest way possible. After all, this kind of suffering is part of being human. These experiences shape who you are and teach you how to be resilient.

We’re not trying to say that suffering is always an inherent part of learning. However, it’s useless to give up and despair when the going gets tough. You’re more prepared than you might think to overcome life’s challenges. When you put your broken pieces back together again, you’ll realize you’re stronger than ever.

“Very many are caught forever in this impasse, and for the rest of their lives cling painfully to an irrevocable past, the dream of the lost paradise – which is the worst and most ruthless of dreams.”

-Hermann Hesse-

A sad guy looking out the window.

How to stop missing someone who doesn’t miss you

Although longing for someone who doesn’t give you a second thought is unhealthy, it’s also extremely common. That person is the first thing that pops into your head when you wake up and the memories you shared with that person keep you awake at night. During the day, every song, show, restaurant, book, and silly detail reminds you of them.

Living in the past isn’t healthy. Moving on is crucial for your well-being. However, you need to understand that this is a normal and common problem. There’s always going to be a mourning period in which you’ll have to deal with a broad range of feelings, anxieties, and emotional pain.

You shouldn’t feel guilty for going through this perfectly normal process of missing someone. However, it’s important not to let it go on too long. If that happens, this normal process becomes pathological, something psychologists call “frozen grief”. In that case, although you convince yourself that you’ve moved on, you haven’t actually gotten any closure. This limbo state leads to elevated stress and anxiety because you’re still experiencing the intense effects of the person’s absence.

Why does this happen?

It’s important to clarify that moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. Instead, it’s learning to live with the memories in a way that doesn’t cause you pain. Remember that it isn’t easy for the brain to forget memories associated with meaningful and intense emotions.

The combination of neurotransmitters and hormones such as oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine that play a role in your personal relationships is to blame. When you’re with someone you love, your body releases this wonderful chemical cocktail that triggers intoxicating emotions.

When you’re no longer with that person, your brain still needs its “dose” of neurochemicals to feel calm. If it doesn’t get it, you’ll feel imbalanced and anxious.

A guy looking out the window at a stormy sky.

There’s a solution

Over the course of your life, you’ll miss many people in different ways. You’ll feel nostalgic for old friends and coworkers and pain if you lose someone in a traumatic way. It’s natural to long for people who were important to you, especially when the relationship ended in a complicated way.

Meaningful relationships, especially romantic ones, often end without a mutual agreement. Sometimes one person falls out of love or falls in love with someone else. Sometimes you simply aren’t satisfied with some aspect of your significant other. In those situations, one person always bears the burden of unrequited love.

There’s a solution to all of this, so don’t despair. Although it’s not a miracle quick-fix, if you’re committed, you can move on with your life. Let’s take a look at some effective strategies:

Zero contact

Although this can be hard, it’s important. When you miss someone, you’re obviously going to be tempted to get in touch with them. It’s easy to think that if you just have one more chance to talk, you’ll be able to win them back. However, if you truly want to get over a breakup, you have to avoid these kinds of situations. You should also unfollow them on social media and avoid reading their comments and liking their posts.

Let go of resentment

When a relationship ends unhappily, it’s easy to feel angry or frustrated. Searching for an explanation leads to alternately blaming yourself for what you did or didn’t do and blaming your partner for treating you poorly. This just makes you feel worse and stymies the grieving process.

A woman looking down at her cell phone missing someone.

New projects, new goals

Missing someone can anchor you to the past and keep you there, unable to escape from your pain and longing. You can’t move on and can’t change.

Don’t get stuck. Although you should go ahead and miss the person you’ve lost, don’t let it go too far. Miss them just enough to find closure and move on before your memories become a burden.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Verhallen, A. M., Renken, R. J., Marsman, J.-B. C., & Ter Horst, G. J. (2021). Working memory alterations after a romantic relationship breakup. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience15, 657264. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8062740/
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  • Verhallen, A. M., Martínez, S., Renken, R. J., Marsman, J.-B. C., & Ter Horst, G. J. (2022). Depressive symptom trajectory following romantic relationship breakup and effects of rumination, neuroticism and cognitive control. Stress and Health: Journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress38(4), 653-665. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34921589/
  • Verhallen, A. M., Renken, R. J., Marsman, J.-B. C., & Ter Horst, G. J. (2019). Romantic relationship breakup: An experimental model to study effects of stress on depression (-like) symptoms. PloS One14(5), 0217320. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31150432/

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.