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Why after 7 years is my break up affecting me again?

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Hi there, apologies if this is a bit long winded!

I broke up with my partner 7 years ago, and it was the worst thing I’ve ever been through, but I’ve since found somebody I’m very happy with and who makes me very happy. She is my world, yet recently I’ve been having very very strong feelings about my ex again. Like when we broke up, out of nowhere… I feel like I really miss her and I’m Romanticising my life if we haven’t split up. She has since moved on and has two children, and I can’t help remembering all our good memories all day long at the moment, and how my life would be right now if I was still with her. I’ve been feeling so strong it’s made me want to reach out for closure but I know this is a terrible idea. When we initially broke up I took the zero contact, delete her from everything route so it was out of sight and out of mind.

the person I was when I was with her was very different from the person I am now. I always dismissed her and treated her quite poorly without really realising this at the time. I was quite young and I wanted her all to myself, and I had put her down at times, amongst other bad things I did. So I’m now left here feeling like maybe if I didn’t act that way, or if she had the version of me that exists today, we could’ve had our lives together, and it’s eating me alive.

what’s also killing me is I have an extremely loving partner who gives me the world, and I care for her with all my heart. Yet I simply can’t shift these feelings of guilt and what if, it’s just so strong. Everything is constantly flooding back to me and it hurts. I know it’s very strange after all this time, I just wondered if anybody else has been through similar, and what suggestions or advice you may have? Thank you so much…. Sorry for the long post!!

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25 minutes ago, BillyGunn said:

 I feel like I really miss her and I’m Romanticising my life if we haven’t split up. She has since moved on and has two children, and I can’t help remembering all our good memories .

Sorry this is happening. Agree that this is idealizing the past and perhaps  more youthful carefree times associated with it. It's ok to reflect on your life, but try to figure out what's going on now that's bringing all this up.

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Thank you. That’s what I think. I honestly can’t put my finger on it. I’ve scrolled old pictures of her and new, on her social media. I know I shouldn’t, I know it’s bad. But I just feel it eating me up… like I’d give anything to rewind the clock. But I can’t think that way as I wouldn’t be with the partner that I have now, that I care so much about… it’s so conflicting in my head.

I feel as though I want to reach out and tell her how sorry I am for how I was. Neither of us were perfect, she unfortunately fell in to a bad crowd and started with drugs, and we drifted apart as she wanted the party life as I wanted to settle down. But I’ve got this overwhelming feeling I pushed things that way, like I pushed her to resent me because of the way I was… I don’t know why I’m having a post mortem of a break up that has been over for so long, but it’s killing me at the minute… the feeling of just wanting to see and talk to her one more time, just as friends even… 

the last time we slightly spoke was 4 years ago when she sent me a message about my weight loss, and said she was worried about me, and I totally blew it off, as i knew it could re open old wounds, and now I ask myself was that her reaching out?

I don’t know… sorry for the constant rants, just need to get it off my chest! 
thank you so much for your reply

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Well, it's because you are:

1) selfish.  You didn't want her then, but she dumped you, and it's your ego talking.

2) not into your current partner, and looking to sabotage it; you did the same with what you did to your ex.  You don't want to progress the relationship, so trying to romanticize your past even though it was a crappy relationship.  It doesn't matter how young you were; you didn't want her.  You also don't care with all your care for your current partner; hence why you feel a void.  And that's okay; it's just not working out.

I would recommend letting go of your current partner, and figure out what you want in life.

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Obviously you are remembering more of the good ole days then the bad which is common after all this time.

 The thing you haven't mentioned is what brought this on.  Something is going on you are reluctant to see or reluctant to admit.  So what is it?

 DO NOT contact your ex!!!  Nothing good will come from it and I mean NOTHING!  Of course if you want to ruin your relationship, possibly ruin your ex's and end up alone go right ahead.

 What you are wanting to do is relieve your guilt and test the waters with your ex.  You may not admit it to yourself but you know it is in the back of your mind.  Even if you would never take action if there was an opportunity it doesn't make it okay.

Playing with fire always gets you burned but in this case others will get burned as well.


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Thank you guys.

totally appreciate your replies, I’m really struggling with what it is that’s brought this on tbh. The only department where things aren’t better with my current partner I would say is in the sex department, and I’m not quite as comfortable sexually around her as I was with my ex. I know I sound totally awful saying that, but it’s something I think me personally, I need to work on a bit more… I don’t know if that’s something that’s caused a slight hole that over time I subconsciously feel makes my relationship lack…. I don’t believe it’s an ego issue, as believe me I have no ego, far far from it tbh, and it’s not just so that I know I can have her anytime.

I agree totally with what you’re saying about just wanting to relieve guilt and test the waters. Deep down I know that’s what that is, even if I don’t want to admit it to myself. I just keep getting the overwhelming feeling of what if she was the one I was meant to be with, I very much don’t think so, but what if she feels a similar way? 
I’m not even totally sure what I would do if that situation arose tbh, because I’ve built a life with my current partner over 5 years, and we’ve been very happy for all of those years until this has hit me, i know my thoughts are totally irrational but I can’t stop them. 
why would I drop all this, for that, even if it was on the cards? Me and my ex were both miserable for the last few years of our relationship, it was dying. I just can’t get away from the feelings of guilt and the feelings of what if. And that I wished she’d known the man I am now, rather than the person I was then… 

it’s the old right person, wrong time thing. And I think my head is running away with me to be honest. I’m really trying to take stock of what I have, and I know I sound like a total *** and a pig right now, which is not what I’m about. I love my current partner and she gives me so much happiness, which is why I can’t understand these strong, strong feelings…


thank you again everybody for taking the time to reply, I appreciate it so so much

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First of all,  I want to commend you for actually having guilt and remorse.  Most people whom I know don't have a conscience and they're either in denial regarding their wrongdoing,  gaslight me (deflect / dismiss / change subjects),  simply do not care about my feelings (non-empathetic) or all of it which is infuriating.  😡

I laud you for realizing what you had done for causing your previous relationship to go awry.  How this world would be a better place if more people learned from their disastrous mistakes.  🙏

Having said that,  divert your thinking by being grateful for evolving and transforming into a new man and focus on the lady whom you treat with utmost respect and grace. 

Change the way you think.  Your ex-girlfriend actually did you a huge favor.  She moved on so you could realize what you had done wrong in the past and how to make it right from now on.  She taught you how to be honorable and how to have integrity.  She taught you harsh life's lessons.  Harsh meaning learning the hard,  painful way is always the best way and lessons you'll never forget.  Feel gratitude instead of what could have,  what you should've done and what your current state could've been.  Ruminating about the past will just waste your time and energy on what doesn't deserve your brain space.  Don't live in the past.  Enjoy your current love of your life  💗 because in the big picture nothing else truly really matters. 

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3 minutes ago, BillyGunn said:

The only department where things aren’t better with my current partner I would say is in the sex department, and I’m not quite as comfortable sexually around her as I was with my ex. I know I sound totally awful saying that

Well, this seems potentially relevant to me.

Like, why do you think you sound "awful" saying the above? I can only speak for myself, but I know, in my bones, that the "sex department" is essential in any relationship for me and I don't feel that saying that makes me a "pig." I could write a novella here, for instance, about my girlfriend's exceptional qualities that have nothing to do with the "sex department," all the ways in which she is a wonderful human being and remarkable partner who I am so very lucky to share a life with. But I also know that she would not be my girlfriend or partner if we did not fully click in the "sex department." We would be friends, or people who dated for a stretch before realizing we weren't compatible in a key way. 

Can I ask how long you've been in this relationship? 

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Thank you so much for your words. Honestly, it brought a tear to my eye tbh!

ive always looked back on the relationship and said I’ve never regretted it, because it taught me so much and made me a much better person, and I am always grateful to her, even if I wasn’t at the time, for ending it. Because I wouldn’t ever have had the courage to do it myself…

I honestly think what you’ve said is spot on, I don’t know what’s gotten me to a stage where I’m dwelling so hard, maybe it’s closure and I just want her to know how sorry I am, for pushing away her love and care the way I did. But, what you’ve said is dead on, the best sorry is to move forward with my life, and never make those same mistakes again. It’s a very very hard lesson as I’ll never know what might’ve been, but then again, I’d never have met my current partner then.

I’ve just recently hit 30, and children are very much on the cards for us shortly, as well as marriage etc etc, the next steps. Im wondering if maybe this is just a stage, because it’s big steps, I’m second guessing myself (I’m good at doing that) and looking back at a time of innocence and youthfulness…. 
the romanticising in my head isn’t real, and it never would’ve played out like that. We weren’t meant to be, and I guess that’s okay…

sorry for rambling! But thank you again for your comment, I’m hoping I can use that, and give myself a little time, and give this head a wobble!!

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We’ve been together for 5 years. 
And I wouldn’t ever consider it a “bad” or “not good” sex life. 
it’s just not as good as it was with my ex, which is where I feel terrible saying that… but it’s the truth. Partly I feel responsible, I think after that relationship (I had a lot of struggles with anxiety and barely left the house) I decided in the next relationship I would play things very safe. And I think I got too used to this safe way of being… I never really pushed myself to have those chats or be the same person I was around sex…

I think it’s something I need to change about myself, I know it’s been 5 years so it seems silly to say this, but in certain departments I need to let my guard down, and be a small fraction of the confident person I was. I lost all confidence and body confidence especially after the break up, and I don’t think I ever really went out of my way to get it back, now I feel I’m stuck in “safe” mode… 

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Okay, so now you have a new way to start looking at all this. One that, in ways, is even harder but ultimately more productive. 

As in: you are 5 years into a relationship, on the cusp of 30, looking at a future of forever and…having some doubts. That’s scary. It’s also human and healthy. 

You seem to know the answer to this isn’t going to come through ruminating about your ex, or seeking “closure,” but rather to see if there are doors you can open, both inside yourself and with and alongside your partner. So commit to that for a stretch, seeing this period of rumination as what you needed to grab into that commitment. 


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Thank you… 

I think I needed to hear all of this as silly as it sounds. I have this inner battle with myself so much with day to day things, it’s just really hit me hard this week with this topic. It’s as though my entire mind and body is saying, “I’m meant to be with my ex, I need to find a way to reach out, it’s all my fault it ended, I want to be the man in her life” and all the memories and moments of her smile, the happy times, the times she did everything for me and I tossed it away like it meant nothing, and it has been eating away at me. But I think you’re correct. I think this is me being scared of the future, and it’s making me think, “what if this isn’t my future? What if my future is supposed to be with my ex? What if all the times she’s messaged little things over the years she has been reaching out?” 
and in reality, I need to focus my energy on getting ready for these big life moments. And working on myself AND our relationship. 
I guess if things were meant to be with my ex, they would be. And if she wanted to reach out over the years, she would’ve reached out. And that right there is the closure…


thanks again for helping me see sense. I’ve been an emotional wreck all week because of this, and that may sound extreme but it’s really been eating away at me.

I think I need to just digest what everybody has said, take some time to feel more normal, and then hopefully move forward, and work on myself and work on loving my current partner and building for the future.

thank you again everybody, you don’t know how much all of this means to me

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1 minute ago, BillyGunn said:

I have this inner battle with myself

Glad to help. 

From where I sit, it seems part of this inner battle is being stirred by not saying the simple, if harder, thing. Replace "I'm meant to be with my ex" etc. with "I need a more fulfilling intimate life than the one I have." Now, sit with that for a bit as a hard fact rather than a personality flaw or a perceived knock on your girlfriend, since it is none of those things. 

Another hard but universal fact to accept: just because someone is wonderful does not mean they are wonderful for you. 

Now, that's not me saying you and your gf are a bad match, but just just trying to widen the spectrum a bit. In a sense, all relationships, at all stages, are a kind of experiment in determining if someone is (still) wonderful for us. Someone might be wonderful for a week, or ten years, and that's okay. We learn that by engaging in these moments of doubt, in treating the questions as valuable rather than threatening. 

In other words, your ex, as I see it, is an easy proxy to kind of think about all this and kind of avoid it. Like if I was struggling with my job and started obsessing about moving to Costa Rica, where I spent a few glorious weeks a decade ago. "I'm meant to be on that beach, working for a surf shack," I'd say. "I messed up by leaving or not appreciating how awesome it was when I was there!"

Except no. Costa Rica would have nothing to do with what was up. It would be about figuring out what I need to do to be happy with my job—and, really, if it was a job I could continue to be truly happy in. 


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I'm glad you're reconsidering your original plan. When I first read your initial post, my ideas were:

When you're not happy in your present, you sometimes look to the past to find it there, because the future hasn't happened yet and is unknown. The past is something you already know, so it's where your mind naturally goes.

Two guesses of why you weren't happy. 1. You subconsciously feel like you're worthless, so a loving partner feels "off" to you. 2. Your partner is good on paper so you should love her and not pine for someone from your past, but really, a spark is missing.

Whether or not those things are true, you say you could feel more comfortable in regards to sex, but don't specify why the discomfort exists.

My advice is to no longer look at your ex's social media, and delete her as a friend if you two are connected. It's never right to have the discussion you'd thought of with a taken person. Whenever a discussion would never happen if her husband or your girlfriend was in the room, then it's wrong. Your gf doesn't deserve you reaching out to an ex for apologies, closure, or any other reason.

Your task should be to see if you can form the emotional connection with your gf that is necessary for a lifetime commitment. Read books and articles on ideas to ignite a spark in the bedroom and in other areas of your relationship. Give it a good year of effort and if you still feel something missing, let your partner go. Even then, I wouldn't rush to the past to find what you're looking for. I'd be alone a good year to mourn, heal, and then be able to move on to whatever adventure lies in your future.

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1 hour ago, BillyGunn said:

 I would say is in the sex department, and I’m not quite as comfortable sexually around her as I was with my ex. I love my current partner and she gives me so much happiness.

Start here. You've been together 5 years. Are you living together? Is the relationship in a rut?  Are you two in agreement about future, family, commitment, etc.?

This nostalgia and longing is daydreams filling voids in whatever is happening now 

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That sounds so true to me.

Both posts are ringing so true. I think like you said, I need to give the spark a chance. I love her very much and she is so good to me, it’s just that spark in the bedroom and that head over heels feeling doesn’t exist. And sometimes I feel really guilty for not feeling the way I did with my ex, with her. I will take your advice, and I’m going to think and look positively at the future, and us. And make positive changes and try and get that spark lit between us. I think it’s me that has dampened the spark, I’m a self sabotager a lot of the time, and spend too much time overthinking. 
I personally think I closed a lot of myself off when I’d left my ex in order to change the person I was towards her, because I didn’t want to be the same person or end up in the same situation… and I maybe went too far into this “safe” person. Ie, I had sex with my current partner a certain way, so it almost became safe, and then more of a habit. Than actually enjoying it, and having fun, and letting my guard down to it…. 
I know it’s something that subconsciously bothers her, I’ve spoken to her about it this evening and opened up on a few of my feelings, and she does acknowledge it’s something I could improve on, but that’s it’s no biggy and she’s very happy with me.

but i think it’s as you’ve both said. It’s the fear of “what happens if I tell him I want that to change and he can’t?” you then have to both admit the spark isn’t there, and the relationship can’t work like that. Which is a scary thought for us both, so we find it easier to skirt around the subject or just play it down as, “it’ll be okay it’s not an issue, we’re happy” 

but these are the make or break moments we need to get through if we’re going to be together forever…. 
I think a part of me will always love my ex and care for her as she was my first love. But I can’t pine for that because something deep down is lacking. 
I’m going to take your advice and give us some time, and work on me and us… I’m optimistic we’re going to be fine as am I.

and once again I thank you all for helping me so much!

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We’re definitely in constant discussions about family etc. we both want this to be the next step in the next year or two… we’ve also been moved out together for 2 and a half years now, we lived previously at my parents for around 6 months…

I live a very routined life, we both just work, come home, watch tv, sleep & repeat other than the odd holiday a few times a year if we’re lucky… we try to keep things fun but this is the reality of it. 
I think maybe I need to spice it up a bit, and try and fill that void you know? 
then hopefully these feelings go with it… 

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33 minutes ago, BillyGunn said:

I think maybe I need to spice it up a bit, and try and fill that void you know? 

Yes this. Unfortunately you've fallen into a sort of routine and rut.  It's good you have your own place together and similar goals, however it's easy in any relationship to go from content to complacent and start coasting along on autopilot.

Unfortunately that may be where you are and that may be why you're nostalgic about younger freer times and what's associated with it.

Take some classes and courses together, learn a sport or other shared interest. Join some groups and clubs, individually and together. Start being active in and outside of the relationship.

Plan some fun things on weekends. Try to reorganize chores and errands so that you two build time for fun and romance. Do some stuff you did when you were first dating. 

Talking about the bedroom duldrums is fine, but taking action to reinvigorate passion would be a great next step. It might help you reengage in the present and "cure" this nostalgia. 

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4 hours ago, BillyGunn said:

I feel as though I want to reach out and tell her how sorry I am for how I was. Neither of us were perfect, she unfortunately fell in to a bad crowd and started with drugs, and we drifted apart as she wanted the party life as I wanted to settle down. But I’ve got this overwhelming feeling I pushed things that way, like I pushed her to resent me because of the way I was…

The way YOU were?  she turned to drugs, she went down her own road.  it is how it is.

We live & we learn and we all have a past.

My brother had similar experience with a girl and had to get away from her in order to straighten his own life out & get on track.. he's great now and married ( after being single 10 years).

Give yourself some time and see if you're able to realize it's all just an after thought and fades.  it's common to wonder 'what if', but yeah, at this point you two ARE different people now, with it being over 8 yrs ago and she's settled w/ kids.

yup, life's experiences 😉 .  Try to resort back to what you've got in your life now.


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thanks guys.

the thoughts of my ex have mainly transpired into mainly sexual thoughts now, which I think is my brain going crazy working out what this could be, and this is where I’ve landed. Like it’s telling me sex with her was better, and therefore life in general was better. 
but i know it’s total BS, I need to just communicate that to that side of my brain! 
After unpacking on here with all you guys, I think it’s a spark issue, so I’m fantasising about times when I had a spark, the innocence and youthfulness of it, and the fun we had. Compared to now where me and my partner have made things mundane, so the thought of lust for an ex partner seems appealing.

what I’m going to do, is get that spark going again. Stop putting work so so much before my life with my partner, try and break the routine of work, home, tv every night and then, sleeping and sofa chilling on the weekend… I need to spark it up both in the bedroom and just in general I believe. Movie night with blow up mattress in the lounge, few drinks maybe some Mario kart this weekend, try and rekindle what it was that made us love each other in the first place…. I’m confident this will make us both more confident for other things, and push away these feelings…


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Taking tango or salsa lessons can be a sexy sort of fun you can have together. I know they have those types of classes in my area because I participated in them years ago. They never advertised so it took searching on the Internet.

For the bedroom, there are couples stores where you two could have fun looking for new products together. Role playing costs absolutely nothing and the range of characters is endless. That can end up as quite sexy, and often hilarious. It's good to laugh.

Just for some variety in life, a good social life includes group friends and other couples you can meet up with for concerts, or to host them for a barbecue or to play card games like poker, etc. You can also each have a separate hobby so you can miss each other while apart, as long as it doesn't become too much time apart.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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