19 People On The One Song That Always Make Them Think About Their Ex


The other night I was sitting in a cafe and all of a sudden Phantogram’s “Black Out Days” came on. I was immediately brought back to being in the car on a warm humid night with someone I had been ‘hanging out with’ – that elusive term, whatever it means. This song was playing in the car. I rolled down the window and put my hand in the sky to feel the wind on my fingers. I remember looking over at him and knowing it was a bittersweet moment. We were never going to work. We would never be a couple. We would never fall in love. But we had this moment together in the early summer, a time when everything seems so possible. We didn’t have a beginning or an end but that was okay. Anytime I hear this song I think of him and that short time we shared together. I asked friends and co-workers some of the songs that bring up similar memories of past loves.

1. “Beast of Burden” – The Rolling Stones


“My ex and I used to have a point of contention — he was a Beatles fan, and I was always a Stones kid. We joke-fought about it more than anything, but always called it the reason why we would never work. Anyhow, this is the one song he said he really liked, and part of it was because it kind of was everything he said we should promise each other: to never burden one another, to always be there for each other (even though the song is 100% about sex, so maybe he was misinterpreting the song, or I was misinterpreting us). Regardless, it’s also one of the slower tempo songs they have, and the tempo is tangy and sweet under the lyrics, kind of like him.” – Ella

2. “Stay” – Rihanna


“I don’t have an ex song because that would require a serious ex! Waaaahhhh. But for a particular past romance, I would say Rihanna’s ‘Stay’ pretty much does it and makes me want to stay inside, watch Sixteen Candles and eat non-dairy frozen desserts.” – Kovie

3. “Girlfriend” – Avril Lavigne


“I am somewhat kidding, but not really — the song started out as an inside joke, which evolved into much more than an inside joke, which evolved into holding hands in public for a few months.” – Lance

4. “Yellow Submarine” – The Beatles


“This was back in high school. We were making out on my bed and I had my iTunes on shuffle. This song came on and it ruined the mood. I have a complete aversion to this song now.” – Michael

5. “Zebra” – Beach House


“This entire album, lord. It’s like a vat of emo sprinkled with delusions of young love and topped off with a dash of immortal teenage longing. However, I was 23 when this song came into my life and affected me in ways that make it unbearable to listen to now. I was going through my big college break-up, trying to rediscover my footing as a single, individual, and failing miserably at it. I would lay in bed at night, with this song (and entire album) on repeat, sobbing for lost love and the trails and tribulations of post-collegiate life.” – Emma

6. “Come Go With Me” – Del-Vikings


“Two songs: “Come Go With Me” by 50s doo-wop band the Del-Vikings and “Walk Through This World With Me” by country singer George Jones. Same message: Wherever I go, I want you by my side.” – Jim

7. “Lips of an Angel” – Hinder


“The lyrics are literally a conversation I had a hundred times with my ex: “Honey, why ya calling me so late? It’s kinda hard to talk right now. Honey why are you crying, is everything okay? I gotta whisper cause I can’t be too loud. Well, my girl’s in the next room. Sometimes I wish she was you. I guess we really never moved on…” My ex and I talked for 7 years after we stopped dating until I finally had to give an ultimatum. We were both emotionally cheating on everyone else we dated. The song hits home because of one night when he called from his bathroom at like 1 a.m. to talk. It still breaks my heart to think about when I remember telling him: I will probably know when you’ve found THE ONE before you do. Him: Why do you say that? Me: Because you will be on the phone with her instead of me. ” – Kera

8. “I Won’t Give Up” – Jason Mraz


“I used to listen to “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz near the end of my last relationship. The song was popular on the radio at the time and, although it’s not my type of music, I became really attached to it. It made me feel blind to what I was actually experiencing and encouraged me to keep holding onto a relationship I shouldn’t have cared so much to be in. Now, when I hear that song, I just laugh. I’m really glad I gave up, Mr. Mraz.” – Chris R.

9. “The Dress Looks Nice On You” – Sufjan Stevens

“Lots of reasons it reminds me of her, notably that the lyrics literally detail the dynamic her and I had. It works on another level because she likes Sufjan a lot and, when we were together, I couldn’t stand him. But one day long after we broke up, I heard this song in a car somehow and knew it was Sufjan from the style of the song, and, listening to it, felt a whole lot of emotions about her. I have a hard time listening to it now but indulge in it sometimes, pretty much just to think about her.” – Fritz

10. “Perfect Day” – Lou Reed


“This came on the radio in the Fall of 2000 when I was driving back from an impromptu night at a small, Bavarian-styled bed and breakfast in eastern Canada with my girlfriend at the time. The song came on–perhaps the only time I’ve heard it on the radio–shortly after passing the border on our way back to her dorm in central Maine. I was visiting for the weekend from Maryland, and the day before we had meant to just go for a drive and somehow ended up at the cottage in New Brunswick. With the sun out and the leaves changing, with no one else on the road and the memory of the night before, it had felt like a perfect day. Shortly after I would return to Maryland and find out she had already started to see someone else before we took that drive and I’ve never been able to figure out what that means for how I felt driving south with her on that lost stretch of 95.” – Trevor

11. “Young Blood” – The Naked And Famous


“I didn’t really know this band but the girl I started seeing a couple years ago LOVED this band and asked me to go to a concert in Chicago with her. I said yes and we proceeded to have the absolute best time ever. It was in that unique time of dating someone when you’re starting to realize you really like them and want to make it official. I remember the band started playing this song and I looked at her and realized I had to tell her that night I wanted to be with her. We dated for a year. It didn’t work out but anytime this song comes on I’m immediately transported back to that night in Chicago drinking beers and looking at a beautiful girl and feeling like something great was about to happen. Damn.” – David

12. “You Could Be Happy” – Snow Patrol


“I remember listening to this song over and over when I broke up, ok was dumped, by my first boyfriend ever. “Somehow everything I own smells of you, and for the tiniest moment it’s all not true…” I remember crying myself to sleep and feeling like I was never ever going to get over it.” – Kayla

13. “Separated” – Usher


“This tells about the inconsistency of our decisions during the indefinite beginning of our relationship… which later on went well beautifully (“Stay with Me” by Colbie Caillat), and then… it was all gone (6-8-12 by Brian McNight)…. I’m still moving on from that first love.” – Kim

14. “Fashion Nugget” – Cake


“Particularly the part where the guy yells ‘Shut the fuck up.'” – Natalie

15. “Sierra” – Cursive


“She’s married now and working on her first, but I haven’t really let go in a lot of ways. ‘I don’t know who you are, and I don’t deserve to.’ A lot of years that I could have made her life and mine better, but I chose not to.” – Patrick

16. “I’ll Follow You Into The Dark” – Death Cab For Cutie


Especially when he sings “our hands clasped so tight, waiting for the hint of a spark” and the lyric “the time for sleep is now, it’s nothing to cry about ’cause we’ll hold each other soon.” I don’t know that people ever quite get over their first “true love.” – Michelle

17. “Itty Bitty Everything” – The Flat Duo-Jets

“We both dug this band and this cover. Also, Bitty was my nickname for her.” – Ron

18. “I Thought You Met Telly and Turned Me Into Casper” – Emmure


“It makes me feel resentful and caustic. The imagery in the music video further adds to my disdain for her and the weird part is… I love that song.” – Robb

19. “Skinny Love” – Bon Iver


“Skinny Love” makes me think of this fucking psycho I dated. My friend said it reminded her of what I said to him to be patient and and kind and all our love is wasted and who the hell am I? “Do You Feel Me” by Anthony Hamilton is about this friend I tried so hard to seduce. One time I bought him beer and had him come over to make cookies with me when all my roommates where out. And he was like ‘Are you trying to get me drunk and take advantage of me?’ Yes I was and I did. Also, everytime I hear that one Bruno Mars song that’s like ‘I shoulda bought you flowers.’ In my head I’m like FUCKING YESSSSS FEEEL THAT WAY ABOUT ME ALL YOU DUMB FOOOOOLLLSSSS MAMA WANTED DEM FLOWERS NOW YOU’RE FUCKING DEAD TO ME.” – Tina Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Former senior staff writer and producer at Thought Catalog.

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