During a breakup, the “I miss you” moment is almost always inevitable. It’s hard to disentangle your heart and life from someone with whom you hoped to have a future. There are plenty of reminders for when you miss them, but what about when they miss you? It’s hard to figure out if someone genuinely misses you or if they’re just being selfish in a lonely moment, playing mind games, or if they have some other ulterior motive. Did they only start missing you when they saw that you were moving on, that you were happy with someone else? Next time you find yourself on the receiving end of an “I miss you” text, think about these six things.
1. They probably really do miss you.
We’ve all heard the cliche, “You never know what you have until it’s gone.” It’s a cliche for a reason. In relationships, it’s really easy to take your partner for granted. You become accustomed to their presence, the way they make you feel, and the small things they do for you and you forget how easy it would be for all of that to go away.
When someone hits you with the “I miss you,” it’s likely that they really do miss you, at least in that moment. This doesn’t mean you have to accommodate their feelings—that obligation ended when the relationship ended. But if you’re wondering what their motives are in that moment, rest assured that, even if they don’t miss being with you, they very likely miss the things you did for them or the way they felt when they were with you.
2. Missing each other doesn’t mean you’re good for each other.
Sometimes getting that “I miss you” text makes your heart skip a beat because of course you miss them too. Missing each other doesn’t mean you should still be together.
You can acknowledge that you miss someone and still understand that they’re not good for you or that you’re not good for them. You can acknowledge that you miss someone and still understand that you’re better off separate from each other. You can miss the good times you had with someone, you can miss talking to them, you can miss the way they made you feel, and you can still understand that missing each other isn’t a sign to try again. Sometimes missing each other is just part of the grieving process for a relationship that has ended.
3. Remember how it ended.
Oftentimes, we can tell a lot about a person by the way they leave. Did they leave abruptly with no thought or concern about how their actions may affect you? Did they burn your world to the ground then walk away? If so, and if they’re now telling you how much they miss you, you’re likely dealing with a toxic person, or at the very least, a person who has little emotional awareness.
Was the parting mutual? Did you both agree that removing yourselves from each others’ lives was for the best? If you parted on good terms, then maybe there’s nothing wrong with exploring the option of remaining acquainted in some capacity if that’s what you both want.
4. You don’t have to respond, but it’s okay if you do.
When someone reaches out with an “I miss you,” your friends will probably tell you not to respond. People will say they’re just lonely or drunk or horny. They’ll tell you they don’t really miss you, they just want something from you. This might be true, and if it is, that will quickly become clear. If you don’t want to respond, if you know this person’s modus operandi is mind games and manipulation, then by all means, steer clear. You are one of two people who really knew what was happening in the relationship, and you’re the only one who can decide what’s best for you in this situation.
Responding to an “I miss you” doesn’t have to lead to rekindling a romance or even talking beyond “I miss you, too.” Sometimes it feels better just to have the feelings out there. “I miss you, too” doesn’t have to be a profession of love or an admission of guilt; it’s merely an acknowledgement that you feel the loss of the relationship and of who you got to be when you were with that person. It’s an acknowledgment that you shared an experience that once made you both happy and that you also miss the way things were.
5. If things have changed, it’s okay to try again.
Sometimes relationships end in a way that allows for a second chance. Sometimes they end so both people can do the work necessary to be one half of a healthy whole. If you miss each other, and if you both spent your time apart working on the parts of yourselves that prohibited you from being together in the first place, then why not try again? There is no shame in giving someone a second chance, in giving a relationship a second chance, if there is evidence that things have changed.
6. Is this person someone you want to have in your life?
Just because someone misses you doesn’t mean you have to miss them back. If your life is more peaceful without them, then keep them out of it. Let them keep missing you until they’re over it. Sometimes people leave and we realize how much chaos they caused in our lives while they were there.
If you do want to have them in your life, take the “I miss you” as an opportunity to explore what that could look like. Maybe missing each other doesn’t mean you should be romantically involved, but it could be the start of a healing friendship.