I’m SO over my ex. It’s been five years. But why do I feel so sick when I see him?

I’m SO over my ex. It’s been five years. But why do I feel so sick when I see him?

Updated 17-11-16

Reality Chick, I broke up with my ex about 5 years ago and I’ve completely moved on and have a new partner … but I saw my ex in the street recently and had a meltdown, it made me feel sick to my stomach … I felt shaken for the rest of the day!

Is this normal? What does it all mean, I’m fairly certain I don’t have feelings for him considering he ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped on it until it was a pulp? Help! Confused

It’s baffling, I know. My last big break up was like yours, and I too have moved on very happily. But if I see my ex – the ex that, like yours, ripped my heart out and stomped on it til it was a pulp – I feel that same, sick stomach-churning feeling and desire to run, or at the very least hide behind the nearest tree, car or lamp post. Now, that’s not the case for all my exes. Some, I’m still friendly with and actually enjoy encountering in the street, at a party or on Facebook, just to shoot the breeze and get the goss on what’s happening in their lives. But this particular ex of mine is up there with Hitler, Donald Trump and the Devil in terms of people I’d rather not bump into. Ever.

I don’t for a minute think it’s anything to do with not having moved on or even having some messed up, residual feeling for the guy. My theory is that some exes cause such a toxic spill in our lives they become like our own personal Kyrptonite. The thought of them, the sound of their voice bleating for forgiveness on the answering machine and of course the mere sight of them is enough to trigger a sick feeling of dread and, in extreme cases, downright panic. Suddenly, you’d rather yank your fingernails out with a pair of pliers than have to say hello. Will this feeling ever go away? Will you ever stop wishing he would trip and fall head-first into a tank full of Great Whites? Who knows? Time is supposed to be a great healer, but I think it forgot about Kryptonite Exes.

I know I haven’t been much help, Confused, so I’m going to share with you a nugget of advice from a wise friend of mine. She said we should really thank our arsehole exes. Their actions towards us may have hurt like hell at the time, but ultimately the end meant freedom, to find the kind of life, happiness and relationships that we really deserve. She’s so right. But I still give you my blessing if, next time you spot him, you forget all about being thankful and simply give in to the urge to duck behind the nearest lamp post.

Love, reality chick

Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).


  1. Lullaby 3 months ago

    I took trauma therapy to clear the impact of her steps as she – deliberately – walked heavy booted under my bedroom window. In 4 years relatons hip I was ill from her poison. Yes, today I’m grateful for numerous learnings it provided for me.
    But I still get a stich when I see her. No contact is essential to recovery.

  2. Kyle 6 months ago

    So I’m a guy and I feel the same thing I got this intense feeling of dread when I saw my ex even though though we’re still kinda friends but she did tear my feelings apart so it strange for me to feel that dread?

  3. Irene 1 year ago

    I have an ex, that not only does my heart rapidly beat and I get butterfly when I see him. And he’s the only one that can make me laugh and giggle that way when your almost laughing too hard. Idk if that means I still have feeling for him or not.

  4. Sheila 3 years ago

    I have the same problem. My boyfriend lost feelings for me and broke up with me a couple weeks after confessing that he “loved” me (what?). It was really sad when all the things he promised, like how he’d never hurt me, turned out to be lies. Even though I harbor zero feelings for him anymore, I still get sick to my stomach and my heartbeat jumps if I see him unexpectedly. I wish he didn’t have this kind of control over me. Help?

  5. Old fashioned Ladylike 3 years ago

    Its sites like this I love to read. Sometimes life can be confusing we know the answers but we still give toxic relationships hope, we undervalue ourselves, our time and our efforts and waste ourselves on toxic avenues.. We only have ourselves to define our direction. I suffered alot in my life and found it hard to find someone who truelly could relate – care and understand me. That ex was the most supportive and loving person ive ever known in my life and would do anything for me . He showed signs of a a short temper not towards me had adhd but i thought it was just character (a bit like an actor). However i cut he had a bit too much to drink one night, tried to pick up a fight with a barman (which ended in chaos disrupting about 30 people) then end things with me when i walked home in shock and embarrassment. I understand how relationships can go through things but on returning to my flat he wanted to collect things and then go back to the bar to Finnish him off with a big kitchen knife (bearing in mind I was not aggressive- just going to bed! ) Was a bit strange and I still never understood it. Its taken me a year to get over and I am sure he has deep issues. I haven’t tried to have much contact since but its strange I watched as I lost a great friend and questioned if forgiveness and being able to trust him again could be on the cards. I am not sure what to do really but I do as many people say it was a 1 off as him and i dont think he has done anything like that since. maybe people do deserve a second chance however for me there is an underlying feeling of sickness still and I wonder if there is any hope or whether it comes at a consequence. Reading this site gives me more hope that perhaps We are going the right track when you just listen to what your body is saying and hear happy stories of avoiding toxic at all costs however it can be confusing and I wonder if in any circumstances you can consider not listening to those feelings and giving someone another chance who wants to be friends and what makes them worthy of that? If you had a great history but they made 1 massive mistake. I do miss their friendship but unsure and wonder are there any stories where forgiveness can work out in the face of toxic events and that horrid sick feeling. ?

  6. janali 4 years ago

    I totally feel this way still unfortunately my ex broke up with me in a way that hurt me a lot. I unfortunately have to see him at school and i get sick to my stomach everytime that i have to see him. I dont know what to do

    • Author

      I went through that exact situation at high school Janali. It’s tough, but just think of The Godfather II everytime you see him and mutter to yourself, ‘Dead to me’. Then hold your head high, sweep past and blank him.

  7. lalalove 6 years ago

    i have an ex who also makes me physically sick , he was a stalker and a bit controlling , obsessive etc. i literally had to run to my mother to escape him , he was SICK !!! he didnt break my heart cause i never loved him but i understand what ur talking about .. it’s like wen u see him ur feel like throwing up , u feel extreamly uncomfortable … u probly dont have feelings for him but certainly disgust !

  8. Bubble Girl 6 years ago

    OMG reality chick, you are so spot on. While I have a couple of exes that I would be quite happy to bump into and “shoot the breeze” as you say, there is one who I would rather “shoot on sight” if I was ever unfortunate enough to run into him again. The reason is not that I am not over him, but I cannot forget the torment that he caused me. I do still feel pain for the girl that I was who put up with his shite for as long as I did. And while I am not that girl anymore, she is still a part of me and I feel the desperate urge to protect her from his special kind of toxicity.

    It is true that everything that has happened before has bought us to where we are and where we need to be – and I have never been happier. I’ve finally found someone who is my equal, who treats me with respect and kindness, and in just under 5 months, we will be standing up in front of our friends and family and declaring our love for each other and intention to spend our lives together. But you never forget where you have come from. And I am all for avoiding any further toxic input in my life (or carrying a gun . . . whatever floats your boat!). Confused, don’t give your toxic ex another thought and just enjoy being where you are 🙂

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