When you miss someone, you feel lonely, sad, depressed. This is the worst feeling in this world, which you cannot explain in words. In this article, you will understand the science behind missing someone, why we miss someone, and at the same time you will learn how to deal with this feeling.
WHY DO YOU MISS SOMEONE?
The most common reason to miss someone is living away from your loved ones. There are also some other reasons as highlighted below.
Long Distance Relationship
You and your partner living in different cities or countries because of your work or business.
Living Away from Your Family
It’s common to miss family members. Sometimes because of your education or work you have to live away from your family.
The Break-Up of a Relationship
When you are in a relationship, whether it is short or long, and have a break up with your partner, it really hurts badly. After that, you miss your partner and miss the moments spent together.
Loss of a Loved One
When the death of a dear one happens, it creates sadness and grief. When you lose a family member permanently, it creates emptiness in your heart. Only time will be the answer to get relief from that feeling.
Missing a Pet
Sometimes it is a pet that you miss when it dies or goes missing.
In actual, whenever you are emotionally attached to someone and they leave you, you always miss those people at some stage of your life.
Missing someone is an emotional feeling, it differs for everyone. But you cannot find a single person in the world, who never misses anyone. Everyone will suffer this feeling of “missing someone” in their life.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND MISSING SOMEONE
To understand the science behind the emotions of missing someone, we first need to understand human evolution.
In the East African or European regions where human evolution occurred, survival of humans depended mostly on living within a group. Naturally, individuals who lived within the protection of a group, survived more than those who did not live in a group.
Natural selection favored human beings who formed and maintained supportive relationships with others. Therefore, a need for acceptance and belonging evolved as a fundamental need of our nature. As a result, to form and maintain a minimum of positive, supportive and significant interpersonal relationships is the basic instinct of humans.
An article published in NIH about the human response to interpersonal rejection explains in detail how grief, loneliness and anxiety arises when one gets hurt or dejected from the family or group.
Humans develop psychological mechanisms to deal with acceptance and rejection in a relationship. When you suffer from break up or rejection in a relationship, your mind perceives it and triggers emotional and motivational responses. These responses are negative emotions because you feel a sense of detachment.
According to neuroscientific investigations, emotional and motivational responses are mediated by the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula. These centers are also related to physical pain. Thus, people report they are hurt when others reject or devalue them. Continuous rejection also affects the self-esteem of a person.
Hormones play an important role in your feelings. The hormones estrogen, testosterone, oxytocin and the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine are closely involved with “love” emotions. When you are with someone whom you love, these hormones surge. When you spend more time with that person, your body becomes addicted to that elevated level of all chemicals and helps to process them quickly.
When you no longer meet that person, it causes withdrawal symptoms. Your body stops producing a surge of that hormone and chemical, so it affects your body and emotional state. At the same time, you feel sad, low and depressed.
EMOTIONAL EFFECTS OF MISSING SOMEONE
When you miss someone, it directly affects the emotional center of your brain. Every individual is unique and their expression of feeling lonely is also different.
Someone feels irritable while someone else feels angry! Someone wants to sit alone while someone else wants to cry! So, if you feel any of these mood changes while missing someone, it’s normal.
Every emotion has a different meaning and reason for why you feel it, let’s find out.
It is a state of mind. You feel sad about being alone. In this state you can feel anxiety also. You are always in the company of your loved one like family, friends, and partner. If all of a sudden you are away from them, you can feel lonely.
Even while you are surrounded by people you can still feel emptiness or unwanted in that crowd. You do not want to talk to anyone. It can have different reasons like you are missing someone special or it is a time to spend some time for yourself like “ME TIME”.
When you feel alone, it’s time to find out; “Are you missing someone?” or “You are missing yourself?”
This is the most common emotion when you miss someone or lose someone. Yes! When you miss someone, it’s a recurring feeling and you always spend time in their fond memories.
At one point you feel happy but at another moment you feel sad when you miss that special person. Feeling down or unhappy is a common indicator of missing someone or their company.
But if you indulge in this feeling it can lead to depression. It’s perfectly ok when you feel sad. Just find something which will cheer you up when you feel sad.
When you are always in a state of unhappiness, it can create a state of depression. It is not a single feeling, it is an accumulation of feelings of sadness, loneliness, irritability or wanting to sit alone. One in depth research article about depression published in NIH helps you to differentiate your depression.
When you lose someone forever, like in the case of a death of a dear one or break up of a serious relationship; where you know you will never get that special person back, you can be overwhelmed by grief. That feeling leads to unwanted different reactions like isolation, not wanting to mix up with new people or friends, always wanting to cry or not wanting to do any work including your routine chores.
Sometimes you are so deeply involved in those feelings, you always want to live in a depressive mood. But this is not good for your emotional or mental health.
It is normal to feel frustrated or upset when you miss someone badly. When you cannot make contact with a loved one because of some practical problems like network problems or you are going through a break-up patch, you can feel anger and that manifests through irritability. You will express anger without any reasons for yourself or the people who are around you.
Irritability is a bad behavior that affects you and your dear ones who are near you in your tough situations.
Wanting to Sit Idle
When you are depressed or feel sad, it’s common to sit alone without any work. Your mind and body do not want to do anything. Just want to sit idle and dwell about memories of losing your loved one.
It is ok to sit alone for some time or for some days; but if you are doing it constantly for a longer time then, you must take advice from a mental health counselor.
It’s a normal reaction when you are away from your loved one or when you hear bad news like death about a dear one. It is a natural way to reduce stress, negative physical effects on the body.
According to Frey, “Crying is not only a human response to sorrow and frustration, but also a healthy one.”
One article about crying effects published in Frontier of Psychology states that crying is a self-soothing behavior. This research article evaluates the possible physiological, cognitive, and behavioral mechanisms that may play a mediating role in the relationship between crying and mood improvement and relief.
It’s a negative behavior. If you break up with your partner, you may feel angry with yourself or that situation. Your anger is expressed through irritability.
Grief is a condition of your emotional health when you lose your loved one permanently. Mourning is an expression of grief. When you spend most of your time in memories of your loved one, it creates grief.
It’s a natural process of missing someone and you cannot talk or see them in your whole life now onwards. It can be short or will remain with you for a longer time. During grief you long for company to support and reassurance.
The person who mourns successfully can be re-engaged in daily life, reconnected to others and able to experience hope, joy and satisfaction for a future life.
HOW TO DEAL WHEN YOU MISS SOMEONE?
Take Some Time
It’s ok to miss someone. Take your time to mourn about the situation. There is nothing wrong with feeling sad or wanting to cry. As we discussed earlier, when you are done with your grief, you will be open to new hope, joy of future in your life.
Try to get some physical activity like walking, yoga, aerobics, or gym. Eat a regular healthy meal on time.
Think About Good Memories
Think about the good and memorable moments with that person, when you are spending lots of time missing someone, especially a person whom you lost forever. Think about good memories, good quality time you spent together. It will boost your mood.
When dealing with a break up, also remember the good things about each other but at the same time do think why did you break up with your partner? Is he worth spending your time to grieve over that breakup? Decide what is good or bad at that moment. Talk with your friends or relatives about your feelings, it will soothe your grief. Avoid taking drugs, medications, or nicotine.
Do Video Call or Write a Letter
When you are living away from your family or your partner, whenever you miss them try to make a call or video call. Sometimes write a letter to that person. It’s a little bit old style but it really works well for your emotional health. You can write down all your feelings in words, what you have in your mind for that person.
The letter will create good memories for that special person too. If you write a letter to granny or grandpa, it will make their day happy for sure. Because when you miss your family, they also miss you with the same intensity.
Enjoy Me-Time Hobbies
Mostly applies to those who have relationship break-ups. Do not spend your time dwelling in old memories; rather create new memories with yourself. Go out at your favorite place or treat yourself with a coffee at your favorite restaurant.
Start to enjoy your hobbies or join some music class, art class. Explore nature, go for tracking, hiking.
In short, live your life for yourself. Do not think about the bad past, rather create an amazing new future.
Catch Up with Old Friends and Collage Friends
When you are in a relationship, it’s hard to find some quality time with your old close friends. When you free yourself from a relationship, treat it as an opportunity to spend quality times with friends. Plan a trip or party with your old friends. Revisit your memories with them.
A research article published in NIH mentioned how extended family and friendship help to reduce depression, risk factors and after effects of depression. The study was conducted among African American and Caribbean people. This research indicates that social support has beneficial effects on a mental health outcome such as depression, anxiety, and psychological distress.
Missing someone is ok; but do not dwell in that sad feeling. Crying is a better solution to let out your inner grief. Sadness, anger, irritability, and mourning are expressions of missing someone! When you successfully mourn, you will be ready for new hope and joy in the future!
Take help of friends and relatives when you feel lonely while missing someone. Positive memories of lost ones will boost your mood. Take some time to deal with missing someone, it’s perfectly fine.
Enjoy Me Time, your hobbies, plan a solo trip or plan a party or travel with your friends. Visit your favorite place. If you are missing someone because you are living apart because of your job; make a call or video call and talk to them. Missing someone is a natural process, do not feel you are doing something different, or your behavior is bad one. Be positive and live your life fully.
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1. Gračanin, A., Bylsma, L. M., & Vingerhoets, A. J. (2014). Is crying a self-soothing behavior?. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 502. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00502
2. Leary M. R. (2015). Emotional responses to interpersonal rejection. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 17(4), 435–441. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2015.17.4/mleary
3. NIMH » depression. (n.d.). NIMH » Home. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/
4. Taylor, R. J., Chae, D. H., Lincoln, K. D., & Chatters, L. M. (2015). Extended family and friendship support networks are both protective and risk factors for major depressive disorder and depressive symptoms among African-Americans and black Caribbeans. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 203(2), 132–140. https://doi.org/10.1097/NMD.0000000000000249