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How to Cope When You Want Your Old Life Back

How do you cope when your new life has begun, yet all you want is your old life back? These ideas for starting over will help you see your new life differently, and perhaps even help you stop wanting to go back in time.

Earlier today, I wrote an article called When You’re Forced to Move to a New Home. Then I received an email from a friend who said she can’t move forward. Nothing will help her stop wanting her old life back, and she’ll never be happy without her ex-boyfriend.

And right there is your first tip for coping when you want your old life back! Stop telling yourself that you’ll never be happy in your new life. What you tell yourself has the power to control your mood, attitude, and even your future. If you keep saying that you want your old life back and you’ll never be happy again, then guess what? You’ll never be happy. It’s time to accept that your old life is over, and start moving into a new life.

Here’s a comment from a reader who wants her ex-husband back, even though he betrayed her:

“I was married for 12 years and pregnant with my second child when my husband cheated on me,” says J. on 3 Ways to Turn Your Life Around When Things Are Out of Control. “He left me for this woman. I divorced him and a year later met someone else. We are now married and I love him dearly. The problem is I long for my old life and marriage. I cry a lot and feel like I maybe got into my new relationship too quick. I don’t feel I will ever get over what happened to me.”

Being happy with your life is a choice you have to make. You may be searching for quick tips for erasing the pain of losing your old life, but the truth is there aren’t any easy solutions. There’s only the choice to move forward, even when your heart keeps looking back.

3 Ways to Cope When You Want Your Old Life Back

I forgot to say something really important! I’m sorry for your loss, that you lost your old life. I know how hard it is to be forced into a new life when you just want to go home. You may have lost a family member, friend, pet, home or even a school…and it’s hard.

Letting go of the past is painful. But, it’s one of those difficult things we all have to go through. These tips may make coping with your new life a little easier…

1. Be specific about what you miss about your old life

Do you miss the people, places, or pets in your old life? Your lifestyle, routine, or schedule? Sometimes it helps to identify what specifically you’re missing. Instead of a vague “I miss my old life and want it back”, it can be helpful to think about exactly you miss. This might give you ideas for creating what you’re missing in your new life, which can help you heal and be happy.

For instance, I often think of my old life in Africa. I lived and taught there for three years, and after I moved home to Canada I felt hopeless and sad. I needed to learn how to hold on to hope when life seems hopeless – and I eventually did! But it was hard, and it took time.

I wish I could go back and do re-live my old life, but I can’t. So I started to think about what I missed about the past. I miss the feeling of adventure and excitement, of starting something new in my life. I was bored and uninspired after moving home. I wanted to feel alive again. Just realizing this helped me let go of my old life in Africa, and start moving forward into a fresh season.

What are you holding onto about your old life? Feel free to share in the comments section below. You might find it helpful to share your memories and stories.

2. Bring parts of your old life into your new life

Can you include specific aspects of your old life into your new life?

How to Cope When You Want Your Old Life BackThis can be impossible in some cases, such as if you have to learn to live without a boyfriend you love. But you might be able to incorporate the feelings into your new life somehow. Maybe you miss the feeling of security and companionship of being in a relationship. It’s too soon to get a new boyfriend, but you may find comfort in the relationships you have with your friends and family.

When you miss your old life – and you can’t let go of the past – you need to find ways to comfort yourself. This involves figuring out what feelings or people you miss, and somehow bringing them into your new life. For me, this meant finding ways to be adventurous after I left my old life in Africa! Can you do something similar? Consider bringing aspects of your old life into your new one, as a way to console and comfort yourself. It may help you move forward.

3. Accept that you may remember your old life in blossomy ways

When we look back on our old lives, we often remember them as better and more fun than they actually were. We look back at the past with rose-colored glasses instead of the truth.

For instance, I often thought: Africa was so beautiful and interesting, and much more exciting than living in Canada! My old life was more fulfilling and fun than this one. Everything was better in my old life, and I hate my new life. 

It’s so easy to remember the best of our old lives and forget about the problems, frustrations, and heartaches. We often think the past is better than it really was. But the truth is, our old lives had problems and frustrations, too.

I bet your new life is better than you realize – even if it’s not your old life! Even if you don’t see it yet, I suspect you’ll find yourself loving this new life you have, and even blossoming in ways you never thought possible.

What do you miss about your old life? What’s your best tip for moving forward? Feel free to share your thoughts below…


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16 thoughts on “How to Cope When You Want Your Old Life Back”

  1. I came across this thread today. I am married and on 13 th year with my husband. We got to know each other by internet and had long distance relationship by phone and emails. We got married after 2 yrs. We have two kids now. I was going through my old emails and went through those emails that we used to write each other. It brought all my memories back. Now I am missing my husband from that time though he is still with me. I am feeling like he was someone else. And I qm getting deeper and deeper into past. I read those emails now everyday and freshens my memories with him and trying to get those past moments now on the present. Dont know how what id happening with me. I miss my husband v much. He is with me but I still miss him a lot. Am i getting insane ? I dong know what is happening with me. Hoping to get some answer here.

  2. I’m a new mom, moved to a different state to be with my child’s father. I moved without knowing what I was getting myself into. There are times when I feel happy in my new changes but then there are moments when I miss my family, friends and that freedom I had to myself. My child is my greatest blessing and I don’t regret her but moving in with someone could take a toll if ur family or friends aren’t around.

  3. I miss my friends from Bannockburn Stirling, Louise Sakoura and her good friend Abby especially. Never got the happy closure I wished for before I left. It still saddens me deeply and I regularly think about them. I miss them. I miss their love and friendship, how we would spend time at my place. I was a strong headed blind-sighted fool and left in search of a new life. …Did I find it? No. I simply replaced it. But it was a much lesser life. It’s hard to explain. Louise, if you ever happen upon this, I’m sorry.. I really loved you and cherish those memories.. trust me. I regret just about every single day never showing that more.. Above all, I just want to say – thank you. X

  4. I’m a totally blind woman and a year ago, I moved from a town of 40000 people to a town with 10000. I miss my independence, as in my former town, I could get around much easier. my family lives here, I do see much more of my extended family but I’m so depressed here.

  5. The past 6 months have really been hard. Sometimes I search what’s on my mind and this is it. I miss my old life… 6 months ago I had my best friend, my girlfriend of 2 years and an amazing job. Now I’m left with the memory of all three because of nothing but my own mistakes… It’s been really hard. Not wanting to be alive, but be so scared of death. In tears every night remember all the amazing memories. And now I’m left with nothing… I’m trying so hard to move on and make the most out of what I have now, but life is kicking me down every step of the way.. Every time I feel like I’ve gained a step in the right direction, something puts me 2 steps back.. My only comfort is in memories… Sometimes I lie awake and smell my other pillow hoping that somehow her smell with still be there… I know sometimes there aren’t answers, but it makes it so much harder to cope. To keep going… I just feel like that was it. That was the peak of my life and it’s just downhill from here..

  6. Thank you for sharing these coping methods. It is very hard for me to move on right now simply because things instantly turned so different from before. This year is by far the worst year of my life so far out of my 15 years of living. In January I suddenly lost my cat to chronic kidney failure. We had no clue she had it until her last few days. We had the biggest bond together and I expected her to live until I moved out of my house at least. She was only 10. I spent 2 weeks crying about it constantly because I had no idea if animals even exist after they died. After doing tons of research on if animals go to heaven and not finding anything I decided to just pray about a sign of her existence. After 2 months of praying and nearly giving up, God gave me a vision of my Bella. A month later my second cat died from natural causes. This time it was much easier because I had a vision of my other in heaven. I’m happy that they’re alive and I’ll see them again someday, but I will always miss them, and wish I can re-live a day of my life with them until that day that I’ll see them.

  7. I moved from a small village in Ireland to London U K in 1987 and loved London and my life there. I always feel that I met my husband too soon and he was from London. I had good jobs there and a decent life and made good friends in the are where I lived. Last year we moved to a brand new home about 3 hours from London and its in the countryside. I have been one year here now and I don’t like it very much, the house is lovely but I wish it was back in the suburbs of London where I used to live. I feel that I am existing and not living and I have started to get depressed and lonely. I was never depressed or lonely in London and I want to go back. I made a huge mistake and should have never sold my home in London. I have no interest in this house or the area.

  8. Thank you. Just those words set me back on track…back to reality. Oh those wonderful memories are so powerful. The ones that made me move on get diminished and yet they are key why I am moving forward in a direction so much more peaceful, full of real love, gratitude and a future of wonderful.

  9. Thank you for posting this. I took a big step and moved away from my home state a little over a year ago. At the time, I was so ready to leave. I made a few plans (living and work) and then made the leap rather quickly. Well, it seems to have been a quick step considering I had been talking about moving for 5+ years, but never took the leap. I found a new city, took a job offer (which didn’t work out at all and left me scrambling to find work), left behind my career, said goodbye to everyone I knew, established a living situation all within one and a half months. The first year was rough. My partner, who was supposed to move up after 3 weeks, didn’t make the move for five months. I was alone in a new city, winter had approached, and nothing I had planned worked out. I wasn’t making money, but I was working 3 jobs that didn’t pertain to my field. I had no furniture in a house I hated within a neighborhood I despised. Nothing seemed right. All I had was my dog and an air mattress.

    A year later, things have improved greatly. Although I still haven’t found work in my field, I work two jobs that I find fun and fulfilling. I have to remind myself that I wasn’t happy with my career. It was a big, big stressor, and one of the reasons why I left. But now that I can’t find a full-time job, now that my schedule is all over the place, now that I never see my partner (conflicting schedules when we actually used to work together in our former city), I keep telling myself that my life wasn’t so bad. And I’m sure it wasn’t, looking back. And now, every morning, I feel like I have no purpose. I hate telling my partner bye for the day. I hate getting rejection letters from countless jobs opportunities. I feel so empty and out of place. It’s almost as if I can’t connect to my body. I don’t feel like myself. I feel like I’m not actually in my body. Like I’m just here and there and doing things without being a part of the process. It’s such a strange feeling. I tell my partner I want to move back. I want to go back to the way things were, but he doesn’t care to. And honestly, I can’t imagine moving back without him. He’s truly the best thing that has ever happened to me (besides my dog, of course). We work so well together. We’re such a strong team. One of my biggest fears is losing him, so I can’t move back home and just leave him here.

    But then I’ll go out to museums and the library, and everything feels good. Everything feels great! I’ll paint and cook and go to the movies, and life feels right. But those moments are brief. Very, very brief. I try to remind myself of those feelings when I’m thinking of my past, but they don’t quite measure up to those memories.

    I miss my schedule. I miss the sunshine (we get a lot of grey days here, and I’m sure that contributes to a lot of my sadness). I miss a very select few people. I don’t miss the city. I don’t miss not having cultural opportunities. I also miss our tiny, sweet little cottage house. I miss seeing my partner every day at work. More importantly, I miss being so close to my family (who I didn’t visit as much as I should have when I was only 4 hours away instead of 14).

    I’m sorry. I’m just rambling. I found the post helpful, and I’m glad I can let some of this out as I’m sure my partner is tired of hearing me talk about moving back home. Thank you for sharing your experience with this subject, and thank you for allowing me to share my troubles.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am in a similar situation, although it’s only be 6 months since my move. I often wake up disoriented and think a lot of all the things I took for granted in my old life. I am grieving my old life, 18 years spend in that town. Like you I moved to a city with more cultural amenities and less sunny days. My move was not planned and was due to a sudden crisis in our family which necessitated me to be closer to extended family. I had an established career (well paying) and have had to take a different lower paying job with a challenging schedule (weekends, evenings). Also I left deep ties in terms of friends and church/ community. In counseling, I have learned I have to accept that I did the best that I could and to stop being hard on myself for those choices. I am grateful for what I do still have (health, my kids, family support) and I try to keep in mind that this is a growth & learning experience. I hope we both find more days that are positive and can move forward in this new chapter of life. Walking outside and cooking do help!

  10. I agree that these tips on coping when you want your old life back weren’t very helpful! I wrote this article 7 years ago, and have learned a few things 🙂 So, I updated this blog post.

    Even so, there aren’t any easy answers or quick tips on coping when you want your old life back. The truth is that it’s hard to move forward into a new life – even when you chose it! But hopefully, my ideas will help a little.


  11. Good advice. I’m in that situation of missing so many aspects of my previous life, even the hard parts. With no family close by, it was a seismic blow when my elderly father died 3.5 years ago whilst I was processing the pain of my then husband leaving me. Then, life just seemed to collapse around me, with people drifting away and loneliness and isolation setting in.
    For a long time I felt powerless and not in control of my destiny. Very slowly I’m pulling it together again but it’s been really tough. I’m still unsure of what my purpose and I now have limitations imposed upon me, but I’m still hopeful of a wonderful life, catching up on the ‘lost’ years.

  12. Thing is when dealing with thoughts of an ex…and believe me I know. I was in a relationship for 8 years with my ex and we had a kid together whom I love very much. She however decided randomly she wanted to relive her youth again and cheated. I myself still have not fully recovered from it but the fact of the matter is that the best advice in such situations is just to try and blank out those memories. Instead, fantasize on a glorious future where it blows that old life out of the water and you finally meet “The One” who will make all your future memories much more pleasant than the old ones. I know it will be hard to forget, but you must try and let go of what is now a dead memory. All it will do is haunt your soul if you let it consume you. I myself had to endure the grueling prospect of forgetting her and what she did to me after considering her my best friend and that took quite a toll on myself before I managed to finally break free. I have not met another as of yet but I will consider the smiles and looks at much prettier girls than her that keep coming my way and may just settle down however as of now…I am enjoying the single life where I meet women and get to know them as well as dates and see how that comes about.

    As grim as this kind of sounds…The quote “The Past is Dead.” sit’s very well with me and actually relieves any attempted reoccuring past memory.

  13. Ahhhh I am so pleased I stumbled on these tips for when you want your old life back. I just left a career that involves a lot of travel to go into medicine. I was starting to feel as though I REALLY missed it, but couldn’t figure out why, as I was always desperate to leave. After reading this, I think it’s time alone, socialising, and new experiences I miss, all of which i can apply to my new life 🙂

  14. I’m so sorry for J but then before being sad and crying she should think about her kids and her hubby who married her after knowing she’s having kids and all. I mean I know it must be very difficult for J to forget her past but why to remember a dark past ? Move on………….