Maybe you are looking for songs about missing your ex because you are missing that someone.
Missing an ex is but a very normal thing. After all, you’ve been together long enough and have made memories that you will look back on, intentionally or otherwise.
Maybe you’re reminded of your ex in that scent you caught a whiff of as you pass by the perfume store. Perhaps you see your ex in that similar band shirt someone is wearing from across you on a train. Or maybe, that song playing inside the café used to be your song with your ex.
Many people say that when you miss an ex, it could be that you are missing more than just the person. You are missing those happy days or even missing who you were during those times.
Whatever the reason, many people seek comfort when they get this kind of feeling. One of the powerful tools to cope with this feeling is music. Whether you like to look back on the happier times or just simply want to address the loneliness, here is a selection of songs about missing your ex to soothe your soul:
Top 26 Songs About Missing Your Ex
1. “Someone Like You” by Adele
Adele’s “Someone Like You” should be on every list of songs about missing your ex (especially if that ex is now in a happy, blissful relationship). The song has all the attributes of a heartbroken person who is still not over it: regretful, wishful thinking, and letting go, yet still somehow holding on. “I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited; but I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it; I had hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded that for me, it isn’t over…”
The somber tune and melancholic lyrics capture that in-between-staying-and-moving-on stage, where you sometimes want to convince yourself you are still the one. Then, reality came crashing on you, and you finally realized there was only one way to go: forward.
2. “Remember the Time” by Michael Jackson
Who says that songs about missing your ex are all emptiness, sadness, and everything else but perky and positive? The King of Pop shows us how it should be—jovial, optimistic, and free from regrets. In “Remember the Time,” there is no room for being sorry; just look back on the past with a happy heart.
When you think about it, why be sad about a finished chapter when you can choose to be happy instead? This brings to mind one of Dr. Seuss’s famous quotes: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”
3. “Who’s Holding Donna Now” by DeBarge
Co-written by David Foster, this was the absolute “the one that got away” song in the 80s. It tells of a lovelorn guy pining over a love lost after someone else has swept her off her feet. In this ballad, you can sense his despair as he moons about “who’s holding Donna now” and “who’s heart she’s knocking around.”
“Who’s Holding Donna Now” perfectly illustrates a typical post-breakup behavior observed in many. Because, if we will all be honest about it, who didn’t wonder, at one point, who the ex is presently with? If you’ve been there, it’s okay. That’s normal.
4. “Heart of Mine” by Boz Scaggs
As if the previous entry is not enough, here is another song about missing your ex that completely encapsulates the pain of seeing your old flame with someone else. And then you go down that rabbit hole of wondering if your ex still cares about you or if they think of you and miss you sometimes. Or, have they forgotten you already?
The song wistfully hopes for healing in the form of a new beau. But until then, the heart has to keep beating, despite being torn, almost to the point of death. Whether it will get fixed or not, only time can tell.
5. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
This is probably one of the most popular songs about missing your ex if only for Whitney Houston’s signature soaring vocals. But let us not discount the remarkable message in this song, which speaks of unconditional love for someone and wishing that someone well.
A Dolly Parton original, “I Will Always Love You” is about two lovers who can’t be together due to a unique circumstance that drives a wedge between them. It could have been real love, but the force that keeps them apart is too strong; trying to go against it could be destructive for both. In the end, they have to sacrifice their love as they are clearly not right for each other.
6. “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” by Whitney Houston
This one may not be as popular as the previous Whitney Houston entry, but it sure packs a wallop in this department. In this song, the dejected damsel explores the whereabouts of hearts shattered by a love that seems to need space more than anything.
Do broken hearts come home “to the open arms of a love that’s waiting there?” It’s hard to say, but it sure is one reassuring thought. She tries to convince her ex to come back to her; she is as hopeful as she is hungry for reconciliation.
7. “Broken Vow” by Lara Fabian
The poignant song expresses the deep sorrow of having to let go of a love that has lost its devotion. Acceptance is, more often than not, painful, but it is half the battle. In the end, it’s not whatever is leftover from the love you once had that holds you back. It’s just… you.
Lara Fabian’s emotive delivery, doleful lyrics, and orchestra-like arrangement make this ballad a classic. Various artists have covered this song, including classical crossover singers Josh Groban, Jackie Evancho, and Petra Berger.
8. “Half Crazy” by Johnny Gill
When people fall in love, they are often said to go crazy. And we couldn’t even tell for sure if it’s in a figurative or literal sense; because it’s that crazy! They do stuff they don’t usually do when their hypothalamus is stable and not firing up their dopamine level. But what happens when it’s over?
According to this song, you go half crazy. You cry all night, feeling sorry and lonely as you wonder what went wrong. Then, there’s this persistent, nagging question: did they already find someone else to love? I don’t know about you, but all these seem full-on crazy if you ask me. The same when you’re in love, but only on the opposite end of the spectrum.
9. “When You’re Gone” by Bryan Adams and Mel C
How many songs about missing your ex exist that don’t sound sappy? So far, we have listed only one. And to give this list a bit of a boost, let’s have another upbeat entry.
Bryan Adams and Mel C (formerly Sporty Spice of The Spice Girls) team up in this song about yearning for the person and what used to be before the breakup happened. The song describes the difficulties of suddenly facing each day with the significant other no longer around.
10.“November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses
Breaking up is difficult when you both know you love each other, yet you have to give up the love because you are wrong for each other. It is incredibly frustrating to think how something that feels so right could be so wrong. You know you have reached the dead end. This is what “November Rain” is about—the painful reality that nothing lasts forever.
So, what is this entry doing in a list of songs about missing your ex? Well, this Guns N’ Roses masterpiece touches on the proverbial “losing what you have to realize the value of what you lost” maxim. Because when you look back, you often think of how good the way things were.
And, of course, we can’t ignore Slash’s mesmerizing guitar solo.
11.“It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette
This song was originally called “It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted)”, as it was supposedly intended to be a Christmas song. But as it turned out, this song became one of those timeless breakup tunes. It has that sad yet soothing quality about it.
Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” talks about how much someone can be truly missed and thought of even when they are no longer together. This is the very element that makes songs about missing your ex so relatable.
As most of you probably already know, the Julia Roberts-Richard Gere starrer Pretty Woman included this in the film’s OST.
12.“Back to December” by Taylor Swift
This Taylor Swift track is said to be her “apology song” to Taylor Lautner. According to the story, Swift and Lautner became close friends in the summer of 2009. They dated for several months, and by December of the same year, the romance was cut short. Taylor Swift admitted it was due to her shortcomings; it was her who caused the love to fade. “You gave me all your love and all I gave you was goodbye,” how she regrets it.
Just like most songs in this list, it is about looking back and regretting a decision that cannot be undone anymore. And then, there’s the constant wondering whether you could ever be together again.
13.“I Was a Fool” by Tegan and Sara
“But stand still is all we did; love like ours is never fixed.” The Quin twins were known for their emotionally-charged compositions, and “I Was a Fool” is one of their best works. This pop ballad centers on the anguish of seeing through a rather difficult relationship, only to end up losing everything.
This song has the elements of nostalgia, amplified by its melancholic melody and a touch of 80s R&B/ballad thrown into the mix. And Sarah’s backing vocals, of course.
14.“We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey
Like many songs about missing your ex, “We Belong Together” touches on a shared theme of constantly thinking about the person you broke up with. And then there’s this part where you plead for the person to get back because things are not the same (“When you left I lost a part of me, it’s still so hard to believe; Come back, baby, please ’cause we belong together”).
Fun fact: the Vera Wang wedding dress that Mariah wore for this music video was her very own wedding dress! She wore it for her wedding with Tommy Mottola in 1993. And she almost burned this dress! Carey said: “When I did ‘We Belong Together,’ I was going to burn the wedding dress then, and that was my original wedding dress…” The music video director advised her against it, and she heeded.
15.“Have You Ever” by S Club 7
Regrets, regrets, regrets. Many songs about missing your ex has this ingredient, much like salt is in almost all dishes. “Have You Ever” reeks of this feeling from start to finish. It’s an undeniable reality in most breakup stories: you wonder if there was something else you could have said or done. Something that could have saved the relationship; but then, it’s too late.
This song was the ultimate breakup song of 2001, owing to its regret-laden lyrics and gloomy instrumentation. Fun fact: they used the beautiful, Mayan-inspired Ennis House as setting for this music video. It provided an old-world feel in the video, which goes well with the song atmosphere.
16.“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor
There were a lot of interpretations for this song. While many people say that this is about Sinead O’Connor’s experience when her mother died, others say this is about quitting cigarettes. Yup, as in giving up smoking. If that’s the case, how did this song land in this list of songs about missing your ex?
Prince actually wrote and recorded this power ballad in 1985; it wasn’t released, though. Whether it was written as an ode to bidding cigarettes adieu or not, it’s easy to interpret this at face value. After all, the line “it’s been so lonely without you here” perfectly sums up missing someone so bad.
17.“Take a Bow” by Madonna
Madonna sings of heartache brought about by betrayal in this dreamy R&B track. In this song, she was looking back on the times she was so in love that she was blind to his psychopathic tendencies. Okay, that was a bit strong, but there’s no other way to put it.
When other people were around, he was a Romeo, but what happens when the curtains go down? He becomes a different person (“There’s no one here; say your lines, but do you feel them? Do you mean what you say when there’s no one around?”). It’s clear she still has feelings for the guy, but she can’t stay with someone who seems to have the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome. Missing the ex does not always equate to wanting that ex back.
18.“Un-break My Heart” by Toni Braxton
Here’s another R&B track that will have you wallowing in pain. “Don’t leave me in all this pain, don’t leave me out in the rain; come back and bring back my smile, come and take these tears away”. The despair is real in this one.
Toni Braxton channeled the tormenting pain of missing someone through her heartfelt performance. Her high notes let the misery out, but the ruminating, low ones truly show the deep agony.
19. “Separate Lives” by Phil Collins
Is it possible to remain friends with an ex? The answer may vary, but the guy clearly couldn’t be friends with his ex in this song. He still loves her, and what she’s asking for is impossible for him to give. And although it pains him, he needs her out of his life so he can finally move on.
This heartbreaking song opens up the discussion of whether or not exes can still be friends. What do you think about it?
20.“Can We Still Be Friends” by Mandy Moore
And so it continues. Originally by Todd Rundgren, Mandy Moore explores the possibility of remaining friends with the ex. Breaking up is “a strange, sad affair”, as the song goes; but sometimes, it’s the only sensible thing to do.
Sometimes, you think you’re made for each other; then, you realize, no. It’s not what it seems. So you end the relationship and try to revert to being friends, just like how you were before. According to the original singer, it is the “best possible way to end a relationship.”
21.“Against All Odds” by Mariah Carey
A Phil Collins original, “Against All Odds” is an emotional appeal to an ex to get back together, even though it’s a shoot to the moon. We get the usual flavor of regret and despair, which we already know are the central themes in songs about missing your ex. Here’s Mariah Carey’s rendition with Westlife:
There’s also the element of wanting to say more, but somehow, the words remained unsaid. This contributes to the anguish of being helpless about the situation.
22.“The One That Got Away” by Katy Perry
Let’s have something relatively recent (well, not-so-recent, but at least, not as old as the previous entries). “The One That Got Away” is the sixth chapter of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream story. The chapter says: Sometimes you promise someone forever but it doesn’t work out that way.
The bittersweet song is about a girl who is so in love with a boy that she knows deep down he is the one for her. For some reason, she never fully showed that love to him. He’s moved on now because he wasn’t convinced she loved him as much as she did.
23.“End of the Road” Boyz II Men
Ask anyone what they think are the 90s best songs about missing an ex, this one will surely come up. Boyz II Men sings about losing someone and being vulnerable following the breakup.
Many say that the girl cheated on the guy, which caused the relationship to end. But before that, the guy tried to stay with her as he loved her too much. They reached the end of the road when he just couldn’t take the cheating anymore.
24. “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
What do people usually does while listening to songs about missing your ex or breakup songs? They may go through old pictures and reread old messages—basically reliving every moment with that ex. Then you wonder how they are doing and if they still think of you. You know, the usual stuff almost everyone goes through after breaking up with that person you still love.
This country-pop song captures the raw, rollercoaster emotions of yearning for someone so bad. You know those drunken calls and messages at the wee hours of the night when loneliness strikes the hardest? Yes, that’s mentioned here. So, if you have done this before, we’re here to tell you: many have done that, too.
Getting a Grip: Final Words
How could someone who showed you love also show you pain? Breaking up, more often than not, is never easy. Sometimes, it can even be messy for some!
You pick up the broken bits of your heart and try to get on with your life. Your ex may not be bad, but they are not good for you. Yes, you thought that your ex was right for you at some point. And then, surprise! They are the wrong kind of right! They are called “X” for a reason.
And as you listen to some of the songs about missing your ex listed here, you begin to make up your mind. You will put it all in the past, a past that has already passed. You smiled and thought, “Thank you, next.”