What Does It Mean If You're Thinking Of Someone From The Past?

Medically reviewed by Katrice Hollins
Updated November 8, 2023by Regain Editorial Team
“Experiences with people throughout our lives will naturally leave an impact and mark. If you are thinking of someone from the past, try to validate that as completely normal and something you are definitely not alone in.” - Ryan Smith, LPC, NCC

Thinking of someone from the past can bring up a lot of different emotions. It could be unnerving, joyfully nostalgic, sad, or you might feel indifferent. Regardless of how it makes you feel, you might question why you’re thinking of someone from the past and what it means, especially if you haven’t spoken to this person for a long time. 

Thinking About Someone From the Past Can Be Confusing

What Are Some Reasons You Might Be Thinking About Someone From The Past?

The first and most obvious reason that you might be thinking of someone from the past is that you miss them, but that’s not always the case. At some point, you had a connection with this person, so it’s only natural to wonder what they’re up to or how they’re doing. If you do miss them, that’s also normal. 

Thinking of someone from your past could be attributed to many different factors. Here are some of the potential reasons that you might be thinking about someone from your past, as well as possible signs someone is thinking of you.

You Have Fond Memories Together

Even if the relationship ultimately turned sour, you might find yourself thinking about someone from the past simply because you have good memories of them and feel nostalgic. Especially in relationships or friendships that lasted for a long time, you’re bound to have had a lot of special times together. You might think of events you went to together or vacations you went on. 

If you’re missing someone who treated you poorly, it could be that you don’t miss them at all, but the times that you had together still stand out in your mind. You can cherish these memories without forgetting that this person wasn’t right for you. You don’t have to feel ashamed or conflicted; the good and the bad can both exist.

They Hurt You

It can be tough to let go of the things that hurt us. If someone from your past hurt you, you might rehash situations in your head, such as an argument you had, and attempt to resolve what wasn’t resolved during the connection. You might think of what you could’ve or should’ve said, or you might imagine a scenario where they treated you differently. 

If you’re thinking of someone because they hurt you, be sure to take the steps needed to work through this pain. You might consider seeing a mental health professional, or you might reflect on what kind of treatment you’ll accept from people in the future. Learn from what you went through, but don’t let it spoil new connections before they start.

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo

There’s An Unresolved Question

Similar to feelings of past hurt or pain, there might be something that was completely unresolved in the relationship. For example, you might have suspected that someone cheated on you and have evidence to back it up, but you never got closure. When you think about someone from your past, you might be looking for that closure. 

It doesn’t always have to be as prevalent or as painful as someone cheating on you. It could also be that this person was a mystery to you, and you’re continuously curious about how they work. Maybe, they operate totally differently than you do, and although you are no longer in contact, your relationship with them left you wondering why they feel the way they do or why they make the actions they make. 

Human behavior is fascinating, and there’s nothing wrong with being curious. As long as it’s not distressing for you to think about this person, be assured that it’s both normal and okay.

You Care About Them

Caring about someone doesn’t always mean that you want them back in your life. There are times in almost everyone’s life when we think about someone even though the connection wasn’t the best or was even notably unhealthy. You might care about this person even though the relationship didn’t work out. Especially if they weren’t in a good place the last time you spoke, you might wonder how they’re doing or think about how you hope they’re doing better quite a bit. 

This is completely reasonable and doesn’t mean that you’re not over the relationship. It might just be that you have a big heart and can’t help but care.

You Had A Dream About Them

We all have strange dreams from time to time. Sometimes, they just happen to involve someone from the past. Of course, often, dreams are apparently random; we’re still not entirely sure how dreaming functions. Instead of thinking about someone from your past specifically, you might just be thinking of that time in your life, and as a result, because they were there during that time, they might show up in your dreams.

Thinking About Someone From the Past Can Be Confusing

Should I Reach Out If I’m Thinking About Someone From My Past?

If you’re thinking of someone from your past, you might ask yourself, “should I reach out to them?” There’s no real “should” when it comes to this question because the answer will be highly unique depending on your situation. Ultimately, it’s up to you. 

There are situations, however, where it’s best not to reach out even if you want to. If the relationship was toxic and/or it ended in a volatile or violent way, for example, it might be best not to reach out. Additionally, if there are still old wounds there on either side, while you might reach out to apologize in some cases, sometimes it’s best to let it go and give the other person space. Even if you’ve learned and grown, the other person doesn’t owe it to you to talk to you or accept your apology. Be mindful of how they may feel, and don’t try to reach out if they have you blocked on various platforms online or have made a pointed effort to diminish contact with you. Alternatively, if you want to talk to someone because you’re the one seeking an apology from them, be cognizant of the fact that you might not get one if you reach out and that it might just hurt you more. 

When it comes to reaching out to someone from your past, always use your discretion. If you felt hurt or unheard by this person, it may be best to leave it in the past. Think about what will be healthy for you, and use your best judgment when something could be less than beneficial for you or your mental health.

Online Counseling For Missing Someone From Your Past

Online counseling is an excellent place to work through any concerns you have related to thoughts of those from your past or anything else regarding your interpersonal relationships. Using online counseling, you can talk to a licensed provider from the of your own home or anywhere else with a reliable internet connection. 

Beyond this, online therapy has been found to be an effective treatment method for a range of mental health concerns, with results similar to traditional in-person therapy for many people. For relationship concerns especially, online therapy has been shown to improve symptoms and offer long-lasting results.

The online counselors at Regain are licensed providers that are here to give you an open seat to talk about anything on your mind. Search the network of online counselors at Regain today to find the best fit for you.


If you’re constantly thinking of someone and it is starting to impact your mental health negatively, it’s important to address it rather than letting it go on. Now, if it’s fleeting, it’s one thing. If it’s an obsession or you find yourself thinking of someone all day every day long after you’ve broken up, it’s another. Some wounds heal with time, but it’s also possible that it’ll take more than that. 

Don’t judge yourself for thinking about someone from your past. Know that your thoughts and feelings are both normal and valid. Let yourself feel your emotions, and reach out for help if you need it. 

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