This question was inspired by a situation in a role-playing game.

Basically, the character in question had been forced to relocate and live for a good chunk of her childhood in a very bad slum, and it was a miracle that she wasn't a victim herself.

Later, she relocated into another city which, even if it wasn't perfect, looked like paradise in contrast to the hell where she was. Even then, she eventually realised that it's not much of the ideal life either; it was better only by comparing it to her previous city. Upon revisiting the place many years later, she says:

Is there a word for feeling nostalgic for a place you can't wait to leave again? I don't miss this place... But I miss the feelings I had when I lived here.

An example of how I could use a word or an expression to express it:

Friend: How do you feel about this place?

Me: Sad, or rather [the word or expression].

Friend: Why?

Me: I've had good times here, but it's not what it used to be.

  • Can you simply that explanation? "… nostalgia for a place that you used to like, but not any more, and are eager to leave behind…" is hugely complicated without that final "… again." Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 22:23
  • @RobbieGoodwin I tried to shorten it/make it simpler. Let me know if you find the new title more clear.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 22:36
  • For what my view is worth, that seems much more simple but it also looks like a mix of tautology with paradox. Feel free to rule this right out, and if you found yourself in that situation, might the feeling be similar to what you felt about a former lover you'd left/jilted/thrown over for whatever reason? Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 22:47
  • 2
    English seems a bit shortchanged here. Ennui, weltschmerz, mono no aware. We have wistful, which is the yearning for something lost to time. But you want the opposite - riddance from something not lost to time soon enough.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 2:25

5 Answers 5


I think "BITTERSWEET" suits the situation very well.

Meaning :

arousing pleasure tinged with sadness or pain
happiness tinged with sadness
having a taste that is a mixture of bitterness and sweetness

In your usage :

Friend: How do you feel about this place?
Me: Sad, or rather bittersweet.



full of yearning or desire tinged with melancholy

feeling or showing a quiet longing especially for something in the past

It sounds like the place makes her feel wistful. Sad that the she can't feel that way again.

  • 2
    Sorry about the cross post. Your answer didn't appear until I added my comment.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 2:31
  • No worries! Probably because I stalled before hitting submit. First post jitters. Your comment taught me some new phrases, so thanks for that! Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 18:39

You can't go home again

The place has changed, and/or you have changed, so the experience will not be as you remember it.

  • Nor can you step in the same river twice :-)
    – Mawg
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 12:41


am·​biv·​a·​lent | \ am-ˈbi-və-lənt

having or showing very different feelings (such as love and hate) about someone or something at the same time

Merriam Webster.

I felt ambivalent about the saturday night curry, delicious as it would be, I knew I'd pay for it on sunday.



pleasant but tinged with sadness (From Collins via The free dictionaries)

There is pleasure in the memory because it used to be a nice place but sadness or regret because it is not what it used to be.

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