When it comes to love, some people struggle to be honest.
This is especially true after a breakup.
Sometimes, instead of asking for a second chance, your ex will start acting strangely.
This is because they want you back but they don’t know how to ask. They’re either afraid you’ll say no, they’re too proud or they want you to make the first move. So what they do instead is test the waters to minimize risk and still get you hooked.
I’m going to share with you 7 games that exes play when they want you back.
Now just because your ex is doing one of these things doesn’t always mean they want you back. But if you notice they’re displaying more than one of these signs or doing these things repeatedly, then there’s a good chance that they do want you back… or there’s an opening at the very least.
Some of these games are very common and happen in almost all breakups and some are more rare. Number six is one that people don’t often talk about but it happens to plenty of my coaching clients and it’s really cruel.
Game #1: Offering Friendship
So the first game that you might notice your ex playing if they want you back is one that’s familiar to a lot of you–based on the comments I get from my clients–and that is your ex offering friendship. Now if this happens during the breakup itself, it’s not necessarily a game. They may just be trying to make you feel better.
But when it happens a few weeks after the breakup, it means they’re playing a game. A lot of times your ex will do this because they feel you slipping away and a part of them doesn’t want that. But because they don’t know if they want you back, or they’re afraid to ask you, they’ll keep that connection to you through “friendship”.
This is because breakups don’t just happen all at once, despite how they may appear. Sure, there was a moment when you or your ex decided enough is enough, let’s end this relationship. But there’s a long period of time before and after when things are still up in the air.
In other words, your ex didn’t just wake up and decide to break up with you but thought about it for weeks, months, sometimes even years before finally making that decision so they’re afraid to reverse all that just because they miss you right now. Essentially, they’re confused.
It takes some time for them to start longing for you and doubting the decision to break up. This period of time needs to happen before your ex is actually really going to trust that they DO want you back after all. For some people it’s quicker than others. I mean some people can’t even handle a few days alone after the breakup. But most of the time it takes longer than that.
So often what they’ll do is pitch a friendship because they don’t want you to get too far away. Because, despite what they say, they’re still interested in being with you. They don’t want you to leave them and so friendship is a great way of keeping an eye on you…keeping you close enough that they could get you back if they wanted. They’re making sure you don’t stray so far that they can’t get you back.
If you’ve seen any of my other articles, you know that this is a time when your ex is going to be feeling a lot of emotions.
Basically this is when your ex starts to experience a huge sense of loss. Now that you’re gone the breakup is sinking in, and they realize that you could move on. They thought that they could get you back whenever they wanted. They may not think that consciously but if they were the one who ended the relationship that means that you still want them so–in their mind–all they have to do is ask nicely and you’ll come running. And now they’re starting to question this because time is ticking away.
So if they show up saying “Let’s stay friends…We had such a connection that it would be a shame to lose it just because we’re not together…” or maybe they say “Let’s just hang out as friends,” then you know what’s going through their mind. They’re worried about losing you.
Now this is tricky when you’re on the receiving end of it. First off, you don’t want to accept this offer. If you’ve seen any of my videos you know that being friends with your ex is a bad idea if you want them back (or really in any situation).
But you also don’t want to just say “no, I will accept nothing other than a real relationship” even though that’s essentially the idea that you want them to get. If you just straight up say this and they have any sort of avoidance or stubbornness in their personality—which we all do—it’s going to make them hesitate to reach out to you in the future…and that can hurt your chances to rebuild a connection with them.
So how can you essentially split the difference here? Basically you want to dodge this question. Never agree to be just their friend. Make a joke, deflect, do what you have to do to change the conversation. If they say “come hang out with me as a friend”–or worse “come hang out with me and my friends as a group”–simply don’t go. Be busy for that particular hang out.
Basically you never want to act like you’re just their friend because you don’t want them to see you as just their friend.
So keep being flirty. Treat them the way you would if you were interested but stop short of anything that would inflate their ego. In other words, don’t compliment them and don’t tell them how miserable you are without them.
Be confident and in control. You want them to know that you’re interested but you’re not invested. You could get up and walk away at any moment and they’ll be left alone.
Game #2: Getting Angry
The next game that your ex will play if they’re interested in getting back together with you involves them getting mad.
Basically they’ll be mad at you because you haven’t contacted them. I hear this all the time. It can be super frustrating… they dump you and now you’re the jerk because you haven’t kept in touch.
Now this isn’t going to happen to most of you. Most people understand that your silence is the mature and natural response. When someone says they don’t want you in their life anymore and you say “okay” and leave them alone, that’s obviously the right choice. They say you’re not welcome and so you leave them alone. It’s also a very attractive response which is why your ex is so confused and upset by it. They don’t want to be attracted to the person they just dumped.
Now they’re thinking “why aren’t they coming around, begging me for attention? Am I not valuable? Am I not worth fighting for?” … they’re just not understanding that you’re simply respecting their wishes.
Sure, they’d get it if they thought about it for two seconds, but this is a confusing time for them and they’re not thinking logically. So now this confusion and this wounded pride that they’re feeling turns to anger and they direct it at you because they don’t know what else to do.
Maybe they’ve brought it up to their friends or their family and they said “you’re crazy” so now they’re left with only one option: call you up to take you to task for your very reasonable behaviour.
But the good news is that the reason they’re so confused and upset is because they still care about you, and that means they want you back on some level.
So what should you do here? You basically don’t want to engage with their anger. Don’t say “hey, you’re the one who dumped me! What do you want me to do? Beg for scraps?” Though this is warranted, it’s just going to lead to a big fight. And you definitely don’t want to apologize to them for not reaching out. This will feed their ego and make you look pathetic, honestly.
So just sidestep the issue. You’re simply going to say “Oh, I’ve been so busy. Lots going on over here. Is everything good with you?”
Something like that. Just be casual, a little bit flippant. They may be coming in hot and you want to let them know that–to you–it’s not that big of a deal, because it really isn’t.
Then just say something like “I hope you’re doing well.” and let the conversation fade. Don’t try to carry it. Don’t ask questions about how they’re doing. Don’t ask about what’s going on with work or with their pet or anything like that. Just let the conversation end.
It’s also okay to simply say “Great talking to you. Let’s catch up later. I need to get going.” You’re showing them they can’t affect you anymore. You are your own person and they are no longer a part of your life—which was their choice.
Gane#3: Jealousy Baiting
The third game that your ex might play if he or she is interested in getting back together with you is what I call Jealousy Baiting. They want you to see them with somebody else and get upset and then reach out or react in some way.
Maybe they post pictures online. They’re out to dinner with the opposite sex. They are in a group of people and maybe they’ve got their hand on someone’s shoulder. What they’re really doing is using you for an ego boost. They want you to get angry at them for moving on, or beg for another chance or just message them all concerned.
They want you to validate them and make them feel sexy. Essentially when you dump someone, along with all the bad feelings this brings up, it does make you feel a little more desirable in comparison to the person you dumped.
Essentially, you think (subconsciously) that you must be in demand if you’re rejecting someone else. But if that person uses No Contact, and they’re not chasing or begging and trying to get you back, then it kind of throws a wrench into your assumptions. You think “maybe I’m not as attractive as I thought.”
And so essentially your ex wants you to start chasing them so that they can use you to build up their ego a little bit. And, obviously, since a part of them still wants you back, this also lets them know that you’re still interested in them and they could have you back any time they wanted.
They want to feel in control of the situation and, if you want them back, you want them to feel out of control…like they’re losing you. So your answer here is pretty simple: don’t respond at all.
Don’t comment on the picture they posted. Don’t mention it to their friends and if their friends mention it to you, don’t ask any questions or show them that it bothers you. They might come to you and say “oh, your ex wasn’t there that night, she was on a date with X” or something like that.
They’re trying to get a reaction here so they can see how you’re feeling. Or maybe…and this is unlikely…they really do care about you and they’re trying to give you this information so that you move on from your ex. Or maybe THEY want to date you so they’re sabotaging your relationship with your ex. It’s really hard to know.
In this situation, I would either change the subject or respond casually like “Oh that’s great!” and then move on but don’t give them any ammunition and try to get away from that person because that’s really going to be someone you should be suspicious of. Because why would they say something like that? They have a motive and often your ex is pulling the strings.
Mutual friends can’t be trusted not to tell your ex EXACTLY what you said when they brought up the subject. If I had a dime for every time I told a client: just don’t talk to these people about the breakup or the relationship…don’t tell them you want the person back…don’t tell them you’re struggling…and my client goes ahead and does it anyway and then is SHOCKED when it blows up in their face.
And it’s not even really this friend’s fault, really. They may think that the information isn’t a big deal to your ex. Or maybe they think that if they let your ex know that you still care that this will, somehow, get you two back together and they’ll look like a hero.
Or maybe they just like to stir the pot and create drama. Or maybe they’re actually better friends with your ex and you don’t know it. There are too many variables here.
Talk to a counselor, a family member, or a friend who does not know your ex, but don’t talk to mutual friends.
Game #4: The Check-in Message
Game number 4 that your ex can play if they want you back is the check-in…the “are you okay?” message. Oftentimes, your ex will reach out to check in and you think “that’s really nice of them. They care about me. Maybe they want me back.”
And this is likely part of the story but there’s more to it than that. As I said earlier, from their perspective, as the dumpee, you’re supposed to validate them. You should be begging and pleading and trying to get them back and you’re not doing that. So it’s almost like poking you with a stick. They want you to do something.
And you don’t want to give them what they want here. So again it’s important to be really casual. Don’t say that you’re just doing so awesome that it’s the best you’ve ever felt in your life because that will seem fake. Just say “I’m doing good. I’ve had a busy few weeks. Hope you’re doing well!” – Again, casual and polite and simple. Do not carry the conversation.
If they do, you may need to respond but there’s no need to carry it. You want to just let it fade away. Don’t chase them. Don’t be manipulated. Remember, you don’t owe them anything here. They’re playing a game. They’re trying to get you to start the conversation back up and really participate and show them how attractive they are and that you’re still interested. Don’t do it. Just stay casual and disengaged and you’ll be just fine.
Gane #5: Refusing The Pick Up
And the fifth game that your ex can play if they want to get back together is about their stuff. When you have your ex’s stuff–or they have yours–after the breakup this is like a little tether, keeping you two tied together.
Ideally you should cut this tether as soon as possible after the breakup. If not, they can use it to manipulate you.
They will tell you they want to come get their stuff or that they want you to come get your stuff but then maybe it doesn’t happen or they cancel and they mention it again in a few weeks later and they still bail. And sometimes the reason for that can be that your ex wants to kind of have a trojan horse with you.
They want to have an excuse to talk to you and interact with you without risking any big feelings or arguments. It’s the final piece of the relationship and they’re kind of wanting to hold on a little bit. That’s usually a good sign if you want your ex back and I suggest that just like with other things, you don’t make a big deal about this.
You don’t say “Why are you not coming and getting your stuff!?” and don’t get angry if they cancel. Just don’t make a big deal about it and if they do come get their stuff just be casual: “Hey, good to see you! Here’s your stuff. Hope you’re doing well. I’ve got to get going. I’ve got to get ready for something.”
If they want to have a bigger conversation, don’t kick them out but essentially show them that you don’t have time for this. Don’t sit down and offer them a drink or anything. Be polite, be casual, no big deal. Remember you’re showing them that you’re just fine. They are not affecting you and that you’re living your life and you’re moving on…maybe you already have. This is a great opportunity to show your strength.
Game #6: Returning Gifts
Another game they might play is in a similar vein. They may give you back the gifts you gave them during the relationship. Of course, there are a few ways to look at this and your ex is counting on this.
It will make you think “oh, they don’t care about me at all. They don’t even care about the gifts I put all this thought into. That hurts.”
Or it could be looked at like this: “they miss me so much that they can’t even have these things around them or they’re going to be thinking about me all the time and it’s too painful.”
The game your ex is playing here is to confuse you…to throw you off balance. They don’t want you to know their true feelings but they want you to think about them and pine for them. This kind of manipulation will keep you thinking about them for weeks.
If they ask you about giving the gifts back, just tell them not to worry about it: they should keep them or donate them if they don’t want them. If they insist, then let them drop them off and just never bring it up again.
You can throw them out or sell them, or keep them or whatever. Again, as long as they can see that it hasn’t bothered you then you’ve come out ahead in this interaction. They’ve put themselves out there and you have not responded the way they wanted you to. So essentially you’ve played the game and won.
Game #7: The Hot and Cold Treatment
And the final game here is something that 99% of you are going to experience during this process. It’s running hot and cold.
Yes, you may have noticed this already. Maybe your ex will text you one day all excited and you’ll talk for hours. You’ll think, “This is it. We’re going to get back together.” Then the next day? Nothing. Or maybe you reach out and they leave you on “read” or text you back one word answers. It can be maddening.
What’s happening here is not always clear. Chances are the first conversation is your ex trying to gauge your interest. He or she wants to see that you’re still willing to take them back at this point. If you’ll engage with them fully. If you’ll match their energy.
But now they’re going to pull away because they got the validation they were looking for. They know that if they want you, they can have you and so they can just hang back and keep living the single life for a little longer. It’s pretty cruel.
But the thing is that they might actually just be confused here. They might get all caught up talking to you that first day and then, after a good night’s sleep, get worried that they’ve started down a path that they’re not ready to take. So now they pull away and act aloof until eventually they get sad and start to miss you so they reach out once again.
And this can be said for most of these games your ex is playing…they’re never sure if they want you back or if they just want your attention and love. Or they know they want you but they’re too proud or they’re scared that you might say no. The truth is that they’re just as confused as you are here.
So basically you just need to stay strong, be confident and don’t let them suck you into their games. Maintain 30 days of No Contact and then you can begin reattracting your ex back on YOUR terms without games or manipulation.