So you’ve gone through a breakup and thought that that was the end.
But now your ex keeps contacting you out of the blue and you have no idea what they want.
Well the answer is more complex than you might think.
I’ll be covering a few different scenarios here. So whether you’re simply curious why your ex is reaching out and you want to understand why, you just want your ex to leave you alone, or you want to leverage this conversation into a second chance with your ex, keep reading because I’m going to tell you how to find out and what you should do next.
What It Means When Your Ex Contacts You
There are actually several reasons that exes may reach out after a breakup. In fact, it’s often a combination of these reasons that leads them to contact you.
1. They feel guilty about how the relationship ended
The first, and most common reason your ex is contacting you, is that they feel guilty for how the relationship ended.
This is especially common if they made a huge mistake that led to the breakup like cheating, lying or otherwise mistreating you. You’ll know this is the case because your ex will keep things casual and light. They want to be in a place where the two of you have a good relationship so that they can convince THEMSELVES that they did nothing wrong.
Another sign of this guilt is if they lay it on thick with the apologies or are being excessively nice to you. Do they give you gifts and do you lots of favours? This is the behaviour of a guilty person. Whether they’re looking for YOUR forgiveness or their own is unclear but the results are the same: an ex who is looking to impress you with their behaviour.
2. They actually want to be friends
This one isn’t always easy to spot but there are a couple of things to look for. When you broke up did they say “I think we’re better as just friends”? Often people use this as a cover and then never speak to you again, but if they’re still contacting you all the time, this may be their true intention.
Do they treat you WAY differently than they did before the breakup? This is a sign that they now see you as a friend rather than a true romantic option. This is very common for relationships that started as friendships and never felt quite right.
If you do want them back, I’d caution you highly against being friends with your ex . If you don’t want them back, I’d still caution you against being friends with your ex immediately after a breakup. I know many people will push back on this but I speak from experience here. Being friends with an ex right after a breakup is a recipe for disaster.
This doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly, or even become close friends after a long period of separation, but the time immediately following a breakup should be spent processing and healing and you can’t do that if you’re trying to build a friendship with the person who just broke your heart.
I wish I was wrong about this one but, after helping thousands of clients over the years, being friends with an ex right after a breakup does more harm than good.
3. They miss your presence in their life but they’re not sure what they want
This is another very common situation and it can be confusing for all those involved. If this is the case, expect your ex to be hot and cold. They may keep you at a distance one minute and then come running back to you the next.
They’ll typically avoid any serious conversations about the breakup and change the subject when you talk about the future. Chances are this means your ex is really struggling with the breakup and is coming to you for comfort and support.
The fact that you’re the cause of, and solution to all their problems right now is what’s making them act a little crazy.
4. They want you back
There are certain things to look for that mean your ex wants you back:
- They speak to you more like a boyfriend or girlfriend than an ex
- They want to spend lots of time in person and when you do, do they show up looking their best
- They ask you if you’re seeing anyone
These are indicators that your ex is more than likely interested in getting you back.
Other reasons your ex will contact you
Here are a few other reasons that your ex may be reaching out to you. These are probably not the PRIMARY reason that they’re reaching out to you but they can help you to understand what your ex is feeling right now and what motivates them.
It’s possible they’re reaching out to you because they love the chase.
This is a pattern more commonly seen in men but it can happen in women as well. It goes like this: they were especially intense early on in the relationship. They really wanted your attention and they were focused on you like a laser.
But then, as you two started to settle down, you found their attention start to wander and pretty soon they were pulling away from you. Eventually this culminated in a breakup. Now that you’re starting to move on, they’re reaching back out and trying to suck you back into the cycle all over again.
The reason for this behaviour is that your ex struggles with intimacy.
They couldn’t deal with true intimacy but he still wants you in their life, on their terms.
Next up, your ex may be contacting you because they want attention. This is common in breakups that weren’t particularly messy. Basically they’re contacting you because they’re lonely and they know that you’re probably going to answer their messages.
This is why they’re all over you one minute and completely gone the next. They weren’t truly interested in rekindling anything, they were just temporarily lonely and knew that you’re someone who may be able to fill that void.
And finally, they may be contacting you because they don’t respect your boundaries.
This isn’t so much a reason for them to contact you as it is a reason that they won’t think twice before reaching out. Someone who understands and respects your boundaries will understand that after a breakup, there’s really no reason for them to reach out to you and doing so will probably only lead to more pain for both of you.
This is common in emotionally immature exes and people who lack impulse control. They may know that this is a bad idea but they’re just unable to stop themselves from reaching out.
What To Do If Your Ex Contacts You
So what should you do if you don’t want anything to do with your ex?
Well the simple first step is to stop responding to their messages, stop answering their phone calls and stop engaging with them online. I know this feels like a hard step and might feel cruel or spiteful but it’s truly not.
In reality, breaking up means severing ties with someone and moving on with your life. There are situations where you can maintain a relationship with an ex but, if you’re watching this video, I’m guessing that communicating with your ex is doing more harm than good.
So if you came here looking for permission to move on, here it is. It’s not going to be easy but leaving them on read is actually the right thing, and the most ethical thing to do.
What If They Won’t Stop?
The situation becomes more complex when your ex doesn’t get the message and won’t stop reaching out to you. They’re probably asking you what’s wrong and why you won’t talk to them.
In this case, it’s okay to send them a message letting them know that you’re just trying to move on and that you don’t think the two of you should be in contact anymore. At the end of the day, you should feel proud that you’re the one who was able to take this difficult step and move on for good.
What To Do If You DO Want Your Ex Back
But let’s talk about the other scenario here. What do you do if your ex keeps contacting you and you do want them back? Well, the reasons they’re reaching out to you don’t necessarily change but the results can be totally different if you have a goal and a plan.
So first off you need to decide which group you’re in here. Is your ex reaching out to you because they feel guilty? Does your ex want to be friends? Or do they truly want you back?
If they fall into the last category then you probably don’t need my advice. Just take it slow and begin the process of reconnecting with them. Let them make all the first moves and simply enjoy getting to know them all over again.
If you’re not quite sure of their intentions, you’re going to have to tread more carefully. So let’s say that you broke up recently and you and your ex have stayed in contact.
While you’ve stopped reaching out to them, they continue to hit you up on a regular basis. The conversations are pretty basic and lack the romance you two once had. Things are generally fizzling out or you’re sliding into friend territory.
This is actually one of the WORST situations you can be in if you want your ex back. Once you become friends with your ex, it can be very difficult to bring the romance back into your relationship.
RELATED: Is My Ex Trying To Make Me Jealous?
Because once you two are just friends, any time you spend together only reinforces this new friendship. While you may be pining for them inside, if you don’t take tangible steps in the right direction, you’re only heading deeper and deeper into the friend zone.
Now you’re stuck in a situation where you’re pining after them and they have no idea. This is why I preach the No Contact Method above all else. The No Contact Method means taking 30 days apart following your breakup where you and your ex do not communicate in any way.
The No Contact Method
You don’t text, talk on the phone, email, nothing. This time apart allows you both to process the breakup. It allows the bad feelings associated with the breakup to fade into the background and, since you go cold turkey, it prevents any conflict between the two of you making things worse.
It also prevents the very situation you’re in right now by stopping a friendship from developing between you and your ex.
So if you and your ex are starting to become friends, or even just casually chatting, you’re going to need to send them a message, explaining that you won’t be able to stay in contact with them for awhile because you clearly want different things so you’re going to move on.
Don’t get drawn into a whole discussion about this, simply make your intentions clear and then break contact.
I know many of you are going to push back on this. You think “how can I get my ex back if I stop talking to them entirely?” And I need you to know that by staying in contact right now, and being their friend, you’re making it harder, not easier, for you to get them back. By breaking contact you’re showing them that you have self respect and bravery. In essence, you’re rejecting them the same way they rejected you. This is just the first step to returning some equality to the relationship.
Now, you need to spend the next 30 days focusing on improving yourself, setting goals and achieving them and just generally living your best life. This is a very effective way of both processing the breakup, staying busy so you keep your mind off your ex, and setting yourself up for success when you finally begin the process of reattracting your ex.
RELATED: Why You Should NEVER Chase Your Ex
What this looks like will depend on your particular situation but remember that you have time on your side. Maybe there’s a hobby you’ve meant to try out for years–well now is the time to make it happen.
Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of simply sitting on your butt, waiting and pining after your ex because even if you never contact your ex, they’ll be able to smell the desperation on you.
In fact, acting like you’re moving on is the best and most effective method for getting an ex back because we always want what we can’t have. If your ex already decided to end things, then showing them that you’re still here if they change their mind is only going to make you look like you lack self respect and no one in the world finds that attractive.
In summary, here are the four most common reasons that your ex may be contacting you:
- They feel guilty and are trying to make themselves feel better
- They genuinely want to be your friend
- They miss you and are looking for comfort
- They actually want to get back together
And whether you want your ex back, or want to move on, the best thing you can do right now is to begin a 30 day period of No Contact.