One of the most common questions I get asked is some variation of “How can I get my ex-boyfriend back?” In all honesty, I’m very hesitant with this kind of thing because it usually ends in disaster. Well, maybe not disaster, but definitely another round of heartbreak, often much greater than the first.
The reason is because people usually get back together for the wrong reasons and without addressing the real underlying issues, so it’s not so surprising that history repeats itself. I’ve seen ex-back scenarios unfold in a variety of ways—some that end in utter, massive heartbreak, others that end with a trip down the aisle. I’ve even seen couples get remarried after many years being divorced who are now happier than ever!
It is definitely possible to get your ex back and make the relationship last, but it doesn’t just happen because you want it to. There are important things to consider and a bit of work to be done. Missing each other isn’t enough. Loving each other isn’t enough. Relationships take more than that to survive.
This is a pretty fun topic for me personally because I’m married to my high school ex-boyfriend, and my college ex-boyfriend is my business partner, so I guess you could say I’m a real ex-back success story!
But usually the rule is: if it didn’t work, it won’t work…unless something significant changes. To increase your chances for success, you need to arm yourself with the right information.
So let’s break it all down: What will it take to get your ex back, and how can you make it last forever this time around?
Important Questions to Ask
Before you embark on your mission to get him back, it’s essential to consider a few things first.
1. Why do you want him back?
Do you really want him, or do you miss being in a relationship? Are you looking for validation (especially if he broke up with you), or a sense of feeling ‘good enough?’ Is he really the right man for you, the one who understands you and appreciates you and just gets you, or are you afraid of being alone, afraid of not being able to find better, afraid of putting yourself back out there on the dating market? Before you do anything, try to uncover the real reasons you want him back in your life.
2. What are the real reasons you broke up?
Every breakup has a surface reason and a real reason. The surface reason might be that he couldn’t commit, but the underlying reason might be that there were too many deeply-rooted incompatibilities and two people who just weren’t equipped to meet in the middle. Maybe he cheated and that’s why it ended, but beneath that there is more to the story. There is more that led up to what he did.
If you want to get back together with your ex, you need to understand the real reasons why you broke up and objectively assess if these are things you can deal with and resolve. Some problems simply can’t be solved and in those cases you need to honestly decide if it’s something you can live with or not.
Take the Quiz: Can I Get My Ex Back or Is He Gone Forever?
3. Will you be able to fix what broke the first time?
Breakups don’t usually come out of nowhere, they’re usually the result of a buildup of many things. And make-ups usually happen for one reason: you miss each other. But that’s not enough. You need to look at whether things can be repaired, and if so, how you will go about doing it.
For example, if you felt you couldn’t trust him throughout your relationship and were always worried he was up to something behind your back, you need to ask yourself why this was, and why you think it will be different this time around.
Were you insecure, or was he not a trustworthy person? If the issue is your insecurity, then that’s good because it’s fixable (with some inner work on your part), but if he’s not a trustworthy person, well … that’s a much bigger problem because you can’t really have a relationship without trust.
4. How did you feel in the relationship?
Obviously things probably went south toward the end, but how did you feel the rest of the time? (The beginning doesn’t count. Beginnings are always easy and idealized; they’re the filtered version of real relationships!)
Did you feel at ease, like you could be yourself? Or did you feel constantly stressed and anxious, always on edge? Did you feel judged, like you had to live up to some sort of expectation? Or did you feel seen and accepted? Did you feel like this relationship helped you grow as a person, or did it bring out the worst in you?
The reason you want him back right now might be because not having him in your life feels worse than when he was in your life, but maybe both of these are bad options! Being alone might feel bad, but being with the wrong person is worse. Even though getting back with him might temporarily make you feel better, you will only be worse off in the long run.
You need to take a good hard look at your relationship and determine if being in it is truly in your best interest.
In a good, healthy relationship, you’ll be accepted for who you are. You won’t feel the need to act a certain way or play a certain part for fear that your real self isn’t good enough.
If you feel that this is what you’ll have to resort to in order to get your ex back, then you might want to reconsider whether he’s the right guy for you.
Before You Even Think about Getting Back Together with Him …
Make sure you love yourself … like really love yourself. Do a self-esteem check-in and ask yourself these questions: Do you feel good about yourself? Do you feel good about your life? Are you happy overall?
Yes, I know you’re miserable now because you’re going through a breakup, but in general is your life how you want it to be? Do you have good friends, hobbies, passions, a sense of purpose and meaning? Do you realize that you are valuable and significant and worthy of having an amazing relationship? Really think about that last one. The answer might hurt, it may even make you cry, but you need to feel it, you need to get in touch with your true self and you need to nurture that part of you.
What draws us into bad relationships and keeps us stuck in them for far too long is low self-esteem. We don’t believe we can do better and reason that something is better than nothing so we have nothing to lose. The subconscious is always looking for validation. If you don’t believe you’re good enough, you will continue to date men who make you feel unworthy and you’ll stay because deep down you think this is what you deserve. It isn’t. Until you realize this and work through whatever needs to be worked through, you won’t be able to have a healthy, happy relationship with anyone, be it your ex or some other guy.
A really good technique to use to get to know yourself and figure out how you feel is to journal. I know a lot of people roll their eyes and groan at the idea, but it can take you to really enlightening places. Who cares if it’s an incoherent jumbled mess; no one is reading it but you. Sometimes we don’t even know what we need but then we put pen to paper and something pops out and we’re like, “Whoa, I didn’t even know that’s what I needed, but that sounds amazing!” Just give it a try.
To Get Him Back, Get over Him
If you really want to get him back, your focus first needs to be on getting over him. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s important for several reasons.
First, it will give you the space to determine if this truly is the right guy for you. You might miss him and your heart might hurt intensely, but that doesn’t mean he’s the right man for you. There are likely a variety of reasons why you’re having trouble getting over your ex. It is only when you actively try to move on that you can clearly see if there is something worth salvaging. (Read this article to learn exactly how to get over a breakup.)
Next, if you’re focusing on getting him back then you’re not focusing on the most important thing in your life: yourself! Instead, your mind stays stuck exclusively on him and how amazing he is and how much you want him back. You need to spend this time focusing on you, focusing on becoming your best self, focusing on having fun and loving your life and being selfish and doing things that make you happy.
Maybe it feels impossible, but remember, you have full control over your mind and you can will yourself to stop engaging in thoughts that you don’t want to think about, namely thoughts of him.
There are many stages of breakup grief, and you have to allow yourself to cycle through them. Feel sad, get angry, take all your physical mementos and lock them up in a box and hide them away somewhere, get him out of your mind and out of your physical space. And try to have fun! You’re single now, and there is so much fun to be had, so round up your girls and hit the town hard! And if you can, take a fun vacation, there is something incredibly rejuvenating about getting away.
The No Contact Rule
I’m not such a fan of giving “rules,” but this is one you must abide by after a breakup. Look, I know it’s tempting to reach out. Maybe you need more closure or maybe you saw something funny that reminded you of him, but don’t. Let it be. Let him go through his process and you go through yours. If there is a chance for it to work and there is unfinished business, he’ll realize it as well. But only if he has the space to do so.
Here is what the post-breakup process will probably be like for him if there’s a chance: he’ll feels lonely … he’ll start to miss you … he’ll get nostalgic and reflect on all the good times and all the things he liked about you … he’ll start to have regrets … he’ll start to doubt his decision … he’ll start to wonder if he made a huge mistake by letting you go … he’ll no longer be able to fight the overwhelming urge to reach out and see how you’re doing … he’ll initiate contact.
You will break this cycle if you reach out first. And instead of regret, he’ll probably feel even more justified in his decision to end things. Men are inherently repelled by women who infringe upon their personal space, and if you keep reaching out after he ended it, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.
He needs to feel your absence. The only way he will is if you are absent.
What if he contacts you first?