“Nothing ends nicely. That’s why it ends.” – Tom Cruise
Who has ever had a friendly, lighthearted breakup? One where both people calmly and without emotion decided it was time to make a clean break? Closure tied up in a pretty bow?
Not anyone human. Or, at least, not any human coming out of a relationship that held any meaning for them.
Since breakups can be a whirlwind of confusion, betrayal, and heightened emotions of all kinds, figuring out how to proceed afterward can be just as tied up with angst. For the first week, you don’t even recognize the person you are. When you share your life with someone, some of your identity becomes intertwined with them. When they are gone, your whole reality shifts.
What can make that process even harder is when your ex decides to muddy the waters by showing signs he wants you back. You’re left to wonder if he’s just going through the same turmoil of the breakup you are, or if his actions are legitimate.
If he does truly want to get back together, is that really a good idea? How do you know when, or if, you should act on some of these potential “signs?” Are they even real signs?
For advice on identifying these clues (and what to do about them), read on.
Take The Quiz: Can You Get Your Ex Back Or Is He Gone Forever?
These Are the Signs He Wants To Get Back Together (Even If He Won’t Admit It)
1. He gets nostalgic
Isn’t it crazy how even if you hated high-school, on the very last day you felt a certain warmth towards it? Sure, those halls may have driven you to near madness before, but when you know you’re not going to walk them anymore, they suddenly seem like a protective cradle. The same goes for leaving a job, a vacation, or… a person.
If he’s sending you texts – particularly late night ones after a beer or two – reminiscing about the good ol’ days, that means something. You are definitely on his mind. A man who has emotionally moved on will not be sending thoughtful “remember when” texts to his ex.
But nostalgia is a powerful emotion, and it doesn’t always lead one to the right path. Even if you also feel the tug to reminisce, be careful that you are moving forward, not backward.
2. You seem to see him everywhere you go
There are only so many coincidences to go around in this world. When that world gets a lot smaller, and you seem to see your ex everywhere you go, pay attention. He might be checking with your mutual friends to see if you’re still hitting your favorite gym after work on Thursdays. When you click “yes’ to attending a certain party on social media, he might mysteriously also be in attendance.
This could be a very purposeful action on his part – he wants to be where you are because he wants to be with you. A less simple explanation for this behavior pattern could be that he misses you and is subconsciously curious about how you’re doing. It’s pretty unlikely that he would make such an effort to check in unless he still had some strong lingering feelings.
Depending on how bitter the breakup was, there’s also the unpleasant possibility that he wants to show off how well he is doing. Even if that is the motive behind his actions, a man who has fully moved on certainly isn’t likely to try very hard to be around you on a regular basis.
3. He’s walking around like a wounded puppy
Although it’s not the best look for anyone, we’ve all felt the urge to post a cryptic song lyric or quote on our social media – one aimed directly at a specific person. Whether hoping for that person to see it and know our intention, or just desiring comfort from others who will read it, it is definitely a little cry for help. If your ex’s social media looks like this, or if he’s displaying this kind of moody misery in real life, it’s a sign he wants attention.
It’s possible that he’s putting on this show of sadness because he wants to be seen as the victim in the breakup. He might be longing for other people to console him, and thinks that making his pain loud and clear will be the best way to accomplish that.
But this could also be a big clue that he specifically wants your attention, and he doesn’t know what to do about it. Maybe he’s too nervous to approach you after everything that happened, or maybe he’s too proud to admit his regrets. Making it clear how down he is would be a passive way for him to reach out, but it’s likely a sign that he’s trying to do so.
4. He’s got a new girlfriend in record time.
Or maybe “girlfriend” would be the wrong term. Regardless, if he’s hurriedly showing off a new woman in his life, something isn’t quite adding up. It’s tough, surreal even, to see your ex seemingly happy with someone new. Don’t let yourself become too upset about this if it happens to you. There are a few reasons it could be happening, and none of them are that he suddenly stopped caring about you. In fact, it really means the exact opposite.
A breakup can be so intensely difficult that a guy chooses to hide from those feelings. Denial can be – in the moment, anyway – much more enjoyable than facing reality. By throwing himself into a new “relationship,” he can avoid dealing with the fallout and distress he feels when he thinks of you.It also plugs up the emotional void you left behind.
This method of somewhat burying one’s head in the sand is only effective short-term. It isn’t something that will last long.
5. He’s drunk-dialing (or texting)
It’s a running joke that being a good friend includes hiding your friend’s phone when they are drunk. When you drink and lose those normal inhibitions, it can reveal some of the thoughts and feelings you push down during daylight hours. If your ex is firing off drunk and emotional texts (or calls), it’s something to think about.
Alcohol is not a truth serum. It doesn’t suddenly turn us into noble creatures intent on honesty and doing what is right! Alcohol makes us much more emotional than normal and lowers our inhibitions. It’s like turning up a dial on our feelings in order to amplify them. Some of these emotions are valid and useful. Others – not so much.
For this reason, if your ex is hitting you up after a few drinks, it will be up to you to decide if these moments of weakness carry any real weight or not.
6. He wants to re-hash everything
No guy wants to rehash all the gory details of what happened in his previous relationship. In order to move on, he has to let go of the past. So if your ex is dragging you into discussions about the past, that’s a clear sign he hasn’t been able to move on.
Maybe he’s just eager for any opportunity to talk with you, so choosing subject matter you both know well can seem like a good way to initiate conversation. While your reaction to discussing the breakup might be negative, any response from you could make it worthwhile for him to reach out with thoughts about your history. Even a persistent request to meet for coffee and “closure” should be noted.
Again, a man who has moved on will have no interest in digging into the past for any reason. If he is showing an inclination to do this, he likely wants to see if you can rekindle what you once had, or have something better based on what you both know now.
7. He’s mad at you
While this situation is similar to the one above, it also comes laced with the addition of antagonism. Every time he talks to you, he finds a way to fight. He seems unable to maintain a civil conversation. Sometimes, out of the blue, he will be explosively resentful or irritable. If you are seeing this behavior, it’s a heavy hint that there are still unresolved feelings on his end.
While this could be suggestive of an ambitious aspiration to change things between the two of you, it also should be observed with reservations. You don’t deserve endless negativity from someone, especially if the conversations are going in circles. Sometimes the only way out is through, and you have to soldier through some tough exchanges to make it to the other side. Other times, these constant fights will take you nowhere and are not healthy for either of you.
Make sure you are taking care of yourself and not letting yourself be sucked into an endless back-and-forth. When your arguments leave you feeling like a ping-pong ball being batted into submission, move on without a second thought.
8. He shows off his fabulous new life
“Confidence is silent.Insecurities are loud.” – Don Corleone (“The Godfather”)
No one who is truly confident in their life feels the need to rub it in anyone’s face. A guy who splashes his social media with his most glamorous efforts is a desperate guy. Pictures of him with attractive women, hitting party after party, and generally showboating – these are all transparent attempts for attention. This is especially true if he’s showing a side of his personality that wasn’t there before, such as a sudden keen fascination with roof-top hot tub parties.
If you were in a real, meaningful relationship with someone who now seems to be throwing his fancy life in your face, remember that these actions spring from pain. Your ex is suffering and he wants to know if you are, too. He may also be desperate not to be seen as the one who “lost” the breakup.
Rest assured that this turn at living the wild, exotic life that’s quite different from his default setting will be short-lived.
9. His friends are suddenly interested in your life
It goes back to the kindergarten playground. One boy asks another schoolmate to ask a certain girl a question. This pattern rears its head again all throughout life, and breakups are no exception. Friends, even ones who previously didn’t show much interest in your life, are abruptly very inquisitive. You get asked how you are doing on an alarmingly frequent basis. Any hint at all of you moving on or showing interest in a new person is followed by many more questions.
When this happens, it’s probably because these friends are being sent to ask for details. Your ex wants to know if you’re thinking about him, and especially if you are thinking about anyone else. This is his way of keeping tabs on you, and it’s best to be careful what you say to these mutual friends.
Personal information such as this, the kind of details that could affect the rest of your life, are sacred. If you do have an interest in getting back together, allowing these friends to report positively can be an easy way to lay some groundwork. If you don’t want to revisit those waters, make sure not to confide anything in these friends that would lead them to believe otherwise.
10. He checks in with you a lot
A simple “how are you doing?” text can be the ultimate way to strike up a conversation. It’s the kind of conversation starter that can swiftly build up to something deeper and more engaging. Very often, when someone asks a question like that, it’s because they want to be asked the same thing.
If your ex is checking in with you on a regular basis, this is another sizable clue that he can’t get you off his mind. When you break up with someone, the cruel irony is that you often are breaking up with the person you normally go to with all the important events of your life. Losing your closest confidante at a time when you really need a best friend is brutal.
Sometimes this type of reaching out is purely out of a need for comfort, like a child reaching for their security blanket. It shouldn’t be deemed only that, however, as more often than not it’s a sign that your ex is not doing so well without you. By finding a sympathetic way to start a dialogue with you, he could be showing that he wants you back in his life.
11. He’s got the green-eyed monster
There’s a reason that so many romantic comedies feature a sequence where someone tries very hard to make their ex jealous. It’s a universal emotion that anyone could relate to, and a compelling one at that. While people sometimes swoon over the idea of someone being possessive over them, since it would indicate fierce attachment, it’s also not something to take lightly if it seems detrimental.
You post a picture on social media of yourself with another male friend. Two minutes later you have a text from your ex demanding to know who the guy is, and what you were doing with him. Or perhaps you’re at a party, chatting with a new friendly stranger, when out of nowhere your ex appears and requests you speak with him alone. These are all clear signs that your ex does not relish the idea of being your ex.
Whether out of pride or out of true sorrow at your breakup, he’s hanging onto the idea that you shouldn’t be pursuing any romantic endeavors outside of him. This is unequivocally a sign that he has not moved on, or at the very least is uneasy with the idea that you have.
As long as he expresses this remorse in a way that is healthy, it’s okay to think about this as a potential sign you two could get back together if that’s what you want.
12. He goes on a self-improvement kick
If your ex suddenly becomes a gym rat, sipping kale juice and counting his macronutrients, there’s a reason for this impulsive change. Another common change in this vein would be seeing a therapist, working on all those issues he always intended to fix one day. He’s making “someday” today, and it’s because he wants you to take notice.
Sometimes people make rapid alterations after a breakup. This is never more painfully evident than when you abruptly decide that you need bangs, or pink hair, to become the “new you.” These superficial swaps are different from the actions one takes to really become a better version of themselves.
A guy working hard to fix what he sees as flaws is a guy who wants you to see he’s changed. This is particularly true if he’s working on something that you complained about while you were dating. Another addition that would confirm this theory is if he is avidly posting proof of these ventures on social media.
13. He’s not dating anyone and it’s been a while since you broke up
Everybody needs a breather period after a breakup. It’s pretty rare to rebound into another relationship that actually goes anywhere. But after this period where a guy gets his equilibrium back, choosing to still avoid dating is a sign of trouble on his mind.
Nobody likes to be alone for too long, and this is exceptionally true for men. Choosing to stay solo and avoid the dating game is indicative of him missing you. Once someone has experienced what they consider to be the ideal relationship or person, it’s very hard to put yourself out there and try again. You don’t think anyone could compare to the person you dated before.
Sometimes this isn’t something you can shake off. Sometimes it means you have to go back and explore what happened with that relationship, and possibly rekindle it.
14. He’s still in contact with your friends and family
When you date someone long enough to get to know their friends and family, these bonds can be extremely meaningful. While these attachments can linger, anyone who has moved on does not want to revisit them. Maintaining communication with the loved ones of your ex would be like walking around in their favorite sweater, the one that still smells like them. It will continue to plunge you into nostalgia.
So if your ex insists on checking in with your circle of people, this means he’s having a hard time letting go. He’s talking to the people who know you best. Even if he’s not pointedly bringing up your name, he’s hoping they’re going to fill him in on something. It could be he’s poking around for details about what you’re up to these days, or he could just want some insight into your emotional state.
No matter what the conversation looks like, if he’s persistent in contacting your loved ones, he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about you.
15. He falls off the map
While there are some men who take comfort in a great deal of confiding and conversing with a friend about their feelings, many are unable to do so. Just like with some women, there are men who cope with overwhelming feelings by shutting off from the world. He might be holing up somewhere, isolating himself from the rest of society as much as possible. Disconnecting from the day-to-day is a very human response to devastation.
Everyone needs a “down day” every once in a while, especially during an emotionally volatile period like a breakup. If that day rolls into days or even weeks, it’s a flashing warning sign. Maybe he doesn’t want his friends – or you – to see how much he’s struggling. It’s possible he just can’t stomach the idea of socializing at all while he feels the way he does.
Whatever is causing his reclusive behavior, know that he is serious mourning and has not been able to move forward.
16. He tells you: I want to get back together
Naturally, this one doesn’t require any explanation. If he tells you plainly and simply that he wants to get back together, there’s no need to read between the lines or try to read the subtleties.
Occasionally this kind of admission can be spoken recklessly, especially if he’s been drinking or having an uncommonly tough day. Be aware of the context and tone in which this is said before you award it any real weight.
Don’t confuse moments of weakness with true transformation. Change is shown through actions, not words. When you go through a breakup, you lose a little piece of your identity, the one you developed while you were with that person.
Once you lose that, it’s wildly challenging to figure out your new place in not only the world, but in your own mind. Remember that just as you were a complete person before you dated your ex, you are a complete person now.
Breakups don’t have to mean forever. If your ex shows one or more of the signs above, reflect upon your own feelings. Do you want to get back together? Have the issues that caused your breakup changed, or do they show genuine potential to improve?
Before you are swept up in the romance of reuniting, monitor your intentions closely. Be certain that the desire to get back together is one that will be beneficial for both of you, long-term.
Take The Quiz: Can You Get Your Ex Back Or Is He Gone Forever?
Giveaway Signs Your Ex Wants You Back (Even If He Won’t Admit It):
- He gets nostalgic
- You seem to see him everywhere you go
- He’s walking around like a wounded puppy
- He’s got a new girlfriend in record time.
- He’s drunk-dialing (or texting)
- He wants to re-hash everything
- He’s mad at you
- He shows off his fabulous new life
- His friends are suddenly interested in your life
- He checks in with you a lot
- He’s got the green-eyed monster
- He goes on a self-improvement kick
- He’s not dating anyone and it’s been a while since you broke up
- He’s still in contact with your friends and family
- He falls off the map
- He tells you: I want to get back together