By Chris Seiter

Updated on March 16th, 2021

How many times have you heard this old saying?

If you love something, let it go
If it returns, it’s yours
If it doesn’t, it wasn’t
If you love someone, set them free
If they come back, they’re yours
If they don’t, they never were

This quote is literally the plot point for most romantic movies and novels, but how true is it in real life?

Today I’m going to unpack this for you and share if letting your ex go actually works to get them back to make them want to come back.

We are going to look at real-life data from my clients to see if this actually works. I have had hundreds of clients over this past decade, and I can test the validity of this quote through all of their experiences.

The Quick Answer

So, does letting someone go equal, getting them back?

Yes, it does… to a point.

In 2015, I created the ex-boyfriend recovery podcast where every week, I would take a listener’s question about a situation regarding their ex and answer it.

Initially, I had my doubts about how successful the podcast would be because I wasn’t sure if people would be open to sharing their problems on such a vast medium.

However, I was immediately surprised at how willing people were to share the most intimate details of their lives and relationships in the hopes of getting their ex back or just getting clarity about their situation.

This taught me a lot about the people I was helping, but more than anything, it taught me something new about what’s working right now.

I will never forget the second question that came up in my podcast.

It was from a woman who had been a long time reader of my website, and she had been trying to get her ex back for an entire year. Eventually, about halfway through the year, she gave up and decided she couldn’t keep trying anymore.

She decided to give it a break and actually ended up starting a hugely successful business.

You Can Listen To The Episode Here If You’re Curious

She even got back into the dating scene and tried to move on romantically from the pain and heartbreak of the first breakup.

Everything sounds great, right?

Well, this is when she calls into my show and asks me,

“Hey, this really weird thing has been happening. I’ve completely moved on from my ex, and we’ve been broken up for about a year and a half, but now he’s trying to get back with me all of a sudden. I tried to get back with him at first, but he wasn’t interested back then. Now that I’ve moved on and become successful, he wants me back. Why?”

This question is so interesting because it became the first of many patterns that I started noticing on a long term scale.

We’ll go back to answer the “why” later in the article.

Sometimes, as you probably know, it can be almost impossible to get an ex back no matter how hard you try. So, when my clients who seemed to be doing everything right kept failing to get their ex’s attention, I suggested moving on entirely and waiting to see what happens.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Your Ex Boyfriend Back?

Take the quiz

Guess what happens in most cases? After they moved on from their ex, their ex would start showing interest in them again.

Is this a manifestation of the whole if you love them let them go and they’ll come back phenomenon? Maybe, but that’s not the only thing.

Well, what else is there? Having seen so many examples of this, I’ve termed this as “moving on without moving on.”

Moving along isn’t a guarantee of getting your ex back, and I’ve identified four other crucial things that must happen in conjunction with you moving on if you want to maximize the chances of getting your ex back.

Thing #1: Sometimes Your Ex Will Need A Little Bit Of A “Push.”

I’m a huge believer in cause and effect. I don’t think that just letting go of your ex and moving on alone is enough to make them come back.

There need to be other slight nudges, such as actually seeing you be successful.

Frank Sinatra once said that the best revenge in life is massive success.

Let’s tie this back to the person who called in on my second podcast.

She specifically mentioned that her ex reached out to her after she became massively successful.

So sometimes there needs to be a major change in your life that actually makes them notice you!

Thing #2: Change Must Occur

This one is definitely connected with point 1 because your ex will only want to come back if something changes.

Albert Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time.

If none of the variables in the equation of your relationship change, your ex will still see you as the same person they wanted to break up with. Where’s the incentive of coming back if it’ll just be the same relationship?

Something I always ask my clients is to get in their ex’s head and try to understand what state of mind they’re in when they break up with you.

Sometimes it’s because of some preconceived or misunderstood notions of your personality.

The only way to get over that is to challenge their notions head-on and prove that you’re not who they think you are.

If you can challenge someone’s preconceived notion about you, you make it easier for them to see you in a new, more favorable light.

Thing#3: Don’t Base Your Whole Life Around Your Ex

This one is all about priorities. Guess what happens when you make your ex priority number 1?

YOU become priority number 2, and that’s not how it should be. Men don’t like being obsessively chased either and would rather prefer a woman who cares for herself.

I always tell my clients that you’ve got to be willing to lose the guy to get the guy.

The biggest mistake people make after a breakup is wasting every waking moment thinking about their ex. Love is only a small section of your whole life, and you shouldn’t give anyone the power to shake your whole life.

I talk a lot about the concept of the holy trinity of life – health, wealth, and relationships. There is so much more to life than relationships. In fact, even within relationships, there are so many other beautiful relationships that are not romantic.

Give yourself and others you love proper time and attention after your breakup instead of sulking over your ex and trying to get him back.

Thing#4: Looking For An Ex To Make You Feel Good Is Not The Way To Go

There have been a lot of recent studies about the effect of praise on young children. The main finding is that both overpraising and underpraising a child can be harmful to them.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Your Ex Boyfriend Back?

Take the quiz

What is overpraising?

Well, it’s when the praise isn’t realistic anymore. If a child always gets praised for going to the bathroom, they’re going to have an inflated sense of self. But if you don’t praise them at all, they won’t feel like going at all.

I know it’s a weird analogy, but here’s how it relates to YOU. I feel like so often a lot of you guys look to your romantic relationship to be the end all be all solution to your problems.

That is extremely problematic because it makes your happiness completely reliant on that one relationship.

Ultimately, you’re going to get a rude awakening when that person no longer makes you happy because no one owes you unconditional love or happiness except yourself.

Don’t look for other people to make you happy, make yourself happy first!


So, what’s my verdict, does letting your ex go work to get them back? Yes, if combined with the right factors. These four things should happen along with moving on if you want your ex to come back to you:

  1. Your ex might need a nudge in the right direction.
  2. There must be some change.
  3. You need to stop letting your life revolve around your ex.
  4. Don’t rely on your ex to make you feel happy.

If you’ve achieved all four of these and he still doesn’t come back, at least you found yourself and know how to be happy without him now!

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20 thoughts on “Does Letting Go Of Someone You Love Work To Make Them Come Back?”

  1. Mugs

    May 25, 2020 at 3:11 am

    Hi, I was with my ex for two years and three months we had a long distance relationship. I’m 24 he’s 22 so there is a age difference. We were each other’s best friends. We were good friends before we dated. We’ve been through some difficult times together but was always there. Our relationship was good. We didn’t argue or fight very often. The only issue that would come up was not making me a priority in his life after two years. He would always choose his mom or family over me. Even when I was in the hospital he rather went to a barbecue with his family then visit me. He had recently lost his job and had been going through a hard time. He went to visit his family for a month in a different country. The same month I was starting my new job in the same field he lost his job. Ever since he’s been picking fights with me and making me sad. I had to leave for the rest of my training and he started pushing me away. Telling me his family will always come first and he wants and needs to do things on his own. When I came back he was suppose to see me but called and asked for a break. I did not want one and wanted to work out our issues. Three days later he broke up with me. Saying it’s not you it’s me. He doesn’t want to keep hurting me. At first I begged and wanted to know why and what happened. I said we’ve been through hard times before and can work it out he said no it’s for the best we split. I went into no contact for thirty days. Worked on myself. I began contact again and at first it was positive. But after a while it felt very one sided him only talking about himself telling me he got his job back and not asking about me and whenever I tried to talk he’d end the conversation. He acted hot and cold towards me so I wrote him this big message. I told him that I still had feelings and have been trying to move on and realized the breakup had to happen. He wants to stay friends as we were best friends. So I told him it’s only hurting me more and I don’t think we can be friends. His reply was that he wants to be friends but he’s giving me space. At that I said I need space because he didn’t really acknowledge my message. I don’t know what to do now

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      June 12, 2020 at 9:19 pm

      Hey Mugs, you need to start with the No Contact for 30 days minimum where you work on yourself and your Holy Trinity, then at the end of your NC you need to reach out with a text that Chris suggests

  2. Mina

    March 7, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    Hi, I have a bit of complicated situation. I’ve dated someone for 9months, 6 years ago. and we broke up because he moved 1400km away from me. We loved each other but after that we didn’t have any contact. We both had a long term relationship after that. Now we’re both single and I saw him in a party last month. And now he followed me on Instagram. We didn’t talk or anything yet and I can’t understand why he followed me! What should I do? (I still love him but not like that).

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      March 10, 2020 at 10:53 pm

      Hi Mina, if you want to get him back and you are willing to work on things together then reach out to them and make the first move

  3. Kk

    March 5, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    I was with my ex for ten years ! We broke up a few time in that time but only for days/ weeks ! My ex fell out with his mom ! She never liked me no one is good enough for her son, also his grown up children don’t like me as he meet me just after he split from his ex wife ! They hoped they get back together so none of his family liked me ! I did everything for my ex , holidays meals out cloths as he had lost his job ! I even helped set him up in a business , his mom got I’ll and he went to see her , upon returning to me said we over out the blue ! Two hours before we were laughing! Cleaning up ready for his mom to visit! He made out to his mom he’s had a terrible time with me and she made he promise on her death bed never to return to me ! Iv tried the no contact he accused me of seeing someone in that time ! I haven’t Iv been so hurt so depressed! It coming up to six months now and I’m still hurting but I’m staying away in the hope he reaches out , I passed his home he alone Xmas new year ! He is there for his mom 100% plus now he joined a band , but told me not keen , but he goes ! I’m at my wits end as what to do ! Are we over ?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      March 17, 2020 at 6:35 pm

      Hi KK, so it sounds more like he has been influenced by his family but again this is not uncommon for people to feel that a relationship is not going to work. You need to work on yourself where you do not spend your time passing his house, watching his activities online etc. You are very focused on your ex and have not really mentioned you doing anything for yourself in this time. You need to learn to be happy by yourself before anything. When you went into No Contact and he got mad accusing you of seeing someone else that was a sign that things were working but if you replied re assuring him you are not then he can then go back into his comfort of knowing you are hurting over the break up still. You need to appear to be doing well, look up articles to do with being Ungettable. Work on your emotional control too to help you progress

  4. Em

    March 4, 2020 at 5:32 am

    So I made a comment on another blog post somewhere here but I can’t find it to update a new comment. Long story short, my ex and I have been broken up for a year. We share a child together and when we split up, he moved out and back to his home state which is 1,200 miles away from us. It’s been really hard emotionally on me. Our break up was really out of nowhere and impulsive, him and I were crazy in love and planned to get married and try for our second child Before things ended. Initially he blocked me for a month and a half and I totally acted crazy, blew his phone up and would email him, call him, etc. Finally he opened communication back up with me and we would talk off and on for the next 8 months. We said I love you, he told me he would be back for me, that he wanted to be with me and work on our relationship, that he’d never give up, etc. He had flings with girls during this time and I’d lose my cool and we would fight and stop talking for a week or two and repeat cycle. He came to visit in September for our sons birthday and it was amazing. Felt just like when we were together and we enjoyed every moment. He swore to me he’d move back here or move us to him. By the end of October, he became distant randomly and I got upset, we fought and he blocked my number and told me he would not ever speak to me again just to update him on our son through email when necessary. I have pretty much left him alone since then. I have reached out a handful of times with no response back from him. I found out in December he started dating his now girlfriend, I went Full no contact with him from December-February. During that time he took a trip with his girlfriend, went to concerts, took her to his work Christmas party, expensive dates etc. I didn’t say a word to him just held myself together as best I could. Today I find out that they’ve moved in together. I am devastated. I have no idea if this is something real and I’m just not accepting it and living in delusion, or if he is just overcompensating and taking it too far with her. I thought she was a rebound. She is polar opposite of me in every single way, even down to our looks. My ex is extremely immature and cannot handle emotions when he feels too much. He runs and avoids. I love him unconditionally, truly I do so I’m wondering what the hell is going on. I am so worried I’ve lost him forever, especially the distant physically between us. I never see him I can’t connect with him like she is with him everyday. Has he really moved on like that? One day it’s I love you so much and I will always be here for you, I’ve been so lost without you guys I Need to get us a family again…. to nothing not even an apology or explanation. Do guys move in with someone they aren’t serious with? Did I lose him forever?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      March 17, 2020 at 11:58 pm

      Hi Em, I do remember replying to you but I am not sure which post it was, but again I’ll point out. What about your child in all of this he clearly isn’t getting in touch with you, asking to SEE your child… Is he paying maintenance to help towards her food and clothing? I would say that it sounds as if he has been in a relationship with this new girl for what seems maybe since October, so that is very fast paced to be living together.

      If you want to try to get him back, you need to look up the articles about long distance relationships, the being there method, but I would consider looking at his behavior and attitude towards seeing your child… if he is not bothered about his own flesh and blood I would question his morals lovely.

  5. Vivian

    February 28, 2020 at 3:33 am

    Hi, I have a question. After 4 months of break up , I decided to go INC and moving on since I had a bad break up. He blamed me for being toxic. And I don’t think I could get him back against his family n friends. But my ex suddenly emailed me back out the blue to tell me that he will ship some of my things back to me which I told him that I don’t need them back he could throw them away. I’m confused, he also mirror me on fb. Am I still have a chance ? Should I respond to his email?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      February 28, 2020 at 9:30 pm

      Complete a 30 day no contact first, and if you do not want the things back tell him so via email. IF you want your ex back then you need to follow the process step by step

  6. Nervous

    February 26, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    So I completed my no contact and texted my ex. He responded in a positive manner. A few days later I initiated another conversation. He gave me a positive response again.
    But the thing is, he takes a very long time to text me back. An hour~ hour and a half. And I avoid the time I know he’s at work or gym. I get the feeling that he’s only responding to be nice and not hurt my feelings… or maybe he started talking to/dating someone else. What should I do?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      February 26, 2020 at 9:53 pm

      Hey as you are having positive conversations, I would keep going but make sure that you are dropping out of conversations before he is or before the conversations drag to a point he becomes bored.

  7. Emma

    February 25, 2020 at 5:56 am

    Hi so I’m in a pretty unique situation.

    My ex just broke up with me a few days ago pretty much out of the blue claiming that he hasn’t loved me “in the same way” for 2 months. We have been together for over a year now and we have had little to no arguments or conflict but after a small argument last weekend and us mostly reconciling he broke up with me. The problem is our sex life was still really healthy and when I asked if kissing or sex or any of that intimate stuff felt different he said no. I wanted to give it a try for another few months slowly to see if the feelings came back but he said that he didn’t want to break my heart again. During the 2 month period where his feelings have been “different”, according to him, he has been acting the same as he always does. We are a very touchy feely and happy couple and when we were together he was always touching some part of me. The sex was really good. He was looking at houses for us for after we graduate (without me saying anything about it at all) he was actually looking at the houses less than a week before he broke things off. During the breakup he was very upset to the point of not being able to speak. Even then there wasn’t really a point where he wasn’t holding me or touching me or clutching onto me. He also left all of his stuff at my place and even though it’s all doubles to what he has at his own home this is a clear open door. Obviously I’m very confused because everything was great one minute and suddenly he hasn’t loved me for 2 months the next. I’m not sure if his feelings have faded or if he’s just trying to cover up another underlying motive.

    The only underlying motive that would make sense in this case is the fact that his family are lower tier aristocracy with his parents being Lord and Lady and he himself inheriting a title (even though he isn’t the first born son). His parents have always seemed to like me and his dad apparently adores me because I study a very similar subject at university to what he studied when he was younger and I’m also a pretty great cook and have cooked a few meals for my ex and his father when his mother was travelling. His mum hasn’t really been the biggest fan (I could just kind of tell but I thought it was the typical mother “you’re not good enough for my son” that all mums feel) but has always been welcoming and I’ve been invited to spend Christmas and new year with them before. My boyfriends older brother and the heir however just started dating a billionaire heiress who is new money Chinese and the mother has been fawning over her for the past few months. They started dating in late December/ early January and the words that came out of my exes mouth were “I’m not sure when it started definitely a few weeks ago but I think I’ve had some doubts as far back as January” to paraphrase.

    My concern is that they’ve seen one son do very we’ll on a monetary level for a mate and threatened to disinherit him/cut him off if he doesn’t break up with me. He would probably feel devastated admitting to me it was his family when they’ve always acted so nicely around me and he’s been saying all through our relationship that they don’t dictate his choices we have discussed marriage and kids ect, and this has all been him instigating the conversation for the most part, and he has always said that his parents would be fine with us marrying in the future and that his dad would be the only one that could give him serious advice on his love life. However I also don’t know if he was telling the truth about his feelings and has simply lost love/ his feelings have faded.

    The approaches for these situations are very different because if it’s his family then I think a few talks with him and a talk with both of us and his parents could maybe solve the issue but only if done in the next few weeks. However, if he’s lost feelings getting back in contact too quickly could ruin my chances of getting him back. I love him unconditionally and without his money or title or connections I would still be just as head over heels for him as I am now and I’ve told him this through the relationship and split every single bill there is but something tells me he still might be insecure about all of that. My friend from a similar aristocratic background is very sure that it’s the family as he himself has been put in the position of having to choose between a girlfriend and his family before. However he wasn’t there when we broke up. My ex was so raw and vulnerable and it’s hard to imagine him being able to lie in that state. But then why didn’t he come over to work things out and instead came in with such closed mind set on breaking up with me when he said he’d loved me not five days before?

    When I apologised for all my parts in our minor argument he kept saying that it wasn’t my fault and it was although he didn’t care about our minor tiff at all. I also asked him What would have happened if we hadn’t argued and he said that we probably would still be together but it wouldn’t have lasted past university. This seems like a odd comment to make because if his feelings truly had faded then why would he stay with me for another 2 years. The only reason I can think of that doesn’t involve his family is that he wouldn’t want to break my heart. But you have to love someone and care so deeply about them to put their wants over yours and this almost disproves the fact he said his feelings changed. You may be thinking that he’s young Because I’ve mentioned university but I am 20 and he is 23 and he doesn’t go to university with me. He does spend at least one night a week at my place though. I am middle class but went to private school and go to one of the best universities in the UK (St Andrews) and it’s top for my course (Physics). I am well spoken and well mannered and his parents have seemed to like me until this point. The only reason they have to dislike me would be the lack of titles in my family and the lack of obscene amounts of money.

    I miss him so much and because there wasn’t really much of a warning for this happening I’m in shock. I haven’t been eating or sleeping and have lost a crazy amount of weight. I’m trying to eat and be healthy and think positive. I have surrounded myself with my friends and family for support and they’ve all been amazing. I’m going to start going to the gym soon as well once I get my eating under control because I can’t afford to lose a lot more weight at the moment. I’m trying to stop thinking about him and I’m currently doing no contact but it’s been really hard as we used to call each other every night for an hour or so before bed.

    It’s mostly because of this uncertainty that I’m feeling this way. If I definitively knew what had caused this then I could come up with a plan to get him back and start feeling better for me. However I don’t have that so I’m asking for opinions. Any opinions. Because I have exhausted all of the ones from my friend group and family. They all don’t have a clue what he’s been thinking and most are as torn up over the issue as I am.

    Basically please help and anyone who has had any experiences with this before please share them.

    Thank you xxx

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      March 3, 2020 at 10:58 pm

      Hi Emma, so as much as it is difficult I suggest that you read as much information on this website that applies to your break up- where an ex has “lost” feelings for you starting with a No contact, limited no contact if you share any classes. You work on yourself in that time (Ungettable girl) and make sure that you show your ex what he is missing, you know your ex well enough yo know what it is he likes in a girlfriend, so you highlight the things that you knwo he would like or miss about you. As for the family issues, maybe you need to take his lost feelings on board for now as he hasnt given you a reason to believe his family has an issue, as you said yourself the father liked you and you have spent time with them previously along with him telling you that they do not dictate his decisions. It sounds as if the lust factor has died down and he got settled. You just have to remind him why he fell for you in the first place

  8. Moria

    February 24, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    I am exhausted. I’ve been playing the UG, using NC (short versions, the recommended when the guy is not an ex) and he still comes and goes. He is recovering from a depression, so I’ve been patient. But I am fighting / competing aganist everything. I am afraid of the greener grass syndrome, there’s the distance problem (we live in different cities)… And I feel that everything I do makes me suffer because I’m putting too much pressure on myself because I have to be the very best. He appreciates me, he is very attracted to me, trusts me with his life… But sometimes he become distant and we never set a date (as I said, different cities, that’s an issue), he proposed it and the put it off…
    I want to have a talk with him. But I don’t know what to do, I don’t want to sound like “spent a weekend with me during the next month or we will never talk again”. But he hurted me (unwillingly but still), I feel anxious all the time and I need to know if we would gave me a chance sometime. Because I know that right now he’s not ready for a relationship, I’ve been working to be “the one” when he’s ready but nothing guarantees that. And I’m broken. As I said, I want to talk with him but I don’t wanna loose him. If I don’t do anything, the situation won’t change, but a kind of “ultimatum” would be worse.

    What can I do?

    Thank you.

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      March 3, 2020 at 10:32 pm

      Hey Moria so if you have been doing this for a while and he comes and goes then I suggest that you start dating casually where he gets to hear that you are actually spending time with other guys who could take oyu away from him as an option at any time

  9. Anita

    February 22, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    I finished 30 days of no contact and contacted my ex. He replied but he is more distant than he was a few days after the break up. The first week after the break up he wanted to talk but I started no contact. Yesterday he responded to my text but didn’t keep the conversation going and he seemed distant. What should I do next? I’m afraid that ,,no contact” pushed him away.
    Next week is his grandmother’s birthday. I’m thinking of sendind her a birthday card. Is it a good idea? I met her and she gave me nice presents for Christmas.

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      February 27, 2020 at 10:16 pm

      Hi Anita, it is normal for someone to be distant if you have not spoken to someone for 30 days. In ERP we advise not to give gifts and or birthday messages if we are still broken up. So if you are texting regularly then sending a general birthday message that you would to a casual friend that is how you handle this situation. Do not give a large gift, dont over do it treat your ex as a friend for now

  10. Anita

    February 22, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    I’ve just finished 30 days no contact with my ex and contacted him. He replied but seems distant. After the break up he wanted to talk and asked me questions but then I kept no contact. I’m afraid he got upset because of my no contact and I wonder what to do nie? When I texted him, he replied to my questions but didn’t ask aby questions himself and didn’t keep the conversation. Should I text him again or do another period of no contact?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      February 22, 2020 at 10:20 pm

      It is normal for an ex to be a little distant after a No Contact as you have not spoken in 30 days. He is going to be questioning why you are talking to him again now. Be patient and confident it’ll get easier