By Chris Seiter

Updated on November 2nd, 2021

Today we’re going to talk about how to play the long game with an ex you are trying to get back.

First things first, what do I mean when I talk about “the long game?”

Well, within this context “long game” would be about a person doing something that aims for results down the road.

In a sense, our entire program is built on the premise of playing a long game since we have found that our average success story happens anywhere between 2-7 months but there’s an interesting element at play when considering the “long game” and that’s the diametrically opposed “short game.”

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Short Game Vs. Long Game

Let’s take a look at the “official” definitions of long game versus short game.

Short Game = This person implements strategies that aims for instantaneous results

Long Game = This person implements strategies that aims for results down the road

What I find fascinating about this is that it really correlates to attachment styles. We know from experience that someone with an anxious attachment style is going to be more prone to falling for “short game” tactics.

Of course, the entire breakup industry has taken advantage of this by seemingly “guaranteeing” magic bullet solutions that will “absolutely work” to get your ex back.

Say this one thing and he’ll come crawling back…

Do this one thing and she’ll beg for you…

And perhaps the irony is that sometimes those short term strategies can work on a small level.

What if I were to tell you that the magic bullet solution “short game” stuff can yield faster results but not longer lasting ones.

For us faster results coming at the price of long term sustainability doesn’t seem like a worthy trade which is why we’ve based our entire program around “long game.”

And in case you were wondering, yes, this is me admitting that our program will probably take you longer to see eventual results but only because we don’t want this breakup to happen again.

Our research has indicated that roughly 50% of couples that get back together will break up again within 3 months.

The culprit often is getting back together too quickly.

How Long You Can Expect It To Take To Get An Ex Back

Without a doubt one of the most asked questions we get in our private facebook support group is how long the entire process of getting an ex back actually takes.

This is actually a topic I’ve written about before but what I’d like to do really quickly here is give you a realistic timeline on how long this entire process will take.

Generally speaking most of our success stories occur 2-7 months after a no contact rule has been completed.

Though certain situational factors need to be taken into account. Perhaps the most impactful factor that can make a difference on your timeline is whether or not your ex has a new boyfriend or girlfriend.

If they do expect the timeline to be doubled.

Our Active Long Game Breakup Strategies

As stated above, our entire program is predicated on the long game but how?

What strategies do we recommend that work but take longer?

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There are four main concepts that rely entirely on the long game.

  1. The No Contact Rule
  2. The Zeigarnik Effect (AKA High Note Strategy)
  3. Tide Theory
  4. Avoidant Identification (When they pull back you pull back)

I’d like to take a moment to go over each of these strategies and show you how they can be effective but ultimately add time to your success.

Long Game Strategy #1: The No Contact Rule

Is this really shocking?

The no contact rule in and of itself is without a doubt our most used strategy and it literally makes the entire process take longer.

First things first, what is the no contact rule?

The no contact rule refers to a period of time where you cut off all conceivable communication with an ex after a breakup. The intent of this tactic should NOT be used to make your ex miss you but instead should be used to rebuild your own life so that you outgrow your ex. By doing this, the no contact rule can have the added benefit of making an ex miss you

Usually that “period of time” is anywhere between 21-45 days.

Yet it’s not the length of time that matters. It’s what you do with that time. You see, the secret to the no contact rule is that if you haven’t done anything productive with that time you can kiss any epiphanies from your ex goodbye.

The key is that at the end of your no contact, if you’ve used your time wisely, you won’t view your ex as a must have anymore.

They can be a “want to have” but not essential.

Of course, the only way for that change to happen within you is for you to play the long game and let time go by.

Long Game Strategy #2: The Zeigarnik Effect

Why is this considered a long game strategy?

Well, it purposefully extends the amount of overall conversation time you’ll be having with your ex.

Every conversation has a certain flow and rhythm.

It builds to an eventual high point and then stays at that high point level for a bit before it slowly dissipates after both parties run out of things to talk about.

We found early on in our business that if you let conversations unfold naturally exes tend to grow bored as there’s no excitement for the next conversation.

That is until we learned about the zeigarnik effect.

If you aren’t familiar with what it is here’s a quick video primer.

Essentially people remember interrupted or incomplete tasks better than completed ones.

By locating the high point of the conversation and ending it there before the conversation has a chance to become dull you create anticipation for the next conversation.

Yes, you don’t get the gratification of a conversational close but who cares if you create anticipation for that next conversation.

So, why do we consider this to be a long game strategy?

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Simply put while it has the amazing benefit of making conversations more anticipated it prolongs the overall time of conversations. Instead of them having a beginning, middle and end in the span of a day you can expect the conversations to last for days.

Long Game Strategy #3: Tide Theory

Tide theory is one of those strategies that I haven’t really talked enough about on this website.

Sure, it’s mentioned here or there but it really has become a groundbreaking strategy that is essential for building rapport during texting.

So, how does it relate to the long game?

Well, the very essence of it is rooted in making things longer and stretching things out.

Tide Theory: Refers to the amount of communication you should have with your ex throughout the ex recovery process. Slowly but surely you’ll ratchet up the quantity and quality of the conversations.

It’s always better to use text messages as an example to illustrate the points I’m trying to make but tide theory can be used with any “medium” of conversation.

Have you ever been to the beach and seen this?

There’s not one exact moment that this occurs. Instead it’s a series of moments strung together in such a slow progression that even if you were to be at this beach you wouldn’t be able to pinpoint when the tide came up.

That’s what you’re aiming to do when you text your ex, slowly up the quantity of conversations you have to the point that everything seems natural.

I’m really tempted to go into teaching mode here and show you how to do this but I actually but together this massive free guide on our website about texting where I do just that so I recommend you check that up if you want a crash course.

Long Game Strategy #4: Avoidant Identification

If you didn’t catch my interview with Heather, one of our latest success stories I highly recommend you check it out because it is all about this long game strategy.

The most popular buzzword around this parts since 2020 has been our addition of attachment styles into our process.

Specifically how to handle fearful avoidants.

We know from research that most of our clients exes will exhibit some type of avoidant behavior. So, it stands to reason that learning how to properly communicate with an avoidant is a key component to winning that avoidant back.

Thus, we came up with a simple rule to help people do just that.

When they pull back you pull back.

Now, it’s a lot to take on faith I totally get that but that’s why I wanted you to watch that success story above. Heather, at first, had doubts on whether that simple rule would work but after working with our very own Coach Anna she decided to give it a try.

The results were undeniable.

But why does it work.

Well, we think it’s because it presents such a stark contrast to how you would have handled things when you were in a relationship with your ex. Instead of nagging your ex about “what’s wrong” you give them time to process their feelings on their own and focus on the other aspects of your life.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Your Ex Boyfriend Back?

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This is, after all, what a secure attachment style would do.

The beauty is that simply by following the “when they pull back you pull back rule” you can accomplish this instantaneously.

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6 thoughts on “How To Play The Long Game With An Ex”

  1. Amy

    January 23, 2022 at 8:59 pm

    Hi EBR

    My bf broke up with me 2.5 months ago. We had a lot of stress and arguments during lockdown and I had some bad panic attacks (which I am getting help for). I didn’t do great at NC (and definitely did some begging) at first but have now been doing it for over two weeks. I’ve decided to take him at his word that he doesn’t want to get back together even though I miss him terribly. I now want to move overseas for work for a couple of years as that’s how I see myself becoming the best version of me. However, there is still something in me that wants to get back together down the track…

    Any advice or am I just clinging on?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      February 13, 2022 at 1:17 pm

      Hey Amy, so I suggest you do some time focusing on what you want and that moving abroad for work is a brilliant idea. Even if you do get back together some time in the future, do not avoid your career goals, it will help you be the best version of yourself, and you will also have unlimited ungettable experiences! Go for it!

  2. Livia

    November 4, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    I might have commited a big mistake. I did not let him know that I was interested and now he’s staring to date another girl (even if at the same time is obsessed with his ex, that have been playing with him for years and now says that wants him back). I am completely friendzoned and my way of knowing this was him asking me for advice. He had told me many times that I am really important to im and used to have a crush on me again, but I was not sure and I just let things go with the flow. Now I don’t know what to do. I don’r want to lose him but I am not strong enough to be his friend while he talks about his romantic life and asks me for advice (btw, I told him that he shouldn’t be with any of these girls because he is not over the ex and can’t be back to her because he would never be fine because certain things she did, as he told me). I know that he doesn’t suspect how I feel but I can’t tell him, not now. I don’t know what to do.

  3. John

    November 4, 2021 at 5:46 am

    Love this.

    My partner broke up with me after 4 years together, I cheated on him and lied multiple times and he just needs to heal alone. we live together and he is moving out soon to start fresh. We want to continue being in each other’s lives but I think no contact tule is best first.

    Should I communicate to them I don’t want to talk/contact them for some time? Like do I say I need time and space before starting up? Or do I just kind of ghost him? I think for our situation I should tell him because we’ve always had really open communication.

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      December 27, 2021 at 12:12 pm

      Hey John, no you do not tell your ex that you are following the no contact rule, you just do it. Regardless of your communication style you still cheated and hurt your ex. Meaning that you need to take a real break from each other.

  4. Hope

    November 1, 2021 at 5:55 am

    How do i know if they are pulling back to process feelings or they are letting me down easy? Does it make a difference if the ex has asperger’s? There is hot and cold communication, he says he wants to see me but he doesn’t set the day. He had asked previously but I was unavailable, since then it came up twice in a week but no day determined yet. What shall i do? I asked last time. We recently broke up.