By Chris Seiter

Published on June 8th, 2022

Today we’re going to talk about if it’s healthy to keep in touch with an ex.

In my opinion, staying in touch with your ex without the right type of mindset only serves to feed the addictive nature of the breakup. Therefore, it’s only healthy to get back in touch with an ex if you have gotten to a place emotionally where you have outgrown them.

Now, there’s a lot to cover here around the psychology of what occurs when you stay in touch with an ex after a breakup. Here’s a list of a few of the things we’re going to be talking about,

  • Staying In Touch With Them Should Depend On Your Situational Factors And Goals
  • Learning How Often Exes Stay In Touch With One Another
  • What Usually Happens When They Stay In Touch
  • Viewing Your Breakup As An Addiction
  • The Importance Of The “Outgrowth Mindset”

Let’s begin!

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Staying In Touch With Them Should Depend On Your Situational Factors And Goals

Let’s answer the ultimate question first before we start picking apart the psychology.

Should you stay in touch with your ex after your breakup?

In my opinion, it really depends on two things.

  1. Your Overall Goals
  2. Your Situational Factors

Now, what do I mean when I talk about these two things?

Your Overall Goal

Here I’m simply referring to if you want to try to get your ex back or not.

Generally speaking everyone who comes to this website is at a crossroad,

  • They are figuring out if they want to try to get their ex back
  • They are also figuring out if they want to get over their ex

Generally speaking if you want to get your ex back that only really can happen if you get back in touch with them again after the breakup.

However, we’ve actually seen better results for individuals who want to get over their ex by simply entering into a period of indefinite no contact.

Of course, there are some situations where you will be forced to interact with your ex after a breakup no matter what.

Your Situational Factors

These are essentially factors that cause you to interact with your ex no matter what you do.

You share a child with an ex

You share a house with your ex

You work together with them

In these types of situations you are going to be forced to interact with them. Of course, how you interact with them is an important thing to consider. My recommendation would be to read this article if you want a full breakdown.

For now let’s move on.

What Are Statistics Saying On How Often Exes Stay In Touch With One Another?

What has always aggravated me about the scientific community was how little research is made publicly available around breakups.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Your Ex Boyfriend Back?

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In fact, I’ve never once been able to find a reputable study (save my own internal ones) about the average chances someone has of getting their ex back.

Interestingly though, a recent study was released detailing how often exes stay in touch with one another after a breakup.

According To Psychology Today,

Lindsay Rodriguez studied 260 undergraduate students who had moved on from their breakup with someone else. She was interested in finding out how many of them kept in touch with a previous ex. Turns out 40% of individuals did keep in touch with their exes.

Of course, the study, like all breakup studies, was a bit flawed for our purposes here.

It’s only taking a look at individuals who had current partners. I’m willing to bet that if you focused on everyone during the post breakup period the real number would be a lot higher.

So, what should we take from this?

Well, it’s really normal for exes to keep in touch with one another but that doesn’t really answer our question on if it’s healthy for the individual.

I think probably looking at what happens after most exes stay in touch with each other is a good thing to consider.

What Usually Happens To Ex Couples That Stay In Touch?

Once again, I’d like to pull from that Lindsay Rodriguez study because it actually backs up what we’ve been seeing in the field ourselves.

Specifically quoting from the Psychology Today article,

Most people didn’t communicate with their ex too often, but a small subgroup—13 percent—had contact with exes several times a week.

So, this tells us that most likely when you stay in touch with an ex the communication will fizzle out.

Well, either that or you’ll end up in a massive argument.

This actually tracks with what we know about avoidant individuals. If you look at my handy dandy avoidant death wheel you’ll notice that right in this area after a breakup,

They start to feel nostalgia toward you and are a lot more likely to give in to it but that doesn’t mean it’s long lasting. Often, unless you have the right mindset, getting back in touch with you retriggers their trauma and causes them to run again.

Avoidants are fun, aren’t they?

It’s Best To View Your Breakup As An Addiction

In 2010 the Journal of Neurophysiology, decided to study the brains of 15 recently dumped individuals. What they found was fascinating,

Essentially the parts of the brain that “lit up” during heartbreak were the exact same parts of the brain that lit up when a drug addict was going through a withdrawal period.

Specifically the Nucleus Accumbens,

But what does that mean for our discussion in this article?

Well, it’s actually best to view your breakup with your ex as an addiction. Often if you don’t have self control and you go back into a discussion with them it’s akin to feeding that addiction.

And really that’s the moral of the story.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Your Ex Boyfriend Back?

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If you want me to level with you on what I think sets our coaching practice apart from all the others out there it’s probably our ability to get people into the right frame of mind before they even think about reaching out to their exes.

Adopting An “Outgrowth” Mindset

While 2020 was one of the worst years on record due to the coronavirus it was personally the year that Ex Boyfriend Recovery underwent a pretty major philosophical shift.

Specifically as it relates to our approach on dealing with exes. It all stemmed from a series of studies I did where I interviewed our success stories.

I was trying to determine what made our successes so successful and I stumbled across a handful of trends.

  • Almost every success story utilized a period of no contact
  • Each one cited this phenomenon where they had gotten to a point where they didn’t want their exes back anymore

It was that second point that stuck out to me.

For years I had been hearing about this phenomenon where our clients would try everything to get their exes back, inevitably fail, give up and then that’s when their ex came a knocking.

In fact, if you don’t believe me. This happened as early as the third podcast episode I ever did.

So, ever since learning this we’ve updated all of our official definitions to include “the outgrowth mindset.” In fact, we even redid the way we approached a no contact rule.

If you look at our official definition,

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

The outgrowth mindset is found there. Here’s my point. If you do want to get back in touch with an ex then do not do so until you have gotten to a place emotionally where you have outgrown them.

Now, what does that mean?

  • It means you are willing to move on from them
  • It means you have found something that you care about more than them (not someone)
  • It means you are ok if you don’t get them back

I bring up the no contact rule because really the thing people fail with isn’t breaking it (they do that obviously). No, most of the time they don’t do any shadow work to get to that place emotionally where they are ok letting their ex go.

And there’s a psychological reason that this “outgrow your ex” mindset works.

Remember above I talked about the avoidant death wheel.

Well, if you dig into what makes an avoidant tick there’s a concept I’m always going on about called the nostalgia factor,

The way it works is simple.

Only once an ex has moved on from them or there is no perceived threat of “getting back together” will the avoidant give themselves permission to miss their exes and they’ll go through this period of nostalgia.

And what does an “outgrowth” mindset do?

Simple, it puts forth the attitude that you don’t want your ex back anymore which makes them more likely to respond favorably to you once you reach out to them.

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