By Chris Seiter

Published on October 17th, 2023

So, what exactly does it mean when an ex boyfriend “accidentally” calls you? I put “accidentally” in quotes because most of the time when it comes to text messages or calls there aren’t too many accidents.

I’m not saying it can’t happen, I’m just saying it’s unlikely to happen.

Below I’ve compiled a list of my 8 top theories on why your ex boyfriend has accidentally called you.

  1. Drunk Call: Under the influence of alcohol, people often do things they wouldn’t normally do, like calling an ex.
  2. Old Habits: If you were a significant part of their life, they might be used to calling you regularly. Out of habit, they might dial your number without thinking.
  3. Seeking Closure: Even if they label it as an “accident,” they might be looking for closure or a way to reconnect, even if just for a moment.
  4. Emotional Moment: They might be going through an emotional time and, in a moment of weakness or nostalgia, dialed your number, only to hang up and claim it was an accident.
  5. Accidental Group Call: If you’re still part of a group chat or a group call list that includes him, he might have accidentally initiated a group call, including you.
  6. Shared Responsibilities: If you and your ex-boyfriend had shared responsibilities or commitments, like a pet or a joint financial obligation, he might have called you thinking of discussing that, only to change his mind.
  7. Testing Your Reaction: He might be trying to gauge your current feelings or see how you’d react to his call. By labeling it as an “accident,” he gives himself an out if the response isn’t what he hoped for. This can be a way for him to test the waters without fully committing to reopening communication.
  8. Butt Dial: One of the most common accidental calls. Their phone might have been in their pocket, and they unintentionally pressed your number.

Let’s begin!

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1) The Drunk Call

A few months ago something really interesting happened in our community. One of our members was texted this by their ex boyfriend,

A literal drunk text, ADMITTED by the ex boyfriend himself. Now, technically this example doesn’t have any “accident” in it. However, usually what happens with drunk texts is that after the sender sobers up they’ll claim it was an accident.

What I find particularly interesting is how you HANDLE the drunk texts. The text I screenshotted above handled it brilliantly.

Let’s take a look at that very example. The reason the ex boyfriend above phrased his drunk text that way is that they’re scared you’ll reject them.

Just a reminder, the drunk text portion was,

Question, now that I’m buzzed. God help me. Do you want to get back together. 

Generally you want to send either a ❤️ or and nothing else. I love the emoji track because it’s confusing. He will think “Does she want to or not.” It’s unclear but leans towards Yes. This will give him the opportunity to discuss it more without feeling rejected and it also gives him a way to back out if he’s not totally ready BUT it won’t slow down your progress.

Wait to see if he wants to talk more about it when he’s sober. This gives him a positive vibe to make it feel safe to have the conversation sober but it’s also not desperate.

2) Old Habits

This may seem like a far-fetched thing to say, but human beings are very habitual by nature.

In fact, recent research has found that habits account for about 40% of our day. So, almost half of our day is spent doing the same things we did the previous day, and the day before that, and the day before that.

Usually, when you date someone, you get into a routine.

Thinking back on my own personal experience, when I was dating my wife, our routine would always be:

  • Immediately wake up
  • Text each other in the morning
  • Go about my day, have a call
  • Then go to sleep
  • Wish goodnight
  • Rinse and repeat.

For reference, my wife and I were in a long-distance relationship for a couple of months. We literally started our relationship long-distance and then found a way to close the distance later.

But that habit was part of the routine.

And while this may seem far-fetched, when you go through a breakup, you inherently want the familiarity of the habit. I started thinking about how I was going to handle the habit thing.

Many times, an ex can call or text you out of simple routine.

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They are so used to doing it that they can’t help but do it. And then, usually, what you’ll see is, after maybe they gauge your interest a bit and you’re a little cold on it, especially if they broke up with you, they’ll claim it was an accident after the fact. But if you don’t believe this happens, science literally points to it.

Psychologists have found that happiness is directly correlated to how many things, types of music, food, activities, countries, we’re familiar with.

So, if you disrupt someone’s habit, something they enjoyed doing, relying on you for emotional support, and so on, this makes them less happy.

This, in turn, can make them more likely to try to re-achieve that happiness, and you can understand how that plays into things.

3) Seeking Closure

The end of a relationship often leaves lingering questions, unresolved emotions, and a sense of incompleteness. Even after time has passed, these feelings can resurface, leading one to seek closure. Here’s a breakdown of this reason:

  • Unresolved Emotions: Breakups can be messy, and not every relationship ends with a clear understanding of why it ended. Your ex-boyfriend might still be grappling with these emotions and might feel that speaking to you, even briefly, could provide some clarity.
  • Need for Validation: Sometimes, individuals seek validation that they weren’t the sole reason for the breakup or that their feelings and experiences during the relationship were valid. By reaching out, even under the guise of an “accidental” call, they might be hoping for some form of validation.
  • Revisiting Memories: The call might not be about the present but the past. He might want to revisit a shared memory, experience, or even an inside joke, hoping it might rekindle a moment of connection.
  • Hope for Reconciliation: Labeling a call as an “accident” provides a safety net. If the conversation goes well, it could open the door for further communication or even reconciliation. If it doesn’t, the “accidental” label offers an escape route without added awkwardness.
  • Understanding Their Role: Sometimes, individuals reflect on past relationships to understand their patterns and behaviors better. Your ex-boyfriend might be trying to understand his role in the breakup and believes that a conversation, even a brief one, could offer insights.
  • Seeking Forgiveness: If he feels guilt or regret over how things ended or something he did during the relationship, this “accidental” call might be a way to seek forgiveness without directly confronting the issue.

In essence, the “accidental” call under the pretext of seeking closure is a way to navigate the complex web of emotions, memories, and questions that often linger post-breakup. It provides a low-risk avenue to potentially address these feelings without the direct vulnerability of admitting the true intent of the call.

4) Emotional Moment

Going through a breakup is ripe with emotion.

Even if you were the one to break up with your partner, you are still likely going to feel many difficult emotions.

Sometimes, if you have an ex-boyfriend who’s going through a very emotional time, in a moment of weakness or nostalgia, they may have dialed your number only to hang up and claim it was an accident.

The thing this makes me think of immediately is my research on avoidance. As I’ve claimed many times throughout this website, and as I usually mention in every single article if it’s relevant, most of the clients’ exes that we have studied tend to have an avoidant attachment style.

This simply means that they value their independence above all else. What’s interesting about these avoidant individuals is that they go through the same cycle repeatedly, something called the avoidant death wheel.

I’m going to attach a graphic of the avoidant death wheel that I’ve color-coded.

As you can see on this graphic, there are eight main stages to the avoidant death wheel.

  1. They first start off wanting someone to love them
  2. Then they find you and believe their troubles are over.
  3. Next, they start noticing some worrying things,
  4. Begin thinking of leaving
  5. Then actually decide to leave the relationship.
  6. After leaving, they feel elated about their decision,
  7. But eventually, they start to feel lonely,
  8. Leading to the thought, “Why can’t I ever find the right person?”

It’s the left side of the graphic that I’ve color-coded.


The purple area is what I like to call the separation elation area. You’re not likely to get an accidental call from an ex during this phase.

Green, Blue, Yellow, Red:

The accidental calls usually start coming in the green, blue, yellow, or red areas. That’s when avoidants tend to become incredibly emotional and are more likely to make these accidental calls.

Why is that?

Well, the green, blue, yellow, and red areas are where nostalgia, regret, and depression begin to kick in for those avoidants. This emotional state creates the circumstances in which the avoidant is most likely to claim they’re accidentally calling you.

5) Accidental Group Call

Group chats and call lists are common features in many messaging and social media apps. They allow multiple users to communicate simultaneously, making them convenient for coordinating with friends, family, or colleagues. However, these group features can also lead to unintended interactions, especially post-breakup. Here’s a deeper look:

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  • Ease of Mis-clicks: In many apps, initiating a group call can be as simple as accidentally pressing a button. If you’re still part of a group that includes your ex-boyfriend, he might inadvertently start a call, ringing everyone in the group, including you.
  • Old Groups Linger: Over time, we often accumulate numerous group chats, some of which might become inactive. Your ex-boyfriend might have been scrolling through old chats, reminiscing or cleaning up, and accidentally initiated a call.
  • Notification Overload: In active groups, a flurry of messages can lead to multiple notifications. While trying to mute or manage these notifications, it’s easy to mistakenly hit the call button.
  • Assuming Inactivity: He might have assumed that an old group, especially one that hasn’t seen activity in a while, wouldn’t notice an accidental call. Realizing that it rang everyone, including you, might have been an unexpected surprise.
  • Shared Connections: Even post-breakup, you both might still share mutual friends or connections. These shared groups serve as reminders of those mutual connections, and an accidental call can bring to the forefront the interconnectedness of your social circles.
  • Awkward Follow-ups: After realizing the mistake, there might be a rush to end the call, followed by messages explaining the accident. This can lead to awkward interactions, especially if the breakup was recent or if there are unresolved emotions.

In the digital age, where group interactions are a tap away, the “Accidental Group Call” underscores the complexities of navigating shared digital spaces post-breakup. It serves as a reminder of shared histories and the intricacies of managing online interactions in the aftermath of a relationship.

6) Shared Responsibilities

Relationships often come with intertwined lives, where couples share not just memories but also tangible responsibilities.

From jointly adopted pets to shared financial commitments like loans or rent, these obligations don’t automatically dissolve with the relationship.

Your ex-boyfriend’s call might have stemmed from a need to discuss one of these shared responsibilities. Perhaps there was an upcoming vet appointment for a pet, a bill due, or a decision to be made about a shared asset. Picking up the phone might have seemed like the most direct way to address the issue.

However, the weight of emotions, the potential for conflict, or the simple realization of the gravity of reopening communication might have made him second-guess the decision to call. In such situations, the line between the past and the present blurs, making even necessary conversations laden with emotional complexity.

The “accidental” label then serves as a protective barrier, allowing him to retreat without delving into deeper discussions or confrontations.

7) Testing Your Reaction

Why would an ex do this, especially if that ex broke up with you?

Well, there are a number of reasons, but two really spring to mind.

  1. Testing the Waters for Reconnection: If your ex is contemplating getting back together or rekindling a friendship, the “accidental” call can be a low-risk way to gauge your receptiveness to future interactions.
  2. Seeking Validation: The call can be a way for your ex to seek validation. If you show concern or curiosity about the call, it might reassure them that they still hold a place in your thoughts or emotions.

Testing The Waters For Reconnection:

The first is they could simply be testing the waters for a reconnection.

If your ex is contemplating getting back together or rekindling some sort of friendship, an accidental call can be a low-risk way to gauge your receptiveness to future interactions. No one likes to take a big risk if they believe they’re going to be rejected.

So, gauging the reaction by accidentally calling you and potentially having a conversation can be a way for them to test the waters. This can also be linked to factor number four, the emotional moment, and the avoidant side of things.

Often, I’ve found that if your ex has an avoidant attachment style, they’re more likely to reach out to you using these low-risk methods of communication. They typically avoid anything they feel might lead to conflict.

Talking to an ex whom they’ve wronged can make avoidants feel they might enter a conflict scenario. Thus, testing the waters by accidentally calling falls within their comfort zone.

Seeking Validation:

The other common reason I’ve seen exes do this is they’re seeking validation. The call can be a way for them to seek validation. If you show concern or curiosity about the call, it might reassure them that they still hold a place in your thoughts or emotions.

Narcissists do this, which might sound odd, but it’s true. If you’re unfamiliar, narcissists typically follow the same cycle, known as the narcissistic abuse cycle.

It has four stages:

  1. The idealization stage, where they draw you in;
  2. The devaluation stage, where they belittle you;
  3. The discard stage, where they leave you;
  4. And the Hoover stage, where they try to pull you back in.

It’s the transition between the discard and Hoover stages that intrigues me.

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Narcissists need something called “supply,” which is essentially validation or attention.

They rely on this because their egos are incredibly fragile. Often, they’ll turn to exes for this validation because they know they can get a quick emotional “hit” before discarding them again.

They tend to view people not as individuals but as sources of supply, thinking, “I can get this from this person, that from another,” and so on. So, if you believe your ex is a narcissist or has shown narcissistic tendencies in the past, they might just be seeking your validation.

8) The Butt Dial

I don’t have much to say about the butt dial, but it’s likely one of the most common accidental calls, and it does happen.

Their phone could have been in their pocket, and they unintentionally pressed your number, and so on. We’ve all heard of it. I placed the butt dial last on this list because it’s actually the least likely reason for an accidental call from an ex.

Most butt dials I’ve encountered come in the form of drunk calls or drunk texts, with the butt dial used as an excuse.

Often, the accidental call and the butt dial are mentioned together, primarily because the butt dial is the go-to excuse to avoid seeming careless or thoughtless.

Am I suggesting that it doesn’t happen or it’s a made-up excuse?

No, I believe it’s a genuine occurrence.

However, it’s essential to consider the circumstances surrounding the butt dial. A butt dial is more likely to occur when they’re using their phone frequently, typically in the middle of a workday.

If the phone is in their pocket and accidentally activates, it might happen during a workout. If you receive a butt dial at midnight, it’s probably for one of the other reasons mentioned.

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