A few years ago I noticed an interesting phenomenon with my clients.

It seemed as if exes would want them back after they moved on or gave up.

Until recently I was always a little confused as to why this was but I’ve recently stumbled across three scientific explanations that can not only explain why but can also help us understand why strategies like the no contact rule work so well.

Today I’m going to explain to you why exes seem to come back after you move on or ignore them.

Let’s begin.

The Three Reasons Exes Come Back After You Move On

There are three big reasons that can explain why exes are drawn to you after you’ve appeared to move on.

Those reasons are,

  1. They grow interested because of the uncertainty principle
  2. They are drawn to you because of reactance
  3. The Zeigarnik Effect creates an open loop they need to close

Like always, I’d be shocked if you knew everything I am talking about.

What I’d like to do now is take each one of these scientific concepts (because that’s really what they are) and dissect them so you can understand how they correlate to your ex growing interested in you when you ignore them or move on.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Your Ex Boyfriend Back?

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Concept #1: Your Ex Growing Interested In You Because Of The Uncertainty Principle

The uncertainty principle is without a doubt one of the most underrated principles in ex recovery.

So, what is it?

Great question!

The Uncertainty Principle: Is a scientific theory designed to help us understand how people react to certain conditions and uncertain conditions.

Perhaps the thing that the uncertainty principle is most popular for is their “rat maze” experiment.

People loved it when I talked about it in my YouTube video above,

So, what is the rat experiment?

Well, scientists wanted to discover how rats reacted to attempting to get cheese by completing two different mazes.

One was very complicated and presented all kinds of uncertain conditions,

The other wasn’t very complicated at all and presented certain conditions,

The results were fascinating.

As it turns out the rat that had the easy maze went over to sniff the cheese and didn’t really eat it for a long time.

On the flip side the rat that had to endure the difficult maze with all kinds of uncertainty devoured the cheese upon finding it.

Why?

Well, scientists theorized that because the rat invested time and energy into getting the cheese the rat cherished the reward more than the rat who knew it had a sure thing.

As it turns out this behavior is mirrored in human beings when it comes to breakups.

This article is all about exes showing interest after you have moved on or ignored their attempts to talk to you.

In other words, at first your ex was probably operating under the assumption that they could get you back whenever they wanted.

They thought you were a sure thing.

However, by “moving on” you indicated to them that you weren’t a sure thing.

That uncertainty raises your value.

Concept #2: They Are Drawn To You Because of Reactance

I talk a lot about the concept of reactance to my coaching clients.

And half the time I feel like it goes in one ear and out the other. I’m not saying that to upset anyone I’m just saying it to show you how undervalued I think this concept is.

If you didn’t know,

Reactance: Refers to how people respond when their behavior freedoms become threatened.

Scarcity and reactance kind of walk hand in hand.

Every year the world practically becomes capsized by the concept of “Black Friday.”

Essentially everything in stores is on sale but only for a certain amount of time.

This little “sale” results in behavioral reactions like this,

Everyone jumping over themselves to get the sale.

But what if I were to tell you that the idea of Black Friday only works because of “reactance.”

By limiting one resource human beings will react to obtain it.

Reactance teaches us that when humans have their behavior freedoms threatened they will fight, scratch and claw to get that freedom back.

This is often my big talking point when I am trying to prove to someone that the no contact rule is working but it’s also a great talking point for explaining why exes “suddenly” become interested after it appears to them that you have moved on.

Think about it.

By moving on your ex will believe that any potential future that the two of you had together is gone forever.

The freedom of that future, even if they weren’t totally interested in it, jerks them into reacting.

Concept #3: The Zeigarnik Effect Creates An Open Loop They Need To Close

The Zeigarnik Effect is another huge talking point you’ll hear me rambling about on this website.

Put simply, the zeigarnik effect states that human beings remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed ones.

I’d like to put you through an interesting little thought experiment that I think will highlight this point perfectly.

Pretend for a moment that you invite me to your house,

Now, you let me into your house and as you go to close the door I prevent you from doing so by asking you all kinds of questions.

I then proceed to lead you away from the open door and continue the conversation in a different room.

While I’m talking one thought invades your mind.

I need to close that door and I need to close it as soon as possible.

Your brain keeps coming up with all kinds of scenarios that could potentially come true and they consume your every thought.

Eventually you hit the boiling point and you absolutely have to close the door no matter what.

Why did your brain go through that rigorous process of obsessing about the open door?

Because it was an interrupted task.

This is the zeigarnik effect at work.

Breakups are often left with business unfinished.

One party typically wants to break up more than the other party and as time goes by that fact just gnaws at them. This is especially true if your ex believes he or she didn’t get the proper closure after the breakup.

By moving on you indicate that, that unfinished business will never be completed.

It can drive them nuts and they can react by trying to impress you or win you back.

Recap And Comments

I want you to ask questions.

I want you to be able to get the answers that you deserve. So, please do not be afraid to comment.

I WILL ANSWER YOU!

Ok, lets do a quick recap of everything that I covered in todays article.

  • Moving on and having an ex try to win you back is pretty common
  • There are three concepts that really are responsible for this.
  • The uncertainty Principle
  • The idea of reactance
  • The zeigarnik effect

Again, I want to reiterate that I expect and want you to comment and ask me your questions. I’m usually very good about responding to people within 24 hours.

So, don’t be afraid.

Also, if you haven’t already watched my video on this topic I’d make sure to do that in tandem with this article.

What to Read Next

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52 thoughts on “Why Exes Come Back After You Move On”

  1. Avatar

    Joe

    May 19, 2020 at 2:38 am

    So I was hoping you’d have some kind of insight on this. Now I was depressed and self destructive for my entire life. My ex, cheated on me every time she got a chance. Finally left me for her boss. I hit the wall and idk how but I found strength, I now want to be alive. We have children so there’s a line of communication for that. I’ve been getting a lot of female attention. Idk why, but I like it. She’s been acting strange, she’s actually been respectful to me. I will always love her but I don’t trust her. I want to start a life with someone else. Is this wrong? I’ve tried to let her know that I only want to be friends(for the kids sake). Is there anyway to soften the blow when she finds out that I am not willing to let her have my heart anymore?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      May 20, 2020 at 9:32 pm

      Hi Joe, I don’t think there is a way to soften the “blow” but you need to remain consistent with your message you are wanting to be civil for the sake of the children. Stop all conversations about relationships or getting back together. You have the right to be with who you want to be with and if you feel that you will never trust her that is the affects of her cheating on you multiple times. I think the best explanation you can give her is that you want to keep things as they are because of the children and how you are now getting along.

  2. Avatar

    Steph

    February 9, 2020 at 7:58 am

    I have been dating my boyfriend for 9 months . Things are great we have fun we communicate very well. He is the most honest guy I have ever met. This GS moved slow for us. But that was ok with both of us. We have both told each other how much we loved each other and how deep our connection is for each other. His ex of 2.5 years wife had recently found out about me . I am the first girl he has been serious with ß there breakup found out he was in love and serious with me. She 3 weeks ago approached him that she would like to try again. After brushing it off for 3 weeks she still continued but made several promises that she has “changed ” and made mistakes in there marriage. Even though his feels are strong and he loves me a lot . He feels though he has to see if she means what she says. He is having a hard time letting me go but also has to see if she’s the person she said she has changed I to. He said for hhim Tobe able to sleep at night he has to see. He doesn’t want to let me go and this isn’t goodbye but be patient. If she has not changed he will close the door forever and be with me… she’s excited but he’s very skeptical about this . The stakes are high on what she is claiming to have changed. Do you thinks she’s doing this because of m being in the picture or could she really be wanting to try again for different reasons??? I want to keep fighting for him because I know what we have is real and great and he loves me as he keeps telling me .

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      February 17, 2020 at 9:24 am

      Hi Steph, so I am going to be honest here. Are you happy to be second best to his ex wife? I would focus on yourself and make it clear that he is not going to come back to you if things do not work out with his ex wife. If he loved you then he would not go back to her after two and a half years of being apart! He either chooses you or loses you!

  3. Avatar

    Trasa

    October 1, 2019 at 3:53 am

    My ex is insanely stubborn and he is a very confident person. Once his mind is set he doesn’t change it. Together a year and a half, he was looking at engagement rings and almost bought us a house but he broke up with me a month ago for the second time. The first breakup in May was hard on us both emotionally. He broke up with me bc he didn’t want to waste his time on something that wasn’t forever. We loved each other, but I was just scared to commit. After I realized I didn’t want to live without him. i initiated contact too soon as neither of us had a chance to be apart before we tried working it out.The second breakup he said he fell out of love with me. We left on good terms. I messaged him a week after the breakup and his responses were short. But we haven’t made contact since. I think he is pulling the flight response bc he doesn’t want to hurt my feelings. My problem was I tried fixing where we left off. I should have tried starting a fresh relationship. I’m disappointed. I’m not sure he’ll even give me a third chance to show him I’ve changed. I wish I had found this advice after the first breakup.

  4. Avatar

    Abi

    September 19, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    Hey! How do i get my ec back if i work with them. How should i be around them? He would always smile at me if we caught eye contact but wont speak to me unless i initiate

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      September 21, 2019 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Abi, when working with an ex you need to do a limited no contact and then you need to gradually build up the texting phase and jsut try to limit the amount of time you spend around him and talking too him.

  5. Avatar

    Jim

    September 17, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    My ex broke up with me she’s blocked me everywhere and I have no way of contacting her. I belive she’s trying to move on which I have come to terms with. She’s gone a bit self destructive she’s drinking alot and she even propositioned one of my married mates which is really upset me for a number of reasons. I guess I’m asking if the principal’s that if I move on she might come back still apply if it’s not me that has applied no contact and I was broken up with. The day before our breakup she said she couldn’t wait to have my children etc which to me seems rather odd. We have broken up about 4 times and gotten back together after she realised that she would push me away when she would get overwhelmed by our relationship. Is there any advice you could provide me in knowing what to do next does this apply to ex girlfriends or is it focused on men?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      September 19, 2019 at 4:54 pm

      Hey Jim, sure go check out exgirlfriendrecovery.com

  6. Avatar

    KB

    September 10, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    My ex thought I moved on (I made it seem I was living life and happy enough without him), so he convinced himself he too had to move on. How do I deal with that?

    1. Shaunna

      Shaunna

      September 12, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      Hi KB, if you’ve completed a NC then you need to read up on texting your ex and how to do the being there method. There is plenty of articles on the website 🙂

  7. Avatar

    Ushi

    August 26, 2019 at 12:16 am

    It has been two weeks after our breakup. I am following no contact rule these days. He kept sending messages regarding our studies. But I didn’t reply. Now he is sending me texts saying i am disturbing his earlier ex and so on. Something what I didn’t do! ‍♀️

  8. Avatar

    Kay

    August 21, 2019 at 6:51 am

    My ex and I only split up a few weeks ago, he was adamant he didn’t want a relationship and told me to ‘accept it’
    A couple of days ago he ‘liked’ me on a dating app that I downloaded. I only downloaded the app just to speak to new people to be honest. I find it strange he hasn’t contacted me in a weeks and ignored my last contact to him a couple of weeks ago. So why would be like me on a dating app? I was unsure whether to like back, but I ended up doing so. He hasn’t reached out to me though. Will this have ruined my chances of reconciliation if he saw me on a dating app so soon after the split? And was he just acknowledging that he saw me on the app or to see if I would like back to get some kind of ego boost? It’s really confusing.

  9. Avatar

    Dutchess

    August 19, 2019 at 3:23 am

    I have had 3 ex-boyfriends contact me this year. These men go back over the last 10yrs. I did the ‘no contact’ very well since I did the breaking up. Two cheated (one got a baby out if it), the other became a drug addict behind my back. Very serious reasons I broke up over.

    Are some exes that stupid that they think I’d take them back?! Why would they send me text messages like “I miss you” years later?

    Is there a control personality trait that makes certain people unable to move on if they were the one broken up on? No offense to your article here, but I’m shocked as to why I’m getting these messages sooo much later after the break up. I don’t want them. I don’t even have the phone numbers in my phone anymore. And the relationships I’m talking about here were about 2 years long.

    Any insight would be appreciated.

  10. Avatar

    Jazmine

    February 18, 2019 at 1:51 am

    My ex & I haven’t talked in 3 weeks since the break up. I’ve been doing better… (finally) I did pretty much everything wrong at first.. begged.. made myself look like an idiot but then I gave up. He hasn’t texted me and I CERTAINLY wont text him & don’t plan on it. So proud of myself for being strong and taking your advice to leave it be.. I thought he forgot about me honestly.. but then my friend called me today.. she ran into him and he rambled on about me for a while.. good things and bad things (to a best friend?).. even said exactly how many days we haven’t talked… like he’s counting? what? Could no contact be getting to him or am I just being too hopeful? The break up was all him & I didn’t want it at all!

  11. Avatar

    Sean

    February 13, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    I broke up with my ex gf because she cheated on me. I cought her with someonelse…after 3 months of breakup, i met my highschool sweetheart and we started dating. When i thought i’m ok with my ex, i became confused because my ex text me and she said she misses me. She want me back really bad and willing fix things. I don’t know what to do because my highschool sweetheart has a feelings for me…i i really need your opinion on this one…btw my highschool sweetheart is a single mom. She’s so wonderful…it’s just that i wanted to give my ex a shot but i’m scared and i don’t want to hurt my highschool sweetheart because she told me that she loved me.

  12. Avatar

    Katelyn

    February 3, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Chris,
    I broke up with my bf of 1 1/2 years about a month ago, we met up 2 weeks ago so I could get some closure and explain myself which ended up with him telling me various other reasons why our relationship won’t work, in his opinion. He told me to date other people, which really hurt. We haven’t contacted each other since (2 weeks) I’m lost as to what to do now. And when I should reach out, if at all.

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      February 4, 2019 at 3:49 am

      Hi Katelyn!

      I know it hurts when a guy says something as insensitive as “go date other people”. I do think you should look at implementing No Contact. Feel free to tap into my Program to learn more about how to best do it!

  13. Avatar

    OLGA

    January 18, 2019 at 11:50 am

    Forgot to mention that we have been together for 4 years

  14. Avatar

    OLGA

    January 18, 2019 at 11:47 am

    Hi Chris, thank you so much much for your videos.
    Me and my girlfriend were together for 4 years. (same sex relationship).
    We have broken up twice in the past but got back together again.
    But, two and a half months ago we broke up because she found out that I cheated on her (once, that actually meant nothing). The last 1 and and half month I trully apologised to her, promised it will never happen again, I would do anything to fix this, begged etc. She always said NO but I could easy tell how devastated she looked, would’t stop crying saying that she loves me but doesn’t want to be with me, that she had imagined us growing old together, living together. Since then I kept contact with her with text msgs, she always replied and we even met twice (even though at first she was negative she finally end up accepting to see me).
    Ten days ago I sent her a long and very very emotional text msg telling her that I love her and that I will be there for her, that I believe in people who fight everyday to be together, I believe in us and that I want to spend my life with her BUT at the end of the msg I told her that I was not going to beg, chase or contuct with her again and that if she wanted all the above, lets not lose any more time. The next day we met after se proposed it. She was still negative in getting back together. Then, after that she called me twice during the next day to check up on me how I was doing after a small injury I had. Then I follow radio silence. It’s been 10 days!!
    I could really use some advised here Coach!!
    Sorry for my long msg.
    Thank you very much,
    Olga

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      January 18, 2019 at 3:49 pm

      Hi Olda! Glad you are enjoying the videos. Looks like you have started No contact. Be sure to do it the way I teach it in my Program. Pick up one of my Guides or eBooks to come up to speed on the whole process!

  15. Avatar

    Samantha

    January 18, 2019 at 8:12 am

    I was on 26th days nc and he wishes me happy new year and then commented on my social media post . I responded. He was still with the new gf. When we started talking, i told him i still wanted him back. We argued and i started flooding of long rambling. Je was never angry and still help me with the resume. He is still very sorry for the hurt. I cant find anytjing on the net with regards to this…. he dont wanna break with his gf and he still contact me and even i scolded him and he still care for me.

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      January 18, 2019 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Samantha. So it looks like your Ex still is caught up between what is most important to him. You might consider extending No Contact or you could try the “Being There” method.

  16. Avatar

    olga

    January 10, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Dear Coach Good Day,
    Two and a half months I cheated on my girlfriend (same sex relationship) and we broke up really baddly.
    At first she said she never wanted to see me again, then after me making the first move we echanged some sms and had some long lasting phonecalls. We also met twice.
    She is the person who never posts anything on facebook or other social media but now posts in public on fb and also posts on instagram where before our break up her uploads were zero.
    Despite the fact that she has blocked me on social media she knows that i am able to see her posts.
    Her words are that she loves me but doesn’t want to be with me, but her actions are a little bit confusing.
    Could you please give me an advise??

    Thank you in advance,
    Olga

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      January 11, 2019 at 12:41 am

      Hi Olga!

      Good day to you! I know cheating can really turn relationships upside down. But those deep wounds can be healed with the right approach and plan. I remember answering you in my support email!

  17. Avatar

    Jennifer

    January 6, 2019 at 4:44 am

    Hey Chris,

    My ex bf broke up with me last week and he just deleted all of our photos from instagram and started following girls (models and people we both know). Does that mean I should stop fighting for him? I am doing NC

    Thanks

  18. Avatar

    Jennifer

    January 5, 2019 at 10:32 pm

    Hey chris,
    My ex bf who broke up with me started following girls who we both know on Instagram, does this mean he is not interested in me anymore?
    Thanks in advance

  19. Avatar

    Savannah

    December 30, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    Hey! I love your blog and was wondering if you could give me some guidance on my current situation. My boyfriend of almost 2 years broke up with me a little over a month ago. We are both seniors in high school this year so as high school is coming to a close, I could tell my ex was becoming more and more confused about where his life was going. He was about to enlist in the army, and still is planning to I believe, but I was prepared to at least attempt to stick with him and do long distance while I stay in my hometown for college. Long story short, we were doing great (or at least I thought so) and hadn’t argued in months when all of a sudden he went to Florida, we hadn’t seen each other in like 4-5 days, and he broke up with me over the phone. I’ve been using this last month to improve myself, both physically and emotionally, but I still miss him and think about him very often. I hadn’t talked to him in weeks until I texted him saying I hoped he felt better upon hearing he had the flu on christmas and while I just expected him to respond with thank you, he went on to say he thought about me while at the mall (somewhere we used to go) a few days back. This struck me by surprise as it didn’t appear to me like he cared due to previous conversations we had. After that message though, as the conversation went further, he started sending short responses and acting as though he did not wish to speak to me again. He is very hot and cold with the way he acts towards me so it makes me super confused as to if he misses me and will eventually try to come back, or stand his ground and remain single.

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      December 30, 2018 at 11:12 pm

      Hi Savannah!

      So glad you enjoy the blog! A lot of guys can be hot and cold for lots of reasons….immaturity….uncertainty…game playing…etc. He probably is not sure of how feelings. Just don’t press too much. If he has interest, he will signal it eventually. Keep doing things to raise your self up!

  20. Avatar

    Lily

    December 28, 2018 at 4:04 am

    Hi Chris

    I love your website and content!

    my boyfriend (28 years old) and I (27) broke up about 7 weeks ago. We both live in Australia, but he is back home to apply for his new visa. We did long distance for about 2,5 weeks before he called me after I couldn’t get a hold of him for 3 days, and said he didn’t know if he wanted to be in a relationship, if he loved me or when he was coming back to Australia. We talked for about an hour where he cried obsessively and was almost hyperventilating. I was completely calm and said that if he doesn’t know anything at this moment and if he feels the relationship weights him down then we should break up. He said he still really cared about me and misses me but didn’t want to drag me along. I have been in NC ever since, but I sent him a clean slate message basically just saying I wish him the best cause I only want him to be happy. He has not read the message so a bit unsure what that means.

    Since the breakup I have just focused on myself and ways to improve. I was very needy in the relationship towards the end so I have therefore really worked on this, as well as reconnected with my dad I hadnt spoken to for about 18 years. I have worked out, gotten a new haircur and color, graduated university, started my own business and gone on some dates, and made some new friends. I have made sure to post pictures on facebook of my new very happy life. have really enjoyed this period of self-focus.

    He has told mutual friends of us he still really cares about me, and “still love me in his own way” (not sure what that means), and but that it just didn’t feel right in his heart, he has told several of our friends this. We have a lot of mutual friends so I make an effort to be very happy and not speak about my ex around them as I know words travel fast.

    We were together for almost 9 months. The beginning of the relationship was absolutely amazing, we connected on so many levels. He unfortunately really struggled with his job and had a big debt problem which he really tried to work on, but it really brought him down. He got into a depression, and towards the end of the relationship he began drinking a lot and began acting out in a way neither me nor his friends had seen before. I urged him to go back home to see close friends and family so hopefully he will get back on his feet.

    We havnt spoken since, but he checks every single story I post on facebook, no liking or anything like that, just sees my stories. If I post 5 stories he will check through them all.

    I am really unsure how to move forward, or even whats going on in his head. Thank you for any reply 🙂

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      December 29, 2018 at 4:43 am

      Hi Lily!

      Glad you are soaking it all up! She should be proud of yourself for how you have focused on being a better “you”. It seems that you ex needs time to put things right in his life so that he will be ready when you choose to reach out to him. And if and when you do, follow the game plan I describe in my comprehensive eBook, EBR PRO and elsewhere on my website!

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