Today I’m going to show you exactly why guys come back when you ignore them.

In fact, the things that we talk about today have been instrumental in helping me and my team understand why “playing hard to get” works so well on exes.

And I’d like to point something out.

Everything that I’m about to teach you today is based on real life psychological research and has been proven to get results when it comes to getting an ex back.

Let’s begin!

Why Men Come Back After You Ignore Them

If you’re an avid reader of this site you may have heard me talk about a concept called the no contact rule.

It’s one of the most popular strategies for getting an ex back and it’s entire premise is based on the idea of playing hard to get or ignoring your ex. Essentially you ignore your ex for a period of time and by doing so you get all kind of unconscious benefits.

Now, when I was putting this article together I was very tempted to simply talk about a few of my success stories with the no contact rule. However, I’ve written about that multiple times and figured you’d get bored of another article like that.

So, I went further and compiled a list of psychological research on ignoring an ex and what benefits that can bring you.

My research was illuminating as I found three talking points to discuss with you,

  1. How reactance plays a role
  2. Why it’s important to consider the zeigarnik effect theory
  3. The uncertainty effect plays a huge role as well in making a man interested in you

This is going to be an exciting one because I’m going to be talking about things I’ve never talked about before.

Let’s get started.

1. Ignoring A Man Can Trigger Reactance

This is something you’ll see me talk about a lot with the no contact rule. In fact, I’d say that reactance is why the no contact rule works.

So, what is reactance?

It basically states that human beings are born with inherent behavioral freedoms and when those behavioral freedoms become threatened they “react” in a way to get those freedoms back.

When you ignore your ex you’ll find they come back because they want to reacquire the freedom that they lost.

Now, if you are confused, don’t be.

By ignoring your ex you are taking his behavioral freedom of talking to you away.

This will drive him nuts and will put him in a position where he’ll most likely want to come back or chase you to get the freedom back.

A perfect example of reactance occurs daily in my house with my daughter.

Currently she is three years old which means that routines are very important for her. One of these routines is that she likes a hug and a kiss before she takes a nap or goes to sleep for the night.

The problem is that getting her to do it is like pulling teeth because she knows that when she has to give the hug and the kiss it’s time for her to sleep and she wants to stay up and play.

So, one thing I’ve been doing to speed the process up is actually telling her that she’ll have to go to bed without a hug and a kiss before she goes. In essence, I’m removing her behavioral freedom of getting the hug and the kiss from the equation.

Without fail she’ll come running to me screaming for her hug and kiss when I do this,

This is reactance in a nutshell.

However, it’s not the only reason “ignoring him only to have him come running back” works.

2. The Zeigarnik Effect Comes Into Play

The Zeigarnik Effect is something that is relatively new to Ex Boyfriend Recovery but it’s something that does a brilliant job of explaining why ignoring men can be effective.

If you don’t know, the zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted tasks better than completed ones.

For our visual learners,

I always like to explain it like this,

Lets pretend you have an uncompleted circle,

You look at this circle and something just annoys you about it.

It’s incomplete and you want nothing more than to just complete it.

Ignoring a man and having them come back is a little like that.

You see, we are drawn to people whose feelings we don’t know yet.

Generally speaking when we know how someone feels it removes mystery from the equation which is fine if enough mystery has already been built but if you tell someone how you feel immediately you aren’t going to be that attractive to them.

By utilizing the the zeigarnik effect you can make sense of why we are drawn to people who don’t tell us their feelings right away.

Uncompleted tasks (like not knowing someones feelings) create curiosity or even sometimes obsession and forces a person to invest more time to “complete the task.”

3. The Uncertainty Principle

This is really where we hit pay dirt in my opinion.


Because the uncertainty principle can directly help explain what ignoring a guy does to them.

The uncertainty principle states that people are generally more intrigued with uncertainty than certainty.

There’s a reason for why scientists have determined that men and women grew less intrigued by people who responded to their texts right away as opposed to the person who didn’t respond right away.

It all has to do with uncertainty.

Being uncertain on where you stand with someone creates an interesting dynamic and can even tie directly into what we just talked about with the zeigarnik effect above.

Perhaps the most interesting study I’ve seen on this is the rat study.

What Rats Can Teach Us About Uncertainty

Years ago scientists ran a study on rats.

Specifically trying to measure how rats responded to direct rewards.

Here’s the set up.

Two rats were used in mazes.

One maze was very complex and at the end of the maze was a bit of cheese,

The second rat was placed in a maze that wasn’t complex at all. In fact, the cheese was basically put right in front of the rat,

Traditional thinking would have you believe that the second the rat saw the cheese in the second maze it’d devour it, right?

Shockingly, they found that the opposite was true. In fact, the more certain the reward was the less likely the rat was to devour it.


Well, the hypothesis is that since the rat knew it could get the cheese at any time it became almost indifferent and uninterested.

Certainty breeds complacency even in rats.

Of course, when scientists created uncertainty by creating a complex maze they found that the rat devoured the cheese immediately upon finding it.

Uncertainty breeds action

This might also explain why “playing hard to get” works in humans.

We tend to cherish that which we have had to work for more than that which is guaranteed.

One Final Study Proving Uncertainty Works

The final study I’d like to talk about is a little closer to home as it doesn’t involve rats or cheese.

Instead, it involves “Facebook.”

Two men were tasked with rating a woman’s Facebook profile on a scale of 1 – 10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.

One man was instructed to show the women what he rated her profile while the other was told not to.

Scientists wanted to study which of the men she found more attractive.

Turns out that she found the uncertain aspect of not knowing what she was rated more attractive therefore she found the second man more attractive.


Let’s talk about what we covered today.

  • Overall we learned that there are three core principles you need to look at if you ignore your ex
  • The first has to do with reactance
  • The second has to do with the zeigarnik effect which I’ve covered before
  • The final has to do with the uncertainty principle
  • Also, rats can tell us a lot about human behavior

Now, I don’t expect you to have grasped everything I’ve talked about in this article. I expect there to be questions. Luckily, I monitor the comments on this website so if you ask a question you should get an answer.

Don’t be afraid to comment below!

19 thoughts on “Why Guys Come Back When You Ignore Them”

  1. Avatar


    May 6, 2019 at 11:06 am

    I became very close to my boss(GP)who kissed me on the head a few times when I told him I was leaving. He’s begged me to stay.
    He said he always has my back and will always care for me.
    He has always been there for me.
    My husband was cheating on me.
    I’ve hit a tough time with my eyesight and now he seems distant and doesn’t answer my emails.
    Has he fallen out of love with me.

  2. Avatar

    Dani Dobson

    May 6, 2019 at 2:13 am

    So I was dating a guy and we got close very fast moved in together and then he started lying and would be spending time with other women. He said he was scared and he didn’t want to be with one person. He said every day that he cares for me and he would do nice things to help me but would always have a wandering eye when we would go out. Finally I asked him to be completely honest with me about his feelings and he said he loves me and regrets his choices and wants to be with me. Then a few hours later said he moved into a lease and can’t get out of it and can’t be with me. I blocked him after that because he has been doing the hot cold thing for over a year now and I can’t keep waiting for him. I went farther then no contact because he always manipulated me with his words and I know he would talk me into staying around while he went with other women convincing me he didn’t love them he just needed variety and loved me. He was the most confusing man I ever met. Should I unblock him to see where it leads or remain blocking him?

  3. Avatar

    Madalyn Febian

    May 5, 2019 at 9:39 pm

    Hello! My story will be long but my long-term boyfriend now ex broke it off almost 4 months ago now. We were together for two years and I was his first girlfriend. He’s not in a relationship right now and we’re also not on speaking terms. We did end it on good terms, I just don’t know why he’s avoiding me. We’re seniors in high school and we’re off to different colleges soon but ever since senior year started he was distant. He chose his gaming and friends over me and he did tell me that i’m not as important as I was once. We broke up once last year but he reconsidered his decision cause I convinced him to change his mind by saying how i’m not taking his freedom away. But a month after, he became his old distant self again. Before he was so clingy and all that but became distant when school started. I asked his close best friend for help and he said he was dealing with some personal problems but to make sure hes not giving me a false statement he would ask him. He did and got back to me the next day and he said he’s losing feelings because he wants to prepare himself for college. After a week I asked his friend, we broke up. He initiated it and he said it’s because we barely talk as talk but I was always there checking up on him and making plans. And he said that i’m unhappy in the relationship and I told i’m not and he said it’s obvious but i’m unhappy. That he doesn’t want the extra responsibility of being in a relationship, that he still likes me but just doesn’t want to add that responsibility. He suggested we can always text as friends not as a couple. Before he left he said I Love You and kissed my cheek. That was the very last time I spoke to him. A few weeks after, he deleted our picture on instagram but since I have access to it and he doesn’t know because I guess he forgot, I saw that he archived it. After a week of that, he decided to follow the girl he knew I don’t like because she flirted with him last year and he unfollowed her summer of 2018 because I told him so. Then, one of his friends texted me and said he was talking bad about me, called me obsessive and that the relationship got irritating. So I decided to unfollow him on all social media’s. After that, I would sometimes log back in his account for fun and I would see my name pop out on his search history from time to time. But he said those mean things about me 3 weeks after we broke up. Whenever he’s around me at school, he acts normal and happy but sometimes when he’s alone walking to class, he rushes his way to get to class when I’m around. I just don’t know why he’s still avoiding me when we ended on good terms. And his mom and his close best friend is still chill with me. Does he still have feelings?

  4. Avatar

    Maria Joshua

    April 26, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    So my ex texted me “I’m glad that you’re happy! I lost”!! That was the next morning after seeing me a night before in a pub, dancing & smiling! And of course he called after, but I didn’t pick up!! I wonder what he meant by “I lost”? And whether his message is a good sign or not!

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      April 26, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      Looks like some jealousy and regret feelings creeping into your ex. Good sign.

  5. Avatar

    Jennifer L.

    February 17, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Chris,
    This is a long one.

    I (30-35) was in a long distance relationship with a guy (40-45) that began with online contact 6 months ago, then 4 months of video chat, phone calls, all great stuff. We even had favorite shows that we would watch and spend hours talking about on video chat. We met in person and it was fantastic. He visited me, then I visited him, then 4 months in he asked me to be in a relationship with him, because he wanted to be with me and no one else. I was ecstatic and said yes, then we spent the holidays together, he asked to meet my friends which he did, and then he took the lead on going away together and we planned a long weekend. Things seemed great, there weren’t any fights or anything beyond 1 or 2 little spats. Now two months into the official relationship, the week before I was to fly down and see him, which was also the week before our long weekend, he began to act weird. I knew he was very busy at work, and I did tell him I felt like he didn’t have time for me and hoped we could still talk on the phone even for a few minutes before bed just for checkin. He seemed ok with it, but I detected distance. Texts were still sweet but somehow just not the man I was used to. So I flew down to see him as previously planned a few weeks before, very worried that something was up. He was distant, cold, not holding my hand, just very unengaged. I asked if everything was ok and he said yes, but you could tell something was up. We slept together before bed, and the next day made plans for the weekend but he was just cold and disinterested even when planning the stuff. Eventually I got upset and flat out asked: did I do something to upset you? And he seemed very warm and attentive and said I didn’t do/say anything wrong but that something hasn’t seemed right in the last week or so, and that he felt unsettled, and he couldn’t explain why, not even to himself. So I got upset and asked if he was breaking up with me. He just stared and at first said no, but then it was obvious he was. I asked if there was another woman or his ex – no. I asked if it was about the small spat (about me wanting him to hold my hand at a party since he usually wants to hold hands 24/7!) we had a few weeks ago- no. I asked if it was a personality fit- (my memory is fuzzy bc I was so upset) but he wavered and said something like “maybe I would veer towards that, long term.” I said, what does that mean? You don’t want to be with me and you can’t explain why? And he said “I can’t even explain it to myself.” And i said, “one of the things you told me you were working on when we started this relationship was speaking up more when something bothers you. (He sees a therapist.) Why didn’t you say something last week? You just booked our trip a week ago! And we slept together last night so you used me!” He kept saying no, he felt good booking the trip but since then he doesn’t know, he wasn’t sure of his feelings, something was “unsettling,” whatever. I packed up and told him that though there were no flights back to where I lived that night, I wasn’t staying there at his place. He offered me to stay while he went somewhere else because he claimed to care about me being in a city where I knew no one. I was like “no I’m good, you don’t wanna be with me and I don’t understand why, I’m not begging you to stay with me and I’ll move on and find someone else.” He was upset and through sad voice said “oh I know you will.” (That was so painful to hear him say.) and I ordered my ride and left. He never called or texted to see where I went or if I got back to my city safely. Chris I am baffled. When I tell you this man charmed the hell out of me for 6 months and did everything a marriage minded man would do to lay the path, I was shocked that this happened. He said he meant everything he said and did during the relationship. So why go through months of communication and closeness, fly up to see me, meet my friends, spend the holidays with me, tell me how beautiful I was and how much he loved my qualities, and how happy he was to be with me, and tell his friends and family about us and show them pictures, but then do this? Why, just because of me wanting to talk on the phone more regularly? Or because I vented to him about some girl at a party I didn’t wanna see? Many say this has nothing to do with me, but if it didn’t, wouldn’t he have told me? And asked to work it out? Instead he was sad and held his head in his hands, and told me how sorrry he was and that he f-ed this up and didn’t handle it properly. and what an amazing woman I am, and that I did nothing wrong, and I was a great girlfriend to him. When I left, I asked if there was anything left he wanted to say before I never spoke to him again. He just kept saying he was sorry for how he handled it. I feel like I left without a clear answer on WHY he was doing this. I threw a little shade on my way out, told him I knew some stuff about him that I never brought up but that now that he did this, it all made sense. Didn’t reveal what it was. But I was just angry and being petty. (Shrug) he kept saying he cared about me and was sorry. It’s messed up that he had me fly down to see him and we slept together, when he KNEW this was on his mind. What happened? What did I do?

    We are on day 8 of no contact and I haven’t been this devastated in many years. I’m wrong for caring, given his cowardice and selfishness in handling this, but do you think he’ll ever reach out again to apologize and explain? Do you think he ever cared for me and still thinks of me? Or felt guilt for how he did this? Clearly if he ended the relationship, something about ME was there that made him NOT want to be with me. It’s especially devastating because I had NO idea anything was coming and he had JUST booked the trip one week prior and said that he felt good about us when he booked it. I am convinced I did something here, and that maybe it had been happening for longer than just 1 week and he just didnt say anything. So many common interests and good times together, we cooked and baked, we talked about so much, had SUCH a good time together. I just don’t know what this is. Bizarre as hell. I was about to hit SEND on an email to him but I came across your page.

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      February 17, 2019 at 10:57 pm

      Hi Jennifer….well, I am glad you came across my website. I think you should proceed with NC as it can do so much for you. I encourage you to pick up my Program if you haven’t as there is so much “me” in the at 485 page flagship product than you can get from me here due to time limitations.

  6. Avatar

    Witnee Peter

    December 10, 2018 at 4:58 am

    Thank you for the lesson. I mean I always wondered why I kept attracting lots of men to me and ended up rejecting them in the end after I found out their feelings for me.
    I’m one of those girls who are so aloof with guys and, being where I’m(an African community where a man attention is worshipped and sought after!) I was the weird one. people always wondered why I @got all the attention while they got to work for it. Turns out, their presence was a sure thing while I, get to play hard.
    sometimes I could become very interested (without being obvious, of course) in someone, allow them to get closer, but once they confess their feelings for me; it’s killer! No longer interested in them. It was kinda confusing but now everything is clear, thanks to you.

    This means I have never been in love with anyone and now I don’t believe of it’s existence any more!
    How will I know it’s love at last?

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      December 10, 2018 at 11:36 pm

      Hi Witnee!

      Oh….love is out there. You just need to connect with the right person on many levels. No one guy is going to be perfect for you or anyone else. No such thing exists. But there are better unions than others. So in time, life will reward you and you will find a suitable match.

  7. Avatar


    October 19, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    Hi I hoping you can put me at ease. My boyfriend and I have been together 2 1/2 years. We are both each others first love. Our relationship has always been perfect until his friends got involved again and he started to distance himself from me to be with them. This lead me to be jealous and act crazy. He then cheated on me and when I confronted him about it at first he denied until I asked the girl myself and the truth came out. Even though he is the one the do this I begged and pleaded of course for us not to end and we could change this. This didn’t work and I continued begging for about 2 weeks. After finding all of the NC rule I put it into place immediately. Its been a week today and nothing from him. Our breakup wasn’t bad he said he didn’t want me anymore and threw me away like trash. His mom then found out he’s been getting into drugs, he blames me for everything thats happening to him and says theres no hope for us, I know him better then anyone else and can truly see he is confused. Will this work and bring him back to me? And yes he made a mistake but what we had was amazing and we both need to change things. Hope you can help.

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      October 19, 2018 at 10:32 pm

      Hi Susan….usually guys won’t respond in the first week and sometimes not at all. My Program walks you through all the steps of how you can try to get the communications going. Feel free to check out my home page for details! It seems you ex needs some time to work thru his personal issues.

  8. Avatar


    October 19, 2018 at 6:23 am

    I like this..thank you so much.

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      October 19, 2018 at 10:42 pm

      I am glad Sebby if this is helping you in some way.

  9. Avatar

    Broken Hearted Girl

    October 7, 2018 at 8:54 am

    OK. I’m going to try to be brief but I’m convinced this stuff works but just not on my guy. He is super stubborn and does not allow himself to be vulnerable enough to show his feelings. Ever. To him who cares the least wins. In a nut shell we broke up few months ago. Decision was his. We didn’t end off on a good note but after two months of NC we are back on good terms but not back together again. I’ve always been very independent with a life of my own and he’s always said that’s what he loves about me that I have a full life outside of him. We’ve both been a little flirty lately but unless I initiate the contact he does not. I’m his first girlfriend and he’s in his early 30’s. He’s been a total bachelor. My Facebook posts are all positive. My pictures are beautiful and sensual but classy. Previously we’ve been out on dates and strangers will come up to us and say you are a beautiful woman. He takes note. But he never compliments me. Ever. I’m wondering if he just doesn’t care about me enough. I really wanted to try again but have not brought up the relationship to him either. I hired a professional relationship coach and still don’t feel like I’m making enough progress with him. He is an anomaly. I need to try to figure out if he’s just not that into me and or if I need to move on. I feel like I deserve better than him. Our mutual friends say I’m amazing and that he’s an idiot. But he doesn’t think so. I want to make him regret breaking up with me. But I don’t even think he cares one way or another. I’ve been described as an ungetable girl by our mutual friends and have guys chasing after me but yet the one guy I want barely acknowledges me or pursues me. I’m just at a loss for what to do. Nothing is working with this guy. He’s not in any of the rule books.

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      October 7, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      Hi there!

      So perhaps my broken hearted friend your guy has some attachment issues. In psychology, according to the theory of attachment, it is said that there are four types of attachment styles. One is called “Secure” and that pretty much means what it sounds like. The individual has an emotionally secure and healthy sense of who they are and welcomes the opportunity to feel close and love and be loved. They are comfortable with intimacy. They don’t worry about being rejected. They are not preoccupied with the relationship, yet they enjoy it fully.

      An “Anxious” attachment style is one in which the person may feel insecure with the relationship. They may crave closeness and intimacy. But they feel fearful of abandonment or not being good enough or not loved or deserving of love. They seek validation. They want closeness, but worry far too often about the relationship which then bleeds into the relationship connection itself causing them to feel anxious and to cling. All of this can end up scaring their relationship partner away.

      Then there is the “Avoidant” style of attachment. These individuals usually avoid commitment. They are generally uncomfortable with closeness. Emotionally distant. They tend to be loners, preferring autonomy. They value their freedom and space. They find it difficult to trust and would rather not depend on another. They sometimes dismiss their partner, keeping them at arm’s length. Independence is a priority. They are not comfortable talking about emotions and feelings. They tend to hold things in and avoids conflict, then sometimes later explodes. They may be cool, stoic, and controlled.

      Then there is the Fearful/Unresolved style of attachment. Such an individual may have much inner conflict. They may desire intimacy, but simultaneously resist and avoid. They may be be very gun shy or frightened due to a prior relationship disappointment. It could be a deep seeded form of shyness that masks itself as avoiding an attachment. Deep resentments may have piled up leading to a serious hesitation to attach. It could be the individual is very conflicted about how they feel and avoids commitment. Or the avoidant behavior could have been triggered by a past trauma of some kind and the person cannot tolerate emotional closeness. They may be very argumentative and abusive far too often. They may lack empathy, be antisocial, or narcissistic.

      I always tell people that while we can try to use these attachment styles to better understand ourselves and relationship partners, given the complexity of people and how we all connect, be careful about labeling your relationship partner or making too many assumptions. People usually have varying degrees of all these styles and change with time.

      So what is your guy. I will leave that to you to figure out. My sense is that we all have many paths to choose from. At some stage, if he keeps behaving like this, you should just walk in a different direction. If he doesn’t come following after you, with a changed outlook, so be it. Since you are independent minded anyway you will be find. You have done mostly all the right things and he is blowing his chance to connect with a real gem of a person. It will be his loss.

  10. Avatar


    October 6, 2018 at 4:44 am

    Hi Chris, this is so true, My ex dumped me and want to be friend with me, I’m on my day 5 of no contact, my ex texted me today said that he is still attracted to me, I couldn’t help but broke the NC rule and replied him and told that he is confusing me and he just replied sorry.. should I continue ignore him or can I ask him what does he want?

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      October 7, 2018 at 3:36 am

      Hi Anna!

      I think you should get my eBook, “The No Contact Rule Book” so you can understand more fully how to execute NC and when you can make exceptions and all the ins an outs! You will love it.

  11. Avatar


    October 5, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Hi Chris,

    I am on day 6 of N.C. My guy broke it off with me last weekend. Do you think it means anything if he hasn’t deleted me from social media and he hasn’t asked for a couple things of his I have at my place? I guess I’m just looking for any positive signs (no matter how small they may be). He hasn’t reached out since he ended it. No texts or anything yet.

    1. Chris Seiter

      Chris Seiter

      October 5, 2018 at 8:57 pm

      Hi Kristen!

      Good job with 6 days in! Don’t forget to also focus on your own needs and personal recover. Guys will sometimes have pent up resentments and do things like blocking you on social media. Don’t take it too hard. Lots guys do it impulsively then later switch it back. Be sure to follow my advice in my books so you are doing the things to better your chances. I lay it all out.

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