As I’ve said many times, the Ex Boyfriend Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. For some women, it can take a shorter period of time to get their ex’s back, but for many of it, it can take much longer. I myself am about 6 months into the process. And it’s had its ups and downs, let me tell you.
The recovery process can take a lot of twists and turns, and sometimes that means receiving mixed signals from your ex.
These hot and cold interactions are not fun, but they are a part of the process as your ex deals with his feelings about you. The most important thing is to keep your emotions in check. He may be nice and sweet and then lash out a couple days, or even hours later, which is why it is so important to keep a cool head.
As always, I will be using Buffy the Vampire Slayer references to illustrate my points. A little background for those of you who may not be acquainted with the brilliance of this show, and if that’s the case you should remedy that immediately:
Buffy meets Spike in season 2 and they are mortal enemies,as slayers and vampires are. However, due to a number of reasons that I won’t go into the details of, he eventually ends up fighting by her side, more or less, and feelings begin to develop…on his end.
He makes them known to her in mid season 5, and she rejects him… harshly.
But then, in season 6, when she is in the midst of recovering from some really dark stuff, which, again, I won’t go into, they begin a sexual relationship.
For him, it is one of love, but for her, it is a way of coping and healing something within herself. She can’t seem to stop herself from being with him, but she hates herself for it at the same time. As a result of this, she ends up beating him up a lot, but the two seconds later, they’re having sex so fiery that they destroy the entire house. Talk about mixed signals and hot and cold behavior.
“I have come to redefine the words ‘pain’ and ‘suffering’ since falling in love with you.” – Spike
So, that is the backstory I want you to keep in mind as I make these references.
Let’s explore. What are the reasons your ex may be acting nice, but then turning from Jekyll to Hyde and being mean?
He’s Working out His Feelings
Honestly, this is probably the most likely. And it’s the best option when you are trying to get your ex back. If your ex is working out their feelings, it means that there are feelings still there, which is an automatic point in your favor.
Buffy is definitely working out some feelings in season 6. But the truth is, not much of it has to do with Spike. A lot of it has to do with working out her own personal demons and Spike happens to be, as she puts it “convenient.” She denies that they have a connection, calling him a monster, but then the next episode is back is his crypt tearing things apart and ending up under a rug.
When people break up, it is very rare that they are 100% certain of their decision. Most of the time, there is some lingering doubt. Almost all the guys who have ever broken up with me have said some iteration of the following:
“I’m sure I’ll regret this someday.”
And they always do.
It is your job to try and show them that their doubts are well founded. But don’t tell them why they made a mistake. Show them.
He may be trying to talk himself into reasons why he shouldn’t be with you. But if he’s expressed that he wants you in his life in some capacity, he likely has some feelings left over. They might be emotional and romantic, the feelings might be more of the “friend” connection that he misses or they might be sexual in nature. A big part of this recovery process is using the tools to shift your guy’s mindset from logical mode to emotional mode. Make is so that his feelings for you are so strong that he throws logic out the window because he can’t stand to not have you as his girlfriend. Pinpoint why he wants you in his life, and work to make him see the whole picture so that you are absolutely irresistible to him.
If you get the sense his feelings for you are still romantic, work on addressing the issues that you know he had with the relationship that may be keeping him from you. Really, you should be doing this anyway. This is an important step of No Contact – to evaluate yourself and your relationship.
If you think he just misses you as a friend, force him to see you in a romantic/sexual way. Up the flirting, but do not resort to having sex with him. That puts you in the dangerous friends with benefits category. Focus on small sexual innuendos, refer in passing to past sexual experiences the two of you had, and use some subtly body language. And of course, wear red and accentuate your womanly assets when hanging out. These are all tools to force him to stop seeing you as “just a friend.”
Speaking of, if you sense that’s what he wants from you, your job is to get him to see you more romantically – get him to open up and feel emotionally safe with you. See if you can get him to reminisce about a trip the two of you took. Ask him about his family, his job, the things you know are important to him. Do what you can to make him feel like he can emotionally trust you. Guys are taught by society that they should not show vulnerability, so if he is able to do that with you, it is a huge deal.
You have to approach this logically. Make a list of the important points of your interactions with him, and try to gauge what you think his intentions are. Then go on from there and make another list of what actions you need to take to force him to see you in the more romantic/sexual/friend, whichever, way.
Girlfriend material is all of these things wrapped up in one. So it is important that if you think he is zeroing in on one aspect of your relationship together, that you force him to see you as the whole package.
He Wants to Keep You as an Option
One of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced was breaking up with a guy, but getting jealous when he moved on. I couldn’t figure out why! I didn’t want to be with him, so why should I care if he had moved on to someone else?
I’ve come to realize that this feeling, however strange, is completely normal. We all want to be wanted, even if we don’t want the person in question. And we all want a safety net – we want to keep our options open.
Back to my Buffy and Spike analogy: After Xander and Anya break up in season 6, and Buffy has yet again spurned Spike, Anya and Spike sleep together, out of hurt and wanting comfort with another person. When Buffy finds out about the affair, it is clear that she is hurt, even though she has explicitly said over and over again that she has no feelings for Spike.
Because clearly there ARE feelings there. Even though she claims she doesn’t want to be with him.
Spike, she is hurt and jealous when he is with someone else. She enjoys keeping him around as an option.
Your ex may not want to be with you now, but they probably don’t want you to move on, either. They may want to have a security blanket, so that if they aren’t able to find someone else “better than you”, you’ll still be there, waiting in the wings.
It’s unlikely that they are thinking this consciously. But if they broke up with you and it wasn’t amicable, they probably assume that you are prepared to sit around and do a bit of waiting, so they play this hot and cold game with you to try to and hook you in, then push you away. It’s all about making sure that you are available.
My advice? Scare them. Use some of the push/pull method. Show them you’re not available to them whenever they want. This is one of the main cornerstones of being an Ungettable Girl. Do a week or so of No Contact once in a while. Post photos with other guys to get some jealousy flowing. Don’t hang out with him every time he asks, and don’t initiate all the time. Force him to chase you more – it will get him more invested if he thinks you are slipping from his reach.
Don’t let yourself be an option. Force him to view you as a choice.
He’s Toying with You
Now it could be that your ex is just a cruel mean person and is toying with you. In breakups, there are winners and losers, as much as we try and deny that fact. Your ex could be trying to get the upper hand so that he is in the position of power over you, and therefore, “winning.” He could not want you to move on – not because he wants you as an option, but because he doesn’t want anyone else to have you.
If this is the case, I want you to seriously consider if you want to be with this person. If this person is genuinely toying with you with no confusing feelings on his end, l recommend you look back on your relationship. I suspect that he has a history of being manipulative and needing to have the upper hand in relationships.
I think No Contact is what I would recommend in this case – perhaps indefinitely. I’d also recommend doing some serious soul-searching and work on yourself so that you can determine what you need to do for yourself to move forward – with or without him.
A Balancing Act
I told someone in our Facebook group just today that I think of this process a lot like a balance scale. When you and your ex break up and he’s made it clear he still wants you in his life, you have to figure out why. It’s in that time you need to walk the fine line between the Friend Zone and Friends with Benefits. Once that scale is more or less even, I recommend doing what I suggested above – pinpoint the reason for your ex’s doubts and work on those.
In general, I would say that the majority of times an ex is indulging in Jekyll and Hyde – or “hot and cold” – behavior, it is because they are conflicted in their feelings for you. Once you have balanced the scale and have established yourself as neither “just friend” nor “friends with benefits”, you can start to get to work on making him see you as the full girlfriend package.
Hot and cold behavior means that you absolutely, positively, MUST keep your emotional cool. It’s likely that your ex will say stuff to try and ruffle you, but it is essential that you do not let them. If they bring up their dating life, say “oh, that’s nice.” Then change the subject. Act is if you couldn’t care less about what they’re doing or who they’re dating.
He also may try to bring up old arguments from the relationship. Do not indulge in this.
Think of it as a test, even if it’s not – he may be trying to see if you’ll react the same way you used to. Show him that you’ve changed. Keep your emotional cool. Treat this hot and cold behavior as part of the game and keep your eye on the big picture. Ask yourself if what he says now is really going to matter next week.
If he’s being flat out cruel, of course, don’t put up with that and stand up for yourself. As I mentioned, if he is simply toying with you, consider your reasons for wanting him back. But, in general, I would say hot and cold behavior is a positive sign. It means they’re conflicted about you. And if they’re conflicted about you, that means that you have the power to tip the scale in your favor.
It takes some time for Buffy and Spike, but they eventually come to an even, balanced place of mutual respect and admiration in season 7. And hey, I even hear they get together as an official couple in the season 9 comics!
(Written by Rachel)