Exes can come back and seek your attention for many different reasons. Today we’re to look at those reasons and dissect them.
Since most of our client base is on the receiving end of the breakup I’m going to focus my attention on situations in which your ex broke up with you but seems to still be trying to get your attention.
So, after a lot of deliberation I came up with what I think are the four most common reasons for why an ex will “suddenly” start trying to get your attention.
- The grass wasn’t so green on the other side
- The avoidant nostalgia kick has begun
- Wants to set you up as a backup “in case”
- They don’t like the fact that the breakup hasn’t broken you
Side Note: I’m 100% certain there are more than four reasons for why they’re trying to get your attention but these are by far the most common occurrences we see in our coaching practice.
Let’s break them down.
Reason #1: The Grass Wasn’t So Green On The Other Side
I encourage you to stop looking at breakups as these selfless actions by your exes, in most cases they aren’t.
At their core, breakups are nothing more than one party admitting that they think they can find someone else that can fulfill their romantic needs better than you.
It’s that whole grass is greener argument.
Sometimes your ex is right, sometimes they aren’t.
Usually I’ve found that if your ex is suddenly trying to get your attention again after a breakup they’re realizing it’s not as easy to “play the field” as they thought. The sentiment was echoed in our private facebook support group by one of our members who happened to stumble across an interesting thread on reddit.
Here are the main insights you can take away from the reddit comment that our member was so inspired by,
- Usually the dumper dumps because they get the grass is greener syndrome.
- The commentor still thinks about exes they’ve dumped as far back as 10 years.
- They’ve reached out to every ex they dumped but sometimes it took years for them to do it.
- Most of this persons exes are overseas so they don’t really see a point in reconciling but if they were in the same city they might be open to it.
- You don’t often forget a deep connection you had with someone even if it ended horribly
The reason I highlighted this comment is because it’s consistent with the findings we’ve noticed here on Ex Boyfriend Recovery almost word for word. I say almost because I think it’s dangerous to assume that they grass isn’t greener on the other side all of the time.
Sometimes it can be and while that may be scary to hear I’ve found that it’s a very fluid thing that can constantly change. We automatically assume that our exes opinion of us is fixed in time, warped by the moments they shared with us but it would be a mistake to assume that’s the case.
What happens if you completely revamped your life and improved it to such a level that your ex feels like they’re missing out.
All of a sudden they’re comparing this “fantasy” version of the current you with the old you and it looks like you’re sitting pretty.
Of course, this seamlessly helps the transition into reason number two.
Reason #2: The Avoidant Nostalgia Kick Has Begun
I internally roll my eyes every time I type these words but I’m going to do it again. If you haven’t watched my video on avoidant exes I highly encourage you to do so.
One of the big insights I make in that video is the fact that avoidant experience this really weird time dilation when it comes to grieving a breakup.
I’ll use an anxious attachment style to contrast with the avoidant attachment style to prove this point.
Anxious people tend to be defined by their anxious actions. After a breakup that can include,
- GNATTING (Going Nuts At Texting)
- Trying to control
It’s important to remember that with anxious individuals it all stems from the same place. They’re terrified of being abandoned and their worst fear has just come true. As a result, we tend to find that immediately after a breakup they’re grieving hardcore.
After a significant amount of time, with a lot of help from friends, family, coaches and even therapists they can move past the breakup and work on exhibiting more secure behaviors.
The avoidant is the exact opposite. Immediately after a breakup they feel relief. I know this from firsthand experience because I am an avoidant.
I even took the test to prove it,
There’s an initial sense of relief after a breakup. Like the weight of the world is off your shoulders. Of course, you also don’t really grieve. You either distract yourself or simply cut the person off so you aren’t thinking about them at all.
Don’t worry, the toll will come.
One of the most fascinating insights that I can give you about the avoidant is that when they feel safe and far removed from a breakup is when they allow themselves to grieve and feel nostalgia.
And like the commentor above mentioned, that’s when they may reach out.
So potentially one of the reasons that your ex may be reaching out to you is that they are on this avoidant nostalgia kick. How do you know if that’s the case? I think probably the most important data point to pay attention to is how long it’s been since they’ve last reached out to you.
Usually that nostalgia begins around day 45 post breakup and sometimes I’ve seen it last as much as a year.
Reason #3: They Want To Set You Up As A Backup Just “In Case”
And now we get to the less wholesome reasons for why they could be trying to get your attention.
Reason three is kind of like an amalgamation of all the reasons that came before it. There’s an element of the grass is greener syndrome because in my experience an ex who wants you as a backup usually isn’t getting everything they need from their current partner or potential current partner.
There’s also an avoidant aspect to it. One thing we know from research is that avoidants traditionally like these types of non committal relationships where they have one foot in the door and the other foot out the door.
So, being “friends” with you but kind of leading you on and making you think that there could potentially be more is in line with something they would do.
Why would they be so cruel as to look at you as a backup and how can you tell if your ex is doing this?
The why is simple, you provided something in the relationship that ticked one of their boxes. Personally I’ve found this to be emotional support with our clients. I can’t tell you how many times I see an ex do this.
The how is a little more complicated but I have noticed one trend.
Want a hint?
Usually if your ex is currently dating someone and they’re still reaching out to you talking to you about things in which they shouldn’t be talking to you about it can land squarely in this camp.
They want to have you as a backup in case things don’t work out with that current person they are with and they usually don’t. So, when the inevitable breakup occurs they have someone to help distract them from the pain, you.
Kind of sucky, right?
Well, wait until you hear the last reason.
Reason #4: They Don’t Like The Fact That The Breakup Hasn’t Broken You
In researching how I was going to approach this article I stumbled across this really amazing article written by a woman entitled, How My Ex Tries To Get My Attention: I’m curious what his girlfriend thinks of this.
Normally I don’t get sucked into reading articles written in this format anymore. I’m more of a slave to data based articles from Psychology Today or some place like that but there was something about this article that just grabbed me.
Here’s the gist,
- The author tells the story of her husband who cheated on her for years
- Then continues with the fact that her husband asked for a divorce
- Then she goes on to talk about how crazy her ex husband is after the divorce
- How she moved on to someone new
- And how he constantly is angered by this fact
It got me thinking that this is an extremely common occurrence and many of us can trace it back to childhood when we sat in the sandbox and threw a tantrum when someone else started playing with a toy that we were done with.
Usually the person who breaks up with you has these preconceived narratives in their head about how you’re supposed to act.
The dumper expects you to,
- To throw that tantrum
- Attempt to get them back
- Stay hung up on them for years
- You get the idea
But what if you don’t do that? What if your life actually improves after they break up with you. To them, that’s not supposed to happen and this is where I find their decision to reach out and try to get your attention interesting.
It really goes back to this concept of “winning the breakup” which is the dumbest sh*t ever.
They can’t let you be happy because it deflates their ego. They need you to be miserable because then not only do they win the breakup but they prove that the narrative in their head about you is right.
So they reach out to see if you’re faking it.
They reach out to see if they can ruin your progress
Sometimes they’ll use other people to even do this by badmouthing you.
And going back to that article from that woman I mentioned above she talks about this concept through her ex husbands actions.
My ex asked to meet my husband, then changed his mind at the last minute. That was five years ago. He didn’t ask again. The kids tell him I’m very happy with their new stepdad. Who wants to see that?
I like being happy. I’m getting used to it. The ex is still living in Long Island, gossiping away, trying to get my attention by saying nasty things about me to the kids. He’s kind of in a rut.
I’d like him to stop cashing our son’s insurance checks and spending the money, but aside from that, I wish him all the best.
Living well really is the best revenge.
I couldn’t have said it any better myself.