By Chris Seiter

Updated on April 5th, 2021

Texting your ex and then waiting for a reply, especially when you know it probably isn’t coming, sucks.

It’d be great if exes could just always reply to you on time, but that’s not it works, so today we’re going to talk about why your ex won’t text you back and why texting is essential to get right.

I’m dividing this article into two parts, so the first one will address WHY your ex isn’t responding, and the second part will teach you how to take a situation like that and improve it in a way that they want to respond to you.

Enough chit chat, let’s go!

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Exactly Why Your Ex Won’t Text You Back

Ultimately, we found that there are four reasons why exes simply lose interest in having a conversation:

  1. Timing
  2. Negativity
  3. Bad texts
  4. Not making the texts about your ex

Let me elaborate.

Reason # 1: The Timing Isn’t Right

A lot of people make the big mistake of blowing up their exes phone immediately after a breakup.

Your ex probably doesn’t want anything to do with you right after a breakup, so there’s almost no chance they’ll respond to you, and if they do respond, it’ll probably be something along the lines of “leave me alone.”

Trying to text your ex without giving them any time to process the breakup will just remind them of the negative aspects towards the end of the relationship, and that will drive them further away.

They might even end up ghosting or blocking you because they just don’t want to deal with you at that moment.

Fix for this issue:

This problem is a big part of why I recommend the no-contact rule after a breakup, which involves cutting off all communication with your ex for 21-45 days.

This helps deal with the timing issue because when you actually try to reach out to your ex after the no contact period, your ex will be a lot more responsive and engaged in a conversation with you.

They will have processed some of their emotions and might be ready to open up to you again.

Reason # 2: Too Much Negative History.

If your relationship with your ex was fraught with lots of fights and arguments, that could be all they associate with you.

So any time you try to reach out, regardless of your intentions or mindset, they will assume you’re going to be aggressive, and they’d rather just ignore you.

Every time you message your ex, their mind tells them, “Oh, it’s her. Remember all the negative fights you used to have?”.

Obviously, there were some positive aspects of your relationship, too, so you need your ex to associate those with you again. How can you remind them of the positive, happier times, though?

Fix for this issue:

The no contact rule takes the cake here too because it gives your ex time to get over their frustrations about the negativity and reminisce about the positive parts.

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The more time passes, the more your ex will start missing the good times and want to have those feelings again.

Reason # 3: You’re Sending Uncreative Texts.

I’m not going to dive too much into this just yet, but it’s pretty obvious that your ex needs something engaging and interesting to respond to.

If all your texts are just generic blanket statements, why would your ex respond?

Simple one-word texts like “Hey” or “What’s up” are also a big NO because those have nothing to draw your ex in and make them want to text you back.

Sometimes your ex will probably see such messages, scoff, and ignore you and want nothing to do with you because they think you didn’t really put any effort into talking to them.

And they’re not wrong because it really doesn’t take much thought or time to send a basic message like that.

I’ll get into a few fixes for this issue in a bit because the next reason goes along with this one…

Reason # 4: Your Texts Are Not About Your Ex

One thing we’ve learned throughout seven years of studying breakups and the behavior of exes is that exes want to respond to texts that are about their interests.

Honestly, this doesn’t just apply to exes. Everyone enjoys talking about things they’re interested in.

Often our clients make the big mistake of starting conversations based on their interests rather than their ex’s, but an ex might read that as you just wanting to talk about yourself and not caring about their interests/feelings.

Generally speaking, when you switch the spotlight to your ex and make the conversation about them, you’ll find that they’re a LOT more responsive.

But this is just a quick rapid-fire explanation of the reasons for why your ex may not be responding to you or texting you back, your main goal is to break down these barriers, so they respond to you.

What Can You Do To Get Your Ex To Text You Back?

This basically boils down to understanding the difference between a closed-ended and open-ended questions.

Closed-ended questions: Questions that you can answer with a Yes or a No.


Open-ended questions: Questions that require more than one word answers.

If you were wondering a bit more about them check this video out,

As you may have guessed, we find a lot more success with open-ended questions rather than closed-ended questions.

That’s not to say that closed-ended questions can never get a response.

A lot of people just don’t know what kind of closed-ended questions to use when starting conversations, and they just assume that closed-ended questions are useless.

That’s not the case.

Closed-ended questions CAN get a response, but you might run into an issue…

One thing that I’ve learned about people is that the first thing they want after a breakup is just to start a conversation with their ex. They just want their ex to respond to their text messages, and when I help them make that happen, they want more.

They want to have actual fulfilling conversations with their ex.
Now that’s an entirely different goal.

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So, if you just want any response – a closed-ended question will work for you, but if you want a deeper conversation, you’ll have to ask open-ended questions too.

Here’s my golden rule for using closed-ended text messages:

If you want to use a closed-ended text message, you should always follow it up with an open-ended text message.

I’m a big believer in matching science with practicality, so if I come across an interesting psychological concept, I want to test out if it applies to real-life situations too.

The Primal Instinct Text Messages

One of the areas we see that happen is the primal instincts of human beings.

So, we see text messages working really well if they tap into a man’s hero complex and a woman’s nurturing complex.

A special kind of message I’m always talking about for women to use is the classic “Damsel in Distress” message.

What is the Damsel in Distress text message, and why does that always seem to work so well?

The Damsel in Distress text message is basically saying to your ex that “I need help and only you can answer.”

That instantly taps into your ex’s hero complex, and he feels compelled to respond and help you out. Women’s minds work a little differently, though, so a perfect message for them will look slightly different…

Last week I was talking to a guy, and he told me that he sent his ex a message tapping into her nurture instinct.

He had a broken foot and texted her about it by sending her his X-rays and asking for her opinion.

Now, his ex was an X-ray technician, so this was super relevant to her, and it immediately awakened her nurture complex, eventually leading to a proper conversation.

Notice how both these “Damsel in Distress” and “Nurture invoking” text messages were closed-ended questions?

The key here was that these messages were intriguing, personalized, and they tapped into the psychological complexes of men and women.

So generally speaking, the kind of text messages that work the best are where you can merge your ex’s interests with whatever problem you’re having. This lets them feel important and act as an authority on the matter.

Here’s the thing though, a closed-ended question like a Damsel in Distress one asking for help regarding something at work will probably only get you a response like “sure” or “what is it?”.

That’s when your well-thought-out open-ended question comes in.

Your open-ended question needs to be solid enough to open up an entire conversation, so there must be room for some back and forth.

For example, if your ex was a fitness trainer, your first closed-ended question might be along the lines of “I’m trying to get abs and need some advice, and you’re the only one I trust.” When he responds, ready to help, you can then dive deeper into open-ended questions regarding the type of workouts, the timings, what kind of diet plan you should follow, and why. Another great tip is to ask open-ended questions based on what your ex says because that way, they feel like you’re actually engaged in the conversation too.


If you want to get engaged in a conversation with someone, the first thing you can do is make the text about them.

  • For men, this looks like tapping into their hero complex and their ability to protect or provide by asking them for help.
  • For women, tap into their nurture complex and present a problem that would make them want to “mother you.”
  • After you get their attention with those psychological hooks, have an open-ended question ready to engage them in a conversation.
  • Keep in mind that you need to make the text message and the entire experience of the conversation about THEM, so they stay interested.

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3 thoughts on “Why Your Ex Won’t Text You Back”

  1. Michelle

    July 6, 2020 at 4:53 am

    Do you have any advice on couples that have compatibility issues? My ex and I fought a lot because we are so different. I really care for him deeply and I think he does me too but it was really hard for us to make it work. We broke up once and he came back about 2 months later but I fear the break up is permanent this time. Am I just not thinking realistically about our situation working because of us fighting so much or is it possible for things to change? How can I convince him we are capable of a healthy relationship if it has failed twice?

    1. EBR Team Member: Shaunna

      July 6, 2020 at 6:08 pm

      Hi Michelle, I would suggest that you look at what you are looking for in a partner and a relationship. As if you are not compatible as people then you are always going to clash which is going to come to the same result – a break up. Even if you do care for each other but can not get along. Then it is telling you that there is something not right, you may be suited as friends. If it is something that is about communication issues, then maybe look into a local couple therapist – if you get back together. I would suggest that you start following the program and see where it takes you, but working out what you want for yourself is work well worth doing so that you don’t settle for less or for what you are “used” to

  2. Lily

    July 4, 2020 at 2:59 am

    What about when your ex was engaged with you and texting with you for a couple months and then stopped replying? No committed other woman, he is on apps though and adding girls. We talked over half of May and barely spoke in June. He gave me multiple no responses and recently replied in a neutral way when I thanked him for being for me when a close family member died last year (it was anniversary of funeral)
    He really seems like he’s trying to move on when prior to this he was occasionally sending me personal snap chats and we would have very long and positive convos. June 2 was replying immediately and shortly after pulled away Taking over a day then eventually NO response then being engaged replying to an interest initiation but then when I replied back he didn’t reply once again… I’m so lost because he’s been so hot and cold and seems so cold now and I haven’t done any of the “mistakes”