Why Do Exes Come Back When You Moved On? The 17 Real Reasons

Return of the ex – that sounds like the title of an awful scary movie, doesn’t it? In reality, there are plenty of reasons why your ex-lover may come back into your life. Sure, it is easy to believe that he has returned because he still loves you and recognizes the error of his ways. But in reality, that is usually far from the case. There are plenty of reasons why your ex might return, and those reasons usually have very little to do with you.

Why do Exes Come Back?

No other alternatives

We will just say it right out – dating can suck sometimes, and the dating world can be frustrating. If your ex lives in a rural, remote area or small town and does not have a large social circle (ie, does not have a lot of friends), they may come crawling back to you because they haven’t had any luck with other romantic partners in the past.

Dislike of losing

When you pull away from someone you used to love or be involved with, the person might feel, very reasonably, that they are losing something that they once had. This is, of course, a total power move – the other person might wonder why they lost you and may even begin to reminisce over what they once had. If a guy comes crawling back to you, it does not necessarily mean that he loves you and it could merely be that he dislikes losing and is curious over what he had lost – you!


This is one of the most common reasons for an ex to return. They might have no other options and desire a little bit of company. Unfortunately, you might be considered the easiest option. Just because you have a shared history (and maybe your ex even assumes that you are in the same boat), they might feel as though you will be able to make them feel a bit less lonely.


If you did not handle the breakup in the right way, perhaps in trying to convince your ex to get back together with you, you may have made them feel guilty about how they hurt you. If you did, your ex might try to return to you because they want to ease the guilt that they have been feeling since the breakup. Unfortunately, this tactic is never advisable. Guilt is not the same thing as love and trying to make your ex feel guilty won’t have the same effect as actually restoring the affection and attraction the two of you once shared. Even if your ex does take you back because they feel guilty, this return will only be temporary. As soon as the person appeases their guilt – and trust me, they will – they will break up with you again. Not only that, they will likely feel even more strength and anger toward you, subsequently pushing them further away from you than they were before.

Your distance makes you more desirable

If you have been dumped or dumped someone, that distance makes you way more attractive. If you cut your ex off quickly, not showing any kind of neediness, they might have really felt it. They might wonder what you are doing, who you are hanging out with, and how you can be so independent. Believe me, independence is super attractive. However, this also is not a good reason for your ex to come back. Once they are together with you again, you will become less attractive, and they will most likely leave you again.

The grass isn’t always greener

If your ex left you because they could not handle a mature relationship, they may have thought that they could find something better after the two of you were finished. This likely wasn’t the case and once they found out that what they had with you was pretty awesome compared to what is actually out there, they might come crawling back. Again, this is not an acceptable reason to have your ex return to you because they will always be tempted to venture out in search of a “better” partner and when they do – or they think they do – they will drop you like a hot potato.

They are bored

Sometimes people return to relationships just because they are bored. Their lives might be lacking some serious social excitement or they might not be able to get a date. Regardless of what the reasons might be, you should not be responsible for curing that boredom on your own. Tell them to get a hobby!

Lack of attention

You used to care about this person, no matter how superficial it was. So you probably gave them a lot of attention. Your ex likely knows that, somewhere, deep down, you still care about them. You used to give them gratification in the form of the attention you showered down on them, and they might desire a return to that. But what happens when you do not have time for them, say, when you go on a business trip? Even if it is just temporary and for a short while, they may crave attention so much that they will look for someone else to give them the attention you could not give them. Then leave you for that other person.

A need to feed the ego

You always made this person feel amazing and deep down, you thought they were the best person in the world, which you probably told them about. Whether they were down and out and needed a big pick-me-up or just a little boost every now and then, you were probably this person’s support system and ego-booster. Maybe they have been down in the dumps recently and need someone to stroke their ego and guess who’s the first person who pops into their mind? You, of course! But once they have regained their confidence, they will not feel the need for you anymore and probably will toss you aside until the next time they need someone to feed their ego.


Sex is like air – you do not notice that it is not there until you aren’t getting any. If you two had sex, no matter how often, and now, your ex has nobody for that, they might come back to scratch that itch. If your ex comes back just for this reason, it is probably not going to be long until you get dumped again.


There are some people out there that really like having a boyfriend or girlfriend – they are addicted to relationships, you might say. That is problematic, though. If they do not actually like the person who is the boyfriend or girlfriend, that can make the relationship destined for failure. If your ex comes back for this reason, it will probably only be temporary.

A drive to prove something

When you dated other guys, you probably noticed at the beginning of the relationship that they were total messes. Now, when they get their shit together, they want you to know about it! They might send you that infamous, “we need to catch up!” text not out of a desire to figure out what is going on in your life, but because they want you to know how awesome they are since you broke up.

You are with somebody new

This is a very common reason for an ex to come back into your life. If you started dating a new person, it might be killing your ex and not because they actually want to be with you, but because they are jealous. It is killing them to see you with someone else. They think about all the times the two of you had together and start feeling seriously awful. Therefore, they reach out to you in the hopes of wrecking your new relationship, so that they can feel better.


Some people are downright addicted to the feeling of control. If you ever dated someone that got his rocks off this way, you might find that they keep coming back to you again and again. They want to see if they still have the same kind of power over you as they once did. This is a sad, frustrating, and manipulative game and it is the one you shouldn’t have to replay again and again.

Support in a difficult time

This is the most innocuous reason for why your ex might return to your life – he needs support in a time of sadness. That is innocent enough. However, it is not going to help your ex in any way in the long run for you to get back with them. It is only going to last until they feel better or someone who is better able to comfort them comes along. The return will be short-lived.

They were dumped themselves

If your ex broke up with you because they met someone else, then if things go south, your ex will likely come back to you because what the two of you had was more stable than what they had with the other person. This is again, a bad reason to let your ex back into your life. You are clearly his backup, someone to fall back on, when his ventures fail. You should never accept this kind of role no matter how much you think you love this person. A healthy relationship is where your partner places you first and has no desire to look elsewhere, not somebody who only wants you when they experience a failed relationship.

The One and Only Good Reason for an Ex to Return

There is only one good time for an ex to come back and that is they genuinely realized that they could not be without you. But this is super rare. I know that every time an ex comes back to you, you probably have the small voice in the back of your head thinking that they just genuinely missed you and want you back. You might believe that both of you have changed enough for it to work. You might think that they just need you in their life. Sadly, this is not usually the case – try not to assume this is the situation unless you can definitely prove that there are no other alternatives. Let sleeping dogs lie.

Getting Over an Ex

If you were dumped, it can be a difficult time. I recommend saying exactly what you have to say at the very beginning. Tell the person who dumped you that you are hurt, thank them for the good times, and get anything else off your chest that you need to. Then do not say anything at all. It is not your job to get in touch with him or her later. Your ex knows what you had to say and maybe you even had more to say but you can keep it to yourself. Leave them alone and work out your own emotions. Do whatever you need to do to get over it – write in a journal, talk to your friends, visit a therapist, or read self-help books. If your ex left you, you do not need to be confiding in them about how you feel. Let them take care of their own emotions, and remember that if you keep talking, you are just going to remind them of how the relationship with you was not the right one. Let your ex go. Either you lost someone who wasn’t right for you, or they will come back later and prove themselves to you. It is a win-win for you. Instead of focusing on your ex, focus on yourself. Build up a sense of self-love by protecting your heart and nourishing your body. Do the things you enjoy – return to old hobbies, visit some friends, and make time to care for yourself. Do not judge or browbeat yourself for having emotions but, instead, listen to what your heart is telling you.

How to Deal with an Ex’s Return

Here’s the challenging part, after reading all of this, you might feel tempted to write your ex off entirely and that is not a bad thing. In some cases, you might need to lock your doors, avoid meeting up with this person, and move on entirely. Other times, you might feel like you want to see what’s there. That is okay too – you are entitled to entertain their messages or attempts at reconciliation if you genuinely want to.

However, you need to keep some things in mind.

First of all, do not jump to conclusions. A lot of people return to their exes, and usually, they are returning for reasons that are listed in our round-up of the worst reasons above! Do not jump to the conclusion that this person has returned to win your heart and restore the serenity of your relationship.

But you do not have to be rude if you are cautious.

Listen to the other person and be considerate. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Let them speak. Give them tea or coffee. Usually, they will want to reconcile with you by connecting through social media or texting. Keep your responses short, but friendly. You do not need to cut their heads off. It took them a lot of strength and courage to reach out to you, so you may need to swallow your own pride, especially if you are interested in restoring the lines of communication.

Just tread lightly.

Do not be negative and keep your interactions healthy – but also do not feel obliged to delve deeply into the past. You have probably already figured out what went wrong in the relationship by this point. If you ask this person questions about the past, you are telling them that you do not believe in reconciliation. So keep things light and easy. Go out for coffee and do not feel the need to bring them around to all of your friends and family. This is a private conversation that should be kept private – but open. And just remember to keep things friendly. You are strong and you already made it through a breakup – you know what you want, but you also know things are going to be okay.

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