A question I get asked a lot is, “If my ex really wants me back, why doesn’t he grovel? Why doesn’t he try to PROVE his love? He hurt me so much and all I really want is to know that it’s for real this time.”
Frankly, when your ex is hanging around, its easy to wonder what the heck he’s are doing. You might not be sure if he really wants you or he’s looking for a quick ego boost.
The truth is, dramatic scenes where someone’s ex swoops in, breathlessly admits his undying love and then the couple ride off into the sunset together are incredibly rare. Like so many things in life, the expectation doesn’t often live up to the reality.
The “grand gesture” is often not that grand. When an ex wants you back, his return is more likely to look like a whimper rather than a roar.
Your ex might have prayed day and night that you’ll call for the last 52 days. He may have constructed a shrine in your honor. He might be consulting his favorite tarot reader and using love spells. But when he returns, most often its so different than what you expect that it puts your relationship into a weird, awkward limbo-zone.
The reason why this happens lies in the twin forces of ego and a concept called cognitive dissonance.
Let’s tackle cognitive dissonance first. Cognitive dissonance is defined as “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.”
Basically, what someone thinks or believes doesn’t line up with their actions and they feel like crap until they get it resolved. This internal struggle usually manifests as extreme self sabotage until the person gets it sorted out.
Say your ex broke up with you. For the sake of argument, say over the next few weeks or months, he slowly decides that he can’t live without you.
He will naturally try to make his actions line up with his beliefs— until the pain is too great. For a while, they will stay broken up and not be ready to try to get back together since their actions match their past beliefs. They don’t want to go back on their word (“I want to breakup”), even though they might end up doing so down the road.
The situation will bother them until they decide one what to do one way or another, but the seeds of doubt have to take root before any that can happen. Hesitation, missteps and behavior that doesn’t have a chance in hell of making sense ensues.
Rejection represents a HUGE risk to the ego. It’s a rare person who can put themselves out there and accomplish a grand gesture because fear of rejection stifles all but their most feeble attempts.
If he just reached out a little bit (the one-off call or text) and didn’t swing for the fences (going whole-hog grand gesture), he can tell himself that you ex “just weren’t into getting back together,” instead of “I never even tried.”
That’s why deciding whether your ex might want you back is a little like reading a foreign language with no translation. Since an ex who wants you back is likely to do the opposite of what you expect, here are four real signs that he secretly wants you back.
1. He Maintains Non-Essential Contact
If you have a child or business together, it stands to reason that you and your ex would remain in contact— but this can remain very business-like.
When someone is sticking around, trying to keep the emotional connection open, often he fears that if he lets you go entirely, you’ll be gone for good and his opportunity to be with you will REALLY die forever (even though the breakup might have been his idea.). So he’ll suggest little activities and say cute things like “oh hey, I saw this thing that reminded me of you.”
2. Emotional Outbursts
Having any feelings at all toward you is a hell of a lot better than NO feelings. If he is still feeling hurt or angry enough to bother confronting you, that is actually a good sign. In the words of Elie Wiesel, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
3. He Keeps Explaining The Breakup
If someone can’t stand you, they aren’t going to repeatedly try to tell you what went wrong. Instead, they will make the breakup speech and try their hardest to never see you again.
Someone who still cares will often keep returning to re-hash what went wrong. This can be a way to sate his guilt, but it can also mean that he is trying to reconcile through the back door, often completely confusing you in the process.
4. He Shares His Self-Improvement Plans With You
Has your ex started losing weight, gotten a tan, and started playing that sport you mentioned wanting to try? Better yet, does he seem intent on sharing it with you?
Often in an effort to right the wrongs of a failed relationship, an ex will try to change all of the things that their ex didn’t like about them. It’s an attempt to fit into a mold that they imagine the other person would be more approving of. When an ex is flaunting “all of the amazing changes they made” they are trying to reclaim a bit of their self esteem AND show off. Both of these mean that he still cares.