I’ve written about the signs that your ex secretly wants you back and what really happens when they do— but I’ve neglected a little fuzzy grey area. That is, why exactly exes pop up after a breakup in the first place?
You might have completely moved on and be having the time of your life– then suddenly, here’s your ex. Weirdly, whether we like it or not, exes do this all the time– and it’s important not to automatically decide that your ex wants you back.
Here are 7 reasons your ex might pop up months (or even years!) later:
1. They’re Looking For An Ego Boost
Unfortunately, the knowledge that you’re there still pining away for them (whether your are or not) can be just the springboard that they need to feel good about themselves.
2. They Want A Shoulder To Cry On
Good emotional support is tough to come by out there in the cold, dark dating world. If you had a deep friendship backing up the passionate side of your relationship, they can feel like you are still a soft place to fall, emotionally.
Unfortunately, when they show up like this and vent about their problems on you, then disappear again, it just creates frustration and emotional turmoil for you. We don’t often think about emotional labor as work, but it IS indeed work. Consider whether your ex is entitled to this kind of work from you.
3. They Rebounded, It Fizzled Out And The Whole Thing Made Them Miss You
If your relationship went on for any significant period of time, it can be really easy to start fantasizing about how awesome dating is going to be once it’s over. The grass looks greener, so your ex skates out into the wild world of dating to find… someone who ALSO has quirks, hangups and is generally human— just like you are.
This is particularly common with exes who feel stifled in the relationship, and as though they were missing out on something else by being with you. After their first failed romance after yours, they realize that the vision they had of what it might be like to be with someone else— isn’t all it was cracked up to be. So they come back, tail between their legs, ready to renegotiate their bond with you.
4. They Have A Sort Of Misguided Sense Of Wanting A Friendship With You
The ill-fated “lets be friends” cliche is still alive and well. And for people who aren’t just trying to cushion the blow while their ex is weeping in front of them, it can be really tough to say “no” to an ex who reaches out in a friendly way. This goes double if you had a true friendship at the center of your bond.
5. They’ve Changed/They’re Curious If You Have
Truth be told, seeing your ex gallivanting around happily after your breakup isn’t what anyone wants. It’s not that people want their ex to suffer, per se, it’s that they may feel a sick ego boost when comparing their progress after your breakup to their own. Like a lot of reasons on this list, this might be totally unconscious. They could have seen something on social media and became unable to stop thinking about you. Someone in their life could have randomly brought you up in conversation.
Also, if you had fixable problems in your relationship that they didn’t solve when you were together, they might have changed that about themselves and pop up in an attempt to show off or get you back.
6. They Want Sex
Ah, ex sex. As if you both needed a reason to get even more heavily chemically attached to each other.
7. They Really, Truly 100% Want You Back
Sometimes time apart makes your ex realize what they lost when they walked away from your relationship. They may sincerely hope to reconnect with you and get back together— even though it might not look like that on the surface.