How to get your ex back: The ultimate guide

Whether you are reeling from the pain of a very recent breakup, or still quietly aching for an ex you lost months ago, it can be hard if not impossible to ignore the voice in your head saying, “I need to get my ex back.”

You love them, but for one reason or another, the relationship fell apart. And putting it back together isn’t as easy as you would hope.

One wrong move and you risk ruining any shot at a second chance with your ex-partner.

In this article, we discuss how you can avoid those wrong moves, what the ideal steps are to win your partner back, and whether you really want to do it or not.

Do You Really Want to Get Back with Your Ex?

Winning back your ex requires implementing a series of committed plans and strategies, and only by having the right mindset can you get them back successfully.

But having the right mindset requires having your full heart and mind focused on the goal of earning back your ex’s trust and affection, so you have to ask yourself: do you really want to get back with your ex?

Here’s the hard truth that no one wants to hear: it’s absolutely natural for you to want your ex back after a break up, especially if the break up wasn’t your decision.

The constant pain and frustration in your heart have nothing to do with true love or destiny, and all to do with basic human neural activity.

Here are the three most common reasons why you yearn for your ex after a break up:

1) You don’t want change:

Your relationship is a huge part of your life, from your daily routines to your future plans. Losing your relationship forces you into a wild state of change – now you need to find something else to spend your time on, and something (or someone) else to plan your future with.

You might be yearning for your ex not because you love them, but because you love the stability and assurance of having the same old thing every day.

2) You hate being alone:

Humans are social creatures, and some of us take that socialness too far.

Even when being with a partner means forcing yourself into a relationship filled with stress and unhappiness, there are some of us who prefer that over the silence of being by ourselves.

3) You genuinely miss your partner:

Perhaps the only reason why you should truly consider getting your partner back – you genuinely miss them.

The end of your relationship might have resembled a storm, in which both you and your partner lost yourselves in the madness and the noise.

Now that the storm has ended, you see your ex once again with true clarity, and you realize that they complete you.

Or at the very least, you realize that you miss having them around. And sometimes that’s all the reason you need.

But missing your partner isn’t proof enough that you should fight tooth and nail to win them back. We miss things all the time that are bad for us – when we go on diets, we miss fatty foods; when we try to stop smoking or drinking or any other vice, our brain misses those habits more than anything.

You have to realize that the brain is a very animal, organic machine. Your emotions aren’t always worthy of your trust, because there are times when your mind is simply compromised by recent events.

It also matters as to whether you were the “break upper” or the “break uppee”.

Are you the one who caused the break up, are you the one who was broken up with, or was the break up a completely mutual decision at the end of a long fight or series of fight?

There is a significant difference between the mentality of the two roles, particularly at the moment of the break up and after the break up has matured and sunk in.

If you find yourself wanting the relationship back as the initiator or the receiver of the break up, it might be because:

As the initiator: You are guilty, you believe you made a mistake, you believe you acted too irrationally and quickly but you are too proud to admit it

As the receiver: You are mournful, you are apologetic for everything (even things you didn’t do or don’t truly feel sorry for), you are willing to do whatever it takes to get them back

The 7 Stages of Break Up Grief and What You Tell Yourself

Do you really want to get back with your ex, or are you simply still suffering one of the stages of the break up, and your brain is trying to convince you to return to a source of addiction – your ex – with a new reason?

Here are the 7 stages of break up grief, and how each stage tries to manipulate you to return to your ex:

Stage1 : Desperation

What it is: The first stage after a break up – you are still partly in disbelief, and you want answers because you can’t believe what has happened

What you might tell yourself to win them back: “They don’t know what they really want, this is just another fight, let’s just apologize and makeup”

Stage 2: Denial

What it is: You can’t believe it. You’ve gotten your answers and the reality is starting to sink in, but not entirely. You think this is just a really bad fight

What you might tell yourself to win them back: “This silliness has gone too far. It’s time to go back to normal and stop being so stupid and emotional. Why aren’t they thinking?”

Stage 3: Bargaining

What it is: You are desperate – not for answers, but to save a relationship that you can see is about to die. You start bargaining everything you have to save it: you promise to be a better partner, you promise to do anything they want

What you might tell yourself to win them back: “What are all the things that my partner didn’t like about me and this relationship? I can still win them back if I address those problems now before it’s too late”

Stage 4: Relapse

What it is: This stage doesn’t always occur, but when it does, it’s almost always just temporary. Relapse is when you successfully bargain with your partner and win back the relationship, but nothing has really changed so the break up simply ends up being delayed rather than prevented

What you might tell yourself to win them back: “See? I knew we were meant for each other. You just needed to hear me out and see my side of things. Now let’s go back to being normal again”

Stage 5: Anger

What it is: Fear occurs before anger, and anger only occurs once some of the fear starts to fade. Your brain starts to use anger as a defense mechanism – you were the one who was a victim, you were the better partner, you were the one who deserves someone better

What you might tell yourself to win them back: “I’ll take you back as my partner, but you have to realize that you hurt me more than I hurt you! I want an apology and I want you to change for me”

Stage 6: Initial Acceptance

What it is: You are tired. After all the pain and bargaining and fear and anger, you just become emotionally tired and withdrawn, and in this quiet, you start to accept

What you might tell yourself to win them back: “Maybe I still do love them, but there’s not much I can do about it. If they don’t want me, then I’m out of options. They have to make the first real move”

Stage 7: Redirected Hope

What it is: Complete acceptance requires redirecting your hope. Your hope must go from, “I hope I can save this relationship” to “I hope I can live happily without my ex”

What you might tell yourself to win them back: “It’s time to move on. If I ever see them again, I will be a better person, and hopefully they will be, too”

What does this all mean?

Many of us who rush into trying to win back our ex are in the early stages of the breakup grief process, typically the stages from Desperation to Relapse.

This leads us to make knee jerk reactions, where we do the wrong things to win them back because our mind isn’t in the best of places.

But this ends up pushing them away even more because we lack the ability to see ourselves as objectively as we might like, and we don’t realize just how wrong our actions can be.

The only time when it is acceptable to try to win back your ex is when you have gone through the grieving process, or are in its final stages. You must be in a place where you can think clearly once again, ask yourself the right questions, and give yourself the right answers.

So ask yourself:

1) Why do I want my ex back?

Wrong Answers:

  Because they complete me.

  Because I can’t live without them.

  Because they make me feel special.

Acceptable Answers:

  Because they add true joy to my life.

  Because I know that we can be better people together.

  Because I am better than the person I was when we broke up, and I want to prove myself again.

2) What has changed in my life and in myself as a person since the break up?

Wrong Answers:


  I don’t want to change anything without my ex.

  I don’t feel like I can move on without my ex, so I need them to start change.

Acceptable Answers:

  I’ve looked at the reasons why the relationship ended, and I’ve made changes to address those reasons.

  I’ve improved myself in the ways that my ex wanted, and more importantly, in the ways that I always wanted.

  My ex has changed positively as well, and we now fit each other better as people.

3) Are my ex and I really good for each other?

Wrong Answers:

  It doesn’t matter, as long as there’s love between us.

  I don’t know.

  Sometimes we are, sometimes we’re not.

Acceptable Answers:

  I don’t know, but it’s something that we will keep in mind if we try this again.

  Yes we are, and we are both going to make the changes we need to keep each other happy and healthy.

  No, but we’re willing to understand each other more before giving this another shot.

Winning Your Ex Back: 4 Not-So-Easy Steps

So you want your ex for the right reasons. You are in the right state of mind, you are on a stable emotional level, and you still know in your heart that your ex is the one for you.

Or perhaps you are on the first stage of your break up, but you don’t want to make any mistakes that might cause you to lose your ex permanently.

Here’s how you do it.

Winning your ex back means creating a new relationship. Think about how you feel whenever you meet a new person. Your brain places them in a category almost immediately – friend, rival, teammate, co-worker, random acquaintance, neighbor, potential partner.

When a person decides to seriously end their relationship, their brain recategorizes their partner.

They go from lover, best friend, soulmate, to something much worse. The idea of the partner becomes tainted, and no matter how much you and your ex might sincerely try again, the taint that has been associated to you due to the break up will forever add an ugly filter to everything you do and say moving forward.

Which is why you have to create a new “you” and a new relationship that lives in your ex’s head. This means following 4 steps:

  Controlling your emotions and avoiding instinctive mistakes

  Cutting yourself out of their life, giving them time to “erase” you

  Improving yourself and genuinely turning yourself into a better person

  Reestablishing contact and building a new relationship that has zero links to the old one

Let’s go over each step one at a time, and understand exactly what they mean.

1) Controlling Your Emotions and Avoiding Instinctive Mistakes

A breakup is a rollercoaster of emotions, particularly for the receiver of the breakup. The initiator has the advantage of planning and preparing for the breakup, while the receiver can be hit with it right out of the blue.

One minute they might be thinking they are in a wonderful relationship that might just be going through a rough patch, and the next minute they are processing the fact that their supposed soulmate no longer loves them.

And this rollercoaster can lead to a number of instinctive mistakes, born out of desperation and frustration. We try to do whatever we can to stop the breakup from happening, but without full control of our mind to help us see what’s right and what’s wrong.

Here are three of the worst mistakes you need to stop yourself from doing to avoid making things worse:

1) Incessantly contacting: You text and call several times a day, even after they’ve told you they want to break up. You think that being a presence in their life will make them fall in love with you again.

2) Begging and threatening: You plead and beg for them to take you back, and in some cases, you might even threaten to hurt or kill yourself if they don’t start loving you again. You want to win them back by making them feel guilty or sad for you.

3) Surrendering everything: From the bargaining stage, you agree with everything they say, because you will do whatever it takes to get the relationship back. The relationship becomes unbalanced and broken, because you have surrendered your voice and your rights to your partner.

Remember: winning back your ex is a marathon, not a sprint. Attempting these quick tactics might get you some results in the short-term, but they do nothing to improve the state of your relationship and change the reasons that caused the break up in the first place. If a relationship needs serious repair, these quick fix schemes won’t do what is needed.

If you have already made a few of these mistakes, then just stop now. The longer you keep doing them, the more difficult it will be to reestablish a new relationship in the future.

2)  Cutting Yourself Out of Their Life

The storm has passed, or at least, you’ve successfully found a way to keep it inside of you, rather than letting it manifest in embarrassing and potentially disastrous mistakes that can cost you any chance at a future second shot with your ex.

It’s time to do what might have been once unthinkable: give your ex space and time, and truly let the break up become real. This means no communication with your ex at all, online or offline, directly or indirectly.

There are three main reasons for doing this:

You need to give your ex enough time to forget the negative parts about your relationship and to start missing you

You need to give yourself enough time to calm down and learn how to live again without your ex

  You both need time to think – do I want to try other things, do I want to win my ex back, and do I have what it takes to do it?

The most important part of this step is letting yourself calm down. The relationship is over and the break up has passed. Rediscover who you are – this new, older version of you who is single once again, but wiser in ways you weren’t before.

For at least 4-6 weeks, make sure there is as little communication as possible with your ex. Let the past relationship become exactly what it is – part of the past. Time heals, so let time do its thing.

3) Turning Yourself into a Better Person

There are reasons why the relationship ended. There could be just a handful or a thousand, but however many petty and stupid reasons there might be, there are always a few real, fundamental reasons why you and your partner couldn’t stand being together any longer.

Here are a few possible reasons why couples end:

  One or both partners were emotionally distant

  One or both partners stopped investing effort into the relationship

  One or both partners stopped appreciating the little things

  One or both partners hurt the other, physically, emotionally, verbally, and/or mentally

  One or both partners stopped listening, responding, reacting

  One or both partners stopped caring and trying

  One or both partners broke their promises and let the other person down

No one knows what those reasons might be except you and your ex. In the weeks of time that you have away from your ex, you shouldn’t just be sitting on your hands watching the hours tick by until your ex rings the phone.

You should be looking at yourself. Sure, maybe you believe that your partner made more mistakes than you did.

But that doesn’t absolve you of your own faults.

Even if you ultimately decide you don’t really want your ex back, you should still be working to be a better version of yourself – for your future personal happiness and for the happiness of your next relationship.

Have you stopped growing as a person? Did you regress or not achieve as much as you wanted in the time of your previous relationship? Have you adopted unhealthy habits and dropped the positive sides of your personality and behavior?

Are you:

  • Controlling?
  • Insecure?
  • Jealous?
  • Boring?
  • Lazy with personal hygiene?
  • Lazy or selfish in bed and romance?
  • Unmotivated with your personal progress?
  • Unable to communicate properly?
  • Unable to commit?
  • Unable to trust?
  • Unable to connect with other people in your life?

Be truthful and be honest. Think about all these things, and work on how you can improve yourself as a person.

The more you focus on yourself, the quicker the time will pass without your ex, and the sooner you will finally be able to truly answer the question: do I still want to be with them again? Or am I better off moving on?

4) Reestablishing Contact and Building a New Relationship

The time has passed, and you have improved as a person. You no longer feel the hurt and frustration from the last time you saw your ex, when the break up was fresh and raw.

The clearest time to ask yourself if you still want to win back your ex is right now.

As a person who has learned to live without their ex in their life, who has learned how to improve as a person again, and who is capable of finding and dating other potential partners, do you still want your ex back in your life?

If the answer is still yes, then it’s time to reestablish contact and start laying the foundation of your new possible relationship.

Here are the best ways to do that:

1) Accept that it might not work out. You might have been thinking about your ex for all this time that you weren’t in contact with them, but that feeling might not be mutual.

Perhaps they started dating immediately, and you have just become a permanent memory to them. Don’t put all your chips on the possibility of a new relationship. Some things just weren’t meant to be.

2) Hold the confidence inside of yourself. You are building something new, meaning you shouldn’t have the same insecurities and pains that you had when your last relationship ended.

Your ex should see that you have become a bigger person, not someone who has been wallowing in their own misery this whole time. Stay confident, stay secure, and your ex will feel and appreciate that with every word you say.

3) Be kind to yourself and to your ex. It can be so tempting to stray the conversation back to old, bitter arguments. But remember: this is a new relationship.

Cut the baggage. Accept that it happened and move on. Let your ex see that you are willing to start a new chapter with them, not keep rereading the same old angry page.

Be a better version of the person you were when you first met, not a better version of the person they left behind.

4) Don’t rush – think of this as Square 1. A first date with your ex shouldn’t be treated as your hundredth date with them. It should be treated just as you would treat any first date.

Don’t expect to rush them into bed and talk about moving in again; you wouldn’t do that with a new person, would you?

Give them the space and time to learn to love you again organically. Let them breathe you in, piece by piece.

5) Be exciting again. Your old relationship is a thing of the past. You are courting someone new for the first time; it just so happens to be your ex.

So pull out your A game – be exciting, be fun, be young and passionate and interesting. Be your ideal self, not the self they broke up with.

You don’t want to be that person ever again, not for you or for your ex.

Remember What Love Is All About: Happiness, Trust, and Value

In the rush of the relationship, the breakup, and the possibility of becoming a couple once again, it can be easy to forget why we do these things at all.

Why do we fall in love, why do we choose partners, and why do we stick together for life? Remembering the reasons for these things is the first step towards becoming a better person – for you and for your partner.

We do these things because we want to enrich our lives and the lives of those around us.

We want to be happy and to give happiness, and we do this by building trust with our partner. Become the person they value, and learn what that value means to them.

Never make the mistakes again that caused you to lose your partner the first time. And if you never get a second chance, then learn from your mistakes not with your ex again, but with whomever, you find next. This time, make it last.

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Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.



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