taking a break in a relationship

7 subtle signs he wants you back but won’t admit it

If you’ve broken up with someone you didn’t want to break up with, it’s inevitable that you’ll want them back. 

Over time, that feeling will probably fade, especially if you never see or hear from him. But if he does contact you, asks about you or simply talks about you to other people?

Then there’s a good chance he knows he’s made a mistake and wants you back. There’s also a chance he’s confused, missing sex or just deliberately leading you on.

How can you tell which one it is? Here are seven signs that he actually does want you back and doesn’t want to admit it.

1. He seems genuinely upset about the breakup

Everyone gets upset about breakups, even if they know it’s what they want and need.

It’s hard to say goodbye and breakups bring up big emotions that are difficult to deal with, both for the person who ended the relationship and the one who’s been dumped.

Some people even fall into clinical depression.

But if he continues to seem hurt for weeks, months, or perhaps even longer then there’s a good chance he wants you back.

The hurt that’s there when you first break up with someone tends to fade for people who know it was the right thing.

For those who don’t or who are at least starting to have doubts, the hurt and upset can actually increase.

Look out for him getting in touch after a period of no contact (more on that in a minute), or you hearing from friends that he’s not in a good place. If you’re still in the first few weeks, give it time and see if he’s still hurt a little further down the line.

If you’re already further on than that, take it as a sign.

2. He stays in touch…even when you’re cold with him

If you were dumped, you probably had one of these two reactions: trying to keep in touch as much as possible, hoping he’d come round; or going cold on him, ending contact him and telling him never to contact you. 

If you did the second one, well done. It’s hard but it was the right way to respond and usually the only way you’ll get over the hurt.

Most of the time, when you do that, your ex will simply slink away, with maybe a very occasional text or Facebook comment. 

But what if he doesn’t? What if, despite the fact you never contact him and are cold with him when he contacts you, he keeps on getting in touch?

That’s a pretty clear sign that he’s not over you and he’d like to give things another try.

The times he does contact you are probably the tip of the iceberg – there’s a good chance he thinks about contacting you much more often than he actually does it.

3. He gets back in touch after a long break

They say time heals. Sometimes, though, time simply serves to remind us that we haven’t healed. If your ex contacts you after a long period of no contact, that’s a good sign that he might be thinking he’s made a mistake.

Maybe you broke up in a blazing row and everything just seemed to happen overnight, without either of you really being able to think about what was happening.

Or perhaps there were circumstances – like work stress, a house move or a bereavement – that meant you drifted apart without really meaning to.

It could just be that the reasons you split up were more about the things going on around you than your compatibility as a couple.

You knew this already, but he wouldn’t accept it. Now, it seems, he’s beginning to see it like you do. 

It does pay, though, to tread carefully. Don’t respond to him straight away, but give yourself some thinking space.

If you struggled to deal with stress as a couple before, what’s changed? If you get back together, you’re going to need a strategy for coping when life inevitably brings more stress (and it will). 

4. He engineers ways to see you

If you broke up, but he somehow seems to keep ending up in the same places as you, maybe that’s not a coincidence.

If he just happens to be at the gym at the same time as you always go, or he’s in your favourite bar every Saturday night, or he just happens to turn up at every single mutual friend’s gathering you go to…ask yourself why. 

Remember, you were together for months or years: he knows where you go and who you hang out with.

So if he keeps popping up, it’s because he wants to see you. It might be a deliberate strategy to try and get you back, or it might just be that he misses you and wants to see you. Either way, he’s definitely showing some regret. 

5. When you do see him, he’s awkward with you

If your ex was one of those who was a bit awkward and nervous when you first got together, because he liked you so much, then he’s bound to be like that now if he wants you back.

Think back to your early dates and look for signs that he’s acting the same now as he did then. If he is, then it’s a fairly sure bet that he’s feeling the same way now as he did back then. 

He might not even have admitted this to himself yet. It can happen in the same way as it does when you first meet someone who you know you like, but can’t admit to liking yet.

It can be pretty endearing, that awkwardness and nervousness. It might put you, mentally, straight back to the beginning of your relationship.

That can be a great feeling, but remember that things have changed, and time has passed and you won’t be able to go back to exactly how things were back then.

And that’s not a bad thing, because you split up. If things are going to work out this time, then you need to make them different.

6. He asks mutual friends how you are

If you have mutual friends, they can be a useful source of information about your ex and how he might be feeling right now. If they start telling you that he’s been asking after you, then that’s one of the strongest signs there is that he wants you back and can’t admit it. 

Those mutual friends should also have both of your best interests at heart, and they’ve probably heard both of your sides of the story.

So they’re in a great place to be able to talk to you both about what’s happening. If they thought he really was done with you, they probably wouldn’t be telling you that he was talking about you. 

If your friends do start telling you that he’s been asking about you, ask them if they can do a bit more digging for you.

See if they can get him to open up so you know exactly where you stand before you talk to him about it. 

7. He drunk calls you

We’ve all drunk called an ex, haven’t we? Everyone does it sometimes, but it can often mean something much more than just ‘he was drunk’.

Drunk calling is a sure sign that he’s thinking about you and, when his guard is down, he just can’t help calling you.

Resisting picking up the phone is easy when you’re sober, but much harder when you’re not.

Of course, it could just be a booty call, but you’ll know when you answer whether it is or not pretty quickly.

If it’s obvious he’s drunk and he just wants to chat or ask you how you’re doing, then it’s likely that he’s thinking about you and regretting leaving you. 

It probably pays to be a bit wary here. Sometimes, drunk people say things they regret saying in the morning, after all.

But you know your ex, and you know if that’s his style or not. If it’s not, then you could be in with a good chance of mending your relationship.

If you’re confident he wants you back, what then? If he’s struggling to admit it to you, he might also be struggling to admit it to himself. 

The first thing to ask yourself is…do I actually want this?

When you’ve been in the throes of a painful breakup, it’s hard to focus on anything other than getting that person back, but it is important that you do.

If you think your ex wants you back and you’re already getting excited at the prospect of dating again, take a step back for a moment.

The thought of intimate dinner dates, cozy evenings in and lazy morning sex are certainly appealing. It would be so good to have someone around when you need them, someone there to talk through your day at work, cook you dinner and bring you coffee in bed.

Those things are lovely to have, but you could have them from someone else. You don’t have to wave goodbye to all those lovely coupley things forever, just because you’re not with this guy.

It’s time to be brutally honest with yourself about why you broke up. Did you have doubts about his feelings for you, or your feelings for him?

Were there things you consistently clashed over? Did you often wonder if you really had a future together?

If any of those things were true, is there something that you think will make things different this time? If not, then do you really want this?

It’s a tough question to work through, but it is important. Because going through a break up a second time will be even harder than the first, even if you’re the one who chooses to leave next time.

And if he’s the one who chooses to go? Then you’ll be devastated all over again.

This isn’t to say, of course, that you can’t make things work differently next time. If you both love each other and you share similar values and life goals, then the chances that you can make a successful go of things are high.

There are certain things that successful couples usually share their dreams and plans and work towards them together.

Couples who end up splitting often do so because they don’t want the same things out of life

If you’re confident that you do, and that you can work to fix the problems that led to you breaking up, then it’s time to go for it.

(If you want to improve your dating and relationship IQ, check out this epic His Secret Obsession review by Hack Spirit. You’ll also learn more about the fascinating concept of the hero instinct in men).

How to get him back

So you’re pretty sure he’s interested in getting back together and you’re also sure you can make it work if you do. What now? You’re going to need to take things slow.

The first step is that you’re going to have to somehow actually see him, ideally one-on-one.

If he’s been turning up at places where he knows you’re going to be, then ask him if he’d like to go for a coffee.

It doesn’t have to be a big deal. At this point, you’re simply friends going for a coffee. 

If you don’t ever see him in the course of everyday life, then it is going to be trickier. Next time he gets in touch, message back and ask him for a casual coffee catch up.

Just be straightforward and open, rather than trying to engineer a way to bump into him or giving a long list of reasons why you should see each other.

If he’s not interested in getting back together and has just been messing with your head, the thought of meeting up will scare him off. That’s not going to be fun for you to find out, but at least you’ll know sooner.

If he truly is interested in getting back with you, then he’ll be thrilled to be asked to meet. If he’s drunk when he calls – leave it for the morning to ask instead. Then you’ll be able to trust his answer for sure. 

When you do meet up, make it just what you said: a coffee and a catch up.

Don’t talk about the breakup or try and make him jealous. Don’t ask him to get back together. This is about showing him that you can spend fabulous fun time together without it being stressful or upsetting.

Of course you’ll need to talk about how you broke up, but that time isn’t now. You should, though, make sure you look amazing – let him know exactly what he’s missing out on.

If that first meetup goes well, suggest another (if he hasn’t already). Treat him like a casual dating prospect, someone you’re interested in but who you haven’t staked anything on emotionally. Wait for him to bring up the subject of your past relationship, and for him to keep suggesting more meetups. 

Take it slow and let him come to you in his own time. While it’s clear he wants you back, he’s probably also feeling a little conflicted.

Just like you, he’ll have been thinking through the issues that led to the breakup and working out whether you can solve them.

Remember that, because you’ve already done this, you’re likely a bit ahead of him now. Be patient and let him think things through just as you’ve had the chance to do.

If he never ends up making the first move, eventually you’re going to have to. If you’ve had a few coffee dates and you’re not getting any deeper, it’s time to be brave.

Either he’s wasting your time or he’s still scared of being rejected. Either way, it’s time to take control. If you don’t want to risk an emotional conversation in a public place, it’s OK to do this bit by text.

Just ask him: we’ve been seeing each other a lot and I’m wondering if you’d like to take it further and go on a proper date.

Don’t say ‘get back together’. That might be too much for him. But by suggesting a proper, romantic date, you’ve put the ball right back in his court. 

Then it’s up to you both to make it work. 


If you’ve been dumped, you’ll have been badly hurt. It’s hard to get over that and even harder to process your feelings if it seems that your ex might actually have changed his mind.

If your ex: 

  • Is still upset about the breakup months down the line.
  • Keeps talking to you even if you give him the cold shoulder.
  • Gets in touch after a long time of not speaking.
  • Engineers ways to see you.
  • Is awkward with you when you do see him.
  • Asks after you with mutual friends.
  • Drunk calls you.

Then there’s a good chance he’s thinking he made a mistake. 

If this happens, think carefully.

Decide if you really want to get back together and how you’ll get over the things that broke you up. If you’re confident you can, take it slow, meet up casually and see what happens.

There’ll be a lot of talking to do and probably some tears, but the chances are that you’ll make it if you’re able to be honest with each other.

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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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