Your ex is gone. The breakup feels like a mistake. Can you get back together? It's something a lot of guys have wondered about at some point or another. Google the phrase “how to get your ex back,” and you'll find more than 3 billion search results.
But before you try to reunite, consider this: Do you really want your ex back, or are you just lonely? Or bored? If either applies, please don’t be that dude texting “WYD” when you have no real plans to make an effort.
Also consider whether you want to reconnect because of pride or to get a win. “Most of us are taught from the time we were little boys [to] win, get the prize, outwork the other guy, do whatever it takes to get this target, this prize," explains relationship coach Lee Wilson. "And sometimes that mindset goes into a relationship."
The thought of “losing” can make you crave an ex and make them seem more attractive than they would otherwise. If you know deep down they’re not really a match, it might be better to let them go.
One more note: If there was any kind of abuse, or if you broke up due to issues like an undiagnosed mental health concern or addiction, now is likely not the time to try to get back together. These issues can require individual attention and professional help.
All that said, if you see a real future, and you’re willing to work for a better round two, put this expert-approved plan in play.
Take responsibility for your part in the breakup.
Do you know what you did wrong? Have you grown since then? Answer these questions for yourself. If you’re still in the “My ex is so crazy and it’s all their fault” phase, you’re probably not ready to reconcile.
Reach out to talk—and apologize.
Once you’ve been introspective, talk with your ex if they’re willing to listen. And mean what you say. You can do this regardless of who broke up with who, and even if it was mutual.
“Be honest. Reflect the pain that you see your partner having gone through. Take responsibility for your part in that pain. Say ‘I’m sorry’ for very specific things. The more specific, the better,” says Mike Kosim, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Western Minneapolis.
If you made mistakes and want to get back together, “you’ve got to show remorse,” Wilson adds.
Watch what real people had to say about cheating in relationships:
Go “no contact.”
After you’ve made your case, give your ex space. You want them to understand what it feels like to have you gone. To not get your silly texts. To not cuddle with you. You get the idea.
Some relationship coaches suggest starting with 30 days of no contact; Wilson even suggests two-and-a-half months. This means no texts, calls, visits, or social media interactions. And absolutely no begging—a total turn-off.
“Once you have made it very clear, without an excuse, that you were wrong, that you are so sorry, that you regret it, that it will never happen again, and that you want to be with this person if they take you back,” Wilson says, “you’ve got to back off and use the no contact rule.”
If you were a good boyfriend, stepping back gives your ex a chance to remember. But if they don’t want you back, pleading won’t help.
Don’t rush into dating.
Don’t jump back into the dating pool to try to get over your ex or make them jealous. That means you should resist the urge to go to Petty Town—aka the sad side of social media—to try to antagonize your ex. If your ex finds out you're seeing someone new and concludes you don’t care about them, this tactic can blow up in your face, Wilson says.
Also, don’t date if you’re still upset. That’s not fair to the next person who may want to connect, and it doesn’t necessarily let you process the break-up.
Don’t beat yourself up.
After you’ve reached out, know that any hurt feelings and anxiety you may have can get better.
“A lot of people, men and women, go through terrible anxiety. Even people who never struggled with it,” Wilson says about break-ups. But you've gotten through breakups before, right? So you can do it again. (If this is all new territory for you, head here for tips on getting over a crushing breakup.)
There's no all-powerful magic trick to getting your ex back, no matter what your friends, search results, or random online spell-casters tell you. (Yeah, these people exist.)
But there is honesty, growth, and hope. So learn from the situation. Become a better man. Appreciate your ex’s role in your life, but don’t force things.
You don’t have to get them back today or tomorrow, Wilson says. And if your ex does return, he suggests taking things slowly to have the best chance of success. No matter what, be willing to move on. “You have the ability to love again,” says Wilson, whether it’s with your ex or a great person you haven’t even met yet.
But remember: no “WYD” texts while you wait.