Friday September 19th 2014

Can You Get Back An Ex Who’s Not In Love Anymore?

toronto_akiteng-723Question: My girlfriend says she still loves me but is not in love with me. She says when we first met we clicked in every way; we talked all the time, conversation flowed with ease and she loved being with me. Now everything is just so boring and I’ve become too clingy and needy. I personally don’t think I’ve changed from the person she first met but I’ve noticed that we don’t spend that much time together anymore and when we do, she’s emotionally detached. I feel like she’s pushing me away but keeping me close at the same time. This is driving me crazy and makes me try to constantly figure out how to please her but it’s like I can never successfully do it. What does she mean by still she loves me but is not in love with me? Can playing hard to get reverse her being in control and increase her attraction to me? I want her to find me interesting once again because I’m not ready to give this one up without giving it my best and my all.

The Love Doctor’s Answer: I like your attitude. Most people give up on relationships too easily. There is plenty of fish in the sea they say, but many years later, these same people are still trying to catch just one fish in a sea with plenty of fish. Sad!

What she means is that she still finds you likeable and attractive in many ways but just doesn’t feel that emotional buzz anymore, because things have become overwhelmingly familiar, predictable and repetitive. Reacting to her emotional distancing with clinginess and needy behaviour is just making things worse.

Can playing hard to get reverse her being in control and increase her attraction to you?

Playing hard to get does not cure clinginess and neediness. I’m fully aware that there is a school of thought out there that says that to get and maintain a woman’s (or man’s) interest one needs to create an impression of “unavailability”; create maximal distance, and withhold attention and affections. Such tactics may temporarily make you feel like you’re in “control” because you’re “playing her”; and it may (I say “may”) work on someone who is insecure or has a fear of rejection or abandonment. But “mind games” get old too fast and before you know it, you’re back to clinging and acting needy. Much worse, you may have tried the “scarcity game” on someone who has zero tolerance for mind games and she walked off or, you find that to stop herself from reacting with clinginess and neediness the other person has also started playing mind games. Now you have a polarized standoff!

Playing hard to get can inspire her to want more of you if used to create a flow of positive emotions that add value to the other person’s life (as opposed to trying to make the person feel anxious, insecure, confused, jealous, rejected, emotionally and physically starved and unloved).

Before you start inspiring her to want more of you, you must emotionally reconnect so that you’re enjoying talking to each other again. You need this “connection” because playing hard with someone who is emotionally detached or loosely attached is like trying to bleed a rock.

One way I’ve found helpful for couples in similar situations is to encourage disclosure of personal information with “emotional depth”; personal stuff that tends to focus on unfilled dreams, desires, hopes, etc. For example, rather than talking about things you both like or activities you both enjoy, ask her to tell you something she’s always wanted to do and then ask her to explain why she has not done it yet. Disclosing intimate information one normally keeps to oneself can quickly lead to feelings of closeness — a sense of “knowing” the other person as an individual, a human being unfilled dreams, desires, hopes, etc.

Once you start feeling like you can tell each other “deeper stuff” again, add playfulness, unpredictability and fun to the “sharing moments”.

Every man or woman has something — new information, something that happened to someone, etc  — that gets him/her animated and excited. Instead of just blurting it all out in totally boring and unpredictable bare essentials of conversation, deliver it in little dozes – like a preacher on a pulpit. And just when she is deep into it – transfigured countenance, upturned face, parted lips – play hard to get with the information. Say something like “I’ve said too much already” or playfully ask something in exchange for “more information.” Make sure your tone of voice is playful so she knows you’re just “playing hard to get”.

Keep on creating that very-close-yet-far fascination with every word you say and every minute you spend with her. When you keep a man or woman looking forward to something new or different, you engage his or her mind and emotions in a pleasant playful guessing game, especially when s/he had no idea what, when and how it it’s going to be different.

That’s what emotional appeal FEELS like. The little moments of “emotional intensity” leave a lasting imprints in her heart and make her want more of the experience – and more of you.

These are just a couple of tips to get you started. Relationships are more than just “interesting conversations”, you need to bring this sense of emotional intensity and excitement into every aspect of the relationship – physical, mental, emotional, sexual and social. Good luck!

Readers' Questions and The Love Doctor's Answers...

48 Responses to “Can You Get Back An Ex Who’s Not In Love Anymore?”

  1. DonQ29 says:

    Withholding attention and affection is a form of emotional abuse. My ex did it with me, being vague when I asked her what she was doing, always ending the conversation with “I have plans” and that kind of thing. I was ready to do anything to get her back but that changed my mind.

  2. Thank you for saying it so plainly and sensibly. I always tell people trying to get their ex back, the minute you withhold attention and affection from someone who is already loosely attached or during a period of uncertainty, you are on your own. Indifference never inspires love because love by it’s very nature is about being approachable, open, receptive and caring.

    Giving in to blackmail by indifference is as bad as the blackmail itself. If you have to be blackmailed into coming back to or stay in a relationship, something is already so wrong with that dynamic – you’re better off on your own.

  3. Tienna says:

    It’s not always about emotional abuse or blackmail. Sometimes it’s necessary to make an ex realize what it feels like to lose you. Some people do not know what they had until it’s gone.

  4. Keywords: “what they had”. If the person does not feel that “what they had” is of any value to them, taking it away won’t make it any more valuable. How can you lose what you never had?

    And that’s one of the biggest problems with today’s “feel-good” relationships. Most of us invest time and effort on the fleeting/ transitory/ephemeral “feel-good” aspects of a relationship and not much on the things that create a deeper and lasting bond. Once it doesn’t “feel-good” anymore, we want out – lost interest, gone, what’s there to look back for….. NEXT?!

    It “feels good” to think we’re valuable to someone else, unfortunately most people realize just how little they mean to the other person when they try to make that person want/miss them!

  5. etissuc says:

    My ex also told me he loved me but wasn’t in love with me anymore. I decided the only way I was going to get over him was to completely stop all contact. After a week I missed him so much and texted him. He still wanted to be friends. We met for drinks and one thing led to another and we had sex. He wants us to meet for sex again but with no expectations of getting back together. Is he playing hard to get or I’m I wasting my emotions?

  6. I don’t think he’s playing hard to get, I think he wants sex. Tell him you are open to meeting for drinks and spending time together with no expectations of sex and see what happens. I suspect you’ll never hear from him again. Better to find out and be sure. What have you got to lose?

  7. maxwell says:

    i recently told my wife that i cannot take the fighting anymore and left,its been very difficault ,she rang me and said she will take this to her grave that i never gave us a chance, now thats emotional blackmail.guess what she wants it to work ,and i dont think it will

  8. I agree, her words sound like emotional blackmail. That’s what happens when people have just broken up – too much raw and uncontrolled emotions. She’s hurt and thinks that will make you change your mind.

    If you don’t think it’ll work (in another comment you said you don’t think counselling will help because you’re two very different people) and not even ready to keep an open mind/give it a chance there is very little she can do on her own make it work. But if you’re willing to give her a chance to make it work, then it might actually work. Some relationship differences are reconcilable and others are not. It all comes down to what you want, your state of mind and how you both handle this. I’ve seen many cases where it starts with “Absolutely Not” then goes to “May be” then “I’ll try” then Yes!” depending on what is being done to try to make it work.

    You mentioned being really depressed in your other comment and depression on it’s own even without relationship problems can make someone very pessimistic and negative on just about everything. You might want to seriously reconsider working with a therapist in your area instead of trying to get help this way — if not for the relationship at least do it for yourself. Everyone deserves to be happy and living their best- even you!

  9. maxwell says:

    hi again my wife is from europe and we met in england 4 years ago,we were engaged after 1 year and i am australian so you know. we worked hard for 2 years but when it came to spending time together we would have an argument…

  10. Hi again, Maxwell… I received your third question 1) it’s too long and will distract other users from getting to the answers and guidance they’re looking for and 2) your question is about different cultural backgrounds. This post is about whether or not love can be restored when an ex says he/she’s not in love. I want to help, but I also want my blog to be user friendly and relevant for all users.

    Please send your question as an email question. The instructions on how to do that are in the “Ask a Question” button above. Alternatively if you want individualized attention for your situation, sign up for phone session by clicking “Get Help” button above.

  11. davey boi89 says:

    hey, i posted a comment on here a week or so ago and its not here anymore? :(
    little help? x

  12. There is a reason your comment was not approved 1) too long that it distracts from the original post question and answer, 2) unrelated to the post. I try to keep the blog user-friendly, relevant and RESPECTFUL. That’s what makes this blog different from other public discussion boards.

    Please send your question by email. The instructions on how, are in “Ask A Question” page.

  13. davey boi89 says:

    sorry i didnt know. well basically my ex says she loves me but is not ‘in love’ anymore and she is moving away to make things easier on us both. i still love her and want her back, and i think she does too i just think she is scared of losing me forever if it didnt work out. well thats wot she says anyway. i just dont know what to do, were friends and that but i want more please help

  14. Personally, I don’t buy into the excuse she’s giving you. Sounds like what most exes say not to hurt your feelings, ” It’s not you, it’s me”. Well, if she truly loves you and knows that the problem is with her being scared, then why does she move away instead of staying and trying to “fix her.” Common sense would be, if she works on why she’s scared then everything will be fine, right?

    That said, yes, love can be restored even if someone says she’s not in love again. You have to get to the bottom of why she doesn’t FEEL in love with you and try to fill the gap between “she loves you” (attracted to you) and “she doesn’t FEEL in love” (doesn’t feel that excitement or buzz of energy that comes with being in love).

    As for “getting her back” there is not just one thing to do to get her back. There are many stages to finally getting back together and each couple goes through the stages differently. There are also many posts and responses to comments in the “Attract Back Your Ex” category that address this.

  15. Giras Panama says:

    Your site is splendid I will have to read it all, thank you for the diversion from my classwork!

  16. Evdoxia says:

    I have been married 17 yrs. Wife is having mid life crisis.She says taken care of family for the whole time without appreciation. My question is it possibly to restore love, or is better to let her go?

  17. Yes, it’s possible to restore love. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. The decision to restore or let go depends on:

    1. How badly the relationship is damaged
    2. Her willingness to try again
    3. How badly you want to restore the relationship
    4. Your ability to make her feel love (and appreciation)

    My advice is always to do everything you can to restore it — if she is willing to try to work on it with you. You don’t want to give up easily because that will torment you for the rest of your life. You’ll wonder what would have happened if you’d tried.

  18. jason says:

    so my wife has told me that she is not in love with me anymore.after 8 years of marriage.was probally the hardest thing i have ever heard in my life.she loves me but not in love with me.one day she wants to walk away and thats it then one day she would like it to work,you see we have 2 kids one 11 and one 6.and i know i love her with all my heart and i dont want to loose her.how do i know if she really wants it to work or not?and can it work if she really feels that she isnt in love with me?

  19. Seems she’s not sure herself what she wants. The best way to know if she’s serious is agree on what needs to be done to try to make it work and see if she commits to it and follows through. Otherwise words are just that… words.

    In some relationships those feelings of “in love” can be restored (and the relationship can even be better than the first time) but it takes real work and commitment.

  20. peggy says:

    My boyfriend of 16 years and the father of our 4 children left the other day came back and told me he wasnt happy with us? so I tried to talk to him the next day he got angry at me because i was upset and i wanted him to explain what he meant and he said I love you but I’m not in love with you anymore, he said he wasnt leaving and he doesnt want me to leave he said we could try but he doesnt want to go to counseling I am so crushed I don’t understand what he means please help me

  21. Quite often when people say “I love you but not in love with you” it simply means, I still love you but I do not feel that “excitement” that comes with being in love. It’s kind of like how you love your friend, relative or co-worker. In these situations someone may opt not to leave or end the relationship because he/she hopes things will change – and sometimes they do. But not without effort/action from both parties. The fact that he’s not doing anything to try to work on the relationship may mean he’s hoping you’ll do all the work especially if you’ve been doing most of the work for most of the 16 years, or he is buying time until he is ready to completely leave you/finds someone else.

    What worries me is not his behaviour but yours. I may be wrong but your comment makes you come across as a passive participant who lets him do whatever he wants because you fear he’ll leave you. If I can sense this and I don’t even know you, he most likely can too and is riding that energy wave you’re putting out there.

  22. Rugdoll says:

    When he broke up with me he said he didn’t think we were right for each other and listed a number of things he didn’t like about me. I was very hurt because he had never once said anything to me. For 6 months he tried to contact me but I was still hurting and only responded to some but not many of his texts. I also started seeing a therapist who helped me see that some of the things my said are issues I had because of my relationship with my mother. I contacted him and after 2 months we got back together. Now I’m not so sure it was a good idea because I can’t forget all those things he said about me. It’s hard for me to allow him to touch me without me thinking what a horrible person he thinks of me. Is this something that can be worked out or should I just end this and move on? Please help me.

  23. The decision whether to try work it out or move on is entirely up to you. My opinion is that it’s not fair, let alone beneficial to the relationship to hold something your ex said in the heat of a breakup against him. A breakup can be a traumatic experience for both the dumper and dumpee and people react in all sorts of ways.

    Since the things he pointed out are things even you admit are “your issues”, may be it’s good that they came up and now you can work on them. See if you can explore with your therapist why you feel like a horrible person. It may have nothing to do with what your ex said and more to do with how you really feel about yourself.

  24. de_bella says:

    I think it’s always hard to accept it’s over when the other person ends it out of the blue. He told me he had lost love feelings for me for a long time but didn’t know how to tell me. I have a hard time believing him because he always called me “my love” and never once said he was unhappy to begin with. May be I’m in denial but I know he did love me and I don’t know why the feelings of love died.

  25. I don’t think you are in denial. Like you said, you are just having a hard time accepting that it’s over. That’s a normal reaction… as long as you are aware that is what is going on.

    If you believe he did love you, then he did. Feelings of love do die because of so many different reasons. It doesn’t mean the person didn’t love you.

  26. Florence says:

    I still love my ex very much but I’m left with no other option than to move on and start over a life without him. It’s a process and your Bounce Back course is helping me accept that breakups do happen and it’s okay to really feel the range of emotions, good and bad, that go along with it.

  27. I hear you and feel for you. You are doing the right thing in terms of processing all your emotions.. It is not only okay to go through the range of emotions, its essential in order to come out stronger and more insightful in the end.

  28. George says:

    Getting back your ex so much harder than moving on. Even if I could believe that I can get her back and that there is a future for us, to me the path currently looks like a dark tunnel with no exit. I keep telling myself that it’s better to give up now and start with a new person. But I’ve been out almost every night for the last couple of months and none of these women even comes close to my ex. I’m obviously not over her, but at this point, I don’t have a choice.

  29. Getting your ex is hard, let no one tell you otherwise. But getting your ex back is also possible, and happens a lot more often than many people think.

    I don’t know what your situation is… may be it is really over, may be you are just not trying hard enouhg, may be you are trying hard but using the wrong tools and strategies…

    But giving up and running off to start with a new person doesn’t mean you’re going to be guaranteed a success. It’ s better to work your success from where you are, than trying to run away from yourself.

  30. brad says:

    I think the reason why couples break up after getting back together is because they don’t address the problems that keep breaking them apart and they just think those problems are just going to disappear on their own or just magically fix themselves after time apart.

  31. Richard says:

    After we broke up, she moved out of the apartment we shared. She still has some of her things left in the apartment and says she will pick them up when she finds the time. Do you think she’s trying to stall, may be second-guessing why she broke up with me? She was adamant we would not be getting back together, and when I told her she pick up her things because we need a clean break she said “do to them whatever you want. I really don’t care”. I later replied “They are your things, I will not throw them away”. That’s 5 weeks ago. No word from her since. Is she testing me to see what I will do? Please help. We’re both in our late 40s.

  32. It could be she really hasn’t yet found the time to come pick up her stuff, she’s stalling because she’s second guessing herself, the stuff she left behind isn’t of much value or importance to her, or that she’s testing you. It could also be that she’s avoiding a face-to-face meeting with you because she thinks you’ll try to talk her into taking you back. It could be any of the above or it could be something you or I haven’t even thought about. People are complicated like that.

    If a clean break is so important to you, then arrange with her for you to drop off her stuff. She doesn’t have to be there if she does not want to. If on the other hand, you at some point want to try to get her back, it may be a good idea to put her stuff away where it does not bother you seeing reminders of her. Then focus your attention to yourself, heal and grow.

    Personally, I’m not a fun of the North American “hurry up the grief and get on with life” or “clean break” approach to loss. I’d let the things be there, until I know exactly what I need to do or until I’m ready to move on. Decisions made from raw emotion are not always the best decisions on hind sight. Just something for you to think about.

  33. Haley says:

    My ex of 7 years broke up with me because according to him we had grown apart and become two very different people. We are still in contact and he says I’m still the most special person in him life, but he does not know if we can be right for each other again.

  34. I think that it’s possible to make it work again even though the relationship ended because you grew apart and wanted different things out of life. The important thing is that you both recognize what happened, redefine what’s important based on the new reality and are willing to work hard to find that special connection again.

    That you are still the most special person in his life is already a great place o start. Your approach should not be to try to convince him that you want the same things in life, but demonstrate to him that there can be a future in which you find yourselves wanting the same things again. It’s impossible to do that if you are not trying to make your own life better.

  35. Viola says:

    My ex broke with me because he lost feelings for me. Right after we broke up he started contacting me. I told him it would be best if we didn’t contact each other for a while. He stopped for 2/3 weeks and started emailing me again. I want him back but I’m afraid that if I am too forward by asking him if he wants me back that I might create more distance

  36. My guess is that the contacts are not of a romantic nature otherwise you’d not be thinking of asking him if he wants you back and not afraid that any forwardness on your part might create more distance.

    Asking him not to contact you won’t bring back feelings he didn’t feel when you were together. A person can’t miss what he doesn’t feel in the first place.

    Use the open line of communication to try to re-ignite those feelings he says he has lost. Look back to the time just before the break up, what was missing? What did he say he’d want more of to feel attracted to you? Try to fill those gaps up. If you can INSPIRE him to feel those feelings of attraction again, you’ll not have to ask him if he wants you back. The new feelings of attraction will do the work for you.

  37. Qiana says:

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 6 years. I thought every thing was fine, but out of the blue he told me that he loves me, but is not ‘in love’ with me anymore. He’s lost that ‘spark’ and feels like were more roommates. Hes been feeling this way for months, but didn’t tell me because he didn’t want to hurt me and thought the feeling might come back, but it hasn’t. I’m devastated. I don’t want to lose him. I asked him what went wrong? What have I done to contribute to this? He said he doesn’t know, but he doesn’t want to break up yet and he wants to try to fix this. He’s stated many times that we need to spend more time together. How can he fall back in love with me if he doesn’t know why he fell out of love in the first place? What can we both do to try to save this?

  38. 1. Spend more time together as he’s stated and see if you can both figure out why he fell out of love in the first place. I know, like most people you are looking for some “other” explanation that will make sense to you, but as I’ve always said, the “experts” of any relationship are the people in it.

    2. It’s obvious from what you say that you were not really communicating as well as you should have. You thought every thing was fine, he on the other had for months been feeling that the spark was gone out of the relationship. You can try to save your relationship by talking talk to each other and communicating openly and constructively.

    3. If you need professional help (not me, I’m not a therapist), get it before it’s too late.

  39. Henry says:

    Yangki, what does it mean when your ex still wants to be friends? Does it mean she still loves me and is using “just friends” to get back together?

  40. Joan says:

    I took a bold step and contacted my ex after 8 months of no contact. She responded saying she was surprised to hear from me. I told her all this time I’ve been thinking about her and miss her very much. She said she misses talking to me because we were best friends but she doesn’t want to date me. She could only be my friend. Though I’m disappointed, I still contact her and we talk for hour. She confides in me but as a friend. Is she hiding her feelings for me or does she just want us to be friends, and should I just play it cool or just forget about her?

  41. She could be hiding her feelings and she could be honest that friendship is all she can offer you. It’s hard to tell when you’ve been out of contact for 8 months.

    If you are okay talking to her as her “friend”, then do it for a while and see where things go. With a little more time, things will become clearer and then you can make your decision.

  42. Jensky says:

    The answer is yes. The romance in our relationship completely died but we were still friends and enjoyed each other’s company. I thought it was over for us and so did he. The advice on this site helped me see that it was over if I wanted it to be over, and I didn’t want it to be over. I applied myself 100%, changed inward and outward and capitalized on what we had in common. Needless to say, we’re still together.

    It wouldn’t have happened if I had not changed my mentality about relationships. So if you are sure that’s the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, give your relationship your full commitment. Total commitment is what worked for me.

  43. Kylie says:

    I told my ex that I did not want us to fight any more and he said ok. I also told him it’d be better for us to start afresh, go out on dates, hang out together etc. and he said what ever I am happy with that is what we will do. I’m I wasting my time here?

  44. Those are not responses from someone who is fully engaged. He’s agreeing to anything-whatever to avoid making any commitment to the two of you getting back together. With these responses, he can easily turn around in the future and say “you’re the one who said x, y”

    1) stop asking leading questions that get you the response he thinks you want to hear and 2) engage him more by asking him what the two of you should do (together) to improve the relationship/current status. If he is still just as passive, then you might be wasting your time.

  45. Munsey says:

    Before I went NC she said she wanted to be friends. She tried to contact me and left three voice messages but I did not respond. I finally realized I couldn’t be without her and have called her twice, emailed four times but she has not returned my calls or replied emails. What I don’t understand is how someone who wanted to stay a friend very badly a few weeks ago now seems to have just forgotten about what we had.

  46. Maybe she changed her mind, or realized she made a mistake by contacting you, or is getting back at you for not returning her three voice messages or some other reason that has nothing to do with you. I don’t really know for sure. I have nothing to go by. But if you managed to act like you’d forgotten about what you had, then she too can do it. This is the thing about NC – two can play that game. All you can do now is wait for her to realize that she can’t do without you (if that happens).

  47. Avis says:

    First of all, I want to say thank you so much for this blog and your ebooks, they are truly amazing. I only wish I would have found this site a lot sooner! Last year things between my best friend and I were so full of relationship and romantic potential, but I messed things up by being too clingy, needy, and emotionally immature. This past year I’ve learned so much and grown so much, I’ve realized for myself all the things you talk about in your articles on this topic. We are still exceptionally close best friends (long-distance, but only for a few more months) and we do love each other very much. I know you can’t comment on my particular relationship with so little information, but do you think there could be hope for a relationship after one of the partners has been turned off by clingy and needy behavior, if that behavior really has been dealt with?

  48. Thank you for your kind words.

    Not only do I think there is hope for a relationship after one of the partners has been turned off by clingy and needy behaviour, I’ve seen relationships thrive after the clingy and needy behaviour is reduced to a healthy level or completely eliminated. It takes time and consistently behaving in a non-clingy and needy way. A partner who has experienced clingy needy behaviour may for some time remain on guard/not sure what to expect because most clingy and needy people after a while go back to acting needy ad clingy.

    But just dealing with the clingy and needy behaviour may not be enough. Other things like strength of attraction, how well two people get along, feeling that the other person/relationship is the right one, interest in continuing the relationship, whether there is someone else etc. make a huge difference.

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