Wednesday September 17th 2014

10 Red Flags You Shouldn’t Take Back Your Ex

toronto_akiteng-884Question: I need your help figuring out whether I should go back to my ex or not. I don’t want to go back to the way things were. My question is: How do I know it will be different? How can I tell he has truly changed? Are there any signs I should be looking for?

The Love Doctor’s Answer: Great question. I’d need more details of your relationship e.g. how long were you together before you broke up, what kind of relationship you had (in terms of give and take), why did you break up, what do you think needs to change for things to be different etc. for me to give you a more detailed response.

In the absence of such information, I’ll give you some of the obvious red flags that should tell you your ex has not changed and things will go back to the way they were — or worse.  Even if your ex is “acting different” now, things will only go back to where they were as soon as he believes he has you back.

This list of “don’t take your ex back (yet)” signs applies to men and women alike.

1. S/he has not completely accepted that you’re broken up and still talks like you’re still together or acts like you owe him/her something.

2. Contacts (in person, letter, cards, email, text or phone) are always about him/her trying to convince you that s/he has changed. Even when s/he is talking about you or the relationship, you get the sense he has no real interest in what you think, your needs or wishes.

3. S/he is still being controlled by neurotic neediness – e.g. contacting you because he/she thought you contacted him/her, then contacting you again to apologize for earlier on mistakenly contacting you, and then contacting you again – for whatever.

4.  S/he is (still) blaming “someone else” (you, your friend (s), relative(s), “other man/woman” etc.) for the problems in the relationship, for the break-up or for the two of you not being able to “get back” together.

5. S/he is still obsessed with “fixing you” and talks like s/he knows you better than you know yourself. You feel like you’re constantly being “coached/counseled” by a life coach/relationships “expert”.

6. S/he won’t let you take any responsibility for your role in the break up.  Says things like “You were great, I’m the one who messed up” or “You’re a wonderful person, I made you do x and y”. See this for what it is, “emotional bribery”. It takes two to create a relationship and it takes two to destroy it. If /she doesn’t get that simple fact, s/he still doesn’t get it. It’s that simple!

7. S/he is using your family/friends to get to you. Someone who can’t come up to you and “face” you has something to hide.  I’m not talking about being “friendly” with your family/friends, it’s great to have someone who gets along with your family/friends. I am talking about hearing from your friends things like “She says she still loves you”, or “He says he wants you back” etc. Someone doing this knows that if and when s/he says those things to you, s/he won’t be believed (and for good reason).  So s/he uses people who you already trust.

8. S/he is still playing stupid mind-games with you and trying to manipulate your emotions (e.g. trying to make you jealous/angry; ignoring you (NC) or telling you s/he is moving on one minute, and the next s/he wants you back).

9. You see obvious signs of the things that made you break up in the first place. From a distance they may not be like a “big deal” but when you get back together, it’s same-old-same-old all over again.

10. Last but most important of all, listen to what your gut tells you about s/he being the wrong person, the wrong relationship or the wrong timing.

If you’re really not sure and part of you believes that s/he really has changed, then give it a try, but take very small baby steps and be mindful of the above red flags.

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

17 Responses to “10 Red Flags You Shouldn’t Take Back Your Ex”

  1. Serenitydiva says:

    My ex called me out of the blue. I broke up with him 11 months ago because he acted like a jerk at times and I really did not see a future with him. Anyway we had a chat and he asked me if I to go out on a date with him. I’m still not over the way he was when we dated and not sure whether to accept the date or just say no thank you.

  2. If the way he was when you dated wasn’t life threatening, you don’t feel threatened now and part of you really wants to go, then go and see what happens. If anything, use this opportunity to tell him you’re still not over the way he was when you dated. But if you feel you’re not yet ready for a date/or don’t want to date your ex ever again, then just tell him, no thank you. In other words, this is something no one can tell you either way. Only you can decide what’s best for you (not best for him but best for you).

  3. Michael says:

    Me and my current girlfriend have been having issues to where she has cheated on me this year and lied about it. after some time she did come clean i was staying with her till the guy she cheated on my with became homeless and having the big heart that she does asked me to leave so he could have somewhere to stay till he finds a place. i don’t think he is trying. just today she tells me he is out monday after she finds him a place to stay but also she has been saying that all week. she also tells me that she would like it to go back to our 1st or 2nd or 3rd or 4th year of dating. which is what i have been wanting. this thanksgiving we will be been togather 7 years in which i also helped raise her daughter from another failed releionship. Should i try again I really want to but is also unsure

  4. Whether to try again or not is a decision ONLY you have to make since only YOU will live with the consequences of your decisions and choices.

    In your shoes, I’d wait until she’s done away with her “baggage” which from what you say doesn’t look like she’s doing anything to get rid off. May be she’s a really “kind and caring person” or she still has a thing for this other guy. Her asking you to leave for him should be a red flag/expression of where her loyalities lie.

    But it could also just be that you are a “door-mat” type of guy who lets her walk allover you, and the other guy is a “smart-ass” who knows how to get a woman to take care of him. Whichever way one looks at it, a happy ending to this is VERY far away!

  5. ylana says:

    He came back and, once again, let me believe we might have a promising future together, but he is still the same selfish narcissist masochist he has always been. I wasted my love on someone who enjoys humiliating and hurting woman and has broken many hearts and doesn’t care. All his exes hate him, even his own family does not want anything to do with him. That’s the kind of man he is.

  6. I don’t know this guy… it is possible that he is all you say he is. But if you knew all those things about him, and still took him back, what does that say about you?

    There is an African saying: If you leave the cheese unattended, and the rat steals it, it’s not the rat’s fault. In other words, you can’t blame the rat for doing what is in it’s nature to do.

    It is emotionally dishonest to take back someone you know has a history and then turn around and cry “victim”. You have to take some responsibility for putting yourself in the situation you find yourself in.

  7. gobaltimore says:

    Yangki, I think that as humans we want to allocate blame because it helps us cope. It’s wrong, but that’s how humans behave.

  8. You are right. Blame helps us cope.

    I think though that people with an external locus of control tend to blame others more, those with an internal locus of control blame themselves more… and all that is human too…(:

  9. Saida says:

    My ex is generally a great guy except for his serial lying. I broke up with him because I didn’t know when he was telling the truth or lying. We were both devastated by the breakup and he said he wanted no contact for sometime. After 2 months, I missed him so much I was going crazy and contacted him. It was like no time had passed at all. We’ve been spending a lot of time together and even talked of getting back together. Today I find out he’s been lying to me all this time. He said he was in therapy, didn’t see other women when we were broken up and has been looking for a better job. ALL LIES. I’m so angry at him but more angry at myself for believing he had changed.

  10. If it helps at all… you are not alone who has been fooled twice over. Often times as time goes on, the reasons you broke up get forgotten because you miss someone so much but once you are back together, you find out that nothing really changed.

    I personally believe that people do change, but they have to want to and work at it. If they do not want to change and do not work at changing, there is nothing you can do about it.

  11. Jessica says:

    My ex and i were together for 3.5 years. He broke it off Jan of 2011 but said he wanted to remain friends. At first, it made me so angry that he didn’t want to be with me but wanted me as a friend. I found your site and bought your ebook, it changed my mind about being friends. Our contacts have since become more frequent, we’ve been out on 5 dates and texting several times a day. I’m following your advice and not having expectations or putting a time limit on what we have. Just open to the idea that we may or may not be back together and continuing living my life.

  12. Jim says:

    It was a troubled relationship and not to disparage my ex, she’s a great woman with many wonderful qualities, but she’s also the most selfish person I have ever met. Because of this there has been a whole lot of on and off, and on and off again. I had made up my mind this was the very last time we broke up, but last night we met up for the very first time after 2 weeks of only texts and I just felt like hugging her so tight and never letting her go. Am I crazy or is something wrong with me? Everyone keeps telling me “don’t do it she doesn’t deserve you” . I know that she’s not going to change but I also know that I’ll never meet anyone like her. Should I walk away now or should I try t make this work? Btw, I was the one that left this time round.

  13. Yes, you are crazy…many of us have been there…(: …. You know something is not good for you but you want it anyway.

    It’s not my place to make such an important decision for you. My goal as a coach is to give you the tools to make decisions that are good for you –on your own.

    1. Listen to “everyone’s” reasons for saying you should not get back together. Do they have a point? Are their views of your relationship a true objective reflection of the dynamic between the two of you? Are they saying it for their own reasons unrelated to your relationship?

    2. Be honest with yourself because you are the only one who will get hurt again, in the future if you make a decision based on wanting to feel good rather than what is good for you.

    3. Make the decision whether or not to pursue this any further all by yourself. It’s your life, your decision — that’s part of being a grown-up.

    Can this relationship work? Yes, absolutely, but not without a lot of work on both sides.

  14. Sarah says:

    I have been with my ex for 14 years and we have a child together. He became emotionally abusive and angry as we had split for 2 years and then got back together but never dealt with our issues as to why we split up after having no contact at all. We moved in together right away not dealing with anything and one night he got angry and hit me. He has enrolled himself in anger management and wants to change his life and loves me and wants to try again once he gets some help which may take a while. Can people really change and how would i tell my friends and family

  15. Can people really change? Yes, people can change.

    Can your ex change? I don’t know.

    Taking Anger Management Classes (if he is genuine about it) is only a start. There is no guarantee your ex will change. That type of change takes commitment, time and baby steps.

    If he enrolled for the classes because he thinks it’s what’ll get you back, you will take him back at your own risk. Chances are very high that he’ll abuse you again. Your friends and family will probably tell you the same thing. You should listen to them.

  16. DigitalLex says:

    She gave me a list of things that she said I should change about myself before she can come back. For the last many months I’ve been working hard to change but it still seems everything I say or do gets her mad and upset at me. Now that I’ve changed the way she suggested she says we’re totally different people and not right for each other. What gives?

  17. This is usually what happens when you “change for someone else” and not for you. People’s “needs” keep changing and hard to keep up with. In any case, I think your ex may have her “own issues” (i.e. not sure what she wants) or she’s just not serious about you/not that into you and using “you change” as cover up.

    If as you said, you’ve done everything on the “change list” (hopefully you wrote it down), go to her with the list and talk to her about how it does not make sense to do all the changing she asked of you, and it’s still not good enough.

    If she can’t come up with an explanation that makes sense to you, then she’s right, you are not right for each other. In that case move on. Next time change for you and not to try to fit someone else’s idea of “perfection”.

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