10 Red Flags You Shouldn’t Take Back Your Ex


Question: 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.

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  • Jessy says:

    Yangki, my ex broke up with me in June. I told him I accept the breakup and two days later he said he made a terrible mistake and wanted me back. I told him I needed some time to think about it and he asked if it was ok to text each other from time to time and I said I was ok with that. Since then he’s doing everything he can to make things better and he says he does not want to lose me. Should I give him another chance or it’s too late?

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    • Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng says:

      You are the only one who can decide whether to give him another chance or not. It’s your life and I don’t want to take the power to determine the course of your life away from you.

      What I can say is, if you do decide to give him another chance, take things slowly. At the end of the day, it’s not so much about how many months you’ve been broken up, but what has changed (for the better) during that time.

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  • Angela says:

    My boyfriend and I are not quite broken up but I left in mothers day, I say not quite because I’m hoping we can get through this with time. In have forgiven him over and over again after all his bits of jealousy. He thinks that I’m some kind of whore because he doesn’t trust woman. I’m 7 months pregnant he hasn’t worked and was always looking for work, now that I left he suddenly wants to change like every time we fight. I told him I need time to see if he’s going to stick to it…will he really change?

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    • Love Doctor, Yangki Christine Akiteng Love Doctor, Yangki Christine Akiteng says:

      There are people who promise to change but have no sincere desire to change and/or make any real effort to change. They say “I’ll change,” just so you take them back.

      But there are also people who after losing someone they love want to change and make the effort to change.

      The question you should be asking yourself is “What’s different this time?”

      If he’s giving you the same old story, chances are he’s just saying things so you take him. But if he’s genuinely making effort to change, then let him prove himself over time.

      Make sure you can see change… real change, and don’t take him back until you are sure he’ll not go back to being his old self.

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  • 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?

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    • The Love Doctor The Love Doctor says:

      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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