10 Red Flags You Should NOT 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?

Yangki’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 tell you you should NOT take them back. This list applies to men and women alike.

1 – They have not truly and completely accepted the break-up

This is a red flag because if your ex still talks to you like you’re still in a relationship and/or acts like you owe them contact, a response, your time etc. it means that they have not yet accepted the break-up. Someone who has not truly and completely accepted the break-up is unlikely to be working to change anything.

2 – They are trying to convince you to take them back (because they’ve changed)

When every text or email is about how your ex has changed, that’s a red flag right there.
Real change takes time, even when your ex has indeed changed it’s advisable to wait and see if the changes stick. But you’re getting the feeling that all your ex wants is for you to take them back, it’s a sign that they have no real interest in a better relationship,

3 – They haven’t changed one bit

Same drama, same neediness, same controlling, same everything is a flashing red flag. From a distance the same old ‘issues” may not be like a “big deal” but when you get back together, it’s same-old-same-old all over again.

4 – They haven’t taken full responsibility for their role in the relationship ending

If your ex is blaming the break-up on you, your friend(s), family, your ex, work, therapist, etc., and may even still be blaming them for the two of you not being able to “get back” together, don’t take them back. If they can’t take responsibility for their role in the relationship ending, they can’t see what they need to do to be a better partner to you. If you take them back, you are going back to the same old relationship – or worse.

5 – They are obsessed with “fixing you”

This is probably one of the biggest red flags that you should not take back your ex. An ex who believes the reason you are not together is because of something “wrong” with you, and if you can fix you, everything will be alright is not only not taking responsibility for their role in the break-up, but they are also putting all the responsibility on you.

And if your ex talks like they know you better than you know yourself and you feel like you’re constantly being “coached” or “counseled” by a life coach or relationships “expert”, you are not taking back an equal, you are taking back someone who thinks they are better than you.

6 – They don’t want to talk about why the relationship ended

It may feel good when your ex 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”, and they may be right. Most of the time however, this is “emotional bribery”. They want you to think they owned up to their ‘wrongs’ and just forget everything they did and take them back. Nothing has really changed.

7 – They are using your family or friends to get to you

Your ex talking and being “friendly” with your family and/or friends is not necessarily a red flag. It’s great to have someone who gets along with your family and friends, but if you are hearing things from family and friends that your ex should be talking to your directly about, it’s a manipulative attempt by your ex to force you to take them back by getting everyone close to you on their side.

8 – They are still playing stupid mind-games

There is no place for mind games in a healthy relationship. People who play mind games know that the only way you can take them back is if they can manipulate you into taking them back. They are not trying to work on a better relationship they are trying to trick you back into the old relationship.

9 – They are rushing you into making a decision

If when you express your concerns, doubts and fears about getting back together, your ex doesn’t want to hear any of it or dismisses it as you being afraid of love/commitment/getting hurt again etc., they’re rushing you into a relationship because they know if they take things slow, you might see that nothing is any different.

10 – You have doubts about your ex

If you have concerns or doubts about your ex not being the right person for you, don’t ignore those doubts. Listen to what your gut feelings or intuition is telling you about your ex being the wrong person or it being the wrong relationship or wrong timing. Our intuitive self knows things that our conscious mind is trying to convince us aren’t real.

Related: 8 Toxic Relationships that Feel Like Love (Red Flags)

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  1. says: Jessy

    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?

    1. 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.

  2. says: Angela

    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?

    1. 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.

  3. says: DigitalLex

    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 different people and not right for each other. What gives?

    1. 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”.

  4. says: Sarah

    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

    1. 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.

  5. says: Jim

    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.

    1. 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.