Do Exes Remember The Good Memories Or The Bad Memories? 

When your ex thinks about you, do they remember the good memories, and miss them? Should you remind your ex of the good times, maybe send a good memory text? Will no contact make your ex forget the bad memories?

These are all questions my clients ask me. What does the science say?

1) Painful memories linger longer than happy memories

While it’s true that we remember some pieces of an event but forget others, it’s not true that over time the brain forgets bad memories and only remembers happy memories. In fact, studies show that remembering negative experiences and holding on to negative memories comes more naturally to us.

The review of research on emotional memories published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science says “.

“It really does matter whether [an event is] positive or negative in that most of the time, if not all of the time, negative events tend to be remembered in a more accurate fashion than positive events,” says review author Elizabeth Kensinger of Boston College.

Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of social psychology at Florida State University in a journal article “Bad Is Stronger Than Good,”

“Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones, he said. Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones. ”

What does this mean for you trying to attract back your ex?

It means that it is OK to remind your ex of the good times. But you should not bank on this as a strategy for attracting back your ex. Your ex may remember the good times and good memories, but the bad or negative memories are stronger and last longer.

You may even find that the reason your ex is hot and cold is because they remember the good memories and seem interested and engaged. Then a few hours or days later, they remember negative memories. They are like “I don’t think we should continue contact. It’s preventing me from moving on”; or “I am worried that we’re spending too much time together, I don’t want to lead you on”; or “I don’t see us getting back together.”

You didn’t say or do anything to make them want to pull away, they just remembered the negative memories and they were stronger than the good memories.

RELATED: How Do I Help My Ex Move Past The Pain and Hurt I Caused?

2) Memories aren’t reliable

Memories are subject to distortion especially if we tell our story of what happened again and again. Each time we retell it, we change the facts and sometimes add false details without even realising. But because we have told it too many times, we become increasingly confident in its accuracy. But that’s not all, a study from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, found that people base their decisions on subjective memory — how they feel about a memory — more than on its accuracy

What does this mean for you trying to attract back your ex?

It means that it is OK to remind your ex of the good times. But keep in mind that the way you remember the relationship and the break-up may be different from the way your ex remembers it. You may be thinking your ex is missing you, becoming nostalgic and will reach out. But your ex is angry or feeling resentful. They are making decisions based on something that happened in the past.

memory rather than what actually happened.

RELATED: Should You Talk To Your Ex About What Went Wrong – Clear Things Up?

3) Restorative nostalgia is more likely to make your ex feel sad

The word “nostalgia” triggers positive emotions in people trying to attract back an ex. We all want to think that an ex we still love thinks of us. They remember the good things and feel inspired to want to relive and/or recreate the special moments from the past. But according to Svetlana Boym, author of The Future of Nostalgia.

“There are two types of nostalgia, restorative and reflective. Restorative nostalgia inspires a desire to “rebuild the past” or reconstruct what has been lost, while reflective nostalgia allows you to accept your memories for what they are. People can experience both types of nostalgia, but restorative nostalgia is more likely to make us feel sad.”

What does this mean for you trying to attract back your ex?

It means that it is OK to remind your ex of the good times and happy memories. But it does not necessarily mean they will want to relive or recreate those memories if the memories make them feel sad, stressed, disappointed, depressed, resentful or angry.

This short video explains why regret for losing you and regret for the break-up can keep some bad memories longer; and how this can affect your chances of getting back together.

You have a better chance of pulling your ex closer creating new and better memories

So while it is true that memories and nostalgia play an important role in attracting back your ex, it is not a straight line between nostalgia and attracting back your ex. In some cases, trying to trigger nostalgia may actually hurt you chances and prevent you from getting back together.

If you are not in contact with your ex, it’s a good idea to open up the lines of communication so that you can keep track in real time of how your ex remembers certain events, how they feel about them, which memories are holding them back, and which memories need to be overridden with better memories and

But more importantly open up the lines of communication so that you can start creating new memories instead of relying on old memories.

RELATED:

5 Strong Signs An Avoidant Ex Regrets The Break-Up

How Long After A Break-Up Does Your Ex Start Missing You?

This Explains A Fearful Avoidant Ex’s Mixed Messages About Contact

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16 Comments

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  1. says: Debbie

    Hi Yangki,

    Just wanted to say a big thank you for this site. It’s so refreshing to find such honest, constructive and frank advice which doesn’t revolve around mindgames or manipulation, but instead focuses on healthy, honest and respectful communication.

    I’m so happy to report that following your guidelines, my ex is now telling me he loves and misses me too, we have had some really good times together and are even planning to spend some of Christmas together next week!

    Thanks so much, you are an absolute blessing xx

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      Thanks… and so are you!

      I am happy for you and wish you much love and happiness.

      Have a great Christmas TOGETHER!!!!

  2. says: Katt

    Hi Yangki. I want to thank you for your work as it has helped me get through some of the toughest times in my life. I also got ur eBook and it has helped me tremendously. I have a question which I am hoping you may help me with. What is the difference between “reacting” and “responding” as mentioned in ur blog above? Thank u in advance

  3. says: Jillian

    Yangki, thank you for your eBook. I followed your advice and established contact with my ex. He responds to all my texts and also initiates contact. However, he responds to some questions but ignores others. I don’t know what to read from this. Is he interested or is he just being polite?

    1. If he was just being polite, he’d not be initiating contact. There seems to be some interest there but not enough emotional connection.

      Don’t push. Work on creating a safe environment for those kind of conversations to happen, and you will see him open up more to emotionally difficult conversations.

  4. says: David

    Something happened today. We broke up two weeks ago, I didn’t contact her and she didn’t contact me. Today I had this strange feeling to be honest with her and basically tell her, I still love and miss her. All my friends told me not to do it but I wanted closure and being honest and open with her was the only way I was going to get it. She replied right away and said we needed to talk. We messaged each other for 2 hrs as I was out of town. She asked me what time I’d be returning, I told her I’d call her when I was home, which I did. We ended up meeting and just hung out for hours talking about the issues we had in our relationship. It was really great. Your advice is the best. Thanks!

    1. Open and honest is risky business, but the rewards are far greater.

      You didn’t ask me a question, so I’m assuming you are really not looking for my advice, but I’ll give it anyway. Disregard it if you think you don’t need it…(:

      Talking about the old relationship in the very initial stages can seem like a good idea short-term, but is not something that I’d advice. You run the risk of not only dragging back all the issues of the past into the present, it also makes “starting over” impossible. You may even get back together, but it’ the same old relationship because you just continued from where things ended. Soon or later, you’ll break-up again.

      You may actually have a good shot, just try to do it right.

  5. says: Manuel

    I have been looking all over the internet and this is the first site that I can honestly say strikes the right code for me. I don’t think no contact or the other things that many experts advice is healthy and especially at our age, we are both in our 50s. I also bought your book and everything seems clearer than it has ever been. I was a jerk and she put up with so much because she loved me, she couldn’t do it anymore as she told me and ended the relationship. I want her back and doing the things you advice to get her back. For the first time yesterday, she seemed more open to talking to me but said it does not mean we are getting back together. I know I have a long way of me, but thanks for this resource.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      Like you said, you have a long ways to go, but at least you are on the right track.

      Let me know how else I can be of help.

  6. says: Danielle

    Hi Yangki,

    What do you suggest qualifies as “effective contact” and how do you transition from minimal to effective? I read the Ebook but I am not sure what sort of comments or exchanges are needed to move forward. I have kept things positive and light and my ex responds but very basic. I also am keeping things distant since he still seems angry. Thank you for your smart approaches by the way!

    1. 1. There is no such thing as “effective contact”, contact is just contact. I spent quite sometime explaining the difference between contact and communication, and communication and effective communication (pages 164 – 170).

      2. The whole section on “Contact” Pgs 80-162 is about regulating your contacts and the type of topics that can make him/her want to respond. The section on “Effective communication” Pgs 163-222 is about sustaining conversation to get him/her to want to initiate contact and want to be engaged in back and forth communication. Pgs 223-293 “Emotional Bonding” is about triggering the right emotions.

      3. All those three sections help to move things forward. It’s not just one thing but a series of things. That’s why I spent time writing over 200 pages just on that alone. If you do this right, things begin to fall in place. It’s the foundation for asking him to try things again.

  7. says: Hover

    First I wanted to say thank you for the session last week. What you said about issues with control made a lot of sense to me. It made it a lot easier for me to face my fear and anxiety over contacting her. She hasn’t responded but I didn’t expect her to since it’s been almost 3 months since we had nay contact. I’m going to contact her again next week and hopefully I get a response. Even if I do not, I’m still glad I’m finally working through my issues with fear and control.

  8. says: Escape

    This is really helpful. I am an anxiety sufferer and struggled with it for years. It gets worse with separation but I am working on being positive as much as I can.