Absence DOES NOT Make Your Ex’s Heart Grow Fonder

Question: Hi Yangki, I’m a first timer on this blog and I have a really serious question: What happened to the saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”?

Yangki’s Response: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” still applies between two people who are fond of each other. The key word here is “fond”.

Unfortunately not many people understand what this means when it comes to break-ups and exes.

Fond (meaning):

  • Having an affection or liking for;
  • Affectionate; loving; tender; indulgent; doting
    prizing highly; desirous

Many (if not most) break-ups happen because one person (or both people) is no longer FOND of the other. Your ex may still love you, but not be fond of you at the time of the break-up, or hasn’t been fond of you for a very long time — and vice versa.

Here is where most people get confused.

Saying someone is “fonder” of you means that there is increase in affection, liking, tenderness, indulgence, doting, desire etc.

But for there to be an increase (fonder) in affection, liking, tenderness, indulgence, doting, desire etc. there has to be (fond) affection, liking, tenderness, indulgence, doting, desire etc in the first place.

Someone who wasn’t fond of you when you were together, isn’t going to be fonder of you in your absence. Someone who doesn’t like you, feels no affection or desire (what happens during break-ups) isn’t going to suddenly feel more affection, liking, tenderness, indulgence, doting, desire etc in your absence.

They may miss you and miss the good times, but “miss” (definition: aware of the absence and wish someone/something was there) and “fonder” are not the same thing.

People miss other people, places or things all the time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they like or even want that person back, or want to return to a certain place.

Say you had a roommate who snores, is untidy or too noisy, but who makes you laugh or is a great cook. When they move out because of a falling out (due to their snoring, untidiness or loudness), of course you are going to miss them – how they make you laugh or their good cooking – but it doesn’t necessarily mean you want them to move back in.

To me, it’s simple common sense. I could even stretch it a little and say, it’s simple math.

  • Fond of  + Absence = Fonder
    Positive  +  Negative = Positive (assuming “fond” is greater than “absence”)
  • Not Fond of  +  Absence = Out of sight, out of mind
    Negative + Negative = Negative  (not good for someone who wants his/her ex back)

Why do so many people get “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” so wrong when it comes to break-ups and exes?

Because they put way too much emphasis on “absence”, and way too little importance on “fonder”. It’s like expecting an award for a race you didn’t run. And we wonder why our ex doesn’t come “crawling” back or why they moved on real fast after you cut off contact.

What I am saying is, if you want your ex to become ‘fonder” of you, put less emphasis in “absence” and more effort into creating affection, liking, tenderness, indulgence, doting, desire etc. At the end of the day (process), more affection, liking, tenderness, indulgence, doting, desire etc is what makes an ex fonder of you, and want to come back.

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  • I was so surprised when my ex contacted me because we never spoke after we broke up 6 months ago. We exchanged a few texts after which he asked if he can call me. The conversation started well, we were laughing and flirting, then I said something and it all went down hill from there. He said he made a mistake contacting me and hang up. I let things cool down for a month then texted him “Something important to tell you.” His response “go to hell”. Should I give him more time and try to contact him again? We were together for 3 and a half years.

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    • You could try to contact him again at some point, but I don’t think any “more time” is going to make a difference.

      From the sounds of it, this was not exactly an easy relationship. You both thought that a little “time and space” would fix things, but all you had to do was get in contact again, and it’s same old.

      If all you are doing is “giving it time”, you will get the same result.

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  • It would be just a short text “Something reminded me of you”. I don’t want him to think that I’m still not over him. I want to convey that I’m moving on with my life.

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    • I still don’t think it’ll make a difference, but give it a try. You seem to strongly believe that “giving it time” (no contact) is the magic solution. I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. You either get it, or you don’t.

      As for making your ex believe you moved on, be careful what you wish for. He might actually believe it.

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  • Going “cold turkey” with your ex after a break up is great in theory, but it is not grounded in the reality. It downplays the fact that even though the relationship ended, you’ve invested so much time and energy into another human being. In most cases your ex is the most emotionally significant person in your life that’s why you need them, sometimes even more than when you were together.

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    • I have no clue. The “no-contact experts” will probably give you a better answer.

      My guess would be to give him more time. For how long? Again, I have no clue. May be next time you break-up with someone…don’t do no contact. They’re not going to be sitting around “waiting” for you to contact them after you are done with no contact.

      Personally, if someone treated me like I am easily disposable…. I don’t want them back in my life.

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  • Yangki, you say ignoring your ex when they try to contact you is immature. What about someone breaking up with you, isn’t that treating you like you’re disposable?

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    • Yes, if they just disappear with no explanation or break up with you via text. They’re showing you they have no respect for you/you have no value to them.

      No, if they tell you why they are breaking up with you. You may not like that they ended the relationship or think their reason is valid… but it’s their reason. You can’t force anyone to be in a relationship.

      Emotionally mature/competent people when faced with a break-up RESPOND in ways that get them what they want, not REACT to not getting what they want.

      That said, if you no longer want anything to do with your ex because of a toxic dynamic, then cutting them off makes sense.

      Bottom line: Break-ups happen, it’s how you respond/react to the break-up that makes the difference.

      Africans have a saying: Do not burn a bridge if there’s even a very slight chance you might want to walk back that route.

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