How Often Do Exes Come Back? (Odds By Attachment Styles)

How often do exes come back based on an ex’s attachment style? Attachment styles offers insights into why exes come back, how often and how they come back.

But first what does the research say on the percentages of exes who come back say.

If you are like me, you want to see scientific research to back it up. Since I am not that loaded to do a large scale study that captures the real picture of the percentages of exes who come back, I went looking so you don’t have to.

The bad news is that there are not many credible scientific studies on percentages of exes who come back. Most studies I found online were conducted by “get your ex back” sites… and meh.

The good news is that most percentages look good, but the studies are somewhat old

1. A study conducted by Kansas State University found that nearly 50 percent of all exes come back. The exes who got back together assumed their ex had changed for the better or that they would be better at communicating.

2. Psychology Today, a credible source has on their site roughly the same percentage of 40-50 percent of exes who come back. Exes cited various reasons why they come back; top on the list was lingering feelings

3. Kansas State University also did another study and found that 37 percent of cohabiters and 27 percent of married couples had experienced a breakup and got back togethers with their exes (Vennum et al., 2014).

4. The JSTOR Journal (for the intellectually curious) sites a study by Dr. Howard Wineberg studied 506 women who attempted reconciliation before divorce was finalized.

  • 50 percent them got divorced eventually.
  • 44 percent were still living with their spouses.
  • 32% successfully got back together and stayed that way for more than one year.

How often do exes come back based on attachment style?

There are no hard numbers and percentages on how often exes come back. But there are studies that draw a direct link between how different attachment styles behave following a break-up and how often exes come back.

1) Secure attached ex

Of all the attachment styles, securely attached exes are the most likely to stay in contact after a break-up. This is because they are low on attachment anxiety; and don’t react to a break-up with obsessive pursuit as preoccupied’s do. They also don’t use avoidant defensive strategies (i.e no contact) to suppress attachment-related thoughts and emotions.

“They face relationship breakups with greater resilience, acceptance, and emotional recovery. But more importantly, they recognize both their attachment needs and their ex’s attachment needs and act accordingly. The use of strategies open, empathetic communication, and negotiation of needs and desires gives them greater willingness to reunite.” (Madey & Jilek, 2012)

The Verdict

The good news is; if your ex is securely attached, the chances f them coming back are very good. The bad news is; they may not want to come back if you engage in self-destructive coping strategies such as obsessive pursuit. The may also be out off by some of the avoidant defensive strategies you use; because they believe in  open communication and negotiating both of your needs and desires.

2) Attachment anxious ex (preoccupied and fearful avoidant leaning anxious).

Of all the attachment styles, preoccupied and fearful avoidant attachment leaning anxious exes are the most likely to come back. The main reason being that they are likely to be available and responsive; because they need connection and a relationship. This increases their chances as they are able to persist where most attachment styles would give up. 

RELATED: Why Anxious Attachment Exes Are The Mostly Likely To Come Back

Individuals with high anxiety have more trouble adapting to a relationship breakup and acting independently, and they experience greater emotional distress, anger, anxiety, depression, and loss of emotional control (Fagundes, 2012;Gilbert & Sifers, 2011;Yárnoz-Yaben, 2010).

The use of hyper-activating emotion regulatory strategies leads to unwanted pursuit behaviour; which leads to a cycle of repeatedly breaking up and getting back together.

Studies have shown that people high on attachment anxiety are more willing to stay friends with an ex to potentially maintain close ties allowing for later reconnection. But their motive especially in times of distress is more self-focused and not necessarily in the best interest of an ex or even the relationship. So yes, your ex will come back but you may also break up soon after.

The verdict

If your ex is anxious-preoccupied or a fearful avoidant attachment leaning anxious, there is a very high chance that they will come back. The bad news is that your ex will likely play lots of mind games during the course of you trying to attract them. This will likely decrease the chances of your ex coming back.

RELATED: 5 Games Fearful Avoidants Play – They Want You To Chase Them

However, more recent studies have found that attachment-anxious individuals experience greater personal growth following romantic break-ups compared to attachment-avoidant individuals. This makes them more attractive to an ex who has been wanting anxious preoccupied to change.

3) Attachment avoidant ex (Dismissive Avoidant/Fearful Avoidant Leaning More Avoidant)

Of all the attachment styles, dismissive avoidants and fearful avoidants leaning avoidant exes are the least likely to come back.  The main reason being that individuals high in attachment avoidance use deactivating emotion-regulatory suppression strategies such such as no contact that create emotional distance with an ex.

Deactivating strategies have been linked to a greater tendency to breakup, weaker emotional reactions to breakups, and self-destructive coping strategies. (T.J. Collins, O. Gillath / Journal of Research in Personality 46 (2012).

The Verdict

The chances of your ex coming back is less with a dismissive avoidant and a fearful avoidant leaning avoidant. This doesn’t mean dismissive avoidants don’t come back, it just means the probability of them not coming back is higher than them coming back.

One reason for this is that avoidants in general, dismissive avoidants in particular tend to be involved in short-term dating relationships characterized by lower interdependence, commitment, trust, and satisfaction. They have very little to no emotional investment in their relationships. When the relationship ends, they are ready to move on.

Over the years however, I have found that when the relationship is over 3 years; dismissive avoidants tend to be more open to getting back together; and may even actively pursue a reconciliation.

There is more to an ex coming back than just their attachment style

There are other individual factors unique to your ex that may affect whether or not they will come back. (See: 10 Factors That Affect The Chances Of Getting Back Together With Your Ex)

When all is said, don’t be discouraged from trying to attract back your ex simply because right now your ex is saying it’s over. It takes work and it takes time, but it’s possible.

When you feel discouraged and want to give up, these Incredible Success Stories of readers like you who got back their ex might help!


What Makes A Dismissive Avoidant Ex Miss You And Come Back?

Should I Wait For My Ex To Come Back? 1 Year Break-Up

More from Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng
How Do I Get My Ex Back If He Wants To Be Just Friends?
Question: How do I get my ex back if he wants to...
Read More
Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

  1. says: Juanita

    How I wish I’d found this site a few months ago. My ex and I were on-and-off for 4 years. I had no idea he was a dismissive, I just assumed he wasn’t committed to the relationship. After learning about attachment styles, I realize how I triggered him with constant need for reassurance. I’m working on my anxious attachment style and would love to reconnect with him and try to make it work. But I’m now aware that if there’s no change, it’ll end the same.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I hear you, but I think that if you’re working on your anxious attachment style, and now that you are aware he is a dismissive avoidant, you will not trigger him the way you did before. Things will therefore not be the same.

      Having a partner who is safe and feels safe actually stops an avoidant from consistent distancing. The safer the relationship, the less need they have to distance. They will still distance because they’re avoidant, but it will be less often and for shorter periods of time. Some avoidants develop a secure attachment style just by being in a relationship with someone secure.

  2. says: Meagan

    Definitely a different and positive vibe in this site. I feel more hopeful than I have felt since he broke it off with my 2 months ago. Thank you.