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. I went looking and found 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 together 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, exes with a secure attachment style are the most likely to stay in contact after a break-up. This is because people with a secure attachment style have better coping and emotional-regulation skills. And because they score low on anxiety, secures don’t react to a break-up with obsessive pursuit. They also score low on avoidance and don’t use avoidant defensive strategies (i.e no contact) to avoid break-up 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 of them coming back are very good. The bad news is: exes with a secure attachment style may not want to come back if you engage in self-destructive coping strategies such as obsessive pursuit. The may also be put off by some of the avoidant defensive strategies you use (i.e no contact, mind games). Individuals with a secure attachment style believe in open communication and negotiating both of your needs.

RELATED: Why A Securely Attached Ex Reaches Out After A Break-Up

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. 

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’ll come back. The bad news is: your ex will likely play lots of mind games during the course of you trying to attract them back. This will likely decrease the chances of your ex coming back.

RELATED: Why An Anxious Preoccupied Ex Keeps Coming Back (Can’t Let Go)

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.  This is because avoidants use deactivating emotion-regulatory suppression strategies; these strategies often 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. This means that the probability of a dismissive avoidant ex 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 relationships. They have very little to no emotional investment in their relationships. And many of these relationships have lower interdependence, commitment, trust, and satisfaction. So when the relationship ends, they are ready to move on.

Over the years, I’ve found that dismissive avoidants are more open to getting back together when the relationship is over 3 years old. They 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 because right your chances seem bad. 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!

RELATED:

How A Fearful Avoidant Ex Comes Back – Explained In Detail

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

Attachment Styles And Why Your Ex Doesn’t Want You Back

Attract Back An Avoidant Ex:1 – Attachment Styles Can Help

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53 Comments

  1. says: Brone

    My ex and I are both FA together 2.3 years. I told myself I didn’t love her and needed to break up. After months of therapy and working on me I realized that I loved her and missed her, so I sent her a text in which I apologized for breaking up. She responded after a couple of days and was polite and kind. Said she did love me too and wished I had reached out much sooner. She’s in a relationship and wishes me nothing but the best. I haven’t stopped crying for weeks. It’s like she broke up with me, but I probably deserve it. I feel like I’ll never find anyone like her again.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I’m sorry you’re so much pain. My heart goes out to you.

      Don’t let the pain keep you in regret. Instead try to see the good that came out this in that you are working on healing your attachment style. This means that you will not again repeat the patterns that caused you this pain.

      It doesn’t lessen the pain, but it at least gives you some hope for the future.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. says: Jenni

      I agree. Yangki’s articles and videos have passion in them and she puts effort into it and does really care. I’m almost angry at myself for wasting my time on sometimes soulless click bait expert advice.

  4. says: Christina

    Previous anxious preoccupied leaning secure here. I know very well how no contact made me feel, and ultimately I ended up not wanting him back.

    I’m more secure and providing safety and security to my fearful avoidant ex, and he seems to be responding positively. I don’t know if we’ll end up together, but it feels good to have no anxiety when he does not respond, and to love him and set him free.

    Keep up the good work, Yangki. I’ll make sure to share your work.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      I like “love him and set him free!”… 🙂

      Welcome to secure attachment. It definitely makes relationships, even with a fearful avoidant less stressful and frustrating. Hope things work out for you.

      I appreciate the help.

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