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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  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.

  5. says: Nathalie

    Yangki, I have a secure attachment style and agree with your advice on attachment styles. There is so much misinformation on the damage of no contact, I feel like your voice is being drowned in all of it. How can I help? I have always seen no contact as cruel and self-interested, but that’s just me, I am securely attached, lol.

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Thanks for being honest. Secure attachment is not a lost cause (yet). I feel like the tide is slowly turning… but maybe that’s just me, I am securely attached… 😉

      You can help by spreading the word! There are share buttons at the end of each article. I appreciate any help I can get.

  6. says: Idris Nafisat

    My ex broke up with me three months ago and I did all those post break up mistakes, I begged him after two weeks and he said me begging him he felt guilty after searching different site I did no contact for 3weeks to stop myself from acting needy and access the situation, I found your page ago advising against no contact, and I reached out to my ex, at first he was responsive for 2weeks but getting to the third week he was acting cold, he does not reply to my texts and even if he replies it’s one word answers and he has never initiate contact and I do give space before I make another contact I don’t know if I should give up already , it’s actually hard work getting an ex back

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      There are several reasons why your ex changed from being responsive to being hold and cold.

      1) It could be something you said or something you are not doing enough of to make them attracted to you.

      See: How to Pull Your Ex Closer Vs. How To Avoid Pushing Away Your Ex

      2) It could also be your ex’s attachment style.

      Try reading articles here of people who might have your similar situation, You can try a site search on words like “ex one word answers” or “ex hot and cold” and other keywords related toy our situation.

  7. says: Mikhozi Namara

    Wow! I’ve spent serval days reading your articles and I have to say, this is the most positive advice on getting back with an ex on the web, wait, the whole world.

    You truly know what you are talking about, and I like that you see things from both sides. I took an online course on perspective-taking and it is a joy to see it in practice. Keep up the ‘good work’, the good Lord is watching over you.

  8. says: Edna

    My ex said he had made up his mind and he is the kind to not change his mind. Lucky for me I had found your site so I asked to keep in contact and at first he said what is the point, I am not changing my mind, but then he said yes. I followed the advice in your ebook and after a month of text messaging, I asked to meet up, he said he did not want to give me the wrong message. I waited a week and asked again and this time he relented. We had a great time and were laughing and holding hands. When he walked me to my car he kissed me on the lips and said he does not know what the future holds but he knows that he does not want to lose me forever. Today he initiated his first text and wished me a merry Christmas. I know in your ebook that it is not much to go by but it feels good to know he still wants me in his life. I am going to keep implementing your advice and see where it goes. I really believe we will get back together.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      You are right. It’s not much to go by, but it’s enough to show that things are moving in the right direction. What you’re doing is working, so don’t change it or get needy and try to move things faster.

      I believe with you!

  9. says: Odelle

    Yangki, I got my ex back using your book and articles but 4 days ago I messed up and said some things which made her upset and breakup with me again. I waited a day and reached out to her, she responded an hour later saying she’s busy and will call me when she gets home. She called and we talked and I also apologised. She wants us to continue talking says but she is now scared of getting hurt again. Can I still get her back or have I messed up so big that I pushed her to the edge? Please help, again. 🙁 Thanks as always.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      Yes, you can absolutely get her back, but this time it’s going to be a little harder than the last time. The advantage you have is that she wants to continue talking. Use it well.

      You did before, you can do it again.

  10. says: Sarah

    I feel like Im stuck. Recently my ex got super drunk and said he wish we are still togehter and wants a family with me but with him theres no turning back. And now i feel like theres no hope left. Is there anything I can do? 🙁

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki C. Akiteng

      I responded to you before with advice, but if you still feel stuck, I am happy to work with you to see where you may be stuck. Sometimes a fresh set of objective eyes does help… 🙂

  11. says: Jefar

    Your website is so helpful and spreads such a positive message. My ex broke up with me two months ago after 5 years together. I still loved her but she says for the moment we can only be friends and see what happens. I have been applying your advice with some success. She’s opening up more and initiating contact more. We are going to a concert we had bought tickets before we broke up in a couple of weeks. We’ll see what happens.

  12. says: Nina Flores

    My fiance broke off our engagement because I wanted to wait to get married til he is financially set but he took it as called off. I contacted him telling him how much I miss him and want him to come back. Is that even possible?

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      As the article says, exes do come back, but not in the way you are going about it.

      It’s possible to get back your ex but it’s a complicated process mainly because it’s about ’emotions’. It helps if you know what you are doing.

      Spend sometime here reading about how to attract back your ex.