Is The Hope Your Ex Will Come Back Real Or False Hope?

Almost every heartbroken ex who still hopes their ex will back told themselves:

If you love something, let it go
If it returns, it’s yours
If it doesn’t, it wasn’t
If you love someone, set them free
If they come back, they’re yours
If they don’t, they never were

There’s nothing wrong with holding hope that your ex will come back. Sometimes hope is all you have, and when our hope is in the right place, hope doesn’t disappoint. But these words have also encouraged many people to hold onto false hope when everything points to an ex not coming back and/or to keep fighting for an ex who is not worth fighting for.

Hope comes from a good intentions and desires, and so does false hope

Hope is often described using our abilities to be imaginatively and constructively engaged, even in the face of limited probability.

In my years helping exes get back together, probability is wavering and unpredictable as the chances of an ex coming back on most part depends on an ex. Even those people who believe that it is possible that their ex will come back sometimes don’t get their wish.

This doesn’t mean one has no total control over their ex coming back. Even when the chance is perhaps only 10% or even only greater than zero, the person trying to get their ex back still has control over whether or not their ex will come back. If they do their part well the chances become greater but if they do their part badly, the chance becomes smaller. But it’s not just what they do that increases or reduces their chances, beliefs and attitude can and have influence on an ex coming back.

This short story illustrates the two good intentions and desires but one created false hope and the other a realizations of what was hoped for

Girl # 1 – A bird flew down and rested on the shoulder of a girl playing in a field. It sings a lovely song. The girl likes the song very much and decides she wants to keep the bird for herself. She grabs the bird and holds on to it. Scared, the bird struggles to break free but the girl holds even tighter. She thinks to herself “…but I can provide a better life than it can find on its own. It’s so little and there is no one out there to take care of it. I can feed it and protect it. Besides, it got here all by itself and it seems so perfectly happy. Why not just stay?”

The bird continues to struggle, the girl holds tighter. After a while, the bird stops struggling. Pleased that the bird had stopped trying to leave, the girl runs home to put her bird in the cage, and only then does she realize that the bird is dead. She didn’t want to kill the bird. What she really wanted was to love and take care of it. But her well-intended attempt to take care, feed and protect the bird killed it.

Girl # 2 – A bird flew down and rested on the shoulder of a girl playing in a field. It sings a lovely song. The girl happily and cheerfully sings along. The two of them make even sweeter music together. The bird stays for a little while, then flies away. She does not try to stop the bird from flying away. She thinks to herself “…it would be nice to keep it but it looks perfectly happy free. It’ll probably come back because we sing so well together, but may be it won’t. I don’t know.”

Every now and then she sings “their” song, not because she expects the bird to come back but because she likes the sound of it and because of how the song makes her feel. Days go by and she’s singing the song all by herself and all to herself, and suddenly she hears someone singing with her. She knows exactly who it is because it’s singing “their” song. She runs to the window singing even louder and when she opens the window, there it is!

The bird had come back on its own free will. It came back because it enjoyed the way she sang its song and the way they sang together — and because it does not feel threatened. It knows that any time it wants to fly away, it can.

What is the difference between false hope and real hope an ex will come back?

Girl #1 – Had hope that that the bird wanted to stay, and she also had the attitude that she knew what was best for the bird and could provide it with what it needed, and that hope proved to be false.

Girl #2 – Didn’t know if the bird would come back, but she didn’t just sit back to wait for the bird to come back or obsesses about it not coming back. She was aware that there is a probability that the bird would not come back but hoped that it would. Her hope however small the probability was not based on what she could provide the bird or what she thought the bird needed, but what they had created together. She didn’t:

  • Stop singing their song because the bird was gone or try to forget the bird (go no contact)
  • Change the song to reflect how sad she was that the bird was gone (protest behaviour)
  • Stand at the window singing louder hoping the bird would hear her and come back (needy and pushy behaviour)
  • Start singing weird songs that made no sense to try to convince the bird she was happier without it (manipulation)
  • Run and find another bird to replace the bird she really wanted (forcing moving on)

She hoped the bird would come back but went about her daily life singing their song to herself because it was a good song and it made her feel good.

If you and your ex had created a good relationship (not perfect just good) and thinking of what you had still makes you feel good even after the break-up, it’s not wrong to have hope your ex will come back even when the probability of that happening is low. But if you’re wondering if your hope that your ex will come back is real or if you’re holding to false hope, this will help clarify things.

1) Real hope gives you something to look forward to

Real hope embraces the unknown and gives you something to look forward to even when the probability of getting your ex seems low. False hope makes you stuck in “I don’t know what to do”. It makes you afraid of the unknown and uncertainty and makes you focus focused on what you can change or control. It makes you susceptible to distortion of reality, denial and delusion. You find yourself constantly reminding yourself that your chances are low because of what you can’t control or change.

2) Real hope is active and actionable

Real hope active and actionable. If you’re just thinking “because I have hope, my ex will come back” or “if it’s meant to be it will be” or “if they come back, they’re yours. If they don’t, they never were” and sitting there ad doing nothing to make your hope a reality, it’s false hope all mostly likely all in your head with no base for your hope.

I tell people who sign up for coaching 2 months with no contact with their ex and want to know if there is hope their ex will come back that without knowing if your ex even wants to reopen the lines of communication, I don’t know if there is hope that they’ll come back. I can tell you, yes, there’s hope but when you reach out, your ex never responds, says they don’t want to reopen the lines of communication or that they’ve moved on, the hope I’m giving you will be false hope because reality says something different.

3) Real hope is stable over time

Real hope is not determined by your mood or even what’s going on in the moment, day-to-day or over time. A mood can influence how you feel but hope is generally stable over time. False hope on the other hand can trigger a rollercoaster of emotions. When things are good you feel positive/optimistic and when things are not, you feel negative/pessimistic.

Can you cultivate real hope and get your ex back?

Yes, absolutely, whether you don’t have hope or feel like you’re holding onto false hope, you can cultivate real hope that your ex will come back, and maybe even make it happen.

1. Give yourself permission to be hopeful

Even when the probability that your ex will come back seems low, give yourself permission to be hopeful. People who have real hope of getting their ex back look at the low probability that they will get their ex back and focus on the things they can influence and change to increase their chances. But unlike people with false hope who either only focus on the negative aspects or only the positive aspects of a situation or events, people who have real hope focus on both the negative and positive assessment and use both aspects to create something to look forward to.

2. Take action where possible

For example, reach out, emotionally connect, ask your ex to meet etc. where possible and when the timing is  appropriate. Use your imagination to be constructively in the face of limited probability.

You can afford to have real hope because you are influencing and creating what you hope for and can see the progress you are making.

3. Be realistic and if not sure, seek expert assessment

People with real hope are realistic about their situation. They recognize and accept it and try to deal with it in a practical way. When they’re unsure how or if their assessment of the situation, events or circumstances is realistic, they seek experts’ assessment because they want to know whether their hope is reasonable and based on reality.

4. Keep a positive outlook

Real hope isn’t thinking “everything is or will be fine” but rather objectively evaluating an issue, the situation, events or circumstances, embracing the unknown and figuring out how to create or shape the conditions that make an ex want to come back.


Do Exes Come Back When You Let Go? (Yes, Here’s Why)

Break From Your Ex Vs. Break From Trying to Get Back Together

12 Signs Your Ex Is Friendly And Polite But Doesn’t Want You Back

More from Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng
Mr. Unavailable Or Mr. Unhappy?
Question:  How do you know it’s about you and how do you...
Read More
Join the Conversation


  1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Marion

    This is great advice but how do I let go? Is there an article on letting go and how to apply this when you want your ex back? How does I work?

  2. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Camille

    I cried soo hard after reading this. I guess I have to let go…I don’t want to kill my bird as well. Does it also mean I have to stop all kinds of communication (texts, call, emails etc)?

    1. Love Doctor, Yangki C. AkitengLove Doctor, Yangki C. Akitengsays: Love Doctor, Yangki C. Akiteng

      I don’t know if you read this part “You don’t have to give up the relationship, just let go what’s bringing you more of what you don’t want”.

      Letting go is a process… I have written quite a bit about it. You might want to do a search site on “letting go” .

      As for “stop all kinds of communication”, that’s not something I advice or encourage if you still want your ex back. I know others do it, I do not. I am about communication and connection, building bridges not burning them. Love not fear or indifference.

  3. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Peter

    My ex girlfriend spent a month or so trying to get me back. After a few months I said told her that I was ready. Only to find out that she moved on. Found out from her mother because she denied it. Why would an ex behave like that?

    1. If you mean why would someone move on after trying to get you back — and failed? Because it’s the most sensible thing to do. If I were her, I’d move on too. A “few months” is too long to “wait” for an ex (to make up his mind as to what he wants to do with your life).

      A better question is, why would anyone expect an ex to put his/her life on hold, waiting for you to “be ready?” You don’t own her, and if you are broken up, she has every right to date anyone she wants. If while you are “getting ready”, she meets someone she likes better, good for her. Life goes on after a break-up.

      She probably denied it because she didn’t want to hurt your feelings or because she knew this is exactly how you’d react.

  4. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Camila

    I’m struggling with my bird and I want to keep it just like you said. He’s been acting really distant lately and although he assures me he’s still in love with me his actions show like he’s kind of annoyed and uninterested I feel so helpless and boring. I know I should let go but I really do love him I feel like if I contact him I’m smothering him and if I don’t then I’m not trying enough what can I do? How can I let go? Not of the relationship but of my over analyzing and just be at peace with myself if I were to have to let go?

  5. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Michell

    Thanks for the advice but it’s too late for me now. I held on too tight and killed the thing I wanted more than anything in this world. He’s moved on and seeing someone new.

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *