Should I Be Concerned My Ex Is Pulling Further Away, Or Is This Normal?

Question: I need expert advice. Should I be concerned my ex is pulling further away, or is this normal? What can I do if I feel my ex pulling away?

I have been reading your site for the past couple of weeks. As you can tell, I obviously still want my ex back. We had a wonderful relationship but I started to get jealous and needy and he pulled back; which made me even more needy and clingy leading to him breaking up with me. It’s been 5 months since we broke up. Our conversations are mostly light and friendly; but I feel like he is pulling further away from me. In your experience is there a certain time after which no matter what you do, you have no chance?

Yangki’s Answer: In almost every case of trying to attract back and ex there is a pull-push dynamic. This is because you have a history together and before someone comes back, they want to make sure it is safe to come back. They pull you close when they feel safe; and pull away when they don’t. Sometimes an ex will pull  further away is because of something you said or did; and sometimes, they pull away on their own. This is normal.

But if 1) there is more pulling/pushing away than pulling close; 2) the pulling/pushing away happens too frequently or; 3) the length of time they pull away is way much longer than the length of time you are close, it’s usually not a good sign. It usually means your ex it is the normal and expected pull-push dynamic; it’s your ex pulling further and further away, and you should be concerned.

It’s hard to put a timeline on how long it takes to get your ex back. Most people get back within 2 – 4 months of the break-up. But there are so many factors at play that may further delay getting back together .e.g.

  • The reason(s) for the break-up;
  • The emotional state of both parties;
  • If you’re doing no contact (that’s 1 -3 months of not doing anything to attract back your ex)
  • Other things unrelated to the relationship going on one or both people’s lives (e.g. job search, relocation, illness etc);
  • The confidence level of the person trying to get the other back. Most people operating from a place of fear, e.g. I don’t want to scare my ex further away, or I don’t want to come across as needy etc, usually take much longer to get their ex back. The majority never get their ex back.

The first 1 – 2 months after a break-up are the most crucial in terms of your chances of getting your ex back. However, hurrying back to get your ex often does not work. In cases where it does work, the relationship usually doesn’t last because you are continuing from where the old relationship ended. This is when you get the on-and-off-again type scenarios.

What I’ve noticed is that if you’ve been actively trying to get your ex back for 6 plus months and there is no progress, the chances of you getting back together are dramatically reduced. It doesn’t mean you can never get your ex back, it just means it’s harder as more time passes.

Remember the saying “time heals all wounds”? Not completely true. Time does not heal all wounds, some wounds we learn to live with. Given enough time, even an ex who still hurts, misses you and longs for you can learn to live without you.


Will Contacting Your Ex Push Them Further Away? (Bitter Truth)

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  1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Kaia

    My ex was pulling away after getting close again and I read your article about exes and attachment styles. My ex is high-avoidance low-anxiety and I’m high-anxiety low-avoidance. Seeing how my high-anxiety triggers his high-avoidance and his high-avoidance triggers my high-anxiety is helping me connect with him. My anxiety was one of the reasons we broke up. He told me he loved me but could not keep reassuring me every time I became anxious. He also thought I loved him more than he loved me and it made him feel guilty.

  2. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: VanillaC

    My ex-boyfriend and I ended a 3 year relationship two weeks ago. I have sent him a text every now and then, and he responds but I feel like he isn’t interested in talking to me. His responses are polite but because he does not ask me about me I feel like he doesn’t really want to talk to me.

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

      Polite but not emotionally engaged responses are not unusual following a break-up. In fact I say it may times here, and in my Dating Your Ex book that in the initial stages, you will do most of the initiating contact, asking questions and keeping communication lines open. When you do your part right, that’ll change with time… things will balance out and he’ll show more interest and be more engaged.

      I suggest that you spend a little more time here, read as many articles as you can. Things won’t seem so hopeless when you know how to move forward, regardless.

  3. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: imadedat

    The love of my life broke up with me two weeks ago because he was tired arguing. I begged and cried for him to reconsider but he said he is so emotionally drained and doesn’t want to put any more effort in. Is it over?

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

      Yes, the old relationship is definitely over. But it doesn’t mean you can not start a new one. If he is open to contact and the feelings of love are still there, you may still have a chance. BUT only if you can convince him that there will be no more arguing. Words will not be enough to convince him, you have to SHOW him.

      The sooner you start working on “you”, the sooner you can start to actively get him back

  4. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Rubi

    My ex broke it off because he could not deal with a long distance relationship. I had to move to another state due to work, and although we saw each other twice a month, it wasn’t enough for him. Last month I relocated back to the state he is in. When I told him of the move beforehand, he said “We don’t know what the future holds.” But since moving back he hasn’t made an effort to contact me or ask to see me. The only text I got from him was on the night I arrived basically asking how I was and said he’d be in touch. What do you think is going on? Is he trying to avoid me? If so, then why would he say, “We don’t know what the future holds.” I’m confused. Please help.

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

      “We don’t know what the future holds” could mean anything. Based on what you just wrote, it seems to mean that he is leaving things open to any and all possible futures. I hope you didn’t relocate hoping that it meant he was considering the two for you getting back together.

      Why don’t you reach out to him and see how he responds? Or if you think that’s “desperate” (pride thing), give him a few more days and see if he contacts you. He may be thinking you need time and space to settle down. If he doesn’t contact you, I suggest you contact him. It may not be what you think.

  5. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Semiota

    My ex says he loves me but does not want a relationship “right now”. I don’t know if I should stay the course a little while longer or step back a little until he is ready. What do you think?

    1. It depends on what “course” you are on. Not “right now” just means he’s not ready to make a decision yet. It’s possible whatever “course” you are on is not doing enough to move him towards a decision.

      If you are pushing too hard or rushing things, it might help to slow down a bit. But if you are just “playing safe” and not talking any bold actions that show him that it’s possible to have the relationship you didn’t have, “stepping back” will not help. It might actually make him decide it’s best to move on.

  6. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Gail

    I applied NC successfully for 30 days and started to text him and got some very positive replies. Then he started ignoring me again, so I did two more weeks after not getting a response to my last text. I again got positive responses to texts. He never initiates any contact though. If I don’t text him for 5 days he does not reach out. I asked him if he wanted me to leave him alone and got no response. Do you think this means that he’s not interested enough in getting back together?

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

      Hard to tell since there is no genuine connection, escalation of contact or momentum.

      One thing is for sure, you’re not going to get to where he’s interested by cutting off contact, re-initiating it and cutting it off again. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what is making him act that way. How do you take someone with a pattern of disappearing and reappearing seriously? It’s even possible he’s imitating your pattern to get back at you.

  7. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Tyler

    My ex and I split in 2012. We ended up merging into a longer love relationship in 2013 and beyond. It was over three years. Although, I agree with the article that the longer time goes by the harder it is, and who knows why or how my ex and I suddenly became an item again. We started back out as friends a year and a half after we initially split. We were friendly over the next year and a half and it suddenly grew intimate again. So it does happen. Each case would have to be evaluated. We certainly weren’t looking to get back together and nor did it come up. It happened without words.

  8. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Jerry C.

    Yangki, I followed your advice, kept lines of communication open and make the emotional connection in every contact. Everything was going perfectly well until two weeks ago when she started acting cold and distant toward me. I confronted her about it, she said she just wasn’t feeling what she wanted to feel for me and that the feelings go up and down each day. I asked if there was something I could change and she said no, it’s just how she feels. I then asked her if she wanted some space and she said no, she just wants some understanding. I don’t know what my next move should be.

    1. Give her what she wants… some understanding.

      As I mentioned in the book, when trying to reconcile, feelings of being in love especially in the initial stages can come and go depending on the person’s emotional landscape. Sometimes it has to do with you, and sometimes it doesn’t.

      The fact that she refused your offer to “give her space” says that she’s still invested in trying to make things work. Someone looking for a way out would have jumped at the opportunity. Don’t let your emotions get in the way.

  9. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: SpaceGirl

    I’m one of those people who have been trying to get their ex back for more than 6 months. We’ve been broken up for a bit more than a year now, and I started trying to get him back around 9 months ago. I didn’t know what I was doing for much of that time, and I confused myself with conflicting advice. But I don’t want to give up until I’ve tried your approach, so here’s to hoping it will work out this time, and if not, here’s to hoping I will learn enough for my next relationship to work out!!

  10. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Liam

    I’ll do as you say and keep contact but not tell her I love her. I’m just worried she will not know how deep my feelings for her are. The reason we broke up is she wanted me to be more involved and did not think I loved her. She also said she thought I had moved on when I did not contact her for 3 weeks.

    1. Her saying she thought you had moved on 3 weeks after breaking up, says she doesn’t trust you to be around for the long haul. Telling her how much you love her isn’t going to make her feel any more secure.

      What you should be doing is be more “involved”, whatever that means for her. My guess is doing things that show that you are building a future together.

  11. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Liam

    Thanks for the advice. I was so wrapped up in my job and guy friends that I did not realize we were growing apart. She was miserable and ended it. Since breaking up, I’ve had a lot of self reflection and can see the mistakes I made. I wish I could have paid more attention to her. I told her I’m sorry and can see my mistakes but that seems not to be enough. What more can I do?

    1. I hear you. Just saying “I see were I made mistakes, I’m sorry” is not enough. It’s just words. You need to back it up with actions.

      For example, if she texts you while you are with your friends, text her right back. If she wants to talk, give her your undivided time and attention. If she says she’s letting you go back to the guys, don’t just say okay. Tell her you’d rather talk to her.

      She needs to see that she is a priority just like your work and guy friends were a priority. And this has to be consistent as she’ll test you in many different ways just to see if the “new you” is for real.

  12. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Bosco

    Yangki, thank you for writing all these articles. It gives me hope. I feel that my ex and I belong together but she has asked for space and I’m giving it to her. If she reached out to me, I’d respond and show her that I will always be here for her. Once again thank you.

  13. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Buddy

    I sent her a text this morning and we had a nice conversation about what we’ve both been up to and our plans for the rest of the week. Everything was cool up to that point. I told her I had to go after 15 minutes and I said, “I’ll call you later, if you like me to”. She responded, “I don’t know about that”. I wrote, “You don’t want me to call you later or not to call you at all?”. She wrote back, “Never mind. Talk to you later “. I have no idea what it means. Does it mean she doesn’t want to talk to me anymore?

    1. I think it means that you are coming across as too needy. My guess is that this is something you have done in the past.

      You talked for 15 minutes and said just about everything you had to say to each other for the day. She didn’t think it was necessary for you to talk again later the same day.

      When you asked “You don’t want me to call you later or not to call you at all?”, she realized that you STILL don’t get it.

  14. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Susie

    I drove my ex away. I was needy and insecure and made him feel that he was not making me happy no matter what he did to reassure me he loved me. We still talk and he says he still loves me and thinks about me but can’t be with me right now. I asked if there is a chance of getting back and couldn’t say either because he does not know what can happen in the future. It’s so painful to see him with other women but I am trying very hard to not let that get to me. In the end, if he comes back I know that he wants to be with me.

    1. He’s keeping his option open, that’s a good thing.

      It hurts seeing the person you love with someone else, but given that being needy and insecure was the reason you broke up, this could also be a test for you, to see how you handle the situation. I’m not saying he’s doing it intentionally or even unintentionally (this is not about him). I’m saying, if you are indeed working on becoming a less needy and more secure person, this is one way to see for yourself if you are making progress.

  15. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Katrina

    Me and ex broke up last month. We were together for three years. We broke up because I was emotionally controlling him. He always told me and showed me that he loved me but I became too needy and unappreciative. Even after we broke up he still texted and called me but I didn’t respond. He eventually stopped. I contacted him two days ago but he does not want contact with me. He says he deserves someone who appreciates him and treats him better. I regret everything and wish I handled myself differently after the breakup. Is it too late for me?

    1. I don’t know if it’s “too late” for you. What I do know is that when someone says they don’t want you to contact them, contacting them anyway is just another form of neediness. He’ll just see it as the continuation of you emotionally controlling him.

      If you haven’t already done it, apologize for not treating him better in the relationship and for how you handled yourself after the breakup — and leave it at that.

      No, “I’ll leave you alone”, “I’ll give you your space” or some other passive aggressive scripts. Instead try to create good will so that you in the future try to build on it.

      In the meantime. WORK ON YOURSELF!

  16. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Frances

    I thought that there is no way my ex will ever want to talk to me again but he did. We have become close and he has been extremely nice to me. For the first time I feel like we are finally putting the past behind us. This would not have been possible without your wise and compassionate advice, so thank you.

  17. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Chrystal

    Yangki, I told my ex I wanted us to try the relationship again, but do it better this time around. He says it’s not worth his time, energy or effort. Do I still have a chance?

    1. Without knowing what preceded you telling him you wanted to try the relationship again, I can’t say one way or the other.

      If you said this after so much damage had been done to the relationship pre or post-break-up, it means he’s made up his mind he wants to move on.

      If you said this while trying to get him back and him being somewhat responsive, it may mean that you had not done enough to show him that a better relationship is possible.

      This is why I strongly advice against going to your ex and asking for another chance earlier on in the process. Chances are very high that he/she will say absolutely not! Not because he/she doesn’t love you anymore, but because you have not given him/her good reason to believe things can be better.

  18. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Momad

    I’m with everyone here. This is not easy, but I love my ex so much that I’m willing to be patient. Knowing that many people are going through the same helps.

  19. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Sandy

    I broke up with my ex because he said he hadn’t been happy for a while and wanted space. I mistakenly interpreted it to mean he wanted to breakup and I told him not to contact me. After I read your site, I contacted him and he responded positively. Is it a good sign that he responded positively although he still wants to be alone for a while? We’re both in our 40s.

    1. It’s always a positive sign when someone responds. However, just a few positive responses doesn’t say much about whether he is interested or not.

      Reach out to him but also give him the space he needs. That is, don’t actively try to get him back yet. Take it one day at a time.

  20. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Alexy

    Thank you for this article. I’m confused by my ex’s behavior and need some guidance. When we are together, it seems like he’s very interested. He flirts and calls me baby. But when we are not together, he doesn’t initiate contact and doesn’t reply to my texts until I text him asking him if he got my text. He replies, yes and asks how are you. He does not explain why he did not text me back.

    1. If he’s not a natural flirt, he is probably just trying to get laid.

      But it could also be that you have never given him the opportunity to act. You get anxious when he does not respond when you want him to and text him. When you keep nagging people about replying to your texts, most ignore you or act passive aggressive.

      I suggest that you send him a text, then give him a day or even 3 to see if he texts you back. If he doesn’t… then you know.

  21. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Zak

    I’m in the same situation with my ex, asked her if she wanted me to stop contact and she said, is all up to me, it always has been. But when I contact her she always responds right away. I’m trying to communicate better and hopefully she will open her heart to me again.

  22. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Loui

    I agree with Cally, there is a different tone to this website, more hope than gloom. I had been planning to quit and give up because everything I tried was not working. Two days on here and I was sold to the idea of starting over. Bought the dating ex book and things have been improving. I still screw things up mainly because of being overly defensive but working on that too. Whatever happens, I will know I gave it my best. Thank you.

  23. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Cally

    I really needed to read some positive advice about getting my ex back. I feel like all the advice I have encountered on the internet is negative and predicts failure and disappointment. It’s good to finally read advice that reassures me that there is light at the end of this winding tunnel.

  24. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Jaef

    I’m in the same situation. My ex/gf ended it because she “needed to figure” out what she wants but wants to work things out at a later date. We keep in touch everyday but while my heart tells me to give her time to figure out what she wants my head tells me she is just using me.

  25. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Jerry C.

    I called her up and told her I will try to be understanding and she said thank you. About 5 minutes later she forwarded me some funny stuff and we had some very pleasant exchanges. She said she had to go and again said, “thank you.” This is the most communication we’ve had in 2 weeks. Usually she’s just answering only the questions I ask her. I know it’s not much but I feel better than I did before. Thank you.

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