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

Question: Yangki, 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 farther away from me. My question is, should I be concerned that he is pulling farther away, or is this normal? My second question is, 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 push you away when they don’t. Sometimes you caused them to pull away and sometimes, they pull away on their own. This is normal.

But if 1) there is more pushing away than pulling close, 2) the pushing away happens too frequently or 3) the length of time they push you away (or pull away) is way much longer than the length of time you are close, it’s usually not a good sign.

It’s hard to put a timeline on how long it takes to get your ex back. There are so many factors at play e.g.

1. the emotional state of both parties;

2. other things unrelated to the relationship going on one or both people’s lives (e.g. job search, relocation, illness etc);

3. 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 him/her 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.

While the first three months after a break-up are the most crucial in terms of your chances of getting your ex back, 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.

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42 Comments

  • 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?

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    • 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.

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  • 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.

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    • “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.

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  • 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?

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    • 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

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  • 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.

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    • 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.

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  • 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.

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