To Contact Or Not To Contact Your Ex? (That’s THE Question)

When a client comes to me with: I don’t want to push her away, I don’t want us to be just friends, I don’t want this and don’t want that. I know I am talking to fear, and I have a huge problem on my hands.

Avoiding something undesired or unpleasant is a very strong motivation. But if you are trying to move away from pain, rejection or unpleasant outcome and at the same time trying to get back your ex, you are going to have an internal conflict that may paralyze you or cause you to vacillate so much that you come across as emotionally unstable.

The conflict:

  • Contact your ex and risk rejection OR avoid contact and risk creating more distance.
  • Continue reaching out and risk being seen as needy OR stay away and risk not being able to see or talk to your ex ever again.

Upside of staying in contact: You will keep the connection alive, keep you relevant in your exe’s life, and improve your chances.

Downside of staying in contact: You may over-contact your ex, be seen as needy, make mistakes that make things worse. You may also contact your ex and your ex doesn’t respond.

Upside of not contacting your ex: Your ex may miss you, you will avoid making more mistakes,  and avoid possible rejection when your ex does not respond or responds but is cold and distant.

Downside of not contacting your ex: You may send the wrong message (i.e. you are angry, hate your ex or you have moved on). You may also grow further apart, and/or your ex may move on and/or meet someone new.

Both sides have an upside and a downside, how do you resolve this conflict?

1. Choose moving towards what YOU WANT over avoiding what YOU DON’T WANT

The saying “There are so many ways to run away from something, yet only one way to run towards something” is so true when it comes to attracting back your ex.

Fear and avoidance may seem like a ‘safe’ option but it doesn’t get you what you want. Just like getting accepted into a college, getting a job, buying a house etc, you have to be proactive in getting what you want or you’ll end up with nothing or settling for breadcrumbs.

In addition to making you unattractive as a long-term partner (very few people are attracted to someone who runs away from difficult situations), fear of and/or avoiding dealing with problems head-on doesn’t help you grow emotionally.

2. Change how you think about CONTACT and NO-CONTACT

You can still have contact with your ex and not make things worse or be seen as needy by:

  • Taking things very slow and not rush to try to get back together and;
  • Focusing on starting a new relationship instead of trying to recover the old relationship.

It’s very hard to go from “we’re not together” to “we’re back together” without spending some time getting to know each other again and spending time together. It’s possible, but it’s a lot harder. In addition, the chances of breaking up again are very high when you are repeating the old relationship.

Bottomline: When it comes to what you want, there should be no other option other than doing what you have to do to get it. That means reaching out and creating the environment that makes your ex want to come back to you.

Ask yourself, how much do I want this?

If the answer is something like “badly” or “so much”, then start with DOING something. Everything worth anything begins with someone doing something not with someone doing nothing.

You may also be interested in reading: How Much Should You Contact Your Ex? (Attachment Styles)

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  • Like many, I made the mistake of doing no contact and when I reached out to her she was very upset that I ignored all of her texts. I apologized and told her I got bad advice. She said ok, but then I made another mistake doing low contact. She replies to my texts but only one word like ‘nope” or “sure”, and I just have no idea what to do next. I really love this woman and want her back, but how can I make a connection if she only replies with one word?

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    • There are several reasons why you get one-word responses. See: What Do My Ex’s One Word Answers Mean?

      In your case, ) she’s mad at you for NC and 2) since you have LC mindset you many be playing too safe and not engaging her emotionally.

      I could say to you say this or say that, but that’s a band-aid response that will produce no long-term results. Learning how to emotionally connect is not just matter of ‘what to say’ but also how you say it, when you say it and why. Use this site to help you learn emotional connection and see if you can get past her one-word answers.

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  • I’m confused. Are you saying one should not be concerned about when to contact their ex or how many times? This can cause a serious problem if being needy and contacting your ex all the time was the reason you broke up.

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  • I was already in contact with my ex before I even found this site. We didn’t do the no contact thing, we are both in our 40s and it seemed immature and childish considering we are good friends and like each other’s company. She ended the relationship because I became complacent and took her for granted. She however left the door open and we have since gone out on two dates both initiated by me. She also said she noticed a change in me because I’m more attentive and talk about how I feel. Reading the articles on this site, I think I’m doing good so far. Wish me luck.

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    • Good for you…

      You are right. The majority of people who do the ‘no contact’ thing most likely had a lousy relationship, bad break-up or are not good at balancing closeness and emotional space. It makes sense that ‘no contact’ is their go to. What else can they do?

      If you had a good relationship, were friends and like each other, it makes no sense to cut each other off just because the relationship didn’t work out. But you need a certain level of maturity to even see that… ;p

      I wish you luck… and sending you love energy.

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  • Yangki, I am confused. I am working with a coach to get my ex back and he said I should not contact my ex right now because I have not developed the necessary relationship skills. So it is totally pointless for me to contact him now. What do you think?

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    • Did he also tell you how you are supposed to develop the “necessary” relationship skills??? I don’t think so.

      If you want to be great at relationships, you have to learn to BE in one in a healthy/non intrusive way. You learn that by:

      1) developing a good understanding of how much closeness or distance a particular individual (in this case your ex) is comfortable with, and then;

      2) finding that balance between closeness and independence (it’s different for everyone).

      This requires contact and communication. Without communication, you are just working with a theory in your head… or your coach’s head.

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  • Hi Yangki, your advice has been very sobering. After spending time on your site I can clearly see all the things I have done wrong. I have reconnected with my ex, and you are right, fear of rejection was my problem. We text each other 2-3 times a week and although she’s a little cold and aloof at the moment, I am encouraged by the fact that she wants to keep the lines of communication open. My question is: how do I show her that I have let the old relationship go and want to start over?

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  • Hi Yangki,
    My ex and I broke up about a week ago and we have not spoken since. He said he no longer knows how he feels about me after a big fight. I would like to work on us but I am not sure how to ask for another chance. I want to initiate contact again and ask him to reconsider, but I don’t know where to start. But I don’t want to live in fear of rejection! Where do I start?

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    • Start by reading articles here on how to initiate contact, emotionally connect and create emotional momentum before asking him to reconsider. There are many articles on how to do all that depending on your situation.

      If the advice here is not enough, you can also get my eBook Dating Your Ex. If you feel your situation is so unique that you need customized advice, I am happy to work with you one-on-one. Just sign up for a package of your choosing, and send me a message.

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