What to Do When Your Ex Sends Mixed Signals

Trying to get your ex back is a difficult process — no question about it. One of the most difficult things is dealing with the inconsistent and sometimes contracting information or mixed signals from your ex.

For example: After the break-up your ex says that the two of you can be “just friends”, but then adds that you should not expect anything more because he/she doesn’t want to give you false hope, or give meaning to what is not there. You don’t know exactly where he/she is coming from or going with this, so you give the answer that you think he/she wants to hear. What else can you say or do if your ex says it’s the only option left?

A couple of weeks go by, you’re once again starting to enjoy each other’s company, feel comfortable with each other again, and things seem to be going really well. Then one day out of nowhere, your ex says that he/she realizes that the two of you can’t be “just friends” because you have such strong sexual chemistry that the chances of you finding yourselves in bed together (you know, doing it) are really high. And he/she doesn’t want that. So your ex suggests that you don’t talk to each other or see each other at all. According to him/her, this is the “only way” you can keep yourselves from jumping each other’s bones. Apparently — your ex says — time apart will help both of you work out what you really want.

You don’t agree with your ex’s suggestion, but you convince yourself that it makes sense — and that this may be the only way the two of you will get back together. So, again being you, you agree to that too. Seriously, what else can you say or do if your ex says it’s the only option left?

A few days or weeks after that conversation, your ex breaks the “no contact” rule and emails or calls to “see how you are doing”. He/she says he/she feels guilty for putting your through all the pain, and even says he/she misses you and that life is miserable without you. Then just as you are beginning to get all warm and cushy inside, your ex delivers the damper, “But I feel that moving on is the best thing for both of us”.

You’re back to where you started — broken hearted!

Weeks go by and somehow, with God’s help, you manage to pull yourself together and start to slowly live again. But just as you are beginning to come to terms with the fact that your ex doesn’t want you back, your ex contacts you saying that he/she has been “thinking” and realized that what he/she really wants is to give the relationship another chance. Then he/she adds “But I am just not sure when I will be ready, or even if I want to be in a relationship”.

Now, if you were uncertain before your ex first said “let’s just be friends”, at this point you are not just uncertain, but completely confused and frustrated – with anger waiting in the wings. Why can’t he/she just make up her/his effin mind!?

Part of you wants to believe that your ex is operating from a place of relative goodness, but another part of you is screaming that you’re a fool if you buy into that crap. And sometimes that part of you tells you to get away — as fast as possible.

Relax! This may actually be a good thing

For one, it means that nothing is set in stone, and that things are subject to change. As long as there is still a possibility that your ex will change his/her mind again, there is still chance for you to turn things around.

Instead of focusing on your ex’s changing positions, focus on why he/she is engaged in approach-avoidance behaviour.

For those of you who don’t know what approach-avoidance behaviour is, it is when someone is conflicted because something is both desirable and undesirable. They move towards it and move away from it depending on how they feel at any particular time.

Once you figure out the reasons why your ex finds you/a relationship with you desirable, and why he/she finds you/a relationship with you undesirable, do everything you can to boost the desirables, and eliminate the undesirables.

When the desirables far outweigh the undesirables, you’ll notice your ex’s approach-avoidance behaviour stabilizing, and him/her moving towards you more and more (See: Understanding Your Avoidant Ex).

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21 Comments

  1. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Phil

    My ex has been sending me mixed signals since August and the only thing that’s kept me going is this site. This week she seems open to the idea of getting back together and has been initiating contact every day which is a 180 from the last couple of weeks where I was doing all the initiating. She asked me to her friends party not as a couple but as friends and I said yes. We’ll see what happens then, but I just wanted to say thank you for having this site.

  2. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Heather

    Yangki, I’ve been following your advice and my ex and I went our first date since the breakup 4 months ago. We talked and had a really great time. He told me he still loves and misses me but he is also seeing someone else. He hugged me close and said we should see each other again soon. Two ours later he sent me a text saying he really enjoyed our time together. We still have very strong sexual chemistry and I don’t want to be used since he has someone else. I haven’t responded to his text, how should I respond?

    1. It’s possible that he’s having second thoughts about you, but taking it very slow. If he’s just trying to get you to sleep with him, it’ll become clear with time.

      Best response would be, “I had a good time too” then add one good thing that stood out for you, e.g. “seeing you laughing again, reminded me of the good times we shared.” Leave it at that. The goal is to invoke the “feelings of love” again but not bring up “the relationship” too early — before you even know what his ‘true” intentions are.

  3. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Martdice

    Yangki, thanks for our chat. I made contact with her this morning and we had a nice conversation about what we have been up to and what we have planned. At the end of the conversation I told her I’ll call her later in the week and she said “talk to you later”. Before when I said “I’ll talk to you later”, she’d become distant, so I think this is progress. Right?

    1. It was nice talking to you. It’s always a good sign when there is a positive change. Based on what we discussed, it’s too earlier to tell if this is progress or a one time thing. Let’s see what happens when you touch base again at the end of the week.

      Just don’t lose hope… not yet…:)

  4. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Installer

    My ex says she still loves but does not want to get back together because she still feels that something is missing. She says it’s probably her but until she finds out what it is, she does not want a relationship with anyone. We were together 2 years, broke up twice, the last one in April. Each time I asked for no contact and she said okay. After a few weeks I text her and we talk like nothing happened. We hang out and have slept together 3 times, but she says she doesn’t want me to get the wrong idea. What do I do to get her back?

    1. Give her time to figure out what she feels is missing. This does not mean cut off contact, instead maintain contact but do not push trying to get back together.

      It’s important that you do everything in your power to work on anything on your side you think might be causing her to feel like something is missing, and use the open lines of communication to show her those changes.

      Like she said, it may be all her, but until she’s sure its not you and it’s her FOR SURE, she’ll continue to be confused and send mixed signals. Filling all “gaps” on your end, will help her narrow down the source of that “something is missing” feeling.

  5. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Julie

    Ahhh,I have the exact same issue as Michelle above except for the fact that I have no clue if he’s Facebook stalking me, didn’t know there was a way to track that. After 8 months he walked out my door one morning, said see you in a few days and poof,,, nothing, not a go to hell or anything. I have not contacted him one time in anyway since that day. Apparently I was hanging out with a coward too. 🙁

  6. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Michelle

    Hi. My ex dumped me without any explanation. It’s been a month since I’ve last initiated contact, which was unsuccessful (no response). Now, I find out that he’s Facebook stalking me! I’m so confused. Can you enlighten me on what’s going on with him?

  7. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Kirsten

    Yangki, what if you don’t hear from your ex for a month and out of the blue he texts “hi” and you text back and they don’t respond. Then time passes and they send you another text “hi”. Are they trying to reach out to you?

  8. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Eric

    My ex has been going back and forth exactly like u show in this article! I’ve really changed my attitude from early in the breakup and have stayed emotionally stable. I think the last two weeks she’s been more warmed up to me and came and spent time together at my house. Since then we’ve talked almost every day. I’m just staying honest with her and not letting the up and downs throw me off my game. I think the positives of us being together are becoming stronger and I am fixing the negative reasons to be together. I feel its a matter of time before she realizes it completely.

  9. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Isabel

    My ex both resents me and misses me, he wants to meet up and talk about the past and our break up ‘to clear the tension’ between us. This will be the first time seeing each other since he broke up with me 2 months ago. How do I help put the past to rest and create a positive meeting?

  10. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Mike39

    I started talking to my ex again and its been going well. Im following your advice about spacing when to contact her and also what to say. However, Ive noticed that shes posting too many “partying” pictures on her FB. It seems to me that shes moved on.

  11. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: 2Face

    My ex found out I was going on a date and she texted me after 3 weeks of no contact at her request. I haven’t replied because I know she only contacted me after hearing I was moving on.

  12. AvatarAvatarAvatarsays: Pricelez

    My ex responds to my texts but does not initiate contact or ask me questions. He says he does to want to give me the wrong impression. But if he didn’t have feeling for me, why would he just not answer or is this just some mind game?

    1. I don’t think it’s a mind game. I think that he is being polite by responding to your texts. But (as he says), initiating contact might give you the impression that there is more to his politeness e.g. interest in getting back with you. It’s highly possible that you’ve moved too fast, pushed too hard or acted needy and clingy in the past, and he is just being cautions.

      You are the one who wants him back, so it makes sense that in the initial stages you initiate all contacts and ask him questions. Things may change and he may start initiating contact at some point. But at this point, he seems not motivated enough to want to initiate contact or ask questions. It’s up to you to motivate him to become more engaged.

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