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 replies on “What to Do When Your Ex Sends Mixed Signals”
  1. says: 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. says: 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.

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