Why Do Exes Come Back When You Stop Pursuing Them?

Question: Yangki, in relationships doesn’t everyone play games one way or the other? Isn’t it part of human nature to want what we can’t have? The Law of Scarcity is the oldest trick in the book and used in economics everyday. The more scarce you are, the more they want you. I’ve seen it with many men I’ve dated. When a woman becomes the pursuer, the guy pulls a disappearing act. When she stops pursuing him, he comes back.

Yangki’s Answer: It’s true that there are men (and women) who when the other person pulls away suddenly become “interested”, and become the pursuer. But I don’t think it’s “human nature” to want what we can’t have.

Wanting what we can’t have comes from a place of emptiness (scarcity mentality). We think/feel we don’t have and as a result “want”. But when we get it, we don’t want it anymore or want something else. Whatever we have or get is never “enough” because there is a void within that isn’t filled by what we “have” or “get”. It’s like trying to fill a bottomless pit.

Sometimes this emptiness within drives some of us to playing mind games. Not only is the anticipation of “getting and having” a welcome distraction from the emptiness inside (for a while), but some us don’t really want to “get” or “have” whatever it is we are pursing. As soon as it looks like we might actually “get” or “have” it, we freak out and run. Then when it feels like it’s slipping away, we start the chase again.

Some of us don’t even realize that we are not trying to “get” or “catch” whatever it is we are pursing or chasing after.

So while some exes do come back when you stop pursuing them, pursuing and distancing (pursuer-distancer) pattern is not good for the health of a relationship long term.

There is no true closeness or intimacy because you are never turning towards each other at the same time. Even when you do turn towards each other, those moments are too brief for true closeness to develop and grow.

Does that mean the relationship is doomed. Of course not!

People who “can’t get close until you back off” actually want to be close. They just have all kinds of fears about being close to another person.

Some of them have never known what’s like to be close to someone (issues from childhood). Some of them may have been “close” to someone at some point in their lives and the experience wasn’t a very good one, or ended in deep hurt.

What they need is to feel that it’s “safe” to be close to someone, and that they don’t have to pull away to feel wanted, needed or desired. It can happen within the safety and closeness of a loving relationship. (See my article: Exes and Attachment Styles – What You Need To Know)

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  • Yangki, my ex of 1.5 years broke up with me to be with another women. I went NC for 3 months to heal and when I felt stronger I contacted him. He ignored me for several weeks then started to reach out slowly. I asked if he loves her and he said yes, so I stopped contacting him. But lately he has started reaching out more. I have a feeling it is not working out with his rebound woman based on our conversations. Part of me says i should give it a chance but make him wait for me for few months but part of me thinks he’s selfish and wants to eat his cake and have it too. Does he really love me or do you think he’s just using me?

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    • I don’t know if he loves you or not. What I do know is that people who seem to always have a back-up woman (or man) are not thinking about either of you, they are thinking of themselves. He probably saw things were not going too well with you and had the other woman as his back-up plan and now he’s doing the same with you. I wouldn’t be surprised if things fall apart with the other woman and he comes to you, he’ll keep her as the back-up.

      If knowing this you still it want to give him another chance, that’s up to you. Just keep in mind that you may not have the kind of relationship you want and desire with this person… unless, something major changes to make him want to give up his “game plan”.

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