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The path to getting back with your ex is cluttered with frustrating, and often unexpected, twists and turns; one of the most frustrating ones being when they start showing instances of hot and cold behavior.
This simply means your ex keeps oscillating between displaying behaviors indicating some amount of interest (warm or hot) and behaviors indicating no interest (cold). Put another way, it’s when they give you mixed signals.
An important aspect of your ex’s hot and cold behaviors that most people overlook is that they don’t have a predefined period, and the shifts between them often occur sporadically.
For example, sometimes it may take your ex weeks to shift from hot to cold or vice versa. Other times it could take them only a fraction of a second. And you absolutely can’t rush the process, or you risk getting rejected for good.
How Does An Ex Behaving Hot and Cold Look Like
Your ex’s hot and cold behaviors can take many forms. Below are some of the frequent ones I’ve come across.
- They consistently keep sending texts that indicate interest, but shortly after, stop responding.
- They are insistent on making plans with you but then randomly decide to cancel them and start giving you excuses.
- They give you mind-numbing sex one night but become indifferent and aloof the next. Maybe they even tell you it “didn’t mean anything.”
- They say they love, miss, or want to see you again one day, and ghost or ignore you the next.
- They tell you they’re interested in dating you again but also let you understand that they’re still “playing the field.”
- They don’t reply to your messages but still watch every Instagram or Facebook story you post.
- They go out with you without reservation but proceed to lambast you with snarky and snide comments while you’re together.
- They’re confident they want to get back together with you one moment but then get confused and doubtful the next.
Is a hot and cold ex A Good Sign Or A Bad One
Most breakup experts swear that your ex’s hot and cold behaviors are a good sign, as in, a sign they want you back. Yet a couple of oddballs swear the opposite; that they’re a bad sign, as in, a sign your ex is having doubts about getting back together.
I never bought into either theory. Over the years, I realized that the way one handles their ex’s hot and cold behaviors is the same regardless of what type of sign they turn out to be.
Therefore, I constructed my own theory: whatever your ex’s hot and cold behaviors indicate — a good sign or a bad one; interest or no interest — is irrelevant.
I would even go as far as to argue that the sole reason your ex is behaving hot and cold is irrelevant. Because whether they’re doing it because they like you, hate you, or are just a sick fuck who wants to see you suffer, the way you handle their hot and cold behavior stays the same.
Nevertheless, as you’ll discover below, uncovering why your ex is being hot and cold is still valuable insight. You may learn a thing or two about them from it. Maybe even something about yourself.
Why Is Your Ex Hot And Cold
There’s a lot of bullshit breakup experts spew about why your ex is being hot and cold. Most try to be way too clever about it and usually go on to explain some intricate and over-the-top theories, while the actual reasons your ex is being hot and cold are far more mundane and simple.
No, your ex is not being hot and cold because they’re seeking your validation, asserting their decision to dump you, or using you (although that can happen if you keep enduring their hot and cold behavior).
Nor are they being hot and cold because they’re confused, bored, still processing the breakup, or clueless about how to deal with their emotions.
While they certainly could be testing you, hooking up with someone else, or just being plain toxic, most likely, they’re being hot and cold because they’re not attracted to you enough — because you’re for whatever reason turning them off.
Reason #1: Your ex is hot and cold because you’re turning them off
I know how it feels to want an ex back. I’ve been there. I also know exactly what your craving for reconciliation makes you do.
You’re probably acting spineless, clingy, or controlling. You’re probably spending too much time chasing and pursuing your ex or proving yourself. And you’re probably coming across as way too intense and desperate.
You’re, without a doubt, behaving in at least one of these ways if your ex is being hot and cold — at least that’s the case for most people.
Now read carefully: If you can’t back the fuck off and give your ex space, you’re only going to get colder signals from them — especially if they have an avoidant attachment style. And eventually, those cold signals will only lead to a permanent loss of transmission. Perpetual indifference.
But if you start working on yourself to become less needy and give your ex enough space so they come back to you at their own pace, you just might start getting warmer signals. That is, considering you haven’t turned them off completely, at which point it’s too late.
Now, a couple of less common but still valid reasons why your ex is being hot and cold.
Reason #2: Your ex is hot and cold because they’re testing you
Sometimes your ex is simply being hot and cold because they want to see how you’ll react.
Will you cave and become desperate and unglued? Will you break your frame? Will you start pleasing them and sacrificing your identity at every turn? Or will you stand your ground, accept their behavior, brush it off, back off, and not react like a little bitch?
If you fail their tests, they’ll either test you more or, more likely, decide that you’re not worth coming back to.
But if you pass them, that is, you don’t react negatively (i.e., getting offended, angry, desperate, or intimidated), you could raise their attraction, and thus, they could decide you are, in fact, worth coming back to.
A caveat to all of this is that your ex may not actually be testing you when they’re behaving hot and cold but rejecting you. You’ve just misinterpreted their behaviors.
I’ve elaborated on this last point in my article on testing, so if you’d like to learn more about it, I encourage you to read it.
Reason #3: Your ex is hot and cold because they’re toxic
It’s uncommon to come across an ex who purposefully gives you mixed signals, but it does happen. Some exes act hot and cold because they want to confuse, embarrass, or hurt you. It’s usually an ego thing.
Playing games with you, so you chase them and then rejecting you and seeing you in pain essentially makes certain (toxic) exes feel better about themselves and more confident in their decision to break up with you.
Generally speaking, the more insecure and trashy ex you’ve been dating, the more likely it is that they’re being hot and cold because they are a toxic person who wants to get their revenge.
Reason #4: Your ex is hot and cold because they’re in another relationship
Getting a text or a call from an ex when you’re happily dating someone new is undoubtedly awkward. This once happened to me, and I still cringe at the thought of it.
Yes, I did give my ex the hot and cold treatment, but not out of spite or malice, but genuine confusion. And yes, I know everything would be better if I just put my foot down and communicated that I was seeing someone else. But I was young, unsure of myself, and oblivious about how to do that.
Giving mixed signals and then ghosting my ex at some point was the first thing I thought of — and it was also so much easier than being vulnerable.
If you’re in your twenties and your ex started dating someone else, they’re probably giving you the same treatment I gave my ex. They basically have no idea how to tell you that they’re with someone else. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. So instead, they confusedly and awkwardly oscillate between giving you hot and cold responses.
Reason #5: Your ex is hot and cold because of external factors
Sometimes, your ex’s hot and cold behaviors have nothing to do with you. It could just so happen that something else disturbed them.
Perhaps they had a tough day at work, failed an important exam, witnessed their dog dying, or got irritated by some random and trivial experience. Or maybe they just acted on a whim.
For instance, they saw an old picture of the two of you that sparked nostalgia, leading them to exhibit “hot behaviors.” But as time passed, that nostalgia faded in the background, leading them to exhibit “cold behaviors.”
How to make your ex stop being hot and cold
As I said, regardless of why your ex is hot and cold, the ways you make them stop acting like it and tilt the scales so they’re more “hot” toward you are identical. And, contrary to what you’d think, they have nothing to do with how you handle your ex, but everything to do with how you handle yourself.
Accept The Hot And Cold Behaviors
It’s okay, man. Sometimes your ex’s hot and cold behaviors will lead you to deal with massive uncertainty. Accept it. Don’t force them to come back.
You should never want to get back with someone who doesn’t want get back with you. If your ex chooses to act hot and cold instead of seeing your potential and giving you another chance, they’re probably not the right person for you.
Every time you catch yourself thinking about your ex, just stay with the feeling and don’t judge or try to force it out of your system. Don’t wallow or whine because your ex is being hot and cold. Be thankful they’re giving you at least a response. Most people only face infinite silence.
Stop Chasing After your ex
I define chasing as initiating any form of contact with your ex with the intention of getting them to like you so you can later get them back. Stop doing this.
Not only does chasing your ex get them to display more cold than hot behaviors, but it reveals your neediness and desperation and makes you more inclined to derive your self-worth from the approval and validation you get from them. And those tendencies only lead to codependency.
You should only talk with your ex when you need to arrange something: who will take care of your kid, who will do what on a shared project at work, or how will you handle living arrangements now that you’re no longer together.
Invest in yourself
I get it: you’ve wrapped your identity around a relationship that’s now gone, which undoubtedly makes enduring your ex’s hot and cold behaviors trickier.
But what if you don’t focus on their hot and cold behaviors for once? Instead, what if you focus on exploring the contexts outside your dead relationship. Now is the perfect time for it.
Just whatever you do, don’t rush into another relationship. Most people do this to fill in a void their ex left in them. They rush in without feeling content by themselves first or knowing what kind of person they even want in the first place. This is a recipe for disaster.
In fact, it’s this lack of awareness around your needs and wants that probably got you into a breakup in the first place.
So one of the best things you can do now is to shift your focus from your ex’s hot and cold behavior to yourself. Work on overcoming your neediness, mastering your emotions, building a lifestyle you’re proud of, figuring out what kind of a person you’d like to be dating, and finding out who you are. Those kinds of things…
The last thing you want is pondering shit like, “my ex is confusing me,” or asking yourself, “why is my ex hot and cold.” Find a life away from your ex, dammit.
Polarize Your Ex when they reach out
When you want your ex back, the worst thing to do is keep indefinitely chatting over the phone with them when they reach out.
You can’t build sufficient attraction over a phone call — you can’t get physical over it, you can’t read your ex’s body language, nor can you use your surroundings to create new strings of engaging conversations.
And don’t get me started on texting. Witty remarks, flirtatious comments, sarcasm, or jokes rarely land the right way and usually get misunderstood.
Phones unequivocally suck, and most of your attempts at rebuilding attraction over it will blow up in your face. And before you know it, you’ll be, yet again, drowning in your ex’s mixed signals.
So the next time your ex reaches out, just invite them on a date. Do it as soon as possible — as near the start of your conversation — but also don’t forget to make the transition natural and human. In other words, it shouldn’t feel robotic or scripted.
This is how you polarize your ex — how you get them to decide whether they still have enough attraction for you to go on a date or not. It’s how you escape limbo land, constantly doubting whether they want you back or not.
Stop trying to get back with your ex
Look. Most people shouldn’t get back with their ex. And you, my dear reader, are probably one of those people. You would be better off finding someone else instead.
Here’s a bitter pill: your ex’s hot and cold behaviors are likely a direct result of your stupid obsession with getting them back. You’ve brought this curse upon yourself.
After all, you wouldn’t have to deal with their hot and cold behaviors if you’d just let them go and not settle for trying to get back with someone who keeps giving you mixed signals — someone who clearly isn’t a “fuck yes” about you.
Just chew on the idea. Please… Chew on the idea of letting your ex go for good and making space in your life for someone actually willing and able to form a relationship with you. A relationship where you won’t have to deal with fucking mixed signals every god damn day.
Change Your Mind About Getting Your Ex Back
For those of you who are stressing about getting your ex back, a few simple words of wisdom to shift your perspective.
No, Your Ex’s Attraction Isn’t “Blocked” (Clay Andrews Critique)
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8 Signs Your Ex Just Wants To Sleep With You
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Death To Chasing: Let Go Of Your Ex To Get Them Back
Chasing your ex doesn't make them come back. It only pushes them farther away. To get them back, you first have to let them go.
12 Simple Habits That Accelerate Re-Attraction
A list of what I deem are the most effective re-attraction habits — habits that help you get back with your ex sooner.