5 Stages Of Getting Back Together With An Ex
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5 Stages Of Getting Back Together With An Ex

By Max Jancar | Published: April 24, 2022 | 13 Minute Read | Ex-Back

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The stages of getting back together with an ex shouldn’t be interrupted. You must let your ex experience and sail through them at their own pace. Otherwise, your chances of getting them back will take a swift and explosive nosedive. That’s why I always console people in panic not to rush the reconciliation process — and to have proper re-attraction goals. So let’s start with that.

Approaching The Stages With The Right Goals In Mind

Your goal shouldn’t be to get your ex back as soon as possible, or you’ll just break up again. Your goal should be to let them sort out their emotional shit, reach out when they feel ready, and only then attempt to rekindle things.

Your ex should decide, by their own free will — without you trying to force, cajole, or manipulate them — that they want you back and initiate contact.

And while they’re considering their options and going through these stages of getting an ex back, you should be working on yourself. You should regain self-worth and self-esteem, become non-needy, process your emotions, reflect on your relationship, and learn from your mistakes to avoid repeating them.

Sure, there are exceptions to this. You could improve yourself while rekindling things and dating your ex. But, for the most part, it’s best if you do it before you start interacting with them.

The Stages Of Getting Back Together With An Ex

For your ex to conclude that getting back with you is a desirable and worthwhile outcome, they must successfully go through the following stages.

Some exes go through them faster; others slower. Some decide they don’t want you back in the end; others decide they do. Every breakup is different, and your ex’s feelings toward you change unexpectedly. Take note of this. Below is simply the pattern I keep seeing over and over again.

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Stage 0: No Contact

No contact is the prerequisite for initiating your ex’s stage-hopping process. This is essentially when you, after your breakup, take a period during which you don’t interact with your ex. No calls, no texts, no touching, nada.

Now I recommend you make this period indefinite. Meaning once you break up with your ex, you let them go forever. The only time you’d give them another shot — as you’ll later find out, by inviting them on a date, is when they reach out first.

Generally, the more physical and emotional distance you put between your ex and you via no contact, the higher the likelihood they’ll go through the other stages of getting back together faster. Whereas, the less distance there is between you, the slower they’ll take to go through those stages.

I already yammered about no contact enough on this blog, so instead of regurgitating all the information, here are some popular articles that’ll help you understand the concept. I suggest you check them out.

Stage 1: Relief

During the first stage of getting back together with an ex, your ex feels immense relief. They’ll feel as though you didn’t understand them, took them for granted, obstructed their personal growth, and complicated their lives.

To prove to themselves how difficult being with you was (and maybe it really was), they will usually tell friends and family how difficult you were and how happy and at peace they are now that you’re out of the picture.

I know you want your ex to feel like shit, but you need to accept this situation. Regardless of how you look at your dead relationship, your ex felt an internal struggle when they were with you. They were unhappy and felt like they needed to change that feeling, which meant dumping you.

In fact, your ex probably thought about breaking up with you months or weeks before they did it and may have even considered other romantic options. So, if you weren’t a good partner, they likely felt they could get someone else who would care better about them.

As horrible as this sounds, don’t take it personally; it’s human nature. We all tend to compare our current partners with potential ones. This tendency is especially pronounced when relationships are going downhill. And the more convinced your ex is that they can find someone more suitable than you, the more relief they’ll feel during this stage.

Another factor that impacts relief discharge is attachment style. If your ex was, say, an avoidant to who independence and space are like air, they’ll be far more relieved than if they had an anxious or secure attachment style.

The worst mistake you can make during the stage is chasing your ex. It will only make them more hostile, angry, and bitter towards you. Think about it: you are on the total opposite sides of the spectrum. You want them back, and they don’t want to be anywhere near you.

Stage 2: Elation

The second stage of getting an ex back is all about the “free at last” feeling. Your ex is happy, and they feel like they can do whatever they want whenever they want with whoever they want and without any consequences.

They may start going to bizarre venues that they’ve never been interested in before. They may begin to post things on social media that they have never posted before: quotes on empowerment, provocative and sexy pictures, exciting updates from their life, etc. They may start dating more than usual. They might even fundamentally change their character over time.

In a way, your ex is re-discovering and re-inventing themselves during this stage. And while there is a chance they’re putting up a facade and pretending to be over you to make you jealous, there’s also a damn good chance that they’re authentically enjoying themselves and their newfound freedom.

Stay as realistic as possible during this stage, and don’t take your ex’s behaviors too seriously. They don’t necessarily mean they’re having a blast, nor do they mean they’re miserable. More often than not, the truth is buried somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

Let them have their fun and don’t interfere. If you reach out now, they’ll just think, “I’m delighted about dating these wonderful people right now, but I can also have my ex whenever I want. Great, I can have my cake and eat it too!”

As soon as your ex starts thinking along these lines, they lose a massive chunk of respect and attraction for you, making your chances of getting them back tumble down into oblivion.

Stage 3: Comparison

After the elation, excitement, and freedom of doing whatever they want wears away, there comes comparison, the third stage of getting back with an ex.

During it, your ex will rapidly compare you with their dates, making them more likely to become curious about you. And when they become curious, they could also start thinking about you more, check your social profiles, stalk you, block and unblock you, etc.

If you stayed in no contact till this stage, your ex might even start going to places you went to together to remember and reminisce the good times you shared — partly to indulge in memories, partly to grieve.

And if you give them enough space, they’ll also begin to think about your relationship with more clarity, nostalgia, and fondness; and less anger, blame, and resentment. They may even realize that it’s not all your fault and that they were also to blame for the breakup.

These things all lead to higher attraction on their part and a leap into the fourth stage of getting an ex back — one of the most critical stages.

Stage 4: Grieving/Regret

During this stage, sadness and a sense of loss will start to take over your ex’s mind. This is a fact because loss is never a neutral feeling. We, as humans, are wired to think of it as bad and dangerous, and we always tend to avoid it. So eventually, your ex will become sad and start to grieve exhaustively (for more information, read: The Stages And Psychology Of Dumpers Remorse).

And it’s during these crucial moments that they may build up enough emotion to react to one of your social media posts or watch one of your stories, and finally, reach out.

But if they do, they won’t just say, “let’s get back together,” or “I miss/love you,” or “can I see you?” That’s terrifying. Your ex doesn’t know if you’re angry with them and probably don’t want to risk rejection and embarrassment.

More often than not, they will be subtle when they reach out and say something like, “This movie reminded me of you,” “How’s it going? ” “I found XYZ at my place. Do you want it?” or “Do you remember the name of that restaurant that we ate together at for our first date…”

These are all excuses if it isn’t obvious already. Your ex is simply looking for a reason to contact you without saying anything that’s too emotionally difficult. While it’s not the most mature thing to hear or witness, it’s at least something.

As a rule of thumb: when you hear from your ex, invite them out on a date as soon as reasonable. Then have fun, hook up, and ease into a more intimate and connected relationship.

Stage 5: Getting To Know Each Other Again

This is the most exciting stage of getting back together with your ex. It starts as soon as you and your ex have the first handful of successful interactions and start dating.

At this point, all you need to do is re-connect. They’ve probably had their fair share of experiences since the breakup, and you hopefully had some as well. Talk about them. Connect over them. Bring your shared values and beliefs to the forefront, and connect even over those.

In general, just have fun. Don’t get pissed off, sulky, or offended. Keep things lighthearted. Sure, deep breakup-related topics are okay to discuss but keep things hopeful. Maintain an attitude of, “we’ll make it work, don’t worry. We’re a team.”

And don’t forget to get sexual. You’re not rekindling anything until you’re both fucking each other like beasts. And after a few weeks or months of casual dating, you should ideally transition to a committed relationship and take it from there.

Final Thoughts On The Stages Of Getting Back Together With An Ex

In a perfect world, your ex would go through the above stages by the book, and you’d work on yourself, become a better person, and then you’d ultimately wind up together and stay together.

But who are we kidding? We both know that’s not reality.

Odds are, your ex will, at some stage, decide to move on. Maybe they meet someone else (be it a rebound or not). Maybe they rekindle things with another ex. Or perhaps they simply decide that getting back together with you isn’t worth it because you either turned them off or they realized you’re incompatible.

This is the bleak reality of getting an ex back. And while it is possible to get them back after they move on, it’s not something that happens often. That said, staying in no contact and letting them move through the stages of getting back with an ex does give you the best shot. Don’t cave and waste it.

(Optional) Top Questions About The Stages Of Getting Back Together With An Ex

1. How long does it take for exes to get back together?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the time it takes for exes to get back together can vary widely depending on many factors (attachment, emotional maturity, length of the relationship, the strength of the commitment, etc.).

Some exes may reconcile relatively quickly, while others may take months or even years to work through their issues and get back together, if at all.

2. Does it ever work when exes get back together?

Rarely. According to current statistics on reconciliation, as well as a 4534-participant survey that I conducted between January 2023 and April 2024, only about 32% of exes get back together, and roughly 18% of them stay together.

So if you want to be part of this lucky minority, the best thing to do is go no contact, invest in your self-esteem and self-worth, and learn what made you break up in the first place, so you don’t repeat your mistakes if you do rekindle things.

3. How do I know if my ex is serious about getting back together?

The best way to tell is if your ex is honest and open with you. You can gather clues from their body language and their willingness to connect with you, go on dates with you, have sex with you, etc. If they’re putting the same amount of work in mending your relationship as you, they are probably serious about getting back together.

4. How do you know if you should get back to an ex?

It certainly requires careful consideration. I believe most people shouldn’t try to get back with their ex. For to the cons often far outweigh the pros.

For starters, getting back with an ex can cause unnecessary stress and hinder recovery. Your ex may have also moved on already, and you’re just wasting your time. Oh, and what tends to happen is that, even if you get back together, it’s not like the past issues will suddenly disappear — usually they’ll only persist. Consequently, you’re opening yourself up to another potential breakup.

As a rule of thumb, the only people who could give re-attraction a shot is those who are unattached to whether or not they’ll succeed, are happy with themselves, and know they can form a healthy relationship with their ex should they pursue reconciliation.

They should also ensure they are compatible, mentally and emotionally healthy, know how to love unconditionally, and be prepared to work on their flaws to avoid a second breakup. Otherwise, it’s better to move on to someone else.

5. Are the stages of getting back together with an ex legit?

There’s not much research backing up their validity, so no. I’ve pointed out the faults of stage theory in this article. But to give you the gist: the stages of getting an ex back are solid guidelines for understanding their internal world. But they aren’t set in stone and may unfold differently for your ex. So don’t take them too seriously.

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