15 reasons he went back to his ex (and what to do about it)

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Hello, friend. I wish we were meeting under better circumstances but there’s a VERY huge possibility that not all is well with you right now.

You’re probably feeling lost at the moment because you’ve found out that your ex went back to his ex. 

There are two possibilities to this that I can think of, either: 1) You broke up because he’s going back to his ex. 

Or 2) It’s been some time since you broke up but you just found out he went back to his ex. 

Either way, you need both answers and comfort for this very confusing time. I hope I’ll have those for you.

Shall we?

If he went back to his ex, it could be:

A Him Problem

Look, I won’t talk smack about your ex, I’m not in the position to judge who he is, but I can definitely speculate on his motives.

I’m still calling this section “A Him Problem” though because I will allow myself at least that little drama. Ha!


1) He misses his ex

This is a band-aid removing statement: He misses his ex. 

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I had to say it. 

And while I think this one requires no further explanation, I still want to say that this isn’t on you. (Unless you’re a truly horrible human being then yes, this is on you.)

But my point is, you can be the best, most amazing human being there is but if you’re not what they want, then there’s not a lot you can do about it.

Although yes, I still have suggestions on general things you can do but more on that below.

2) He rebounded (with you)

You were part of his moving-on process. There, I said it.

You were the rebound and it didn’t work so he’s going back. Or he’s rebounding with his ex because they’re familiar (more on this on #4). Either of those is messy.

But how can you know, right? 

Look back on your relationship, were there red flags you missed? Or, let’s be honest, red flags you ignored because of rose-tinted glasses?

This InStyle article by Dr. Jenn Mann talked about signs that you’re in a rebound relationship and the number 1 sign is so telling: “They talk about their ex all the time.”

So, did he?

Did he compare you with his ex? Were there moments of passive-aggressiveness that you didn’t catch at the time?

Was his going back more obvious than you first thought now that you’re seeing it in hindsight?

3) They weren’t very done, to begin with

I feel like I need to constantly apologize because I just gave you 3 back-to-back-to-back hard-to-hear reasons.

BUT! Sometimes we need to hear the less fluffy side of things. So yeah, maybe he and his ex weren’t very done, to begin with.

Were they Ross-and-Racheling the whole time and you got caught in the crossfire? Were they just on a break???

4) He wanted someone familiar

Especially if they were long-term, then you were probably uncharted territory. And like in a lot of cases, the unfamiliar feel scary.

Or too much work to get to know.

The familiar is safe, it’s comfortable. (Like in that one John Mayer song called Comfortable, “Our love was comfortable and so broken in. She’s perfect, so flawless. I’m not impressed, I want you back.”)

5) He realized the regrets he had about the previous relationship

You’ve seen it, right? Women going through life-changing post-breakup makeovers; going through entire journeys of self-discovery a la Eat, Pray, Love.

But men? Well some of them will go through a breakup and then seem as though they’re okay. Like, they’ll bounce back like it’s a normal Tuesday. It’s like you can’t even see one shred of sadness in the dude. 

That’s not because they don’t care (although it still depends) but it’s more that the breakups hit men later.

Sometimes it’s much, much later. 

Which, if you happen to be the next relationship, could get messy if the realization hit him belatedly. 

Especially if you’re the immediate next relationship, the comparison will be more recent and the regrets could pile up. 

6) He actually never liked you in the first place

Or yeah, he could have just been stringing you along all this time. Along with everything else on this list until now, it could all just be down to him not really being 100% invested in you as much as you were in him.

Or maybe not even invested at all. 

What you can do if this is a Him Problem

Honestly, I want to say “nothing”. The dude already went back to his ex, so go find a place where you are wanted and loved. If that place happens to be yourself, then so be it.

HOWEVER, I’m aware that that’s not a suggestion that a lot of you are seeking or willing to accept. 

Some of y’all are debating the merits of wanting your ex back. I get it. Honestly, I do. 

But I’m gonna have to punt this to someone with more experience in breakups, the Relationship Geek himself, best-selling author Brad Browning. 

Okay, to be clear, the “more experience in breakups” that I’m pertaining to is “coaching people to navigate breakups.”

In fact, in this free video, he’ll give you several useful tips that you can apply immediately to help you reconnect with your ex. 

If you’re hoping to be on this reconnection boat, here’s the link to his video again. It’s free! 

Okay, I’ve now mentioned a Him Problem, but what about if it’s a You Problem? 

A You Problem

7) You wanted more than he could give 

Nothing unusual from having expectations in a relationship but we still need to be aware that sometimes, what we want and what the other person could give are not equal.

There can just be people who would fall short of meeting even the most realistic expectations. That’s on them.

What could be on you though is if your expectations are unrealistic and unreasonable. Like if they’re unnecessarily hard to meet. 

8) You didn’t love him the way he wanted 

Essentially just the reverse of #7, you didn’t meet his expectations. Maybe his love language was not met, maybe you didn’t love him the way he wanted.

Or the way he was used to. The way he knows. The way that’s familiar, the way that’s comfortable for him.

What you can do if this is a You Problem

Alright, I might have only listed 2 points on the You Problem but they are whoppers and so umbrella-like in term. 

#7 are expectations, #8 are efforts, there are so many to reflect on in these two alone!

So what can you do?

A few things:

  • Reflect

Reflect on your actions during the relationship. Try to be objective. 

Be kind to yourself but firm, be honest if there were times you were unhealthy or toxic, too. 

  • Lean

Lean on your support system. Talk to your friends and loved ones who can get you through this time. 

Those who can both be supportive but firm. Who will tell you the truth without being unnecessarily mean.

Lean. You aren’t alone.

  • Seek

Seek help if coping with this breakup was harder than you thought, there is no shame in seeking it. 

You can seek help from objective friends or family—or better yet—from professionals, if you are willing and able. Professionals such as relationship counselors or therapists. Find one locally for ease.

If that doesn’t work for you or you don’t want to talk to anyone face-to-face, you can also opt for Relationship Hero

It’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people navigate complicated love situations.

(Like… y’know, your ex going back to his ex.) 

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation. 

Click here to get started.

Next! What if he went back to his ex because your relationship itself was the problem?

A Relationship Problem

9) You wanted different things from the relationship

It wasn’t just you, it wasn’t just him, it’s the two of you just wanting different things.

Maybe one of you was not ready for a full-blown commitment, maybe he wanted casual, or maybe you did.

Maybe one of you was approaching marriage talks and the other got spooked. Maybe one just wanted to chill.

This brings me to #10 You were never fundamentally a match. 

10) You were never fundamentally a match

There were incompatibilities you didn’t see from the get-go. (Or, fine, refused to see for what it was and thought you could work through.)

What do I mean by this? The trajectories of your lives were not the same. Like in #9, you wanted different things. 

You might say, “But don’t incompatible people get together all the time?”

Yes, but they work through it. They communicate. They want to work through it and be better as a unit.

However, it seems your ex wasn’t willing to do that with you. Or… he has already done that with someone else. Or he returned to safer grounds where further work won’t be needed.

This opinion is mine alone though, I’m not sure if you’ll agree: if you and your partner are so different, like in world views and belief systems, it will be much harder to work through it.

And if you want different things in life, it’s much harder to compromise on your goals and dreams, right?

11) You lacked communication

Another possibility! Things were going wrong and the two of you didn’t communicate.

Or you did but he didn’t listen. Maybe the two of you were not understanding each other. There are many areas in a relationship where miscommunications can happen.

And sometimes, it’s too late to catch up from the misunderstandings. 

12) You assumed all was well and good

This isn’t a slight to you, okay? It’s just that sometimes, we only see what we want to see, especially in relationships.

So you assumed that all was going well but that wasn’t the case at all. And it was way too late to fix it. 

What you can do about it if your relationship is the problem

  • Identify patterns

Regardless if you want him back or not, you should still try to identify patterns in the relationship. 

If you want him back, identify which patterns to avoid if and when you give your relationship another go. 

If you don’t want him back, identify the patterns to look out for in your next relationship.

  • Seek help

Hey, isn’t this the same advice? Yes, but it bears repeating.

Let’s shed the shame associated with asking for help. It’s 2023, it’s about time. 

So try to seek help from objective people around you, or from professionals if you are willing and able. Professionals such as relationship counselors or therapists. Find one locally for ease.

For those who don’t want to do it face-to-face, you can also opt for Relationship Hero. It’s almost like in-demand advice for this love woe. 

Small sentiment from the author: Any way you choose to seek help when you need it, I’m proud of you for choosing to do so.

An “It Is What It Is” Situation

We’ve finished with the Him Problem discussion, the You Problem discussion, and the Relationship Was Doomed discussion. 

Now, lastly, let’s talk about things being outside of your control. 

Sometimes things just are. It just is. 


13) Things just don’t work out as we hope

Despite good intentions. Despite fighting for the relationship and the other person. One of those “fate” things, y’know? 

You guys were just not meant to be. And…

14) They belong together

They may have changed as people after the breakup. You might have been the character development he had to go through (ouch) to be the person he needed to be for his ex.

They may have just belonged together from the get-go. Maybe it was one of those Bennifer 2.0 love stories that took 20 years to find each other again.

Whatever it may be, maybe they just belong together. 

With that said, maybe…

15) You’re for someone else 

In times like these, it’s easy to feel like we’re unloveable. Like, “why did he go back to his old love? Did I not love him enough?” kinds of situations. 

But hold on to the belief that just because your ex is not for you doesn’t mean you’re not meant for the kind of love you want. 

Maybe you belong to someone else but it could be that you also could belong to yourself. For now.

So, what you can do about this

  • Acknowledge the pain

This is easier said than done but acknowledge that it happened and try to not let it define you. 

You are not your pain. 

  • Take care of yourself first

Take all the time you need to find yourself again. Away from that relationship, away from the insecurities that this might have brought up to the surface.

Focus on self-care.

At the start of this, I mentioned that you might have wanted answers and comfort. I hope you got those here.

And if after much reflection, if you’re still in the opinion of getting your ex back, try watching this free video by the breakup coach and best-selling author Brad Browning.

I mentioned him above, him being the Relationship Geek and him giving you reconnection tips in that free video

Lastly, regardless if you’re opting for reconnection or if you’re choosing to move forward alone, I hope it will be the best decision for you. I hope it will make you happy.

I can always throw suggestions to you on what to do but at the end of the day, you know best what will make you feel happy and fulfilled.

I wish you kinder and more loving days ahead, stranger.

Best of luck!

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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