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15 reasons why your ex comes back when you’ve already moved on

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You’ve finally gotten over your ex. You’ve moved on and maybe even started dating someone new.

But then he or she suddenly reappears.

Why does this happen?

Here are 15 classic reasons why your ex comes crawling back after you’ve moved on

1) They finally realized their mistake

Plenty of reasons on this list as to why an ex comes back when you’ve moved on are pretty cynical motivations.

But it is possible that your ex finally realized their mistake. We all take different amounts of time to process things.

Often in the aftermath of a breakup, people bury their feelings rather than deal with them.

I had an on-again-off-again boyfriend once who always broke up with me whenever we had a problem. His go-to solution was simply to end things.

He’d then distract himself with 1001 other things — going out with friends, having a “good time”, etc.

But eventually, the realization of what he’d lost would always hit him, sometimes months later. Then, without fail, he would come crawling back.

The problem was I had usually dealt with the heartache and moved on. A few times I did let him back into my life, wanting to believe he had changed. Eventually, I had enough of this cycle and walked away for good.

Sadly, it is sometimes true that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. And regret over breaking up with someone is common.

We all make mistakes, and it is possible that your ex has realized theirs, and won’t make the same mistake twice. But there is always a risk of this being a pattern of behavior that will repeat itself.

They may realize what they have lost but are not really ready to be in a committed relationship.

2) You’re more appealing now

It’s not only your ex that has had a change of heart, you have also probably changed too.

Now that you finally feel like you’ve moved on there are likely some subtle yet powerful shifts within you that shine through.

You are most likely feeling:

  • happier
  • stronger
  • more confident
  • at peace

Why do exes come back when you’re happy? The reality is that when we feel good about ourselves and our lives, it’s incredibly attractive to others.

Self-belief and confidence are powerful aphrodisiacs that people can sense, and feel automatically drawn to.

In this way, you’ve become far more appealing to your ex again.

Not only do your best qualities come across, but it most likely triggers some FOMO in them. They want in on the action.

They can see how happy you are and want to join you in that happiness.

3) You’re a challenge again

Some people just love the thrill of the chase.

That cat and mouse game where they get to rise to the challenge of catching you. The problem is, once you’ve been caught, their interest quickly dwindles again.

When they thought they could have you back if they wanted to, you weren’t much of a challenge. But as soon as it seems like you have begun to move on, it isn’t so easy anymore. And so it sparks within their ego this opportunity to “win” again.

This is why many exes come back after a breakup at the first sign you’re getting on with your life without them. It’s a chance to prove themselves and show you that they’re still worthy of your attention.

Sadly, love is a game to some people.

If they can get you back again once you’ve already moved on, it helps to make them feel validated and good about themselves.

4) They’re no longer in control

Your ex may have realized once you have moved on that they are not in control of you.

Maybe they felt entitled to you or believed that you belonged to them. Perhaps they always thought that they could get you back if and when they wanted to.

Either way, if you’ve seemingly moved on, they may start to feel as though they’ve lost control over you and the situation.

So rather than accept defeat and walk away they choose to try and regain control by coming back to you.

Unfortunately, this means that they’ll often act out of desperation and anger.

Particularly if you feel as though your ex displays quite narcissistic behavior, then control could be a motivating factor.

Narcissists when dating like to manipulate and control in order to get their own way and put their own needs first.

They don’t care about your happiness or that you’ve moved on so they should let you go. They only care that they no longer have the same power over you. They want to be in the driving seat again.

5) They’re jealous

People can be heavily influenced by some pretty ugly emotions. Jealousy is one of them.

It’s a powerful motivator as at our core jealousy makes us feel threatened. Perhaps it is an almost primal instinct that we don’t want people to take from us the things we see as ours.

Even though you have split up, if you are dating other people or perhaps have a new partner, your ex is likely to be unhappy about it.

Whether we truly want someone or not, the truth is we often don’t like it when we see them with somebody else.

It triggers something that makes us feel unsafe. As childish as it sounds, in many ways we think “that’s mine, not yours”.

It’s almost like the child who doesn’t want anyone else playing with his toys. Your ex feels as though they are entitled to you because they were there first.

There is nothing quite like a dose of the green-eyed monster to make an ex want you back.

6) They realized single life isn’t as good as they thought it would be

Your ex may have discovered that actually, the grass isn’t greener on the other side.

Perhaps they didn’t realize how much they would miss having you around. Maybe they thought they’d be fine being single but really, it sort of sucked.

If they were feeling stifled by the relationship, they might have imagined that single life would be the answer to their problems.

In their mind, they might have thought it would be non-stop parties, endless fun, and lots of exciting new romantic options to explore.

But the reality is often that single life can be full of disappointments. It’s not always as easy to find love as we would hope.

Dating apps, one-night stands, rejection — the life of a singleton also has its challenges. They may be different from those you face in a relationship, but it’s certainly not any easier.

Once your ex discovers that they were not missing out by being in a relationship, they may start to miss the positives that come from being a couple.

7) You triggered his hero instinct

It’s something my girlfriends and I have long wondered about.

Why do guys always come back when you are over them? It seems like the absolute worst timing, but without fail, it so often happens.

You pine over them for months, but as soon as you start to get over him…BAM…now he wants you.

I mean, do exes sense when you move on?!

There could be something going on beneath the surface that you’re unaware of. Something genetic. Something primal.

You could be inadvertently triggering something deep within his DNA.

You see, for guys, it’s all about triggering their inner hero.

I learned about this from the hero instinct. Coined by relationship expert James Bauer, this fascinating concept is about what really drives men in relationships, which is ingrained in their DNA.

And it’s something most women don’t know anything about.

Once triggered, these drivers make men into the heroes of their own lives. They feel better, love harder, and commit stronger when they find someone who knows how to trigger it.

Since you broke up and the dynamic changed between you too, his hero instinct may have gone into overload, drawing him closer back to you.

Now, you may be wondering why it’s called “the hero instinct”? Do guys really need to feel like superheroes to commit to a woman?

Not at all. Forget about Marvel. You won’t need to play the damsel in distress or buy your man a cape.

The easiest thing to do is to check out James Bauer’s excellent free video here. He explains all and shares some easy tips to get you started.

Because that’s the beauty of the hero instinct.

It’s only a matter of knowing the right things to say to make him realize that he wants you and only you.

Click here to watch the free video.

8) They want to be the center of attention again

Now you’ve moved on, they’re probably no longer getting your attention. And that might just drive them crazy.

If we’re honest, most of us do like attention, some more than others. In fact, some people feed their own self-esteem from the validation of others.

It’s probably why people collect matches on dating apps, even though they never message them. It boosts their ego to feel like they’re wanted. It’s also the motivation for breadcrumbing someone you have no real interest in.

Why do exes come back when you stop caring?

Because as you stop caring, you withdraw your attention and take it elsewhere. You’re not chasing them. You’re not available in the same way that you once were.

So now they think, “Hey! they’ve got other options!” And suddenly, they’re back in your life.

They want to be the center again.

9) They’ve been reminiscing

Whenever we decide to leave a relationship, we’re usually focusing on all the bad.

The arguments, the frustrations, the boredom…or whatever has caused you to question whether you are a good match.

But once we lose someone, it’s common for our focus to start to shift again.

In time, the bad memories can start to fade. Instead of focusing on all the reasons why they wanted to break up in the first place, they start to think about the good times.

After all, something brought you together in the first place. I’m sure there were many happy memories.

It’s easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses, especially when it finally dawns on us that we may have lost something for good.

This selective memory can cause your ex to reminisce.

You may feel safe, familiar, and comforting to them. As they think about the fun times, doubt can creep in over whether they’ve made a mistake.

Sometimes exes come back because they’ve taken a trip down memory lane and want to recreate those good times once again.

10) They’re lonely

After an initial breakup, it’s common to feel relief. Especially if the relationship had been having problems.

It might have felt like they got their freedom back. Perhaps they even enjoyed that freedom for a while, going out and making the most of their single life.

But after a while of being alone, your ex could have started to feel pretty lonely.

They may start to wonder if anyone else will love them the way you loved them. If they’re used to having someone around, it can feel like a gap has now been left in their life.

The things you used to do as a couple, they now have to do solo. That space that you have left in their life suddenly makes them appreciate you more.

11) They’re bored

If there’s nobody else on the scene in their love life, then they might be finding single life a bit boring.

Perhaps they had imagined they would have many options. But in reality, it hasn’t happened.

If they don’t have anyone else to focus on, they probably don’t want you to go anywhere just yet. If your ex is bored and wants you back, it’s for the wrong reasons.

Rather than being motivated by genuine feelings, they’re just keeping you as a backup. If someone else came along, would they still want you?

12) You have stronger boundaries

A sad truth is that often it’s the people who we care for most that we let walk all over us.

You don’t want to lose them and so you may find yourself putting up with things you shouldn’t.

They say that love makes you do crazy things, and for sure it can.

When you start to heal and get over someone, chances are you’re no longer prepared to put up with the things you may have once tolerated.

As you walk away and move forward with your life you show your ex that you have higher levels of self-esteem, self-respect, and self-love.

This dignity is attractive to your ex. We respect people more when we see that we cannot always get our own way.

The stronger your boundaries become, the higher in esteem your ex may hold you. He or she can now see your value because you are holding your head high and moving on.

13) We always want what we can’t have

There are plenty of reasons why people want what they can’t have.

Our egos can be very spoiled. We don’t like to hear no. We don’t like to feel like we can’t have something.

There are a few psychological factors at play that explain why this happens. Firstly, there’s a phenomenon called the scarcity effect.

Basically, it says the less available something is, the more value we place on it. As you begin to move on you become rarer. This makes you all the more appealing to your ex.

The more your ex contemplates that they can no longer have you, the more heightened awareness this creates. Aka, they can’t stop thinking about you.

Feeling like they can’t get you back at the drop of a hat makes them feel out of control, which triggers psychological reactance. This is like the rebel in you that fights against what it sees as it’s freedom of choice being taken away.

As soon as it seems like your ex can no longer have you, that’s when they suddenly want you again.

14) They see you through fresh eyes

One of the best tips to get an ex back is to focus on yourself and be your best self.

That’s because your ex fell for all the wonderful qualities that make you who you are.

Unfortunately, none of us are perfect and at some point, we also start to see each other’s less favorable traits. That can create conflict in a relationship.

But it hasn’t canceled out all the things they were attracted to in the first place.

When you are no longer together, they start to look at you from the outside again. This means they can start to see you through fresh eyes once more.

Rather than focus on the problems you two had, they are fixating on all your good points — which perhaps they lost sight of when you were together.

15) They’re worried it is their last chance

In the back of their minds, perhaps your ex thought that if they changed their mind they could get you back.

This maybe gave them the confidence to move forward and try out single life. But they weren’t fully prepared to accept they would have to let you go.

When they start to see you are moving on, it puts pressure on them to decide whether they really want to walk away from you.

This urgency can create a panic that makes them question whether they made the right choice.

When you were still around in the background of their life, they didn’t need to worry. But now it feels like this might be their last chance to get you back.

“My ex wants me back but I moved on”

So, your ex has come crawling back. In the aftermath of heartache, it’s everyone’s secret fantasy.

But the reality may not be as good as you had hoped. It can leave you feeling confused and unsure what to do next.

Should you give them another chance or leave them in the past?

Here are 3 quick tips before you decide whether to take your ex back.

1) Question their motives

In this article, I’ve listed some of the most likely reasons why your ex has decided they want you back.

It might even be a combination of things. But you should question the motives of your ex and the timing of them wanting to reconcile.

Do you believe it is based on genuine feelings? Or are you suspicious that petty jealousy or fickle emotions could be behind it?

Ask them, why now? Question what they are feeling. Look for any red flags that suggest they may change their mind again as soon as they get you back.

2) Will things be different this time?

Creating a bond with someone means that we’re bound to miss them once they’re gone. It’s only natural.

But just because you miss something, it doesn’t mean you should want it back.

Grief does funny things to us. It’s easier to look back and miss the good times, but it’s also important to be realistic. That means not forgetting about the bad times too.

If you split up then clearly there were problems in the relationship. What is different now?

Can you work through those issues to build a strong and healthy relationship? If you can’t then you are only setting yourself up for heartache further down the line.

3) If you’ve started to move on, do you really want to go backward?

When you’re still hooked on your ex and unable to move on, it might make more sense to give them another chance. After all, you have less to lose as you’re still already in pain.

But when you have done the work and started to make progress, you have so much more to lose by going back there.

The bottom line is that you need to ask yourself: “Am I ready to forgive and forget?”

Because if you don’t feel the same way about them as you once did, you could be undoing a lot of the hard work you’ve already put into moving on.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

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

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get started.

Written by 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.

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