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Men Don’t Always Come Back After A Breakup

I have been hearing a lot of so-called relationship experts say that “men always come back” after a breakup. This isn’t true. If you don’t believe me, ask all the women telling me that they can’t even get their exes to answer their phone calls.

As with a lot of advice I see online, this is totally reductive and is straight up harmful to people who are going through this. It makes them feel like there is something wrong with them if their ex doesn’t come back since it sounds like it’s basically a guarantee.

If you’re a woman struggling to win your ex boyfriend back, I’m here for you and I’m going to debunk this nonsense once and for all. Let’s talk about the reasons men DO come back, what makes them stay away, and what you can do to win your ex back if he hasn’t been reaching out to you.

Why Men Come Back After A Breakup

As I see it, there are a few reasons that are unique to men that cause them to come back around after a breakup.

The first, and most significant reason that men will come back to you is that men don’t process the breakup in the same way women do. This is a stereotype but it has been backed up by several studies. One particular study out of Binghamton University found that women experience more emotional pain following a breakup, but they also more fully recover. Men, on the other hand, never fully recover.

Basically, men aren’t socialized to be in touch with their emotions the same way that women are…so when they have a breakup, they’re likely to simply try to push the feelings down, rather than processing them.

Inevitably, these emotions bubble up at a later time, causing them more pain that they don’t know how to deal with. This is why women report more initial pain from a breakup but then go on to recover more fully. They’re actually feeling their feelings.

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So when he pops up nine months after you two broke up, you may wonder how he can still have feelings for you. You’ve moved on, why hasn’t he? This is why. For him, the breakup could be nearly as fresh as if it happened yesterday.

The second reason that men will come back after a breakup has to do with the breakup itself. Namely, women are more likely to end a relationship than men are. So this makes sense, right? Men may be more likely to want their ex back because they didn’t want to break up in the first place.

And the other reason that men come sniffing around after a breakup is one that you probably guessed…they want sex. Yes, if a guy is hitting you up a year after breaking up with you, it’s likely that they’re just looking to get lucky, rather than trying to reconnect in a more real way.

These are pretty compelling reasons that men may come back after a breakup, but they’re not the whole story. The truth is, there are actually barriers that prevent men specifically from reaching out to their ex girlfriends.

Why Men DON’T Come Back After A Breakup

Now I will say that these are not one-size-fits-all. Many women deal with these issues and many men do not, but if we’re talking generally, these problems are more likely to affect men after a breakup.

The first reason that men will stay away is also the first reason that they’ll come back to you… men aren’t as in touch with their feelings as women are.

I think this is a pretty clear pattern in romantic relationships. Whether it’s nature or nurture, men are often unable to voice their concerns to their partner, either about their partner’s behavior or a fundamental incompatibility. Instead they’ll push down these feelings, but the resentment will build anyway. He’s thinking “why does she keep doing this” when he hasn’t ever brought it up. This can even be one of the driving forces behind the breakup.

But this behavior doesn’t stop just because you’ve broken up. Often men will be confused about their feelings towards their ex because they lack emotional awareness. This means that they may have feelings for their ex that are unresolved. These feelings could just be a need for closure or they could be an actual desire to reconnect. Some men will never find out their true feelings because they’re not confident about how to talk about these things with their ex.

For men like this, even though they may WANT you back, they don’t want to take the risk of opening up, or being rejected. They also know that they’ll have to address the issues that led to the breakup in the first place and so they take the easy way out and just move on to someone new.

Another factor that may be keeping him away is related to romantic competition. I think if you pay attention to recent discourse around promiscuity and dating, you’ll see that some men are much more sensitive to the idea that women have a romantic past before meeting them.

Namely, I’m talking about all that “body count” talk you see online…the idea that if a woman has slept with too many people, she’s essentially damaged goods and thus not worth dating.

Now, I won’t get too deep into this here, but this is not something that I condone or agree with. I think it’s a pretty juvenile way of looking at relationships…but it’s clearly important to an increasing number of men out there.

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With that in mind, I believe that many men do not want to deal with the idea that their ex has been dating other men since the breakup. Personally, I think that this comes from a place of insecurity. They say, “I just don’t want to picture her with someone else” and that’s because they fear that the person they feel so strongly for could replace them.

Men that stay away for this reason would rather remember you as THEIRS than face the fact that you may have spent time with other men during their time apart. This is a bummer, but it is something I’ve heard from men, particularly immature men, when talking about their exes. Men like this will often cut you off pretty strongly after a breakup and avoid looking at your social media or talking to you about dating.

Another factor is that men can be more stubborn than women following a breakup. Now this isn’t to say that men have a monopoly on being stubborn in relationships. I know plenty of women who would rather die than admit that they were wrong. But it’s the way that this hardheadedness manifests that’s relevant here.

For men, being stubborn can often look like being avoidant. They may know that they messed up and need to eat their words in order to reconnect with you and so they’d rather just avoid the whole thing, even though they want you back. Or they may have ended things and, for whatever reason, they don’t want to admit that they regret it and they miss you and care about you.

But here’s something else to consider that I think is left out of conversations about men coming back after a breakup….

Even if men are more likely to come back than women are, there’s no way to know how LONG this is going to take. Months? Years? I’d hate to think that there are women out there just twiddling their thumbs and waiting for their ex boyfriend to come back, years later. The truth is, you can’t know that it will happen until it happens. And if you’re playing the waiting game, life is just passing you by.

So if you’re in this position, you need to reach out and make it happen. I know, it’s scary to think that you’ll have to put yourself out there and possibly face rejection—that’s why you’d rather just wait for him to come to his senses—but trust me when I say that it’s always going to feel better taking control of your destiny rather than waiting for it to happen to you.

How To Get Him Back

With that in mind, let’s talk about how to break through these barriers and get your man back in your arms.

1. Be patient with him

If you’re in this position, you know that there are a few barriers in the way of you reconnecting. Not only can this make a guy standoffish when you approach them, but it can also make them a flight risk.

What I mean is that it will be easy to scare your man off. This can happen with little to no warning. Maybe you’re a little too aggressive about wanting to hang out. Maybe you’re too friendly or clingy with him. Maybe you ask him about who he’s dating. It can happen at any time for almost any reason.

The truth is, you don’t necessarily have any control in this situation, unfortunately. If he doesn’t want to spend time with you, he just won’t.

But there are ways that you can set yourself up for success here. Basically, you don’t want to put any pressure on him. You need to take things slow and be patient if he takes a little while to get with the program.

The best piece of advice here is in how you communicate with him. Don’t be too direct. Don’t talk about your feelings for him or who he’s seeing right now. And don’t let the conversation overstay its welcome. So the first time you reach out to him, once you’ve exchanged one or two messages, get out of there. You’re just trying to remind him that you exist and you’re out there.

From there, you can move on to longer conversations but again, don’t rush it. Don’t text him every day and don’t send back to back texts if he doesn’t respond to you.

You don’t want it to be too obvious that you’re looking to reconnect, even though he’ll probably have a pretty good idea that’s why you’re reaching out.

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3. Avoid emotional conversations

When you do have longer conversations with him, it’s important to keep things light and fun. I know that you want to dive deep into your feelings and what happened around the breakup. Maybe you want to apologize for hurting him. Maybe you want to explain yourself.

Resist these urges. At this point, it’s just about reconnecting and reminding him that you’re capable of making him laugh and having a good time together. The time will come for serious conversations, when things are on better footing. At this point, all you’ll do is remind him of past drama and make him dread meeting with you.

4. Avoid sex

A sexual connection is an important part of most relationships and it’s important that you cultivate that with your ex, but not in the way you think.

You should definitely flirt with your ex, hint at steamy moments from your past, and even touch him, here and there. But when you’re trying to reconnect with a guy–and form a serious relationship–having sex with him can work against you.

There are a few reasons why this happens. First off, it can send the wrong message. Many people have had their ex pop up just for a quick hook up and then never seen them again. If he gets the sense that this is your goal, he won’t treat you the way you want him to treat you. And he won’t take you seriously. Avoid this confusion by keeping it in your pants.

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Another factor is that while for women sex can be really bonding, many men see sex as the end goal. So once they’ve slept with you, this may actually make them less likely to want to reconnect with you more seriously. Now I’m not saying that all men act this way but it’s a big enough group that you don’t need to take the chance.

Just explore your sexual connection by flirting with him and you’ll be more likely to reconnect with him in a more meaningful way.

5. Don’t try to make him jealous

Jealousy is a powerful tool that can help you get your ex back in many cases. But if you feel that he’s staying away because of his sensitivity to romantic competition then it’s too risky to recommend. You may feel safe doing so, especially if he mentions that he’s been dating again, but it can still blow up in your face. Some men get really stuck on this point and it can do a lot of damage to the relationship if he feels this way.

You’re better off focusing on the connection between the two of you. So don’t hint that you’ve been seeing other people. Don’t ask him if he’s seeing anyone.

Think of it like this: remember when the two of you started dating? When you were out to dinner, deep in conversation, really getting to know one another…didn’t it sometimes feel like you were the only two people in the world?

You want to cultivate that feeling between the two of you now. So don’t talk about who is dating who. That isn’t important. The important thing is that you two are here, now, together.