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Should You Be Nice To Your Ex? (If You Want Them Back)

I bet that you think you know the answer to this question…obviously you should be nice to your ex if you want them back.

But I know that there are others… those of you who tried being nice to your ex and found that it didn’t work and actually drove your ex away, into the arms of someone else…

Well I’m here to tell you WHY being nice to your ex won’t get you that second chance that you’re after.

I’ll also explain to you how you need to treat your ex if you want them back.

Now, let’s get into this. First off, I will say that I’m not going to tell you to be mean or cruel towards your ex…to manipulate them. That’s not what this is about. I believe in respect first and foremost. Getting your ex back is the ultimate goal but more important is that nobody gets hurt.

So let’s talk about being nice to your ex. What does it mean and how does it work against your goals here?

Well this is a spectrum, right? It’s pretty obvious that you shouldn’t quit your job and follow your ex around all day, catering to their every whim. But even more subtle behaviour will hurt your chances with your ex.

So this can mean giving them flowers or gifts. It can mean being there for them emotionally and offering a shoulder to cry on. It can even mean apologizing for every mistake you ever made, or taking total responsibility for the breakup. It can also mean doing favors for them.

Why Being Nice To Your Ex Doesn’t Work

There are actually a few reasons that you shouldn’t be nice to your ex if you want them back.

First off, it reads as desperation…because that’s what it is.


Stay with me on this. If you truly thought of yourself as a valuable person, who has a lot to offer and knows that they’re deserving of love, then this relationship ending would not shatter your world like this. You’d be sad, sure, but it would be a lesson for you.

In fact, truly confident people handle being dumped very well because it actually diminishes their opinion of their ex…it shows them that their ex is someone with bad judgment. Obviously if you’re confident, you realize your own value and someone who doesn’t see your value, is someone you don’t want in your life.

This is a pretty strong place to be emotionally, but you don’t have to actually feel this way 100% to live as though you do, and if you’re able to do that then you’re going to improve your life and improve your chances with your ex…because confidence is attractive.

On the other hand, if you lack confidence, then you’ll be desperate to cling to your ex after the breakup and be really really nice to them, in hopes of winning them back.

Now I’m not saying that you lack confidence, but that’s how it’s going to look, and feel, from your ex’s perspective. Desperation isn’t attractive…period.

Another thing to consider is that being too nice can be invasive.

Think of a time when someone crossed your boundaries and made you feel uncomfortable. Maybe they were being too flirty with you. Maybe they made a joke that was uncomfortable, or complimented you in a very intense way, or touched you.

While this is no excuse, in many of these situations, the other person thought that they were just being friendly. But what they were really doing was assuming a level of intimacy that didn’t exist between the two of you… because it wasn’t earned.

While you have created intimacy with your ex, the end of the relationship will set you back to basically zero, sometimes even making them more wary of you than they would be if you were a total stranger. This is not to say that you can’t regain this intimacy over time, but right now, they’re going to treat you differently.

If you treat them too kindly right now it’s going to feel like you’re crossing their boundaries and this is going to make them run for the hills. It’s as simple as that.

And stop me if this is familiar… when they reject whatever nice gesture you’re trying to make, it can make you feel like you have to make things right by making another attempt at connection, and only end up pushing them further away. This is a vicious cycle.

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It also makes them uneasy because it suggests that you’re not really accepting the breakup. You’re treating them like you’re still together and this suggests that you aren’t honoring the new status quo. This makes it hard for them to interact with you so they may just avoid it altogether.

And if they were the one to end the relationship, being too familiar with them will tell them that you don’t respect their decision. This will make them mad, and understandably so.

And finally, it makes them feel guilty. Obviously if they dumped you, it will make them feel bad to have you hanging around being kind towards them, but even if it was more of a mutual decision, this can create guilt for your ex.

Because being nice to someone creates the expectation for them to do the same. They don’t want to do this because they’re trying to pull away from you. But it’s hard for them to treat you coldly when you’re being so nice. This inner conflict can drive them a bit crazy…and not in a good way.

How To Treat Your Ex If You Want Them Back

So really, being nice isn’t always as nice as it may seem. But then how should you treat your ex if you want them back?

Well to answer this question, we need to talk about your goals here. Yes, obviously you want to reconnect with your ex, win their heart and eventually get back together with them. But how do you make that happen?

Well first off, you want to make them miss you like crazy. This is something that can’t happen if you’re constantly hanging around, giving them gifts and bending over backwards to help them with whatever they need. Because not only do they need to miss you PHYSICALLY, but they also need to miss you EMOTIONALLY. When you treat your ex nicely, you’re not giving them that space to miss you because it’s pretty clear that you’re still invested and available.

Second, you want them to regret their decision to break up. And one of the reasons they have to feel this way is because they’re guilty for hurting you. If you treat them nicely, you’re basically saying “I’m not hurt, I’m fine” which will make them feel less guilty and thus they’ll be less likely to want to reconnect.

So how can you make them miss you like crazy and also regret their decision to break up?

Well first off, you need to make yourself scarce. You want them to really feel like they’ve lost you, and the only way to do this is to keep your distance from them for a period of time following the breakup. So stop reaching out to them. Don’t answer their messages or return their calls unless they’re truly important. Just give them as much space as you physically can.

This lack is going to drive them to want to reconnect with you. Often just removing your presence from their life will cause your ex to realize what a mistake they made and come running back to you, begging for a second chance.

But even if this doesn’t happen, your ex is going to feel that absence and it’s going to make them miss you and want you back, more than any nice gesture could.

Another factor at play is one we talked about earlier…confidence. By giving your ex space, you create the impression that you’re moving on. This shows your ex that you don’t need them. You have a plan for moving forward, you have other options and you’re willing to let things go, knowing that you will be able to thrive without them.

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This is an incredibly powerful move soon after a breakup. Your ex expects you to curl up into a ball and cry because you miss them so much. When you break this expectation, you’ll show them that they don’t know you as well as they thought they did. Maybe you have other surprises for them if they decide to give you another shot?

But obviously you’re going to have to talk to your ex at some point if you want to reconnect with them. And what about unavoidable contact between the two of you, like you run into them at the store or you have to settle a shared bill? Shouldn’t you be nice to them then?

The answer is still no. You don’t want to scare your ex off by being too kind to them. They will know that you want them back and this will scare them off before you’re able to win them back.

But again, don’t be a jerk to them either. Find a middle ground here. I often say to be a little distant when you run into your ex in public. So don’t joke around. Don’t be too smiley or happy to see them. And don’t try to keep the conversation going.

Show them that things are different now that you’ve broken up. This will be a shock to their system for many people because they want you to want them. They don’t want to accept that things have changed.

When you show them that you won’t play that game, this can make them really sad because they’ll see that they’re not going to have you around as just a friend unless they decide to reconnect with you. And if they want that closeness with you, they’re going to have to earn it…by giving you another chance.

Obviously, things will progress from there and as you start to talk and spend time together, you can warm up to them quite quickly. But still, do not push it here. You don’t want to drive your ex to the airport or tell them how good they look with their new haircut.

Take it slow and build rapport rather than scaring your ex off with your eagerness.