do exes come back or are you kidding yourself?

do exes come back, and if so how often? depending on the study and who you ask, 10 to 30% of ex’s will return to a relationship. and in some cases, it can be more than that.

why the wide variation in success rates? because the odds vary depending on the advice people follow. suppose you make better moves, then your chance increases. also, the few research studies available have caveats which also affect the outcome.

for example, we have data on couples aged 17-24 and for those at college. and there’s another study on couples living together. but what about your specific situation? sadly, there are no studies that can represent all readers of this page.

why would they come back?

after a breakup, it is natural to feel sceptical and ask why would your ex come back? yet there are plenty of answers, for example:

  • your ex made a hasty decision to end the relationship and regrets acting recklessly.
  • your breakup was over a non-critical issue. looking back, neither agrees the argument warrants breaking up.
  • you broke up over something that has nothing to do with each other, making the relationship an innocent victim.
  • your ex’s friends and family speak highly of you and persuade your ex to reconsider.
  • after time apart, your ex begins to see you and the relationship with fresh eyes, and it works out in your favour.

as you can see, there are many reasons why exes come back. and you may spot a few signs if you pay attention.

sometimes we need a break to realise what is what. for example, one client said:

“my ex-boyfriend found the time apart helped him to figure out what was important, and it was me.”

tip: it is better to spend your time improving the odds your ex will want you back than wondering if it is possible.

how often does it happen?

Do exes come back? Between 10 to 30% (and higher) of ex’s will return to the relationship

when a couple decides they would prefer to be together than apart, they will reunite. in such cases, clear communication makes this possible. how often this happens through honest conversation alone, though, depends on who you ask. the average is anywhere from 10% to 30% or more.

the good news is you can improve the odds if you wish. how? by following good relationship advice and avoiding the mistakes that push exes away. that way, if your ex wants to try again, you will have given them no reason not to try.

when will it happen?

exes are more likely to return when there are lingering feelings, doubt over what the breakup meant, and when neither has dated other people. this is according to a study carried out by karney, bradbury, and johnson1.

to expand on when relationships renew:

  • when exes continue to have attachment feelings, you can expect a higher likelihood they will come back.
  • when exes feel their partner was special, unique, or “the one,” they are more likely to come back.
  • there’s an increased chance of renewal when there’s uncertainty over the breakup’s meaning or that you had indeed broken up.
  • the offer to reunite is more attractive to exes who feel they have no better option or do not want to be alone.
  • dating other people presents another obstacle to navigate and can impede chances for renewal. if neither partner dates other people, there is less standing in the way of reconciliation.

while these factors improve the odds of an ex coming back, they are not requirements. for example, your ex may be under no illusion the relationship is over, and be dating other people. while your chances are less, you still have a chance.

how long does it take?

how long it takes varies and can range anywhere from days to several months.

it is rare for exes to come back after a year, although it does still happen.

if you are in an on-again/off-again relationship, you may spot patterns to answer this question. those who alternate from being together to “on a break,” can predict time length better.

regardless of whether this is your first breakup or not, your priority is to make the right moves either way. that way, you can say you did your best to help your ex to come back.

so what’s the deal?

yes, ex’s can come back. while i wouldn’t say they usually do, or that it happens more often than not, it does happen enough to be a realistic outcome. as i tell my clients, your job is to create a position of ~most~ opportunity for the outcome you want. giving yourself the best chance of getting your ex back is the most important thing you can do.

here is what i wrote on quora:

how often do ex’s get back together?


no one really knows. only that some do.

you can find stats for this online if you want. but, those stats are to be taken with a grain of salt.


every couple who gets back together, who then go on to have a meaningful “worth it” relationship, will not care how often other couples reunite. they just get on with it 🙂

and if you are asking this question because you want to know if you can get your ex back?

don’t bother looking for a quiz.

far better to find out by finding out.

either decide to try, or decide to move on.

to conclude:

if your ex misses you and the relationship and has invested substantially? don’t be surprised if they are open to giving you a second chance.

“getting back with my ex-girlfriend was like coming home. in no time at all it was like we were never apart.”

and do not underestimate the allure of familiarity. when you already know the person, it is comforting. after a breakup, we feel terrible. exes come back to stop feeling lonely and make the pain go away.

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1The Journal of Social Psychology on “On-Again/Off-Again Dating Relationships: What Keeps Partners Coming Back?”

About the author: i’m a relationship coach specialising in breakup recovery. i’ve been doing this for 12+ years helping thousands worldwide. i created the Breakup Dojo, a popular program with over 1,000 members. i’ve authored several in-demand breakup recovery products, drawing from my deep fascination with psychology. i also publish the “ex-communication” newsletter that’s packed with actionable advice to over 10,000 subscribers worldwide.