Ex Back Playbook

Summary:

  • Evaluate if reuniting is beneficial; assess compatibility and resolve prior issues.
  • Maintain a positive, proactive mindset; avoid passivity.

Then follow the playbook:

  1. Cease contact, create space.
  2. Focus on healing and improvement.
  3. Explore other relational options.
  4. Gradually re-establish contact.
  5. Express your intentions clearly.
  6. Work on forming a new, improved relationship

I will help you get your ex back. But only read on if it’s in your best interests to be together. We shouldn’t save an unhappy relationship. As painful as the breakup is, getting back with an incompatible ex is not the answer.

Unfortunately some of the advice available for the recently single is nonsense, misleading, or cruel. And some only want to profit off your misery.

It’s not all bad, though. You just need to know where to look. And this is why I’m writing to you today.

Let’s take a step back.

It’s normal when “dumped” to do something rash and not consider the consequences. Your emotions make it easy to make hasty decisions.

However, this is precisely what you must not do.

I know the misery and pain you’re living with right now is incredibly difficult to live with. And at times, you’ll want to undo this pain more than you’ll want anything else.

This can cause some to go to great lengths to do just that. But at what cost?

When your focus is completely on getting back with your ex, you risk over stretching.

The belief that you must get them back can lead to desperate pleas. It’s unattractive, but I understand it.

Should You Reunite?

Many couples get back together, but not all should. After a breakup, consider the worth of the relationship you want to save.

Ask yourself:

Are you better off together?

Be honest:

  1. Is there something worth saving that you can build on?
  2. Did you both contribute positively to each other?
  3. Can you resolve the differences that led to the breakup?

Reflect on this.

What can happen during a relationship is that one or both can transition in some way that sets the two of you on a diverging path.

For example, three big and obvious transitions in life are career, marriage, and children.

But there are many possible causes for a transition to occur, which can lead to either partner in the relationship to undergo a new direction (away from the other.)

It’s also common to date someone who was never compatible with us (perhaps in one of the big three above,) who we secretly hoped to change in time.

That seldom happens, though. People don’t change much.

If you were to get back with your ex but do so with unaligned hopes and dreams, the relationship will either not last, or be dysfunctional.

So…

If you decide your relationship is better off left in the past, let it go. There’s no shame in quitting a broken relationship.

However, if you decide your ex is worth fighting for, keep reading.

Your Mindset Is Important

How you think matters, and what you think will determine what you do.

So you either leave this all to chance or you choose to proceed in a deliberate and serious way.

I’m not a fan of the former. Not when we’re talking about the love of your life.

It’s no good sitting around doing nothing after you make the decision to get your ex back. They’re too important to you. And you’re suffering too much as it is.

So it’s time to take deliberate action.

Now, before we continue. Let’s just be clear:

Nothing is guaranteed here.

I would never tell you or anyone else that you will get your ex back or dare break it down into percentages. That’s foolish. There are no certainties here.

Beware of anyone who tells you that they promise an outcome.

No worries, though. Just because we have no guarantees in life, that doesn’t mean we never try.

Life is uncertain. Always has been. Always will be.

We humans have very little control over it. Not over the events, the people, or the circumstances.

However?

Having little control is not the same as having no control 😉

We do influence the world around us. We are capable of changing some of the things that are important to us. Even more so when we are deliberate and smart about it.

Which means not leaving things to chance.

Sitting around doing nothing is leaving things to chance.

Don’t do that.

You have to take control. You have to be deliberate about the actions you take.

You have to have a strategy.

This way, you greatly increase the odds that you’ll get the outcome you prefer. There’s no question about it.

Just like a weighted dice, if you possess the right tools, it’s quite possible to increase your odds of getting your ex back.

Speaking of which…

What’s the Playbook?

The outline typically looks like this:

  1. Give them space
  2. Heal and improve yourself
  3. Check your options
  4. Embark on progressive stages of contact
  5. Put your cards on the table
  6. Build a new relationship

There are many steps involved in each of the above I’ve outlined. It’s not practical to convey them all — with explanations and examples — in just one page.

However…

I will cover the highlights right now.

Let’s begin.

Step 1: Give Them Space

First, pause and stop contacting your ex. A break lets you compose yourself and adds mystery. Sometimes, silence is what your ex needs.

getting your ex back begins by breaking contact for a while

Yes, to get close, begin by leaving them alone.

Do not call or text no matter how much you want to.

This extends to social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on.)

Post nothing online. The more private you are, the less potential for regret.

Pro tip: Consider what they may think of you based on what you do share online.

What message do you want to send?

Don’t let partner see you as weak and miserable without them. It can be unattractive. And in some cases push them further away.

💡 A strategic break gives both partners space to process what happened

Space creates an opportunity for both to arrive at a fresh perspective. With time, you get to take advantage of your evolving viewpoint to make better decisions.

When you are in the midst of the drama, you are preoccupied with the drama. Clarity helps you to see what you must do. Stepping back can also reveal the personal problems holding you back (pushing your partner away).

Often the key to getting your ex back is right in front of you.

But you need space to see it.

Did you know?

Amid the drama, you won’t have the eyes to see what is right in front of you.

A breakup kills composure and composure is an advantage in any conflict.

Ignoring this advice explains why many take two steps back for every one step forward.

Alert: You are still in love and will continue to hold strong feelings of attraction and emotional attachment to your former lover.

Love can be both a positive and a negative.

It can represent kindness and selflessness. Of wanting the best for the other.

But, love channelled improperly is a different beast. The kind of love that spills from a wounded soul can turn sour. When we are weak, we easily become selfish. Negative love can drive the heartbroken to mania. Where obsession and desperation soon follow.

You will be sad if you do not contact your ex. But in exchange for this sadness, you increase your chances of being in love and together again.

Is this the no contact rule?

The no contact rule is a stricter version of what I’m describing here and you can read more about that here if you want to learn more.

This is about utilising distance to bring you both closer together at a later date.

A break from contact is smart when an ex is angry or feels crowded. No one wants to feel hassled. If hearing from you feels like harassment, you will only weaken your position. Besides, leaving them alone is a respectful gesture. And healthy for you in turn.

Once your ex cools off, they will not feel nearly as bothered to hear from you. It is at this point you can improve your position and get things to work in your favour.

When do I start giving space?

Immediately following the breakup or after a high-drama clash.

Any exceptions?

Yes, when you have children. If you have kids together, moderate the space you give so you still fulfil your parental duties.

And if you live together, maintain your household responsibilities.

As a rule? Retreat where you can, but attend to what is important.

Can I get my ex back fast?

If your breakup was rash and your partner didn’t want to break up (no prior plan to,) those kinds of situations can be fast to resolve.

Some arguments get out of hand, and neither wants to “back down.” If so, your situation could be resolved quickly by putting your ego aside and saying, “Sorry, can we talk?”

Give a small break —a day or two— and tell them you love them and you were silly. If they didn’t want to break up? They will meet you halfway.

Summary: Take a break. Nothing fancy. Just take a step back. Rushing ahead will worsen your position anyway.

Step 2: Heal and Improve Yourself

no contact can help to get your ex back

Put your ex aside for now. Start by getting yourself back…

Focus on yourself first. To save the relationship, fix the one you have with yourself. If you’re a mess, making the right moves is harder. Work on stability and clarity.

Post-breakup we hit rock bottom. And rejection is supposed to hurt. It’s biology.

So that’s where we start from. But that’s not where we stay.

Use the time apart to put yourself together. Your mental health is precious.

Be with friends and family. Even when you don’t feel like it. Beats being alone.

Sometimes when we’re alone, we are in bad company. Develop awareness to know when it is better to be with friends.

Strive to feel mostly OK (or more so than not.)

From there, you may even reach “good” or even happy sometimes.

Don’t let your ex think you only want to get back together again because you “need them to be happy and sane.”

Coping with the way things already are gives you an important advantage in getting things the way you want them to be.

Be patient. Pain subsides. And you will feel better. Have a “we’ll see” attitude.

Yes, the journey begins rough. But the road gets smoother. You just need to keep moving.

Oh, and improving your self-esteem, appearance (hi, gym), and communication skills won’t hurt. Whatever helps you to be more attractive will make it easier to get them back.

oscar wilde quote which reads, most people are other people. their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation

This is the ideal time to rediscover what makes you uniquely you. And embrace your individuality.

Only after you get yourself together should you express your preference for a second chance.

It rarely works the other way around.

Many of my clients have expressed regret for neglecting this step. In particular, the ugly trio of neediness, insecurity, and desperation have ruined more chances of recovery than anything else.

Overlook this phase, and your odds of success drops dramatically.

Summary: My best results with clients follow a self-improvement plan. Plus, it helps when the ex can see what they are missing —”Oh, you’ve changed…”— rather than what they ran from.

The impact of a breakup will upend you. You will not be yourself nor firing on all cylinders.

Meaning: You must first work toward reaching a relative state of balance and harmony. Emotionally and mentally.

The progress you make now helps strengthen your position for life in general and with your ex later.

Step 3: Check Your Options

Should you get your ex back? It is time to make your choice

Before you revisit a relationship, be sure you want to.

Before planning how to get back with your ex, determine the value of what you’re trying to save. Is your relationship worth saving? Explore the reasons for and against.

Of course, making an unbiased appraisal of your compatibility is a tall order. Which is why we wait until your mind is clear before trying.

In a nutshell? You need a crystal clear vision of what you are fighting for, and why. It gives you a key advantage through the tough times ahead.

Questions to ask yourself?

  1. Do you have something worth saving found in the other which you can build a happy future on?;
  2. Did you add value to their life (rather than take it away?)
  3. Can you both work out the differences or manage the differences that contributed to the breakup?

If you can answer “yes” to the above, you have more to fight for.

Another option is to take the Sternberg Triangular Love Test which measures the level of intimacy, passion, and commitment you feel toward your partner. Doing this test will help cement how you feel about them.

What often happens during a relationship is one or both transition in ways that quickly set the two of you on a diverging path.

Three distinct transitions in life are:

  1. Career — Did your partner change job or get promoted or demoted in any way which affected their happiness or ability to sustain the relationship?;
  2. Marriage — It can be different from what we expect or hope for, and become a catalyst for separation (one of those things some regret, more so for women);
  3. Children — Talk about a complexifier…

There are many possible causes for a relationship straining transition to occur.

It’s also common to date someone who was never compatible with us in the first place. Who we secretly hoped to change in time.

If you get back together with unaligned hopes and dreams, you will be miserable together, and on your way to another breakup.

Some ex’s are better as friends than current partners.

For example, if your partner was abusive or you made their life worse in ways you can not change, reconsider your goal to be together again.

If you decide this person is better off left in the past? Leave them there and seek someone else you can be happy with.

But if you feel they are worth fighting for?

You can proceed with gusto.

Summary: Once you have regrouped, you will have a healthier perspective. At this point, you are ready to check your options. Ask yourself, “Should we get back together?” Do this and examine the value of the relationship you are looking to save. If you believe a reunion will be healthy for both, you will have more conviction to make it happen.

Once you’re ready, you can move to the next step:

Step 4: Embark on Progressive Stages of Contact

Make contact when your ex gives you the green light

You’re now ready to navigate the mini-phases of contact. The trick? There are stages of getting back together which you must not skip. But as a rule, start with the smallest step which aligns with where your ex is right now.

You must ensure your contact efforts —what you say and when— “make sense” from the ex’s perspective. And triggers minimal reactance (resistance to hearing from you.)

This also applies to long-distance relationships. Distance is irrelevant.

Whenever you contact, pick words —and topics— that will soften the negative emotions.

It would help if you diffused the negative emotions while making space for the positive emotions to breathe.

Don’t push against them. Respect their boundaries. And watch what happens.

Each time you contact and interact, your goal is to increase the good feelings they have for you.

Making contact:

Send a text message to start with. This is less invasive than a phone call, video call, or meeting face-to-face. Effective communication strategies are crucial when reconnecting with your ex, so choose your words carefully and consider the timing of your message.

Optional: A handwritten letter. More personal. And potentially more meaningful than any digital medium. Getting your ex back might require doing something you rarely or never do (and sometimes this is exactly what you must do!)

Email works, too.

What would they appreciate more?

Follow their mood:

Match the context of your situation and what happened —the reason— leading to the breakup.

The secret of getting an ex to listen, engage, and love you lies in having sensitivity to what they are going through.

By the way? If you did something hurtful, putting appropriate energy into a good apology is the kind of action that aligns with where an ex is at.

Do not expect them to feel good emotions about you while you remain “the enemy” in their eyes.

Act according to the context of your situation.

The specifics depend on the details between you both.

Study this image to see why jumping ahead is a bad idea:

Illustration of steps leading to making up

Your goal is to get him or her closer to saying yes by gradually warming them toward you through intelligent steps.

Remove the blockages. They stop the flow of love, respect, and attraction.

This is about raising your chances before you try your “luck.”

When you eventually make a move, you’ll have already laid the groundwork to maximize your success.

Do what you must they will be open to conversation.

It requires sensitivity and courage to build bridges and make amends.

Meet-up for a quick catchup:

When your ex is receptive and friendly (and it’s not a one-off,) you should ask to grab coffee with them for twenty minutes.

This is a friendly meetup to demonstrate your relaxed and happy demeanour.

Quick catchups show confidence and acceptance of the situation.

For long-distance relationships? Consider creative ways to escalate the connection (Skype or FaceTime…)

Build back attraction and trust:

Have a few short and friendly meetups. These deepen the connection and relax your ex.

Each time you meet, they get to see the positive changes in your behaviour.

Take advantage.

If they are happy to keep seeing you then increase the time you spend together.

Tip: Do not treat these hangouts as dates. You are just two people enjoying time together.

Be loving:

Intimacy, passion, and commitment, are core components of love. Keep these three in your heart and mind when building the connection.

Just friends?

It is common for exes to label you as “friend.”

And, you might even worry you have to get out of the friend zone or there is no hope.

But don’t worry. It’s a label of convenience.

Even if they say they’re not looking for a relationship?

Don’t believe everything you hear.

Humans lie.

Everyone does.

Especially to themselves…

(I’ve seen enough “no way’s” change to “ok then!” to see that.)

After all, we are all choosing what to do based on how we feel at the time. Nothing more than that.

We’re as consistent as our feelings are.

Besides?

Look at this quick illustration I made:

Illustration of typical path back together

Step #2 isn’t to be feared.

Reconciliation is a process. Not an event. And contains many steps.

To regain their heart, play the long game…

Take your time. Allow them to reach a “maybe.”

If you do that, your odds of getting a “yes” goes up.

Push for a decision too soon? When they are thinking no? Bad.

What if your ex is dating?

If your ex is dating and having sex you are in no position to ask for another chance. However, you can still build a shared connection. And you should.

It is better to stay friendly when they are dating. It’s likely they are in a rebound relationship (which will not last.) And the other girl or guy will feel threatened or jealous that your prior partner is staying in contact with you.

Play it cool, and this new guy/girl may try to prevent contact entirely. Your ex will find that controlling and needy. A turn-off…

Be the one not exerting control, and you will come out on top.

Summary: Your “next move” must be appropriate to where your ex is at emotionally and mentally. Start where they are not where you wish they are. Think small steps. Not, “Marry me!”

Step 5: Put Your Cards on the Table

State that you want to get back together. If you follow the above steps correctly, you’ll gather enough good feelings to ask them out on a date. Yes, you can now tell them what you want.

If not now, when?

Yes, it is time to propose you get back together. Because this will be the next logical step.

Right?

But, what if they reject you?

OK. If you’re not in the know, you might think getting declined by the ex is the end of the matter.

But not so fast.

Taking score too soon can give you the wrong score entirely.

We rarely go from no-to-yes without a maybe in-between.

Get a no? Remember that.

Learning how to get what you want includes learning how humans work.

A few rejections is normal.

If it does not happen overnight for you? Maybe it will happen on a different night…

Patience is important.

You’ll know this truism:

Your ex must not be rushed into making a decision.

It also applies to you. Don’t rush to draw conclusions about what your partner says.

Summary: Lay your cards on the table. However, only do this when it is the next logical step, out of a chain of steps that built good feelings. Progressive stages of contact is key to the process. The goal is to put yourself in the strongest position you can before asking your ex to give you both another chance.

Step 6: Build a New Relationship

Getting a yes means you get to build a whole new “thing” and fall in love again. This is your chance to shine and show your boyfriend or girlfriend what it means when someone says, “I love you.”

In other words, this is an opportunity to learn from the past. To implement safeguards to avoid falling into old destructive patterns and habits.

If you can, “edit” out the parts of the old relationship that didn’t go well. Or, find ways to manage the problems that you know are part of you and your partner (every person is a set of problems.)

In “Intimate Behaviour”, by Desmond Morris, he talks about the roots of intimacy and the stages we go through.

He outlines three stages:

  1. Hold me tight
  2. Put me down
  3. Leave me alone

As a baby, we want lots of intimacy and physical contact (hold me tight.)

Then we want some independence and don’t want to be “a baby” (put me down.)

After that, we hit our teenage years and want privacy and space (leave me alone.)

Three stages. Done.

However?

What’s particularly interesting is how we cycle through these three stages more than once.

We’ll get into an adult relationship and want to be held tight. Then we tire of that and desire space and independence (put me down) and finally we break up (leave me alone.)

If we don’t know we’re doing this then we can’t do much about it. And this is partly why it repeats.

My advice when starting a-new?

Modulate your behaviour according to the stage your partner may be at.

For example:

  • When they’re wanting intimacy and contact, be there for them;
  • When they’re wanting independence, trust them;
  • When they’re wanting privacy and space, focus on your mission.

It’s easy to resume old ways and settle into well-worn grooves. Grooves that guide you to a future breakup.

Don’t settle.

Take it slow. But raise your game.

Get better at spotting warning signs and defusing drama early on. Cutout the rot whenever you find it.

Don’t let resentment live unchallenged.

And, remember how successful couples have three healthy relationships:

  1. The relationship your partner has with themselves;
  2. The one you have with yourself;
  3. The one you create together.

Nurture all three to enjoy a fulfilling and healthy partnership for the long term.

Conclusion

I have helped many clients save their relationship by following the playbook above. No tricks are necessary to get your ex back.

Here’s the six steps again:

  1. Give them space
  2. Heal and improve yourself
  3. Check your options
  4. Embark on progressive stages of contact
  5. Put your cards on the table
  6. Build a new relationship

It’s difficult to progress if you skip steps or start from the wrong step.

Get it right and you can get your ex back starting today. And, if you want me to help you succeed doing what you now better understand, you have two choices:

  1. Sign up for useful emails written by yours truly;
  2. Take up email coaching so I can direct you every step of the way.

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About the author: I’m a relationship coach with a focus on breakup recovery. I’ve been doing this for 13 years, helping thousands of people worldwide. I created the Breakup Dojo, a popular resource 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, providing over 10,000 subscribers worldwide with actionable advice.