Relationships are an enormous time and energy investment. It’s easy to have a crush on someone, but if you want a relationship with them, numerous factors come into play. It becomes an important decision and you have to weigh many factors.
When a relationship ends, it’s a huge loss, especially if the relationship was good. Instead of putting in time and effort to find a new partner, it’s understandable why people sometimes prefer to get back together with their ex.
Do exes come back weeks, months, or even years after the end of their relationships?
The short answer is: Most of them (around 70%) don’t but it depends.
It depends on a lot of things. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll have a decent idea about the chances of your ex coming back.
But first, let’s look at some facts statistics. If you’re like me and like numbers, you want to know how often do exes come back. While every relationship is unique, looking at these stats does give a rough idea of your chances.
Summary of stats on exes getting back together
I’ve combined data from multiple large-scale surveys done on this topic that interviewed thousands of participants. I removed all the fluff and unnecessary details, so you can get straight to the good stuff.
Here are some interesting and noteworthy stats on getting back together with an ex:
|People who think about their ex too much||71%|
|Willing to get back together with their ex after being dumped||60%|
|People who did not actually get back together||70%|
|Got back together but broke up again||14%|
|Got back and stayed together||15%|
|Men who regret breaking up||45%|
|Women who regret breaking up||30%|
According to a survey conducted by Casinos.org, following are things people are willing to overlook when they’re considering getting back together with an ex:
|Excessive drug or alcohol use||69%|
|Caught them lying||63%|
|Caught them cheating||57%|
Here are the things people can’t overlook when they consider getting back with an ex:
|I no longer find them attractive||70%|
|They were physically violent toward me||67%|
|They no longer found me attractive||57%|
|We have different long-term goals||54%|
Factors contributing to success in getting back together:
- Being aged 50 or above
- Length and quality of the prior relationship
- Getting back together within six months of the breakup
- Commitment level
- Attraction level
Making sense of the data
A lot of people think about getting back together with an ex. We’ll dig into the reasons for this later, but the primary reason is that finding a new relationship is complicated. When people think of entering a relationship, they think about their ex because it’s an easier and more accessible option.
Young people with their raging hormones enter and exit relationships all the time. Their mate value is high, and they know they can attract many potential partners. They have the energy and time to invest in new relationships.
Older people, however, are pressed for both energy and time. Therefore, if they choose to get back together with an ex, they’re more likely to hold on to the relationship. This explains why people over 50 are much more likely to get back together with an ex successfully.
The prior relationship’s length and quality are strong predictors of exes coming back. Again, it’s easier to lean on something that has worked in the past than to put effort into finding a new relationship.
The fact that people aren’t willing to overlook the loss of attraction when thinking of getting back together with their ex shows how important attraction is in a relationship. If people are attracted to their ex, they may be willing to overlook lying, cheating, and even drug addiction.
This shows how the mind places a premium on reproducing with an attractive potential partner and is ready to make major sacrifices in its attempts to pursue that goal.
Since women are choosier than men when it comes to picking relationship partners, they usually break up for good reasons. Since their overall mate value is higher than men’s, they can easily find a new partner. Thus, they’re less likely to regret breaking up than men.
Why do exes come back?
Other than finding a new partner being a considerable time and energy investment, the reasons that motivate exes to come back include:
1. Residual feelings
When your ex still has some residual feelings for you and hasn’t completely moved on, they’re likely to return.1
2. Familiarity and comfort
Humans are naturally averse to unfamiliarity and discomfort. It’s easier being with someone one has known and reached a level of comfort with than to start a fresh relationship with a stranger.
3. Emotional and other support
When a relationship ends, it becomes harder for a person to deal with life’s challenges. Your ex may come back to you for emotional support if they hit a low point in their life.
Your ex may also come back for meeting their other needs like physical intimacy, a place to stay, or companionship. If this is the case, they might dump you again when their needs are met.
4. Failed relationships
After breaking up with you and entering a string of new relationships, your ex may realize that you’re the best option for them. They’ll regret breaking up with you and come back.
Humans can’t resist comparing their new relationships to their prior relationships. It helps us to learn from our mistakes and make better decisions.
Self-improvement is the most critical factor that helps exes get back and stay together. It’s because when a breakup happens, it often has to do with one or both partners lacking in self-development.
As soon as this issue is fixed, the reason for breaking up disappears. There’s nothing that stops the exes from giving it another go.
Also, if your mate value increases significantly during the time after the breakup, your ex will likely want to get back together with you.
For instance, you get a promotion at work if you’re a man or lost weight and are in great shape if you’re a woman.
Of course, overall mate value depends on many other things. This is only a simple example.
6. They broke up for a silly reason
Your ex may come back if they realize they broke up with you for a silly and petty reason like being angry or having an argument. If the overall relationship was good, then one little argument shouldn’t overturn the entire relationship.
7. Wanting what they can’t have
Humans tend to take the things they have for granted and think the grass is greener on the other side. It’s possible that now you’ve broken up, they want you back for this reason.
8. They’re jealous
If you entered a new relationship and are happy, chances are your ex won’t take it well if they still have feelings for you. They may try to sabotage your current relationship by asking to get back together.
If you find yourself ambivalent and confused, it’s likely that you, too, have lingering feelings for them. If you were sure about your new partner, you wouldn’t pay any attention to your ex trying to get back together with you.
Increase the chances of ex coming back
If you improve yourself and move on, you put yourself in the best possible position to get your ex back. What you don’t want to do is beg your ex to get back together with you. Such ‘low mate value’ behavior almost guarantees your ex won’t come back.
If you want your ex to come back, you have to give them a good reason for doing so. They have to think of you as a worthwhile option. If you broke up because of a flaw of yours, it’d help if you showed them that you’ve changed.
Communication is everything
If your ex keeps you in their life, it’s the biggest sign they may come back. Not always, though. Sometimes, exes can pop into your life after months or years of no contact.
There are several reasons why people keep their exes in their lives ranging from ‘it’s the civil thing to do’ and ‘wanting to stay friends’ to ‘keeping their options’ open.2
If your ex kept you in their life because they wanted to keep their options open, they’re likely to come back to you if their new relationships don’t work out.
They’ll keep the lines of communication open with you. If they flirt with you during this phase, it’s a dead giveaway that they still see you as a potential partner.
If they genuinely only want to be friends, they won’t flirt.
If your ex has closed all lines of communication with you, it’s a strong signal they’re done with you. If they delete your number and block you on social media, it’s unlikely they’ll come back. They don’t want anything to do with you.
Cons of exes coming back
As they say, relationships are like paper. Once you squash a paper into a ball, it can never go back to its plain, original form no matter how hard you iron it.
Studies show that couples that break up and get back together have higher rates of conflict, including serious disputes involving verbal and physical abuse.3
Also, breaking up and getting back together leads to increased psychological distress when couples get stuck in a pattern of breaking up and getting back together.4
The more you break up and get back together, the less devoted you are to your partner and the more uncertainty you feel about the relationship’s future.5
This doesn’t mean all on/off relationships are doomed. If an ex comes back to be with you, you have to make sure they’re coming back for the right reasons.
- Dailey, R. M., Jin, B., Pfiester, A., & Beck, G. (2011). On-again/off-again dating relationships: What keeps partners coming back?. The Journal of social psychology, 151(4), 417-440.
- Griffith, R. L., Gillath, O., Zhao, X., & Martinez, R. (2017). Staying friends with ex‐romantic partners: Predictors, reasons, and outcomes. Personal Relationships, 24(3), 550-584.
- Halpern‐Meekin, S., Manning, W. D., Giordano, P. C., & Longmore, M. A. (2013). Relationship churning, physical violence, and verbal abuse in young adult relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family, 75(1), 2-12.
- Monk, J. K., Ogolsky, B. G., & Oswald, R. F. (2018). Coming out and getting back in: Relationship cycling and distress in same‐and different‐sex relationships. Family Relations, 67(4), 523-538.
- Dailey, R. M., Rossetto, K. R., Pfiester, A., & Surra, C. A. (2009). A qualitative analysis of on-again/off-again romantic relationships:“It’s up and down, all around”. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26(4), 443-466.
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. I’ve published one book and authored 400+ articles on this blog (started in 2014) that have garnered over 4.5 million views. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur. Feel free to contact me if you have a query.