My Ex Wants Me Back: How To Move Forward

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated March 25, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Breakups can come with unique challenges and painful emotions. Loneliness, regret, and sadness can make an individual feel drawn to their former partner, who may have provided comfort and support in the past. So, it is natural for a person in this situation to seek reconciliation. If your ex has reached out to you looking to get back together, you may be experiencing an array of emotions and wondering whether rekindling your relationship is the best course of action for you. To help with your decision, in this article we’re going to discuss how you can respond and move forward in a healthy way when a former partner wants you back.


How to respond when your ex wants you back 

It’s normal for exes to consider restarting a prior relationship.

A relationship between former partners can be healthy and mutually beneficial in many cases. However, it can also lead to continuing conflict or new challenges—concerns that might be avoided through careful consideration of the situation by both individuals.

If your ex is looking to reconcile, taking the following steps can help you decide whether getting back together is the right path for you.  

Set healthy boundaries

If a former partner is interested in restarting a past relationship, knowing where your boundaries are can help you interact with them in a productive manner. It’s a good idea to set healthy boundaries that can help you take the time and space you need as you make your decision. For example, you may ask your ex not to show up at your house, send you gifts, tag you in a social media post, or do other things that could make you feel pressured to get back together with them. 

As you make your decision, you can even ask your ex not to contact you at all. Or, if you do spend time with them, you may decide that you want to avoid hanging out alone or having romantically oriented conversations. Communicate your boundaries to your ex clearly—and be sure to enforce them if your ex attempts to stretch them. 

Re-evaluate the relationship honestly

Before making your decision, it’s important to take an honest look at your relationship. What were the factors that led to your breakup? Can those challenges be resolved moving forward? 

Studies show that we tend to view past events more positively than we actually experienced them. When applied to a prior relationship, this romanticization can cause us to put excess focus on the positives we experienced while ignoring or minimizing times of conflict or tension. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh

To help you objectively re-evaluate your former relationship, consider discussing it with a friend, family member, or mental health professional. They may have a unique perspective on the dynamic between you and your ex that sheds light on the possibility for a future healthy relationship. If you have people in your life who are in a healthy relationship you admire, they may be some of the best individuals to give you advice.

A pros and cons list is another way of deciding how to proceed with your ex. To create yours, lay out a series of bullet points under each of the following four categories: 

  • Pros of getting back together with my ex

  • Cons of getting back together with my ex

  • Pros of staying broken up 

  • Cons of staying broken up

Again, try to be honest with yourself as you fill out your list—and consider seeking out other people’s perspectives. Sometimes feelings of love can blind you to the reality of the situation. Take plenty of time to interpret the meaning of your results and continue adding points as necessary. 

If your relationship was unhealthy to the point that it caused you distress, it might be best to avoid a conversation and reconciliation. You may need to steer clear of mutual friends and remove your ex from social media. Abuse often occurs in a cycle, and someone who has behaved in an abusive manner in the past is likely to continue to do so in the future. They may try to make up for past behavior by appearing apologetic or offering affection and gifts. These actions, though, are signs of a harmful pattern known as love bombing, which can be part of a cycle of abuse. 

If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 for support. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), text “START” to 88788, or chat with a representative. 

Have a conversation

If you’re interested in hearing your former partner out, you can invite them to talk through their feelings regarding the situation. If you’ve decided that you might also want to get back together, this is an opportunity to discuss any concerns you have that are related to the past. You can talk about challenges you feel led to your breakup and outline aspects of your relationship that you’d like to look differently moving forward. 

For example, if communication was a point of contention, you can let them know your expectations for improving it, which may include couples therapy more frequent emotional check-ins with each other, or simply staying in touch via text messages throughout the day. You can also ask them if they have ideas for ensuring a future partnership will be healthy and mutually beneficial. They may have insights that you hadn’t considered. Neither of you has to be a relationship expert, but you should both be willing to make changes that lead to improvement in a potential future relationship.

Additionally, you may want to discuss ways you both may have changed since the breakup. This can help each of you find out more about how well the relationship might work. If you’ve become more independent since you parted ways, discussing this might signal to your ex that they’ll need to provide you with more space if you’re to have a successful partnership. It’s possible that some of the changes you’ve each experienced will make you more compatible. For example, if you’re both more ready for commitment than before, a new relationship may have a better chance of lasting. 

Take time for yourself 

Try to avoid rushing into a new relationship with your ex. Give yourself plenty of time to think through the decision and determine whether it’s the right move for you. This can be particularly important if you haven’t fully experienced life on your own yet. You might still be experiencing strong feelings from the breakup, or you may have just finished grieving. If this is the case, consider asking your ex to give you time to think so that you don’t feel pressure to jump back into a relationship too soon. You may decide that it’s best just to stay friends or ultimately cut off contact completely.

Taking time for yourself can provide you with the opportunity to explore new interests, expand your social circle, and allow your life as a single person to take shape. It can also help you focus on self-care. Practicing self-compassion by regularly exercising, reading, journaling, meditating, or doing anything else that nourishes your body and mind can help you approach your decision in a balanced, healthy way. You may feel better as you take your attention off of your love life for a little bit.

How to respond if you don’t feel the same

After re-evaluating your prior relationship, weighing the pros and cons, and taking time to yourself, you may realize you don’t want to get back together with your ex. If this is the case for you, be honest with them. Though it may be tempting to protect your former partner’s feelings, leading them on or otherwise hiding your feelings can do more harm over the long term. If you’re sure you don’t want to pursue a relationship with your ex, tell them this in a clear, empathetic way. Be honest about your concerns regarding your past relationship and your reasons for not pursuing a new one. 

Try to avoid statements that may make your ex feel like the door is still open. For example, saying, “I’m not ready for another relationship right now”, may signal to them that you’ll be ready for a relationship in the future. Instead, you can say, “I don’t think getting back together is a good idea, but I’d like for us to be friends”. Honesty may feel more difficult, but it can help you avoid complicated situations later. You probably don’t want to be in a scenario where your ex thinks you’re ready to get back together because of a social media post or an encounter where you run into each other at dinner.

If you and your ex are on good terms, try to give them a moment to express how they feel and validate their feelings. For example, you could say, “I understand that you’re sad we broke up. I feel for you, and while I’m not open to getting back together, I wish nothing but the best for you”. Expressing yourself clearly but compassionately can help ensure you and your ex move forward amicably. 


How online therapy can help

Research suggests that online therapy can benefit individuals who are experiencing mental health-related concerns after parting with an ex. For example, in one study, researchers found that online cognitive behavioral therapy led to improvements in self-esteem and the capacity for forgiveness of an ex in participants who had experienced a breakup. The study also mentions the increased availability provided by online platforms compared to in-person counseling. 

If you’re working through complex emotions associated with a breakup or reconciliation, know that help is available. Utilizing an online therapy like BetterHelp, you can address your past relationship remotely, which can be helpful if you’re not comfortable discussing such a topic in person. You can also contact your therapist outside of sessions, allowing you to reach out with questions or concerns about moving forward after a breakup anytime. 


Responding to an ex who wants you back can be challenging, but there are several ways to navigate the situation in a healthy, constructive manner. As you decide whether to get back together with a former partner, it can help to evaluate your relationship, set boundaries, and communicate effectively. If you’re struggling to respond to a similar situation or experiencing other mental health-related challenges, consider taking advantage of the tools and support provided by online therapy. With the right help, you can continue to foster both healthy relationships and emotional wellness.
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