Will My Ex Come Back? How To Navigate Post-Breakup Questions

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis
Updated February 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Free, support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Breakups are often considered among the most emotionally challenging experiences we endure. The wave of feelings, like pain, regret, longing, and even relief, can seem overwhelming. For many, it can be challenging to navigate the uncertainty of post-breakup questions and emotions, and to answer one of the most common questions, “Will my ex come back?”

By shedding light on the complexities of breakups, we hope to equip you with the knowledge that you are not alone, empower you to move forward, and provide insight into common mental health experiences. Through understanding, comes healing and growth. In this article, we will dig deeper into these emotions, the dynamics of breakups, and when to seek mental health care support.

iStock/Ivan Pantic
Breakup with a loved one affecting your mental health?

Understanding the dynamics of breakups                    

Breakups are rarely easy. In the aftermath of a relationship, our emotions can swing from feeling relief and joy from newfound freedom to confusion and sadness. This fluctuation of emotions is natural, and you are not alone in this experience.

Breakups often represent the end of common dreams and commitments, and this can lead to denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and ultimately, acceptance. This cycle, often referred to as the stages of grief, is common to many people going through a breakup.

But why does that nagging question, “Will my ex come back?” seem to linger even when we are well into the acceptance stage? The answer may have something to do with the fact that humans are social beings. We may be wired to resist change, especially when it involves our emotions and intimate relationships. As much as the breakup might have been necessary, wondering or hoping for a reunion is a natural human reaction to a lost connection.

Will my ex come back? 

Often, in the aftermath of a breakup, we endlessly replay conversations, dissecting every word and action, looking for clues to what went wrong. Of all the post-breakup uncertainties, one query often stands out, persistently tugging at our thoughts: “Will my ex come back?” Whether you harbor a desire to reconcile or are filled with dread at the thought, the question is rarely a simple one.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Each relationship is unique, and several factors could influence this outcome. These include the reason for the breakup, the duration of your relationship, and how both of you have changed since parting ways. Further, common misconceptions founded in social media and romantic literature can complicate your recovery and expectations of a reunion. Consider the following:

  • Films and books might romanticize the idea of lovers reuniting, but the reality is often more complicated. Reconciliations do happen, but they are not as common as popular culture might lead you to believe.
  • Your ex coming back does not always lead to the validation or closure you might be looking for. Remember, you broke up for a reason, and that reason could very well still exist.\
  • When navigating a breakup, move towards self-reflection and internal communication. If you are contemplating the possibility of getting back with your ex, evaluate your reasons honestly. Ask yourself, “Why do I want them back? Am I idealizing the relationship or truly missing the person?” 
  • If your ex does reach out, clear and respectful communication is key. Discuss the issues that led to the breakup and whether those can be resolved. 

How to handle post-breakup questions and uncertainty

Post-breakup uncertainty can feel like walking through a maze without a map. Experiencing stress and anxiety during this time is natural. However, there are strategies you can use to manage these feelings and the persistent question, “Will my ex come back?”

First and foremost, be gentle with yourself. Know you may not to have all the answers immediately. Give yourself permission to feel, to grieve the relationship, and understand that healing takes time. Mindfulness techniques like meditation, journaling, and deep-breathing exercises can help to reduce stress, treat anxiety, and bring you back to the present moment.

Next, consider the importance of self-care. Maintain a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. Engaging in activities you enjoy can also help lift your spirits. Not only are you diverting your focus away from the breakup, but also reaffirming your love for yourself.

iStock/Pheelings Media

What if your ex reaches out?

Should your ex reach out, keep communication open and honest, but safeguard your boundaries. You can express your feelings and listen to theirs without committing to any decisions immediately. There is some evidence that clearly understanding the reasons a relationship ended may have positive indications with post-breakup emotions and reduced self-internalization after the breakup. However, any conversations with an ex should be approached with caution and limited expectations.  

Moving forward: Life after breakup

Rebuilding your life after a breakup might seem daunting, but this can also be a period of immense personal growth and self-discovery. It’s not just about moving on; it’s about moving forward.

Breakups are often characterized by psychological distress, but this distress does not last forever. One step you can take toward healing is to embrace the lessons learned from your past relationship. Reflect on your experiences and acknowledge the growth it brought you. This can lead to you developing a stronger, more self-aware character. Engaging in new activities, exploring interests, and broadening your social circle can reinforce your confidence and independence.

You may wonder if it is okay to consider new relationships. Dating again is healthy, but consider taking your time to heal and understand what you truly want from a partner. In the meantime, focus on strengthening your relationships with friends, family, and most importantly, yourself , which can be immensely rewarding.

When to seek mental health care

In this journey of healing and self-discovery, know you will most likely have good days and bad days. When days are tough, reach out to a trusted friend or loved one for support.  However, if feelings of depression or anxiety persist, consider seeking professional help. 

Therapists and counselors can provide valuable tools and perspectives to help you navigate your feelings. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but an act of self-love and strength. Understanding these implications is the first step toward navigating the healing process. Some common mental health experiences people have in the aftermath of a breakup include: 

Depression and anxiety

The end of a relationship may cause feelings of sadness, loss, and emptiness. In some cases, these emotions might intensify into symptoms of depression, such as prolonged sadness, lack of motivation, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and difficulty concentrating. Anxiety is also common, manifesting as persistent worry, restlessness, or even panic attacks.

Loneliness and isolation

A partner often forms a critical part of one’s social and emotional support system. Their absence can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, exacerbating other negative emotions experienced during a breakup.

Stress and physical health

The emotional turmoil of a breakup can result in high levels of stress, which can, in turn, affect physical health. This can manifest as changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, or even weakened immune function.

Substance use

Some individuals may turn to substances such as alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism to manage their pain or avoid reality. This can lead to substance use issues and exacerbate mental health problems.

Post-traumatic stress

In cases where the relationship involved abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual), individuals might experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a breakup.

If you have experienced or witnessed domestic violence and need help, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) is available 24 hours a day.

Given these potential mental health implications, it can be essential to seek professional help if you find your symptoms persisting or worsening over time. Therapists and counselors can provide valuable support, helping you process your emotions and develop healthy coping strategies. 

Online therapy, in particular, offers a reachable, flexible, and often more affordable option for those seeking help post-breakup. 

Getty/AnnaStills
Breakup with a loved one affecting your mental health?

Benefits of online therapy during a breakup

During the emotional stress of a breakup, having a professional to navigate through these turbulent emotions can be highly beneficial. This is where online therapy from BetterHelp comes into play, providing several advantages, especially during a breakup.

Reachability and convenience 

Online therapy eliminates geographical constraints, allowing you to reach professional help wherever you are. All you need is a device and internet connection. This convenience factor means you can schedule sessions at a time that suits you, without the added stress of commuting.

Comfort and seclusion

During a breakup, it can be comforting to express your emotions in a familiar environment. Online therapy is available in the comfort of your own personal space. Additionally, it ensures a high degree of discreetness. For example, if you are uncomfortable running into someone you know in a therapist’s waiting room, online therapy alleviates this concern.

Affordability

Online therapy often presents a more affordable alternative to traditional in-person therapy. By eliminating costs associated with physical office space, therapists may often charge less.

Continuity of care 

If you are experiencing a transitional period post-breakup, such as relocating, online therapy ensures continuity of care, maintaining the therapeutic relationship and progress.

Is online therapy during a breakup effective?

The efficacy of online therapy during a breakup is backed by several studies. Virtual therapy has been shown to help individuals better manage stress, improve their mood, and build effective coping strategies. Further, seeking online therapeutic support can also provide valuable tools to promote personal growth and healing, enabling you to move forward from the breakup in a healthier, more positive way.               

Takeaway

Breakups can be a difficult, even tumultuous journey. Wondering ,“Will my ex come back?” is natural, especially when experiencing the whirlwind of emotions that may follow a breakup. Nonetheless, each relationship (and breakup), is a unique experience that holds valuable lessons for personal growth. A mental health professional can help you reflect, learn, and practice self-care during this period. 

You may not have all the answers immediately. Give yourself the grace to heal at your own pace. If you would like to begin your journey with an online licensed mental health professional, BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that provides convenient and effective matching with a therapist suited to your individual concerns.

Build healthy relationship habits with a professional

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started