3 Typical Reasons An Ex Stays In Touch

Reconciliation, Rejection, Relationship Mistakes
ex staying in touch

Just because it didn’t work out does not mean that caring, love and sympathy won’t endure. Even after a traumatic, impulsive breakup, the salve known as time can strip resentment and anger from our emotional equation, rekindling all kinds of emotions — from the platonic, to the romantic, and back again.

In this article I will outline what I feel are three of the most common reasons an ex stays in touch. However, it bears remembering that these differences are not always easy to distinguish, and intentions are not always transparent (sometimes an ex might not even know how they feel). Emotions such as pride, fear and insecurity can muddy communication and lead to misinterpretation.

1. They care about you

The thin line between caring and loving, or that also described as loving and being “in love”, is one of the most confusing distinctions to deal with for most of us. The bottom-line is that while a relationship may or may not work, and passion may ebb and flow, the foundational undercurrent of caring tends to survive.

While reconciliation may not be desired, your ex may want to check-in from time-to-time to find out how you’re doing. Typical signs of an ex who cares (rather than an ex who wishes to reconcile or use you) are:

  • They will not delve into the past.
  • They will not seek to tie loose ends.
  • They are direct, transparent and supportive (no crumbs or mind-games).
  • They may contact you out of the blue (but consistently) rather than seek a platonic relationship.
  • Communication tends to be minimal and straight-forward, rather than enduring and inquisitive in nature.

[alert-note]If your relationship with your ex was founded on a tangible foundation of love, even if it simply didn’t work, they most probably still care for you deeply. While it is possible to fall out of “love”, there is no off-switch for missing and caring.[/alert-note]

2. They want you back

There will always be exs who will wonder whether their ex was the one that got away. Perhaps time catalysed clarity, or they discovered the grass isn’t always greener. As the saying goes:

Familiarity breeds contempt

Whatever their reasoning for seeking reconciliation is, I would also add the disclaimer that this is the rarest of all three reasons an ex stays in touch mentioned in this article. Most of the time (more on this later), an ex may flirt with the idea of reconciliation, but not fully commit to the idea. Leading to crumbs, mixed messages and other confusing signals. Signs an ex truly wishes to win you back may be both direct and subtle:

  • They will bring up the good and bad times in your old relationship.
  • They will apologize or seek apology.
  • They will subtly seek to unite you somehow down the road (this can be as subtle as asking for help with a project).
  • Their emotions may fluctuate from anger to joy impulsively.
  • They will seek action and not words.

[alert-warning]Be wary of exs who seek words and not actions. Insecurity, and wavering self-esteem can lead us to seek comfort-zones of the past for a quick emotional “upper”. But these phases don’t last, and right when things begin to look rosy, they may disappear once again, leading to further pain and grief.[/alert-warning]

3. They’re using you

Reconciliation takes time, and is not impulsive in nature. An ex who occasionally appears out of the blue and begins to confuse you with mixed signals, tentative flirting, or other mind-games may be seeking to use you in order to augment their own wavering self-esteem.

Of course, they may simply be fearful of rejection or being seen as needy instead. However, never let ideals and hopes cloud your judgement. Some red flags that you might be being used typically include:

  • They waltz in and out of your life haphazardly.
  • They are inconsistent with their contact and messages.
  • They seek words and not actions.
  • They romanticize the past or future.
  • They backtrack out of promises.
  • They seek validation.

There are two ways we can protect ourselves from a manipulative ex. Firstly, by slowing down the entire process and insisting on slow recovery. If they sincerely seek reconciliation, they will hang around. And secondly, by limiting our innate pattern-seeking natures. In short, by keeping our emotional distance and by staying as objective as possible.

Reasons an ex stays in touch

As with all things related to the heart, they are subject to change. Time, of course, being the greatest catalyst of them all. A manipulative ex can end up wishing for genuine reconciliation, and an ex who sincerely wanted you back may end up realizing why it didn’t work in the first place.

If you ex stays in touch (especially if they initiate contact) — you can be sure of only one thing. That they still think of you.

Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici  / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

James Nelmondo

James Nelmondo

James "the Unknown" Nelmondo is a self-styled relationship enthusiast, former infant, part-time dumper and full-time dumpee.


  1. My ex went out of town have not seen him in over a month he texts me but I think he’s living with someone where he is he denies it when I ask bit if he is why does he still text me I lost my mom and at the same time I lost him he left the area where we lived I just want to move on with my life I feel like him keeping in touch is holding me back and I really think he moved on with his life and he’s with someone what should I do

    1. Hey Maggy, sorry to hear about all that happening at once.

      Sounds like he’s keeping a foot in the door “just in case” the grass isn’t greener.

      How sure are you he is living with someone else? Because if he is, and you need to move on, remember that you shouldn’t feel guilty about cutting him out of your life.

      If you need the clarity, enforce it. The last thing you need to do is wait around for “closure” or validation. You don’t need him to achieve either or those.

  2. My ex actually blocked my #, but he still calls me and initiates to see me, where in fact he is seeing someone, but he denies that he’s serious with the girl. He also tells me that he still thinks of me and misses me. Why does he do that?

    1. Hey there Rose, sounds like he’s on the fence. He may have blocked your number purely to prove to this new flame of his that he has moved on (he hasn’t). It’s either that or he’s trying to make you insecure enough to reach out to him.

      It sounds to me like the grass wasn’t greener and he’s trying to keep his options open. Though whether this means he’s willing to commit either way is anyone’s guess.

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