Separating reality from wishful thinking is notoriously difficult after a breakup. Are contact crumbs a sign your ex is thinking about coming back to you? Or are we letting our insecurity over-complicate the situation? In short, are we setting ourselves up for more rejection and pain?
Ultimately there are never any guarantees. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make an educated guess. The following ten behaviors sum up what I personally feel are good signs they are thinking about mending fences.
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1. They bring up your history
An ex who brings up your history, even in anger, is subtly bringing you together in the present and letting you know that your communal treasure trove of memories is still very much at the forefront of their minds.
Does this mean reconciliation is on the menu? Not necessarily. But it does nevertheless signify that you continue to mean something, and that you still have a say in their lives.
An ex determined to find greener pastures will rarely, if ever, choose to bring you together in this way. They are far more likely to make their peace with the present, grit their teeth and plow forwards — away from the emotional house of cards.
2. They initiate contact
If all they are doing is answering your attempts at communication (that’s if they answer to begin with), things aren’t looking so hot. Words require little investment, and even less energy. Initiating contact is a way of acting on intent, rather than just being polite and playing along. By contacting you they are looking for something.
3. You can still make them smile
Being able to elicit a positive emotion in an ex is a good sign that they hold you in high regard. While this may simply mean that they hold no hard feelings, and that they still count you as a friend, most relationships do not end agreeably.
If you are coming out of the tail-end of a scarring breakup, an ex with whom you can now suddenly share a spot of levity is signalling that you now represent a positive emotional association. The greater the contrast from the resentment, anger, guilt and sadness of yesterday, to the positive today, the harder they are generally trying to mend the fences.
4. They ask for advice
Again, while there is no guarantee that asking for advice means that an ex misses you romantically, it is nevertheless a great sign that they trust, respect and admire you. Can you think of a better starting point for reconciliation? I can’t.
5. They react emotionally to your presence
If your presence noticeably unsettles your ex (yes, that includes negative emotions such as anger, resentment and guilt) they are still very much stuck in an emotional web.
Let me put it this way; if they couldn’t care less, you wouldn’t hear from them. Any kind of reaction is a sign they aren’t over you. As usual, this, in of itself, is not a surefire sign reconciliation is going to be attempted (they may never be able to override their broken pride, guilt or fear), but it does mean they still have strong feelings.
6. They play transparent mind-games
If your ex is driving you insane with thinly veiled mind games (usually revolving around making you insecure), bear in mind that it takes a lot of energy to keep these masquerades going. They would never take the time and energy to create these kinds of illusions unless they depended on baiting a reaction out of you.
If you are being progressively drained of energy it’s time to call their bluff and either go no contact or ask them what they want from you head on.
7. They escalate contact
Time is the most precious commodity we have, if you are being freely given your exs attention, remember that it is coming at the expense of other priorities they could be addressing.
But the frequency of contact (and whether it is initiated by them) is less important in terms of overall volume, than it is by its quality. If your ex ups the communication ante, from — say — email to webcam, they are signalling that they want more of you, and less of the frustrating grey area that indirect communication provides.
8. They don’t pull disappearing acts
An ex who periodically disappears, but then returns out of the blue (usually with ferocious intensity) will usually end up being insincere in their intent and driven by insecurity rather than genuine loss.
An ex who is unwavering and present demonstrates that they want you in their lives rather than needs you. Understandably, this may sound a little counter-intuitive. Surely needing is better than wanting?
Not in my book. The reason for this is simple. An ex who “needs” you back will find that once their emotional thirst has been quenched, that the underlying reason they needed to reconcile has now disappeared. In short, once their insecurity has lessened, the reasons why the breakup occurred will manifest themselves once again. An ex who wants you back (rather than needs) already has a far more objective and realistic outlook regarding reconciliation, and knows what they are getting themselves into.
9. Your gut instinct tells you so
I am a firm believer that our gut instincts are far more precise than advertised. While it is true that the mind will tend to believe whatever it is we wish to believe (confirmation bias), we are also built to read between the lines. One fine example of our subconscious ability to collect meaningful signs is reading non-verbal body language. If you get the chance to judge your ex’s body language, trust in your subconscious mind’s ability to decipher intent, but stop short of creating expectations out of thin air.
10. You heard it through the grapevine
Fear of rejection, pride and guilt can make it very difficult to brave direct communication. Instead, an ailing ex might try and reach out via a third party. If you are getting a substantial amount of chatter via mutual friends and acquaintances, it might be time to put on your tin foil hat and question how much of it is purely incidental.