I have often equated the Ex Recovery Process to a game. I’ve use the analogy of chess, and I’ve use the analogy of poker. The game begins the second your ex utters the words
“I think we should break up.”
Boom. Game face on. Don’t give away your tell, and always keep your opponent guessing.
In general, dating and love is a game. I often joke to my friends who ask for my dating advice that it’s a game, and whoever appears to care less, wins. However, there is such a thing as appearing to care too little. No one wants to be led on.
What I tell the girls in Ex Girlfriend Recovery is that what makes a woman attractive is her having a life outside of her relationships with men. The same thing is true for women. No secure person wants to be the center of another human’s life – it’s way too much pressure.
When interacting with an ex, things can be complicated. You can’t be sure of their motivations, or what is on their mind.
If you’re reading this, I assume that you have successfully implemented the No Contact Method and are now somewhere in the process of trying to establish rapport with your ex girlfriend. If you haven’t gotten to No Contact yet you can read about it here. Building rapport can be such a tricky stage because your interactions with her will always keep you guessing. It’s hard to determine what exactly she wants. We’re going to discuss some of the reasons your ex may or may not be leading you on, but first I want to discuss a somewhat complicated idea that I cannot seem to fully grasp, even when I am in midst of it.
Wanting To Be Wanted
Have you ever broken up with someone and felt good about the decision, but then, as soon as they get into a relationship with another person, you get jealous? I remember this feeling all too well with my first boyfriend. We were together for almost 3 years… basically a lifetime in high school… and I felt suffocated. I wanted out, and after multiple attempts to end things with him, I succeeded in getting him to accept that we were over…and never, ever, ever, ever getting back together.
But then, a year later, I saw a notification on Facebook that he had entered a new relationship. I was instantly envious. I checked the girl’s page and was relieved to see that she wasn’t as pretty as me.
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Hey! I never said I wasn’t a little shallow.
I instantly felt a dislike for this girl, even though I had never met her. ‘
Did that mean I wanted my ex boyfriend back?
But it did bothered me that I had been replaced.
Everyone wants to be wanted, even if they won’t want that person back. I just hated that idea that someone could take my place, that maybe he could adore her more than he ever adored me. It bothered me a lot. And it bothered me that it bothered me.
I still don’t fully understand this dynamic, but I’ve come to determine that it is fully human. Everyone wants to be loved, to be wanted. That feeling of being replaced is painful, even if you don’t want the place to begin with.
I mention this because I think that this is the dynamic that so frequently can come into play between relationships. Some ex’s want to keep stringing you along, because you provide them the occasional ego boost that they need to calm their insecurities.
That doesn’t mean that your ex girlfriend is a bad person. I think it’s a relatively common phenomena.
So is your ex girlfriend leading you on?
The Different Types
In addition to the aforementioned idea of wanting to be wanted, there are multiple other types of “leading someone on” or other reasons why your ex girlfriend may be keeping you in her life:
She genuinely wants to be friends: If you and your ex were in a serious or long term relationship (or both), it’s likely true that the two of you have been through a lot together and have a deeper friendship than simply a romance. This is always difficult because though the relationship may be over, one or both parties may want to continue the friendship. But that is so hard to do after a breakup, and it is necessary to take some time apart for both of you to heal.
In this case, it may seem like she is being cruel and leading you on, but in reality, she is mourning the relationship too, and trying to see if a friendship could potentially be created somewhere down the road.
She’s keeping you around as a backup: I’ve seen this happen to friends before, and it always pisses me off. Your ex may not want to be with you right now, but she may not want to let you go 100% yet either, in case something better doesn’t come along.
In a sense, she may be keeping you “on hold” – keeping you hooked in just enough so that she can revisit you if/when the time comes, but not investing so much to enter back into a committed relationship with you again.
If you even remotely think that this is your ex, I recommend some more No Contact so she can face the reality of a life without you. You deserve better than to be someone’s backup.
She’s afraid to let go of you entirely so she’s weaning herself off of you: This one is a bit painful for me to write about, as I have definitely been on the receiving end of this type in the past.
Breakups are hard on both parties – even if she ended things with you, that doesn’t mean it was easy to do or that she doesn’t miss you. And as stated above, if you two of you had a strong foundation, she may be having a hard time letting you go.
Yeah. I know. She should have thought of that before?
It could be possible that your ex cares about you, and though she doesn’t to be in a relationship with you, she is not ready to fully cut ties yet, either. And yes this is absolutely selfish on her part, particularly if she was the one to break up with you.
Again, I’d give her a No Contact period to make her face the consequences of her choices.
She’s confused about what she wants: Of course, your ex could simply be confused about what she wants and is keeping you in her life as she works to figure it out. She may have ended things on a whim, but after some time apart she is beginning to doubt her decision.
If she is rethinking that decision she may need some convincing. So, she is spending time with you to gauge your interest, if you’ve changed, and/or if you’re still compatible.
This is the time when you show off all of your accomplishments that you made during No Contact. Make it clear to your ex girlfriend that her biggest mistake was leaving you, and she will never be happy until she is with you again.
That might seem a little over the top, but you know what I mean.
And if you’ve ever read any of the articles I’ve written… you KNOW what’s coming…
…a Buffy analogy.
Think about Xander and Anya in seasons 6 and 7 of Buffy. He had ended their, but that doesn’t mean he stopped loving her. In season 7, they have this exchange, one year after he left her at the alter:
Anya: “But we still spark. I mean, I get jealous of you. You get jealous of me. You still love me.”
Andrew: “Is that true, Xander? Do you still love her?”
Anya: “You keep dodging the question.”
Xander: “I don’t mean to. It’s just…you know how I feel, right? And you were the one who didn’t want to keep seeing each other.”
Anya: “And here’s where we hop on the merry-go-round of rotating knives. I blame you, and you blame me, and we both end up all cut to shreds. Please just tell me. Do you still love me?”
Xander: “Yes. I still love you. I always will. I just don’t know if that means anything for us anymore.”
Anya: “Well, I love you too. I don’t know if that means anything either.”
Xander: “Well, it’s nice to hear. I’m not gonna find anyone out there like you, am I?”
Though their relationship ended, they remained in each other’s lives because they were unwilling to let each other know, and eventually they both acknowledged that there was a connection still there. If your ex is keeping you in her life, she could be working out similar confusing feelings, but not ready to say anything until she is sure it is the right choice.
How To Know If She’s Actually Interested
So how do you know, though? How can you determine which category your ex falls into?
The simple answer is her investment.
Does she text you first a majority of the time?
Is she the one making plans to hang out?
If yes, it’s safe to say that she still has interest in you, and you have a fair shot at getting her back.
People don’t put effort into things that they don’t care about. There are only so many hours in the day and energy that we, as humans, have. If your ex is making an effort to see you, talk to you, asking engaging questions…you’re in a good spot.
A good thing to know though is about “Breadcrumbing,” which has become a popular dating trend. This is when you invest just enough to keep another person interested, but then pull back so that you are at the same time making it clear that you don’t want commitment. It’s cruel and manipulative, but I never said the game was fair, did I?
If you sense your ex girlfriend is breadcrumbing – no matter her motivation – mirror her and engage in some push/pull method.
Keep her guessing.
Don’t feed into it.
Don’t be too available.
Go out on dates and utilize some jealousy tactics.
Make it known that she does not have power over you, and that she is not your priority.
And again, a little mini No Contact doesn’t hurt to make her think you’re busy.
She’s no longer your girlfriend, she doesn’t get to know what or who you are busy with anymore. Let her use her imagination.
How to Know if You’re Wasting Your Time
“Should I Wait Around For Her?”
Give yourself a timeline. Don’t wait around for her forever. If you are using Ex Girlfriend Recovery tactics correctly and your ex seems to be investing little by little, give it more time.
But know when to cut your losses. I know someone who wasted his time chasing her ex for over a year – more than 4 times the length of their short-lived relationship.
Set a date, and if you still think that your ex might be interested, try to gently and casually bring up the idea of a relationship (using EGR tactics – remember, it is supposed to be HER idea!).
But, if that date comes and you feel like you’ve gotten nowhere, consider that maybe it is time to move on.
After a certain amount of time, it becomes exhausting to chase after someone who is putting no effort in, and it can begin to damage your self esteem and could potentially start creating baggage that you will bring to other relationships. Recognize when to throw in the towel. If your ex girlfriend can’t see what a wonderful catch you are, that’s on her.
She’ll see her mistake eventually.
The Take Away: The Power Is Yours
Breakups have the uncanny ability to make us feel powerless. But know that just like in any game there are strategies. Utilize No Contact fully and work on yourself. Do things that make you happy and feel fulfilled.
You can take the power back by making sure that you are not investing more than your ex girlfriend is.
Unfortunately, there is something to that “whoever cares less, wins” idea here. But, I prefer to think of it as gauging investment.
You’re not going to go all in unless you know that it’s worth it, right? And if she was the one to break up with you, she should be the one to step up and prove she is as invested in pursuing a relationship with you.
If she broke up with you, she automatically gets the upper hand. So, the best thing you can do is to try and regain common ground by keeping your emotions in check. This means not flat out displaying how you feel, keeping her guessing about your motives, and putting yourself first. Putting yourself first will not only be helpful in showing your ex that you have a life outside of her, it also will remind you to put your energy elsewhere so that you don’t spend all your time obsessing over your ex.
Make your breakup an opportunity to be more comfortable with who you are. Because once you are happy and comfortable with yourself, no one can take that away. And that is the most powerful thing of all.
Oh, if you’d like to research it further… here’s a video Chris made that might interest you regarding a related issue.
Alright, so now that you know how to recognize if you are being led on and how to deal with it, AND you have the resources to know what to do DURING No Contact, let’s talk about YOUR breakup in particular.
I mean, we have written articles on almost every situation we have ever come across and, for the most part, every person that comes here thinks that they are an exception to the rules or perhaps that we haven’t touched on a specific situation that they are dealing with already. And you know what, even though we have dealt with a LOT of situations, you may have something unique that we haven’t covered. And we don’t want to leave you in that situation. We want to help! So, In the comments below, tell me about your breakup and we’ll help teach you how to make him know your worth and realize what he’s lost.
I want to know:
- The details of your breakup. Exactly HOW did he take you for granted.
- What you’ve done since the breakup.
- And what actions you are going to take after reading this article.