Will He Come Back? (Plus When To Let Go)

A breakup is a painful and confusing time. You’re processing acute grief while your mind swirls with questions about the future. Will you meet someone else? Will he? Should you text him or block him? Can you stay friends? And most importantly: will he come back?

After some time, it starts to feel like you two will never reconnect. But when it comes to love, anything can happen. Just look at Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. The celebrity couple survived 17 years apart and two divorces. Nothing stopped them from finding their way back to each other.

Any relationship can make a comeback. Like Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you never know when a man will have a change of heart. Even the Associated Press announced that the seven-time Super Bowl champion was breaking up with the game. But mere weeks later, Brady’s return proved that love has no limits.

Like Sunday Night Football, will your man come back to play at an elite level? Or is this the last season of your relationship?

Things to know

  • If you can work together to resolve what is keeping you apart, then there's a higher chance of him coming back to you.
  • If this isn’t the first time you two have ended things, then he might not come back.
  • Unfortunately, if he is seeing someone else, he has probably moved on and the chances of coming back are quite slim.

To figure out where you stand, there are a few more things to consider:

What Experts Say

Every couple is different, so no one can be sure what their ex will do. But the facts can help you predict his behavior.

The reason you broke up matters. If there was infidelity involved, the chances aren’t looking good. It is estimated that 85% of American relationships won't survive after a partner has admitted to cheating. That’s not every couple, but it sure is an overwhelming majority.

Age is important, too. The younger you are, the higher the likelihood he will return. Young adults have a 44% chance of reunion, while baby boomers tend to make their breakups a final decision. College students are particularly forgiving. They have a 65% chance of getting back together when a relationship ends.

So what influences a man’s decision?

Why A Man Comes Back

Breakups happen when we become convinced that it is impossible to save the relationship. But no matter how bad things feel at the time, that belief is not always true; exes get back together all the time.

43% of Americans say they are still in touch with their former partner, and 44% have started another relationship with them. That’s nearly half the nation.

With those odds, any couple has a realistic chance of reuniting. But what makes that 44% come back to their ex?

A major change

Relationships end for a reason. No one wakes up one morning and decides they just don’t want you anymore. There’s almost always a problem that they feel can’t be solved. Maybe you moved across the country. Or you don’t want kids, and he does. Even having problems with finding reliable work can be enough to split up a couple.

If you broke up because of an obstacle in your relationship, then the only way he will come back is if you eliminate it. Otherwise, you’ll be right back where you started when the same problem pops up again.

That’s easier said than done. One of you is going to have to make a serious effort. A major life change, like relocating for work or compromising on a core value, might be required to work things out.

But if he is willing to meet you in the middle, there’s a strong chance that you can find your way back to each other. After all, if you can work together to cut out the one thing that is keeping you apart, then there should be nothing stopping him from coming back to you.

Mixed feelings

The most common reason a man will come back is lingering love.

We all know the feeling. As soon as you let them go, you realize what you had. Doubt starts to set in. You remember all the wonderful things that made your ex special. Before you know it, you regret ever letting them go in the first place.

Science confirms that this is a common post-breakup phenomenon. One study says that holding onto old feelings is the most common reason for getting back with a former partner. Even if you ended things for a good reason, the love you share doesn’t disappear overnight. And it could very well make him come back to you down the line.

Just be aware: not every man wrestles with love and regret. Many are happy to leave the past behind. If you aren’t sure, you have to hunt for the obvious signs your ex is interested again. Once you know what to look for, you’ll have a better idea of if he will come back or not.

A missing piece

One theory researchers have identified to explain why couples reunite isn’t as romantic. They call it “resource exchange.”

The idea is that former partners remain in each other’s lives after a breakup because they are getting something they can’t find outside of the relationship. For some people, it’s love and sex they crave. For others, they want their ex’s high status or money.

It doesn’t have to be that calculated. Most of the time, a man will come back simply because he misses you. In this case, the resources he wants from you are attention and care. But be wary of major gaps in lifestyles or careers. If you suspect he is trying to take advantage of a power imbalance, that’s not the foundation for a healthy relationship.

What Keeps A Man Away

You don’t always get a second chance. Sometimes, he won’t come back.

There are plenty of possible reasons a guy would not want to give his romantic relationship a second chance. It’s not your fault if he decides he can’t turn back the clock. And it’s not his fault, either. You’re both allowed to chart the course of your love life. But there are some common reasons he might hit stormy seas in finding his way back to you.

This has happened before

If this isn’t the first time you two have ended things, then there is a lower chance he will come back. No one likes to be caught in an on-again, off-again cycle.

Studies show that couples who have broken up in the past feel less love and satisfaction in their romantic relationship. They expect things to be different this time and often walk away disappointed when the same problems arise.

But according to certified counselor Tina Gilbertson, these types of relationship patterns can go either way. Giving him one more reason to stay away definitely won’t help your odds of reconciliation.

Physical distance

Another factor Gilbertson says can solidify a breakup is living far apart. If you’re not in the same place, she explains, the split has time to “set.”

Without running into each other at the grocery store or hanging out with mutual friends, there’s a lower likelihood of romantic feelings resurfacing. It’s easy to push aside moments of doubt when your ex isn’t standing right in front of you.

So if you’re in New York and he’s all the way in Los Angeles, the long-distance might mean there’s not a realistic chance of him coming back to you. It’s hard to rekindle a flame all the way from L.A.

A new relationship

After a breakup, anything is fair game. There’s a good chance his love life wasn’t put on hold once you two called it quits. Maybe yours wasn’t, either.

If anyone is in a new relationship, then the possibility that he will come back drops significantly. With a new girlfriend in the picture, he won’t be looking in the rearview mirror. Your time together is old American history as far as he’s concerned.

On the other hand, there’s always the chance that he is less happy in his new relationship than he was with you. It’s possible that dating someone else will make him appreciate what he had. He might come back after playing the field and realizing there’s no better person for him than you.

Don’t count on him coming back if one or both of you are off the market. But anything can happen, especially if you’re willing to give it some time.

How Long Should You Wait?

No one likes to wait around for a day that may never come. It’s draining and depressing. When you find yourself staying home and repeatedly checking your phone for a text that isn’t there, it wears you down. That’s because choosing to wait for your ex-boyfriend to come back gives him complete control.

Every minute that you spend wondering if he will return is a minute you could be using to move forward. So the real question is not how long you should wait. It’s how many minutes is your ex worth?

If you’re being honest with yourself, the answer should come to you quickly. Whether it’s one day or one year, set a deadline for your hopes. And if he doesn’t come back by then? Cut your losses and make the decision for him.

So, Will He Come Back?

It depends.

So many factors come into play after a breakup. Distance, hard feelings, and regrets of love lost all mix together into a confusing storm of emotion. It's a tough road. But if you find yourself saying “I love my ex” all hope is not lost.

The most important thing to do is take a good hard look at your ex-boyfriend and decide if you two can have a healthy relationship. Identify what went wrong and if there are obvious signs that he is a better person today than he was before.

Ask the hard questions: Are you being honest with yourself and each other? Are you both fully prepared to make any necessary changes? Can you accept him if he doesn’t?

Make sure your unfinished business is settled before you try to open the door again. But with honesty, plenty of conversations, and a little intuition, you will know in your heart if he will come back. Just remember: only you can decide if he still belongs there.

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