Why Did They Leave Me and Why Do They Want Me Back Now? (2023)

Why Did They Leave Me and Why Do They Want Me Back Now? (1)

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One of the sad truths of romantic life is that the out-of-reach fruit often appears the sweetest. This is especially true for people with intimacy issues that get triggered in real relationships. This includes people with narcissistic personality disorder who are looking for perfection, people with schizoid personality disorder who feel trapped when they are with someone who is fully available, people with borderline personality disorder who fear abandonment, or even immature people who are not yet ready for fully adult relationships.

I deal with a lot of sad, puzzled clients who tell me some version of the following story:

First, we were really happy together. We were planning a future together. Then, for no reason I could figure out, my ex started to pull away emotionally. Then they dumped me. I was devastated. I thought they loved me. I couldn’t believe that they could just leave me like that. I begged them to come back and give it another try, or at least explain what had gone wrong, but they just ignored me. It was like I didn’t exist.

I was a mess and I looked like a mess too. I cried for weeks. Finally, I pulled myself together and got back to where I was before the whole thing happened. Now my ex has reached out to me and wants to come back and try again. I am really confused: Why did they leave me in the first place and why do they want to come back now?

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Note: In this post, I am using the terms schizoid, borderline, narcissist, or narcissistic as shorthand for people who qualify for those personality disorders.

Why did your ex leave you in the first place?

The Magnifying Mirror Effect

If you have ever switched from checking yourself out with a regular mirror to using a magnifying mirror, you may have been unpleasantly startled by how many facial flaws you suddenly could see. I know I was, and I thought: When did my pores get so huge? Where did those wrinkles come from?”

This is similar to what happens when a courtship leads to a serious relationship. While your ex was courting you, you were the out-of-reach prize to be won. From that distance, you looked unrealistically perfect and there was nothing threatening about the idea of being in a relationship with you. Then, when the deal was sealed and you both decided to become a committed couple, your lover’s underlying fears about being in a relationship suddenly surfaced.

However, if your lover is a nice, relatively typical person, these relationship fears will not be overwhelming. Most people can accept imperfections and work through their fears about being in a committed relationship. They are comforted by the growing intimacy between the two of you. You see each other’s flaws but neither of you magnifies them. Instead, you both accept the reality that no one is perfect, and the relationship continues to deepen.

But what happens if your lover has intimacy issues?

There are many people who can be quite loving during the courtship phase of the relationship but are either ill-equipped to move to the next stage or are frightened of the growing intimacy between you. Just as your relationship deepens and the two of you begin to make plans about the future, your lover starts to feel trapped, bored, or scared. Suddenly, your once-devoted lover is now searching for reasons to pull back or end the relationship.


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This can go in several different directions depending on your lover’s personality. The following list is not exhaustive, but it touches on some of the most frequent reasons once devoted lovers leave their partner when the relationship is actually going well.

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Narcissistic Perfectionism

If your new partner has a narcissistic personality disorder, as your partner gets closer to you and feels confident of your devotion, your flaws are likely to suddenly loom unrealistically large. It is as if you are being scrutinized by that magnifying mirror. Instead of seeing you as airbrushed perfection, your partner starts homing in on all your little imperfections.

Now instead of happily cuddling with you and telling you how wonderful you are, your lover starts mentioning all the things he or she does not like about you. This can range from the real and important to the absurd. Below are some of the things that my clients have reported hearing:

  • You talk too much (or too little).
  • You are putting on weight and it turns me off.
  • I wish you were less clingy.
  • You load the dishwasher wrong.
  • You are too close to your family.
  • The way you eat grosses me out.

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Unfortunately, narcissists are perfectionists and not very good at having real relationships. They only have two categories: Perfect and special or worthless and flawed. Once narcissists start looking for flaws, they will find them. And, because narcissists have little or no emotional empathy, they are likely to comment on each one.

Then, they may use these flaws as their excuse for growing cold, pulling back, and ending the relationship. Narcissists are often much more comfortable blaming you for their desire to break things off, than facing their own difficulties around maintaining a real relationship.

Schizoid Intimacy Fears

Many of my clients who have made schizoid adaptations are afraid of being trapped, losing their independence, or even their sense of identity in close one-on-one relationships. Their childhood experiences left them with weak internal and external personal boundaries, no knowledge of how to negotiate differences of opinion, and very little basic trust. The closer they get to you, the more likely they are to feel overwhelmed and endangered. Some people with schizoid personality disorder become so afraid that they dissociate, shut down emotionally, and find some excuse to retreat to a safe distance.

Here is what one of my schizoid clients said about why he left someone he loved:

I was wildly in love with her. I could be vulnerable with her, and the sex was great. I thought I had finally found someone I felt safe with that I could trust. But she was married. I pursued her for years, begging her to leave him and marry me. But, when she finally did leave him, I freaked out! I was so scared by the idea that there was no longer anything in the way that I just ran out on her. All I could have said as I left was that I still loved her, but I just couldn’t do it!

Borderline Tests of Love

Many of my borderline clients do not really believe that anyone could love them. Deep down inside they are convinced that everyone will abandon them once they get to know them. To protect themselves, they sometimes subject their new partner to various unreasonable tests of their love. In their attempt not to get hurt, they end up sabotaging the relationship. Here is a common version of this situation:

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I love him with all my heart, but I am afraid that now that we are together he will abandon me. I am so afraid of rejection that I have stopped being nice to him and instead I am showing him my worst side. This is some kind of a weird test. If he proves that he still loves me despite my bad behavior, then I know I can relax. If he gets mad at me or complains, then I know I must leave now before I really get hurt. He will eventually abandon me anyway.

Or, they say something like the following:

He told me he loved me. I said, “Prove it!” Let’s go pick out an engagement ring tomorrow and set a date for our wedding. When he hesitated. I took that as a sign that he was not really committed to me after all. So, I broke off our relationship and left in tears.

Immature or Not Ready

Some people are immature or late bloomers. They are not yet ready for a real relationship that could lead to a serious commitment. They are mentally and emotionally only capable of the type of brief romance with no strings attached that most of us had in high school or college. Inside, they are still a teenager.

Unfortunately, they do not announce this when you first meet. They may be fine in the early stages of the romance. They may even talk of a future together. But, when the two of you are getting ready for something more serious, they do not want to go forward. They wish that they could stop the relationship clock and just have fun with you.

As they pull away, they may say things like:

  • This is getting too serious too quickly.
  • I need more time for myself.
  • You are a great girl (or guy), but I am not ready to settle down.
  • I am going to Tibet with some buddies. We will be gone at least three months.
  • It’s OK if you want to date other people.

Or if they are cowardly, they may simply ghost on you and not answer your texts or calls, leaving you forever perplexed about what happened.

Why does your ex want you back?

Now that your ex is no longer with you, all his or her intimacy fears diminish. You no longer expect anything, so there is nothing triggering them. He or she is back to looking at you from a distance. Your minor flaws are now invisible, and your ex remembers everything about you that he or she liked. This leads your ex to reach out to you again.


Relationships are a bit like dancing. Some people are happily waltzing together, holding each other tightly, while going in happy circles perfectly in sync. Others are doing the cha-cha or the tango—when one person moves forward, the other immediately steps back. When someone who abruptly and painfully discarded you now returns and asks for another chance, it usually means that your ex still wants to dance with you, but it is not the same relationship dance that you would enjoy doing.

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Why does my ex want me back after leaving me? ›

They Need Confirmation Of Their Self Worth

Exes come back for a multitude of reasons, but more often than not, they are looking for some confirmation that they are a human being worthy of love. In a society that values relationships, being single isn't the most chic and thus, can make people uncomfortable.

Why would someone leave you when they love you? ›

They don't feel appreciated. The emotional resources of a relationship are like any other – they need to be spent and they need to be replenished. The things that mattered at the start still matter and they always will. It's not enough to expect someone 'just to know' he or she loved.

Why do people break-up and get back together? ›

Breakups can happen suddenly or unfold gradually over time. Sometimes they're intentional, other times a heat-of-the-moment type decision. Some ex-partners get back together because they believe they should never have broken up in the first place, and they view the break-up as a regrettable mistake.

What to do when someone leaves you suddenly? ›

They'll take the pain away and help you heal from that hurt.
  1. Take some time to grieve. ...
  2. Tell yourself you can do it. ...
  3. Assign time to do specific things all-day. ...
  4. Talk to someone else you trust. ...
  5. Removing all reminders. ...
  6. Make self-care a big part of your life now. ...
  7. Commit that you wouldn't turn to addictions to numb the pain.
Jan 31, 2022

How do you respond to ex who wants you back? ›

Try these things on for size.
  1. Think about how it will affect you. ...
  2. If you're currently dating someone, you should consider their feelings. ...
  3. Take your time responding. ...
  4. Keep your response light. ...
  5. Don't rush into a response, friendship, or rebound. ...
  6. Be open and honest with them.
Nov 29, 2018

How do you know if your ex regrets leaving you? ›

Here are some of the signs your ex regrets dumping you.
  1. They begin to communicate with you.
  2. They apologize for the breakup.
  3. They show more affection.
  4. They discuss issues in their present relationship.
  5. They try to atone for past mistakes.
  6. They show pessimism when you tell them someone else is involved.
  7. They stalk you.
Jul 8, 2022

Will someone leave you if they truly love you? ›

Despite the reasons some people have when they decide to leave a relationship, the truth of the matter is that they just didn't love you enough. They may have feelings for you but their love wasn't strong enough to make them want to stay. When you love deeply and intensely, you won't easily leave someone you love.

How do you stop loving someone who left you? ›

These tips can help you start the process of moving forward.
  1. Acknowledge the truth of the situation. ...
  2. Identify relationship needs — and deal breakers. ...
  3. Accept what the love meant to you. ...
  4. Look to the future. ...
  5. Prioritize other relationships. ...
  6. Spend time on yourself. ...
  7. Give yourself space. ...
  8. Understand it may take some time.
Jan 14, 2020

Why would someone end a good relationship? ›

someone does not want to change or grow. want to be alone. a major life event or trauma changed the relationship dynamic. no longer feel connected or in love.

How do you know if a breakup is final? ›

8 Signs that Your Breakup is Permanent

You feel better apart than you did together. ... Your friends and family haven't been the biggest fans of your ex. ... You've already moved onto someone else (or your ex has). ... There is a clear misalignment of fundamental values and life goals.

Can a relationship work again after a breakup? ›

Many couples who have called it quits end up getting back together. In fact, a 2013 study found that over one third of couples who live together and one fifth of married couples have experienced a breakup and gotten back together.

Can breaking up save a relationship? ›

Although ending a relationship can be painful, a separation can give a couple space to work on personal issues that have been harming the relationship. 'It can help individuals reassess their priorities, helping them to know more about what they would like to get out of a relationship,' says Fredrickson.

Why do I miss someone as soon as they leave? ›

Essentially, your emotions are mimicking your brain when your SO is gone," explains Silva. Rhodes also points out that the length of the relationship impacts the way our brains processes feelings of longing.

What to do when your true love leaves you? ›

  • What is, is. Accept what happens as it unfolds. ...
  • Feel your feelings. You will experience many different emotions—grief, hurt, sadness, resentment, anger, despair, and fear. ...
  • Keep moving forward. ...
  • Don't take radical action. ...
  • You come first. ...
  • Take care of yourself. ...
  • Learn from your experience.
Nov 21, 2021

How do you accept your relationship is ending? ›

The first thing you need to know is that accepting that a relationship is over will take work. It won't be easy.
How to accept your relationship is ending: 11 effective tips
  1. Allow yourself to grieve. ...
  2. Share your feelings. ...
  3. Stay productive. ...
  4. Write about it. ...
  5. Amp up the self-care. ...
  6. Make new routines.
Apr 29, 2022

What questions to ask an ex who wants you back? ›

9 Important Questions To Ask Your Ex Before Getting Back Together
  • Would You Be Open To Getting Back Together? ...
  • Why Did The Relationship End The First Time? ...
  • What Have You Learned During Our Time Apart? ...
  • What Would You Have Done Differently In Our Relationship? ...
  • What Do You Wish I'd Done Differently In Our Relationship?
Apr 18, 2019

How do I know I want my ex back for the right reasons? ›

If so, then we will give you 15 clear signs that you and your ex are meant to be.
  • You broke up because of a silly argument. ...
  • You still think of your ex a lot. ...
  • You defend your ex from your friends. ...
  • You can't imagine your ex being happy with someone else. ...
  • You can't seem to find a match. ...
  • Your ex still tries to win you back.
Aug 30, 2021

Why am I drawn back to my ex? ›

You're seeking out familiarity and comfort.

It's normal to want to feel safe and comfortable, and when it comes to your relationships, that means even when they're potentially dysfunctional or unhealthy. Humans are instinctively drawn to familiarity because it can be perceived as safer than the unknown.

What emotion comes after regret? ›

Regret is often accompanied by other negative emotions such as guilt, disappointment, self-blame, and frustration. In addition, people frequently engage in cognitive exercises trying to understand why they made a poor decision or acted as they did, and what other choices they could have made to reap a better outcome.

How do you know if your ex is hurting after a break up? ›

One of the telltale signs he is hurt after the breakup is if he can't stop talking to you. Indeed, he knows you guys have broken up, but letting go is hard for him. He will text you, call to ask about your work and friends, or look for an excuse to hear your voice. These signs mean he cannot accept your separation.

How do you know if your ex is still mad at you? ›

Here are some signs that your ex is still angry.
  • They have shut you out and refuse to communicate with you even after repeated attempts. ...
  • They refuse to return your old things and destroy your things or anything that reminds them of you. ...
  • They're doing everything in their power to make your life difficult in a subtle way.
Jan 16, 2020

Can you get love back when it's gone? ›

Yes. You can fall back in love but it almost always requires learning new ways to love and communicate with each other. Usually there are also a few underlying problems that must be addressed as well in order for the love to be able to come back."

Does true love come back? ›

True love always has a habit of coming back and because of that, you really need to keep faith in your relationship. When times are rough and hard it can be difficult to keep this belief in mind. However, if you really can keep faith in a strong, healthy relationship then love will always work out in the end.

How a man shows love without saying it? ›

For example, he holds your hand, has his arms around you, hugs you, always sit close to you, etc. 2- He puts a lot of efforts to make you feel loved. He brings random gifts for you, sings a song for you on a special day, makes time to talk to you anyhow, makes sudden plans, etc. 3- He always listens to you properly.

How do you accept he doesn't want you anymore? ›

  1. #2. Admit To Your Feelings. ...
  2. #3. Give Your Wounds Time To Recuperate. ...
  3. #4. Never Blame Yourself. ...
  4. #5. Share Your Feelings With Someone. ...
  5. #6. Cut-off All Ties With This Person. ...
  6. #7. Fall In Love With Yourself And Look After Yourself. ...
  7. #8. Try Some Physical Exercises. ...
  8. #9. Think Of The Positive Aspects.
Jan 30, 2021

How do you stop wanting someone you can't have? ›

12 Necessary Steps To Stop Liking Someone You Can't Have
  1. Actually commit to the process.
  2. Keep your distance.
  3. Take a break from the friendship.
  4. Maintain emotional distance.
  5. Unfollow them on social media.
  6. Avoid triggers.
  7. Acknowledge all the reasons it realistically wouldn't work.
  8. Focus your energy elsewhere.
Sep 28, 2022

How do you make someone unlove you? ›

If you want to know how to make someone fall out of love with you, you need to leave their messages on read and don't reply. It's upsetting and it's horrible, but it's going to make them realize that they don't need you and they deserve better.

What destroys a good relationship? ›

Another big mistake couples tend to make is to take their relationship for granted, to take their love for granted. By doing so, they carelessly begin to erode the quality of connection with harsh words, working too much, or devoting too much time to a hobby. Love is a choice—every single day!

Who is more likely to end a relationship? ›

While it is established that about half of all marriages end in divorce, it is commonly assumed that the breakups are initiated by both genders equally. In fact, it is surprising to most people that women are actually more likely to end their marriages than men.

At what point does a relationship end? ›

There's No Emotional Connection

One of the key signs your relationship is ending is that you are no longer vulnerable and open with your partner. A cornerstone of happy, healthy ​relationships is that both partners feel comfortable being truly open to sharing thoughts and opinions with one another.

How do you know if the breakup was a mistake? ›

10 Signs you might regret breaking up
  • You didn't consider your compatibility. ...
  • You miss how you make them feel. ...
  • You broke up because of pressure. ...
  • You miss the ugly part of the relationship. ...
  • You remember your ex when you are having a good time. ...
  • You compare your ex with others. ...
  • You always try to get their attention.
Aug 6, 2021

At what point do most breakups happen? ›

Did you know that 70 percent of straight unmarried couples breakup within the first year? This is according to a longitudinal study by Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld who tracked more than 3,000 people, married and unmarried straight and gay couples since 2009 to find out what happens to relationships over time.

Are all breakups permanent? ›

Not every breakup is permanent but that doesn't mean every couple should or will get back together. Taking a break from a relationship can sometimes be the best way to build a stronger union in the future.

Do healthy breakups get back together? ›

According to much research, about 40 to 50 percent of couples get back together after a breakup. While this is positive, many factors determine the chances of getting back together after a breakup. To begin with, most people get back together with their ex because they still harbor some feelings for them.

How long to wait after a breakup to get back together? ›

"Most people need a month or two to process the breakup, to mourn, and to integrate lessons before jumping back in if they were in a fairly serious relationship," she says. If you dated someone for a year or more, you may need three to four months.

How to restart a relationship? ›

How to Restart Your Relationship for a Fresh Outlook
  1. Introduce A Joint Activity To Your Weekly Routine. ...
  2. Have A Tech-free Weekend. ...
  3. Make A Random Milestone A 'holiday' ...
  4. Have A 'big Picture' Talk Over A Bottle Of Wine. ...
  5. Make One New Couple Friend. ...
  6. Splurge On A Service That'll Give You One Less Thing To Worry About.
Jan 16, 2018

Does time apart make a relationship stronger? ›

Research by psychologists and sociologists suggest that a relationship can be strengthened by time spent apart – whether literally/physically or figuratively.

How long does a relationship break up last? ›

The exact temporal parameters can vary from couple to couple, but 3 weeks apart is a good baseline to set. Why three weeks? “You need about a week to let your body and mind adjust to not being around someone that you've been in a relationship with,” says Farrell.

Do you eventually stop missing someone? ›

Yes—but the length of time that it will take to recover from losing them depends on how long you knew them, what happened, and the nature of the relationship you shared.

What triggers missing someone? ›

Things That Make You Miss Someone

As April Maccario, Relationship Expert & Founder of Ask April stated, places, food, songs, scents, and even random things can make us remember someone. Inevitably it leads us to reminisce.

Why do people leave you if they love? ›

They no longer feel an emotional connection.

Emotional connection is often what sustains a long-lasting relationship and if this is no longer there, this may be another reason why people chose too leave the person they love.

How do you accept someone left you? ›

They'll take the pain away and help you heal from that hurt.
  1. Take some time to grieve. ...
  2. Tell yourself you can do it. ...
  3. Assign time to do specific things all-day. ...
  4. Talk to someone else you trust. ...
  5. Removing all reminders. ...
  6. Make self-care a big part of your life now. ...
  7. Commit that you wouldn't turn to addictions to numb the pain.
Jan 31, 2022

Why does it hurt when someone leaves you? ›

A study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology has found that a relationship breakup may feel so painful because it activates the part of the brain associated with motivation, reward and addiction cravings. There's nothing sharp in the observation that breakups can send behavior a bit off the wall.

How do you know if a relationship is worth saving? ›

Are you committed to growth? The first way to know if your relationship is worth saving is that you are both committed to growth, individually and together. When couples reach out for support, they are often in a difficult time of heightened conflict, betrayal, or disconnect.

How do I save my relationship ending? ›

8 Ways To Save Your Relationship When It's Falling Apart
  1. Don't make any rash decisions.
  2. Get brutally honest.
  3. Seek therapy.
  4. Understand how you're contributing to the problem.
  5. Focus on healing yourself.
  6. Recognize your partner's pain.
  7. Spend some time reflecting on the good.
  8. Say "thank you" more often.
Nov 18, 2022

How long should no contact last after a breakup? ›

The no-contact rule refers to cutting off all contact with an ex following a breakup, and it's the best method for moving on from an ex. No contact should last for a minimum of 60 days, and it includes no texting, no calling, and no interacting on social media.

Why do exes want you back when you've moved on? ›

They need a rebound

In some cases, an ex may come back because they're looking for a rebound relationship. This usually happens after they've just gotten out of a long-term relationship and they're not quite ready to be single again. So, they'll turn to you as a way to ease their way back into the dating world.

Why men come back after you leave them? ›

There are several reasons regarding what makes a man come back after a breakup. He may have changed his mind and wants to date you again, or he may feel like he messed up when he left you. It is possible that his other plans didn't work out the way he thought they would.

Why does my toxic ex want me back? ›

"Chances are, if you have a toxic ex that has a strong hold over you, probably one of the reasons they are an ex is that you were never quite fulfilled in that relationship. The relationship never materialised to its potential, leaving you yearning for more attention and affection."

Why do exes come back after a while? ›

Exes Come Back Out of Jealousy

When they see you grow by leaps and bounds in life, they might develop a sense of jealousy. They feel like they are going to lose something that belonged to them. They like to see their ex missing them and can't wait to be with them again.


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