Operation Reconciliation: Getting My Ex Back

When everything you've tried has blown up in your face, use these tips to win him/her back!

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Whether you end a relationship after a few weeks or after a few years, breaking up is hard to do (sing it Neil Sedaka!). In fact, it's so hard to do that many of us react in one of four ways when it happens. We may vow to give up on dating entirely, committing to the priesthood or joining Mother Superior in a riveting version of "Climb Every Mountain."

We might immediately begin looking for a new partner, rebounding with the intensity of Dennis Rodman (1990s, pre-cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs version). We may stay in bed, mope around, and drown our sorrows in cheap wine and reruns of Friends (where we secretly imagine ourselves in a threesome with Janice and Gunther—or when really desperate Marcel). Or we may make it our mission to reunite with our ex.


Operation Reconciliation in four, three, two, one...

While all of these choices have their own sets of difficulties, operation reconciliation is often the trickiest. This is because it involves certain steps that have become so routine they are akin to brushing your teeth before bed or taking a shower after a workout. But, unfortunately, many of these steps are steps in the entirely wrong direction.

Operation Reconciliation: A Tutorial

If a tutorial existed on what people actually do when trying to get their ex back, it would probably include something along the lines of this: between 9 and 11 in the morning, stalk ex on Facebook (feel your blood boil when they post a picture with a member of the opposite sex (even if it's a grandparent)); between noon and midnight, check phone 96,000 times, perhaps even going as far as calling your ex to make sure they haven't been trying to get a hold of you ("I just wanted to make sure my phone's working!"); at three pm, run into your ex at a place you know they will be ("So weird seeing you at the gynecologist's office."); and, between 6 am and 11 pm, incessantly ask mutual friends if your ex has said anything about you (be sure to ask about demeanor, tone of voice, and whether or not their eyes contained any fresh tears).


While these may be the common (and slightly exaggerated) steps that are taken, they aren't the right steps. In fact, they are subsidiaries of three dependable ways to make sure your ex never comes back to you, three dependable ways to make sure Operation Reconciliation ends up being Mission Impossible; these include:

  1. Asking Your Ex What You Can Do. When two people breakup, the person who was dumped almost always asks what they can do. "What can I do to get you back?" becomes their battle cry. Yet, this is a battle cry that will turn into a battle sob; in other words, it rarely works. This is because your ex doesn't want to tell you what you need to do to fix things: rather, they want you to automatically know what it is they need.

This is because of the Law of Secret Intimacy, the concept that the better someone knows you, the better they expect you to know them. When a person dumps you, they invoke this law (either aloud or silently) and they want the onus of the reconciliation to fall on your shoulders. In short, it is your duty to find out what your ex wants and deliver it. Don't ask what you can do, figure out what you can do and do it.

  1. Being Omni-Present. In the world of dating, the term "breaking up" may as well be synonymous with "stalking." When you get dumped, it's natural to want to know what your ex is doing, who they are with, if they are sad, etc. Sometimes, this need can be so strong that it becomes an obsession. This may lead you to be omni-present in your ex's life: you show up to the same parties, you "accidentally" run into them at the grocery store, you join their gym class, and you visit their social media pages more frequently than you visit your own.

But, by doing all this, you are ignoring what they need in exchange for what you want.  This will not get you any closer to reconciliation. At best, it will make for some awkward situations and, at worst, it will lead your ex to close the door on you for good (while changing grocery stores and gym classes).

  1. Trying to Change Your Ex's Mind. Most people who are dumped focus on the quest of changing their ex's mind or (even worse) they ask their ex how they can change their mind. But, this doesn't work. Once people’s minds are set, they are often set in stone. So, you must focus on changing your ex's mood. Remember: change their mood, not their mind.

Go ahead and think about how often you have really changed your mind once it's been made up; probably not that often. Now, think about how often you've changed your mood; probably six times since lunch. The mind is like concrete, solid and set. The mood, however, is like clay, pliable and able to be molded. Thus, the mood is the area on which you must focus.


There are a variety of ways you can change your ex's mood, several of which we have talked about before (shameless plug: check out our Law of Intimacy article). Some tactics involves the art of memory—evoking scents or images from happier times in an effort to help your ex focus on the good—while other tactics involve changing the words your ex associates with you: replacing sad with happy, angry with passion, and, of course, ass with asset. 

The specific steps aren't critical. What is critical is knowing the person you love. Knowing what's important to him or her, since you're the person who knows him or her best.

To find out other things to avoid when trying to get an ex back, click here.


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