Getting your ex back can be really difficult, even in a perfect world. But what if you made some big mistakes either during the relationship, during the breakup or in the time since? 

The truth is that you most likely still CAN win your ex back in this situation, even if it feels hopeless right now. First we’ll talk about the different types of mistakes and how they affect your chances and then we’ll cover what you can do to overcome this and win them back. 

But before we get into it, let me just make one thing clear:  beating yourself up over past mistakes is not the right path to take.  It really won’t help you to sit around stressing out about what you’ve done or said… so, don’t bother.

Instead, just be thankful that you now know what you did wrong, and commit yourself to getting it right from this point onwards so that you can get that second chance with your ex.

And if you’re not sure what you did wrong, check out this article.

1. Infidelity

Now let’s begin with one of the biggest mistakes people make in a relationship that can really hurt their chances of reconnecting with an ex: cheating.

Many people see cheating as the ultimate betrayal because it involves lying but it also means you essentially chose someone else over them. This not only hurts trust it also hurts their self esteem and their conception of you as a good person. If you’ve been through this, or cheated yourself, I don’t have to tell you how hard this can be.

While this feels like something you can’t overcome, it actually can be done in certain situations. In fact, one study found that 57% of married couples survived infidelity. I think it’s more common than we realize because many people don’t reveal that they’ve dealt with this in a relationship because it can feel shameful, especially if you’ve chosen to stay together.

So while I would say that this has the LEAST likelihood of working out compared to the other mistakes we’re going to talk about, it is definitely possible under the right circumstances. So do not be too optimistic but there are a few things you can do right now to set yourself up for success moving forward.

First off, before anything else, you have to come clean with your ex if you haven’t done so already. What I mean is that if you know your ex knows but you’ve never really admitted it to them, then you need to come forward and be honest with them. I mean, they’ve already ended the relationship over this so there’s no point in continuing to lie.

So sit them down and tell them what went down. Now don’t be too graphic with this stuff. Your ex doesn’t want to hear a blow-by-blow of the sex you had with this other person. You don’t even need to share EVERYTHING here. Just letting them know that you acknowledge what you did and that you don’t continue to deny what you both know is true.

From there, if you haven’t already done this, you need to APOLOGIZE to your ex. Many people try to gloss over this because they assume their ex knows how they feel. Don’t make this mistake. You need to make a clear, unreserved apology for what you did if you hope to have any chance with your ex.

Here’s how to apologize. Don’t skip any of these steps or your apology is not going to have the desired effect on your ex.

First, say you’re sorry. The word “sorry” needs to be in there. The fact that you regret what you did, and that you’re devastated are great inclusions but they do not take the place of the original “sorry” statement. 

Next, tell them WHAT you’re sorry for. Be specific and honest. Do NOT make excuses for your behaviour. This will soften the apology and make it seem like you’re trying to explain to them why they shouldn’t be upset, even if that’s not your intention.

Then tell your ex that you understand why you shouldn’t have done this and why it caused them pain. Take ownership over it. Tell them that it won’t happen again and explain the steps you’re taking to make SURE it doesn’t happen again.

Anything short of this isn’t a real apology and won’t help you win back your ex. 

From here, what you need to do is to cut off the person you cheated with completely and without reservation. Don’t see them one last time. Don’t continue to work next to them or go to the same gym or the same grocery store. Give them the boot. This will show your ex that you’re serious about making amends. 

And then get rid of any pseudo cheating behaviours that may get in the way of this, including anything that your ex may have expressed worry over in the past. This includes following other exes on social media, liking attractive people’s posts, being on dating apps, flirting with strangers, whatever. This is a show of good faith for your ex that you are changing. 

That’s all you can do for now. Later on I will lay out a basic roadmap to follow after you’ve apologized and taken steps to make things right.

2. Taking them for granted

Next, let’s talk about a mistake you might make during a relationship that is going to hurt your chances and that’s taking them for granted, being distant and just failing to be a loving and caring partner.

This can really hurt your ex because chances are they’re putting in the effort to make this relationship work and you were simply absent. They probably warned you frequently about this issue but you didn’t listen or didn’t care. This left them feeling unloved and not cared for.

In this case, you need to show your ex that they were important to you and that you regret treating them like they weren’t. 

Now that you’ve broken up, this is going to be harder for you to do but it is still possible. I recommend reaching out to them to express these things if you never did during the breakup. 

From there you need to start setting your life up in such a way that shows them that you WILL have room for them. This might mean curtailing activities and responsibilities that got in the way of your relationship. It might mean getting therapy so you’ll be able to be more attentive to their needs.

This one is going to be difficult because I’m guessing your ex gave you plenty of chances before cutting things off, but you can get past it. In fact, often a breakup for this reason is the wake up call people need to treat their partner right and hopefully this is what your ex has in mind.

3. You were cruel

Now if you were actively cruel to your ex during your relationship, then this may be something that you can’t come back from. Often people will put up with bad behaviour like this until they reach their breaking point. Once they’ve made the choice to get out, it can feel like they’d do anything to avoid getting back into that situation. I’d recommend you reflect on your actions and find ways to deal with your feelings instead of taking them out on the person you love.

But if you were cruel, or rude or just said things you regret during the breakup itself, this is more likely to be survivable. The truth is that people say things like this in the heat of the moment and as long as it wasn’t a sustained issue, your ex may be willing to forgive and forget if the relationship was strong enough.

First off, you need to establish if your ex is still upset about this stuff. Were they clearly hurt by it in the moment? Did it hit on something important to them? Have they brought it up since? These are good indicators that you really messed up and that you need to apologize. 

You also need to look at how they’re treating you. Are they giving you the cold shoulder? Are they being short or rude towards you? Then what you said to them during the breakup could be the culprit here.

It’s also more likely that this is the problem if that was the LAST thing you said to them. So maybe they stormed off after what you said or you just didn’t have a chance to make nice and talk further so it’s still rattling around in their brain.

See the apology section earlier to see how to apologize to your ex. This one won’t need to be quite as intense as it would be if you cheated but you should still take it seriously. 

But if you’re not sure that it even hurt their feelings, don’t bring it up and risk hurting them for real. This is one you’re going to have to feel out.

Now before we get to the last mistake, here are just a few more mistakes that I believe are survivable.

  • Lying to your ex.
  • Addiction whether that’s drugs, alcohol, porn or whatever.
  • Losing money.
  • Losing focus on the relationship.
  • Crossing boundaries
  • Failing to meet expectations.

None of these things are GREAT but depending on their severity, your ex can probably still get over them as long as you do everything right when trying to win them back. Remember, people put up with a lot for the person they love. You just have to make sure that that person is you.

4. Begging and pleading

Let’s talk about one of the single most common mistakes people make post breakup:  begging and pleading with their ex. I completely understand why people do this after a breakup… it seems logical that pouring your heart out and telling your ex how much you love them and miss them would potentially convince them to give your relationship another chance.  But, trust me on this one… it DOES NOT work like that.

In fact, begging your ex for another chance… apologizing over and over again for things you’ve done or said… telling them how you feel about them… all of these things are going to actually do the opposite of what you’re hoping for.  This type of thing almost always hurts your chances.

The real secret behind getting your ex back is to rebuild the attraction he or she feels for you… and in order to do this, you need to speak to your ex’s emotions, not their logical side and conversations like this one will not move the needle emotionally for your ex.

When you beg and plead with your ex, you’re only speaking to the left side of their brain, or the logical, rational part.  But when it comes to love and relationships, there’s nothing logical or rational about the way humans make decisions.  We’re strictly driven by EMOTION when it comes to relationships, so you really need to tap into the right side of your ex’s brain. This is really the only way you’re going to be able to re-build your ex’s desire and attraction for you.

How To Win Your Ex Back

Now, the first step in doing this — and therefore starting to undo any past mistakes you’ve already made — is to “wipe the slate clean”.  Right now, thanks to your past begging, pleading, and other mistakes, your ex probably thinks of you as that ‘desperate loser ex’ that’s still pining after them.

They likely think you’re heartbroken, lonely, and upset right now… and even though that might be true, the first step in rebuilding attraction again is to make sure that your ex doesn’t think this. You need to convey to your ex that you’re okay with the breakup and that you aren’t heartbroken.

This is true no matter what mistakes you’ve made with your ex. Once you’ve made amends, you need to stop focusing on the past and focus on the future.

There are 3 things you can do to achieve this:  

Get a fresh start

Now we’ve already talked about apologizing but this is a little different. What you’re doing here is showing your ex that you’ve realized that your post breakup treatment of them has pushed them away and that you’re going to back off. And you’re going to do this with one single message.

Don’t apologize here–remember, you shouldn’t apologize too much—just show them that you realize that you made mistakes and that you’re giving them space. This will help calm your ex down and show them that you’re no longer an annoying pest or threat to them.

Employ the No Contact strategy.

I’m sure you’re already aware of what this strategy is, and how well it works… but shutting down all communication with your ex is absolutely critical to shifting their perception of you and helping to undo past mistakes.  

Another advantage to using the No Contact strategy?  You can’t make any more mistakes when you’re not interacting with your ex at all.  

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to start employing the No Contact rule.  It’s been proven many, many times by various research studies that humans have a natural tendency to let go of negative memories and feelings over time… so by ignoring your ex for 30 days, you’re using this ingrained natural tendency to help erase your ex’s memories of your past mistakes and the more negative aspects of your relationship and your time together. 

Simply put, No Contact works, and it’s a great way to help “reset” your ex’s emotions and return them to a neutral state where they’ll be more open to reconnecting. 

Subtly show your ex what they’re missing.

Remember what I said earlier about the importance of conveying to your ex that you’re NOT desperate, needy, and sitting around heartbroken over the breakup?  Well, there’s plenty of ways you can subtly communicate this to your ex. 

One of the most effective ways is to post photos and/or updates to social media that showcase you doing interesting, fun things… or better yet, hanging out with new friends of the opposite sex.

Now, inciting jealousy in your ex can be a bit dangerous and backfire on you if you don’t do this carefully but simply posting a photo of you with some new friends on Instagram can cause your ex to subconsciously alter their feelings towards you and upend their mental expectations about what you’re doing since the breakup.

Another way to achieve the same thing is to make subtle comments when speaking with your ex, or mutual friends you have in common.

So for instance, you could send your ex a text message asking them, “Hey, does your friend Gerald still do D&D?  A friend and I are putting together a campaign and we’re looking for new players.”

Of course, you’ll need this to actually be true. Don’t start lying about this type of thing to your ex.  But, as you can see, this message appears totally benign and believable. You’re just asking your ex a simple, legitimate question. 

And you’re even creating a sense of mystery by referring to an unnamed “friend”, which will make your ex wonder who this person is and why you didn’t mention them by name.

Again, you need to be subtle when doing this type of thing, or else you’ll look silly and your ex will see through to your true intentions… but if you can use this type of strategy properly it’s an extremely effective way to help shift your ex’s feelings about you, and help to undo the damage from past mistakes you’ve made since breaking up.

Dave Barker

Breakup Coach

About the Author

Dave Barker is a breakup and 'ex back' coach with over a decade of experience helping clients repair and improve romantic relationships.

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