Why They ALWAYS Come Back + How to Reach Out After It Ends

 

“How can you tell the difference between love bombing and genuine interest?”

This is just one question out of 10 that I answer in today’s rapid-fire Q&A video, which also includes answers to: 

  • “What Dating Advice Would You Give to Your 16-Year-Old Self?”
  • “When Did You Last Cry?”
  • “How Can I Get Over the Shame of Having Stayed Too Long in a Relationship?”
  • “Is It Worth Reaching Back Out to an Ex Who May Have Changed?”

. . . and much more.

It was super fun to read and answer all your questions. Be sure to leave me a comment with any questions you might have for part 2!


Well, well, well. Here we go again. Another YouTube video after 17 years of making YouTube videos, and I’m still going. But every now and again, we need to mix things up and do something a little different. So today, we are going to answer some questions. I put the word out on my Instagram at @TheMatthewHussey and said, “What do you want to ask me? Love life-related, confidence-related, life-related? What do you want to ask me about me?” And so, we picked some questions. I haven’t actually seen most of these questions. So, we’ll see how I do on the fly. I’ll get through as many as possible in the time that we have.

And also, if you haven’t already, join my newsletter, because if you like free stuff like this video you’re watching right now, every Friday, I’m releasing a new newsletter, a written open letter from me to you with ideas, philosophies, strategies—general wisdom that I think could actually help you in the Three Relationships in your life that matter the most—your relationship with yourself, your relationship with life, and your relationship with other people. It’s at The3Relationships.com. It’s free. And I’ll see you in your inbox this Friday. 

On to the questions. Our first question is from Jenny, who says, “Hi, what are three things you would say to your 16-year-old self about relationships?” 

Three things that I would say to my 16-year-old self. Let me think of one thing first. I probably would have said to myself: “Relationships will happen. You’ll have them. When someone comes along, it’s not your last opportunity at a relationship. So if someone comes along and they seem to represent a few things that you like, it doesn’t mean that you have to jump into a relationship with that person immediately because no one else will ever come along. You can take your time. You can pay attention to the things that actually aren’t right about that relationship, maybe even grounds to not have that relationship. You don’t have to come from a place of scarcity that everyone you moderately like, you need to jump into a relationship with because you may never get another one.”

I also sort of think that those relationships were important for me to have because I learned a lot from being in relationships at a time in my life where I was just getting experience. Didn’t you learn a lot from that time in your life too, having some relationships that weren’t right for you? And we don’t maybe think of them like this at the time, but they’re sorta practice relationships, aren’t they, for later on? So, I don’t even know if I want my 16-year-old self to follow that advice. 

Let’s move on to the next question. “When did you last cry?”

I almost cried yesterday because Audrey brought up a film that we watched together when we were on our honeymoon in Japan. The film is called A Silent Voice. And it’s a film about a teenage boy who hates himself because he bullied a deaf girl. And he hates who he was and he hates what he did to her. And the movie is about how he evolves as a person, but even though he’s evolved to be a better person, he still can’t stop hating himself. The movie follows that journey as well as this young girl’s journey. And it is just—Audrey was telling me about it. And then as she started telling me about it, I started to get teary. And so, that was that.

So, that was probably the last time I almost cried. I was on the verge of crying. If you haven’t seen it, A Silent Voice is a Japanese anime movie that is just beautiful.

Sven says, “I have heard so many sayings along the lines of ‘don’t read the same chapter twice, as the ending will still be the same.’ But people change. So, I’m wondering if it’s worth reaching back out to someone who I briefly dated and had an amazing connection/chemistry with who just ‘wasn’t ready for a relationship’ . . . after, let’s say, a year or so has passed. I’m aware that it’s crucial for an individual to have moved on way before reaching back out to allow themselves clarity in making this decision, but I’m wondering what you’d suggest.”

So they had an amazing connection with this person who said they weren’t ready for a relationship. Now, a year or so has passed.

I worry about this one because, look, is it possible that someone has changed? Yes. Maybe they didn’t want a relationship and now, they do want a relationship, and you reaching out at this moment is suddenly going to put you back on their mind in a way where they go, “Yes, I remember this person from a year ago. Now, that I want a relationship, they could be right for me.”

But I also know that so many people say they’re not ready for a relationship as an excuse because they just don’t want more with a person. And we shouldn’t necessarily take that personally, because there are all sorts of reasons why someone doesn’t want more with us that have nothing to do with us or aren’t related to things we need to worry about changing or any of that. We’re not right for a lot of people and that’s fine. That’s the natural order of things is that we’re not right for a lot of people. We shouldn’t be. We’re a unique individual. We are right for a certain group of people, and that’s a small percentage, most likely, especially if we’re being ourselves.

So don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t want you. But remember, when someone says they’re not ready for a relationship, it might be code for: “I just don’t see it with you, and this is the best thing I can come up with right now for allowing me to part ways with you.”

So we have to be a bit careful a year later of looking at that, taking it at face value, and saying, “Maybe they’ve shifted and the only reason, the only barrier that was getting in the way a year ago, was that they didn’t want a relationship, and maybe they do want a relationship now, and they’re going to want it with me.” 

I have to assume that if they felt that you were perfect for them back then, but they just didn’t want a relationship, and that was the only thing standing in the way of you and them and your perfect life together . . . and now, they want a relationship, you would be the first person to come to mind, and they would already be calling you. If they haven’t, then it feels much more likely to me that what you’re doing is constructing a story that allows you to reach back out to someone that you still hold a candle for because you’re telling yourself a story of potential instead of there actually being potential.

My vote would be, don’t reach out to this person. Move on and find someone where the reality is that they like you, and they’re ready for a relationship. Not that you have to come up with this entire narrative that has to make sense for you to reach back out to them. I worry that reaching back out to them just sets you up for another disappointment that you’ve already experienced with this person. 

Linny says, “What is the difference between love bombing and genuine interest?”

Love bombing and genuine interest. I think, actually, your question gets at the heart of what can be really challenging: When someone in the beginning of the dating phase starts really showing a lot of interest in us, how reliable is that as an indicator of whether their interest is going to hold, whether they have real potential, whether they really like us for us? Or is what they’re experiencing some kind of projection that they’ve put on us? Have they idealized us in really unhealthy ways? Are they trying to manipulate us in ways that are more insidious to try to get us to give more than we reasonably should at this stage?

It’s quite possible, for example, that someone says to us, “I like you so much,” and it’s coming from a place of genuine feeling of, “I like you so much.” It’s also possible that someone might say that because they really want to egg you on to give them a lot more, they’re trying to manipulate the situation.

I think the truth is, we only really know someone’s intentions over time, which is why instead of playing detective on whether someone is love bombing you or not, you dictate the pace yourself, take it slower, and see if their interest is consistent or if it comes in fits and starts.

I will say this, though, if someone is being incredibly grandiose and telling you things like, “I love you: I’ve heard from people I coach that people have said things to them like, “I love you” after just a few hours of talking in their first conversation. “I really want to come and see you.” “I feel like you’re the right person for me.”

When people say things like that in the beginning, either they have this wildly immature version of love that they adhere to, which is a major red flag, or they are someone who is scamming you or is trying to manipulate you into giving way more than you should. 

Joy says, “How do I forgive myself and stop feeling shame for having stayed too long in an unhealthy marriage?” I mean, welcome to the club of people who felt like they stayed in something, in any area of life, for too long. Hands up if you felt like you stayed in a job longer than you should have. So many people. Leave a comment if that’s you.

How many of us have stayed in a relationship for too long knowing it wasn’t the right relationship, but we were too frightened to leave because we were worried we wouldn’t be okay if we were on our own—that we would never meet anyone else? And of course, that’s compounded when you’re in a marriage, and you have that extra level of commitment that you’ve made. It makes it even harder to leave a situation like that, to admit that, “This is the wrong relationship. I shouldn’t be here anymore.”

That’s an intensely human thing. What I see in you, Joy, is a human being, a person who has lived, a person who has gone out there, taken a swing, tried for something. You could have just stayed in your bedroom and met no one. Instead, you went out there, you took a swing. You met someone, you took a swing at a lifelong relationship, and it didn’t work out. And you didn’t leave the moment you realized that it wasn’t working out. 

Well, welcome to the club. It takes a long time to get up the courage for many people, for most of us, to do something that hard. And guess what? It wouldn’t take you as long the next time around, right? I would bet that you wouldn’t walk straight into a marriage with someone like that again, and I would also bet that if you were dating someone like that again, you’d see the signs quicker, and you’d act faster. But those are only things you’d be able to do because of the experience you’ve already had. You don’t get to be the person you are today with the wisdom you have today without having been the person you were then.

To wish that you were who you are today then, it’s science fiction. You don’t get to be who you are today without having taken as much time as you did then. And is there something frustrating about the time that we lost? Is there sometimes something tragic about how long it takes us to come to these conclusions?

Of course there is. If only we could come to them faster. But guess what? We didn’t, because that’s life, and you know what? You’ll do it again. There will be an area of your life where you’ll do it again. It might not even be your love life. It might be a different area. But there’ll be an area where you sit on a decision too long, where you take too long to figure something out, where you lose something as a result, whether it’s time or finances or anything that you value. It will happen again. And that’s okay too, because that’s part of living. We make these mistakes. Give yourself a break. You’re in good company.

Mlle. Francophile says, “What’s your take on rumors? I was told about rumors from different people that didn’t know about [my partner and me], and I confronted him. We all make mistakes, and I’m of the opinion that if I wasn’t there to see it for myself, why would I trust what anyone else says? I care about honesty and I asked him to let me know if these rumors are true or not. And he said no, they’re not. On the other hand, rumors don’t really come out of nowhere. I’m a little torn here. If he knows that, for me, something like this would be considered in the past, would he still deny it, so that I don’t think any worse of him?”

This is a tricky one. I’m inclined to say, do you trust the source? There’s real merit to what you’re saying that in these social settings, rumors often don’t come from nowhere. And they might, but do you want to stake your time, your energy, your emotions on the idea that they have just come out of nowhere?

If I were in your shoes, I think it would be a kind of red flag for me. It might not be a red flag that makes us completely turn and run the other way. But it’s almost the kind of red flag that if we’re going to continue, we need to put a pin in that information and go, “I’m going to let this play out with you and be very honest with myself about how you’re coming across, about how you’re showing up, about whether your actions align with your words, whether you seem to be a person of integrity, whether you are reliable, whether you’re consistent, and I’m going to be really real. I’m not going to let my emotions color what I think about you and your behavior. I’m going to pay real attention to who you really are and see whether that aligns with what I’ve heard.”

But I do think that if you’re going to proceed, you have to go in in a very sober way, understanding that there may be truth to these things, and that while you don’t need to play detective, you do need to be honest with yourself about whether what you’re seeing actually aligns with those rumors.

Penny says, “Being a love expert yourself, do you still face challenges in your own relationship?”

I hate the idea of being a love expert. What does an expert in love even mean? I don’t know. I don’t feel like a love expert, but I’ve been doing this for a long time and I like the idea that what I’ve learned is helpful to people. Of course I still have challenges in my relationship. I always say that even in healthy relationships, and I consider myself to be in a really healthy relationship, when people post things on Instagram, you’re still not seeing everything in that relationship.

When we look at people’s relationships online, we’re not just seeing relationships that are incredibly unhealthy posing as really happy relationships. We’re also seeing really healthy relationships that are only showing you the healthy parts of the relationship. They’re not showing you the argument they had last night, because why would they? That would be oversharing.

So, yeah, Audrey and I have arguments. We have our frictions. We have our tensions. I think that what has been our saving grace, both of us, is that we’re really, really good communicators. We’re able to be honest with each other. We’re able to talk vulnerably with each other without just freezing each other out.

We have a really good recovery time on arguments. I think of recovery time a lot. What’s your recovery time? What’s the half-life of an argument you have? Does it take three days to get over it, or is it something that you can get over in 30 minutes? And if you have more tools, you are able to get over these things quicker together. You can navigate—I think the better you are at communicating, the more you can see the landmines in the argument before you step on them, and decide not to step on them.

 “I know if I say that thing, it is going to make this 10 times worse.”

“I know that my ego here is going to get in the way of me resolving this conversation with this person I love.”

That’s another landmine, is ego. So, over time, I’ve gotten better at seeing those landmines and being like, “I’m not going to step there. That’s going to make things worse. And I am going to step here because that’s going to make things better?” 

“Mythundr” says, “Why does an ex almost always return with the crystal-clear assumption that we’d be thrilled to have him back in our lives? Let’s just say, I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, and he’s got a lot of gall to think that I would welcome him back with open arms.”

I mean, I don’t know. Maybe he does always think that he’s going to be able to waltz back into your life because the partners he’s picked in the past have always allowed him to do that. Maybe there’s an element of narcissism in him that says, “I’m always wanted back and you’ll want me back too.” So the idea of you saying “no” to him is just not even a reality for him.

While I don’t know specifically why he seems to assume so boldly that you will absolutely take him back, it’s very common for people to come back. I get asked all the time, “Why do men always come back?”

I think the answer is because it’s easier. People take the path of least resistance. And when they go out there into the world, looking for someone else, who knows what they’re looking for? They think they’re looking for this thing, or this thing that’s different from you, or they just think that they’re going to be happier if they’re single, and if they’re able to play the field, or whatever is the reason. 

Very quickly, when people hit any kind of a roadblock of loneliness or fear that they’re not going to find someone . . . such as a difficult weekend where someone else isn’t texting them back . . . whatever it may be, the path of least resistance becomes: This person over here who I already know, who accepted me once, who wanted me, who didn’t want to break up with me even though I broke up with them, it feels like a pretty good chance that if I reach out to them, I’m going to get attention again. 

And by the way, they’re often right. They do get attention again from that person. They do get welcomed with open arms by that person.

So a lot of people learn that it’s not just the path of least resistance in their mind, but in reality, their exes are often the path of least resistance because their exes, if they haven’t gone on to meet someone else, if they’re having a lonely time, if they’re struggling with it, will not view them coming back as weak or selfish, but instead, will view it romantically, and that’s, in a sense, what they’re relying on, that you will view them coming back romantically instead of cynically.

Piece of advice for everyone out there: Remember, if an ex comes back, they better be offering something different than when you knew them before.

Butterfly & Rose says, “What happened to the daily newsletter that you promised in one of your live sessions?”

I did not promise a daily newsletter. I promised a weekly newsletter every Friday. I said I am going to do a new thing where every Friday, I release, I send to you, a brand-new newsletter, handwritten by me on a laptop that I send to you.

I don’t think I ever mentioned a daily newsletter, did I? Jeremy, have I ever said daily? That’s madness. You wouldn’t have time to read a daily newsletter from me anyway. Let’s face it: Weekly is enough.

Shanie says, “When are you coming to Australia?”

Well, I am not coming to Australia anytime soon. Where I am going is Florida in September for my Retreat. For anyone who wants to join me there, go to mhretreat.com. We actually don’t have nearly as many spaces as we normally do. By this point, there’s only 50 left, my team tells me. So, if you want to come and join us, go to mhretreat.com. Come from Australia to Florida, and we’ll be together for six days.

Thank you so much for watching this video, everyone. I’m going to make this a two-parter because I have a lot more questions I want to get to. So if you didn’t get your question answered, ask it in the comments below, and I’ll pick a new batch to do in the next video. Let me know if you enjoyed this format. And don’t forget to like this video, subscribe to the channel, and hit the notification bell so that you’ll get notified the next time the video comes out. And leave me a comment. I’m going to read them.

Thank you so much, everyone. Be well and love life.

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9 Replies to “Why They ALWAYS Come Back + How to Reach Out After It Ends”

  • How to work on expectations, and fall too fast? When going out dating, high expectations kill the joy, but low ones won’t bring better happiness. We we fall too fast, what exactly makes us fall?

  • Very good. Gives me perspective. Been talking to someone since February. Finally meeting him. Trying not to be starry eyed and trying to have realistic expectations.

  • My husband passed away 14 years ago. We were together for 13 years, had 2 sons. I thought he was the love of my life. How do I fall in love again? I have been in relationships since, but have not found love. Thank you

  • What is the best way to respond when you are with a guy who has low confidence; and his low confidence gets in the way of being with you and believing that you can do better?

  • Thank you Matthew. You are very personable and your conversational approach is tremendously engaging.

    I am enjoying reading your book, Love Life.

    Thank you for your exceptional and important work. Personally, I am all about people and relationships.

    A delight, a pleasure and a huge thank you
    Courtney

  • Is it possible to be friends with an ex husband if they still want you back? What would you recommend if you don’t envision ever getting back together and have started to move on, but they have not yet?

  • Your advice always comes to me when I need it the most. I’m 57 and so cautious. You are amazing. Thank you. … p.s. i too am disappointed you will not be travelling to Australia.

  • Hi Matthew! Thank you for this video. My struggle is that I’ve been with my boyfriend for nearly a year and I still haven’t met his kids (3 boys) nor do the kids know he is dating someone. His one son is graduating high school this month and when I bring up meeting or telling his family he says it’s not the right time. Am I wasting my time? Or should I still give him more time for it to feel like it’s the right time?

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