Why Do Guys Come Back When You Ignore Them?

Does he want a relationship?

Is he (still) into me?

Who’s he talking to now?

How do I know if this is going anywhere?

Why do guys come back when you ignore them? Everyone hates mind games in relationships, or at least everyone says they hate mind games. To be honest though, we all play them.

We play hard to get because it’s effective and whether you’re flirting your way into a new relationship or trying to win your ex back, these games add some mystery that makes the whole thing a lot more exciting. 

To use these tactics effectively though, you’ll need to understand why do guys come back when you ignore them?

You’ll also want to think about whether it’s ethical or useful for you to play hard to get – quite often it’s not. Once you have a handle on all of that though, you can start ignoring a guy and watch him fall all over you.

7 Reasons Why Guys Come Back When You Ignore Them

7 Reasons Why Guys Come Back When You Ignore Them

The reasons why men come back after you ignore them are varied, but most can be broken down into two categories: their insecurities and the thrill of the chase.

#1 Everyone Wants What They Can’t Have

There are two reasons for this, the first being that we put a higher value on things we don’t have.

The idea of something, whether it be a new job, a new partner, or a new car will always be more positive than the real thing – that’s the nature of fantasy.

When you’re ignoring him, there’s more mystery and he has time to think about how amazing it would be to be with you.

Additionally, when a guy doesn’t have you all to himself and is only seeing you intermittently, he’s getting a massive dopamine hit every time he does. Unpredictable, occasional positive reinforcement leads to euphoria; something that casinos know all too well.

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Give someone a consistently positive experience and they’ll get bored after a while, but throw them a big win after a string of losses (you getting in touch after a long period of ignoring him) and they’ll be over the moon with excitement.

That’s all well and good when you’re in the flirting stage of your relationship when there’s still time to build a better foundation for the relationship. It’s not so useful when you’re trying to win back an ex – ignore him and he will come back, but he probably won’t stay.

#2 He Prefers to Keep His Distance

Most guys, especially early on in the relationship, aren’t that interested in commitment.

They worry that if they show too much interest, or worse, you’re showing too much interest, then the relationship will move too fast.

When you ignore a guy, it’s a signal that you’re as casual about the relationship as he is, and that can be very attractive to some men.

Though what if you’re not looking for a casual relationship? Ignoring him won’t get you anywhere as you’ll be sending all the wrong signals.

In that case, you should be direct about your relationship needs. If that’s not what he’s looking for, you’re better off apart.

#3 He’s Consumed by Jealousy

Everyone wants to know how their ex feels when you ignore him, and most often, it’s going to be jealous.

If you’re not talking to him, he’ll wonder who you are talking to.

What does a guy think when you don’t text him back? He thinks you’re with, or at least texting with, some other guy. He’ll think the time for winning you back is limited, so he better do something to woo you. Sounds great, right? Not quite.

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A relationship built on jealousy won’t last long. If he broke up with you and now you ignore him to get him back, what’s to keep him around once you’re back together.

More than likely, he doesn’t value the relationship all that much, he just doesn’t want anyone else to have you. 

#4 Busy People Make Us Feel Important

If someone never has any time for others and then they shower attention on us, we feel pretty special.

Use that to your advantage to reel him in. If he sends you a message, take your time replying. If he asks you out, let him know you have plans.

Don’t do this every time though or he’ll think you’re simply not interested.

Some people say we’ve evolved past the three-day rule, but it’s a rule for a reason, it works.  

#5 He’s Suspicious When Things Are Too Easy

Maybe he’s been burned in the past or maybe he’s just a naturally cautious guy, but if getting together with you or winning you back seems too easy, he’ll wonder if there’s something he’s overlooked. Men expect to put effort into the chase.

That suspicion could be completely unfounded. Maybe you’re really into him too and both of you should stop playing mind games.

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Unfortunately, that suspicion is baked into a new relationship where a trust bond hasn’t yet formed and is more likely when trust has been broken after a breakup.

#6 More Work Equals More Value

Have you ever noticed that when you put a substantial amount of effort into something, whether it’s your education, job, or a hobby, you feel a lot more positive about your accomplishments?

This psychological quirk comes about because putting effort into anything comes at a cost, whether that’s money, time, or mental resources.

To prevent cognitive dissonance, we automatically value anything that we’ve incurred a cost with, so we don’t feel like we’ve squandered our resources. 

Now apply that to relationships; the more time a guy spends pursuing you, the more he’s going to value your relationship.

He spent a significant amount of time and mental resources on chasing you, and now being with you feels like more of an accomplishment.

The same could be said of ignoring a man after a breakup; the more effort he puts into winning you back, the more he’ll value the relationship.

#7 He Needs to Understand the Breakup

This one is only true if you’re the one that ended the relationship, but if you did suddenly, there’s a chance he’s looking for some closure.

A need for closure is usually associated with women, but men are just as insecure after a sudden breakup.

They want to know what they did wrong, if there’s anything they can do to get you back, or at least how they can be better in their next relationship. 

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Do Guys Notice When You Ignore Them?

Do Guys Notice When You Ignore Them

The short answer: absolutely! Unless he has zero interest in you, ignoring him will set off competitive instincts that’ll have him running towards you.

Most men expect you to play hard to get, at least in the early stages of the relationship.

Playing Hard to Get

Now that you understand why playing hard to get makes you so desirable, you might be asking if that’s the best way to get noticed.

That’s a tricky question and the answer depends on what you’re looking for in a relationship. 

If you’re in it for the excitement and love the feeling of being pursued, ignoring his advances will have him falling all over you. What’s your endgame though?

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At some point you’ll want this to move past flirting and into the relationship stage. If the relationship’s foundation is predicated on him being intoxicated with the thrill of the chase, how’s it going to last when you stop playing hard to get?

Ignore a guy and he’ll come running towards you. Once the chance is over though, it’s a lot harder to keep him around.

Should You Ignore a Guy to Get Him Back?

Playing hard to get might not be the best way to start a long-term relationship with a guy, but what about ignoring him to get him back after a breakup.

Sometimes a relationship loses its spark, and guys start to wonder what else is out there. Most guys won’t go no contact after a relationship though, they still want you in their life while assessing their options.

When you ignore him, he’ll start to wonder how things are working for you. Are there any other men pursuing you? It’s human nature for men to feel jealous in these situations and it makes you appear more desirable. 

Back to the original question though, is it a good idea to ignore him to get him back?

To determine if it is, you’ll need to assess why you broke up in the first place. Was everything going great before that spark went out?

Does he just need a reminder of what he’s missing out on? Will his eyes start to wander the second you’re back together? Only you can answer those questions, but quite often when a guy starts losing interest, the relationship isn’t salvageable.

You can reignite the fire short-term, but he’s not committed to the relationship and is only in it for the chase.

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How Does a Man Feel When You Ignore Him?

How Does a Man Feel When You Ignore Him

That all depends on how you do it. If you completely observe the no contact rule by never answering his texts or DM and you block him on social media, he’ll eventually just forget about you.

You can’t cut him out of your life completely; he needs to see that you’re living your best life and he’s made a terrible mistake by breaking up with you or not trying harder to win you back after you broke up with him.

Post pics on Instagram, mention to mutual friends that things are going great, anything that will let him know he’s missing out. 

You also can’t completely ignore his advances. Remember that whole thing about unpredictable, intermittent reinforcement?

He needs hints that you’re interested, but put enough distance between the two of you to let him know he hasn’t won you back yet.

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What to Do When He Comes Back after Ignoring You

What to Do When He Comes Back after Ignoring You

Let’s turn the tables – he’s been ignoring you for a while, but waltzes back into your life.

What do you do with that? Think about why he’s coming back after giving you the cold shoulder; have you improved yourself?

Are you in a better place for a relationship now? Is he noticing something different about you?

In most cases, the answer is no. He’s coming back because he didn’t find anything more exciting outside your relationship and is returning to what’s familiar. 

He’s been ignoring you all this time though, and maybe that’s caused some desirous feelings to bubble up.

Don’t fall for it. If he’s been bored once, he’ll likely get bored again. Move on from him unless there’s a pressing reason you should get back together.

Should You Ignore a Guy to Get Him to Come Back

There’s nothing wrong with ignoring a guy a little early on in the relationship. It’s flirtatious, it adds some mystery, and he’ll get the high of pursuing you.

Once you’re IN a relationship with him though, playing hard to get is more of an abusive mind game. Once you’re exclusive, he shouldn’t have to wonder whether you’re still interested or if you’re seeing someone else.

Some say it keeps a man on his toes and treating you right, but it’s no way to maintain a healthy, trusting relationship.

As for ignoring him to get him back after a breakup, consider what caused the separation in the first place. Did he have a wandering eye?

Did he take you for granted? If so, those behaviors will return as soon as you stop playing hard to get. It’s not a sustainable way to repair your relationship.

On the other hand, if you were both immature or didn’t have time for each other, and you used that time apart to work on yourselves, it is possible to rekindle the feelings you had for each other.

Enjoy the thrill of the chase, but don’t make it the foundation of your relationship.

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Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

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