So, you’ve parted ways with the man you once thought you’d spend the rest of your life with.
You’ve done everything you can to move on—listened to breakup songs, kept yourself busy, worked on your own healing, and so on. You may have even started dating again.
And just when you think you’ve closed that chapter of your life, he comes back into your life being so lovely and sweet all of a sudden.
So, what’s going on? If you’re anything like me, you’d want to find out why he’s behaving this way instead of jumping to the easy-but-faulty conclusion that he still loves you.
In this article, I’ll list down the possible reasons why your ex-husband is suddenly sweet and caring.
Let’s get started.
1) He misses you
Divorce is very similar to grief in that they both involve losing someone important.
It doesn’t matter if that someone is still alive; the loss can feel just as painful.
Divorce brings with it a lot of negative emotions, such as anxiety, unhappiness, and loneliness.
Your marriage might not have worked out, but that doesn’t mean your ex-husband isn’t feeling the pain.
He might be feeling lonely and looking at your relationship with nostalgia.
Suddenly, he’s missing the good times he shared with you. He could also simply be craving that feeling of companionship that comes with being in a marriage.
2) He feels guilty
Guilt is a heavy burden to carry, but it’s a common emotion in personal relationships, even more so in cases of divorce.
And if you have kids together, the effect of guilt is even more significant.
The process of separation and divorce can leave us feeling all sorts of negative emotions—anger, stress, confusion, sadness, and so much more.
Some people find divorce traumatic, especially those with attachment or depression issues.
If your ex is responsible for the separation, he might feel profound shame for causing so much pain and sadness.
He could be reaching out to you because he wants to make amends.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s solely for your sake; making amends is also a way to make him feel better about himself.
Either way, it shows accountability and is part of growing and healing.
3) He wants to be friends
“Can we still be friends?” is a common thing people say when they break up.
However, in reality, couples can take a long time to be ready to be friends again, especially if they’ve had a messy divorce.
Your ex might be expressing a desire to rekindle your relationship, except that it would be a friendship this time.
That’s not really a bad thing, particularly if you have children and need to share parenting duties.
After all, you’ll be seeing each other often and still need to present a united front to provide your kids with a stable environment despite the divorce.
Then again, that’s easier said than done. When someone has caused you so much pain, it can be challenging to get past that and move on to being friends.
If that’s the case for you, you might need a relationship expert to help you navigate that.
I know that when I had difficulties staying friends with my ex, a professional relationship coach from Relationship Hero helped me work through our complex issues.
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Within minutes, you could find out what your ex really wants from you and how to proceed, depending on what you want from him.
4) He has moved on
Conversely, your ex could suddenly be nice to you after months or years of being silent simply because he has moved on.
He has worked on his own healing and now wants to move forward with a clear conscience.
That means patching things up and getting back on good terms with you.
He might even be feeling ready to date and wants to make sure you’re okay with that.
The more stable and forgiving you appear to be, the easier it will be for him to move forward without the fear of hurting you again.
5) He needs your help or support
It’s also possible that your ex needs help with something.
That’s not surprising, considering that you’ve probably been his primary source of support, whether emotional or financial, in all the years you were together.
He could need something as simple as your forgiveness, but he could also be desiring your moral support and advice.
6) He is looking for attention and validation
When your ex is suddenly being nice, it can be tempting to think he’s still interested in you.
But a word of caution—sometimes it’s just his ego at work.
New research shows that men become insecure when their partners succeed.
So, even if you’ve separated, he might still feel some insecurity if he sees you moving on and living your best life without him.
Deep down, he likes the idea that you’re still thinking about him. His sudden niceness might be a way for him to seek validation from you again.
That’s not exclusive to men, though. Anybody who’s been through a breakup has gone through this validation-seeking stage.
7) He wants to sleep with you
There’s no getting around it—as much as I’d like to tell you he wants you back, the cynic in me also wants to point out the obvious.
Your ex may simply want you to be a friend with benefits.
You might ask, “But why? We’re no longer together!”
That’s right. But it’s surprisingly common for exes to sleep with each other a little ways down the road after the breakup.
You might think it’s a bad idea to hook up with an ex, but a research study at Wayne State University begs to differ.
The researchers discovered fascinating results about this matter. They found that sleeping with an ex may be a good idea after all and didn’t hamper the healing process of the couples involved.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it’s all right to jump back into bed right away with your suddenly-nice-and-sweet ex.
It depends on your state of mind. You have to know where you stand emotionally.
Listen to your gut; your instincts will tell you whether it’s a good idea or not.
8) He is genuinely being nice and cares about how you feel
Just because your marriage ended doesn’t mean you’ve stopped caring about each other.
No matter how messy your breakup was, chances are you’ve banked authentic affection for each other in all those years of being married.
If he’s being nice all of a sudden, consider the possibility that he genuinely still cares about you.
It doesn’t mean he wants to get back together, but he wants to know you’re doing okay.
9) He wants closure
What if the breakup was your idea? What if your ex-husband was never totally on board with parting ways?
At first, he might have felt shocked and angry. Maybe he lashed out or iced you out.
A breakup is enough to send us into a whirlwind of emotions—anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, loneliness, fear—and your ex would be no different.
With enough time, he will cool down and see things more clearly. There may be more questions in his head now that he’s had more time to process what happened.
Maybe he’s being nice because he just wants closure.
As human beings, our brains need to make sense of the events in our lives. We need to have an authentic narrative to achieve resolution.
Until all our questions have been answered, we’re likely to keep falling into the same relationship patterns every time.
That’s why closure is important after a breakup, whether it’s weeks, months, or years down the road.
Closure allows us to understand what went wrong and re-structure our past, present, and future in a healthy way. Confronting our relationship issues helps us find peace and move on.
10) He regrets breaking up with you
Lastly, let’s talk about the most obvious reason for your ex’s sudden niceness—he wants you back.
That’s a logical conclusion, which is why many women get their hopes up.
Now that your ex has had time to process everything that led to your separation, he might be seeing how good he had it with you.
The distance between the two of you has made him take a step back and view the relationship more objectively.
This is especially true if he was actually conflicted at the time of your separation.
His niceness is a way of telling you he regrets breaking up with you. He wants to make more of an effort to be a better person, hoping you’ll see it and give him another chance.
But let’s be honest—even if you want the same thing, it can be downright scary to jump back into your ex-husband’s arms again.
So how can you deal with giving your ex-husband a second chance in a practical way?
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How to distinguish real niceness from toxic niceness
Is your ex-husband being genuine or fake?
This is where your instincts come in. Listen to your gut—what is it telling you?
If his niceness makes you feel really uncomfortable, chances are it’s toxic niceness.
This is a manipulative tactic that insecure and controlling people use to get what they want.
Toxic niceness uses over-the-top compliments and flattery. People who are nice because they have a hidden motive know they need to butter you up and make you feel special.
If you sense this, be direct. Don’t hesitate to call him out.
Tell him you know what he’s trying to do and don’t like it. Be prepared for him to deny it and maybe even shift the blame to you.
How to set friendship boundaries with an ex-husband
Can exes be friends? Definitely.
In fact, it’s actually healthy to stay friends with your ex-husband, especially if you have children together.
You know you’re ready to be friends when you no longer think of him in a romantic way, and it’s his friendship that you miss, not the sex.
More importantly, you’ve already forgiven him for any pain he caused you and can be happy for him if he starts dating someone new.
However, setting boundaries is important because spending time with an ex can easily bring up many memories and feelings. Here are some tips for establishing boundaries while being friends with your ex:
- Respect each other’s privacy.
- Avoid comparing your past and future relationships.
- Be respectful to his new partner.
- Don’t bring up the past.
- Talk about lighthearted and positive topics.
- Avoid flirting with him and touching him.
- Avoid contacting each other unless necessary.
- Don’t post about your ex on social media.
Dealing with an ex-husband who’s suddenly being nice after months or years of ignoring you can be confusing.
It’s always tricky not to fall into a rabbit hole of questioning his actions and motives—is he being real? Or does he have a hidden agenda?
But by now, hopefully, you know that you don’t owe him anything. Recovering from a divorce is a long and twisted journey; your priority should be yourself.
Protect your heart as best as possible and focus on rewriting your life story exactly the way you want it.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
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