If you type “get back with my ex” into Google, website upon website will pop up promising to fix your former relationship. But do these relationship recovery websites really work and who is using them? Stylist investigates.
A few years ago, in the depths of post-breakup sadness, I did the unthinkable. Overwhelmed by a desperate need to fix my broken relationship, I googled the question: “How do you get back with your ex?”
One click later and my internet browser was full of websites offering me tools to, supposedly, make all my problems disappear. If I followed their formula, they promised it would be possible to convince my ex to get back with me.
Seemingly run by relationship experts, many of the websites have pages of free advice on how to repair lost relationships, before suggesting clients upgrade to a paid system to receive more personalised guidance. And with research suggesting the amount of UK couples who get back with an ex is as high as 50%, there is definitely a market.
The desire to mend a failed relationship is what Chris Seiter, the founder of the website Ex-Boyfriend Recovery, says it’s what makes 15,000 people click on his website every day. “Ninety percent of the time they are the people who have been broken up with,” he tells Stylist. “They are frantically searching on Google for a solution. They want to get their ex back and to understand why they’ve been dumped.”
Though Seiter says a lot of the direction on his website is free, to get the most from his services there’s a fee. One of his digital packs costs £36 ($47) on average, while an hour session of one-to-one coaching costs £303 ($397) with every follow-up meeting priced at £150 ($197).
“It is not uncommon for relationship advice to be charged this much across the industry. Some of my competitors are charging up to $1,000 an hour,” he says, adding that he averages 10 digital sales a day and 200 new coaching clients a month.
Seiter’s website is one of many relationship recovery websites that appear online when you search for ways to get your ex back. “There are hundreds of websites like mine,” Seiter tells Stylist. But the majority all suggest clients follow a similar method: embarking on a period of no contact if they’re serious about getting back with an ex.
On his website, Seiter has a whole section dedicated to the importance of the no contact rule. For newer relationships, he recommends ignoring your ex-partner for a minimum of 21 days. For longer relationships, he suggests anything up to 40 days. “Of course, there are exceptions, like if you have children together. But on the whole, it is important to have some time away from each other,” he says.
Seiter has a clear strategy for his clients. During the period of separation, he asks them to focus on their own emotions. “By the end of the no contact period, we would like them to be in a place emotionally where they don’t want their ex back at all,” he explains.
Seiter says the no contact rule alone will not make your ex fall back in love with you, but it will make you into the best version of yourself. “And that’s what makes you desirable,” he explains.
After the no contact rule has been completed, it’s then time for Seiter’s clients to slowly reopen communication with their exes. “Usually they would start with a really casual period of texting, then they’d advance it to phone calls and finally to more romantic, in-person dates,” he says. “Once you’re at this stage, usually my client’s exes will be the ones trying to reach out to them.”
He notes, however, that it’s “very rare” for his advice to be followed exactly. “Ninety percent of the people I work with will mess up during the no contact rule and will have to start it all over again.”
But when it is followed correctly, can Seiter’s strategy work? Bethan*, 33, believes that without Seiter’s help she may never have got back together with her now fiancé.
“I wanted to fix our problems. My ex and I had been together for 12 years. It got to the point where we just weren’t getting along. We had two children, I’d just had a baby,” Bethan tells Stylist. “I initially signed up for a free email that gave you advice but I needed more information so I bought the programme. Your gut reaction is to beg your ex to come back, but Chris’s website taught me to compose myself.”
But even though the pair are now back together and “good as new”, Bethan’s partner doesn’t know she used Seiter’s services. “Now things are OK he’d probably just think it was random, but back when we weren’t together, he might have used it against me,” she says.
Would she recommend it? “Yes, I can’t fault it, it is the best thing I’ve done. It helped me as well as showed me how to mend my relationship,” she says.
For 24-year-old Freya*, however, reading the free advice from many relationship recovery websites – including Seiter’s – prevented her from properly moving on.
“After four years with my ex-boyfriend I was unexpectedly broken up with and I was desperate for things to get back on track,” Freya tells Stylist. “I followed the no contact rule exactly, but it still didn’t make my ex want to fix things between us.”
Freya says she was “obsessed” with her ex-boyfriend for much longer than she needed to be. “Everything was stretched out and it was more difficult for me long-term, emotionally,” she says. “I was living with false hope. I believe a lot of these sites are run by people with no qualifications.”
When I ask Seiter about his lack of professional training, he is quick to respond, saying it doesn’t matter. “I’ve studied psychology, but most of my training comes from the internet and from data I’ve collected from people who have read my writing,” he says.
“My two lead coaches have professional qualifications, but I created the business and I do a lot of the research. I may not have the official accreditation but I feel like, with my experience, I’m just as qualified as people who do.”
Clinical sexologist Ness Cooper thinks people should be cautious before signing up for a programme from one of these websites – particularly if they’re run by people with few or no official qualifications.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say the idea of them is bad, but people should be careful to pick a coach or site that is suited for them,” she tells Stylist. “As this is a type of guidance that is not regulated, people running the websites may not be trained or experienced enough to offer the appropriate help.”
If a coach provides targeted client-by-client advice, however, Cooper thinks their assistance could be beneficial. “There’s a strong market out there to support individuals seeking to reform past relationships. If the focus is on forming healthy connections then it can be very positive,” she says. “But, if a site has a one-size-fits-all system in place – that won’t be suited for everyone. They may not be able to help support clients through the reasons why the break-up actually happened.”
Relationship coach Alex Mellor-Brook agrees that relationship recovery websites may not be the correct way to understand why relationships break down.
“Some relationships will just never be able to work. If your communication is bad, for example, or you have different life values or opposing traits, it won’t be fixable,” Mellor-Brook tells Stylist. “Both parties have to want to fix a relationship too. They both have to work at it. If they don’t, they’ll eventually go down the same path again.”
Mellor-Brook argues that particularly during the pandemic, more couples than ever may be looking to use these services. “But if a website guarantees that you’ll get back with your ex, then that’s a problem,” he says. “You can’t promise people that a fixed system will work. There are so many intricacies to people that are out of our control.”
I resisted the temptation to follow the advice of the relationship recovery websites I found after my break-up, but my interest was definitely sparked. So, can using these sites ever be a good thing when you’re feeling emotionally vulnerable?
“If the customer genuinely wants this then I suppose it is fine,” Mellor-Brook considers. “Is it the right thing? Well, it is not something I’d be telling somebody to do. I think it is more important to stop, take a breath and use the time after a break-up to focus wholly on yourself.”
*Names have been changed