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12 Biases That Make You Overestimate Your Ex’s Attractiveness

Max Jancar
5 min readSep 19


We’re all terrible at evaluating our ex’s overall attractiveness objectively. Whether we’ve just started interacting with them or we’ve already been dating for weeks or months, we’re horrible at this — always have been.

We usually hoist our ex up on a pedestal, praise their personality as if it was the second coming of Jesus, deem our emotional connection incomparable, and crown them as hotter, smarter, funnier, and more special than they really are.

We do this because of perceptual and cognitive biases. Think of them as psychological distortions that bend reality and misshape our perception of our ex and our relationship with them. Some people are more afflicted by them; other people less. Yet, no one is immune to them.

But through expanding our conscious awareness, we can help ourselves notice these biases faster and prevent them from twirling us into turmoil where we have a higher chance of sabotaging our re-attraction efforts.

So here are 12 biases that make you overestimate your ex’s overall attractiveness that you should watch out for.

1. Experience Bias. The fewer relationships and dating/sexual experiences you had, the more you’ll overestimate your ex’s attractiveness. So if you only had one serious relationship prior to your ex, or say, you only dated a handful of people, your ex will undoubtedly seem much more enticing than if you had multiple serious relationships behind you or platitudes of dating success.

2. Scarcity Bias. Similar to the experience bias, the idea here is that the fewer dating options you currently have, the more you’ll overestimate your ex’s attractiveness. So if you’re hooking up with 3–4 people every week, your ex will seem much less special than if all you had was Pornhub.

3. Mystery Bias. The mystery bias occurs when you don’t know much about your ex’s current affairs — you don’t know what they’re doing, who they’re out with, whether or not they developed any new interests, achieved any of their goals, changed their career, etc. The greater the mystery shrouding them, the more you’ll try to fill in the gaps of unknowns with your own idealizations of who they are and where they’re taking their life. And the harder you try to pull this off, and the longer you’re doing it, the more enticing you’ll find your ex.

4. Barriers Bias. This bias epitomizes the saying, “What is hard to get always appears more valuable.” It’s when there are many barriers you have to push through and overcome to get your ex to like you again, go out with you, and ultimately, get back together with you. The more such barriers exist, the further your overestimations of their attractiveness increase.

5. Personality Bias. Arguably a good bias; it occurs when your ex has a similar personality to you. Suppose you’re both introverted intellectuals who get off on navel-gazing discussions about politics, culture, and philosophy. In that case, you’ll think of your ex as much more captivating than if they were an extroverted party hound who can’t fathom even an ounce of critical thinking or reflective thought.

6. Familiarity Bias. The theory around this bias says that we’re wired to be drawn to what is known and familiar and to run away from and avoid what is uncertain and unknown. Therefore, one of the many reasons you overestimate your ex’s attractiveness is because they’re simply more familiar than the other people you can date, fuck, or cultivate relationships with.

7. Turbulence Bias. This bias occurs when you overestimate your ex’s compatibility, with whom you suffered a lot of emotionally challenging circumstances. It can play out in several ways, the most common being breaking up and reuniting with an ex countless times and then perceiving those breakups and reunions as further proof that you two belong together. This is all a fantasy that makes you overvalue your ex. Don’t fall for it.

8. Spillover Bias. This bias makes you overestimate your ex’s attractiveness because it compels you to pay close attention to their past, out-of-date information. For instance, maybe you had a healthy and happy relationship once. But eventually, things went to shit, and it became an unmanageable toxic cesspool. Yet, due to the spillover bias, you’re stuck in the past, thinking that if you just mend things, your relationship will magically be unicorns and rainbows again and stay that way forever.

9. Fading Affect Bias. Likely the most talked-about bias in the ex-back space due to its pull during no contact. It essentially compels you to see your ex as more irreplaceable than they really are by making you forget memories associated with negative emotions quicker than those associated with positive ones. So once we stretch your life’s timeline far enough, you’ll be more inclined to forget about things like the fights you had with your ex and rather reminisce things like that one time you did coke in your school’s bathroom. (Note, however, that this bias refers to the decay of feelings associated with specific memories, not the contents of those memories themselves.)

10. Serendipity Bias. This bias occurs when you interpret coincidences involving your ex as signs of fate or something supernatural bringing you together. For instance, you may stumble upon your ex at a random seminar on the other side of the world — somewhere you’d least expect it — and then think that some divinely orchestrated purpose brought you together. As a result, you overvalue them and the meaning of the relationship and perhaps even see an emotional connection that isn’t really there. In reality, stuff like this is always just a coincidence.

11. Rose Colored Glasses Bias. This one activates when enough time has passed since your breakup for nostalgia to manifest. It basically makes certain events feel more pleasing, exciting, and positive than they actually were, making you overestimate your ex’s attractiveness.

12. Beauty Bias. A bias none of us want to admit we fall prey to, yet we all do. The idea is that the more physically attractive your ex is, the more convinced you’ll be they’re also brilliant, funny, or exceptional in other ways.

Again, you can’t rid yourself of these biases. So don’t even try. You can only understand them and become more aware of them. Therefore, figure out and understand which ones you’re susceptible to and use that understanding to inform your future relationship decisions and ground yourself in reality. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before you say or do something stupid to sabotage your re-attraction attempts.

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Max Jancar

Author, blogger, and entrepreneur. I write self-help advice for people going through heartbreak. Get my free cheat sheets: