I hate you, no wait, come back

Everyone has had the experience that they ended a perfectly good relationship on a whim or for a rather small reason, only to change their mind and attempt to get their ex back.  Understandably, if you break up with a guy and then try to get him back, the relationship isn’t going to bounce back to the pre-breakup level.  The more he holds back, the  more you get frustrated at his lack of enthusiasm, the more he thinks that breaking up was the right thing to do.

Don’t be that girl.  When you orchestrate a break up, make sure you mean it.  Do NOT do it on impulse, on your friend’s advice, or because you got scared.  Break ups should be made with cold, hard logic (this is not the person that I want to spend the rest of my life with because of x, y, and z) and not with passion (omg, I can’t believe you just said that, we’re through!).

If you have done this, please be aware that you have a very small window to admit your mistake and make it up to him.  Realize that you’re going to have to do a *lot* of work to get him to trust you again and it probably will never be the same again (which may be a good or a bad thing).  Also, be prepared to suck up your pride for a bit but not forever – 0nce you get it back on the right track, you will both need to agree to move past the break-up and not bring it up again.

The bad news is, it may not work.  He may decide that you’re more trouble than you’re worth.  If you really like him though, you can try to endure a long wait until you both become different people and then try again.

Why failure is a good lesson

The feeling of failure is never a pleasant one.  However, much can be gleaned from our failures if we are willing to learn from them.

  • Failure teaches you to be resilient.  Okay, you failed but the sky didn’t fall.  Get up and try again.
  • Failure teaches what you don’t want.  Thought you wanted the bad boy and it turned out crappy again?  Don’t go for the bad boy.
  • Failure teaches you to work harder for what you want.  If you really want something, it’s not going to be handed to you.  You have to put in the work.
  • Failure teaches you to be kind.  Everyone is fighting a battle on some front, be gentle with them.
  • Failure teaches you to learn.  No point in re-inventing the wheel – feel free to learn from someone else’s mistakes.
  • Failure teaches you to where to start.  You don’t always have to start at zero, although sometimes it’s helpful.
  • Failure teaches you economy.  It’s more important to be effective than to do a lot of needless work.

Post mortem

Whenever a relationship ends, it is tempting to hide the evidence.  While I agree that some time and distance can give you perspective on a relationship, you should absolutely attempt to figure out what went right and what went wrong.  You need to conduct a relationship autopsy.

While it would be nice, do not expect your ex to participate.  If he is willing to answer a few questions, make it one session and don’t attempt to defend yourself or the relationship.  Be aware that it’s highly likely that he’s going to lie to you about or at least omit the reasons why you broke up.  He still wants to be the nice guy – even after the break up.  Attempting to talk to him at length about it is not going to improve this, it will only annoy him and make him avoid you in the future.

You may also want to ask some of your close friends and family what they think went wrong with the relationship.  Be aware that they will be unconditionally biased toward you.  So don’t believe them when they tell you that it was all his fault.

Your biggest source of information will be yourself.  Think back about what was happening when the relationship was happy.  Was it merely because it was new?  Were you still putting your best foot forward?  What parts of your personality were on display?  Were you being inauthentic?  Did the relationship go bad after a specific event or length of time?  Did you seem to be fighting more often?  If so, what about?  Did you not fight because one or both of you were closed of?  Did you have different communication styles?  Did either of you give up?

As this won’t take an evening, you might want to journal it out so you have a written record you can go over.  The process may be painful but it is worthwhile.  If you can figure out what went wrong in the relationship, you can avoid the same mistake(s) in the future.

How do you know when it’s right?

There comes a point in every relationship where you’re going to ask yourself if it’s “right”.  You will be simultaneously looking to the future and at your past mistakes and wondering if this could be the one.  The funny thing is, this is a question you will ask yourself repeatedly in a relationship, even after you’re married.

There will be no perfect time, perfect place, or perfect circumstance.  If you are waiting for that, you will die alone.  At any given moment you (and your partner) will be doing the best that you can.  Appreciate it for what it is.

Needless to say, if he’s a jerk – it isn’t “right”.  However, you need to make sure that you aren’t giving that little voice in your head free reign to run amok and sow doubt.  (If you habitually make bad choices and your little voice has to rescue you – that’s something you need to look at.)

There will be no sign from the heavens if your relationship is meant to be and even if something is perfect for you at one point in your life, it may not be perfect for you (or them) forever.  Fulfillment is not measured by your lack of failures, it is measured by your attempts to succeed.

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

After the newness wears off and time passes, it’s normal to become less enchanted with your partner.  The passion may be less so than it was in the beginning.  You might have heard all of his stories – twice.  You might start to be more critical and less enthusiastic about their goals.

This would be a mistake.

Humans are attached to our dreams.  They represent our inner lives, what we wish to achieve, and how we see ourselves.  When you are careless with someone’s dreams, you are being careless with their most vulnerable self.

It is important to be patient with and supportive of your partner’s dreams.  No, they may not be realistic but that doesn’t make them any less important to the person who holds them. When you demean your partner’s dreams, aims, or desires, you belittle the person and you harm your relationship.  You may not be aware that your attitude is negative so it is important to watch the tone of your voice and your words when speaking about them.  You may even wish to ask your partner how you can be a better champion of their ambitions.

When you committed to your partner, you also committed to be supportive of your partner.

(Title borrowed from William Butler Yeats)

He’s not your best friend

“I want to marry my best friend.”  Ladies – do not make this mistake.  Your boyfriend/husband should never be your best friend.

It’s sweet to think that he might be.  That he’s the human being you can tell everything to.  He’s your person.  He’s the one that’s going to be there for you forever and ever.  All that fuzzy bubblegum logic.  Undoubtedly your partner should be someone that you can rely on, who will take care of you and whom you can take care of in return.  He should be a significant part of your life but he shouldn’t be your best friend.

Why?  Because when the sh*t hits the fan, you’re going to need someone outside the relationship to talk to.  If he’s your best friend, who are you going to bounce things off of when the relationship isn’t going exactly as you want?  Who is going to talk to you about your dream of going to medical school without having their own agenda?  Who is going to discuss the merits of Shemar Moore’s butt with you over ice cream and chick flicks?  That is the job of your best friend, not your partner.

Learning from your mistakes

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can,And wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

As we go forward, remember to be gentle with yourself.  We’ve all made mistakes, perhaps you’re still in the middle of one.  The trick is being able to recognize one faster and to extricate yourself as gracefully as possible.  Analyze your mistakes, learn from them and commit to not making the same mistake again (and if possible, not committing a variation of the same mistake).

Of course this is easier said than done.  Often we’ll find ourselves falling into the same mistake again and again (dating the bad boy, potato chips after midnight, etc.) because it feels good, it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s never going to get any better anyhow – any litany of excuses.  You have to give up the excuses to stop making the mistake.  It’s not enough to promise not to do it again, you have to commit to not making the mistake again.