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.

Can’t we just be friends?

Oh isn’t it grand when you try to be friends with your ex?  It’s a lofty ideal but not exactly what you want to do.  There are a tenacious few who are willing to slog through valley of crap in order to get to the mountain of friendship but these people usually have kids or a business together.  Most couples simply aren’t meant to be friends after they break up.

I can give you a million reasons why you shouldn’t be friends with your ex but it boils down to your history with him.  Until you have some time and distance and can approach the friendship like a new relationship, you’re doomed to fail.  You will continue to treat him like you have some ownership in his life and he will continue to think that he can sleep with you at any point he desires.  And let’s face it, the reason we want to stay friends with our ex is to feel as though we exert some form of control over or voyeurism into their lives.  You can’t move into the future if you’re holding onto the past.

You’re better off with a clean break but if you insist….

  1. Take a break, a long break, from the friendship.
  2. Ask yourself why you want to be friends with him.  Make sure it’s for the right reasons.
  3. Approach him like a brand new person and get to know him all over again.
  4. Do not flirt or have sex with him.  Keep it strictly platonic.
  5. Have full disclosure with current and future boyfriends.

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.

The end of an era

There comes a point when your relationship with your ex changes.  You may wake up one morning and the connection is gone.  You’re not angry with him, you don’t want him back, you just feel a bit…meh.  It can be described as a detached calm.  There has been a shift in your feelings and your relationship with him no longer serves you.  Do not feel bad, this is merely the end.

However, as this denouement is a bit of a disappointment (no bang, no whimper, no absolute finality), you may feel a bit unsure how to properly call it quits with your ex after you’ve already called it quits.  You should inform him, with no malice, that your relationship has run its course, there is no additional benefit to remaining in contact, and it’s better for both of you to say goodbye than to hang on to the last sentimental vestiges of a bygone era.  Do not be hurt if he readily agrees – he just came to the conclusion before you did but didn’t want to hurt you.  Also, do not be surprised or swayed if he attempts to argue the point – no one likes to be the one left out of the decision-making process.  Stand firm and remain calm.  It’s over, the only thing that’s left is acceptance.

Then quietly begin the last of the separation.  Remove him from your social networking sites, delete him from your cellphone (although keep his information somewhere just in case you ever need to ask a question, like did you file your taxes together five years ago), put all his pictures and stuff in a box, or better yet, give it to charity.  Stop commenting on him to friends, in fact, ask them not to talk about him at all.  Soon enough he’ll be that guy you once dated and think fondly of….just don’t look him up again.

All you do to me is talk talk

It is natural, when you end a relationship, to have feel as though you still have unfinished business.  This usually manifests itself as a painful, protracted conversation with just enough hope thrown in to keep you coming back.

While you may feel as though you need closure, do not fool yourself into believing that you could still have a life with this person – there are usually very good reasons why you broke up.

Should you find yourself in a relationship exit interview here are some things to remember:

  • You are not rekindling the relationship no matter is being alluded to.
  • Make it short and sweet.  It may not be all hammered out in one afternoon but if it’s stretching into months, it’s gone on too long.
  • Be as pleasant as possible.  Do not attack or lay blame.  Do not accept these things either.
  • Ask what went wrong in their opinion but do not expect an honest answer.
  • Do not offer to fix what went wrong – you’re past that now.
  • Accept what they say as constructive criticism, ask for examples but not solutions.
  • Agree to disagree.  You’re fact-finding, not defending your record.
  • Work on what is valid, disregard the rest.  Do not beat yourself up over someone’s opinion.
  • There is no such thing as obtaining closure from another person, it’s a gift you give to yourself.

The insufferable affliction of being alone with you

Quite possibly one of the hardest parts of a breakup is when all the hullabaloo dies down and you are left to your own devices.   Friends have stopped the random cheer-me-up phone calls and have returned to their regularly scheduled lives.  Your mom doesn’t fret if she should have him over for the holidays.  The post-breakup sabbatical that your coworkers had offered you is over.  It’s like the universe has silently judged that your period of mourning is well and truly done.

Breakups suck and generally, you’re looking forward to the day when it’s over.  Even if the breakup is civil,  your self-esteem and self-confidence have taken a beating.  In the midst of a breakup, you fantasize that your life will be better afterward – calmer, content, nesting.  You never imagine how excruciating it can be to be alone with yourself.

In the beginning, you will attempt to amuse yourself – new hobbies, new friends, new boys.  These diversions will end quickly as their entertainment value pales.  You may find yourself bored, restless, even slightly angry.  You need to look for something greater, you need to search for yourself.

Finding your big girl panties

You have your exit strategy.  You’re working the plan.  It’s nearly time to leave…and you still haven’t told him.  No amount of silence, arguing, or unfinished conversations is going to inform your partner that you’re leaving.  You’re going to have to do that yourself but first you’re going to have to get over your fear.

No, it isn’t going to be an easy conversation but it’s probably not going to be as difficult as you imagine either.  He has a clue that things aren’t going well (no one is that great of an actress) so this won’t be a complete shock to him.  If you think things might turn ugly, enlist the support of a friend.

It will boost your confidence if you have an idea of what you’re going to say but save the speeches as they’re neither welcome nor appropriate.  Give yourself a pep talk to maintain your convictions and to remain polite.  Eat healthy and maintain a sleep schedule the few days ahead of time so you aren’t feeling sick or emotional when the moment comes.

Then plunge in by saying those 4 words everyone loathes to hear….we need to talk.

Pyrrhic victory in relationships

If you’re unfamiliar with the term Pyrrhic victory, allow me to summarize:  the victory has cost you more than you could afford to lose.

When leaving a relationship, it’s tempting to stand up for your principles.  You may feel a need to tell your partner everything they’ve done to wrong you, to “force” your partner to face up to their failings, and to somehow prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re not the bad guy. You may want your partner to pay his “fair share” of a specific debt or agree to an equitable custody schedule for the cats.  You may have a deep, abiding need to somehow make things “just.”

Nothing is even, fair, or just when you’re leaving a relationship.  Leaving a relationship is when you admit that you’re done, you’re giving up and attempting to win some great moral victory will cost you more in time and energy to win than it is worth.  Do not get distracted by petty victories; keep your eye on the real goal – getting your life back.

Be aware that when you stand on principle, you may be standing on your dreams.

Paying him to go away

I’ve known a number of people who remained in relationships for money, or rather, for a lack of money.  Sometimes there is an honest lack of money but sometimes it stems from deception or inertia.

If it’s merely a matter of inertia, you need to make some hard decisions.  Have you overstayed your exit strategy?  Have you gotten comfortable in a poor relationship?  Are you sure you’re ready to leave?  Crunch the numbers again and then decide if you’re ready to rip the band-aid off.  (Oh, and if you stay, you need to commit to the relationship, relationships do not take place in gray areas.)

It could be deception, either conscious or subconscious, by either party.  They could be saying that they don’t have enough money to make it on their own all the while they’re going out and partying every weekend.  You could be telling yourself that you’re worried they don’t have sufficient financial skills to make it on their own.  None of this changes the fact that you are not responsible for the other person once you’ve severed the relationship.

If, on the other hand, there is an honest lack of funds – like your partner says that he doesn’t have his half of the money to pay for the divorce paperwork or to afford to move his belongings to a new place – my suggestion is radical, pay for it yourself.  If all that stands between you and your new life is an amount of money you can easily afford, pay it and go be happy.