If you’re hoping to get back together with your ex, then this is for you.
First, my story.
My front door slammed shut like a thunderclap.
A man I loved desperately, madly— my fiancé— who I didn’t want to admit was now my EX-fiancé, had walked out the door in a huff. And it was my fault.
A few hours earlier he had texted and come over under the really shady guise of “returning a text book,” from a college course taken years ago that I had mistakenly left at his house when I moved out.
When he came to the door, he looked stricken. I had been fantasizing for months about him bringing flowers and giving me a big speech about how he had made a huge mistake. I wanted him to tell me how he had changed, how he was an idiot and that he couldn’t stop thinking of me.
“Here,” he grunted, and thrusted the textbook toward my chest.
I took my very outdated, dog-eared, extensively highlighted copy of relationship psychology (oh the irony!) from him gingerly and tossed out an attempt to connect.
“How have you been?” I said, haltingly— wondering if there would be more to this awkward interaction.
“Ok,” he said tentatively.
“I’ve been pretty good too,” I said in a tone I hoped was cheerful and carefree.
“Oh. That’s good,” he said, brightening up the smallest bit.
“Want to come in and catch up?” Figuring I had nothing to lose.
He nodded and came inside. He hadn’t seen my place before, so I gave him a quick tour and motioned for him to have a seat on the couch.
After a little bit of small talk, he looked absentmindedly in my direction and said, “I miss you.”
I couldn’t believe it. I had longed for him to say this to me.
“Well, you shouldn’t have given up then.” Oh my goodness— why did I say THAT?
“I guess it’s for the best,” he said sorrowfully.
Not one to give up on a verbal beating once I’ve started it, I doubled down and started listing all of the reasons why we should have fought for us. I ended this embarrassing monologue with the statement, “well, you’re probably happier now without me, anyway.” And how did my cheeks get soggy? Crap.
I could see the anger blooming in his eyes. “I don’t know why I’m even here!” He said.
Then he took off. I beat myself up for weeks afterwards. At that point, I didn’t even understand why I had acted like that and couldn’t make heads or tails of why he had come over. I wanted him to “fight for us” but I acted totally repellent.
Later he admitted he had come over to feel out whether I wanted to reconcile, but I had seemed so bitter, he thought it was definitely over between us.
Now, I don’t share this story so that you cringe (even though I’m cringing). I share it to illustrate how even when we really want to repair our relationship with our ex, our hurt and anger over being dumped can sometimes take over and lead us to say totally ineffective things. Also, even though it looks like it in the movies, exes usually won’t beg to get you back or play into your fantasy about how your reconciliation will go.
If you miss someone and are thinking about getting back together, I want to save you from my mistakes. Let’s talk about what exactly happened here, why this is such a common cycle during a breakup and what to do instead.
Why can’t your ex beg to get you back?
Your ex MIGHT eventually realize they made a mistake. They might go out and date other people only to realize that the only thing they want in the world is another shot with you. They might actually feel the remorse that we so sorely hope for.
The problem is that exes RARELY act how we want them to, on cue. Unfortunately, two main problems prevent their grand return. Confirmation bias and pride.
In layman’s terms, “confirmation bias” means that once someone believes something to be true, they’ll look around for more evidence that confirms their belief. After a breakup, the person who made the decision to leave will look around for reasons that they were right to split up. When you mope around and then “share how you really feel” with them, this reinforces their decision to leave you.
This is why you can’t keep feeding them reasons to confirm that the breakup was a good decision— if you want them to change their mind, that is.
Next, no matter who made the decision to make a break, going back on that decision feels like losing they are face. It’s hard for anyone to eat crow and admit they were wrong, especially in a situation as emotional as leaving a love. Their ego won’t let them admit they were wrong directly 99% of the time. This is why exes usually do something bizarre like dig up an old, forgotten college textbook and come over. Their contact feels like something that doesn’t make sense, not a grand gesture.
Drop the fantasy about what MIGHT happen between the two of you and embrace the reality that when/if they return, it’s more likely to sound like a whimper than a roar, even if they SHOULD apologize because they smashed your heart like a piñata at a seven-year-old’s birthday party.
Why do your emotions run amok when you actually want them back?
When your ex puts out that feeler, it seems weak and confusing. On one hand, we might miss our ex terribly and want another shot.
On the other, there is an element of wanting to punish our ex for dumping us. We want them to grovel. We want them to bow and scrape and rue the day that they ever hurt us.
This pile of mixed feelings leads us to do some really odd things. We pledge our undying love and then rage at them. We go blank and non-communicative, we ignore them, we give up and then suddenly realize that we made mistakes and then call them. Man or woman, it doesn’t matter. The feeling of longing, abandonment, hurt and panic does similar things to everyone.
So what do you do about this?
Get clear on what you really want with your ex FIRST.
Do you truly want them back or are you in love with the idea of them but glossing over the gritty parts of the real relationship?
Are you willing to forgive them?
Before you can act like the wonderful being your ex fell in love with, you have to let go of the hurt and anger and align yourself with the goal. What is the goal?
Are you going to try for another chance? Or are you going to shut the door on your old relationship?
Only you know the answer to that one.