Why You Can't Make Your Ex Fall In Love With You Again

It’s liberating when you realize that someone doesn’t love you anymore. Well, at first it’s devastating. At first you’ll be stricken with grief and question what’s wrong with you. You’ll ask yourself what you can do to make yourself more lovable, as if changing one thing will suddenly make you more appealing to a mass group of people. There must be something you can fix inside yourself that will bring all the men and women who loved you back, who once held you like a boa constrictor in bed and delighted in your every movement. You were a gold star they stuck on their bedroom wall until the edges started to wilt, and you fell down. Gold star, little star, crumbled up piece of sticker on your foot that you can’t seem to get off.

No, no. It doesn’t work that way. We can’t bring anyone back. What’s done is done. Something inside of them switched and they made the decision to stop loving you. If only we understood at that moment how little it had to do with us. When you fall in and out of love with someone, it’s like you become privy to all the secrets of the world. You understand what life is all about, how badly we all just want to connect with someone and feel like we have a partner or a teammate. It’s cruel how quickly things can change, how your teammate becomes an adversary at the drop of a hat. All the while, you keep asking yourself “How can I get the gold star to stick again? How can I get my teammate back?” What you don’t know now, you’ll understand later. Trust.

You learn a lot about people and their ability to disengage when you get your heartbroken. But I would venture to say that you learn even more when you break someone else’s heart. That’s when it all becomes clear and you’re finally able to get over that one person who stopped loving you. Because now you know the secret. Now you know how random it all is. It’s a scary truth to realize. It’s a much easier pill to swallow when there are concrete reasons why the love stopped — it makes people seem less scary and more rational — but sometimes love is just as irrational as a loss of love. Things stop just because.

Only when I had the experience of falling out of love with someone myself did I begin to understand it all. Only then did it become clear that my ex didn’t love me anymore period. No ifs, ands, or buts. I could have plastic surgery to look like Ryan Gosling and it wouldn’t make a lick of a difference. Just like how it was with the boy I stopped loving. He could have done anything to make me love him again and it wouldn’t have mattered. In my mind, the doors had closed and there was NO WAY to reopen them.

Realizing this might sound depressing but it was actually the ultimate relief. I could finally stop torturing myself over “What if’s” and ways to get my ex back. I now knew that it was impossible. Just like I had done with this boy, the love switch had gone off in my ex’s brain forever. It was no longer about me and my shortcomings as a partner. It was about something inside of him changing forever that was out of my control. Knowing there was no hope in salvaging the relationship was the greatest gift I could ever give myself. By having been on both sides of the coin, I can see love in all its screwed up complexities and here’s the take-away message I’ve gotten: Love is there until it’s not. It might have everything to do with you or it might have nothing to do with you. The point is that people change and outgrow each other. Placing the blame on yourself and agonizing over what you could’ve done to change the outcome is fruitless. It’s all chemical anyway. Take the weight of the grief off your shoulders and take solace in knowing that you will be loved again. TC mark

image – Nicolo Patermoster

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • EAZ

    Thank you.

  • Merav

    ditto on the thx

  • Merav

    ditto on the thx

  • Bee

    As someone struggling with this right now, it’s not easy to hear…but I will be rereading it often to try to stop all the useless obsessing.  Thank you.

  • http://gabbygabbypoetry.tumblr.com/ Gabby Gabby

    hehe i think i’m going to keep trying tho…

  • http://gabbygabbypoetry.tumblr.com/ Gabby Gabby

    hehe i think i’m going to keep trying tho…

  • Jen

    But what about those couples that break up and keep going back to each other? Or the exes who regret their “mistake” of dumping someone and want them back? Or people who “take a break” and then end up married? I see it happen ALL the time. Like, there are thousands of couples who do this. Are they just fooling themselves? Is that actually possible?

    • SS

       They’re people that never fell out of love then. My boyfriend and I originally broke up because we didn’t think we could handle long distance. Then we got back together once we realized that we could love each other despite distance. I’m sure it happens all the time.

    • ASURAD123

      Either they’re people who never fell out of love OR perhaps are settling knowing they won’t find anyone ‘better’. 

  • JessSaysHi

    Everytime I read a piece and I skip over the author I can immediately tell when it’s one of yours. You have a certain style about the way you write where you ALWAYS interject yourself into the piece which in-turn pulls me out of it. I wanted to read this without thinking of you. I wanted to read this with just me in mind.

  • Stu

    :/ but good. 

  • Claire

    But what about those couples that keep going back to each other over and over? Or the exes that regret their “mistake” of dumping someone and realize how much they want them back? Or couples who “take a break” and later end up married? I see that happen over and over. Like there are thousands of people that do this. Are they kidding themselves or something? Is any of that actually possible?

    • Ryan

      Regardless of whether or not couples end up together again, it is only with letting one another go and rediscovering them that allows you to be truly happy. Clinging to memories of the past and hoping to go back to that time will never yield what you really want; sure you can remember them fondly, but obsessively hoping for a rekindled love will only end in pain.

  • eastcoastie

    last line is the best. ”
    Take the weight of the grief off your shoulders and take solace in knowing that you will be loved again.”

  • Ariel

    So relevant. Thank you. 

  • Anonymous

    You totally can and it rules.

    • Oliver Miller

       Yeah, I mean, what you really do is wait a couple of months until they’ve settled down.  It’s not too hard.  Easy-ish, even.

  • That didn't help

    This very true observation just doesn’t stick until the suffering magically goes away. Especially if you struggle with lifelong loneliness, the kind where you have to wait 4-5 years for your next kiss, and the stakes just get higher and higher.

  • gUEST

    I have decided to write haikus for comments here since I can never get any of my crappy writing on this site….

    Haiku 1:

    If I leave tonight,
    and believe me I will, you
    can have my dirty laundry.

  • http://offtheeatenpathstl.com/ Stephanie

    Where was this 10 months ago when I needed it? :) 

    Great piece. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m just waiting for the day I fall OUTof love. Oh wait, I need to fall IN love again to make that happen.
    It’s a vicious cycle, that’s what it is. 
    But I’m still waiting. 
    Patience. Patience. PATIENCE.

  • Shutupman

    Can someone stop this Ryan O’Connell from talking like he’s the head of all knowledge. He’s like 12 years old, he doesn’t know anything about anything. And I am sick to death of people being fed bullshit. How’s about you shut up and stop writing for a while Ryan and go and learn about the world beyond the end of your own nose.

    • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

      Haters gonna hate.

      • Nishant

        Yes. What is your point? Of course that is what haters do. But it does not mean they hate something without a reason. With your three words, however, you suddenly equate your intelligence with that of someone like Snooki. Isn’t this one of her favourite lines?

      • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

        By responding to my three words in such an ‘intelligent’ way, you’ve communicated to the community that you’ve really got nothing better to do… Haters gonna hate.

    • hi

      u mad

  • http://twitter.com/Picsanya Picsanya

    This article could also be named “Why you Shouldn’t make your ex fall in love with you again”

  • Sixthofmarch

    Love is not an emotional quality, love is a NOT a feeling. Love is a virtue, a verb, like hope, patience, faith, kindness. Love doesn’t stop or end… I think if you were ever to “fall” out of love you probably never loved that person. You could have cared deeply for them, emotionally attached to them, physically attracted to them; those qualities can end and change at a dime. But love simply doesn’t “stop.” Reject the borrowed vision that love is this fake perception of what movies portray it to be. The enduring quality about love and what’s speical about love is that it’s always there, never ending, and unconditional. Whether this be to a partner, a parent, a child, your career, your life; love never stops. Love is seeing the depths of someones heart, good or bad, yet you’ll still choose to protect, to forgive, to show kindness, and to be patience with them.

    Nice read though. But just my own thoughts on your thought.

    • Daisy Chain

      This is the only truth. Love lives on. The relationship may end but once you truly love someone it it doesnt matter what happens afterward. Its liberating in and of itself because it doesnt require something in return. If you dont love someone anymore then you never loved that someone to begin with. And that is also liberating but it was not worth the investment.

  • Kit

    Ryan, this is perfect.

  • http://lauraleialee.blogspot.com LauraLeia

    Best one in a long time, Ryan. But don’t worry, I still enjoy all your articles. 

  • Liz

    Thank you for this. Just what I needed.

  • Alexa

    I genuinely feel like this is at least the 100th TC article I’ve seen on this exact same subject.

  • Thank You!

    Thank you. I love all your writing, but this especially.
    Thank You.

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