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Beginning the reconciliation process and reflections


bigredneck

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Hey all, I've found this board a great place to come to see I wasn't alone in a recent breakup I experienced and to see how best to heal. There's so much great advice on here from posters like Zorba, Majord, and others. I know a lot of people ask for stories about reconciliation and I wanted to share mine with you. We’re a long ways from becoming a couple again but the healing process has begun. I also have some lessons I’ve picked up at the bottom. I apologize for the length / rambling at times. Please feel free to give advice / criticize anything I wrote. I don’t consider myself any wiser than the others on here, I’m just giving my perspective

 

I had a 1.5 yr LDR where we flew to see each other every other or third week. I thought things were going swimmingly well as she was incredibly supportive of me and we respected and trusted each other on an incredibly deep level. Oct - Nov she went through an incredibly tough personal period where I wasn't there for her at all and in fact I made the period even harder for her. I was pretty self absorbed so I had no idea what I was doing to her as I lacked the empathy to think about how my behavior must have appeared from her perspective. Things still seemed to hold up though and I spent Thanksgiving with her family. Then I was surprised when on the Friday before Xmas, right after a weekend we had spent together, she called me to say we should break up. There were tears on both sides, a three hour break up conversation where we hashed out the reasons she wanted to break up. There was begging, I attempted to band aid things, but there was never anger or nasty things said on either side. That weekend on Sat we had a texting convo where I got pretty sad and mopy, on Sunday I sent her a well thought out letter accepting the break and explaining how I understood what I had done wrong. On Monday she let me know she was already seeing this guy who had been a friend when we were dating (met him a week and a half before she left me for him) that he had already been professing his love and saw her as his gf. She talked about the spark she felt for him and how she didn’t know it was possible to feel so comfortable with someone. If you’ve read the thread Zorba contributed heavily to or how people feel in a rebound, this is pretty boilerplate. While she didn’t have the feeling she was going to marry him as she did with me when we met, she said she’d just have to wait to see how things went and that she was living in the moment. During this, another long convo, I didn’t yell at her, I didn’t express anger, I just listened to what she was saying and reflected on it. Basically I hadn’t been giving her the attention / affection she needed, particularly during the emotionally tough time, and then this guy comes into the picture, throws himself at her feet, does things like remembering what wine she likes and the such, and she was flattered and thinks ‘this is what I need in my life’.

 

Two more weeks went by, mostly LC with some NC days. Then two weeks after the break we spent most of Fri / Sat together when I was in town for NYE. 95% of that time was the best time we ever spent with each other. The rest was the worst as old memories about how I treated her in Nov came back to her and she got angry at me with a passion she never had before and said / did things I would have never had expected her to do. She was still seeing the other guy and basically we tried to reconcile far too soon given the emotions involved. After that we went back to LC, where we’d communicate only when she contacted me and I wouldn’t respond unless there was a reason for me to. In many ways she’s more depressed than I am about the whole situation and feels insecure and weak in ways she never has in her life so some responses did tend to the boosting her ego side, but I never asked for her back and I didn’t rehash old apologies on my part. We had LC / NC for last week and then NC for the most recent weekend until Sun when I get a call and text from her saying she needs to talk. She confessed she had gotten back into drugs (which she hadn’t touched in a couple of years but she did in college), that this guy was an enabler, but that she realized what she was doing to her life and she’s cutting him and the drugs out now before it got out of control. I was shocked at the revelation, but was happy to hear she had an epiphany and was now working on improving herself. I helped to console her that afternoon and in a conversation that night. I made it clear that I’m not looking to jump back into anything, that we have a lot of emotion to work through. I told her she’s going to have to work to get me back in her life so I know I can trust her again and where she can prove to me she forgives me for what I did to her. We flirted a bit, we talked about pieces of our lives we had never shared. Upshot, we’re taking it slow and seeing how things go when I’m up in her city visiting my friends on the frequent times I do that.

 

Long journey ahead of us as we reconcile. I think if we do get back together it is still months down the road. I’ll keep those of you interested updated.

 

The things I've learned from my experience and reading all the posts on here

 

1, Every situation is different. There's no formula for getting back with an ex as every person / every relationship is different. I’m a pretty even keeled guy so while I think many people would have flipped out about finding out about the new guy I was able to stay composed as I realized it was due to things I had done. Also after the initial conversations and a lot of tears during our fight I’ve been able to be composed and be a very fun guy when we’ve talked / hung out. Even when she has yelled at me in a nasty face / face fight I didn’t raise my voice and stayed calm. Has it killed me at times? Yes. Doing LC and only responding to her, generally without questions, has helped me not wonder why she didn’t respond to things I wrote. But I still often think about her. Also, she helped immensely by being so honest in saying what went wrong in the relationship so I had a roadmap on what to improve. That I think is the best gift a dumper can give and I know it often isn’t shared. It was a situation where one of us (me) was really to blame. I was mature enough to see what I had done to push her to the other guy. Even with that, there has been luck involved. I don’t think we’d be starting to reconcile had a good friend of hers not sat her down and told her that she had to stop herself from getting back into drugs and this guy wasn’t helping the situation. My ex had realized this guy wasn’t for her long term even before that convo but it took that extra push to realize the direction her life was heading and the change she needed to make.

 

2, When doing LC, the important part is letting the other person lead. Otherwise you aren't giving them space, you'll come accross as needy, you'll only beat yourself up when they don't respond to you. The old relationship is a drug, you need to ween yourself off to improve yourself and put things in perspective. If it takes NC for that, then do it instead. The most important thing is to work on yourself and find ways to improve you. For me, that is still the goal (or actually goals) I’m working on.

 

Limited or no contact also gives a sense of mystery to the other person as they’ll wonder “why isn’t my ex contacting me?” and they’ll start to miss you and reflect on good times. This is particularly true for people who have been the dumper with other guys as they are likely used to guys begging, pleading, and pestering. You’ll set yourself apart. Even with LC, don’t rush to respond to the person unless they are actually in distress. Live your life. Respond when it’s convenient for you. Turn the tables, which will help your emotions. Don’t respond to all their contact, only do it if you need to or if you have a witty response. To help myself do this I took her # out of my phone and set up her email so it displayed as ‘do not email’ when I tried to email from my bberry, which has kept me from sending any bad idea drunk texts or needy emails.

 

3, You have to be able to control your emotions, and this (and #5) is what NC is for. My break with my college ex could not have been more different than what happened with this girl. If I had taken a step back at the end of the college relationship I would have realized sooner that I was upset simply because I couldn't believe she dumped me (we had three break ups / reconciliations in a month long period, I actually did the first two because I never saw myself with her long term). I wanted her back just to ‘win’. This led to me being a horrible ex-bf in numerous ways. I’d call all the time, drive her to tears at work by begging, pleading, and being needy. I said some quite mean things to her at times. I never gave her any space. When I moved to the same city, I’d go places where she likely was hanging out. All that did was drive her further and further away from me. As she told me at one point much later down the road ‘You were an amazing bf, but you were the ex bf from hell’. That’s not how you want to be remembered and that’s definitely not going to make your ex want to get back with you. Women want a rock who can be strong in tough times and help support them. By showing yourself weak, emotional, needy, bitter, or angry in a breakup, particularly after the initial shock, you are turning them off and driving them away. If they get back with you while you are acting like that, it’s not healthy for either of you.

 

4, It's incredibly important to understand why the breakup happened so you can learn from it. In my case, I had become a self-centered jerk over the last 10 years of my life as I had become increasingly ‘successful’ and it took the pain of the breakup and my ex's honesty to open my eyes to that. My ex has been incredibly generous and mature in being able to describe how I hurt her and the errors in my behavior. And I realized these were character flaws that I wanted to change and needed to change.

 

I think that one thing often overlooked on here by people looking for answers on getting back with their ex is understanding and truly reflecting can help you understand if the relationship was even something you wanted. To each his own, but I’ve definitely seen relationships described on here that did not seem healthy for the dumpee and as a third party I don’t understand why they want back in. If your ex didn't like things about you that you don't have any desire to change (how much you focus on your job, the amount of time you spend with your friends, your politics, if you don’t party that much, your parents, etc) or was using you and you were the one keeping the relationship going and they aren’t expressing any desire to change, it’s likely time to move on.

 

5, Self improvement is the most important goal. Over the past several weeks I've improved my outlook on the world and how I interact with others. I am not doing this with the view of getting back with her but because I realize these are changes I need to make to have better relationships with other women and people in general. If there are no lessons to learn from a relationship even after deep reflection, maybe the lesson to learn is about what type of person you want to date or what you really were getting out of the relationship.

 

6, There are definitely 'right' things to do and you can find that advice on here or in things like The Magic of Making up. You have to agree to the breakup (this will set their mind at ease / surprise them a little and also help you realize there were things wrong that you need to think about; I got lucky that a female friend of mine tipped me off to this necessity), you have to show the person you understand the reasons why you broke up (this can be done in a non-pleading email or physical letter. Don’t call as you'll ramble and won't think through things clearly and a letter is something they’ll have with them and can re-read), you have to show the person you improved. This is done some through anecdotes but mainly through actions. Showing improvement isn’t accomplished by pleading 'I changed'. They won't believe it, nor should they. Everyone has heard people say that and seen no action. And if you can't show that you've improved you likely haven't really and are throwing up temporary band aids. Change takes a lot of reflection and generally time, particularly to make change permanent. I’m working on making my changes permanent right now. I think that’s why most successful reconciliations occur months after a breakup. If you feel you screwed up, reflect on how you did and how you can avoid doing so in the future. Even if they screwed up, think if it was something you fundamentally did wrong that drove them to do something to you. If so, and you regret doing it, take responsibility for that. Don’t blame them. If you find yourself only blaming them, even after reflection, there are likely things wrong with the relationship and you should probably question why you want to get back with them. And in sending the apology letter, choose words carefully. Don’t say you know what they feel. Say they must feel angry or hurt. Don’t talk about getting back together any time soon. Say you look forward to using this time to work on yourself and grow as a person.

 

7, Don't dwell on the past. After the initial contrition, when the two of you communicate try to avoid breaking down in tears about how you screwed up (though make sure they are clear you know what you did wrong). Don't bring up the break up. Don’t keep trying to restart the relationship. You both want a new relationship, not a rehash of a relationship that broke. Talk to them in short conversations and as you’d speak to someone you are wanting to date / impress, because that’s what is going on here. You’re convincing them to date the improved you.

 

8, Any future relationship is not a continuation of the old one. That relationship didn't work for some reason. The new has to be one where both people realize what didn't work, have actually changed, and are committed to a new beginning and leaving the luggage behind. If you hit the reconciliation time, you can't talk about old times. You can just talk about where you go from here and work on swooning each other again. You should find why you both first fell in love with each other and see how you have both improved post break.

 

9, Don't rush back in. Don't push the talk about getting back together. That will only scare the other person. The motions to get back together have to come from the dumper.

 

10, Be realistic. Even now, while I think there are a lot of promising signs in my situation (we’ve talked about moving in together one day in the future, she’s volunteering that she loves me without me saying it, she asked when I next go to her city and said she wanted to hang out because she misses me, she realizes I’m improving and has mentioned this to my friends, she’s starting to forgive me for how I treated her, when we’ve hung out she’s said ‘this just feels right’, she realizes we’re both more open with each other than we ever were (a flaw in our old relationship), I think there’s a 50% chance at getting back together with the ex. A lot of emotion should have gone into the breakup by the dumper. Particularly if the dumper is a woman, they ruminated over this a while. To take you back and build a new, better relationship they are going to have to be able to push those feelings aside and take a chance (and when there are factors, like LD, that makes things even more complicated). That takes a lot of work. Only time, showing that you care while not being needy / desperate, improving yourself, and them wanting you back in their life can heal those wounds. Not infrequently they can't be healed, but if you've been working on yourself you will be prepared to move on with your life. On the other hand, if it was a hasty decision and your SO is older than 20, do you really want this person in your life if they would throw away what y’all had so hastily? So even now, my focus is on myself. I’m keeping up LC driven by her (except for a few, infrequent actions showing improvement vs. how I was before). It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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Your advice is well put. I pushed my ex away by being really mean and inconsiderate and now that I've realized that I've been working on not being so critical of other people. We were reconciling a bit too but I rushed it too fast (made out with her and it brought back a lot of emotions). So I've taken a major step back. Everyday is a struggle but like you I've been giving her her space and letting her initiate any conversation we have.

 

Anyway, your advice is great and is something that I think a lot of people can benefit from seeing.

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Update

 

Since the note Tu, she and I have continued to lightly chat over IM, she sends me the occasional email / forward. She's continuing to grow herself, getting her confidence back from the events of Oct / Nov, succeeding at her new job, and finding out things about herself. She talked to a female friend of hers who pointed out that she should do more about dealing with relationship issues as they bother her as opposed to being the cool gf and letting them build up till she can't stand them anymore. The ex emailed me Wed and asked me my thoughts on it (I later found the topic had primarily been brought up in relation to the now defunct rebound. Doesn't bother me, though it's annoying since this friend dates a good friend of mine. Shouldn't she be trying to help me some ) and she expressed that 'at least I know this now if we decide to have a second go at it' and that 'she threw away what could have been an amazing relationship' because of her behavior. We (she brought up and I fully agree with) laid out the ground rules for us seeing each other when I'm up in her city for a couple of weekends in the near future (limiting the amount of time we hang out to not spend a whole day or weekend together while we rebuild and as she gets comfortable with me physically again, trying to not spend the night together). We both talk as if we're likely going to get back together in the future (she wishes I had put off the trip I describe below to a later date, we both joke about getting some high end present for her if we reconcile). During this all, it's hard to not fall into old patterns or to start reading too much into her emails / responses / comments on the phone. We talked a bit last night after she called me in response to a text I sent her telling her that it was a bit weird to be packing for the trip without her (yeah, breaking my LC rules). I'm slipping in my diligence as she ended that call after a while and has cut off several IM chats. The rebound is on its last legs at this point (she's cut off hanging out with him and contact is minimal though she still has yet to just tell him its through (which she's trying to avoid)). It's sometimes hard to remember we're both single as when she throws in comments saying that she's hanging out with a younger friend from college this weekend who moves to her city and writes a humorous blog who she had a 'mutual crush on' back in college but they'd never act on it. It's tough to step back during this time and remember 'I'm single too, I can be out there hanging out with whomever I want'. It's also annoying that I'm pretty sure she hasn't expressed to any of her female friends that she's ruminating trying things with me again. I suppose its the early stages and she doesn't want to seem like 'that girl' to them but it's still annoying since most of my friends know I'd be fine getting back with her if we both changed.

 

I'm flying off for MLK weekend tonight to Argentina on a trip she and I had talked about but that I booked in part as a way of getting away to rebalance myself (I like traveling alone as I'm young and can do things on my schedule and do what I want) and as a slight as a jab at the ex since we had talked about doing the trip this spring. I think we'll be NC the whole weekend except when I send her a note on Monday relating to the country I'm going to and a trip she and I took the exact same day (when we became official, as she pointed out in an email today) and a cab driver's comment on that day a year ago. I'm tempted to call her before I take off, but I think that will be a game time decision.

 

So, in short, wading through the no mans land; in some ways things were easier last week when reconciliation did not seem in the cards at all. Still trying to focus on myself and keeping her separate from what I need to do to make me happy and improve myself. Constant struggle though, as I'm sure others on here can appreciate.

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Is also tough to try to figure out how to not fall in the friend zone, which I'm not ready for. Next weekend when we hang out will be telling and I know there is a limit to what we can do while not around each other and chatting on IM. It's a fine line with being there for the person, assuming things will continue down the path you want, and starting to be a really close confidant. Plus I can't help but feel guilty when I share things, like a couple of hours after she says it's weird that I'm going on a tropical trip without her I shared 'doing last minute itinerary things, figuring out where I'm going. Have to say I know what you meant earlier. Can't help thinking that you'd like doing certain activities'. Hard to know where to keep the mystery / defenses and where to let them down a little.

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