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Winning her back for the long haul


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3 months since she broke up with me. We have been together for 9 years. I broke up with her after the first 4 years, started dating an amazing woman but it wasn't the same. We got back together but I was still dating #2 for 6 months. I know I'm an finally let go of #2, and we bought a house together (with the love of my life) I then preceded to neglect her, take her for granted, and be emotionally unavailable so she left me. It was a crushing blow. I realize that it needed to happen, I wasn't treating her the way I should and out relationship was unhealthy. I want her back for good. We had a great in person talk 2 weeks ago where we cuddled and really communicated our emotions on a level we never did when we were together. I am now in theropy and have been reading books on relationships. I would suggest "How to be in an Adult Relationship" for anyone. She told me she still loves me but is no longer in love with me. She also said that she would be back with me if she KBEW things would be different and I wouldn't hurt her again. I think she might be seeing someone new and I don't know where to go from here. We might be having breakfast together in two days. Any words of wisdom would be appriciated. Me 34, her 32.

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3 months since she broke up with me. We have been together for 9 years. I broke up with her after the first 4 years, started dating an amazing woman but it wasn't the same. We got back together but I was still dating #2 for 6 months. I know I'm an finally let go of #2, and we bought a house together (with the love of my life) I then preceded to neglect her, take her for granted, and be emotionally unavailable so she left me. It was a crushing blow. I realize that it needed to happen, I wasn't treating her the way I should and out relationship was unhealthy. I want her back for good. We had a great in person talk 2 weeks ago where we cuddled and really communicated our emotions on a level we never did when we were together. I am now in theropy and have been reading books on relationships. I would suggest "How to be in an Adult Relationship" for anyone. She told me she still loves me but is no longer in love with me. She also said that she would be back with me if she KBEW things would be different and I wouldn't hurt her again. I think she might be seeing someone new and I don't know where to go from here. We might be having breakfast together in two days. Any words of wisdom would be appriciated. Me 34, her 32.

 

It sounds like you're honestly trying to make things work...

 

Why did you neglect her in the first place? Where did the disconnect between your emotions and your rationalization happen?

 

Honestly... Admitting you were wrong and working on it is just the first step... Sometimes you need to realize that the relationship failed because of chemistry, not because of individuals involved...

 

So... Wishing you luck, but realize that there's no such thing as "winning someone back"... Relationships almost never end because of only one side... Even if you're the biggest jerk in the world, it still takes two...

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I moved out. She asked my to move out for 1 week. It turned into 3 months. I neglected her because I wasn't and haven't been emotionally there. I feared that opening up she would leave me. I have been working through this in theropy, back to my childhood when my dad left. I know things will be different this time because I'm finally working on me. She is just too scarred of getting hurt again, and she is right. The hardest part is showing it and proving to her that things will be different. There is no way to do that. I have thought about no contact but don't think it is the way to go when an ex left because of neglect. She is leaving in a month to hike part of the PCT for a month and told me she will have an answer when she gets back. She said there is a chance but doesn't want me to get my hopes up because by then I might have another girlfriend so she might have another boyfriend. It's rough knowing I screwed it up with the love of my life.

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I moved out. She asked my to move out for 1 week. It turned into 3 months. I neglected her because I wasn't and haven't been emotionally there. I feared that opening up she would leave me. I have been working through this in theropy, back to my childhood when my dad left. I know things will be different this time because I'm finally working on me. She is just too scarred of getting hurt again, and she is right. The hardest part is showing it and proving to her that things will be different. There is no way to do that. I have thought about no contact but don't think it is the way to go when an ex left because of neglect. She is leaving in a month to hike part of the PCT for a month and told me she will have an answer when she gets back. She said there is a chance but doesn't want me to get my hopes up because by then I might have another girlfriend so she might have another boyfriend. It's rough knowing I screwed it up with the love of my life.

 

She's not the love of your life... That's a statistical impossibility (unless you're literally the worst person on earth that everyone should despise, in which case you're almost guaranteed to have severe psychological disturbances)... If you don't believe in statistics, it's an evolutionary impossibility for such an exclusive mate-selection to persist, too... If you don't believe in evolution, there's a bunch of Oprah shows that might inspire you to... I dunno... Not privately own a chimpanzee? Eat more fennel? Dump an abusive partner? That kinda stuff...

 

Fact is that almost EVERY perspective you take on the matter, unless you feel your life is truly an uncontrolled rollercoaster and you're just a victim of fate, says that she represents less than 1% of the people you're maybe compatible with... (assuming you aren't a sociopath, or hiding any other severe mental disturbances).

 

But seriously, no matter how much of an abusive jerk you are, there's two sides to the relationship... That doesn't excuse you, and yes, I commend anyone willing to admit their role in being the sh*t part of a relationship... But it always takes two to tango... And honestly, it sounds like she's made it clear that she's done dancing...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I ended up sending an email and got this response.

 

Our talk two weeks ago was amazing. We opened up emotionally and shared our feelings. This is something I have been working on. It felt great. I have still been a little standoffish with you, of being worried about how to be around you and how you will react. Of not being able to share with you how I feel in fear that I will make a wrong step. Even with the fear, I have been working on communicating better. I enjoy the times I get to spend with you including yesterday. I always was fearful of opening up, but when I did this with you two weeks ago it made me feel alive. One of my biggest problems was not being able to be emotional with you because I was scarred of what would happen. I was scarred that you would leave me because of my own securities and fears of abandonment. But opening up felt amazing and made me want to do it more. To share with you more, to have you open up to me more, for you to share your emotions and understand you better, to feel you more and know about you and your feelings. I never gave you or us my all. I held back because of fear. The fear I had became my reality. I am no longer fearful of the outcome of communicating my real emotions. I think not being able to open up and communicate was a huge problem in our relationship. I think we both had reasons for this. I know now that great relationships need open and honest communication as a foundation.

 

Only now can I understand how you felt. When the love of your life walks away and is done. I know that our relationship is over. You have never left me before and you doing it was needed. It gave me the chance to look within myself and understand why I behaved the way I did. This awakening has allowed me to see who I was and who I have decided to become and start making much needed changes. I am even attending a mindfulness retreat up in Washington this Saturday (sounds a little weird, but I am looking forward to it).

 

Through therapy and books about relationships (that I would love to share with you, which you seemed open to and I feel that they would be beneficial for you even if we never get back together) I learned I was unable to open up because of many issues. The main one being that my father abandoned me. This has caused me to fear the same abandonment in the one I truly love. To build walls to prevent me for being left and hurt again. These internal walls have been a destructive force that have caused what I feared most. This is something that I am continuing to work through, and I realize now how destructive it has been to myself and others, including you. I was using alcohol as a crutch to bury my pain. As things with us got worse, I couldn't face them head on, I couldn't communicate openly about myself or us. Instead I retreated and drank more. This exacerbated the problem, by numbing my pain, and preventing me from dealing with things. My drinking wasn't only causing problems with us but problems with myself which is why I have decided to stop drinking and face my fears.

 

Because of these things I never felt good enough for you, or for Mac. I wasn't able to fully embrace the love you both had to offer me. You leaving me has opened my eyes to this and so many other things. My time with Mac is now conscious and meaningful. For the first time I am an active participant in his life and it feels amazing. I am working on my fears of intimacy with him and others and find that being fully engaged makes for a better life and is more rewarding. Mac is the greatest gift life has bestowed upon me. I cherish our connection now and push him to be the best person he can be, just as he pushes me to be the best I can. I know now that I want a family, a partner, a companion in life, along with more children. I always had a fear of marriage, or it not working out, but now see myself yearning to have a true partner in life. That I can be there for, can share with, can open up to, and grow with. To be a piece of a puzzle built on love. This I know is the biggest gift life can give to us.

 

I love you and you have made a huge impact on my life and made me realize so many things about myself. The fact that I could love someone so much but not be able to show it and as a result hurt you has been one of the most eye opening experiences that I have had. I also know that it would be hard for you to trust that my love for you is enough. That things would be different. Without you leaving, I would have continued to neglect you and be afraid of my own emotions. I would have never been able to look inside myself and realize the things I need to work on. As much as it has hurt me, you have given me an amazing gift. This is one of the many reasons I love you. You have made me face things about myself that I never would have been able to do on my own. This has changed my life for the better, and it needed it to happen. I have so many regrets about us and how I have treated you. You have always shared your love, even when I was unable to.

 

I have spent a lot of time thinking about you, and how I never want to hurt you again. Not wanting to try again without being sure I wont ever hurt you, that things will be different, that you are my true love, that I can share our love, be supportive, open, and understanding for the rest of our lives. Realizing the pain I was causing you has been crushing and I have tons of shame and guilt. I also realize for us to ever try again, it would be a decision that you will have to make on your own. For it to ever work, we would need to talk about the problems and issues we have had, and work through them. Counseling would be a must. I know that it would be hard work for both of us. I will have to prove, not only to you, but your friends and family, that things will be different. I have caused you so much pain I realize why you feel like you can't trust me with your heart again. You have opened up twice and I have betrayed your love both times. You told me you feel if we got back together it would end up again like the last two times, it makes sense that you feel this way. I would love the chance to prove you wrong, to continue working on us for the rest of our lives. A relationship is a never ending journey, that continues to grow over time with communication and love. I am finally ready for this journey, and would love to go on this adventure with you. Things would have to go slowly. This was a problem the last time we got back together. We have so much love that we went back in heads first without dealing with why it ended the first time. One of the books I have been reading goes over the stages in relationships. The third stage is the conflict stage where things end up in a breakup (which happens most of the time) or partners working through the issues and becoming better and stronger, which results in an unbreakable bond. I feel like we have the love to make this happen. I have never experience anywhere near the love I have for you, it has been deeper and stronger than anything. I am now learning how to care for it. We have that magical type of love that a lasting future can be built on. If you are willing, we can try and see how it goes, very slowly. Reconnecting and just spending time together. We would have to start fresh, I don't want to fix our old relationship but start something new, stronger and better, different and lasting. I don't want to have regrets in the future that I didn't do everything I could to make it work with someone I love so much. For a new start we would need to discuss what we want for the future, including date nights, future plans for us, marriage, children, etc. We would need to talk about this more in depth moving forward. I also think both of us should write out what we need in a relationship, what it would take for it to work long term and how we would accomplish it. It would be nice for you to talk with me about how my actions have affected you and what you need from me in terms of my support and love. I have faith. And I want to have your hand in mine when I am old, that sounds like the best thing in the world to me.

 

You have asked me many times why I love you. You asked because I neglected the love you were openly sharing with me, and not feeling it back. I love you for so many reasons that the list would be endless. I love your gorgeous big blue eyes, your advice and intellect, strong will and determination, your hair, the way you tease me about my cold showers, holding your hand, I miss your face, your smile, your touch, your amazing cooking, your love and affection,watching movies, your lips, snuggling with you as the little spoon, your head in my lap, my head in your lap, how short you are, cooking dinner together, how much you love your cats, the way you want the world to be, how your mind works and the fact that you are the best architect in the world, being an amazing mother to Mac, that you enjoy burning yourself with water, your perfect size head to my big one, the scar on your thigh, your feet when I rub them, your 6 different types of laughter, I love YOU.

 

I also want to thank you for all you have done for me over the years. The love and time you have shared, all the times you have always been there for me and the support you have shown me. The good times that we shared and how we aged together. The way you allowed me to be a father to Mac, and all you did for him, being another mother. That has meant so much. I will always look back with a smile on my face when I think about you. The attached photos remind me of the better times.

 

Take some time to think over the email and know that no matter what, I will never have any hard feelings toward you. I now know that any successful relationship only works if both partners want it and are willing to put in the work, and are open and honest with what it will take. I have faith that we will work, and our love with grow and deepen. I feel that we can make that happen if we try. I love you and always will. I can understand if you are gone forever, that won't change my love for you. I just want your happiness even if I will no longer be a part of it. I know that we will always have a connection and love in whatever form it takes. I think you are amazing. You are the best teacher I have ever had. You are you, and I love you for it.

 

 

 

All my love babe

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She sent me back -

 

I just wanted you to know that I got your email. I've read and reread it many times. I am still processing. I don't have a response yet. I need a little time, but I didn't want to leave you without anything, worrying that I'm ignoring you putting it all out there like you did. I'm not ignoring, just reflecting. I will respond once I have sorted through my thoughts/feelings.

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Still no response to my email. I did see her last week after our emails. She came to my sons 5th grade graduation and dinner. She has been in his life since he was one. We sat together and made small talk. She even wanted a picture of all of us together. I'm sure this part sounds crazy, but my son, his mom, and her husband still live with my ex, in the house we got together. They moved in shortly after we bought the house. I got the boot, but they are still there. My sons mother has been my rock during all of this. Crazy that we hated each other back in the day, and now we are good friends. The living situation sounds strange but it worked. Except I'm now on the outside looking in. ty.

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I just want to say that I am in a VERY VERY similar situation. I feel your pain when I read your post and responses. I too want to win my ex back but when he was being flaky with me he admitted he was seeing something that he has known a very long time and now he is just distant unless he is working, then he is constant with the texts and calls. Good luck to you...I know what it feels like to lose the love of your life and feel like you are just lost!

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We all have our own opinions and experiences and dealing with love and emotions is not an exact science. I am not an advocate of sending long emails and letters - I have learned that the hard way. A letter or email to a partner when you are both still madly in love is a great thing. But sending one to try and "repair" a relationship or trying to get her/him who dumped you to see your side of the story nearly always backfires. It is still pleading and begging in a different format and that is highly unattractive to someone who is trying to pull away. Stop for a minute and and think of it through the eyes of the ex who broke up with you: she/he WANTS that distance (for whatever reason) and they do not want to be reading gushing stuff from you, they think of it as pathetic. They want OUT - at least for the time being. So give them that gift.

 

Seriously, knowing what I now know, if I'm ever given the friend-zone speech in the future, I am going to simply say words to the effect that "I'm sorry you feel that way, I love you and would like to work at it and rebuild what we had but if you don't then I'll see myself out. Call me if you reconsider." Then go NC from that point. You take back your power doing that and remove yourself from being a puppet on their string -where you've been OP. It will focus the mind of the dumper much more.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just got this. Any thoughts?

I have hesitated to write back to you for so long because it has been so hard. I have been compartmentalizing the part of my life that is wrapped up you, because thinking about whether or not we have a future or what kind of future that would be forces me to remember and relive so much of the loneliness and sorrow that I felt while we were together. I don't say that to hurt you or to make you feel guilty. You know me... just the thought of you feeling bad tears me up inside. I say it because I want you to understand how confused and conflicted I am where you are concerned. I haven't been able to figure out what I want and every time I try to sort through all my feelings to figure it out I just feel lost... sadness, guilt, remorse, grief, longing, occasionally resentment, regret, love, happiness (bittersweet), confusion... just lost. I hesitated to write to you because every time I tried I went to a very emotionally heavy place and then to be completely honest, I would reach a point where I just couldn't spend any more time so sad and overwhelmed. I've been working so hard to heal and be happy and it would start feeling like quick sand, sinking into sorrow, and I was afraid of going there. I would pull back telling myself I would take some time and then return to a half finished email. Then, by the time I had returned, everything I had written before seemed wrong. I would change my mind both about what I wanted and how to say it. None of that is an excuse. It was very wrong of me to leave you wondering for so long and I am sorry. I never want to hurt you either. I know I have. I know at least parts of what I'm going to say will hurt you (and that ing kills me).

 

I don't have any hard feelings towards you either. I still love you. No matter what happens, parts of me always will. In order to heal, I have had to shut down the part of me that loved you more than I loved myself, and it was the hardest thing I've ever done. But the part of me that is hopeful that you are re-becoming the man I fell in love with (older and wiser of course); the part of me that is tender and emotional, that loves hard and never lets go; the part of me that misses your laugh; the part of me slept beside you thousands of times; the part of me that saw you as her best friend will always love you. I am so happy to hear about all the progress you are making in your life. It gives me great joy to see you working to find your happiness, to be the kind of person you want to be, to develop deeper, more compassionate, open and understanding relationships with people, your mom, friends, Ashley, and Mac.

 

I still love you and yet, I have been afraid of letting you back into my life in any real way. I have been afraid of losing myself another time when I have only just found myself again. I don't know that I can explain what it has been like to wake up and realize that you have become a supporting character in your own life story; that over time you have slowly changed everything about yourself until one day you blink and don't recognize yourself anymore... though maybe your journey of self-reflection and rediscovery hasn't really been all that different from mine.

 

I am not afraid anymore... or at least, most of me isn't afraid. I feel like me again. I feel confident and strong. I'm living the life I want and surrounding myself with people that matter; people who see "me", who see the strengths I don't even see along with all the quirks and "flaws" I do see and love me anyway. I have been hesitating because I've been afraid of going backwards and losing that. I have been hesitating because you keep saying you love me, but I'm not sure I believe that... or at least that the "me" you loved was this lost, modified version of me that was changing everything about herself trying to make you happy and who doesn't exist anymore. But, you matter to me. I don't want to hesitate anymore. I am open to trying to rebuild a relationship with you... for you to get to know me as I am... for me to get to know you as you are and as you are trying to become. I open to finding out if you can be somebody who sees "me", loves me as I am, and supports me in staying that way. I have always loved you and tried to support you, but our relationship will forever be different and loving you and supporting you will be different now than it was before.

 

That being said, there are a couple of things I need to be clear about and one big thing I need to share. And you will need to think very hard about all of them and decide what you want, whether you can accept what I have to offer in a way that is healthy for you.

 

First, when I say relationship, I need to be clear that I don't mean it in the romantic sense. I use it because "friendship" seems trivial after what we have been through. I'm truly sorry because I know that isn't what you are hoping for, but for me, that part of our story is over. Too much sorrow, too many years of bad habits of trying to change who I am so I could be worthy of your love, too many years of feeling like I wasn't good enough, too much baggage, too many times reaching out and opening my heart only to be hurt one way or another mean that I just can't go back to a place that vulnerable with you. I have let go of or forgiven old wounds from that part of our relationship and I feel strong enough to try friendship and family (because you are my family) with you, but I can't be your partner.

 

Second, you need to know that I am going to be very protective of my sense of self-worth and those boundaries need to be clear. Some of the insecurity issues I have are: being socially awkward; being annoying when telling stories or trying to be funny; being too sensitive/emotional; things I like or am interested in being trivial, dumb, or unimportant; being too naive; not having any value as a human being outside of being wanted sexually; being sexual deviant/damaged; and being stupid. I am working on healing from those insecurities. I don't mention those to make you feel bad or because I want apologies from you. They are not your "fault". They are the result of mistakes and circumstances affected by both of us. No one's fault, they just are. But you still need to be aware of them. I will be very protective of the progress I have made and while I am open to building a new relationship (friendship & family) with you, I won't continue with a relationship that compromises that progress or where I feel small again.

 

And finally, I can't think of a single easier way to say it or I would, but I am with someone now. I struggle with how much information to give you about me and him. I struggle between feeling like I owe you some kind of explanation and between fighting back that I don't "owe" you anything. And, I don't know what you want to hear. What I will share with you now is that he wasn't a factor in me ending things with you. I met him after I broke up with you. He became a very good friend to me and has been unbelievably supportive. I grew to love him as an amazing friend over the last four months and then in the last couple weeks he has become more. I don't tell you this to hurt you. I tell you because he is important in my life and any relationship between us will require you to be supportive of that. I recognize that is a lot to ask. I understand if that isn't something you can handle right now, or ever, I guess.

 

 

 

I am open to trying build a new relationship with you, to slowly get reacquainted with one another and discover what the boundaries of that friendship/family relationship need to be for it to be healthy for each of us. For me, that new relationship would have to be supportive of my still slightly fragile self-esteem, of my continued growth and independence, and of my new partner. I also need any relationship between us to be supportive of YOUR growth and progress. I am so proud of the man you are becoming, so proud to see you finding the compassion, consideration, empathy, and introspection I always believed you were capable of. I don't want to be responsible for compromising that. Moreover, I would hate myself if I was. I leave to hike the PCT tomorrow morning. I'll be gone for 3 weeks to a month. Please take that time to really consider what you want, what you are capable of, what you would need from a relationship with me, and what will be healthy for you as a person. Please don't make sacrifices on your self improvement. I loved you with everything I had and no matter what happens or how I grow parts of me always will. I would like to see if we can forge a new relationship where it doesn't just have to be parts of me that love you, where I can love you as a friend and as my family with my whole heart. I'm not totally sure that's possible, but I am open to trying. I understand if you can't, or can't right now. I'll always be here.

 

If you decide it's something you want/is healthy for you (and I'm here is you have questions or concerns or want to talk it through)... I'd love to get coffee when I get back, or email if we need to start with smaller building blocks... and talk to you about triathlons, and volunteering at a refugee camp, about me taking in a refugee and her daughter, about drawing again, about my PCT hike, etc. I would love to hear about your retreat, and share relationship books, and hanging out with Mac, the Chicken Gardner, Arsenal, gun bans/abortion laws, etc. If not, I'll only contact you about the house and we will figure out a plan together. Either way, I love you, nothing will ever change that. I hope that this doesn't hurt you as much as I fear it will. It has hurt me immensely to write it because of my own grief but also because I fear your pain. I'm sorry for the hurt, and I hope you will be happy, eventually if not immediately. I have only ever wanted the best for you. I hope that you continue to heal and become the kind of person you want to be and live a life of joy where your are fully present, fulfilled, and grateful. I love you.

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It's a very carefully worded, very clear answer. The romantic chapter of your relationship is closed...sounds like for good. She sounds like a really self-aware, thoughtful and intelligent person who cares very much about you and cherishes the relationship that you had, while recognizing it ultimately wasn't what she wanted.

 

Up to you whether you can or want to be friends. I imagine you already know what you're capable of doing at this point.

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It's drivel and chicken feed. And I agree, a long-winded way of trying to keep you as a back up option in case the new relationship fizzles out. Seriously, I would not even reply. And if you have already replied I hope you have answered with words to the effect that you don't accept being an optional orbiter. Wish her well and say you are going in a different direction in life to her now and if she wants to revisit at some point in the future then to give you a call. Then go 100% NC. You maintaining contact is going to hurt you.

 

I know it hurts but hang in there. It will get better and the sun will shine again on you.

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The saga continues. . .

I was rereading your first email. You are an amazing and compassionate person. Wow! I love you. Sorry for all the drama. Go enjoy yourself on your trip, be safe, watch out for yellow jackets.Thanks again for everything. I look forward to that cup of coffee. ☺

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I know I need to end it on my own, and know we are done forever. It is just hard after 10 years, with her having a new man. It doesn't help with her telling me she still wants to be my FAMILY and friend. What does that even mean, wanting to be my family, as long as I can accept her new man???

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