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Should I give it a third chance?


SophiaG
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Hello all. I'm new to this forum. Thanks in advance for your time and advice.

 

My ex and I dated for 6 months when he suddenly sent me a text saying he wanted to break up. I was shocked as it came completely out of the blue. To me our relationship was mostly good, if not great; we had arguments, but I felt very much in love and loved at the time. Actually, only a couple of weeks ago we'd just had some candid conversation about our expectations and issues in the relationship and decided to work on those things together. He was somewhat unhappy with his job, but always told me how much he loved me and was happy to be with me. I didn't have the slightest inkling that he was planning on leaving me like this. That said, I respected his decision and let him go. His explanation was that our differences (I need emotional connection and closeness more than he does, we have different views on some political issues, etc.) had worn him out and that he had lost hope for our future.

 

A few days later he reached out, and we met up to exchange our stuff the following weekend (we were staying at each other's place a lot) but ended up keeping them where they were. He admitted that he was acting cowardly and apologized. I let him know what he did hurt me, but I cared enough to give it another shot, with the condition that we take things slow and work on the issues he brought up.

 

For better or worse, we didn't exactly "take things slow." It was partly because he was impatient (he was a bit upset once I stayed over but didn't want to have sex) and partly because I didn't have the resolve to know or do what was the best for us. We slipped back into the old rhythm pretty quickly. It was soon followed by my birthday and we had a nice vacation together. Since then things started to turn downhill. He became a bit distant and I was dissatisfied. After a seemingly trivial argument escalated to me telling him I don't feel loved and him saying he couldn't stand me accusing him of this and that, we sat down and had another long talk. I sensed that he might have "lost hope" again, but I tried to tell him it was normal to have ups and downs in a relationship, it doesn't mean we can't be happy together, that I still love him and I have not lost faith in him. He hugged me and said he loved me, and we fell asleep holding each other tight.

 

The next morning he kissed me goodbye and went to work. In the afternoon I got another long text from him saying he was sorry but he didn't feel like he really wanted to stay in the relationship. I know it seems like a pattern by this point. We have dated a total of nine months. And it's been barely 2 months since he asked me for a second chance. I felt like an idiot.

 

It was painful, but not too difficult to move on knowing he couldn't be the person I once thought he was. I returned a check for his gift. During the first 2 months after the breakup he texted me a few times, but it's been pretty brief and business like. He apologized again and said he had a good time with me. Other than that last argument, we have been pretty civil and never so much as said mean or hurtful things to each other. I had trouble eating or sleeping in the first few weeks, but by that time I have mostly recovered and started dating again.

 

After those 2 months he started texting more frequently and eventually suggested to hang out and "catch up." We met up about 2.5 months after the breakup, first just hanging out "as friends" but within a couple of days he expressed that he still loved me and wanted to get back together. To me there was no longer much to "get back" to, which he understood, so he suggested we start dating anew and outlined a plan to build a different, stronger relationship. I realized I still liked him and enjoyed his company, more so than any of the guys I've met and dated since. I also acknowledged my own part in the breakup and felt it would be promising if we could both learn from our mistakes. So we started casually dating a few times a week.

 

It's been another month since we started doing this. Things have been pretty decent so far - we had some great time together, and he was making an effort to change the things that lead to our breakup. I have decided not to put a "relationship" label on it and not to have sex until I am more certain about what I feel and want, and he has been supportive. We try to be open with each other and discuss every week or so about where we think things are going, what need to be addressed, etc. He is also making future plans regarding us and his career and appears committed to his effort.

 

A couple days ago we brought up the topic of dating during the 2.5 months when we were broken up. It was not a pleasant topic, but I didn't expect it to bother me as much as it did. He admitted that he had a 6-week fling with someone that started 3 weeks after the breakup and ended 2 weeks before we reconnected again. I know he was free and single at the time and had every right to do what he did, but I couldn't help but feel what we had never meant much to him (which I should have already known) if it was that easy for him to walk away and move on. I also feel he never really had much time to experience being single and reflect on things, although he said he did and his mindset really changed. Worse still, I feel like I might be the backup plan he's turning to when his new relationship didn't work out. I know this is just my insecurities thinking, but it brings up all the feeling of hurt and betrayal during those two breakups. I gave him a second chance and only got myself a second heartbreak. Do I really want for a third? He was super apologetic and tried to reassure me, but we both knew no words could make me feel better about it right now.

 

I have had this feeling of sadness in the back of my mind for the past 2 days. I feel letting him any further into my life will open those old wounds and undo all the healing I had struggled through, though I also see a future of us if things could really change for the better. I appreciate what he did for me in the past month and don't want to punish him for telling me the truth. I believe him that there was no cheating or micro cheating involved, or I wouldn't be so torn. My therapist suggested me hold off making a decision now and see how things go. I don't know how long it will take for me to get over these feelings, if at all possible. What do I do?

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What I’m hearing, and please tell me if I’m way off base, is that you really do want to give a third chance but the fling with the other woman is bothering you?

 

It would probably trigger my own insecurity buttons too if I’m honest but I can tell you that a lot of men I know (myself included) have thrown themselves into new relationships immediately after leaving meaningful ones in an attempt to avoid processing their feelings. It’s a bad strategy because the new relationship is usually doomed from the get-go and then when it ends the feelings from the meaningful one are still there waiting to be faced, haha. BUT, an exciting “fling” is definitely an effective way to distract oneself and deny the loss of the last relationship *in the beginning* so people turn to it like a drug. Doesn’t necessarily mean he moved on that easily, could be quite the opposite.

 

Whatever you decide to do, good luck to you and I hope you are gentle with yourself!

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I agree with your therapist and hold off making any decisions. This relationship seems fraught with issues. For a period of less than one year, this man cannot agree to be in committed relationship with you for any number of reasons. You should be reading the signs by now but you're at the height of your emotions and neither of you have had adequate time to heal and look back in hindsight at how poorly you've both been doing.

 

I don't like the nature of or the transition and morphing that this relationship seems to have changed into either. It's heavy, dark and still full of issues. Each week you're reconvening only to hash out issues and check in with each other on your deep thoughts and fears. Perhaps there was a void previously (not enough sharing) or lost time you're catching up on but it shouldn't be this dark and heavy. Neither of you seem to have suffered severe losses, there were no giant breaches of trust, there are no in-laws, kids, famines and natural disasters. Why is it so necessary to check in with each other so heavily each week? Maybe I'm perceiving it as weighty from the tone in your words but it's really not. Maybe you can clarify. If you do feel that the darkness in the relationship is growing and there is more doubt and uncertainty than lightless (lightheartedness), love and natural joy, this is not right.

 

I hope you feel better soon.

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Skeptic and Rose Mosse, thank you for your responses. I do feel a bit better today after talking with my therapist and posting here.

 

Skeptic76 - Such was what he tried to explain. He said whatever short relationships (or non-relationships) during those 2.5 months were completely different from what we had and have now (I asked him if he was sad when breaking off with this girl. He said maybe for a day or two but it was too short to be really sad over. I reminded him that we have just started dating again for a shorter amount of time. I know I was pestering with no possibly satisfactory answer, but those were my intuitive thoughts.) He said he wanted to be with me permanently if I would let him. I trust him to be sincere at the moment but I don't know how consistent we can be over time. As you can see there was a bad track record.

 

Rose Mosse - Indeed. I should have been more clear, though. It is not always dark and heavy since we reconnected. It was mostly lighthearted fun until this past weekend. He has been making himself very available, attentive to my needs and constantly telling me he loves me although I've made it clear I'm not on the same page right now. From what he said he had learned what went wrong and was confident and determined to fix them. Therefore I was open to the idea of a third chance. I have my doubts and reservations for obvious reasons but until this recent conversation I saw no reason of calling it off for good.

 

We talked about the breakup and the past before but mostly in calm and mature manners, and it didn't make me feel sad like this. Actually, I thought I was prepared for any answer when the question came up - it was him that was somewhat dreading the answer. I have met and dated other people, one of which I kept seeing for a month or so, but I did not get intimate with any of them. Not because of my ex, I just didn't feel like it when I was so fresh out of a relationship. But those are my own boundaries and I do not expect my ex to act accordingly. I just didn't know hearing him saying it would make me feel so sad.

 

But maybe that's just the trigger - what really bothers me also includes the way he handled those two breakups. Those memories weren't hurting me a month ago as I have mentally moved on and accepted the loss as a fact of life, looking forward to a future without him. But I just realized that as my affection grows again those memories have become once again hurtful, as they contradict the profound love that he claimed he's always had for me (he said he loved me when he left but didn't feel we could be happy together, and now he sees it differently and wants to do what it takes to make it work.)

 

To further put things into perspective, he did give me a pass on something similar earlier, about 3 months into our first relationship. I "kicked him out of my apartment" (in his words) after an argument and reached out a few days later when I calmed down and realized I still wanted him. To me I was just requesting a break but he took it as a breakup. It was also clear that I was angry and emotional at the time, although it might still have been a shock to him (the argument itself was sudden and progressed quickly). We got back together right away, and I have not broken up with him since.

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Sorry to hear this. Doesn't this sound like a lot of drama and volatility to you in a relatively brief time? On/off, in/out, too much too soon, etc? Why not step back and reflect what all the chaos is about?

about 3 months into our first relationship. I "kicked him out of my apartment" (in his words) after an argument and reached out a few days later when I calmed down and realized I still wanted him. To me I was just requesting a break but he took it as a breakup. It was also clear that I was angry and emotional at the time, although it might still have been a shock to him (the argument itself was sudden and progressed quickly). We got back together right away, and I have not broken up with him since.
Edited by Wiseman2
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Sorry for the hurt and confusion.

 

You're going to make whatever choice works for you—and it seems you're looking at it all quite consciously—but I can't help but detect an awful lot of tension, drama, and disconnect between two people who have, in the scheme of things, just met. At least from your two posts, it's a bit like you skipped over the relationship part to the "can we save this" part, with each of you reacting from a place that might be driven by more than curiosity, joy, and affection.

 

The impression I'm getting of him (which is to say the impression I'm getting from your words) is that he's petty vague, wishy-washy, not super capable of sitting alone in his own skin. And all that makes him someone you can't quite respect and trust. I can't say I blame you, given the track record, though I wonder if "seeing" if you can trust and respect him is connected to some larger goal and identity you've been wrestling with—if "making this work" represents something to you that is bigger than the hard math of what you plus him equals.

 

I suppose, in your shoes, I'd be asking the question of whether you truly feel, in your gut, that you guys are compatible. That doesn't mean just having good times and hard talks, but a kind of calmness to the spirit. There can be a lot of comfort and "safety" in imagining the potential of a relationship, and trying to realize that potential with and alongside someone. But if the "potential" is being leaned on as a salve to a turbulent "actual," I think it's always wise to try to step back with clear eyes, since in the end the potential is always unknown while the actual is what is always, and only, real.

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Certainly not :(

 

Fortunately I think my self respect is mostly intact, which helped me recover from the last breakup and look at this potential reconciliation with more than a vengeful, "now is my chance to dump you" perspective. He did hurt my pride, but I don't think I'm the only one whose ego was hurt in the process. If I do take him back, it will be because I am confident that we love each other and can create a future together, not because I cannot imagine living without him or can't let go of the past. I will not sacrifice my happiness just to be with him.

Do you enjoy having this guy dump you repeatedly? Girl, where is your self respect.

 

You are right. That's probably exactly what happened, too much too soon. We were strongly attracted to each other and got into a relationship within a couple of weeks. In two months he introduced me to his friends and family and was basically spending 6 days a week at my place (not moving in, just staying over). Of course we both enjoyed it and was madly happy at first, which made the later clashes all the more painful. He did feel moving too fast didn't do too well for us the first time and propose to take things slow (which I asked for after the previous breakup but we didn't follow through) and allow us more time and space to ease into each other's life this time. I don't know how much time will be enough though; it just felt so natural at the time.

Sorry to hear this. Doesn't this sound like a lot of drama and volatility to you in a relatively brief time? On/off, in/out, too much too soon, etc? Why not step back and reflect what all the chaos is about?

 

 

Those are very wise words, bluecastle. My description certainly painted him a certain way which perhaps didn't do him justice, but I was focusing on the dysfunctional parts of our relationship. Do you mean we "just met" in the a little over a year we've known each other, or the past month since we "met" again?

Also I'm not sure I understand "some larger goal and identity you've been wrestling with" correctly... Are you thinking of goals like marriage, kids, or simply wanting to be in a relationship?

Sorry for the hurt and confusion.

 

You're going to make whatever choice works for you—and it seems you're looking at it all quite consciously—but I can't help but detect an awful lot of tension, drama, and disconnect between two people who have, in the scheme of things, just met. At least from your two posts, it's a bit like you skipped over the relationship part to the "can we save this" part, with each of you reacting from a place that might be driven by more than curiosity, joy, and affection.

 

The impression I'm getting of him (which is to say the impression I'm getting from your words) is that he's petty vague, wishy-washy, not super capable of sitting alone in his own skin. And all that makes him someone you can't quite respect and trust. I can't say I blame you, given the track record, though I wonder if "seeing" if you can trust and respect him is connected to some larger goal and identity you've been wrestling with—if "making this work" represents something to you that is bigger than the hard math of what you plus him equals.

 

I suppose, in your shoes, I'd be asking the question of whether you truly feel, in your gut, that you guys are compatible. That doesn't mean just having good times and hard talks, but a kind of calmness to the spirit. There can be a lot of comfort and "safety" in imagining the potential of a relationship, and trying to realize that potential with and alongside someone. But if the "potential" is being leaned on as a salve to a turbulent "actual," I think it's always wise to try to step back with clear eyes, since in the end the potential is always unknown while the actual is what is always, and only, real.

 

 

Great question. I think in the long run most of us (if not all) will be okay with any kind of breakup, although some takes a bigger toll than others. In the best scenario, if we stay together for the rest of our lives, we'll still lose one another to accidental or eventual death. To love is to take the risk of loss, but I think many people will be willing to take that risk if the odds seem to be in their favor. I think I'll be fine either way, but I don't fancy the hurt and disappointment should I trust him prematurely and nothing really changed. Of course, I realize those can also come with any new person I choose to become involved in...

Can you be OK if you do reconcile and end up with a third breakup?
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Do you mean we "just met" in the a little over a year we've known each other, or the past month since we "met" again?

Also I'm not sure I understand "some larger goal and identity you've been wrestling with" correctly... Are you thinking of goals like marriage, kids, or simply wanting to be in a relationship?

 

Yes, I meant "just met" in that you are very new people in each other's lives—and, in a very short time, you have experienced a pretty staggering level of emotional turbulence. We all have different scales to measure the worth of romance, and different needs. While I'm personally prone to explore just about every emotional/psychological rabbit hole that humanity can devise, I'm someone who does not want relationships to feel like psychological experiments or endurance tests, especially off the bat. Just me, showing my bias.

 

To the other question: I think you kind of answered it, in your reply to bolt, if perhaps also to me. Were I to stab in the dark, I'd say that being in a functional relationship, and being someone who can make a relationship function, is of high conscious value to you—a value that predated your meeting him. So now he is a variable in seeing if that "you" can be realized. Guess I'm just saying to make sure to have a clear eye on the variable as well as the general experiment.

 

This is a guy you've had a pretty rocky year with, all in all. He's great, kind, the chemistry is astounding, you laugh a lot—I get it. Not negating it. Still, two breakups in a year is rocky. Fear is a third is rocky. I'd be looking at it though that prism, rather than the forever prism that ends with accident or death and in which love does not blossom without risk. That is the potential stuff—too far on the horizon, right now, to factor in, at least in what I'm seeing here.

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Yes, step away from this. There was an almost maniacal pace. This is a moth to flame situation driven by the need for excitement. And it will crash and burn again. Do not be this terrified of being alone.

That's probably exactly what happened, too much too soon. We were strongly attracted to each other and got into a relationship within a couple of weeks. was basically spending 6 days a week at my place
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This is a guy you've had a pretty rocky year with, all in all. He's great, kind, the chemistry is astounding, you laugh a lot—I get it. Not negating it. Still, two breakups in a year is rocky. Fear is a third is rocky. I'd be looking at it though that prism, rather than the forever prism that ends with accident or death and in which love does not blossom without risk. That is the potential stuff—too far on the horizon, right now, to factor in, at least in what I'm seeing here.

 

Very true. I'm not looking at it through the forever lens either—just saying that would be my best hope with any relationship, and in this case, I still see that possibility or I wouldn't even bother. But I certainly don't want the desire for that possibility to screw my judgment.

 

You raised an interesting point...I do value functional relationships highly. Am I more attached to the idea of having a loving, supportive relationship more than I am attached to him? Possibly, but I don't think I have to "make it work" with him just to prove I can.

 

I agree that it's been a rocky relationship, and the good and bad parts kinda canceled out (there were not that many turbulent moments when we were together, but the two/three breakups were probably sufficient to outweigh the highs). Right now I see us as just two imperfect persons that are still drawn to each other and slowly feeling our way toward a possible future together. It's just this recent revelation and all the subsequent feelings that made me pause and reevaluate the situation.

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Yes, step away from this. There was an almost maniacal pace. This is a moth to flame situation driven by the need for excitement. And it will crash and burn again. Do not be this terrified of being alone.

 

Thank you, Wiseman. It did seem crazy in hindsight. Granted, there were overworking sex drives, though I'd like to think there was a lot more than just excitement. The pace at which we dashed into each other's world before having sufficient time to face and negotiate our conflicts certainly created problems, though I feel that's something not uncommon for early stage relationships...although some couples adjust and adapt better than others. In our case, it seemed a lot of the tension was created by different expectations plus poor communication skills. I didn't feel it justified the way he avoided confrontation and ended things poorly, but it is what it is.

 

Hm, I wouldn't say either of us is particularly terrified of being alone. I have stayed single for 1.5 years before meeting this person and even longer before. I can't speak for him, but from what he told me it was pretty much the same case. We are both working professionals capable of taking care of ourselves. We probably both have some growing up to do, but neither was abusive or narcissistic therefore I don't see where the "flame" that would burn the moth to ashes was. Other than those two arguments (that led to me breaking up with him earlier and him breaking up with me in the end), we never had a conflict that we couldn't resolve in a day or two; there was no name calling, lying, controlling, cheating, or manipulating, and we always treated each other with love and respect while we were together.

 

Of course all this is past since we broke up, and I'm trying to look at things with a new perspective right now. I feel I have learned a lot from this whole experience and can bring a better self to a future relationship. He claimed he had as well; I just don't know what evidence I need to see to be able to trust that.

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Unfortunately you have entered an on/off relationship, not a better one. All the kiss and make-up excitement will wear off then the next round begins. It depends what you want, smooth sailing or jet-skiing in the surf.

 

You may need to accept that you have different personalities and that confronting him and breaking up with him won't change him. It seems that's what you are hoping for. The sex is off the charts too bad he comes with it, if only he would listen to me and change how he is, right?

In our case, it seemed a lot of the tension was created by different expectations plus poor communication skills. I didn't feel it justified the way he avoided confrontation and ended things poorly, but it is what it is.

 

Other than those two arguments (that led to me breaking up with him earlier and him breaking up with me in the end), we never had a conflict that we couldn't resolve in a day or two

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Unfortunately you have entered an on/off relationship, not a better one. All the kiss and make-up excitement will wear off then the next round begins. It depends what you want, smooth sailing or jet-skiing in the surf.

 

You may need to accept that you have different personalities and that confronting him and breaking up with him won't change him. It seems that's what you are hoping for. The sex is off the charts too bad he comes with it, if only he would listen to me and change how he is, right?

 

Ouch. That stings! :D

 

To be honest though, the sex was not great at all in the beginning, and I could have cut him loose right then because of that. It was because of the person that we stayed patient and navigated through the awkward stages, and over time we had become the best sex partners the other ever had (again according to him on his end). That took a hit towards the end for multiple reasons, but I didn't feel sex was what bound us together. Maybe I'm wrong, but then I should know it pretty quickly—we are not having sex right now and probably won't in the near future.

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So what is the point of having such a conflicted on/off relationship?

 

To be honest though, the sex was not great at all in the beginning, and I could have cut him loose right then because of that. —we are not having sex right now and probably won't in the near future.

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you have different personalities

 

Probably a more generic question or observation. I know personality compatibility is important but I have yet to meet someone with a personality that fits so well and never conflicts with my own. Even if there was one, it's not like our personalities will always stay the same and compatible either. Many people seem agreeable and compatible when you just meet them, but the deeper you dig the more differences emerge. I feel that's all very natural and beautiful. Certainly some differences are clearly incompatible and non-negotiable, and I would run as soon as I detect those. But there has to be a range of differences that are compatible and acceptable, no? Or one can only love and live with oneself?

 

I actually had this conversation with a friend early on and rated the similarity of our personalities somewhere between 70-80%. Which clearly indicates many differences, but none of those seemed fatal to me, and I felt things were getting better as we learned more about each other. So I considered that to be within the acceptable range of compatibility. I was once in a relationship with someone that I felt was 90+% similar to my personality, but I ended up finding we had some deeply conflicting values so I had to call it quits.

 

The other thing is, some of the differences can be due to different maturity levels/communication skills/relationship experiences, which can be and usually are improved over time. I am no longer the self-absorbed brat teenager I was once, not because I learned to put on a facade to conform to social expectations—I just genuinely don't feel that way anymore. Of course that took more time than a 2.5 month breakup, but he wasn't a self-absorbed brat to begin with or I wouldn't have dated him. It shouldn't require that much personality change for either of us, if any at all. I didn't expect him to change how he is or me to change how I am, but I did learn from this where I was acting immaturely in communication and was going to improve it, with or without him. He said he had also gone through those internal changes, but there is no way to prove them right away.

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So what is the point of having such a conflicted on/off relationship?

 

The point is I am still on my journey of finding a life partner (not because I'm desperate to have one right now or I can't stand being single, which seems be a default assumption toward OPs here :friendly_wink:), and I think there can be some potential between us. And of course, because I still care for him.

 

We are not in a relationship right now, just in the beginning stage of dating and trying to resolve the baggage from our past. I think you missed the part that we did have great satisfying sex once we got to know each other. Sex is not my priority right now, but I'm not worried about that if and when we get close enough to start a relationship again.

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Very academic treatment of on/off, can't get along. Relationships should not need this level of dissertation defenses. Philosophizing does not explain this much drama in such a short time. This type of theoretical discussion may be fun in bars but losses all validity when you have this much trouble in such a short time.

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Thank you all for your input! Simply writing things out seems to help me clear my mind, although I still don't have an answer and may not have one any time soon.

 

I guess it reads like I spent a ton of time defending our non-existent "relationship" and my lack of resolve to walk away right now. I do feel very conflicted and don't know if that's something I truly want. But I'm certainly not ready to enter a relationship with him either. Since this forum is about "getting back together" I guess I was needing some advice on how it is done (of course each person has his/her own approach, but multiple perspectives are usually better than one), how to deal with the past baggage, and how to view the fact that he had another partner within such a short time of our breakup. Neither of us had an on/off relationship before, and I myself would not entertain the idea of getting back with an ex a few years ago.

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Very academic treatment of on/off, can't get along. Relationships should not need this level of dissertation defenses. Philosophizing does not explain this much drama in such a short time. This type of theoretical discussion may be fun in bars but losses all validity when you have this much trouble in such a short time.

 

This is what I'm seeing, articulated with Wiseman's trademark surgical precision. Per your above response to me, I can't help but think that this whole thing represents something bigger than what it is: a kind of experiment in "functional relationships" in which you explore some romantic theorems and sharpen some connection tools—one made "safe" because it's not quite real and, at best, has been almost real.

 

Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

 

Connection is a kind of experiment, marriage included, and dating is kind of the micro-experiments we do to figure out how to do the big one without breaking the beakers and burning down the laboratory. The thing I'd be mindful of is that you may be applying a lot of mental and emotional energy to something that does not merit it—something that, if we leave the psychology classroom and just review the game footage, looks a lot like two people butting heads, toggling the on/off switch, and building limited forms of heat, friction, and connection there. Lots of squeeze, little juice. "Work" on that for too long and you're kind of applying the Functioning Manual to something that doesn't quite function, while the pinnacle of psychic analysis is sometimes as simple as saying "Nope, good guy, but not for me."

 

I work on motorcycles, so forgive the cheesy metaphor, but it's like: you can take an old, rusted bike with a solid engine and do this and that to get it purring again. There is satisfaction in that tinkering—though you'll never be able to trust even that bike for a long ride (unless you like tinkering every 100 miles). But if the engine has a blown piston—no, not worth it. You can get new wheels, handlebars, redo the seat in custom leather, get the chrome shining again, but the thing that propels the bike is straight-up busted, making all that other stuff (seat, wheels) more at exercise in mechanics than using mechanical know-how to build something that moves. You're in the garage, not out on the roads.

 

Are you working on such a bike right now? Do you want partnership to feel like constant tinkering to get an engine to go 100 miles before it needs tinkering again? Questions worth reflecting on, perhaps.

 

In my observation, the complexities we seek through romantic connection are best experienced in a pretty simple framework: solid, well-maintained engine that requires little tinkering. You meet someone, want to see them again. Again becomes again, and again, and again. Think of that dynamic as being year one, ideally longer. You hardly think about what they're feeling, or even what you are, or what you two "could" be, because you're just feeling it, in it, organically (switching metaphors) pouring the foundation—then adding the walls, then windows, then doors, then the roof—and inside that sturdy home is a safe exchange of vulnerability.

 

This, right now, is a bit different than that. Lots of cracks in the foundation, with the mental and emotional energy going toward examining those cracks, spackling them. Were this year 4 or a romance, that would be one thing: less abstract, since you'd have real time and history to know what the foundation is—that solid thing that, for a good long stretch, supported you both with little drama or disconnect. When the foundation from the start is "can we improve this rickety foundation" that can have real limitations, because it becomes the thing you go back to, and lean on, for comfort.

 

All that said, I do think you've got a great attitude about all this. Very conscious, reflective, patient. Were I to make a big leap, I'd say that I don't think you fundamentally trust that he's got the same depths you do, that he doesn't quite meet you on your natural plane. The other partner, for instance: past the human sting of knowing about all that, I think she/it represents something negative to you—his inability to sit with himself but to instead seek out stimulation that allows him to avoid that stillness. You can't tinker that out of someone, but can only be honest about whether you can accept it, or not.

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Since this forum is about "getting back together" I guess I was needing some advice on how it is done

 

To explore this a bit:

 

From what I've seen—and once experienced—it's actually very simple. One person says, "I want to get back together," and the other says, "Me too." If it becomes a kind of extended Disarmament Conference it often means that one person, or both, isn't really feeling it and is hoping the other "super" feels it to pull them over the edge.

 

For instance, a great friend of mine: He was with someone for a year or so—ended badly, thanks to some bad choices of his. Six years later she was still on his mind, he contacted her, they had coffee. She laughed when he told her she'd been on his mind, as she hadn't thought much about him. But one coffee became another, then marriage, and 5 months ago they had their second kid. I suspect they've spent 30 minutes, at most, talking about their past. They didn't work then. They work now.

 

Another story: A friend of mine was with a guy for around a year—kind of good, some missing pieces, a certain tension. They broke up for three days. He called her, wanted to get back together, she agreed. That was a year ago. Now they live together, have a good thing going, are talking marriage.

 

Those stories could be "dramatic," given some of the particulars, but the actual fabric isn't really complicated. People deciding to be together, again, and then doing it.

 

Will those unions last forever? Who knows?! I don't think either of those 4 people are particularly worried about that question because they're busy being together, building lives together, and seeing what comes.

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The other partner, for instance: past the human sting of knowing about all that, I think she/it represents something negative to you—his inability to sit with himself but to instead seek out stimulation that allows him to avoid that stillness. You can't tinker that out of someone, but can only be honest about whether you can accept it, or not.

 

Spot on—though I have to say I still hold high regard for my ex and even admire him in many ways. If I firmly believe he doesn't have much depth I wouldn't want him back in my life. As I said, I see that I myself can be immature and handle things poorly sometimes, so while there were moments when I felt disappointed by his immaturity I'm sure the opposite happened too. What makes me hopeful is that we are both honest, thoughtful individuals that can reflect on our behaviors and learn instead of just blaming one another. In that sense, I think we do meet each other on our "natural plane" if mine has a little dip here and his there. I do not blame him for wanting validation and comfort after the breakup; I did too. I was hurt because to me getting into a sexual relationship indicated that he didn't care as much, as what I could easily do if I left a partner that I no longer felt attached to. To which he said he convinced himself that he was over me at the time only to find that he wasn't. I guess deep down I still want him to love me, maybe more than he ever did before. I can't and won't force it out of him. I'm just wondering if he's capable of doing that at all.

 

Wiseman's comment was precise but I'm not sure about its accuracy in my situation. I like philosophical debates and could well be over applying it to many aspects of my life, but at the end of the day this is a very limited subset of information about our personalities and interactions that can be described here. I like your motorcycle analogy and would say for most part nobody wants a bike that needs constant tinkering, but it also seems unrealistic (if not irresponsible) to expect the bike to not need any maintenance or repair at all. There is certainly a very subjective distinction between constant tinkering and regular maintenance, and obviously what we are facing right now is more like a major repair, but no, I didn't see our past relationship as one that needed constant tinkering, and that's not the plan for future either.

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A healthy relationship flows easily and does not encounter this many obstacles in such a short period of time. As much as a healthy relationship requires occasional tinkering, it should not be this onerous. This on again/off again dynamic is emotionally draining both of you. I think you both have personal issues to work through individually before thinking of getting together.

 

I think your hesitation is understandable considering that his pattern has been one of inconsistency and instability. How do you expect him not to hurt you if that's all he's done?

 

I think you should go NC for 30 or 60 days to gain better clarity of the situation. During this time, reflect on whether you really want to be with him or whether you have deep-rooted insecurities that may need attention.

 

Good luck!

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Ok that makes sense. Of course being loved what anyone wants. Beware of too many debates. Some people find that boring, argumentative, difficult, off-putting and steer clear of it. It comes across as pontificating and at times arrogant. If too many of your conversations have "but, but, but" in them you're too argumentative.

 

Can you save that for friends family clubs, groups, etc and spare your partner this? What you think is a 'fun debate' sounds like where a lot of the breakups, volatility and "get out!"s came from. Try to tone it down. Join a gym and take up boxing if you want sparring.

I guess deep down I still want him to love me

 

I like philosophical debates and could well be over applying it to many aspects of my life, but at the end of the day this is a very limited subset of information about our personalities and interactions that can be described here.

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