Small Life, Slow Life: How I Got My Ex Back. (Seriously.)

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I let him go.

Really.

I know too well what it’s like to be nursing a broken heart, thinking I’d do anything to get back with my former flame. I’ve thought of every tactic out there. Lonely months went by and I slimmed down to a ghostly version of my former, happy self.

I alienated my friends because the breakup was all I could talk about. “But he was The One!” I said to them, over and over.

My work performance suffered because I couldn’t stop the toxic spewing of negative crap from my mouth. I barely slept and became really destructive.

I told myself the myth that if he just came back to me, my whole life would be fixed.

Yeah. That didn’t happen.

Heart on fire, ashes everywhere
— there’s no return from a red like that.

MANUEL DE FREITAS

It took a long time to give up on him and realize that I was facing my life alone. But after so much misery and thinking I’d never be happy again, it dawned on me that the worst had already happened, and there was nothing else to lose.

Weirdly, there was a kind of freedom in that thought. It was a clean slate.

I realized I’d totally abandoned myself, and I decided to reclaim my life.

Nick&Darcy-500

It was during an anti-gravity yoga class that I rocked in Savasana and saw C’s face float in front of my eyes. I looked at it for a long time and softly said “Goodbye.”

Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU

So I moved on. I did what they all tell you to do – I spent time with friends, I took up hobbies, I learned to enjoy taking up the whole bed as I slept alone. I spent mornings drinking coffee on my new balcony (instead of bemoaning that I’d had to get a new apartment by myself at age 31 when I thought I was going to be married by then). I exercised and cooked healthy foods for myself.

I tried things I would have never done before. I applied to speak at Beyond Luon. I learned to make kombucha. Eventually, I dated someone else. It took time, but I came back to life and reclaimed my life as my own.

And then, there he was.

After fully letting him go, finally accepting we were over, there he was. All the shit they said in the books was true. (Dammit.)

Because you know what really works, in breakups and with anything else you want desperately?

Giving up.

Surrendering.

Letting go.

Being at peace with the fact that the way you planned out your life flat-out failed.

And then, you know what happens?

That thing you desperately wanted comes and lands on your shoulder with total ease, like a happy little bird.

(And if it doesn’t, it wasn’t yours to begin with.)

We cannot lose what really belongs to us, even if we throw it away. Therefore we need have no anxiety.
THE I-CHING

So let it go. Stop thinking if you lose the weight, dress sexier, text him/her at 2am, that’ll work out. You’re missing the entire point.

As much as you can’t believe it, that person doesn’t even matter. You can be happy with someone else, eventually. And you can be very happy alone.

You are the one who matters.

Let nothing stand in the way of the happiness available to you at this exact moment.

Then go live your life and be prepared to be amazed.

43 thoughts on “Small Life, Slow Life: How I Got My Ex Back. (Seriously.)

  1. Pingback: Small Life, Slow Life: I’m Engaged! (For real.) | small life, slow life

  2. I googled and searched for days before finding your post. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Really letting go and being at peace that if he doesn’t come back, he wasn’t mine to begin with. Thank you for sharing your story. How long did it take you to finally let go? Did you both date other people?

    • Hi Nikki,

      I dated someone else, eventually. It took me a long time. C went on dates with two other people but nothing ever came of it for him.

      I was really resistant when my friends told me to date other people, but you know what? It really helped. Sometimes you just need someone to remind you that you’re worth it, and funny, and intelligent, and yes, attractive – especially attractive. Because it’s likely that your confidence is currently half-dead somewhere underground, and if you do want to attract him back into your life (or someone better), you’ll need to resurrect that confidence.

      Even when I was dating someone else, I wasn’t fully over C. That’s how it is with big love. But I found myself able to laugh again, and think of something other than the breakup most of the time, and that really helped. I also lived alone during that time and started focusing on really nurturing myself and giving myself the things I had denied when I was so wrapped up in the relationship with C. I cooked for myself and had late night dates with my girlfriends. I spent days in my pajamas watching marathon sessions of HBO’s Girls. And I played Britney Spears really, really loudly (C hates Britney, haha). I took super-long showers, simply because there was no one waiting for me to get out of the shower. I walked places. My life slowed down. Those things began to heal me, little by little.

      The thing I want to express about if he comes back to you is that it will NOT be the fantasy you have in your mind. In fact, you’ll initially really distrust him and it can be pretty upsetting, because then you will have to fix what broke. C and I are in pre-marital counseling and this stuff still comes up, over a year and a half since the breakup. So there’s that to think about too.

  3. Very inspiring story and something that I am currently struggling with. I was in love with the “love of my life” and I thought he too with me. That ended one day over a small disagreement over dinner. But, all my friends told me there was something greater at hand. I couldn’t really find any red flag issue but rather small mundane things that got on his nerves.

    It’s been about 5 months since we seen each other. Recent floods made me reach out to him just to let him know I care. But, I really think I need to let go of the thought of us getting back together. Then and only then do I think it will happen. It really is tough I was doing great, then his birthday hit and I went for a spin. ;(

    • Hey Rick,

      A setback is a very normal part of the process. I didn’t speak to my ex for three months but one day he began reaching out and asked if I wanted to have coffee. I was still very desperate and down and hoping we’d get back together, so I went. It was awful! Probably the most awkward cups of coffee ever shared between two people. After that, I thought I’d really messed up for good and that we’d never get back together. I decided to stop saying his name aloud, stop talking about the breakup and to just say YES to anything anyone asked me to do with them. “You know what,” I told myself, “he’s not coming back. So you have to decide to swim, or drown.”

      I decided to swim and I let any hope go of us reconciling, ever. One month later, he was back.

      Letting go is really part of the process. And as for your ex, you have to remember what originally attracted him to you — you were happy, and outgoing, and positive. Right now, while you’re holding on hoping that he comes back, you’re none of those things.

      Turn the focus back to YOU and remind yourself of what makes you, YOU, at an essential level. Do the things that remind you WHY you’re lovable and worthy. For me, it was writing, yoga and spending time with friends. One night when I was particularly sad, I wrote love letters to strangers and left them all around my town. Other people volunteer at a senior home or an animal shelter to remind themselves that their situation is not as bad as it feels.

      Five months feels like forever — I know it does. But your healing is just around the corner. I know it.

      • Thanks for the reply. I’ve really taken this all to heart. I’ve been “working on myself” but honestly it’s so half assed. You called me out =) I do want him back desperately but in that…I am not finding happiness. I’m not refocusing my efforts on myself and really saying…there is no reason to think we will get back. So I have to move forward. Sink or swim and now I have to swim. I honestly have SO much to be grateful for and it’s so annoying when I’m such a ball of positivity to all my friends and here I am sulking in my own ashes.

        So I’m really going to take my ship…cut the anchor that is keeping me in the sea of sadness and move on. If it happens and he comes back, oh … that’s a whole new world to explore. But, for now I’m going to make myself happy.

  4. This post and your other post has helped me so much! The one question I did have for you is that during the times or months that you and your ex at the time didn’t speak did it ever feel or seem like he had moved on? If so how did you deal with that part of the break up?

    I recently gotten out of a relationship and I completly removed myself from him. Kind of just like you mentioned in your other post- I agreed rather then crying and begging for him to not leave. I didn’t offer to be friends or anything. I just wished him well. Although its still fresh I feel like because we havent spoken hes over it. He has reached out to me once after we broke up but it is still just too soon to have a big turn around between us. I was hoping since this post was so encouraging that you would have a few words to spare when you maybe felt like this. I miss him so much but it seems like he is just fine and over it.

    I do think it is very important to get my life back. I want nothing more then to wake up not missing him and feeling like I want to cry. Today is his birthday and it hurts that I can’t even be there for him during that. I do understand why letting go is such a big part of a breakup because like you said- that relationship needed to end. In order to create a new relationship with him or anyone else I have to heal from that moment in my life and allow something new to come again.

    Thanks so much- I really love your blog! Out of all the “how to get your ex back” online searching lol this is the only post that hit home for me. It was real and honest. There was also a happy ending!

    • Oh I DEFINITELY felt like he had moved on. One time when we met up for coffee he even told me he’d been on dates with two people. I could *feel* that he was trying to move on and it totally destroyed me because the only person I could think about was him. It was because I thought he was just fine that I ended up forcing myself to move on. It was NOT easy. I only found out months and months later that my ex had actually been in a destructive downward spiral. But I truly thought that he was just fine.

      Sometimes you have to remember how it feels to be the one who does the breaking up. A few years ago, I was with this really great guy but I just knew we weren’t right for each other. I broke up with him in the kindest way I could and then asked that we not contact each other for a few weeks.

      I WAS A WRECK! I walked around feeling like the worst person ever, totally missing him, feeling like an idiot. I kept going back to my gut feeling that we weren’t right together, but the GUILT of being the one doing the breaking up can be devastating! When we finally did talk, he was angry that I hadn’t reached out and said he hated that I was “just totally fine” after the breakup. I never ended up telling him that I didn’t go to work for a week and was actually totally miserable.

      He left me alone, like I asked him to. I dated other people, but I always thought about him, And you know what? I did try to go back to him. But he was smart, and by the time I did, he had someone else.

      My point here is that it’s doubtful that your ex is “just fine.” Especially because you’re not contacting him, I’m sure he thinks about you a lot. Because it’s his birthday, I know he missed your presence. Even if there’s someone new in the picture, you just can’t move on that fast. I’ve broken up with guys to be with new guys (when I was younger, and not so great of a person) and totally missed the guys I broke up with. You just can’t break a connection that quickly. It’s impossible.

      To answer your question — how did I deal with that part of the breakup? Well, I was super miserable. I imagined my ex was off living this amazing life with all of these women around him. The thought of him getting away with happiness while I had to literally count reasons to get up in the morning was the worst. Ever. It was the saddest time in my life and it was a slow process.

      But I got a new apartment and printed a bunch of happy pictures of my friends & family and put them around. I spent a lot of time with my friends and co-workers (the positive ones) and avoided happily-in-love people like the plague. I saw movies, I read books, I took walks, I got a haircut, I listened to music really loud, and I cried. A lot. I cried so much, I was always congested. But I told myself that every time I cried, I was healing 0.5%-1% of the grief, so I willingly did it.

      There is no shortcut. “Pain demands to be felt.” –John Green

      So let yourself cry, and be miserable, and it’ll feel like forever, but then it will be over. And you’ll feel happy. I swear. It’s like magic…one day, you just feel better. And you might have little reminders that will mess you up, but it’ll be for only a few hours, instead of the entire day. And then it will amaze you that the next time you’re in love, it’ll be different. Deeper. Because you allowed yourself the experience of grieving, your capacity for love and joy will be exponentially bigger. And one day you’ll think, “You know? All that sadness was worth it.” I know I do.

      • Thank you so much for your words! This helped me a lot. My ex actually wrote me the day of his birthday because he was a little upset that I didn’t wish him a Happy Birthday. I felt really bad but I told him that he broke up with me and that I was acceting the situation. He then told me he misses me. Although it was nice to hear those words it still doesn’t change the situation. Were stil broken up and im still hurting. I feel like inorder to create a new relationship I have to grow from the last one. He does too. I miss him so much it hurts. But eventhough he is telling me that it still doesn’t feel right.

        I love what you said because it is true. The outside apperance is always different then the inside apperance. If you look at me you wouldn’t know I was hurting or in heartbreak but if you looked in the inside you would see how hard it has been on me. I have to remember that with him as well. I miss him dearly and I do hope that it works for us the second time around.

        Thank you so much!

      • Trust your gut. It will come to feel right, or it won’t. If he’s missing you and even hearing that doesn’t feel right, it could be because there is someone who will be a much better match for you waiting in the wings.

        Missing the person is the hardest part. Hate it.

        It’s been about a week — how are things going now?

      • It’s been getting easier. I have been taking your advice in your blog and just getting out and about. I became Vegan recently and it’s actually been the best thing happening to me. I HATE cooking lol but for some reason cooking vegan food has been very therapeutic for me. It’s amazing. Been going on lots of walks. Doing yoga. I have a goal to sit and meditate for 15-20 min a day for the next 30 days. I noticed when my thoughts start to race towards my ex I get very negative within myself and tense up physically. When I jus relax and stay calm throughout the day I have less episodes like that. I felt like meditating could help some.

        You can only live life day by day. That’s exactly what I am doing. Missing someone is the worst part but the only way out of this is letting go. Either way I have to let go. I talked to my cousin today and she told me her and her current boyfriend of 4 years actually broke up. It was her that wanted it. She wanted to live life more and expierence it with other people too. She broke his heart cause all he wanted was to be with her. She told me they had been broken up for 9 months and 6 of those months they were not speaking. At the end of the day she still loved him. She told me it just wasn’t the right time for them at that moment. She lived her life. She appeared happy. She dated other people. She was even quick to tell him to do the same thing. She told me that if it’s meant to happen with me and my ex that life will put us back together. Even when it feels impossible. Today it’s over. Accept that and go on with life happily. I thought her story was nice as well. The two of them are happier then I have ever seen them.

        Either way I am determined to let go and be happy. I’m not taking about it any more I am just doing it : )

  5. Howdy Jennifer! Swimming is going great. I took a few yoga classes (just like you talked about…talk about inspiration) and did all the things you talk about. Living life. Going out with new friends, playing videos games and just relaxing for a change. Like Lana wrote…”of all the blogs out there” regarding getting your ex back. This one has been by far the most beneficial.

    I see almost everything that you talk about in your situation, is in mine. I’ve seen his Facebook and all I see is him smiling and going out and having fun and I’m thinking how…how the hell can you be this happy when sometimes I can barely breathe. But, I go back to reality and I know…Facebook is only what people want you to see. Some of his friends have come back to tell me how hurt he is (even though he is the one that threw me out) and how he’s taking it really hard. I think you know if he would just call me and talk. But, you know what…nothing is there any more and I finally had that same moment when you let it all go. You just say you know what…I can’t worry about you any more. I have to take care of me. And I have. Back in the gym, back at work 100% back at life 100%.

    I just had a great date yesterday that unfolded from just a brunch meet up to an 8 hour lets walk the beach and have dinner too, date. I won’t lie…it took me back to my first date with the ex, and wow that was special. But, I’m back in the drivers seat. I don’t think we are getting back together to be honest. There has been a lot of hurt and spite that would be really hard to get over and so for now I will continue to make myself happy. The best thing of all? Is that I know I can love someone with ALL of my heart, love them so intensely and deeply and still…still be able to let go and wish them well and not be bitter about it. Yoga so far has taught me to live in the present. You can’t live in the past it already happened and you can’t live in the future cause it isn’t even here. So here’s to the present. =)

    • Hey Rick,

      I read a great article recently on Instagram life (or Facebook, or whatever) vs. real life. In other words, we’ve all become adept at putting out there that we’re living these super-fun, photo-worthy lives. That’s what your ex is doing too! How powerful would it be if we photographed the mundane everyday stuff? “Taking out the trash #selfie” — haha.

      I’m so glad you’re doing yoga! Yoga always makes me feel born anew. Ten minutes in, I’m holding a pose and regretting getting out of bed, and losing my balance because I’m really thinking of all the things that upset me…and then I come out of savasana feeling like a new person. Keep up the yoga. There is something so cleansing about physical activity when dealing with heartbreak.

      Dating is good. As long as you’re honest with the other person that you’re in a tender place, I highly recommend it. It helps to be reminded that lots of people would love to spend 8 hours talking with you (that’s a long date, wow)! It helps to restore the self esteem. You may still long for your ex, but that’s totally normal.

      You’re doing a wonderful job of swimming. Keep kicking. :)

  6. Hi.
    ive just read this and its hit me. I’ve heard this said a million ways but your way makes sense.
    My problem is that my ex is also the father of my child and he’s already in a new relationship that seems to have started whilst we were meant to be trying to sort our relationship out.
    I’m still stuck in the painful crying my life is over stage, boring everyone close to me.
    I’ve made plans to do new things and try and look after me an our son but it feels so fake and pointless at the moment.
    I struggle to understand how everything we had is gone to him and how he can be away from our son (he does see him a few evenings and 1 day at weekend).
    I feel lost and robbed of my life and like it was just given to someone else.

    • The crying “my life is over” stage is the worst. Because you have to get it out, you have to talk about it over + over. I remember the feeling of my friends being drawn away from me because I couldn’t stop talking about it. And yet, bore them you must. You will get through this.

      I can’t understand completely, because I don’t have a child.

      I know you wish this never happened. I know you must be afraid of raising your child alone. And even though your ex is in a new relationship, I will tell you this: the new relationship is just a temporary thing for him. And, you can have him back, if you really want him.

      But knowing all of this…that he began with someone else when you were sorting things out, that he’s only seeing your son occasionally…let me ask you, at a deep level: do you REALLY want him?

      I know you’re heartbroken. But in a year, you won’t be. In a year, you can be with anyone you want — someone stable, who loves your son, who will never go anywhere. You’ll have to do some hard work to get there, but you can and WILL get there.

      Knowing that you can have ANYONE by your side that you want…is your ex really the one you would choose?

      Sending love.
      Jen

      • Thank you for responding.

        You ask a valid question and there are 2 answers. No I don’t want a relationship with the person he has become over the last year or so. But I desperately want the person he was before.

        Its hard to know if the person I fell in love with ever really existed or was it a mask until he decided to remove it.

        I know I can raise my son on my own if I have to (although have a lot of family and friends to help) but I miss having his dad to share it all with.

        My loneliness is the real kick in the gut as I can’t go out after my little boy in bed. And friends and family have their own things to do in the evening.

  7. It’s almost been 3 months since we’ve broken up. We have the same friendship circle at college, and all the same classes. We’re friends but sometimes (a lot of the time) I go home and I’m missing it all. It really is difficult.

    I don’t think it’s possible to become lovers, friends then lovers again. I guess I gotta move on.

    • Hi Elise.

      I totally get it. When I was dating C the first time, we introduced his brother to my best friend.

      And then they got married.

      And then when we broke up, I didn’t have anywhere to live, so naturally…I lived with my best friend for a while. And C’s BROTHER!

      Eventually I moved out on my own, but when there were get-togethers like birthdays or Superbowl parties or even just our group of friends going to see a movie, there was always this awkward thing where friends didn’t know whom to invite. I was the best friend, but he was family.

      It was hurtful and very difficult. I absolutely understand what you’re going through.

      It’s not an easy fix, but you are on a college campus where lots of young people are wanting to meet other young people. Clubs are going on, groups in classes are meeting to study, there’s Friday night at the local bar…why not partake in some of these things?

      For me, I worked at lululemon, so I started to form deeper friendships with the people who worked there. I started going to workout classes with them and there’s nothing better for getting over a breakup than physically moving your body. It’s very healing.

      I feel for you.

      Whether you get back together with him or not, the first step IS to actually move on. In either case, it’s the same. You must get over the pain and get over HIM before you can revisit a new relationship with him. I have some tips for getting over an ex in another blog post.

      I understand just where you are. <3 I'm here.

      Jen

  8. Hey. I’m glad I found this. I’ve been holding on & pining for so long now. It’s been a year since the break up. Thank you. You have inspired me to get myself back.

      • Thank you. I love your site. It’s been really difficult for me. Every time I tell myself I need to move on I don’t. We dated for almost a decade & were friends before. The worst part is he did come back and seemed interested but I now know it’s just him messing with me I guess. I keep reading this to force myself to focus on me. So again thank you.

  9. This article really helped me. I spilt up with my partner 2 months ago. I am still desperately hoping we’ll work it out, but learning to accept that even if we don’t, i’ll be alright again :) Really happy you and C worked out Jennifer xx

  10. Hi Jennifer :)

    A big THANK YOU for this blog, I loved reading it and your posts fill me with hope! I am badly in need of advice right now and I hope you reply! (I’m sorry if the post is too long!)

    I’d been in a relationship with my ex for about three years, we were the best of friends before that for about a year. Things were not perfect, but we loved each other like crazy and the little fights, imperfections never mattered, we always readily forgave. Early this year, for a couple of months, I became very depressed (i am an anxious person by nature) coz i had given up on all my initial career plans for my ex and started on a new path that he suggested I take up (even though I didnt really want it) so we could be together (we were mostly long-distance), and unfortunately, that didn’t work out at all! So, I slipped into depression, was consumed by guilt and shame, I felt worthless coz I had everything riding on that career decision, my parents were disappointed and I started to voice my doubts about our relationship as my parents would never agree to my marriage with him until I had a stable career (We’re a very conservative society). So, i was clueless for a couple of months, and when I was finally beginning to come around, he dumped me saying he’d simply fallen out of love. I was devastated, a crying wreck. He wanted to be friends and he’d call everyday saying he missed me but didn’t want a relationship. He had me confused.

    About a month later, he told me he was in love with and dating this other girl he used to bitch/talk about to me during the months before and after our breakup. She used to hit on him, he said. Anyway, I was shocked beyond measure, I went crazy calling him and texting him until he blocked me saying his new girlfriend does not like it. I knew I was wrong, but argh, what can you do about the withdrawal symptoms!! Anyway, I sobered down, didn’t bother him much, stopped calling. And one day, his girlfriend called me up from his phone and gave me such a yelling asking me to back off and humiliated me, said he wasn’t my friend anymore, said I was an inconvenience :'( and she was really rude and mean….And I couldn’t even retaliate, I was very polite and nice to her….but she wouldn’t stop. Later that night, my ex called me like ten times asking to speak with me, but I had nothing to say to him, I was broken ;'( So I didn’t respond. A few days back, a mutual friend told me that my ex did not know she had called me, she had taken his phone and called without his knowledge. But, it didn’t make a difference to me if he was still with her. This was about a month back and he hasn’t made any contact and I too have maintained no-contact ever since. But I have panic attacks almost everyday and I cannot stop thinking about him.

    I had always forgiven him in the past, done things that I never wanted to do, changed the direction my my life for his sake, loved unconditionally and he was an amazing boyfriend too, the best! I feel bad that he left me coz I got all depressed for while, trying to get back on track in life and make it work for us. But mostly, I feel bad I lost a best friend, especially after the other girl called me n stuff. All my friends have advised me to never speak to him again in my lifetime coz he does not deserve me and they say I have been too nice to him. But I cannot stop hoping for us to get back together….I am trying extremely hard to let go. :( Reading your post gives me hope but I might just be holding on to the wrong thing), I don’t know…I’m lost, what should I do?

    • Hi!

      I went and made your comment anonymous, so don’t worry. :)

      Firstly, I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through this. It sounds heart-wrenching, all of it…from the failed career switch to his leaving, to his (what sounds like) horrible girlfriend calling you.

      I invite you to consider, though, that all has unfolded absolutely perfectly and while it doesn’t make sense now, that it 100% will, later. Maybe even sooner than you think.

      I think he did know she called you. I think that’s why he was desperate to speak to you. And that’s good news, because there’s a part of him who still wants to protect you, who feels hurt when you feel hurt.

      He may have said he’s in love with this girl, but that will not last long at all if she’s an insecure wreck who takes his phone when he doesn’t know and calls his ex and berates her. Karma will take care of that relationship in the end, my dear. I can promise you.

      Here’s my advice:

      – Don’t contact him. Not because he doesn’t deserve you or whatever, but because you actually want him to feel guilty about what happened in this case. Human beings are startlingly predictable. You want him to not forget that his girlfriend has done you this wrong, because it’s a guarantee that in the future, he will come seeking your forgiveness. And you actually want to delay the moment that he does seek forgiveness. The further in the future, the better. Because A) You want him to be broken up with her already when he does it, B) If he’s not broken up with her yet, you want enough time to have passed for him to realize how good the two of you were and how bad his current situation his, and C) The longer someone feels guilty, the better the relief feels when the apology finally takes place. It will bring you back together, essentially.

      – In the meantime, you have a lot of work to do. You’ve got to clean up whatever failure happened with your career switch and get back to doing something you love. You also need to fill your mind with positive thoughts and do activities that make you happy at an essential level. You need to love your own company and return to the happy, healthy person you were before. This is going to require a lot of work because after three years, he became a permanent part of your life and you’re going to have to completely let him go for now. You’ll see me repeating this in every blog post and in every comment I get: The old relationship with him must die completely before a new one can begin. So accept that he’s gone and really let him go. If he does come back, that’s Future Jane’s problem. :)

      – He didn’t fall out of love with you. You fell out of love with you. It was the same thing that happened to C and me. Our relationship was just as amazing as yours was, and our breakup just as devastating, and our period after the breakup looked, on the surface, just as impossible to reconcile as yours does. But I’ll tell you this, and I see it every.single.time.: When I fell back in love with myself, he did too. We weren’t even speaking to one another; you don’t HAVE to be speaking to one another. Make your first and absolute priority the restoration of your relationship with YOU. You’ll be amazed with what happens.

      I wish you the best of luck. You seem SO sweet; I know everything is going to be okay for you…I can feel it!

      Love,
      Jen

      • Hi Jen,

        Thank you for the awesome response you left anonymous above. I’m so grateful there is someone in the world like you that provides such thoughtful and wise advice! I’m turning 30 this year and still struggling with being left after a 5 year relationship. I keep hoping he will come back or at least apologize since we were friends long before ever being together. Whenever I really get down on myself, I come here and read your responses to others and follow your advice. It really helps.

        So again thanks for taking the time for advice for all of us on here- I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure everyone here appreciates you as much as I do!

        You’re one awesome chica!

        Love,
        Nicole

      • Nicole,

        You are too sweet! Thank you for such a kind comment. The truth is that I only give advice on here because I remember how miserable I was when C and I were broken up for MONTHS. I really thought I’d never be happy ever again. I wish I knew then what I know now and I hope anything I say provides even a tiny bit of relief from that gnawing, awful pain that can linger around after a breakup!

        If you had a five-year relationship and were friends first, you absolutely will talk again. I promise. There is not one ex that I have (and I have a LOT of exes, haha) that I didn’t eventually create closure with. It often just comes later than you expect it to. But I made peace with all of them, even the crazy ones. ;) You’ll speak again when the time is right — I promise. Humans seek closure because guilt rarely fades over time — it actually often increases.

        I am here if you ever need a sympathetic ear. <3

        Thank you again for the sweetest note — it totally made my day!

        Love, Jen

      • Dear Jen,

        This is probably the BEST advice I have ever received in the past four months. I have spent every single day after the breakup reading up online, I’d have read about a hundred blogs till now, but there was something so genuine about yours that drove me to post my worries and I do not regret it! You nailed it Jen! I fell out of love with myself! This is an eye-opener for me. :)

        It’s been a month now and he hasn’t contacted me. I cut contact with all our mutual friends too and blocked him on all social media. Even though it’s a violent struggle, I am going to stick to my decision of not initiating contact until he does. Coz I actually have nothing good to say to him anyway. I am gonna try and do exactly what you said i.e. work on myself. Hopefully, someday, I will stop expecting his call. More than losing a boyfriend, it’s having my one best friend betray me that is super painful. :( He had categorically told me that he would never come back and he had fallen out of love etc. It’s weird but honestly, I wouldn’t have minded as much if was seeing any other girl, but not the one he is currently seeing! Ever since she entered the picture and he became distant, I was deeply disturbed, she didn’t sound like a nice person and her calling me up just sealed that. But, I console myself thinking karma will come to bite them back hahahah! I can’t explain just how happy I was reading your reply! :)

        Jen, you are a gem of a person, I wish I’d come across your blog earlier. It’s people like you, who take the time out to reply to lost souls like us, that truly make the world go round. I read your reply several times a day coz it fills me with positive energy and gives me hope. I can’t thank you enough!:):) I wish you and C all the peace and happiness in the world! God Bless you both!

        Sincerely,
        Jane

      • Awww — you’re the BEST! Seriously, that’s so touching. I’m nothing special (I promise), just a normal girl who knows what it feels like! But THANK YOU. <3 <3 <3

        Blocking him on social media was a great idea. You don't want to see what photos he's tagged in anyway. And you definitely don't want him knowing what you're up to. All of the breakup advice stuff always tells you to block contact for one to three months. There's a reason! Human beings by nature remember the best in people…over time the bad memories fade. So even if it was really awful at the end, you need that time and space for both of you to forget the way it ended.

        It really is the betrayal of the friendship that hurts the worst. I remember feeling that when C and I were apart. Like, that he didn't even check on me. Wasn't he worried? Wouldn't your friend check on you if something bad happened between you? (I've since asked him those questions, but you get it.) It's the worst feeling, and so painful. And when the two of you DO talk, you'll have to address that. But that's a whole different advice column!

        Yeah…no. It's not going to be good between your ex and this girl. If she's brazen enough to take his phone and call his ex and lie to him about it, imagine what being in an actual relationship with her is like. Not good.

        You are such a sweetheart and you're doing all of the right things. This pain WILL lift, even sooner than you think. I'm sorry this happened to you but in time, it will become clear why it did. Most importantly, you will be happy, and you deserve to be. Day by day. <3

  11. Hi Jennifer,

    This is a beautiful post. I have read it over and over again – just over the past few days. I’ve read heaps online but this post, something about the absolute honesty and certainty that you project, I found extremely comforting.

    My bf broke up with me a month ago saying that he loves me but he doesn’t know if he’s in love with me. This came after I had hurt him – he asked me to move in with him. I agreed and then I changed my mind (sort of) and then I asked for space. My brain was in a massive mess and i had so much going on. When I asked for space, he took it as rejection. When I said I’m not ready to move in with him, he said he felt like I didn’t trust him to take care of me and love me.
    A few days after the break up he texted me to tell me how i’m the most amazing girl and he can never do better but that he’s confused about what he wants in life. A lot of this had to do with work stresses – he had just changed jobs and the pressure was getting to him.
    I tried not to speak to him but he kept texting me. Finally I asked him why he hasn’t come to see me – he said it he felt guilty and useless. I was hurt and disappointed but I wasn’t angry – I knew I had made mistakes too. I told him that I still love him and want to make things work and that if space is what he needs then space is what i’m giving him because I love him.
    We had gaps between us speaking. We went for almost a week without talking and then chatting a bit. It felt awkward and strained. I saw him once and we didn’t speak about us – we just spent time together. I could see the pain and hurt in his eyes. He was like a zombie. I realized he probably doesn’t love me and decided to let go. He still kept texting on/off and my friends kept saying “he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too” but I knew him better than that. He’d feel far too guilty for leading me on.
    I guess all I can say is that it was a gut feeling.

    One day we decided to meet again and while I was on my way there he told me that he had received some bad news and didn’t want to see anyone. I got really angry and lashed out at him. He got angry and said I was not being supportive and that he never wants to see me again. I was acting out of character and apologized. He didn’t answer. I parked my car and spoke to my dad. I think I realized its finally over now. So as my dad said “just drive up there and apologize and leave. You have absolutely nothing to lose”. And I did it. I was praying and shivering. Knowing for sure that I was going to get the door slammed in my face.
    Went there….knocked on the door and got a cold reaction. I stood in a corner away from him and apologized for not being supportive of the bad news he received. And then I told him that from the day I decided to love him I promised myself that I will never let him be alone or feel alone. That I would be there for him through thick and thin. I know that he’ll probably never want to see me again but that’s fine – i’ve made my peace with that. But that when we were in love, I was there for him a 100%. I grabbed my keys to leave. I asked him if he wanted a hug. He said no. Then I said “can I give you a hug” and he said “if you want” and then he held me for a good 8 minutes and he looked at me and said “go get your bag….I want you to stay!!” Ummm what??? He kissed me and asked me to stay. I went and sat on the couch fully in shock and fully shivering wondering what on earth was going on.
    And from that point onwards….everything changed. He went back to being his usual self. he held me and cuddled me and kissed me like everything was fine. I couldn’t understand the psychology behind it because I was almost certain I was going to get kicked out.
    Was it the vulnerability ? Was it that I was finally showing him my feminine side instead of being strong??
    He told me about a job interview that he has and a few days later he got the job. I was being supportive throughout the entire thing.

    Its only been a few days since this happened. I hope he feels like I have given him enough space. And I truly have. We still haven’t talked about what is happening but he asked if he could take me for dinner this week to celebrate the new job.

    In the last month, I have realized the mistakes that I have made and how I can be a better partner as well. I tried doing the whole no contact rule but as hard as it is, its not what my heart and my gut told me to do.

    I guess my question to you is, now what? How do I try not to screw this up again?

    Thank you again for your insightful blog and for sharing your personal experiences with your readers. Its a blessing.

    • Hi Jaime!

      Thank you so much and I’m so glad it helped. <3

      Hmm. Complicated situation on your hands. I would say I think you need to have the DTR ("Define the Relationship") talk quickly to determine what you're both wanting from one another right now, but I'm concerned you could scare him off. He's a bit of a flight risk at the moment.

      My gut tells me that he was moved by emotion when you hugged him, which led to him asking you to stay, but that he might pull away again soon. It isn't that he doesn't love you; it's that he doesn't have proper coping skills to deal with his emotions when he gets hurt or overwhelmed. I get an unstable vibe from him, but I need more information before I can say for sure.

      I have some more questions —

      1. How long after you declined to move in with him / needed space did he tell you he wasn't sure if he was in love with you?
      2. What prompted you to ask for space? Why was your head a mess?
      3. How old are the two of you?
      4. How long have you been together?
      5. How stable was your relationship (arguments, etc) during the time you were together?

      Answer me those questions and I'll do my best to help you!

      Love,
      Jen

      • Hi Jen,

        Thank you so much for replying. I really appreciate you wanting to help me.

        I have to admit, as much as I want to have a DTR, I feel like it would be too pushy. He’s slowly reaching out to me over text but we’re not speaking about our relationship at all besides casual flirting.

        1. He asked for space about a week or two after. Its a long story. He went away to Mexico on a surf trip for 5 weeks before that. It was a trip he had planned before he met me. He went during an awful time. My flatmate/best friend left to move to another country, he left and a close friend died all in one go. He wanted to leave the trip and come here to be with me but I said “no” because I didn’t want to be selfish. When he came back from the trip, I was a big ball of negative and he was a big ball of positive. And I was resentful and angry at the world. Took it out on him. He was trying so hard to plan my move. I freaked out. I had all these weird emotions going through my head (you’ll soon find out why…!!) so I asked for space. After two days he texted me and asked if we were still together and I said “of course we are” and we were ok. Then we had a huge fight the following week and he said he wants space. I didn’t give it to him because i thought he was being “tit for tat” and then we made up and he said he feels disconnected from me except when we have sex and that I always seem sad (again you’ll find out soon why). Two weeks later, we were trying to sort things out and I brought up the topic of me moving again and the next day he broke up with me (I prolly handled a make or break situation badly).

        2. What prompted me to ask for space – the above answers a fair bit of it too. But there was something wrong – really wrong. My brain was behaving in the most craziest ways. On the day he broke up with me, I also found out that I was pregnant!! There you go – crazy baby brain led to most of this. I miscarried a week later. I told him about it. We were going to talk about what we were going to do but I was too heartbroken so I decided to give it a week before I make a decision but it was too late by then anyway. He was trying to be supportive but we said a lot of hurtful things to each other that I couldn’t erase from my head within that week.

        3. He’s 34, I’m 28. I’m quite mature (and immature for my age) – i’ve lived in a foreign country away from my family for 10 years now. And that independence makes it hard for me to get close to someone but i’m trying really hard to break that bad habit.

        4. We’ve been together since last Nov. About 5-6 months of it was long distance where we see each other only every 10 days. And now he and I live 1.5hrs away from each other and was seeing each other twice a week.

        5. How stable – that’s a hard question to answer. When we were good, we were really good. When we were bad, it was bad for about a day. He is very hard on himself. After we met, he decided to stop flying away for work to make our relationship work and wanted to stay in one place. The change in jobs and environment affected him a fair bit too.

        Hope that helps :) Thanks again xx

      • Well, yes, it’s completely natural that pregnancy hormones made your emotions swing all over the place. All of the job changes likely weren’t easy to navigate either.

        I’ve read all the details of this and I guess my main question to you is — is he really the person you envision spending the rest of your life with? Because if he’s not, is all of this really worth it? But if he is, you guys have a LOT of work to do. You both relate to each other with all of this hesitancy and these very complicated walls up. I don’t doubt that you love each other, but you both have some intimacy issues that you’re going to have to learn to eliminate. If you don’t, this will not work, whether you have the DTR or not.

        The DTR, and all those things between you that you’re NOT saying, are going to come up eventually. You came to me because you wanted to know how to not get it wrong again. But if you can’t even tell him what’s really on your mind, or get the nature of your relationship out in the open, how can you expect to get it right?

        I asked how old you are because the details of this situation make you both sound REALLY young. I honestly thought you both were in your early twenties. It sounds like you both have some issues from the past to clean up before you can truly and freely be together. It might be a rocky road for you — I know you don’t want to hear that, but that’s just what I’m sensing.

        You know, C and I dated like, six times. We tried when we were 24, 26, 28, 30…and it always went a little something like the way you’re describing. We’d be great, and then one of us would freak out and pull away, and in response the other one would freak out or refuse to back down, etc. We were always breaking up, it was always a nightmare, friends did not get why we kept trying to be together.

        Sometimes the love is honestly there but it’s just the wrong time. Even though you’re 28, you may not yet be “old” enough to maintain a stable relationship with him. Think of your love as a glass of wine. Now think of balancing that glass of wine on the back of your hand in mid-air. Tough, but you could do it, right? But now add his hand below yours. Your hand is on top of the back of his hand, and the glass of wine is on top of that. This is what you two are doing: every time you feel his hand jerking a little, you’re either refusing to move with him to keep the wine stable (so the wine glass then falls and crashes) or you’re assuming he’s going to move, and so you jerk your hand in anticipation, and so the wine glass falls and crashes.

        Until the two of you can learn to hold your hands steady, together, no matter what the other one is doing, that wine glass is going to crash!

        C and I eventually learned how to be stable. It wasn’t easy. We had to be old enough, and we had to be sure we BOTH wanted the same thing from the relationship. And sure, sometimes I still got scared that he was pulling away, but I learned to tell myself, “Oh that’s just him doing what he does; he’ll be back.” Or sometimes I went on a tirade or got insecure or needy, and he learned to say to himself, “Okay, that’s just Jen being Jen. She just needs a bit of breathing room and she’ll be fine.” It took YEARS (eight years!), but we finally learned how to stay stable, together. So while I foresee a tough road in your future with him, I’m definitely NOT saying it’s impossible.

        I often find that when one partner asks for space, space is the OPPOSITE of what they really want. So until you can learn to say, “Hey, I was pregnant and lost the baby and suddenly moving in with you seemed SUPER overwhelming, and I asked for space but what I REALLY wanted was for you to comfort me,” you’re going to have a tough road.

        It might not work with your man this time. But what I CAN tell you is that you’ll get closer to it working, every time — with him or with your next partner. Every time, you’ll get better at balancing that wine glass. And if it turns out that he can’t keep his hand stable enough to hold it together with you, then you STILL have to keep working on YOUR stability, because eventually you will find someone whose hand is stable enough. And when you do, you’ll want to make sure that alllllllll your past issues — all that crap that keeps you from being truly intimate, all that stuff that makes you jerk your hand — is out of the way.

        I would look up the statistics on couples who get through miscarriages too — it is VERY difficult if not impossible without therapy or the couple being EXTREMELY committed to getting through it together. Even marriages dissolve because of that. So be gentle with yourself; you went through something incredibly traumatic! And he might not be able to understand that fully.

        I hope this helped and I’m sorry if it wasn’t all that you wanted to hear. Keep me updated and I truly hope you two can create a clean slate together. <3

      • Hi Jen,

        Thank you so much for what you wrote. I was amazed at what you said.

        I have got a lot of advice from a lot of ppl – women and men my age, ppl older and from different walks of life. And what you wrote made the most sense to me and that’s probably why I enjoyed your original post to begin with.

        To answer the most important question that you asked – “is he really the person you envision spending the rest of your life with?” – the simple answer is “yes” he is. He is the only man that I have ever wanted to have children with. I respect him. And most importantly, I love his heart. We both have made mistakes but we’re only human. I genuinely love his heart and I can feel its purity and even my dog can feel the purity of his heart – call me crazy, but I think you know what I mean.

        The biggest problem I had in this relationship was making myself vulnerable because I truly found myself falling in love. He said “I love you” 2 months into the relationship and I genuinely felt it. He and I loved taking care of each other and being there for each other. Somewhere down the line, I decided to pull away because I was amazed at the amount of love I was feeling for this man and I was afraid. A lot of this has to do with the fact that before I met him, I lived with my previous partner and there was a lot of emotional abuse. I felt abandoned by him and he guilted me into staying with him. When I left, it was very hard for me to start my life back again but I did it, with flying colours, and I have my friends and my dog to thank for that.

        We are both childish in nature and I guess we feel like two fools in love. At the moment, I want to be there for him and be supportive of him. I want him to know that I’m there for him through thick and thin.

        Getting him to open up is my biggest struggle atm because I can see how withdrawn he has become since I hurt him. When I decided to not move in with him (and it was moving to another city), he told me that he felt like I didn’t trust him enough to love me and protect me. It really had nothing to do with him. It was to do with me wondering what my plan b,c,d etc. would be he things fell apart.
        I now am following my heart and leading with that. The best thing I can do is be true to myself and put my best foot forward because I do not want to live in regret. He is worth it and our love is worth it. I could be completely wrong but at least this way, I know that I have tried.

        I am really scared. I am terrified of making myself vulnerable. But at the end of the day, if I don’t do it now, then when will I ever do it right?

        I want to be that steady hand for us so that I can prove to myself, as well, that I am capable of being stable. I too use to be a flight risk. I need to trust myself. And the best way to earn someone’s trust…..is to trust them.

      • Well Jaime, I’ll tell you this:

        If you know deeply that he’s the person you want your life and children with, be at ease, because you won’t be able to truly lose him. That’s why I placed the I Ching quote in the blog — no matter how many times I ran from C or he bolted from me, no matter how truly disastrous the situation looked, we were never able to lose one another. Time always brought us back, somehow. Forgiveness always occurred. So take comfort in knowing that — your gut feelings don’t lie. You will have to make yourself vulnerable eventually, but you can just do it slowly, little by little. And if you know he’s the person, then there’s really no rush to have a “define the relationship” moment right now. Just know that he is yours, and time will make it inevitable. <3

  12. I smiled when I read that comment. You are a lovely person and I’m sure people have said this to you before – you have a sixth sense that helps guide your heart. I am happy you’re using it to help people.
    I think within the next few days I will know where I stand. I will keep you posted :)

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