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.

77 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

      • Hey Jen.

        Thanks for replying <3

        This semester has been torture. We had the same classes with our friends. And I don't think we had enough time to be apart. I've noticed him flirting with this girl in our class, and acting all like he used to when we were together and it's gotten really difficult. I changed my timetable for next year so I'd see him as less as possible whilst keeping my friends within reach.

        Did you delete C off of Facebook? I still have one class with my ex next year and I'm so sure we're going to be in the same group for a class project in one subject like we always do with our friends. I have his sister, and his sister's friend on Facebook. I'm not sure whether or not to delete him. :/

        Gahhhhhhhh

        – Elise

      • I waited about one month and then deleted him. It was the best decision. He wasn’t my friend in the past, and he most certainly wasn’t my friend when we broke up – so deleting him was a no-brainer for me. I think you’re doing the right thing by limiting your chances to interact. It’ll make you feel much better.

  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 :)

    • Hey Jen,

      He was meant to come see me midwk but has got caught up with work and said he’ll come on Friday night. I know its only over text, but he sounds only semi-keen. This makes me very apprehensive because he’s the type of person to just not do something if he doesn’t want to. He’s been driving a lot for work and coming to me would mean another 1.5hrs of driving. So I texted him and offered to come up to him since he’s starting a new job on Monday and needs rest too. To which he replied “chat after work :)”. I keep remembering the ill-fated text where he told me that he doesn’t feel it anymore and wants to end things. I keep expecting it :( and it makes me feel very very sad and anxious “(

    • The way to keep him calm and wanting to be near you is for you to stay calm. The way to attract him nearer is to be authentically positive and unshakeable. Think of a small bird landing on someone’s shoulder. The bird has to sense that it’s a safe, nurturing place. Your partner is the bird here.

      You have to learn to master your energy. Faking being calm won’t work — he’ll sense your anxiety.

      I wouldn’t have offered to drive out to him. Here’s why: men pursue, and you need to allow yourself to be pursued. If he’s having doubts, you offering to make the drive to him doesn’t squelch the doubts. What increases your value as a partner is that you’re fine with or without him. It increases your value if he senses that you’d like him around, but you don’t need him.

      So if he said to me, “Hey, I’m swamped with work and can’t make it,” I’d say, “Sorry to hear that, hope it calms down.” And that’s it. I wouldn’t consider how much rest he needs, I wouldn’t ask to reschedule, I definitely wouldn’t offer to drive to him. If a man retreats into a cave, I don’t follow him in.

      Think about when you were newly in love. Did it ever matter if you were swamped with work? Nope. If he has doubts and he pulls away, that is HIS problem to solve. Not yours.

      You also have to learn that the most important relationship you have in your life is with you. Right now, if you lose him, you’re losing everything. That’s why it gives you so much anxiety.

      Don’t get me wrong — I’d obviously be devastated if I lost C, and a lot of grieving would take place. But it would look a LOT different now than when we broke up in 2012. When I lost him then, I lost everything — my love, my self esteem, my future.

      Now, if I lose him, I’ll lose my partner, but I will STILL have my love, my self esteem, and my future. My mission is to heal others through writing, and to teach people to turn tragedy into triumph. I would hate losing C. But that doesn’t change my mission. I gotta do it, with or without him. Since realigning my priorities, we’ve finally become stable and happy, after five previous failed relationships.

      Does that make sense? You’re so nervous about losing him. It means that your priorities need to shift — right now, he’s TOO important, and you’re not important enough.

  13. Hey Jen,

    Thanks for the reply. I totally get it – I really understand what you’re saying. There are a few reasons why i’m feeling anxious – one of the main factors being the guilt I felt for the mistakes that I made in our relationship.

    I saw him on Friday night. He was extremely grateful that I drove up to him because I know how exhausted he would be but he did say he would have been happy to drive to me as well. We had a lovely time on Friday night – it was a bit awkward but we did manage to enjoy ourselves.

    On Saturday, I asked him “are we cool?” – and he said yes we are. I went on to ask him if he knows where we stand – and he said “i don’t have answers for you atm. I’m trying to get my life in order and I haven’t had the capacity to think about us”.

    He seemed a bit angry with me but I didn’t shout or scream. I apologized for bringing up the subject and left to go home.

    When I came home, I thought about it and I realized I still felt quite hurt after everything that has happened. And I didn’t feel like I wanted to be around him after all the hurt and pain we’ve been through.
    Then I decided – i’m going to pull away. I’m going to make him miss me etc. Do the whole no contact rule etc. And then I realized what I was doing….I was jerking my hand again. I didn’t get the reaction that I wanted from him so I decided to go all bratty. I was jerking my hand and the wine glass was falling.

    I found myself looking down two pathways – one where I was looking down towards either being the steady hand and showing him support during this difficult time that he’s going through. And the other, where I pull away and push him away and hope for some outcome.

    And like you said before, “….if you know he’s the person, then there’s really no rush to have a “define the relationship” moment right now.”

    How am I meant to protect my heart AND be supportive of him and not get my heart broken?

    • 1. It’s great that you’re recognizing when you’re about to drop the glass. Truly. That is a huge, huge, important step.

      2. That said, you deserve a certain amount of respect and so does your time. So when he said, “I haven’t had the capacity to think about us,” I would have said, “Well, then call me when you do have the capacity, because I don’t do casual. Until then, be happy, because that’s how I like you best.”

      And then I would have walked out.

      Do you see there’s a difference between being bratty and playing a game versus just having some boundaries and demanding respect?

      • Hi Jen,

        I really appreciate your input.

        I think he knows that I don’t do casual. I think he’s at war with himself and truly doesn’t want to lead me on.
        Something I forgot to mention to you is that he has a child from a previous relationship – she’s 4 years old and lives in another country. At the start, he moved there to try and make things work but it didn’t work out. He moved back in 3 months. He still has close contact with his daughter and financially support her. He’s on good terms with the mother and has continuously told me that he has no feelings for her besides mutual respect and I believe him because he is an extremely loyal man. I was afraid that out of guilt, he may have decided to give it another go, but I truly believe that isn’t the case.

        Yesterday, his sister called me to talk to me about him. She told me how much she appreciates the support that I’m giving him and that I’m the best thing that has happened in his life. She said I’m the only woman to have ever believed in him and fight for him.

        He vaguely texted me last night asking for some info – I think he’s trying to keep the line of communication open. I told him that I was busy and will text him later, which I did, to answer his question.

        I don’t know where the boundaries are and I don’t know what’s right or wrong atm :(

      • I think you need to stop considering his circumstances. His new job, his commute, his daughter.

        Being considerate isn’t going to get you closer to what you want. When does he consider you?

      • I know :( but its hard because I feel like I’m being selfish. When things were good between us, he considered me on so many occasions and I really appreciated that. I guess I feel like its a skill of paying forward :(

      • Hi Jen,

        Hope you’re keeping well.

        Throughout this week he has texted me sporadically asking me little questions here and there but we never talk about us. He started his new job on Wednesday and he seemed really happy after that. On Thursday he asked me if we can see each other because he’s working on Saturday. I agreed and we spent quality time together. It was really nice to see him happy again. I think changing work made a huge difference to him.
        I told him that I’m going back home for a couple of weeks in 10 days. He offered to keep the dog while I’m away. I didn’t even ask. He offered. I asked him if he’s sure and he said “yes”. In my books, that’s a step in the right direction.

        Jen, I really want to ask him “what would you like me to do to get close to you?” but I can’t. And at the same time, I know I shouldn’t have the DTR conversation with him because like you said before to “trust that he is inevitably yours”. Its just really hard :(

      • Keep working on mastering your own energy and filling your time with things that satisfy you so that you are able to be happy, with or without him. As soon as he doesn’t feel that you’re anxious and needy, things will greatly improve and he will initiate the DTR conversation with you on his own.

  14. Dear jen,

    Very well written. Its as if i were directly speaking to me. I walked away from a 4.5 years relationship as it became clear to me that my bf was not gonna commit to me after all we had been true. I was sure that our relationship had passed the test of time but he had never ending excuses. So i packed my stuff got myself a beautiful flat. We first hung out casually thou in my loneliness i cried myself to sleep countless nights. But no here is my dilemma. Thou it has been 2.5 months since we are separated houses, when i ignore him for a few days he really tries to reach out to me. E.g taking me to the fanciest place im town… He even romanced me to a point i even got in bed with him. But now he msgs and calls me randomly to hang out. I dont want him to get the easy way in; im traumatized inside. Moreover calling me occasionally and taking me on dates is nit god enough when he clearly knows i want him to propose to me. So what am i supposed to do? Except his casual hang outs or totally cut him off politely? I know he is also texting de new girls but from what i’ve learned from him he is prolly just filling up his time and my space. Any advise on how i shud handle the situation. Tnx in advance

    • Cut him off completely. He’s calling other women and that is all that you need to know. I would cut him off for at least 6 months and even consider changing your phone number. To get him to propose is going to take a lot more than this. He will have to lose you and really believe he has lost you for there even to be a chance that he’ll change his behavior. You must cut him off and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES respond or reach out to him. I don’t know if you’re strong enough to do this right now, but that is what needs to happen.

  15. Wow Jen, tnx for your quick response. I am gonna try to cut him off, but not sure if i shud respond something when he msgs or calls or just do it off the bat. But i want to ask you, is life and love supposed to be such a push and pull; and when these men do realize they made a mistake and even propose to the girl, what happens to all the trauma? Is there a chance love will blossom thou knowing how much they have hurt the girl and considering the fact that people wont change.

    • There’s always a chance, but it depends on the guy. C and I had a lot of pain to work through when we got back together so we went to premarital counseling. It took about a year before I felt safe with him again. That being said, I’d known C was “the one” for years so I was willing to take the time to heal with him. We’d had a beautiful relationship before and I knew that we could get back to that beauty.

      The answer is no; it’s not supposed to be such a push and pull. My gut tells me that this man is not going to be your life partner. If you find yourself saying “When it’s great, it’s really great but when we’re bad, it’s really bad” or, “Gosh it’s so hard,” that’s usually a sign that you’re not with the right person.

      I would tell him you’re cutting him off so he knows. You can say, “You’ve known for some time that I want to get married and after almost five years, I can see we are not going there. I don’t do casual relationships, I know you’re texting other women and I don’t want to be friends. I am cutting off contact with you and my wishes WILL be respected by you. There is no room for discussion; I’ve made up my mind. This is goodbye. I wish you the best but I don’t want contact with you for any reason, ever.” You need to be THIS clear so he doesn’t sense any weakness in you, otherwise he will try to exploit that weakness.

      Because your former partner sounds manipulative, he will likely still reach out for the first 6 weeks; that’s fine — just ignore him. If he shows up at your flat, go back inside and lock the door. If he doesn’t leave, call the police. He’ll get the message really quickly.

      Do yourself the favor — take some time to heal and move on from this guy. It needs to be over with him. You can do better.

      Wishing you speedy healing & renewed happiness!
      Jen

  16. Jennifer, thank you every much for this post!

    I can truly agree with previous commentators, it is just the right thing I needed at the right time :)

    It’s been 4 months since my boyfriend from long-distance relationship (which in the beginning wasn’t LDR) broke up with me, at least he did it personally. Need to say that to me it came out of blue cause nothing before indicated about possible break-up. I need to admit, we were together only 7 months but I thought that he is ”the one”, to me it seemed we made a good match. The problem was that after 7 months of being together he told he cant answer me the same… he did not feel like loving me, he liked me but it was not enough, that’s what he said. Needless to say that I felt like something inside me dies cause he really, really was a good guy.

    These are the first days after 4 months since I have felt way better and actually start seeing good things in life, joy is coming back.. slowly but still. Anyhow, all the 4 months I have never let him go, even he told me ”give me time and space”, I never did. Month ago we talked and I asked him, if he really is not willing to give it a try. His answer was ridiculous… he is not saying no but not saying as well. This far we have agreed to skype after 2 weeks when he is done with his master thesis. He says he is busy and really stressed because all the things going on in his life. Also, once I was so pissed off and I thought “I need to end this”. Still, I wrote him silly questions and asked does he want that we stop communication, he told ”he is just bus now and we will talk later”.

    Basically, I still love him a lot and deep inside me I have a little hope that everything will be fine. At the same time, now I am trying to let him go, so after our ”skype date” I should not be disappointed. Some people say, hope for the best, prepare for the worse.

    Anyhow, thank you a lot, your story truly inspired me! All the best to you :)

    • Everything can be fine with him, but you have to stop contacting him.

      Men are very simple. They need to understand that they’ve LOST something in order to recognize its true value.

      So when you’re asking if he wants to try, or asking when he’ll have time for you…he hasn’t really lost you at all. He still has you. Does that make sense?

      Back off from him. I would even cancel the Skype date. Tell him you’re beginning to feel joy again and that you’re choosing to move on with your life. The situation will turn around very quickly.

      The one piece of advice I have is that you have to MEAN it when you say it. If you say it just to get a response, he will know you’re not sincere. He’ll feel it.

      You must truly let go, ALL the way, in order to have him back. The old relationship with him must die.

      But really, don’t you want someone who is willing to make time for you, even if he’s writing his masters thesis? Don’t you want someone who will make 30 minutes to talk with you?

      You’re worth it. Remember that.

      • Dammit! You are so much right! I will try to stick to your advice and let’s see what happens.

        I even printed out this ”Because you know what really works, in breakups and with anything else you want desperately?
        Giving up.
        Surrendering.
        Letting go.”

        Just to remind myself it everyday.

        Thank you very much! I am so happy that I have found your blog :)

  17. I can’t thank you enough for writing this. I just happened upon it while in the same state you outlined in the beginning; and I feel so much better after reading it. I can’t speak for anyone but myself but please know that this is helping people.

    • Hi “Pockets” — thank you for your sweet comment. That’s exactly why I wrote it; I’m so glad to hear it helped, if even a little. THANK YOU for your kindness and I seriously wish you the speediest healing ever. <3

      • Thank you, I appreciate it. I can only hope I can keep making the changes in my life and that my story ends up like yours. But, even if it doesn’t, I will still be a better person for it. Thanks again because it’s hard to express how much just reading this helped me.

  18. Pingback: Small Life, Slow Life: Some Links on Healing. | small life, slow life

  19. I dated my ex for 2yrs. We were long distance most our relationship & stayed 100% loyal to eachother. More than a bf, he was my bestfriend. Thats why this kills. I adored him with ever fiber of my being. He broke up with me 2 months ago, just before we were supposed to be getting engaged. Bc 1. There were things about me he couldnt deal with the rest of his life 2. He wasnt happy 3. He lost his feelings for me. That killed me. I am his first gf actually (I’m 22, hes 21). My guy friends are telling me it’s grass is greener & hes curious what else is out there. That doesnt help. He started talking to other girls immediately after the breakup. The kicker is he says “I’m one of the most amazing women hes ever met, he’ll always love me, but he wants me to move on & be happy.” He said the breakup was hard for him, hes moved on, has no intentions of getting back together..BUT who knows what will happen in the future. I feel so lost, we were planning on a wedding in July :( it almost feels more like a divorce than a breakup bc I was SO close to his family too.

    • That’s so hard. I get it. C said a lot of those things to me too.

      It’s a very real thing and I’ve seen it over + over that a man will freak out just before a big commitment is looming. C did it and I’ve seen dozens of men do it. (And not only men do it, but we as women usually get freaked out the day of the wedding where men get freaked out before the proposal. Just different timing.) It sounds like this is what happened with your ex.

      Losing the connection with the family can be the hardest part. I was extremely close with C’s family and as I’ve mentioned here, my best friend is married to his brother! So that made things really difficult for a while.

      My advice is the same to you as it is to everyone — understanding the “why” behind why he left you won’t actually help; your brain just insists that it will. You have to accept that he is gone (for now) and move on as though he is not coming back.

      If the connection is still there and the two of you have an opportunity to grow together, he will return to you and there will be a lot of healing for the two of you to do.

      For now, you are very young and your ability to heal is second to none. Forgive yourself for any of your actions that may have initiated the breakup and make an effort every single day to let him go completely. You will heal and a very deep sense of happiness will return to you. I promise.

      • I’m really trying to. It’s a daily battle. I’m going to force myself to casually date other guys just to help me feel better, and am planning on volunteering somehow. My question is how do you move on when that hope that someday he’ll return won’t die? Especially bc I know our connection was very deep. He actually wept for hours in front of me during the breakup & wouldnt sleep in his bed for two weeks afterwards. Really hard to see that :/

  20. Hi Jen,

    I wrote on here a few weeks ago (I talked about how I turn 30 this month and was in the 5 year relationship)

    It’s been a little over a year now, and while I can eat again, and muster through the ups and downs of daily life, I still can’t help but think “he’s still the one”.

    I had mentioned previously how we grew up together,but never started a romantic relationship until we were both back in our home state when we were 23. I will be the first to admit I had never been single for more than a few weeks and I feel I never really got the chance to grow up. I was immature and played a lot of high school games in our 5 year relationship and I only realized after being alone for that first half year all of the wonderful qualities he had that I had taken for granted. Things that truly matter in a relationship and a spouse. Not just me being an immature brat complaining what so and so’s boyfriend or husband did for them or bought them. And now it kills me that I’m 30 and wonder if my past actions are going to haunt me the rest of my life because I lost him. I ve gone on several dates, and even dated someone for a few months. I just can’t see myself long term with anyone else.

    I had also mentioned before that he didn’t exactly end things with me. He just became more and more distant saying he needed time to forgive me, but still keeping me hanging on, by saying I’m still the only one etc… until nothing. (My mom thinks he was pulling a cowardly act by not wanting to see my pain and ending it like a man since we’ve known each other so long) Anyways, after 11 months of no contact, i “cracked” and contacted him. I wrote him a long email explaining how I wasn’t perfect but I have changed and grown up. I apologized and asked for another chance.

    Surprisingly he wrote back after not responding to me at all for the first several months…and said that he was glad to hear I was working on myself but that he was with someone, and that she didn’t have to go through the things or need time to grow up like I did, and that they both make the efforts not just him.

    I asked him if he missed me at all. He said “of course”
    I asked him if he thought he was going to marry this girl, and he said, I am not saying anything right now or getting into details of my life with you other than I am very happy with the person I am with. I tried to ask him more, but he stopped responding. I went a little stir crazy and did the unthinkable. I googled him. What I found was unbearable. I saw his Twitter saying he’d found the love of his life and they were on some sort of vacation. 11 months later and I’m nothing. And I’m not positive but it appears they are living together.

    I asked one of guy friends how he just doesn’t care, how he never gave me closure that it could never be again, that he felt nothing for me. It would help so much if he just told me that, but when I asked, I get nothing. My guy friend said men don’t care about stuff like growing up together etc.. And that really bothers me. I realize men think differently, but to never talk or see me again after all we went through together?

    I’ve had people say if it’s meant to be it will be… At this point though, working on my second holidays being alone, I feel like it’s hopeless for an “us”. I feel the pain of regret everyday, and I constantly wonder if I screwed up the rest of my life by being as immature as I was when we were together. I feel the pressure of hitting the next decade in life and being a woman… The children time clock… Sometimes I wonder if I should just settle for someone that’s “nice” and treats me well. Or if I should continue to hope for that if it’s meant to be…

    I’m sorry this is super long- I wanted you to have the full story, and get your true unbiased thoughts… : )

    Thanks Jen!

    • Nicole,

      It sounds like you needed to learn a really hard lesson here — that insecurity and immaturity can ruin what many would see as a “perfect” union. Your ex may be completely lost to you now.

      I would argue, though, that even though you’re longing for him now, that there was something in your connection that wasn’t working at the time. And very likely that both of you were not grown up enough yet to maintain stability in your union.

      It’s a really hard lesson to learn and it’s a lesson that comes with serious consequences. My own complaining and game-playing with Cyrus at age 30 manifested in me being homeless in the middle of the night and him refusing to speak to me. Six horrific months went by and when I googled him, I saw that he seemed to be doing just fine. I really understand your sense of loss and regret.

      Here’s what I think. You had very specific lessons you needed to learn about how to operate in a relationship. Without losing your ex completely and seeing that he’s moved on and happy, you would not have been able to learn those lessons. The consequences (losing him completely) had to be VERY REAL for you to completely get it.

      We don’t know what will happen in the next year or two. But I strongly believe that you needed to learn those lessons ASAP. Could it be that you’ll have another chance with your ex? Maybe. Could it be that you’re going to meet someone you’re much more compatible with? Maybe.

      I think what you now need to work on, which it doesn’t sound like you’ve successfully accomplished, is letting your ex go. It’s the whole reason I wrote this blog post.

      Accept that the world took him from you; accept that you weren’t ready; understand that he found someone who treats him better; vow that you will treat every person you interact with moving forward with the utmost kindness; remember that you are wholly and totally deserving of love (and not just the kind where a guy is nice to you + you have to settle); remember that marriage is a game you play only when you’ve mastered the rules.

      1. Forgive yourself.
      2. Let him go.
      <3

  21. Pingback: Small Life, Slow Life: That Time I Threw My Engagement Ring in the Ocean. {AKA: How to Let Go.} | small life, slow life

  22. Hi Jen! :)

    Your story really touches my heart and I’m so happy I stumbled upon it. For the past 3 months I’ve been a wreck. I miss my ex beyond words. Me and my ex are both 22 years old. He was my best friend and the greatest man I’ve ever met. We really connected and I felt that I could fully be myself around him. I’ve never felt this way about anyone. We had an amazing relationship up until a few months ago. (We were together for a year and a half). I started to feel like I was getting too dependent and that I needed to separate myself from him for a while. Instead, I threw a huge tantrum one day which I deeply regret. We had this huge fight over practically nothing. I then came to the conclusion that I couldn’t imagine being without him and never voiced how I felt. He then got a job a few weeks later. Things were going fine until a month in. He started to get very distant and I was seeing him less and less. I told him that if he still wanted to be with me, he would have to devote more time to me and our relationship. I asked him if he still loved me and he assured me that he did and that he would try to give me that time.

    Another month in and he’s still busier than ever. At this point, I felt like he was avoiding me. I would text him and get answers hours later. I was lucky if I ever got to see him.I threatened to break up with him multiple times. At one point, I actually went through with it. He called me and told me that he didn’t want to break up. I was relieved.. until I noticed yet again that nothing had changed. I told him to man up and break up with me himself if he didn’t want to be with me. He said that he would never want to break up with me and he never did, but he continued to act very distant. So yes, I broke it off again. I became so frustrated, I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted the old him back. I wanted our relationship back.

    I saw him one last time 3 months ago. I told him that I hated being without him. He came over to my neighborhood and we had a great date. He initiated a kiss and he held my hand all throughout the day. It felt like everything was back to normal. At the end of our date he started talking about how lost he felt and how he just wanted to disappear. I tried to lighten the mood, but it didn’t really work. I had never seen him so down and he usually doesn’t like to talk about his feelings so I left it alone. He then took me home. We then kissed one last time and he left.

    We texted a few more times. They were playful texts. It felt like things were going back to normal. A few days go by and we’re not texting anymore. I figured I’d wait for him to text me and that I’d give him some space. Those days turn into weeks. Now its been three months. I bumped into him and his friend this weekend (two days before my birthday). It was extremely awkward. He was at a loss of words and so was I. We exchanged greetings and I took off. I didn’t here from him after that.

    I’m slowly trying to move on and let it go. I’ve gone through every possible scenario in my head and if he happens to be with someone else, I will accept it. I just wish he was honest with me if that may the case. Instead, I feel like I was completely left in the dark.

    Again, I’m so happy that I came across your blog. You seem like an amazing person and I’d be extremely happy to hear from you. Thank you so much for sharing your story! :)

    • Well, I think obviously that you both(!) need some closure in this situation. I have to say that your breakup is an unusual one, because the two of you never…actually broke up. I sense that something happened in the last two months that you were together, and it’s kind of strange that you both never talked about what it was. It’s possible that he was very unhappy at his new job; it’s also possible he met someone he was attracted to at the new job and when your relationship was falling apart, he was pushed more toward her. That said, I can feel in his responses to you that he had a deep affection and love for you. That you both just stopped talking to each other without actually discussing WHY you were breaking up is strange. I think you need the clarity and I don’t think either of you can begin healing until you’ve honestly spoken about what went wrong. You can get the clarity you need in a few ways, but you have to contact him to do so.

      My first recommendation would be to call him. He likely won’t answer. On his voicemail you can say, “Hey, it’s me. I know it’s been a while. I’m not calling to bother you; I know we’re done. I was just hoping to understand what happened so that I don’t make the same mistake next time. I’m not angry with you, I just want to understand. Give me a call when you can. It won’t take long.”

      Men aren’t big talkers, so saying you’ll keep it short and that you’re not angry will encourage him that it’s safe to call you.

      When he does call, the questions you want to ask are:

      — In what way did I contribute to us breaking up and what could I have done differently? (Or, simply: “What went wrong?”)
      — You said that you felt lost the last time we saw each other. What did you mean? What did you need from me then that could have helped you feel less lost?
      — Something seemed to change when you got a new job. What was it?
      — I’m not accusing you of anything. You were always so good to me and I loved you deeply. You just seemed to get so distant at the end. Was it my behavior or did you end up meeting someone else?

      These answers might not be pleasant for you to hear. In fact, they may cause you pain. I had a similar conversation with my (now) husband a few weeks after we broke up and the answers were REALLY hard to hear. But I at least knew what went wrong and that the door was really closed on us getting back together (at least for a while).

      If you’re really afraid to call him, you can try emailing him the same thing. I would NOT text him — it’s the least effective form of communication. I would definitely recommend that you call him because you want to hear the REAL answers — not the answers he has time to think about so as to avoid hurting your feelings. SOMETHING happened in the last few months you were together and I feel that you need to know what it is so that your healing can begin. If he just gives you more of the same soft answers, it won’t help you at all.

      In the meantime, you have to work on learning to control your own energy. You’re quite young, so the fact that you threw tantrums and kept threatening to break up with him when you were feeling vulnerable is pretty normal. But if you want to be in a longterm relationship that eventually leads to marriage, you have to learn what to do when men become distant. To learn this, you have to get really strong on your own and have a very solid relationship with yourself. That way, when your partner becomes distant (which he will at some point or another), you know how to stay steady and ask him what he needs without completely freaking out that he might be leaving. Hopefully you’ll learn this earlier than I did — I was 31 by the time I figured it out! And by the way, this isn’t only advice for women. Men also need to control their energy and know what to do if their partners become distant.

      Keep me updated on your guy. I feel like there’s a piece of the puzzle missing in why you two stopped talking and I hope he’s able to give you the answer. Thinking of you + wishing you healing!

      xoxo
      Jen

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