You’re so welcome. I promised myself long ago that if we ever got back together, I would tell other people how we did it. I remember googling on the internet “Get my ex back” and feeling so hopeless.
Okay, first things first — I want to point out a few things:
“My happiness is tied to him.” I know you feel that way; I know that in this moment, that seems true. But I want to invite you to consider that your happiness is not tied to any person. It can be influenced by a person, shared with a person, and another person can increase the happiness we already have. But I want you to think of it like your thoughts — they can be influenced by another person, but they are ultimately your own. Your happiness is only tied to you.
Second, I don’t think you made a mistake by not moving to be with him. You followed where your gut told you to go, and that was somewhere else. Had you moved closer to him, other problems would have come up that would have tested the two of you. Maybe you would have been resentful that your future was taking a backseat so that you could keep the relationship. We’ll never really know, but I can promise you that different kinds of obstacles would have come up — because that’s how relationships work. But I don’t want you to regret the decision you made. In time, it will make sense why you chose to go there. Hindsight is always 20/20, they say, and it’s true. You can only connect the dots going backwards, and since this has just happened to you, we can’t try to put the puzzle pieces together now. All I CAN promise is that it WILL make sense. Later.
To me, it sounds like he possibly still has feelings for you. Generally, when one person has moved on, the interest will suddenly dip and then be non-existent. So that he still cared and was nurturing to you tells me he still had feelings — but something must have happened that has made carrying on with you too difficult for right now. Don’t try to figure out the “why” behind why this happened — even if you could know the answer, it wouldn’t satisfy you, or make all of it make sense. There is no logic to affairs of the heart.
I know your thoughts are racing, but I want you to trust the process. Also, the break that lovers take away from each other is often the very thing that allows them to come back together.
This is my advice to you, and if you listen to nothing else I say, please only listen to this:
If he doesn’t want to talk, don’t talk to him. Don’t reach out, don’t break down at 2am and email him, don’t tell him how hard this is for you. Don’t wait for his phone call, don’t even answer if he texts. If anything, I would say, “You know, I’ve thought about what you said and I agree. I do think we need time apart and to possibly see others. I wish you the best and hope we may regain a friendship someday; I’ll contact you if I decide I want that.”
This will serve to get him thinking, “Wow…I never thought she’d take it so well. Maybe she has someone else she’s interested in. She seemed so upset yesterday…I wonder what changed her mind.” It will create curiosity about why you reacted that way. And when you want your ex back, maintaining his curiosity in you is the best thing you can do.
Decide RIGHT NOW that you are worthy of the most fantastic love and never look back, not even for a second. Do NOT settle for someone who doesn’t want you (right now). Decide that you want YOURSELF and your own happiness above all things and never look back! And even when you doubt yourself, repeat it to yourself over and over like a mantra:
This pain will pass. I choose myself and my happiness above all things. The most important thing is that I feel good, and I will not settle for where I’m not wanted.
Listening to that advice is 100% the key. You can read The Secret and you can meditate and wish for him back. You can tell him you’re suffering and you can show up on his doorstep…but nothing will work until you decide you’re worth it, and let him go in your mind. You have to accept the breakup; you must accept that it’s over.
In other words — before you have another chance at a relationship with him, this relationship you currently have with him must end.
That’s why the most important thing you can do is tell him that you agree with him, and then leave him the heck alone. Under no circumstances are you to reach out to him. Ever. I resisted that advice because I thought he would write me off as a mean person and get over me — but NO! It created curiosity for him on WHY I was handling it so well when I had been such a wreck. I acted as though I was worthy, and he then saw me as worthy. Be willing to say goodbye to him! It will speed up the process so much — I wish someone would have given me this advice in the VERY beginning. I could have saved myself so much heartache!
But now for the questions you asked me about.
I did not talk to my fiancé (we’re actually getting married next Friday) while we were apart, other than twice:
1. The first time, I waited a week after the breakup and I miserably reached out when I saw that he was deleting all of our pictures together on Facebook. I called him and I did everything you’re not supposed to do — I cried, I begged, I pleaded, I asked to come over, I said I’d settle for just a casual relationship…all of it. Of course, he shot me down. No one wants a desperate person clinging to them. After that conversation I never reached out to him first again.
2. Three months went by, and he became curious about me and asked if we could meet up for coffee. I was still heartbroken and in love with him so I desperately jumped at the chance. I didn’t learn my lesson about being desperate the first time, so it went…terribly. At the end of that coffee conversation I asked him to stop contacting me for good. I was starting to realize that I was worth more than always waiting for his phone call, that once I was a woman full of life and excited to take on the world…and that was all long before he came along. I was starting to believe that I could get back to being that woman, but I knew that to do it, I had to cut off all contact with him. (The one who breaks off contact is always the one with the power.)
3. Once I asked him to stop contacting me, I was still of course completely in love with him…but I made myself go on dates with someone else, and I ended up having a connection with that man. Was it anything like the connection I have with my fiancé? No. But I was determined to try to move on, so I had to let him go. All the websites/”get your ex back” books will tell you to date someone else…and I hate to tell you that they’re absolutely right. There’s something about men — they know when their ex is dating someone new…they get some kind of weird intuition about it. Have you ever fallen for a new person, only to suddenly be contacted by several of your exes? Anyway, I didn’t want to date at all, but I was SO miserable that I gave it a chance. The first date, I drove away crying after the new guy kissed me. I still felt like I was cheating on my ex because my heart belonged to him. I was just honest with the new person that I was getting over a bad breakup and needed to take it really slow, and thankfully he was awesome about that. So I guess about four months after the breakup, I started dating the new guy regularly. I really ended up developing deep feelings for him and it was a beautiful time in my life. I KNOW you don’t want to hear any of this — right now, the only person you have eyes for is your ex. I get it — I REALLY get it, I promise. But when the time comes, go on a few dates with someone else. Let someone else make you feel beautiful. The city you’re in is an amazing city to go on dates in. 🙂
4. After four months, I made a rule that I wasn’t going to talk about my ex anymore. I stopped saying his name, started dating another person, started saying “yes” to every invitation I got to go anywhere, threw myself into my work, and generally did all the things that reinforced love for myself that I had not been doing when my happiness was tied to my ex’s.
That’s what worked. Suddenly, he saw that I was living this whole new life, that my confidence was back, that I wasn’t waiting around for him. Around Valentine’s Day (we broke up in October) he told me he couldn’t stop thinking about me and realized he had made a terrible mistake. I told him it was too late and that I was with someone else…and I really believed it. I had restored my self esteem enough by that point that I really did believe he was a fool for breaking up with me.
For you, since this JUST happened, you’re probably going to have to go through a really rough grieving period. Your ex made this decision out of the blue and it’s shocked and hurt you. You’re probably going to be down in the dumps for a little. That’s okay! Be really, really nurturing to yourself — take a long bath, get a manicure or massage, watch a girly movie that cheers you up, go for long walks listening to music, go somewhere to a place that has animals you can pet (an animal shelter is a great place to go when you’re broken hearted), spend time with friends (even if it’s via Skype/Facetime), and remind yourself that you are COMPLETELY lovable and wonderful. You might not believe it right now…that’s okay too.
Avoid romantic movies. Read When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödron. Meditate, do yoga, light candles, take up playing a game on your phone that is not romantic. It sounds ridiculous, but I started playing Candy Crush Saga. It kept my mind occupied when the thoughts about my ex were too strong, and it was nice to take a break from all that crying.
Make sure you eat enough. If your appetite is really gone, at least try a protein shake or a smoothie so you get some nutrients in. Not eating makes the brain even more unstable, and the depression will feel much worse than it is. Call a friend you trust who you can cry to about it. Take long showers and spend a long time doing your hair — make sure you make yourself feel pretty, because you are.
It might be hard for the next few weeks. That’s okay. It will get easier. And when it does get easier, that’s when you need to start saying “yes” to things and going to concerts, workshops, attending speaking engagements, listening to podcasts about subjects you’re interested in, making new friends, trying new restaurants — new, new, new. You need to create a new life with new experiences and memories that have nothing to do with him. In the time that I was single, I tried anti-gravity yoga and fell completely in love with it. I saw lots of movies and spent a LOT of time just walking around my new neighborhood once I got a new apartment and trying new stores and restaurants. I re-read Eat, Pray, Love (SO good to re-read after a breakup). I work in a place with a lot of happy people (lululemon). At first, it’s really hard to be around happy people, but it really helps to have a good support network. You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with, so choose those people carefully! Pick happy, supportive people to be around for the next few weeks.
It sounds hard to believe now, but you might actually end up deciding that you and your ex are not a match. By the time he comes back to you — which, if you do exactly as I said, he will — you may no longer want him. That’s happened to me several times in my life.
It took a long time for me. We were broken up for 6 months and I’ll admit that I was totally miserable for 3 or 4 of those months. But once I finally started realizing that I COULD be happy without him, that I could laugh without him, that I could do all of these brand new things I hadn’t been able to do with him…that was when he came back. And you know, even then it took a while before I let him back in. And once I did, I didn’t trust him and we attended couple’s counseling to work on our trust. It took a long time, but I would say we’re MUCH stronger now than we ever were, then. In fact, I’m totally grateful that we broke up, now. I needed that time. (Much easier to connect the dots backwards, like I said initially.)
And I know this sounds totally crazy because I do truly believe we are meant for each other & I love him more than anything, but in that time apart, I learned that my happiness is mine, and that I could have been totally happy without him. Because the truth is that you can create a life that you love, regardless of the circumstances. In a world where we’re mortal, it would be so cruel if only one set of circumstances could make you happy. You have to start believing that your happiness is attainable, no matter WHO is in your life.
This brokenness between you is happening for a reason. It won’t make sense now, L, but I promise you that it will.
I feel for you. Let me know if I can be of any further help. I’m sending a hug from me to you…I hope it reaches you and I hope you can feel it. We’ve never met, but I understand your pain and I wish I could take it away from you.
Love will return you. I know it like I know my own name. I promise.