Small Life, Slow Life: What It’s Really Like to Get Your Ex Back (Hint: It’s Not What You Think).

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You won’t trust him.

Every time she’s a little quiet, you’ll panic that something is wrong and she’s leaving again.

You’ll be extremely suspicious of anyone who texts him.

Any happy moment or memory she shares from the time you were apart will make you feel jealous and threatened.

He’ll know he needs to earn your trust back, and he’ll do everything in his power to prove to you that he’s trustworthy. All of these things will annoy the living shit out of you.

You’ll wonder if you made a mistake. Constantly.

You won’t want her to touch you.

Sex won’t feel the same.

Once the big moment of reconciliation happens, you’ll realize that you’re right back where you started: with a big ol’ mess.

You’ll realize that just starting over with someone new would have been easier.

You’ll second-guess your decision to go back. Constantly. For a lot longer than you think you will.

You’ll be on perfect behavior, hoping he won’t leave again.

You’ll overanalyze every little look in her eyes that isn’t pure happiness.
Right now, you might be feeling like reconciling with your ex is impossible. But it’s not — exes reconcile everyday. In fact, it’s far more common to reconcile with your ex than to find someone new. We are creatures of habit, and after some time has passed, we are constantly drawn back to what is familiar (even if it’s bad).

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Right now, you may have this big, dramatic image in your head. The phone rings; it’s him. He’s waiting outside and he’s going to stand out there all night until you open the door. Or it’s her — you can hear the tears in her voice and she tells you she made the biggest mistake of her life and would do anything for just one more chance.

Look, that may very well happen. It happened to me. Suddenly, the world turned on its head. C called, texted, and showed up at my work. He told me he couldn’t stop thinking about me and that he regretted pushing away the one person he truly loved. Suddenly, he wanted everything I wanted — living together, marriage, kids…forever. I’d imagined hearing those words so many times, and finally, at last, after all those months of heartbreak, he was saying them.

And I. Was. Terrified.

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When we got back together, it was the opposite of how I’d imagined it. Sometimes his touch made me jump. Being held by him didn’t feel as safe as it used to. When he said sweet things to me, I often couldn’t reply.

I wouldn’t let him call me his girlfriend and I definitely wouldn’t change my relationship status on Facebook. I hid from my family and friends that I was testing the water with him, afraid that they’d judge me and tell me that he was just going to leave me all over again.

But more than that, I couldn’t tell if I had made the right decision. I second-guessed myself constantly! When he was finally saying all the things I wanted to hear, and his eyes and my heart both told me he was totally sincere, I…absolutely and totally freaked out.

I’d never thought about what would happen AFTER we got back together. I couldn’t foresee the bickering over the same things we’d always bickered about. But that’s what happens!

You know when you’re reading a book and put it down for a few months? You know what happens when you pick it back up? YOU’RE IN THE EXACT SAME SPOT!

So C and I had to learn to get through the things we’d always fought about. The same problems were there, and it took time for us to approach them in a new way. In the end, it took six months of marital counseling and lots and lots of long talks at night (often, with tears) for us to move past where we’d always gotten stuck before.

Breakups don’t happen for no reason at all. And if your ex comes back, that reason that split you apart will be staring you right in the face. Time does heal all wounds, but it does not solve all conflicts. Getting back together was NOT the answer to all of my problems! And it won’t be the answer to yours, either.

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So what do I recommend that you do?

Let go of the idea that you can ONLY be happy if your ex comes back. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — you can be happy with someone else, you can be happy with your ex, and you can be VERY happy alone.

Don’t mandate that one person out of billions can be the sole manifestation of your deepest desires. Decide INSTEAD that you trust life to bring you the best possible outcome for your deepest happiness.

Instead of “I need her back to be happy,” try saying, “I trust that the right partner is looking for me, the same way I am looking for her.”

Instead of, “I can’t imagine myself happy with anyone but him,” try saying, “I don’t understand why this happened right now, but I know that it will make sense soon.”

I get that you may not like hearing that. But you shouldn’t be reading this blog solely because I got my ex back and you want to do exactly the same. (I can hear most of you readers clicking the “x” on your browser to close the tab right now, haha.)

I want you to read this blog because I was devastated by heartbreak and found love again. It doesn’t matter where the love came from; it doesn’t matter that it was my ex.

Life is about being broken apart, sealing yourself shut, and having the courage to re-open and claim your joy. No matter how much it hurts, and how many times you are devastated.

Joy is always on the other side of loss, if you’ll just have the gumption to dig your heels in.

That is the hope — no, that is the truth — that I want to give you.

It’s going to work out.

Love, Jen
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18 thoughts on “Small Life, Slow Life: What It’s Really Like to Get Your Ex Back (Hint: It’s Not What You Think).

  1. You are right and its funny you write it because l just started to change my mind about it. After l started read Rhonda byrne books l finally understand the power of the universo and why some things happened in my live. So
    l decides to change my live l have been doing visualization everyday in all aspects of my live and one of that is get my ex back but l started think if he gonna give what l really deserves, inconditional love, good communication ,kidss and etcs. So l stop to ask he back to me,,now l just ask to universe send me the love of my live someone that adore me ,. I don’t know why but after l started to do it l relaxed a little more and happy . Yes sometime l think about he but l try back what l am doing and let go,let God and universo decides . Sometimes when l am so calm no thinking about him, came the imagem in my mind he sittings in my leaving room crying and asking me for forgiveness and want me back. I thought. ….what this means, is me or the universo trying says something.

  2. You are right and its funny you write it because l just started to change my mind about it. After l started read Rhonda byrne books l finally
    understand the power of the universo and why some things happened in my live. So
    l decides to change my live l have been doing visualization everyday in all aspects of my live and one of that is get my ex back but l started think if he doesnt give what l really deserves, inconditional love, good communication ,kidss and etcs. So l stop to ask he back to me,,now l just ask to universe send me the love of my live someone that adore me ,. I don’t know why but after l started to do it l relaxed a little more and happy . Yes sometime l think about he but l try back what l am doing and let go,let God and universo decides . Sometimes when l am so calm no thinking about him, came the imagem in my mind he sittings in my leaving room crying and asking me for forgiveness and want me back. I thought. ….what this means, is me or the universo trying says something.

  3. Hi Jen,
    Your posts are filled with such inspiring words, and I was hoping you would be able to offer some advice to my situation. My boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me 5 months ago. He said the stereotypical “it’s not you, it’s me” line and said that he really treasured me as a friend and wanted to keep that. There was nothing wrong with our relationship, he said I was his best friend and we never fought, so this breakup really surprised me. I initially agreed to his friendship request but I asked him after about 2 months to let me move on so that I could heal. He was texting me frequently and it was making the breakup harder for me. His mom reached out to me to express how sorry she was about our breakup, how she didn’t see it coming and how she believed it was just that he wasn’t mature enough to be so committed while we’re still young. A couple of weeks ago, he contacted me and after a bit of small talk, he asked if I was still interested in selling him my brother’s old racing bike. I told him I was not okay with him making small talk with me only to ask me to sell him something when I had told him to stop contacting me so that I could move on. He apologized and said that he realized it sounded kind of blunt, but he said that he thought that if I said yes it would give us a chance to meet up in person and catch up and talk. I told him that if catching up was something I decided was a good idea, I would let him know. I decided yesterday that I want to see him. I had been hoping he would reach out to me since I initiated no contact, and I realized that he did just that, and I should at least try it and see how it goes. He does know that I still have feelings for him even though I haven’t acted on them or asked him to get back with me, but he hasn’t mentioned wanting to rekindle our relationship. However, I think that the fact that he reached out to me after I had already told him to let me move on is significant. I asked him to get lunch with me this week and he agreed. Do you have any advice for me and this lunch date we have? I don’t plan on bringing up anything about our old relationship, just keeping it casual. I’m still nervous though! I want him to be flooded with old memories and realize what he’s missing.
    Thanks so much,
    Jane

    • I think it’s fine to see him…my only concern is that you want him to be “flooded with old memories” and to have this big revelation that he’s made a mistake. If that’s your aim, I firstly think you may not be ready to see him, and I also think you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed. You haven’t seen him in a long time and you’ve had a wall up when he’s been attempting to contact you, so even if he DOES feel those things, he’s likely going to act guarded and cautious. I would go in without expectations and just be easy about it and try to have a nice time. Personally, I think you may not be ready…but from all the breakups I’ve heard about (and all the ones I’ve had), seeing the ex before you’re totally ready seems to be part of the process. Try to be yourself as much as possible and don’t expect that it’s going to be a scene out of a movie. Instead, it’ll likely be a little uncomfortable and possibly awkward, but that’s okay. Good luck!

  4. Hello! First off, I just wanted to say that your blog posts regarding breakups have been the most helpful to me compared to any others that I have come across on the internet. It’s pretty apparent that you know what you’re talking about! I was hoping that you could offer some bit of objective advice for me on my situation, as I feel like I have hounded my friends into madness over the matter :/. Would it be possible for me to email you? Any help would me greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Sarah! I’m not answering comments via email anymore for a couple of reasons: 1. Everyone thinks their breakup is super unique, but the truth is that there are really about three or four kinds of breakups and they’re all VERY similar; 2. An email sent to me is usually as long as a novel and then I feel bad that I can’t send a novel back; 3. I just don’t have the time! That said, if you leave me a comment I will do my best to answer if I can!

  5. If you questioned if reconciling was worth it, then why did you do it? You tried reconciling many times in the past, but it didn’t work. What made you feel as if this time would be different? Also, you told C never to contact you and rejected him initially. Do you think it was healthy of him to keep trying to get back together when you told him no? Do you think it’s healthy to get back together with him so many times? I’m asking because my ex is stubborn, so I can’t picture him coming back. Even if he did, I can’t picture him working it out with me when it would be easier to just find someone else.

    • I can’t explain it with logic — it was a gut feeling that something deep within him had altered. Plus, I’d known since I was in my twenties that he was the man I would spend my life with. All the other times were practice runs. Our relationship had been incredible, and it ended because I sabotaged it and he was afraid. And when I took him back, it took 12 months + premarital counseling to fully be open to him again. I think he kept trying to get me back because he recognized that what we’d had together was truly rare and irreplaceable. It wasn’t a game. If you’re asking yourself these kinds of questions, then you probably shouldn’t get back with your ex. Believe me, it’s much easier to start again with someone new. If he’s that stubborn and you can’t picture him coming back, maybe it’s time to find someone who knows you’re worth fighting for.

      • ” If he’s that stubborn and you can’t picture him coming back, maybe it’s time to find someone who knows you’re worth fighting for.”- I have never read more true words. Thank you for your reply ♥

      • Also, I did not mean to come off as rude by questioning the health of your choices because that was certainly not my intention! Most of my friends who have been in several relationships with the same person almost always agree that it was a mistake and going back wasn’t the right thing to do. Also, I feel as if it can come off as desperate/ needy to try to get someone back who has clearly told you “No.” My ex boyfriend broke up with me and I tried to get him back a few times, and while he was too nice to actually say “No” outright, his actions have spoken. Just like you advise moving on from exes who don’t see your worth enough to give the relationship another go, wouldn’t you advise someone (like C) not to pursue someone who rejected him? Maybe I am getting your story wrong, though. From the pieces I have picked up from other comments, it seems that he broke up with you, you tried to get him back, but weren’t successful. You met for coffee and it was awkward and then you moved on and realized that you didn’t need him to be happy. When he asked for you back, you rejected him. Then, did he keep trying until you said yes? I don’t feel like my questions are a sign that I shouldn’t get back together with my ex. I think I’m just being realistic based from my own experiences and those of others. I shouldn’t get back together with my ex because I’m not fully over him and I need to move on and focus on myself. Maybe this is something that is unique to you and your relationship or something you can only truly understand when you go through it. Again, I am not trying to be insulting or rude, but I want to understand how these things can work out.

        • You are getting my story wrong, but it’s okay. The point of this blog is not to try to get an ex back. The point is to let the ex go. That C and I ended up back together is actually irrelevant. I don’t know about you and your friends. For C and me, we had fifteen years of history and something really beautiful. I was with someone else when he came back, and he accepted it when I said no. Eventually, my relationship with the other person ended, C’s grandmother died, and through that time helping him in his grief, I realized how much I loved him. And from there, we took it really, really, REALLY slow. I don’t feel the need to explain much else, because I don’t write here to try to advise people to do what I did or explain how I did it. My only purpose in being here is to assist others in letting go. I wish you the best. 🙂

  6. Dear Jen

    It is absolutely wonderful to be reading such an inspiring blog during the midst of your own break up. Thank you so much for sharing! I am sure that your words will inspire and help many people (including me) to get through the seem-to-never-end sleepless nights. My girlfriend of three years and I just broke up about a month ago and I’ve found myself lingering on line for the majority of time reading away blogs with titles such as “signs that she is still into you”, “how to get your ex back” etc. The first two years of our relationship was a dream and she possessed all qualities that I’ve been looking for in a girl. She was my first relationship. I’ve talked to many girls but never got into any real relationship because I have my standard. I’m the kinda guy that unless I am sure this girl will be capable of fighting through a long term relationship with me, I will not settle on anyone yet. I’m not in just for fun. Anyway, the third year of our relationship was spent long distant because I had to move back to my home country and she had to move back to her’s (we met while studying in Australia). Although we have no idea when we will get to physically be together again but I always told her that we will be together until an outside force breaks us apart and reassured her that I will follow her back to Australia once she received her permanent residency there. Our bonds didn’t fade despite the long distant, with my gut feeling I still feel like she loved me and cared for me all the same. The only thing that differed was how she became very involved with her family business. I guess the fight stemmed from my own neediness of her presence and the kind of thinking that if you really love someone you will find the time no matter how much or little to spend with that person. Busy wasn’t a good excuse for me. In the end I broke it off because I couldn’t stand it anymore, only to ask for a makeup but she said she’s tired and is not willing to go back anymore. She said that she realised she is busy and is too tied up to find the time to squeeze me in during the day and she also believe that our differing religion plays a big obstacle in not allowing us back together in the future. I did everything that you are NOT supposed to do; I tried to use logic to convince her back. I pleaded and begged and so on. The answer? No. However, she said we shouldn’t be talking at all and she was willing to move on but after a couple of days or so she will send me small crumb messages like “Hi, how are you” (which of course I jumped at that), or update a status saying things like “I miss our scarf”, while changing her display picture to herself wearing my scarf she knitted for me. All this just makes me really confused. What does she wants? I really don’t get girls sometimes. After a few on and off exchanges, I cut it by telling her this isn’t healthy and unless reconciliation is on your mind, we shouldn’t be doing this. She agreed. Right now I’ve deleted her off my facebook already, but my days still go by where I am fighting myself not to stalk her on whatsapp. I must admit that to get her back is the idea at the back of my mind almost all the time, but I guess it’s slowly fading. But now I feel like im running in loops, somedays the emotion for her pops up stronger than others and I just want to talk to her again. She received her PR now and I am more than capable of going to Australia to be with her. Somehow I feel like it’s not my position to anymore. Any advice Jen?

    Thanks so much in advance for spending your time to read and answer!

    • Hi Landon,

      You did the right thing. If you have an opportunity to be in the same physical space with her again, you can reconsider. But I never recommend long-distance relationships for any reason. They almost always end in heartbreak because it’s very difficult to maintain the level of connection needed without periodic physical togetherness. I’m sorry for your suffering and please know that you’re doing the right thing! The obsessive thoughts will continue to fade with time.

      Warmly,
      Jen

  7. Day 86 of no contact and I “liked” and “unliked” a post of his where he was telling me he missed me from 2 years ago to the day (fb memory reminder). That pushed him to begin liking posts on my social media and later that night his sister began messaging me telling me how he was drunk and talking about me and that he missed me very much. I fell for it. I became weak. And the next morning (today) I messaged him–we kept it light hearted, but later when I realized how much I missed him I called…I shouldn’t have called. I just cried for 5 minutes, got out a few phrases, and hung up: “i just wanted to hear your voice.” “i miss you.” He sounded stoic, rehearsed, unemotional. “what’s wrong?” “i miss you too.”

    It set me off to hear him be so distant and cold. Like he pitied me and would say anything to just get me off the phone. I mean, *thinking* It’s been 3 months you jerk! how could you not miss me and cry and tell me how it’s been hell without me in your life?! how could you not explain that you’re ready to change, commit, and never live another day without me in your life?! How could you not feel like I feel?

    Essentially, tonight ended with him telling me he was better off alone than dealing with my text emotions. That he’d made a mistake by unblocking me from his phone and social media, and apologizing that he was going to block me again…and saying “i wish you the best.”

    I’m in tears! I’d been so strong. I’d been dating—kissing toads nonetheless, but I was sincerely strong on not wanting my ex back unless he’d contacted first and proven he was ready to change for the better on his own. Now I’m back at day 0 of contact. I feel like those 3 months of no contact didn’t help me at all. I’m just as emotional and hurt as I was months ago when we ended things for the umpteenth time after 3 years off and on.

    I don’t know where to go from here….What’d I do wrong by loving him? How can someone tell you how they see a future with you, but then tell you they don’t want to commit right now?

    • Be gentle with yourself. It’s just a setback and everyone has them. At the 3 month mark I had coffee with my ex and it was a disaster. I cried for the next three days. But it was actually the push I needed to truly let go. This had to happen and it will be okay. I promise.

  8. I badly mistreated the man I loved during severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and completely broke his trust in me. He broke up with me and now is polite but very distant, scared I’ll hurt him again. His behavior has turned into an uncaring kind but he still sends me snapchats every day and I am struggling to let him go. I know I need to and I’ve dealt with my PTSD well and am recovering so I know the behavior I displayed to him during that time isn’t me but illness. What is your advice? Move on? In my mental state I lied and manipulated both myself and him badly so I worry as much as he cares and loves me it will not be enough.

    • Put thoughts of him on hold for now and only focus on healing your PTSD. Anyone you touch right now, you’ll hurt. Tell him that you realize what you’ve done and you’re getting help so that you don’t treat anyone in the future the same way. Then begin a no contact period of at least 90 days.

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