Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why Getting Him Back Won't Help

I need to give some advice that doesn't fall strictly into the category of "here is what you don't realize about men" (or what men like) - not because I want to change the theme of the blog, but because the misunderstanding it corrects is rampant in young relationships, and hopefully pointing it out will free some mental space in the minds of young women so they can instead focus more on their misconceptions about what men want, or other more-important things.

I have answered dozens if not hundreds of e-mails asking for advice about how to correct a relationship after a break-up or a break-up attempt. They usually sound something like this:
My boyfriend and I have been together for over three and a half years. About two weeks ago, he told me he was questioning the relationship and thinks he wants to break up. He told me that he dislikes X, Y and Z about the relationship and thinks they are signs that we'd both be better off with someone else.
We talked about it, and eventually he changed his mind, because we were both more open and honest with each other. We ended agreeing to give it another shot, and to do X, Y and Z differently. So we're still together.
I am glad we worked things out, but now I feel like he has all the powerIt's like I got "almost-dumped." I'm not completely happy with the situation but I am also unsure about how to proceed. What should I do??
In other situations, one person breaks up with the other, and then (by either party's initiative) the couple gets back together, thinking that "this time it will be better." In either case, the important characteristic is that the relationship reaches or nears its end, only to make what seems to be a thankful recovery.

The main problem in these situations normally isn't that one person can't follow through with the promise to change X, Y or Z (though this too is very frequently true, and a close secondary problem). The main problem, and what most people fail to recognize, is that when a relationship nears or reaches a failure point, its limits are defined.

Prior to such an episode, each party could believe - and usually at least hoped - that the relationship was strong enough to sustain limitless difficulties. Neither party knew how much it would take to break the other's feelings or commitment. But a break-up (or near-break-up) changes that irreversibly. Suddenly one partner knows that the other's commitment has real limits. What was once "a love that knew no bounds" and apparently bottomless, is shown to be of finite dept - maybe even shallow. So the disappointment comes, not because the relationship is broken, but because it is shown to be breakable.


There is an additional aspect of this phenomenon that makes it all the more condemning. While each partner previously compared their other dating options to something of unknown and conceivably infinite strength (i.e. their existing relationship), a doubt-forming episode will mean that they now compare their options to something they know to be finite, and perhaps even weak. Both the man and woman will convince themselves far more easily that things could be perfect with someone else, because their optimism about dating, stripped of its previous object, needs a new outlet. So in addition to seeming weaker in-and-of itself, the existing relationship will now be compared to inflated alternatives.


I have a very good guy friend who has been married for six years. His wife recently asked him for a divorce. He confided in me recently that this is actually the second time it's happened; two years into the marriage she did the same thing. At the time, he refused the divorce. He wanted to try to make it work, so they talked it through and she agreed. He essentially convinced her to "work on the relationship" and try to make the best of it.

Four years later, she's done the same thing, and this time, he isn't fighting it - because now he recognizes what I am saying here. Those four years, he admitted to me recently, were always spent in doubt of her feelings and fidelity, caused by the simple fact that she voiced her discontent. The relationship was ostensibly maintained, but the reality was that it had already been undermined by her attempt to end it; and my friend proceeded to waste four years trying to salvage what he essentially knew was dead after two.

Granted, there are some instances in which a break-up or fight doesn't reveal a relationship's depth, just as there are situations in which you might be willing to live with the limitations that such an episode often does reveal. The point here isn't to imply that all break-ups or fights are premonitions of ultimate failure, but to point out that if you find yourself disappointed in spite of having "saved" your relationship from a bad episode, it is almost certainly because that episode showed you that your relationship is more fragile than you'd hoped. So before you spend all kinds of emotional energy trying to get your boyfriend back or resisting a break-up, ask yourself whether just having him (or just having him back) is actually enough to satisfy you.


Related Posts
1. Why Do You Want Him Back?
2. Why Rejection Is a Good Thing
3. Get Used to Rejection
4. What Your Boyfriend Notices About Your Mother

45 comments:

  1. As soon as someone breaks it, it's broken. I think this has more to do with inner trust and commitment than anything else. When you know someone will walk, (and that's what they are saying when they say it's not working) it's done....the dumpee just doesn't want to admit it and is holding on to something that doesn't really exist.

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    1. It's hard to fully trust again once the trust has been broken, whatever causes that break. Breaking up may or may not break the trust (though it very well could and often will).

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  2. It's true that some instances in which a break-up or fight doesn't reveal anything. We just are unhappy some days.

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    1. That's not what he's saying. To get to the break up point is significant and a strong indicator that the relationship is over.

      IF just being "unhappy some days" results in breaking up, that's an indicator of other issues either with you or some other major problem with the relationship.

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  3. Meh, I don't agree with all of this because sometimes people do need to say it's not working because... and deal with what ever the because is. A lot of times the relationship moves on smoothly.

    People can fight pretty hard and say mean things and still be together 10 years later.

    For most that I know of it is when one of the two spend the night or a few days apart to think things out, that is when the break has been made, not the uttering of words.

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  4. Can you give us a hint as to your career? These graphs reek of management consulting background...

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    1. Whatever he does he (a) has a lot of free time (b) is a great writer (c) is still trying to find the right woman and (d) probably doesn't practice what he preaches or is wrong about his advice.

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  5. I agree w this post. Once broken, let it break for good. It's not worth any time or energy.

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    1. How can you tell if something is really broken ? You may go through a rough patch with a long term partner and feel dissatisfied for a while but it does not mean that you want to end things or things have to end.

      For things to really really be at the end, trust is broken (for men) and respect is lost (for women). Like I've said before, men can't love if they can't trust while women can't love if they can't respect.

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    2. Every relationship goes through rough patches, but it is the willingness to overcome those moments that matter. When you are the girl he wants to be with, he'll overcome anything he needs to.

      If he isn't willing to resolve issues as a couple or work on whatever he needs to work on, then you know you are not the one for him.

      Just my two cents.

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    3. Yes Starlight, you say the truth. The thing is, some things are un-negotiable and while a man (or woman) may be willing to work hard with their partner or do whatever it takes to overcome whatever it is that's causing the problem, sometimes that problem just cannot be overcome.

      But yes, the willingness of one to work hard with their partner to solve their problems is a good indicator of how one values their partner.

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    4. eh...it's not that complicated. if there are qualities in a person that you don't like that have taken you to the point ot wanting to break up and you don't have the balls to break up with them, then that's called settling.

      even in marriage, i used to believe that people should never get divorced, but the more i've gotten older i believe in divorce and i think it's a good thing because people make bad choices and sometimes it takes time to realize what a bad idea marrying person x is.

      i have the highest respect for people who are capable of getting out of bad relationships. i have zero respect for people who choose to stay in miserable and failing relationships.

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  6. If there's doubt..it's a don't....my motto.

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    1. When you know someone wants to walk away that's when it's over but we all end up experiencing doubts, and often more than once, over something we've willingly committed to for the long term but being willing to persevere is the big difference.

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  7. insightful post.

    the only thing i'd mention in favor of "getting him (or her) back" is that it allows you to know that you did everything you could to fight for your love. if your spouse says they want to break up and you simply say "ok" when in your heart you don't want to end it, then you will forever wonder if the relationship could have been saved. trying to save the relationship may prove fruitless in the short and medium term, but in the long run, knowing you tried everything you could is very freeing and will allow you to move forward into a new relationship carrying less baggage.

    so in the end, it's a matter of walking the line between trying your best and just torturing yourself. when to throw in the towel is just a judgement call.

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    1. well said, james!!

      My aunt and uncle broke up for three years and they got back together and it's an amazing relationship. this is bull. shat

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  8. I think Andrew is right on this one. There is a difference between saying "I'm unhappy about x, what can we do to make it better?" and saying, "I think it's time to end things because I can't handle the way you x." The former is acknowledging the issues that any relationship will face AND a willingness to work through those issues. Once the person says, as in the latter case, that they see this issue as a reason to end things forever RIGHT NOW, the weakness in the relationship is exposed, and so is that person's willingness to throw in the towel. I think Andrew is right.

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    1. Right on the money for me here.
      A relationship is (or should be, in my idealistic way of seeing the world) about two people. So what affects one, for good or bad, affects the other.
      Too many times the tendency to hedge our bets is strong, even at the first small sign of misunderstanding - grass always greener elsewhere, or the effort to cling on, attempting to fix and find a compromise...but it only works if it's the two. Sounds redundant doesn't it?
      Also I'm inclined to think we more and more, are lacking tolerance in general... Don't know whether it is because of the onset of online dating or whatever, but sometimes we come with incredibly unrealistic expectations, holding a candle to perfection, when we know full well that is NOT how human beings are.
      In the future we'll all be robots if the current trend continues.
      I'm not suggesting putting up with any crap by the way, just practising acceptance and being more understanding.

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  9. Andrew-agree with one exception.

    With looking at other potential partners, it is ideal that one learns from the experiences of the relationship that doesn't work and therefore there is expected certainty that those who are considered potential partners are certain to have qualities you'd like to explore. Breakups are sometimes shitty learning lessons, but it helps a person and makes them better for the next relationship. So rather than question marks, I think the strength in other relationship is unquestionably greater because the person makes better choices. Making one or two or three bad choices in relationships is okay, but learning from them is KEY. Shit will happen, but as Kenny Rogers says, you have to know when to walk away...

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  10. Andrew, you are spot on with this post. Of course everyone is going to have ups and downs in their relationships, but as Elizabeth stated above, a conversation (or many) is needed to correct any difficulties, followed up by effort on both people's part. Once someone says they want to end things and break up, trust them and accept it. You will most likely know that the relationship has been stressed for some time at that point. It will be painful no doubt, but fighting it just delays the inevitable, all the while trying to make an unhappy SO happy, which is virtually impossible. Also, taking back an ex who swears up and down that they'll change and do whatever you need to stay...that never works. A leopard cannot change his/her spots. I made this mistake once and will never do it again.

    I think this is the major reason why I am so on the fence about getting married. I want to be able to exit a relationship if my partner or if I'm not happy; I don't want to go through a divorce or suffer unnecessarily in a shitty marriage. Yes, all relationships take work, but once the ship has sailed, it's time to stop standing at the dock.

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  11. Andrew this is a solid post. When a man breaks up with you, believe him.

    Nice graphics too.

    E.

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  12. Agree about breakups, if one thinks that it is over, it probably is. Not all fights, though, reach that level. This is one reason NOT to try making your partner jealous,; it is so easy to overshoot and make them feel they are a second fiddle. (As in every woman who tried it on me; at least six)

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    1. Maybe those women were trying to push the boundaries with you - you know like some children do. It is my observation that women speak loudly but carry a small stick - they give ultimatums which they have no intention of following through - getting all dramatic and threatening this and that when they are not in a position to do so. So when a woman says it's over, you can't really be sure if she has said this a lot in the past. Then again, with women like these, maybe you should just take them at their word and spare both of you any further grief.

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  13. I very much agree, if it's broken, it is BROKEN!In my last relationship I wanted to end things (a couple of times) and every time he would beg me to take him back and that we should try again and that he would try harder. Fool that I was, I did take him back, only to be hurt by him SO much more in the end. I will not make that mistake again. If one hears ice cracking, get OFF the damn ice.

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  14. Totally agree! And RUN fast!!!

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  15. Hi all,

    First time here and I have to say this is a great blog.
    I have recently broken up with my ex after 6+ years (I'm 29, he is 31). He left me and I don't even know the real reason (I don't think he does either). We had a big fight (bigger than any we ever had) and I realised that something was off in the relationship, deeper that the fight, and that we needed to work it out. I said to him that I was willing to work hard to improve things but he had to do his part as well. The problem was that he wasn't sure he wanted that. So after 3 days (I thought he needed some space to clear up his head), he left me. No real reason why, a lot of excuses and he seemed very confused.
    The irony of it is that by doing that I realised that he wasn't worth it and I felt some sort of liberation. I needed to respect his decision but I was also deeply disappointed of the fact that he quit on us and that he was ready to throw down the toilet our 6 years together. He may have left me, but now I don't want him back (now, at this time and place, but you can never say never.). His decision made me quit on something I really cared about and now there is no going back. This pain, this disappointment is worst than the fight or the breaking up. This is probably what your friend felt when his wife asked for a divorce the 2nd time. It's painful as hell, but you can't fight on your own this things, it takes two. And if the other person doesn't want you, you need to seriously consider your options and move on.
    It's horrible, specially if you thought he/she was "the one". :(

    MM.

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  16. So what's the next step? All relationships will get to the point that "one is no longer flawless in the other partner's eyes". Unless really cannot make it continue, I am assuming the other way would be to save it.. I only sense "apart" would be the solution, if I am not wrong, from the article.

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    1. the point is that when things are broken, they are broken. it's not about having to be flawless. if a relationship gets to the point of breaking up, even once or twice iit's time to hit the road. run and don't look back.

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    2. relationships are essentially broken ALWAYS because of our inherent imperfections as humans - relationships are things we put together everyday. people are highly unrealistic and unreasonable in romantic matters

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  17. Alternatives seem better because they ARE.

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    1. The grass is not always greener and what you see is not always what you get. So no, alternatives are not always better even though they may seem so.

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    2. Agreed. The grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence, its just different grass... My motto: No matter how beautiful/handsome they may be, somebody somehere is sick of their shit.

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  18. Why would an ex boyfriend contact you a year after you broke up (due to distance for school)? This was via text message saying: Hey, how are you? How is school going?

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  19. It's like, if a man dumped me because I wasn't attractive enough, then I may be able to change myself thoroughly by working on my feminine beauty and make myself attractive almost to any man.

    But after that, I should resist the thought of getting back to the man who once dumped me even if after this I am attractive to him again.

    I am worthy of way way more than that.

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  20. I don't know. Perhaps this is true in some cases. But I have many friends that gave each other a second chance and are happily married because they grew past that naive phase of their life when one person/both didn't handle things correctly or value the right stuff. They laugh about how stupid they/that person once were and how they almost blew it but are sooo glad that they ended up back together. Just let the relationship flow naturally.

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  21. Question -

    My boyfriend of 3 months (we were friends first and we were pretty serious - we spent pretty much all of our time together - but he initiated all of that) broke up with me a few weeks before the end of the school year (I am a grad student). After the break up I didn't contact him at all, but a few days later he started coming to study with me and he would text me to hang out, told me how pretty I was, how nice I looked, once told me how much he still liked me, etc. I told him he needed to stop saying stuff like that because he ended it and he can't go back and forth like that. However, I let him study with me (he sat at my study table and I didn't make him leave). We are apart for the summer and he has tried to talk to me a few times online and via text message. I have responded politely but usually I wait awhile and keep it brief and then leave and now its been almost a month since we've talked.
    Did I ruin my chances of him changing his mind by how I acted?

    Thanks.

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  22. We all have different stories and experiences that influence our thoughts. In this case, on this topic, mine makes me disagree with you Andrew, even though I fully understand and appreciate yours and everyone else that agrees with your point of view. It does make sense. But there's always exceptions and everyone needs to determine for themselves what they can and cannot accept, what they can and cannot live without and what they want to invite back in to their lives.
    My influence comes from marrying my first love at the age of 23 and being widowed at the age of 32. Life itself is vulnerable. It is so easy to forget that and get carried away in day to day life. Its easy to take things and people for granted. Sometimes we need that kick in the ass to make us realize that even a phenomenal relationship takes work. Effort can never cease.
    It took a long time to get back out there and it was extremely difficult. But, I did meet a man who completely took me by surprise and made it easy by being absolutely amazing. We were in the very beginning of the relationship when life happened. His father became very ill and a somewhat traumatic event occurred with his unstable ex girlfriend. He started to pull away. I gave him space. But when I started to feel like I was there more as a convenience, I had to leave.
    He handled things with me terribly. He could have very well just not been into me. I could have been a rebound. I don't really know. What I do know is that he's an idiot. One of the last things he said to me was that he enjoyed his time with me, he was attracted to me, and I always made him feel amazing. I also know that if that's true and I believe it to be, then one day when the time is right he might wake up and realize what he doesn't have. And if he chose to seek me out and I was available (I am not waiting by any means for this to happen!) I would want to try it again. This is where my disagreement fits in... I would be happy that he would know that our relationship is vulnerable and it always will be. But with constant effort... (a renewed) trust, respect, and communication... and what you get back in return, it won't feel like effort. I learned this the hard way and its one of those tough life lessons I refuse to forget. I also learned that it is very difficult to meet those people that you feel that connection with. Those that for some reason, just get to you like no one else. What you have to do is do your own soul searching first and be true to yourself... are they really that person? And if they are, then its worth the fight and the forgiveness (as long as what you are getting in return is that amazing we all deserve).

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    1. Thank you for these inspiring words, I really needed them. I'm in a complicated situation with my first love who broke my heart an my family hates, but now he's back. We have been taking for the past month an a half an I have been very skeptical, but I truly believe he wants this to work. So much so that he had told me he would gladly spend the rest of his life with me and face whatever trials and tribulations with me and my family. I'm just really scared. I don't want to get hurt again, but like you said it's hard to find someone who you have a connection with. When I'm with him I'm able to be 100% myself, I'm comfortable and confident with him. I guess I'm mostly worried about my family getting along with him again. My family is most important to me and they have viable reasons for why they don't like him, such as him not being there for me when all 3 of my grandmother's pasted in a 3 month period. That's what hurts the most. How do I know he won't pull a stunt like that again? I mean I would like to believe he won't but he's kinda the reason I'm skeptical about any relationship anymore..

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  23. I have a question- From reading this and other blogs, it seems that getting back together with an ex or previous dating partner never happens and is a waste of time for us women who may be hoping for this scenario. Well, the last four men that I've dated have either cheated on me or gotten back together with their last ex, leaving me to feel like some weird rebound girl. It's also starting to make me overly paranoid of every ex girlfriend, and that is awful. I'm an attractive, smart, happy-go-lucky, fun girl, and I get approached by men just about every time I go out, but I'm picky with who I give my number to and even pickier with who I date. If this never happens, why does it keep happening to me!? Is there any way to know up front (verbal or body language, telltale signs, etc) if a guy is still hung up on his ex, or at least still dipping into that pot?

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    1. People who get divorced and then get married back to each other are about 17% of divorces. Let that be your guide. About 1 in 6.

      If the men you date consistently cheat on you, your marriage market value is not high enough to secure long-term commitment from such men. Your sexual market value probably is high enough to secure several months of dating.

      Work on improving your attractiveness and your marriage market value. (I.e. read this blog a lot more.)

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  24. @sharron jenna: and at that exact moment: behold, the unmistakable stench of bullshit filled the air :D

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  25. After being in relationship with emma for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by reffering him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: drinegbedionspellhome@gmail.com you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CAN NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT YOU SIR HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS:drinegbedionspellhome@gmail.com CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEM




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  26. Sometimes in life giving up is not the option, some of us couldn't even take NO for an answer, I am one of such, I have visited so many forums and some of the people I met on such sites told me to forget about my lover or maybe I should just let go , I always believe in following my dreams and I believe that I can get whatever I want or be who I wanna be at any point in my life. Why am I saying this? Roland left me not long ago for a younger lady, he told me it was over but like I said I can always get whatever I want in life which was what I did, i ensure that I got him back home with me with the help of a man known as Dr. Grea of the Re_unifyexlove@outlook.com, he cast a reunion spell for me, now Roland is back home with me and we are having a good life together again. Contact him at Re_unifyexlove@outlook.com and also visit his website to know more about hi via: http://reunifyexlove.webs.com. Get the best result you ever dreamed of with his spells.

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  27. Sometimes in life giving up is not the option, some of us couldn't even take NO for an answer, I am one of such, I have visited so many forums and some of the people I met on such sites told me to forget about my lover or maybe I should just let go , I always believe in following my dreams and I believe that I can get whatever I want or be who I wanna be at any point in my life. Why am I saying this? Roland left me not long ago for a younger lady, he told me it was over but like I said I can always get whatever I want in life which was what I did, i ensure that I got him back home with me with the help of a man known as Dr. Grea of the Re_unifyexlove@outlook.com, he cast a reunion spell for me, now Roland is back home with me and we are having a good life together again. Contact him at Re_unifyexlove@outlook.com and also visit his website to know more about hi via: http://reunifyexlove.webs.com. Get the best result you ever dreamed of with his spells.

    ReplyDelete