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Getting the Ex Back - Good Idea? How Should She Start?

Updated on August 30, 2010

I wrote a couple weeks back but never got your take on things. It seems like everyone has advice to offer up, but I would really appreciate knowing what an impartial (and wise) person has to say.

My boyfriend and I broke up about 2 months ago. I haven't talked to him since, except to text him good luck for the new position he was starting in early August. He texted a thank you back.

The more time passes, the more I miss having him in my life. I also recall the petty things he brought up and the freakouts, however. I wish we had actually had time to talk over things face-to-face, instead of all the freakouts, and ultimately breaking up on the phone. given some time passing, a large part of me wants to talk to him again. I don't know that he would even think about initiating talking to me because I said I didn't want to be friends. I said that anticipating how hard that would be, but I have stayed friends in the past with exes, and actually that was fine.

I would like to talk to him. He has family here and will be visiting frequently enough where this would be possible. I guess I would like to see if, given some distance and relief from the high pressure situation we had, we can regain some of the relationship we had. I lost both my love and my best friend, who until that time had been really wonderful to me. I was so happy with him until it came down to me having to move without a further action from him. Now, that is a non-issue, at least for the next year. I am taking classes here and committed to my job until I find out what school offers I have for next year. Several possibilities are near where he is, but plenty I like are elsewhere too. True, it would be containing the long-distance thing, but he is actually closer than he was last year and both of our schedules will allow for more opportunities to visit. I am getting off topic. . .

I know I let something valuable go, but at the same time, we at least both needed to take a step back. I want to get in touch with him, but I wonder if should just be strong and let go. What do you recommend?

-too independent?

Dear too independent?

You've hit a lot of the big ones here. Getting back together with the ex, closure, being friends with the ex, being independent...

The circumstance you're in is one with a lot of possibilities, many angles, many directions that I could encourage you to take. So it's important for me to listen to your "tells" to get a real handle on where you're really coming from right now.

The"petty things and freak outs" didn't get any detail, but how you could arrange getting together is fairly well thought-out. Your instincts told you that was off topic, and that's a tell, too.

What we say subconsciously is often much more significant than what we consciously think about sharing. The things we say, the things we don't, are all indicators of where our focus is and what we need to heal.

You're a very emotional person, at least regarding your ex. You feel things, and you feel them so deeply in fact that they are affecting the way your mind is processing. You're also a little controlling. You feel like if you can take control over details like visits and a time table or a schedule, that you can make it more possible for something to work.

Feeling deeply and wanting to take control to make the things you want happen are not necessarily bad. But putting them in with the other things you've shared completes a momentary picture of you that isn't very strong or clear. Signing your name "too independent?" is a bad sign. On some subconscious level are you asking if you should give up some of yourself so that those "petty things and freak outs" can be ignored? You said you had to leave without any action from him. Sounds like you gave him an ultimatum? Did you tell him he has to live with you, or propose to you, or meet some other goal of yours or you were going to go? Those things always backfire, there was really no other way that could have gone. That wouldn't be a reflection of your independence, it would be a reflection of how weak and short-sighted you are when you give an ultimatum.

Maybe it wasn't an ultimatum. I can't tell. But that "non action from him" reference doesn't sound good. You say it's a non-issue now. The circumstances within the ultimatum changed, or you withdrew the threat, or whatever was going on in your life changed? Either way you say this all resulted in freak outs and a phone break up. Eesh. Breaking up over the phone is never good. But the "too independent" statement just doesn't line up for me here.

Additionally, it's a huge contradiction in two very basic essential lines in your thinking, or not thinking. You're asking are you too independent, have you taken too much control, had too much self respect, been too strong, or given a bad ultimatum which you're qualifying now as independence - while avoiding the very real fact that he hasn't called you. He's not contacting you. He's not trying to figure out how to get you back. By a certain definition, he's the one being independent. You're not.

There's a lot of tell in your comment, and we're not even half way through them. Let's go through some more.

You're throwing the friendship card into this mix as if that will further solidify why you should be back in touch. Again, you use a qualifying point - that you've remained friends with other ex's. You may want to convince other people that you want your ex to be friends at least, but you aren't convincing me, and I doubt you're convincing yourself. You want him back, you miss him, you love him, you're all gooey and emotional. You're just broadening the scope of interaction and qualifying your intentions with the less risky excuse of friendship. It's either that or a pathetic short-sell of yourself that you need him in your life so badly that you'd be willing to suffer through being friends and watching him date, have sex with, and love other women. I can see how on a tear you might step in that shit, but I don't think you'd wear it. I think you'd scrape it off. I think you are using the friendship thing as another qualifier.

You visit and revisit the fact that there was no closure. This is probably one of the biggest propellants in your current feeling of spin-out. You bring it up at the start of your comment and then you lay your closing on the premise. Clearly you have things to say to him, and most likely you are even open to wanting to hear what he has to say, too. Most likely, part of that means you want to apologize, or you want him to. Something got stuck. Only you know what it is.

Closure is a necessary part of endings, and new beginnings.

The bottom line here is that you haven't given yourself permission to go through the break up. You're avoiding the real bad shit, you're gripping to excuses, you're rationalizing, and you're qualifying your ideas of reconnection without any real solid fundamental work on the actual break up. The freak outs. The petty things he brought up. What is it you don't want to really call out loud here? The shit he did that really sucked? Or something you did that was really wrong? Something here failed. Not calling it by name isn't helping you work through this or manipulate the advice into something you want to hear. You haven't let yourself process, or blame, or own. Either you are avoiding the real work of that because you know it will lead to letting go, or you worked it to the point of pain and then just turned and ran in a different direction with the whole separation.

Let me summarize what I drew from your tells. You are no where near ready to be in touch with this guy. You are still in love with him, and I'm not convinced it's a healthy love that gives you a healthy self image. I'm not at all convinced this relationship is a place where you thrive. You don't want to be friends with him, or "just have him back in your life" in a desperate way. You want him back, as your boyfriend. If you think about the reasons you two really broke up, and I am pretty sure that means he broke up with you either by will or by failing an ultimatum, you bury them by spending more time thinking about things you can control, or things that will "work" like his visiting relatives and how you can see each other.

Let me give you an example of how that would translate. I'm not saying this is what happened, I'm just saying here's an example of what I mean. If for example, you gave him an ultimatum to marry you or else, the problem is that you tried to manipulate and take control of a partnership instead of valuing your partner's feelings, whether they be that he wasn't ready, or that it was the wrong time, or that he doesn't believe in marriage. You didn't behave like a partner, you tried to take control where you can't take control, and it blew up. Now, instead of working on what would be the real issues there, such as how you did not demonstrate the kind of partner you wish to be, or how you really do want to be married someday even though you handled this wrong, or the very real possibility that he does not want to marry you - instead of working on these real problems, you're twisting them into things like, are you too independent, and how you can see possibilities and take control on the agenda of visits and see each other. Yeah, it's easier to think about a schedule then it is to think about how you wanted something he wouldn't give you, or that he doesn't want to marry you, or that you proved you aren't ready to be a partner by dismissing his feelings, wants, and fears. Whatever petty things and freak outs you're not explaining would probably have to do with how he reacted to this.

I'm sorry I can't find the other time you wrote to me that you mentioned. With about 250 hubs it's hard to keep after all the comments. It's always better to email me, but I do realize sometimes a few get away from me. Either I move one to the wrong folder, or I mark it answered accidently. Sometimes a few wind up in my spam folder. I apologize. I do care about everyone that writes me for advice, and although I can't respond to everyone I really do make every effort to respond to as many as possible.

In your case I will tell you this: you're in this process of the post break up emotions and thoughts. A note you wrote 2 weeks ago would have different tells than this one. And if you wrote it again in a month, it would be different again.

It's a process. It's kinetic. It's something that is changing and shifting as you absorb and work it. My take on your note isn't a final word on the state of all things between you and this guy. It's just a magnifying glass on where I think you are with it all right now. I am hoping by my pointing out what you said to your conscious mind that you will be able to continue your process more clearly. Just because I'm saying now that you need more time to really think all this through, that you're not ready, you're not clear, you shouldn't contact him - doesn't mean that a month from now you might be in a completely different head space.

I mean, I can surely give you a couple pieces of broad-stroke advice that anyone in your situation would benefit from regardless of their place in the process. Waiting for him to contact you would be much better. To find the closure you are lacking, try writing him a letter, but don't send it. Just use it as a tool to get all the things you really want to say to him out there, articulated and released. If you feel the need to get rid of it, throw it in a moving body of water, plant it in your yard in the dirt, or mail it to Santa. But don't send it to the bf.

And don't call him. Not now, anyway. Maybe later.


Submit a Comment

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY


    What a wonderful comment to read. It took me through all your reactions and emotions, and I appreciate that very much. I know that sometimes I hit hard with my advice, but really I only do that when I think someone has really dug their wheels in and are deep in their own groove, not listening, just really entrenched with their own thought processes. I honestly do this because I think I can help. If someone who writes to me transfers some anger at me instead of their partner for a moment, that's ok with me, as long as it helped them to see something clearer. I hope that, as was your case, that after initial emotions are shot, that people come back to a point where they can hear. I promise I'm not ever fed up with the ladies trying to figure out how to get the right guy to marry them. I was one!

    I think most people who read me can see that I am brutal and frank. I assume they write to me because they want the truth, not the hand-holding. Even if they get mad and have to walk away from it for a moment, I think deep down they want to be leveled with.

    BTW Hailyk, it's hard to figure out sometimes why I would give different advice to 2 people that sound to you like they are in the same situation. There are so many different nuances that I see, the same advice isn't always applicable. I really do want all the women that write to me to find empowerment, and love, and a happy life.

    This comment really means alot to me, thanks so much for taking the time.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Veronica thank you so much for that great reply, I think it actually says your point even better than the hub about nagging. You speak very clearly. Even when reading your advice I can tell now I am easily swayed by my emotions. First time I read your reply here I was upset. I felt like you were calling me out on being an idiot, and that I need to move on if I had any shred of dignity. This was when I felt mad at my bf, thinking that I was grasping at straws. A couple days later I reread your reply, without bias this time and without taking it personally and I felt surprised how differently I interpret your message.

    You say things plainly and clearly yet it was hard for me to listen to it without my own agenda until I was no longer upset and could just try to see what you are saying. I am starting to realize more and more how frustrating it is for my bf to tell me he doesn't feel listened to.. And I brush it off fairly lightly because I feel HE is causing the major problem in our relationship- anticommitment. But he has been right. Veronica I know I still have a lot to work through and I feel more confident after I read your thoughts. Please don't get fed up with us lovesick women! All your messages are great!!! We are all learning to improve ourselves and our lives with your help.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Thanks, Veronica. Much appreciated!

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY

    For anyone reading this Hub that wants to see Too Independent's original comments, they are on this hub

    Scroll in the comments to a two parter she put in there with a lot of detail. Again, I apologize for not remembering when I wrote this hub based soley on her later comment on that hub. I'm embarrassed about that. I do apologize.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY

    Sure, Lindsey. Here it is -

    Let me start by commenting that your ages are very significant. You’re 31, he’s 32. You are not kids, you are not before your Saturn Returns, you are both viable adults who’ve transitioned twice in adulthood. So when you say you began talking about marriage, you knew what you were doing. You weren’t fantasizing and projecting, you were honestly both sharing your ideas for the future. So you had every reason to be preparing, and waiting, and thinking a proposal was coming. You had a plan, you were communicating, you were agreeing, families were involved. And yes, you needed to see action. I agree, and you agree.

    You were smart to encourage him to take the fellowship he really wanted despite it being far away. No matter how hard this may be right now, had he not taken it he’d be resenting you for having missed out on it.

    You did everything right. You have a life, as you say. That’s not being too independent, that’s being functional, and realisitic, and responsible. Giving notice, planning finances, be fair to your roommate, planning your education.

    The 1000 Questions Book sounds smart. I bet that worked, I bet inspired you two to talk deeply about many things. But I can totally see why you hit the wall with it and said ENOUGH. Enough planning and promising. Enough long distance. I want the fucking ring already. – I totally get it.

    You sound like a real partner. And that can only come from being a real You first. You are obviously smart and you really handled things admirably. I don’t think this should have been enough for you. You were clear about what you wanted, and you were not alone! You were part of the team that was planning and planning and planning this.

    At this point, he really should have “shit or gotten of the pot.” But he didn’t. Instead he let it escalate to the pressure and stress, and then the criticizing. I promise you, the reason he wasn’t proposing was not his friends and the news. He was grasping at straws for those things. I don’t think hew as rationalizing, I think he was really grasping for something, anything, any excuse that was better than the truth. And when you pointed out you’d work on these things but please, really, they’re trite and you accept him for who he is, he bottomed out. The phone freak out, the break up, whatever that speech was about money. More grasping at nonsense like he’s a bad bf and your friends hate him. And that spiral of self loathing and blame. It’s that same thing.

    You’re 100% right – you can not respect yourself if you move out there to be with him while he didn’t follow through with any of the agreements you both made as a team. He fucked up, really fucked up. You did nothing wrong, you did nothing to cause it. You were extremely accommodating, much more so than I would have been. You did all the real work, the good work, even laying out a time frame and being open to letting him bend it.

    I don’t think you waited too long, and I don’t think it was timing. There is nothing you could have done, nothing you should have done differently. Your panic may have fed into things, but you really didn’t panic until the “Panic Now” light went on. You were great.

    For whatever reason, none of which are yours, this guy changed his mind. Instead of communicating honestly, he lied. He pretended and he went along. He even did exercises like the book perhaps thinking he would change his mind back, or that he could just keep putting off ripping the bandaid off the wound.

    He at some point realized his feelings had changed for you. He was still planning the wedding and the life, because he still wants those things. He just wasn’t doing any of the things that would have put you in it. That shows, he didn’t change his mind about marriage, he changed his mind about you.

    Let me tell you something. All the stupid things he said like your friends hate him because he’s a bad bf, and how could he be doing this, he ruined your life, those are all very text book “It’s not you it’s me” in the “if you hate me it will be easier on you” version. It’s a way he can release his guilt. And it’s such chicken shit.

    And one other thing I can tell you is, even if you did say we can’t be friends, I promise you if he wanted to be with you, he would be calling. He would be making it happen. Indian men especially do not have any kind of self esteem issues or worries that a woman will reject them. They have confidence, they believe they can assert themselves and ask for what they want, or attempt to get what they want.

    You are so best to be rid of him. I know you don’t want to hear that, but he really took such a manipulative and inconsiderate way to end things. That pattern of what he did to withdraw, the words he used, the fights he picked, I’ve heard this before.

    You really need to see this for what he is. Don’t doubt anything you did, and do not keep looking backward. I can almost promise you he’ll be married within 2 years, to an Indian woman. I’m so sorry. What happened to you just sucks. I don’t usually come across many emails asking for my advice or my take, where I can say honestly with all surety that this was 100% one person’s fault. Yours is one of those cases. He is at fault here completely. Everything you did building this relationship was good. And the ways you reacted after the ENOUGH point were completely valid. Completely understandable. Completely mature, and reflective of a whole person who is an excellent partner.



  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Veronica -- Can you post your advice to tooindependent on some other type of hub? I've read tooindependent's comments on your other hub (When your girl wants to get married and you don't) and was waiting to see what your reply would be as she gave quite a bit of detail as to her situation and you were marinating on it. If it's too personal, by all means, nevermind. But if you could work it into some sort of hub, I know I'd love to read it! (and hopefully hear how she is doing down the line if she cares to update the hub)

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY

    I want to apologize right on the hub here to "Too independent?" who just emailed me the other notes she sent me. YES, I do remember them, I'm so sorry! I wasn't remembering them when I read this comment last night and based this hub upon it. I'm leaving this hub up because it does have some helpful information on how the process can work and where blocks can happen. But I am going to email you directly, "too independent?" and give you a more indepth take specific to all the information you just re-sent in an email to me. Again, my apologies! And thanks for writing.

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY


    Thanks for commenting.

    I give different advice to different people that are in the same situations. It's all in their tells, and in the subtle nuances of their particular situation that really show what the best path for success will be.

    You're right, in some I say to the girl she should be patient. But in just as many if not more, I say move on. It really depends on what signs the man is giving with his actions and words.

    Ultimatums never communicate anything good. They usually end in disaster.

    The hub you referred to is this one -

    Thanks for reading it.

    I want to give good advice to everyone who writes. Sometimes the answer needs to hit them over the head like a bag of bricks for them to stop arguing with what's really happening, and see things for what they are. Sometimes they need a little more support before they can figure out what it is they want. All women should be empowered, but there is a difference between being empowered and being a bully. It takes a lot of work and patience to be a partner. And then sadly I do get emails for help and advice from ladies on the other side of that road - ladies that are doormats, that are being strung along or mistreated, and need to find their balls, NOT more patience.

    In this case, she did not give a time frame and see what happens. If she did, she isn't telling us about it. She is making reference in a vague way to something that sounds like it blew up. It feels much more to me like she gave an ultimatum. I don't pick up where it sounds like she gave a time frame at all. So, no, you're wrong comparing how to be clear and give a time line, with this case.

    Yes, you should actually move on if your boyfriend wants something different than you want. Why in the world would you stay with someone who wants a different life than you want? What could be more painful then spending the rest of your life in that situation? But, when you're 25, before you've gone through your rites of passage or saturn return, you can't really understand that. 25 is too young to be married. And if you are saying by the time you're 25 that means you're even younger than that. If the boy you are with is the right boy for you, the building blocks toward your future together should be much more theoretcial, They should be things like, how do you both feel about having children some day way in the future, or how do you both feel about getting married some day way off in the future. If you can agree, or be open to not knowing yet, then that's fine for now. Absolutely fine. Normal, healthy, balanced, and fine.

    There is a huge difference between getting advice on how to help clarify and express your feelings, and better listen to your partner's feelings, - and in getting advice that points out you're not paying attention, that he's communicating with his silence or his obstinance that he is not into you, not going to marry you, not going to ever give you the future that you want. Not everyone you meet and decide you want to marry is going to feel the same way about you. You're confusing tools to figure out which one he is, with how to grow a healthy mutual respectful relationship.

    If you were really at a point where you were at a good place in your life, where you really were ready to be considering marriage, and you communicated to your man that you want to be married in 2 years, if this is the right man, he will communicate back. There should be no confusion between figuring out if he's into you, and worth working with and waiting for, or if he's clearly CLEARLY telling you GO, THERE'S THE DOOR in his silence. If you are mature enough to marry and you are with your man a few years, then you should be having these conversations. If you aren't, if he's not bringing it up, then there's something wrong. Take a hint. If he's just not ready, bad timing, etc like you said, then you may have to clarify things by doing something like expressing your time table. That won't make a man that doesn't want to marry you change his mind. But, it will help a man that really does think you are The One figure out his feelings and what he wants to do. There's no magic here, there's no trick. It's just sensible communication.

    If after a few years of seriously dating and nothing is being set about the future you really want, and you express your time table so he knows, and he doesn't do a damn thing about it, omg, yes absolutely you should move on. He couldn't be clearer.

    Valuing his feelings of not being ready is exactly the same as his valuing your feelings that you are. A partner knows this, a partner would do this. IF he's proving to you he's not your partner, then listen up.

    If you say you want to be married in 2 years and he demonstrates that he is a partner, and in love with you, and thinking you are the one, by talking about it, saving together, showing you, verbalizing what he's thinking and feeling, then yes of course you wouldn't even have to ask, of course you would know to work with him and his time frame too. Find a compromise. Say he asks he's thinking more like 3 years, or gives you a realistic tangible goal like once a certain debt is paid, which will be more like 4 years, then of course you should be a partner, like he's being, and work with him so that you both feel safe and confident: engaged in 2, married in 5. Or, married in 2 but with no honeymoon because money will still be tight. Whatever it is, if he wants you forever, he will be working to figure out how you can both do this and be happy.

    If however you state what it is you want nice and clearly, and he does absolutely nothing, then omg how much clearer does he have to be? Move on. He isn't going to marry you. He let your goal come and go without budging or talking or trying, then you're wasting your time on something that isn't going to happen.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Veronica I have a question about what you said " If for example, you gave him an ultimatum to marry you or else, the problem is that you tried to manipulate and take control of a partnership instead of valuing your partner's feelings, whether they be that he wasn't ready, or that it was the wrong time, or that he doesn't believe in marriage. You didn't behave like a partner, you tried to take control where you can't take control, and it blew up. "

    I think in a lot of your hubs where it's a common theme that girls are fed up with their boyfriends not wanting to move forward that you suggest the girls give a time frame, let the boyfriend know when they would like to get married. And if they do not agree or comply with that time frame then the girl should move on. I know, you said this is not a threat, it's just stating what you want and what you will do I guess..Being clear and not a nag, the hub you wrote about it. But here, if it is the case that she did just that, you call it "manipulate and take control". I'm so confused about that.

    If our boyfriends do not agree with what we had planned for our lives.. should we actually move on? What if it's too painful to do it? I have been struggling with this part. I have given myself timeframes.. like by the time I am 25 if he is still in the same mentality I will move on. I did not say that exactly, but it was what I told myself. He knew what I wanted and did not do it. Then 25 comes and goes and I get more frustrated but stay because I love him and love our life together in a lot of ways. I for some reason or other, cannot follow through with leaving him. I am optimistic. I am hopeful that he is just not thinking into the future but I have a feeling when a while from now when he is ready.. he will realize. He is not looking in that direction and that is why he cannot see anything there. I don't know if its real logic or I am fooling myself.

    It happens and I cannot follow through because of hesitations and now fast approaching 26 I am trying not to persuade the boyfriend but to persuade myself. I am reasoning with myself that I can spend many more happy years like this before REALLY deciding. I am trying to convince myself that I do not care about marriage. That what I want for myself is very flexible. What I want is just to be happy.

    I rather be happy and have us be good partners to each other than to force him to do what I want. Is this the way to go then?

    I just noticed I keep telling myself that if he doesn't want commitment by a certain date I will move on. And I have gotten very close to ending everything and moving out but he does stuff to pull me back without agreeing with me. He gets emotional, loving, and sad, and it's a huge change from being cold, distant, and a jerk. It shocks me and makes me hopeful and makes me feel sympathy. I stay. I keep staying. It sounds pathetic written out like this.

    But back to the topic, should we be saying.. "my goal is marriage in 2 years." and then move on if it doesn't happen? Or are we supposed to value their feelings of not being ready, wrong timing, etc and just wait and see until FINALLY it happens! Or finally you cannot stand it anymore!

  • profile image

    mal malhi 

    8 years ago

    don't think it is a good idea to try to get your ex back.. boot ex into touch..and live a full life..

  • Veronica profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from NY

    Thanks clunse! I appreciate it.

  • cluense profile image

    Katie Luense 

    8 years ago from Buffalo, NY

    Awesome Hub! I rated it up a notch! Keep on writing! Great Advice!


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