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Thank you Anita. Very kind and helpful as always. I’ve been seeing a therapist regularly for the last 12 months and will continue doing so. I guess I’m just wondering if there’s a way for me to get to 100% without blocking her and/or reaching out to her to apologise about not staying true to my word, or whether I need to block in order to get to the last 5% of healing and not worry about what she thinks about what I post online and/or trying to show her how good my life is. If I block I come across petty and it’s an irreversible decision to permanently cut all chords with someone whom I once cared deeply about. If I don’t block then she continues to live in my head as I feel “watched”.
Hope you’re doing well and sorry to hear you had to go through similar thought patterns.
Hi Anita, Helcat, or anyone else that can help.
Whilst I was healing and stuck in analysis paralysis in January about whether I reach out or not, a week before I decided to reach out I heard she was seeing someone else. This broke me completely. I continued to remain in no contact and heal. I then found out she got engaged. This once again broke me further and restarted my healing journey all over again.
I am still in no contact, and still healing. It’s been over a year since the breakup.
I am feeling 95% better and normal again, though still suffer from intrusive thoughts / memories of her on a daily basis.
Where do I go from here?
I feel shame that despite saying “I’ll get back to you”, I never got back to her, and wonder what she thinks about me. On the other hand, I also am starting to feel indifferent about the whole thing and thinking of never reaching out again.
Whilst I have deleted her from all social platforms, she still continues to follow me on instagram etc.
I am confused and stressed and anxious about what I do next. Do I block her. Do I remain indifferent and just forget about her and let her follow my instagram. Do I reach out and say “sorry i never got back to you, i was working on myself, i wish you well” to close the loop neatly and then disappear forever.
What do I do?
Hi Anita – I’m doing ok thanks, appreciate the check-in. Hope you’re well too.
Still in no-contact and oscillate between moving on from her and never reaching out so as to not continue prolonging my pain, versus reaching out and letting her know I’d like for us to get to know each other again and dealing with the risks that come.
It’s been 6 months since the breakup, and add on the additional 3-6 months that she likely spent mentally checking out during the relationship, I just fear looking like a complete fool if I reach out suggesting I still want her back or something to that effect when she probably doesn’t even think about me anymore.
Last few days I have been drafting three different messages and wondering which to send (I may never send any of them and let the universe work things out)….
1. Goodbye – I’m continuing to work on myself, being friends will be too painful, if your feelings change let me know, I wish you all the best, and thank you for the good times, etc.
2. Buy more time – I’m doing the work, few more things I need to put in place and it’s going to take more time, would still love to get to know each other again one day, you’re still important to me, take care, etc.
3. Try Again – I’m making progress, if you’re still open to getting to know each other again despite not being ‘in love’ then let me know I’d love to do that, I’ve put enough tools in place to not get hurt even if your feelings don’t come back, etc. OR just hey it’s been a while, would be nice to catchup and take things from there…
Most of the advice I’m getting is split between say goodbye and move on forever and that chasing is only going to stroke her ego and destroy your mental sanity further, versus try again casually to see if you can build a completely new dynamic/relationship, but only if you are confident you have fixed your side of the issues and are fully detached from the outcome / are prepared to get hurt again.
I’m still completely lost. I think the most honest and authentic is option 2…i.e. buy more time… because I’m still not ready. But again my fear is she’ll just think “this guy is delusional and still hasn’t moved on”.
Whilst I’ll appreciate your thoughts Anita, I know you’re probably tired of helping me with this so don’t feel obligated to respond!
After the last 4/5 months of therapy, reading, self-assessment, reflections, journalling, etc. I would say it’s a 70/30 split between it being my issues (being too dominant, controlling, not knowing how to handle conflicts or arguments, not being able to express my emotions, never being the first to apologise, narcissistic traits, dismissive avoidance attachment, etc.) and remaining 30% her simply not wanting to put in the effort to work on things and having absurdly high expectations.
She said things like “my partner should know what to do without me having to tell him” and “I don’t want to be the one to change you” and “you have a lot of growth to do and I don’t want to be part of that journey” and “I deserve someone fucking amazing”.
I do take accountability, I wasn’t a good partner, I took her for granted and didn’t show too much affection and had all the issues listed above.
We both were also extremely similar type A personalities, both extremely confident and extroverted, both self-sufficient and independent, and both disliked being challenged or criticised.
Her emotional maturity was far higher than mine though, earlier in the relationship she would always be the first one to make amends, explain to me that we’re on the same team, and that its healthy to argue sometimes (I hated conflict and would just fight or flight) etc.
So I think maybe she eventually realised that my problems were too deep rooted and in her words she lost the will to keep trying” and decided she was better off without me.
I just tell myself that whilst yes I made mistakes, maybe we just weren’t compatible and things weren’t meant to be, and if they were meant to be then she would have tried harder or she would’ve responded more warmly to my apology and given it a second chance.
I never wanted to cause her pain, but I look back and see that I wasn’t functioning with my adult brain but rather with my “inner child” who can be quite guarded / walled off / defensive / uncompromising / rigid / emotionless / etc.
That side of me kept me safe and brought me a lot of success in my life and career, but it’s the side of me that also cost me emotional intimacy and my relationship with the person I loved more than anyone.
So I’m learning how to forgive that side of me, accept that I made mistakes like all humans do, that she wasn’t perfect either, and that it wasn’t meant to be otherwise we’d still be together.
It’s been a completely soul destroying experience and it will take me years to fully recover and find someone that I can connect with someone at that level – but this is the path the universe has chosen for me and the path I must walk.
Apologies I never came back to your last message my head has been all over the place recently.
I still haven’t sent the email. I’m thinking that:
– I have started healing (still a very long way to go) and I’m fearful that any communication may open a can of worms and undo my healing
– I told her I need to work on myself and I’ll come back to her as soon as I am able, and so continuing to work on myself in silence for however long I need to may be what a) increases her respect for me and b) allows her to feel what life is like without me in it.
– Expressing that I still want her back and can’t accept friendship might push her further away, versus maybe if I just let it go for a few months (or even a few years) then who knows we may be able to rebuild a new relationship completely from scratch in the future
I guess it boils down to the same equation of risk vs. reward – any response from her to my email that isn’t a clear sign of wanting to get back with me is only going to cause me more pain and prolong my suffering.
That being said maybe it’s the only chance I have of putting the ball back in her court and forcing her to make a decision, rather than me disappearing indefinitely and her never reaching out to me because she thinks “well he said he would reach out and he never did so, I guess he doesn’t care, his loss”.
Sadly still unsure about best way forward. I guess I am focused solely on prioritising my health and my healing and letting everything else figure itself out rather than worrying about “she is expecting to hear from me soon, I should reach out to her”.
As for how I’m doing…. I’m on anti-depressants and am a lot more stable emotionally, still getting daily episodes of depression/crying/anxiety/insomnia/etc. but frequency and intensity seems to be reducing. I have accepted its going to be a very long and difficult road ahead.
Let me know if you have any further thoughts / advice.
Thank you so much for everything you have done for me so far, I am incredibly grateful.
I’ve decided to pursue neither for now and keep healing / stay in no contact.
The break up turned my life upside down and shook me to my core – I knew we had issues but I never thought we’d split up hence it was a surprise to me, and to your second question yes and no. The last 6 months we were together she pretended things were fine but I now see in hindsight that she was slowly detaching herself mentally and emotionally. Once she had detached we had one explosive argument where both of us had a lot of resentment bottled up, after that we said we would continue to work things out, she had a month long trip to the US planned to visit family/friends so she said she’ll use that trip to get some space and clear her head, then she came back and broke things off.
I like the sound of that approach.
Given she ended her last email with “happy to discuss in person” and we live 5 minutes away from each other, do you think I could relay that message to her in person rather than over email?
And then at least that way she gets to see me in person one last time talking to her calmly and kindly (resetting the image in her mind of me as emotionally fragile etc.)?
I’m also quite conscious of the fact that I still have a lot of work to do regarding my attachment style / communication and relationship skills, and in the slim chance she changes her mind, I’m still not 100% the guy she likely deserves.
With that in mind, what do you suggest:
1. Don’t burden her with another f2f meeting and simply email her back (sooner rather than later, given it’s already been over a month since last contact) with an equally honest and thoughtful message that includes the key points you’ve mentioned.
2. Continue to work on myself for another 1-2 months, and then let her know I’d like to meet her in person again for a quick coffee, and then show her a calmer / stronger me whilst relaying the honesty I.e. still desire to build a romantic relationship, express why friendship is a bad idea, gratefulness and thanks, respect she needs to do what’s right for her, etc.
3. Same as option 2 but meet her sooner (in a couple of weeks) so as to not drag this out and risk her moving on even more, and include in my message the fact that I still have more work to do on myself and I respect that she may or may not want to be a part of that growth journey.
Thank you again.
I feel a little embarrassed by the incoherence and rambling of my previous message.
– I am sure that as of right now, I’m not interested in a genuine friendship with her. I’m in a much better place mentally but the risk of regressing and getting hurt again if I opt to go down the friendship route is still high.
– Yes I want another chance at a romantic relationship but I am prepared that this may never happen.
– You have suggested to reach out (as I have told her I will at some point), but don’t pretend to be friends as that is dishonest, but also to not give her the idea that I’m trying to re-attract her which will push her away.
– What kind of message do I reach out with that strikes the right balance and allows me the opportunity to meet her a couple more times and show her my genuine strength?
– I guess what I’m asking for is the impossible – a path that allows me to show her the more balanced / caring / emotionally strong version of me one or two times, a path that isn’t disingenuous, and a path that allows me to walk away with grace and dignity and as little pain/regret as possible.
– I am highly stressed / anxious about my best friend’s wedding in July – my concern is I meet with her a few more times before then, and it doesn’t lead to anywhere and/or I eventually find out that she’s dating someone else, and then I can’t go to the wedding as I won’t be able to bear the pain of seeing her.
– Are the stakes too high and probability of things working out in my favour so low that I simply send an amicable goodbye message now or in the next few weeks/months (thereby keeping my word that I’ll get back to her), and walk away forever and opt myself out of the wedding?
Thank you again for your help and kindness.
are you currently sure that you do not want (and will not be okay with) a friendship with her, and that what you want and desire is a romantic relationship with her?
That’s a good summary of the situation.
Though I can honestly say I don’t know what I need to do. When you say “are you ready to do that yet or do you need more time to process”, do you mean heal fully and accept relationship won’t happen and meet her as friends to see how things evolve, or do you mean walk away forever and wish her well?
Those are the two options I feel (or is there a better third option that I’m missing) and I’m at a complete loss as to what to do.
Thank you again for your response, means a lot to me that you’re taking the time to help me and let me know if I can repay the favour in any way.
Ok, being a man of strength and a man of my word is very important to me so I can see why I should be the one to contact her.
That said, I am indeed sure that I will not be okay with a friendship with her, as it stands currently. And I do still desire a romantic relationship with her.
I feel for this state of mind to change may take many more months if not years, and maybe I’m being naive or overly-attached given it’s my first real love, but maybe some part of me may forever desire to be in a romantic relationship with her.
Or maybe I’m not trying hard enough emotionally to let go and move on and accept friendship as the best way forward and develop the mental strength needed to pursue that.
I guess the problem I’m facing is, a strong man should be honest about his feelings / motivations (I’m unlikely to be okay being friends and desire her romantically), a strong man should also keep his word (I should re-initiate contact like I said I would), but if she feels that I’m still not over it and am trying to re-attract her that this will only push her in-love feelings further away.
Which is a conundrum.
We both live in Hong Kong and she’s relocating back to the US (where she’s from) in August. I was initially moving to the US with her.
In accepting a friendship it feels like there is very little for me to gain, and everything for me to lose (even if I “get over it” however long that takes, there’ll always be a risk that I’ll end up getting hurt again, esp if / when I hear about her being in another relationship). Not to mention further loss of dignity and self-respect by continuing to want her in my life when she has made the decision to not be a part of my life.
And she has everything to gain (comfort of knowing I am there as a “friend”) and nothing to lose.
I’m truly at a loss as to what to do.
If I don’t ever reach back out, I’m not a man of strength / my word.
If I reach out suggesting anything other than the fact I’m completely over it and happy to be friends, then it’ll just push her away.
And if I reach out suggesting to be friends, then I’m putting myself at risk of more pain and being disingenuous.
And if I wait to fully get over it and not desire her romantically, then this could take several months / years, after which reaching out wouldn’t matter anyway as we both would’ve moved on.
Do I need to simply continue to wait and process until I can fully let go and be ok with friendship (if I fully let go, which I’m not far from doing, then I dont necessarily want or need a friendship), and not re-initiate contact until then, irrespective of how long this process takes?
I’m completely at a loss as to what to do.
Sometimes I feel fully letting go and moving on is the most important thing, in which case I can message her in a few months or years however long it takes, or never. My true healing being the bigger priority here than keeping my word.
Other times I feel like I need to show her the new stronger version of me (as you suggest), as there’s always a chance those feelings can redevelop.
So I guess therein lies the contradiction.
In order to show her this side, I need to be okay with a relationship never happening. But if I’m truly okay with a relationship never happening and don’t “need” her friendship either, then I shouldn’t put myself in a position where I might get hurt again.
I guess I’m just repeating myself at this point.
Let’s say that the most important thing for me, above whether she falls for me again or not, is to be a man of integrity and strength, is to keep my word of reaching back out to her, and is to “reset” her last memory of me as someone strong rather than as someone weak.
And let’s say I reach a place of inner emotional strength that I’m okay with the idea of a relationship never happening and won’t feel hurt by this, but I’m also okay not needing a friendship per se.
What would be the best way forward and/or what should I say to her when I eventually re-initiate contact?
I feel like I’ve already lost all respect in her eyes by first pretending I was mutually ok with the breakup, then trying to get her back, then trying to be friends, then going NC, then saying I’ve accepted the breakup, then crying in front of her indicating that I’m not ok being friends, then saying I’m unsure how I feel, and now once again putting myself in a vulnerable spot by reaching out (and risking more confusion / pain) or never reaching out (and being seen as weak / not a many of my word).
I feel I’ve made every mistake in the book and have gone from someone she respected and loved to someone she doesn’t respect and love, or worse yet, looks down upon.
This process has caused me tremendous pain in the last 4/5 months, serious mental health issues, breaking down in tears every day, suicidal thoughts, anti-depressants, insomnia, anxiety, drop in job performance, etc.
Last month or so I’ve felt significantly better with the help of a therapist / gym / anti-depressants / mindfulness meditation / and regaining some sense of control after being honest in my very last message to her (I’m unsure and vulnerable and I’ll get back to you when I can).
I feel I’m healing fast and starting to feel quite positive about my future with or without her in my life.
The most important thing for me, above all, above getting her to fall for me again – is to pursue a path forward that restores my dignity and self-respect.
How do I do this?
Walk away forever now, or re-initiate contact as friends, get her to see the strong me one or two times, and then walk away forever.
Extremely sorry for rambling. Incredibly grateful for any advice you can provide and look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks Anita, you’re a life-saver, speak soon.
Hi Helcat, thank you for the kind response. It’s not something I’m comfortable with at this point in time, as I have a lot of genuine love for this person and being friends will only prolong my pain / healing.
I feel like after my last msg saying “I’ll come back to you” a month ago I’ve trapped myself into a corner and I can’t think of a way forward that puts me back in a position of strength and outcome independence and throws the ball back in her court.
Any ideas how I move forward?
This is my first time on this forum and I’m blown away by the thoughtfulness and detail of your response.
What you have said regarding showing her the balanced version of me (I.e. strong but caring, kind but emotionally independent, etc.) makes so much sense and its given me a clear path forward, removing a lot of my mental anguish.
So thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I do have a question that perhaps might be too much in the nuts and bolts but…. how do I go about meeting her again once or twice?
Do I re-initiate contact and say I’ve had time to process and let’s be friends? Or do I simply wait for her to break NC (which she may never do given my last message basically said “I’ll come back to you as soon as I can” thereby unintentionally putting the ball back in my court)? Or do I wait to bump into her naturally? (Which could happen as we live in a similar neighbourhood)?
To further complicate things she is planning to attend a mutual friends wedding this July. The groom is one of my best mates and I introduced my ex to the bride a couple of years ago and they ended up becoming really close friends.
I was planning to not attend this wedding or ask her not to go or ask the bride / groom to uninvite her but I realised it’s not right for me to do either of those things and I can simply not go if I feel uncomfortable.
I guess my question is – how do I go about arranging to meet her again without making her think I’m trying to re-attract her and also without her thinking that I’m happy to simply be friends?
Feels like I’ve painted myself into a corner here but maybe I’m just not thinking clearly enough or over-thinking.
My worry is if I go down the “let’s be friends” route, and 2-3 months later everything fizzles out and I end up hurting again, then she’ll still go to the wedding because she thinks I’m okay being friends but I’ll be torturing myself mentally seeing her there.