1- Take responsibility for your powerlessness and/or helplessness
Much of the helplessness and powerlessness many of us feel comes from how we think about a situation. We are either focusing too much on the things we can not control or change (e.g. our ex’s “issues”, feelings and their responses) or, avoiding what we need to do to change.
But while blaming factors outside of your control gets you off the hook, the price you pay is the inability to create the reality you desire and want.
Even in a situation where it seems like your ex is calling all the shots, and all you can do is wait for your ex to decide what happens, you control a lot more than you think or know you do. You control YOU.
You control what you say. You control what you do. You control how you react. But most of all, you control how you think.
Next time when something “happens” that makes you feel like you have no say in the matter, examine your thoughts about it. What are you telling yourself to avoid taking any responsibility for what happened before, what is happening now and what may happen in the future?
If what you are telling yourself makes you feel helpless and/or hopeless, consciously decide to change your thinking from “I don’t know what else to do” to “I may be able to do something “.
This is not about just changing from negative to positive thoughts (sometimes you need a little dose of the “negative” to keep yourself realistic), but changing your response from feeling like you have no control over a situation to finding a solution that can change your current situation.
Some of my clients have told me that by just examining how they are thinking about what is happening, they can clearly see how trying too hard is turning off their ex.
2 – Stick to a course of action long enough to see change
Most needy and clingy people operate almost solely on emotion alone. Not only do emotions obscure their sound judgment, emotions by their very fluctuating nature make it hard to stick to any particular course of action.
The worst thing you can do to your chances of getting your ex back is be seen as not sure, or don’t know what you are doing to make the relationship work.
To show that you know what you are doing, don’t try to do too much too soon. This is especially important when dealing with an ex who is not very responsive. Small consistent actions get you further than big drastic emotion-driven decisions — like cutting off all contact and two weeks later coming back claiming you want to give the relationship another chance. It doesn’t inspire the kind of trust that communicates confidence in what you are doing.
It is important to keep in mind when setting up your personal improvement and growth goals and actions, the end goal is not to block any and all emotions — you do need your emotions for your heart or gut feeling decisions. The goal is to make sure that your decisions are not influenced by fear, worry, anxiety or attempts to manipulate your ex.
3 – Manage your communications effectively.
Your ex not only wants to know that you know what you are doing, he/she wants to be convinced that the relationship will work. He/she wants to know that there will be a pay-off for him/her trusting you enough to give you another chance.
To be convincing you have to be able to communicate the pay-off in a specific language. The words you use can create unnecessary conflict, escalate already existing feelings of resentment, or they can defuse conflict, prevent an argument, or warm up your ex’s heart, again.
As mentioned is Part 1, when you are needy and clingy, most of the time what you say or do is not received by your ex the way you intended. Often times, the more you try to explain what you actually meant, the more needy and clingy you appear to be. What started as a text to explain a previous misunderstanding ends up with 30 texts that made things worse.
To avoid these kind of “misunderstandings”:
i) Identify the ways in which your language contributes to your ex’s defensiveness or resentment towards you.
This is not easy as those words you shouldn’t have said often come out in the heat of emotion. What I’ve found works for my clients is thinking back to a more recent argument, fight or situation that unintentionally went from bad to worse. What did you say that made your ex more defensive or unresponsive? Try to avoid using the same words or tone of voice.
ii) Use simple sentences, be brief and don’t over-stay your welcome.
This is especially hard when it feels so good to be talking to your ex again, and things seem to be going on so well. But if you have that love-hate dynamic going on, you know too well that the high will be followed by a low.
To avoid hitting the low, know when to end the conversation — usually on a high note. This keeps the lines of communication open and makes it easier to build momentum because you are not re-starting contacts every few weeks.
4- Try at least three times
There is no magic number for how many times you should try to get back your ex. My advice is: for an ex who is not responsive, try at least three times to make sure it’s really over. For one who is open to contact even if reluctantly, keep trying for as long as you can keep doing it.
But as mentioned in my other articles and book, persistence is not just a matter of stubbornly refusing to give up, or an excuse to make your ex’s life miserable.
i) You have to make the necessary changes that make you attractive to your ex, again.
ii) You have to have a good plan.
iii) You have to keep the lines of communication open and connect with your ex beyond “Hi, what’s up?” or “How’s your day”.
iv) You have to be consistent in your words and actions, and be seen as committed to making the relationship work.
v) You have to know how hard to push and when to step back and let things unfold naturally.
Last but not least, you have to know when it’s time to give up. That point when you know it’s time is not always black-and-white clear. What I find helps is keeping track of your progress. If after three months of doing all the above, you are exactly where you were when you began, then may be it’s time to give up.
But if you can see progress, even small progress, it’s not over!