A Break-Up Vs. A Bad Start

break-up-vs-bad-startYou met an amazing guy/woman and hit it off right away. He/she is so into you, and you are so into him/her.

The first weeks or months are like something out of a romance movie. He/she is attentive, affectionate, caring, supportive and wants to spend so much with you. Even when he/she is busy, he/she makes the effort to text or call. Things seem to be going really well. You’ve never been happier.

But then things start to change. The texts become less frequent and less spontaneous. It takes him/her more and more time to respond. Some days he/she does not respond at all. If you ask him/her if everything is okay, he/she says he/she has just been busy. But if you don’t make the effort to make contact, you don’t talk for days.

He/she seems to have just changed in a very short period of time. The same person who was so attentive, affectionate and caring, has gone from wanting to see you everyday to avoiding being with you. He/she is acting cold and distant, and not as open with you anymore. The sex is not only less frequent, it’s also different.

All the signs are there that he/she’s losing interest, but you pray and hope that things will go back to how they were in the beginning real soon. Then one day, he or she tells you that they want out (or just disappears). You’re in shock.

How could this be? Just a couple of weeks ago he/she was all over you and couldn’t get enough of you, and now it’s over?

It doesn’t make sense. You felt it, and he/she felt it. It was real. It was strong. It was intense. It was amazing.

And now it’s over? Just like that?

May be not. Things could have just gotten off to a bad start.

The approach you use to attract back someone who lost interest after just a few dates, or when things were just beginning to get serious is different from one you use to attract back someone you were in a “relationship” with.

With someone you were with for a year or more, you know exactly how they feel about you. But with someone you dated very briefly, things are not as clear.

It could just be that the honeymoon phase wore off, and he/she can’t tell the difference between the natural end of the honeymoon phase and the loss of love.

He/she feels that because things are not as exciting, fun and high on lust anymore, it means that you are not compatible, or that the relationship isn’t working.

This can complicate the “getting back” process somewhat because it’s not clear if it’s a break-up or just a change in the relationship. And if feelings were not explicitly communicated, you might find that you are approaching things from the “get your ex back” perspective, and getting a lot of unnecessary resistance.

It’s also possible that you thought you were in “a relationship”, but the other person thinks that you were “just hanging out”, casually dating, or just “good” friends.

You think you are getting back “your ex”, but your “ex” doesn’t understand why you are saying the things you are saying, or doing what you are doing.

Any move you try to “get him/her back”, only makes him/her pull away even further.

If you feel that your relationship ended too quickly, and you weren’t given a fair chance because your ex prematurely decided that you were not compatible, or that the relationship wasn’t working after only a few weeks or months of dating, I’m happy to work with you one-on-one to assess your chances, and guide you through the delicate nuances of Break-Up vs. A Bad Start.

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29 Comments

  • I was in a short term relationship approx 4 months and we were an amazing together. We spent pretty much every day with each other. She ended it because I was apparently “too needy”. I thought of doing no contact to give her space, but after reading your articles about no contact, I sent her a text acknowledging that I crowded her space and that I was sorry. I explained to her that this was my first real relationship after being married for 18 years. The next day she sent me a text saying she understood. She said I was a great guy but that I needed to find a life outside of her. I thanked her and again apologized. She sent a text back asking if wanted to go out to dinner sometime. We made arrangements to go out to dinner this Friday.

    We have had a couple of pleasant phone conversations. I think she still cares about me and this is probably a case of a bad start. Were both in our late 40s. What is your opinion about the whole situation? Do you think there is hope? Btw, great advice, only one that made sense to someone my age.

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    • I agree that this is a case of a bad start. Normally I’d say it’s too early to tell if there is hope or not… but she asked you out for dinner in the very first exchange! That’s HUGE.

      You have a second chance at making this work, just make sure you don’t step over to the needy side again… (:

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  • Thank you for explaining the difference. Mine is definitely a bad start. We dated for 6 months and during that time broke up twice, both time he said things were going too fast for him and we needed a break. 3 weeks ago, he again broke it off saying his life is right now complicated and he can’t be with me the way I want him to. I know he is going through stuff with divorce and moving out etc, and I guess right now all I can do is accept that he does not have time for a relationship. Do you think it’s okay that we still have sex?

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    • Yes, looks like a bad start alright. You may have needed more from him than he was able to give you at the time, which is what being needy is about.

      As for having sex with him, that’s a decision only you can make. Your body, your decision, I am ultra liberal like that… 🙂

      What I mean is, it’s not my place to tell grown adults how to run their sex lives. What I do know as a coach is that sex with your ex can sometimes hurt your chances, but it can also sometimes do no harm to your chances, especially if you understand that having sex does not mean you are in a relationship or that you will get back together.

      This explains it more:

      Does Sex With Your Ex Hurt Your Chances?

      Does Sex too Soon Ruin A Relationship

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  • Hi Yangki, I’m trying to show my ex that I have changed but he says I can never change and also he does not think we’re right for each other. We were together for 5 months. He was first to say I love you and also one who asked to be exclusive. After I acted needy because he didn’t respond to my texts he started acting distant. He broke up with me saying he needed space. I didn’t contact him for 6 weeks. Last week I contacted him and asked him to see me so we can talk. We met and talked but he wants to move on. I don’t want to give up if there is still hope but I don’t know how to fix it.

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    • Situations like yours are unfortunately too common. After the honeymoon period, we all start to reevaluate the relationship, and if a red flag goes off at the time we’re reevaluating things, it makes us see the relationship more negatively.

      Showing him that you can change is possible if he’s still open to contact. Showing him that you are right for each other (in my experience) is much harder. If you like, we can talk by phone so I understand why he thinks you are not right for each other, and if there is a way to make the relationship work.

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  • Yangki, is it a false start or a break-up if you were together 4 months, no sex but only cuddling, and she says she can’t be in a relationship because she does not see a future with you. She has had failed relationships before and her last exhusband was abusive towards her. She said no one has ever treated her better than I did and may be she’ll regret not pursing a relationship with me, but for now she wants to focus on her therapy and addressing her emotional issues. She also say she did not feel the spark with me. Should I try to get her back or let it go?

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    • I will go with bad start although I am not sure if anything really ever started at all… 4 months with no sex unless it has something to do with “religion” or illness is outside of the norm in today’s (adult) dating environment.

      I think that she’s emotionally unavailable, may be due to her relationship past or some other “issues” in her past. She sounds honest when she says she’s never been treated better. She may have sincerely hoped she’d feel the spark with you but realized that she probably won’t, and let you go.

      You can try to “get her back” but even if she decides to give things another try, I don’t know if you can have the relationship you seek until she addresses her emotional issues.

      Also there is that issue of her not feeling the “spark” with you… if it didn’t happen the 4 months you were “together”… I don’t know if can ever happen.

      It’s not my place to decide whether you should try to get back your ex or not, I give you an objective assessment of what your chances are like, and you decide for yourself. If you feel strongly that you want to give it a try knowing the obstacles you have to overcome, then give it a try and see what happens.

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  • We met online and were together for 3 months. It was awesome and we were really into each other. The breakup happened because we were supposed to go out Friday night and he was no show. I confronted him about it and he got mad that I was angry about it. He said he needed space and I said ok. Its been about 7 weeks since and I haven’t contacted him, I haven’t heard from him either. I’m wondering if too much time has passed to try to reestablish contact.

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    • I don’t think there is a cut off time for when to try to re-establish contact. My general experience has been that the longer you stay out of contact, the less chances that the other person will want to re-establish contact. The chances for very short term relationships are even lower.

      Unfortunately, I do not have the crystal ball and can’t tell you for sure what will happen. If you feel like reaching out, I think that you should. He may or may not respond or want contact, but you’ll never know if you don’t try to find out.

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