Is There Hope Or Should I Just Move On?

is-there-hope-with-ex-or-move-on.jpgOne of the hardest things in my work is telling someone who so badly wants his or her ex back that the relationship may be too damaged that it can’t be put back together, or does not have anything left to build on.

Some people want so bad to hold on to their beloved that they’re willing to “do anything” even keep arguments, fights, drama, conflicts etc. going just as long as they have some kind of “relationship” with their ex (even a toxic, destructive and pain-filled relationship is better than no relationship at all).

Even those that know in their gut that there is really no chance that things will work out will quite often get stuck spinning their wheels – today they’re over an ex and want a new life without him/her… tomorrow they’re still in love and want him/her back… then the next day they’re again over him/her and want to move on. This can go on like forever!

Hard at it may be to accept, moving on — as in it’s over, find someone new — is sometimes the only option left in a relationship that has been irreparably damaged.

But how do you know a relationship is irreparably damaged?

1. Your ex sees and treats you like an “enemy” or “evil” person and reacts to everything you say and do with suspicion.

2. Thoughts and memories of the relationship still hurt so bad that anything that was good or positive about the relationship pails in contrast to all the bad and negative things that happened in the relationship, at the time of the break-up and post break-up.

3. Criticism, suspicion, resentment, putdowns, mind games, power struggles, threats, drama/conflict, hostility, distrust, misunderstanding (and in some instances abuse) is the “normal” and only mode of interaction between the two of you.

4. Something terrible happens to either of you and the other feels “vindicated” even happy; hearing that the other is suffering, sad or not happy is good news.

5. Something good happens to either of you and the other somehow feels like it’s not fair; hearing that the other is happy or has had some success/achievement feels like something has been taken away from you and given to someone who does not deserve it.

6. Distrust and mistrust runs so deep that being seen as still caring and/or still having feelings for the other (which used to be all you wanted the other to know and feel) is now a weakness – and a bad thing. It’s gotten so bad that you can’t trust your ex to act in your best interest or do what’s right by you (and your ex may feel the same way).

Under these conditions, re-establishing a “normal” relationship is not only very difficult but close to impossible. The longer the destructive dynamics goes on the worse the relationship gets, and the harder it will be to rebuild any kind of “healthy” relationship.

Occasionally, a seemingly damaged-beyond-repair relationship gets another chance, but only if and when the destructive dynamics is stopped, both parties take time to heal and grow before attempting a reconciliation and if and when a collaborative reconciliation strategy is used to resolve the issues that create the destructive dynamic, re-establish trust and credibility, and re-introduce warmth and good feelings.

Cultivating good feelings and friendship to counterbalance the damage and hurt from the cumulative effect of constant misunderstandings, anger, suspicion, distrust, resentment, power struggles, defiance, hostility etc., is a critical part of reconciliation in these types of relationships.

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49 Comments

  • What if he does not show you love and never tells you he loves you? He spends more time with his friends and says you are needy when you tell him you are not happy with the way he is treating you? What is one supposed to do, just accept the behaviour and suffer quietly?

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    • You don’t have to accept behaviour that you do not like, but nor can you change someone else to fit what you are looking for in a partner. If you want to be with him, you will have to learn to accept him as he is, and find ways to work on the relationship together.

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  • What does it mean if you are still friends with an ex, maintain regular contact and he is very interested in my new love prospects, is always asking for details about anyone new that I’m dating and how serious it is, yet he never makes an explicit move to get me back? is just simple curiosity or does he still have feelings for me? If so, how do I get him to make a move and admit his feelings? Thanks!

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    • Both it seems. But it could also just be curiosity, some exes are like that, especially if they are possessive or insecure.

      Try making the first move… he may be thinking the same thing as you are, and until some-one makes the first move, nothing happens.

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  • My ex ended our 3 year relationship because she “lost the feeling of love”, thought of me as a best friend rather than lover. She said it was because we haven’t spent much “couple” time together and I wasn’t there when she needed me the most. We are now good friends and message each other daily (I initiate contact mostly) and have dinners together. In fact, we will travel together for a short trip. Do I have a chance of getting her back?

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    • I think so, and the reason I think so is because the break-up didn’t break the bond you two have. You remained in each other’s lives because you genuinely care for each other.

      BUT that’s not enough to get back together. Getting back together will depend on what you are doing to bring back that “lost feeling of love”. The feeling will not just come back on its own, it has to be cultivated and nurtured.

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  • I finally contacted my ex and asked if we could talk by phone. He called right away. We talked for about 38 mins. He said he still thinks about me and apologized for his role in the breakup. I told him I wasn’t always the girlfriend he deserved and working on myself so that I do not do the same thing to the next guy. He thanked me for reaching out and said we should keep in contact. Do you think we still have a chance? We’ve only been broken up for less than 2 months and there was no angry words or anything during the breakup.

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    • It’s too early to tell, but so far it’s a good start. Now it’s about how you move forward.

      I’ve seen relationship with so much potential for reconciliation go bad so quickly because of wrong assumptions and jumping into premature conclusions.

      Take it slow.

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  • I agree with this article. Being hurt in a relationship can be difficult, but to walk a way from someone who doesn’t love you back is harder. I love her with all of my heart, with everything that is me, but she doesn’t.

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    • You probably have heard the saying “You can’t pick the person you love.”

      The feelings of love will probably always be there. But it doesn’t man you have to pursue them or push them on someone who has made it very clear that they don’t love you. The best you can do for yourself is accept that she doesn’t feel for you the way you feel for her, and that is okay.

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  • I know that there is no future for us but my heart keeps aching for him. I feel still so connected to him that I can’t seem to move on no matter how hard I try. I hate myself for loving him so much.

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    • May be you should stop trying so hard to “move on” and allow for the grief process to complete itself naturally. Sometimes when you try so hard to run away from how you truly feel, your emotions overpower you and make you feel like you are trapped.

      Allowing yourself to feel all your emotions including those you don’t want to feel gives those emotions a healthy outlet.

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