Question: My ex and I broke up because he was not happy with his life and needed to work on himself. We maintained contact and it’s been 50-50 initiating and also initiating dates. He has been open with me and has told me he is seeing a counselor for some anxiety related issues, has a new job and is working out. I am happy for him, but at the same time worried that since we’ve been broken up for almost a year, we might be falling into a friend-zone. Don’t get me wrong, I support him and all but for how long do I have to wait for him to work on himself? Thanks you.
The Love Doctor’s Answer: I applaud your ex for realizing that he needs to work on himself and for not going NC while he does it. However, from years of experience helping people get back their ex, “I’m working on myself” though it sounds reasonably impressive isn’t always what is seems to be.
Some people use “I’m working on myself” when 1) they want to keep you “just as a friend” and fear losing you if they let you in on their “agenda” or 2) don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you “we will never get back together” or 3) if you’re having ex-sex, want the sex but not you. In these situations “I’m working on myself” is just an excuse, after all you can’t fault someone for wanting to improve him/herself or for wanting to be healthier/happier.
I am not saying this is the case with your ex, I’m letting you know that these words mean different things in different situations. The other thing with this is that it is hard to tell when someone will feel that there is enough work done because it is a continuous process.
Based on my experience with many of my clients, if you push and try to get him into a relationship before he feels ready, he’ll convince himself that you are the “wrong” person for him because you are putting you and your agenda before him and his agenda.
Use the contact space to keep yourself updated on what is happening in his life. But in addition, try to subtly find out if there is really a place for you in his “new life” after he’s worked on himself. One thing you can try is next time he talks about the “improvements” in his life, ask him “Is there any way I can be of help/support” (for whatever it is he is talking about). If he dismisses your “offer”, that’s not a good sign. If however, he is happy “including you” in whatever he is working on, it means he still wants you to be a major player in his life. Go out of your way to be of help/support thereby creating a place for yourself in the “new life” he is creating for himself.
It’s important that you train yourself to relax, have your own independent life and concentrate on building a better and stronger relationship, and when it’s time you will just know by the way you do things with each other. Something will be different. It could be that you’ll just see a look, a change in how much time you spend together, the hints your ex is giving about the possibility, etc. It could be anything that makes you think and feel that you haven’t felt or been that way with each other since the break-up (or ever before).
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