Question: Three weeks ago I contacted my ex about some important documents. I went to pick up the documents and we ended up going out for dinner. A month ago she wouldn’t return any of my calls. We have had many phone conversation mostly about business, family and mutual friends. When we talk I’m cheerful, confident and relaxed because I want her to see that I am not the emotional wreck she knew a few weeks ago. Some days she’s really warm, friendly and even flirtatious and other days she’s cold and does not want to talk to me. She says I hurt her deeply she is having a hard time putting it behind her. I admit I wasn’t the best boyfriend to her. I now realize I was way too clingy and controlling and when I was angry I was sarcastic, criticizing, ridiculing etc. We both are very hot tempered. I’ve come a long way thanks to therapy. Do you think she still loves me but won’t admit it? What should I say to her to help her put the pain behind her?
The Love Doctor’s Answer: There is obviously still a connection there, I can’t say with 100% certainly that it’s love, only she can. Now whether that connection is sufficient to get the two of you back together or not depends on how fast she can move past that hurt and if she can trust you not to hurt her again. It also depends on a lot other things going on in her life and if getting back with you is top on her priority list.
I assume that you’ve already apologized to her (not explained/justified what happened but accepted responsibility) for the hurt you caused her. She needs to know you really, really understand how you hurt and that you’re genuinely sorry. Do not expect her to forgive you right away, give her time to process her hurt in her own time and way.
Next time she says she’s having a hard time putting the hurt behind her (which she will) acknowledge it with something like “I’m really sorry I hurt you” and STOP THERE! It’s her reality. You can’t talk someone out of feeling hurt. You can temporarily calm the feeling of hurt but when she is on her own, it’ll come up because feelings MUST be and have to be processed by the person feeling them not by someone else.
The next step is for you to show her that it won’t happen again. This means making sure you don’t do things that remind her of why she’s hurting and why you’re not together. So it all comes down to how much changing you have done.
Don’t be surprised if after a few “great moments” she says she thinks she needs to pull back/not see you “like that” anymore ( I’ve seen it a zillion times before with so many of my clients). Do not panic and get all clingy (again). Simply tell her it’s not what you want but you understand and hope that she knows that she can reach out to you any time she wants to. Then ask her if you can email/call her once in a while just to see how she’s doing. Tell her you expect nothing, you just want to know she’s okay.
The goal is to make sure the door is still open and also show her that you indeed have changed.