There are break-ups that are permanent and nothing one does will change an ex’s mind. It’s over. Final. And there are break-ups that are temporary. Sometimes this is because the feeling of being in love has faded, but most times it’s because two people who love each other very much just can’t seem to make the relationship work.
Confusing, right? How can anyone say they love you and not want to be in a relationship? Shouldn’t love just be enough?
Unfortunately, it’s true that sometimes love is not enough.
As discussed in many of my articles and eBook, love is something that happens to us. Your heart opens up tot someone and most times you can’t control or help who you love. You feel it and it’s there. But with a relationship, it’s a practical, rational and conscious (hopefully) decision we make based on:
1) Whether or not the person meets certain criteria including personality compatibility, has similar values, goals, interests, can meet our needs, wants, desires etc.
2) A rational (and sometimes comparative) analysis of available alternatives.
When one person no longer meets what the other is looking for in a relationship, the relationship will inevitably struggle, and finally end, even when the love part of the relationship is still strong.
Sometimes you find two people who still love each other very much, but the break-up is temporary because keep breaking up and getting back together several times. Despite their strong feelings for each other, they just can’t figure out how to be and stay together.
But once in a while, you find those that finally figure out how to be and stay together permanently with lots of self-introspection, personal growth, and genuine effort to make the relationship work.
Over the years helping men and women get back their ex, I’ve noted that certain types of break-ups are not final, and certain types of exes are easier to attract back than others. These signs will tell you if your break-up is temporary and not permanent:
1) Is not sure whether they want a break or break-up.
They know something needs to happen, but they are not sure what. If your ex is securely attached, they’ll communicate in very clear terms what they think needs to happen. They may even tell you they are not sure whether it is a break or break-up. An anxious-preoccupied ex is likely to call it a break even when what they have in mind is really a break-up. A dismissive-avoidant is if pressed to say what they mean is likely to say it doesn’t matter or that there is no difference between the two. A fearful-avoidant will be the most conflicted of all the attachment styles simply because they score high on anxiety and score high on avoidance. One day it is a break, the next it is a break-up and then they are not sure.
2) Ended the relationship on impulse
Emotional break-ups are often temporary. The relationship may have had problems but that’s not why it ended. It ended because one or both of you lost control of their emotions and like that, it is over. You may be broken up but if o your ex is regretting what happened and/or asking for forgiveness, it means it is not final. Even if they are not taking full responsibility or being defensive, the fact that they are willing to continue contact and even talk about what happened is a good sign.
3) Ended things due to personal life stressors (e.g. work, illness, depression etc.).
The positive sign here is that the relationship didn’t end because of you, it ended because of circumstances beyond both of your control. Your ex may be overwhelmed and something has to go to relieve the stress, and unfortunately it may be you. Some exes (with depression), disengage from everyone and everything, and not just you.
Your ex may be open to trying it again when they feel less stressed and emotionally available in case of depression. This is no guarantee especially if they ask for indefinite ‘no contact’.
4) Doesn’t want anything to change.
You are on a break or break-up but it doesn’t feel like it. You still contact each other everyday and even several times a day, still hang out, maybe not as often, but nothing has really changed so much that it feels like a break or break-up. You even see have sex, and stay over etc.
5) Wants to keep the break or break-up private
Your ex hasn’t told friends and family that you are on a break or are broken up. They say they will come around to it but for now they want to keep it private. They even asked you not to tell your friends and family yet or told you it’s your decision to tell your social circles. Sometimes this may be a test to see what you will do, and then they make their decision based on that.
6) Is willing to get professional help
Your ex is open to get help whether individually or as a couple to deal with the issues in the relationship. Your are on a break or break-up but they are willing to go to couples’ counselling and/or therapy and actually put in the work and not just doing it to ‘get done with it’, or to prove to you that there is no point in staying together.
In my experience working with clients with a dismissive-avoidant ex, their willingness to go to therapy to try to work on the relationship is one very telling sign that they are not done with the relationship. In general, dismissive-avoidants rarely ever willingly participate in anything that makes them feel intense emotional vulnerability, if they are willing to go to therapy it means the emotional cost of losing you outweighs their need to pull away.
More often than not, these exes have not come to a final/firm decision about the future of the relationship. They are still emotionally available and depending on what happens in the coming weeks/months, are open to changing their minds.
Your ex’s mind is not made up yet, that means you can change it…
The hours or days just after a break-up are the most critical. If you push too hard for them to make a decision to stay or get back together, you’ll push them to make a decision to break-up or make the break-up final and permanent. They may even decide it’s best not to have any contact, not because that’s what they want, but because they feel they are being pressured to make a decision they are not yet ready to make.
On the other hand, if you pull away or distance yourself, you will create the environment that makes it easier for them to decide that detaching from you is the best decision. You kind of push them to make a temporary break or break-up permanent, especially if your ex is a fearful or dismissive avoidant.
While someone with a preoccupied-anxious attachment style might feel ‘stuck’ and unable to make a decision to stay or make it final, and may agree to stay (even if only temporarily), if they think it will stop you from pulling away or distancing, fearful-avoidants respond to someone pulling away or distancing with pulling away or distancing themselves.
If they are leaning towards staying or coming back, fearful-avoidants will reach out here and there (limited or low-contact) to see how you are responding which will indicate to them whether or not you have not completely pulled away. If they are leaning towards making the break or break-up final, they will not initiate contact and will not respond when you contact them.
A dismissive-avoidant will initially dismiss you pulling away or distancing yourself as a stunt or an attempt to influence their decision, but the longer you stay distant and uncommunicative, the easier it is for them to make distance and absence of communication permanent.