Question: Yangki, my ex said when we broke up “I don’t want the responsibility of being someone’s sole source of happiness”. She always complained that I was needy and suffocating her. I wanted to give her the space she needed and I was thinking of doing NC when I found your site. I bought your Dating Your Ex ebook and over the course of the last 2 weeks I’ve sent her emails telling her about the changes I’ve made. Her first response was “I’m happy for you” The second one was more aloof, “You deserve to be happy”. I’m running out of things to tell her. Please help.
PS: I am seeing a therapist, go the gym 3 times a week and reconnecting with some old friends.
Yangki’s Answer: I don’t know exactly how you are communicating the changes you have made, but as explained in Dating Your Ex eBook, there’s a difference between “selling” the changes to your ex (trying to convince your ex) and communicating that you have changed. Most people do the “selling” approach, instead of making their ex want to know more, it makes their ex suspicious. It’s like the feeling one gets when a used car salesman tries to sell you the same car you sold to the dealership a few months ago.
Selling comes across as “Look, I’ve changed. Now take me back”. The response you get is similar to what you are getting from her – guarded and uninterested.
When you are “selling/ the changes you’ve made, you also run the risk of running out of things to say because you can only make so much change at a time. You’ll get a completely different response when you use the approach in the eBook.
Using your example, communicating the changes you have made as part of normal conversation would be something like:
You: “What’s up?”
Her: “Just got back from work. What are you up to?”
You: “Getting ready to go to the gym. I have to maintain these rock-solid abs” (or some other joke about going to the gym).
Her: I didn’t know you cared that much about how you look.
You: I do now. It’s all part of the new me. Takes work though (smiley).
Her: I’ll let you go then.
You: It’s a 2 hour work-out. I’ll call you when I’m done, and if you are not too busy, may be we can…. (chat, hang out etc).
You told her you are in better shape than the last time she knew you. You showed her you can contact her without being needy and clingy. You also told her you’ll be in touch — and told her when to expect your call (communicating consistency/reliability).
And the best part of it all, you don’t have to be in your ex’s presence to show that you’ve changed!