Question: My ex says he still loves me but doesn’t think I’ll change. I honestly thought I had changed but because I went back to my old ways; it seems that my ex may not give me another chance. I’ve realized my mistakes and I’m also going to therapy to better myself and work on my issues. Is there any way I can fix this? We still talk (he does not like no contact and referred me to your site), and he says he still loves me but also struggles with believing I can change. He does not want to get hurt.
Yangki’s Answer: You’re still talking that means that your ex indeed loves you; and somewhere deep inside he probably hopes that will change.
It’s because of situations like this that I advice against telling your ex you have changed. New behaviour takes time to take root and become part of the new you. Almost always the old habits will show up again and again until the new behaviour completely takes over.
But when the old behaviours show up they make your ex believe you have haven’t changed.
Some people stay away from their ex until they’re confident they’ve really changed. The problem with this approach to getting back your ex is that when you show up claiming you’ve changed; your ex will not believe you. Most people don’t believe people change, and even those that do; they want to know what you did to change and see how you have changed before they can believe you.
Right now your ex doesn’t believe that you will change but as he sees the changes, he will begin to believe you changed.
It’s best to maintain contact but not actively try to get back together.
- This buys you time to get rid of the old habits;
- Gives your ex the opportunity to see first hand what you’re doing to change and how you’re changing;
- It helps both of you get used to the new you, and the new dynamic in the “relationship”.
Since he’s still open to contact, be honest and tell him you honestly thought you had changed, but you obviously need more work to do. Tell him you are not asking him to take you back, and not promising you will change overnight but would like to keep the lines of communication open and see what happens.
If he’s okay with that, use the second chance, not to try to get back together right away, show him first hand what you’re doing to change and how you’re changing. That means not going back to old habits. You only have a few opportunities to do it RIGHT before your ex writes you off completely.
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I’d like to think he knows me better than to worry about my manipulating him like that, but I know well enough that break-ups can make you question everything about a person. I’ve certainly been there.
Thank you for your response, looking forward to the article.
Well… you know your ex better. I hope you are right.
Hi Yangki –
First off, thank you for the healthy advice in this and all of your other articles.
My question is: How do I get the point across that the positive changes I’ve made in myself are not a result of him not being so prominently in my life anymore? To be clear, I worry based on things that he’s said that my ex believes that I am only thriving now because we are apart. Truth is, the break-up was a huge wake up call for me (I hate that this had to be the case, but I can’t turn back time), and it really pushed me into working on being the best version of myself.
That’s a legitimate concern both ways. He also may be (and rightfully so) concerned that you are pretending to have changed, but will go back to your old ways if and when he decides to come back into the relationship.
When I get time, I’ll write an article addressing the concerns on both sides. In the meantime, there are many articles on showing your ex you changed that address your question. There is also a section in my eBook dedicated to communicating the changes you have made in a way that does not come across as you selling “change” to your ex. No one likes to be sold to.