Old Vs. New Relationship With Your Ex – Pt 1

In my article: 3 Reasons You’re Not Making Progress With Your Ex, I talked about how trying to get back with your ex with no clear strategy/plan of action is a recipe for failure.

With no clear strategy/plan of action, it’s kind of hit and miss. One day, you “accidentally” do something right and voila! RESULTS. But the next day you do something else (or even the very same thing), and not only do you undo all the progress you made, you push your ex further away, or worse, completely ruin any chance you had of getting back your ex.

One of those things people do that pushes their ex away is trying to explain themselves, their side of the story and what they think really happened.

Example: Your ex asks you “what are you up to/doing” and you respond with “I’ve been thinking about… [why things happened the way they did]” or something equally past-focused.

Or your ex sends you a text/email talking about what is happening in his/her life NOW — the changes/progress (or lack of) he/she is making, and his/her plans for the future, and you respond with talking about what should’ve happened, what you missed and how you should have “fixed” this or that.

Your ex is trying to be present-focused but you keep dragging him/her back to the past. You keep going over the “should have’s” and “ought to be’s” — over and over.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying don’t revsit what happened in the past, or don’t ever talk about the past with your ex. The past is relevant to the present and to the future. In fact, if you haven’t taken time to really understand what happened, you should not be trying to get your ex back. The chances of you making the same exact “mistakes” are very high. Not to mention that your ex will not want you back, if he/she feels you still “don’t get it!”

But when the past is the focus of your interactions or when what you missed and how you should have “fixed” this or that keeps popping up in every text, email or phone conversation, it’s not helping. In fact you may be hurting your chances of a reconciliation.

May be you feel misunderstood, may be you feel you really haven’t had the chance to explain your side of the story, may be you feel your ex is not taking his/her share of the blame, may be you still hold resentment over how you were treated in the relationship, or may be being anywhere but the present is a habit of your mind, bottom line, you can’t change what happened, however hard you try — or wish you could.

Focusing too much on the past is the main difference between someone who wants to right a wrong (fix the old relationship) and someone who wants to begin afresh, create a better relationship.

Fixing on what went wrong in the old relationship is like trying to sew together an old rag. It’s only a matter of time before it comes apart again. Even if you’ve made some significant personal changes, it’s still like patching an old rag with new fabric.

You may even feel that you’re making progress because finally your side of the story is being heard or your ex is taking his/her share of the blame, and that’s great — if being heard and sharing the blame is all you want.

If on the other hand, creating a relationship is what you really want, you must leave the past behind and start being PRESENT – focused.

It’s only by being PRESENT — here now — that you are truly free to BE your Self.

It’s only by being PRESENT — here now — that you can appreciate the richness of the moment, and your role in it.

It’s only by being PRESENT — here now — that you can achieve the calm and peace of mind you need to move things forward.

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  • Yangki, how do you deal with a guilty conscience that is killing you? I know that I should be focusing on what I can do to change the situation but it’s hard to stop thinking about how I really messed up big time. She means everything to me.

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    • 1) Accept that yes, you messed up big time, but you can’t go back and change anything. The past is beyond your control. All you now have control over is the present — and even that, you can only control how you react, act or respond to the things you can control and/or change.

      2) Be kind to yourself. If it was your best friend who messed up big time, would you be following him/her around 24/7, telling him/her how he/she really messed up? If you wouldn’t do that to your best friend, why is it okay to do it yourself?

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  • Great article and very timely. Thinking about what happened has given me useful awareness about both my ex and myself, the role I played. But I think there comes a point where new insights are no longer forthcoming and one needs to move on from the past.

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  • My ex is the poster child for what you’re talking about. 7 weeks since the breakup and we’re still talking about what went wrong, mostly him doing it and me trying to move on. It is exhausting for me. He says he is trying to change, he’s clearly not going to.

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