One of those things that many people do that pushes their ex away is trying to talk about what went wrong in the relationship too early in the process. They think that if they can explain themselves, their side of the story and how they feel about what happened it will clear up things and make their ex what to try things again.
They keep bringing up the past but instead of an ex opening up, they actually push their ex further away.
Example: Your ex asks something about your day/week 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 talking about what is happening in their life NOW and their 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 them 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 revisit 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.
Maybe you feel misunderstood, maybe you feel you really haven’t had the chance to explain your side of the story, maybe you feel your ex is not taking their share of the blame, maybe you still hold resentment over how you were treated in the relationship, or maybe 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.
You may think that talking about what happened and apologizing for what you did wrong or didn’t do in the relationship is the best way to get your ex to open up, it is not. It is the easiest way to keep them guarded at best and fastest way to make them want to cut off contact at worst.
Fixating 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.
In fact talking about the old relationship and the break-up before creating “a safe emotional environment” for such a conversation will likely bring up unpleasant memories from the past, and may keep you in the past longer than necessary.
You may even feel that you’re making progress because finally your side of the story is being heard or your ex is taking their 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.
How do you know you’re focusing your attention on the PRESENT?
You feel energized, relaxed and optimistic, even when the future is not so certain.
How do you know you are too much into the past or too far into the future?
You are constantly worried, anxious, afraid of making a mistake, feel drained, confused and empty-headed, as if you’re going around in circles — that’s because you are.
Trying to convince your ex to come back by focusing too much on the (unknown and unpredictable) future is a mistake. It’s a mistake because it just doesn’t work. But more importantly, it’s a mistake because the best way of making sure the future is taken care of, is by taking good care of the present — of NOW.
Whenever I get to this point with my clients, the next question I’m often asked is “But how does one take care of the present if you are not together?”
On the surface this sounds like a reasonable and legitimate question. I’m HERE but my ex is NOT HERE… so how does this “being present” (HERE) thing happen?
The answer is, it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen because the PRESENT is not some state that we enter, or has to be achieved. That’s why you find that the more you try to “be present” in the moment, the more elusive “the PRESENT” is.
It’s actually much simpler.
Being present simply means to fully experience something (the pleasant, the not-so-pleasant, and the unpleasant) as it unfolds. The emphasis is on “fully”. Fully (aware, attentive, engaged and appreciative of the moment and it’s unfolding) is what makes it BE-ING in the present.
In the context of attracting back your ex, it means paying attention to the cues your ex is giving, taking advantage of any and all opportunities, and appreciating where things are at the moment — and as they unfold.
If you are in the initial stages of contact for example, it means being thankful for whatever amount of contact you have and making the best of it. It doesn’t mean you should not try to increase the amount of contact and quality of communication between the two of you. It means you do everything you can to increase the amount of contact and quality of communication, but instead of complaining, wishing things were different, or trying to rush things to the next stage, you accept all outcomes and work your next move based on what’s in front of you NOW. Not how things were in the past or how you wish they were, but how they ARE now.
And if you are out on a date, being present means doing everything you can to make it the best date ever, instead of trying to recreate the past or be too concerned with your future needs and agenda.
It’s my hope that after reading this article, you will change the way you are trying to attract back your ex. You will stop focusing too much on the past or too much in the future, and miss the opportunities to take advantage of the PRESENT.
Remember, if you take good care of the present, the future will take care of itself.
I love this article and you write in a way that feels really down-to-earth and also beautiful and inspiring.
In my case, I’ve definitely been focussing on presence a lot and that’s where I’d like to approach meeting my ex from. But from his communication, he is definitely going ’round and round in circles’ – as you wrote – about the past and the scary, uncertain future. He cares about me a lot and wants to be present, but admits it’s hard for him. How does one work with this? Thank you!
In my experience, it’s often very specific things that make someone uncertain about the future.
Get to the bottom of why he is going around in circles, take that out of the equation and see what happens. If after that he still comes up with more different reasons why it’s hard for him, then you will have to make a decision whether or not you want to continue trying to get to the goal when the goal post keeps changing.
But before you make that decision do everything you can to resolve what’s making him uncertain. Sometimes its something very small that can be easily resolved.
I love your blog and it has been a priceless tool. It’s funny how the simplest answers are right in front of us, yet we overcomplicate them to the point where the pressure we put on ourselves keeps building up so much that we end up choking under it all. I will not make the same mistakes again. Thank you! Keep up the good work.
Thank you for your kind words. I agree with you on choking under the stress and pressure we create for ourselves. Some of us are addicted to our own self-created stress so much that when there is nothing to be stressed about, we go look for it by starting unnecessary arguments, conflicts or fights.
You’d better not make the same mistakes again… 😉
What a fabulous site….thanks so much 🙂
It’s funny, I dumped my last ex because I felt smothered and as a result lost attraction for her. Last week my ex dumped me because she felt smothered and lost attraction for me. So now I’m trying to figure out how not to be needy and clingy so that she is attracted to me again. This site is really helping, but I feel like there is no way she’s going to be attracted to me again.