Many of you have asked me “Yangki, how do I know I am making progress?” or “How do I know I am doing the right thing?”
The simple answer is: Whatever you are doing isn’t getting you any results, or is making things worse.
But there is another way you can tell that you are not making progress towards getting back together, or are hurting your chances.
You notice that your motivation is wavering or fading away.
May be you started off really excited. Your ex is responding, initiating contact, you are talking longer and longer, even some flirting going on there. Everything seems on track. Then it starts to feel like you have fallen into a routine.
Some people realize immediately that they are stuck. Some people realize it gradually over a period of time. Some people realize it but make excuses for why they are exactly where they were two weeks ago… he’s too busy, she needs space, we were going to meet up this weekend but something came up, etc.
But sooner or later they run out of excuses and reality sinks in. Hope starts to fade, and the motivation to keep trying to get back together just isn’t there anymore. It’s like you’re emotionally burned out.
When this happens, your first step should not be to panic, pull away or give up trying to get back your ex.
Your first step should be to look at how you are trying to get back your ex.
1. Do you have a plan or strategy, or are you flying by the seat of your pants hoping you make it?
Many people fail to get their ex back not because they never had a chance to begin with, but because they didn’t have a strategy or plan. They simply did whatever they read off the internet, even things that didn’t apply to their unique situation or don’t take into consideration their ex’s personality, emotional triggers (e.g fear of abandonment or tendency to emotionally shut down) or current life challenges.
For example, an ex who suffers from depression, recently lost a job or loved one, is going through mid-life crisis or any unique situation is going to react differently to no contact, trying to make him/her jealous or trying to get him/her to hang out/go on a date.
If you don’t have a strategy or plan on how to handle your ex’s unique personality, emotional triggers or unique circumstances, your efforts will be met with resistance at best and determination not to get back together at worst.
2. Is your strategy avoidance-motivated or approach-motivated?
I’ve written a lot about this. You need to ask yourself (and be honest with yourself).
How much of what you are doing to get back your ex is about trying to avoid disaster (e.g. making your ex angry, coming across as needy, pushing your ex further away, making a mistake, being used/played, losing face/making a fool of yourself, getting hurt etc); and:
How much of it is trying to accomplish something (e.g. gain trust, more connection, better communication, more openness, more fun etc.)?
Bottom line: When you are motivated by trying to avoid something, you will not only focus all your effort on avoiding it, you will also tend to miss opportunities and be less willing to take risks. In the end, you may be able to avoid “mistakes” but you also don’t make any progress.
3. Is your strategy based on sound judgement (and reality) or motivated by (hurt) emotions?
The sad reality of relationship advice is everybody and anyone is an “expert”. If you don’t have a set of principles guiding you or a strategy to follow, you’ll soon find yourself confused or making mistakes that make things worse because one “expert” says this, and the next one says something that’s completely the opposite.
Sometimes I tell my clients and readers “follow your heart”, but I also know that sometimes when your heart is broken, following your broken heart can lead to more heartache. This is why having a set of principles and a strong sense of Self (who you are, what you will do to get something/somewhere, and what you will not/never do) is very important.
A set of principles is like your compass when you need direction.
4. Do you need to change your strategy?
Maybe you need a different approach. May be you need a new set of skills. May be you need to go slower. May be you need to take more risks. May be it’s time to mix it up a bit.
Whatever it is that you need to change (do more of, do less of, rearrange or prioritize), do it to get the results you want.
Remind yourself of why you want your ex back, and get that motivation going again.