Some of you have probably read in my eBook or in a response to a comment/question that to start over with your ex, there has to be, MUST be, a “before and after”, and wondered what it means, and how is it different from “giving your ex space”, which I warn against, if you are trying to create connection, build momentum and get back your ex.
There are three very important differences between the two. They differ in motivation/driving force, implementation and outcome.
Let’s start with ‘giving space’. What motivates it and how is it implemented?
Everyone has their justified reason for wanting to “give my ex space”, but look deeper and its very clear that fear is the underlying motivation. Fear of being seen as needy, fear of driving an ex further away, fear of making more mistakes, fear of ruining one’s chances… but most of all, fear of rejection.
How is “giving your ex space” implemented? Cutting off lines of communication, not initiating contact or starting conversations, limiting how often you make contacts, etc.
“Giving space” like “no contact” or “limited contact” is all about avoiding something undesired or unpleasant. It’s about moving away from pain, hurt, undesired or unpleasant experience or situation.
If moving away from pain or hurt is your main goal, this is probably one of the best ways to go. But if you are trying to move away from pain, rejection or unpleasant outcome and at the same time trying to get back your ex, you are going to run into what is known in Psychology as approach-avoidance conflict.
What it basically means is that you are conflicted about choosing between moving towards what you want (which in this case is your ex) or avoiding what you don’t want (being seen as needy, rejection or pushing your ex further away).
Most people are not even aware of this internal debate or conflict within themselves. In their minds, they think: if I just lie low, keep my distance, don’t make any mistakes through contact, I’ll not be seen as needy, avoid rejection and get my ex all at the same time.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
Many find themselves in a lot of stress and/or paralyzed by the internal mental debate within… approach my ex or avoid rejection… contact my ex or give him/her space… keep trying to get my ex back or give up now.
Choosing to “give space” do “no contact” or “limited contact” means that the pull from the ‘avoid’ side is winning. Your fear of rejection, messing things up or pushing your ex away is overpowering your desire to approach/move closer to your ex.
Some people feel the pull from the approach side, contact their ex and even ask their ex (after only a few conversations) if they want to try the relationship again. Their ex says ‘no’, ‘not now’ or ‘I’m not sure’ and that is all it takes for the fear of rejection to overpower any attempts to move towards their ex.
Others do the approach-avoidance thing over and over until they completely push their ex away or get the ultimate rejection, “Do not contact me again.”
The saddest part is, some people are deeply programmed to be avoidant. It’s almost like it is their nature or personality type, their default start button or something.
“Giving space” “no contact” or “limited contact” feels so natural to them because that’s how they approach anything undesired or unpleasant: if I just lie low, keep my distance, don’t make any mistakes, I’ll be okay. Six months, or even a year later, they are still lying low, keeping their distance and avoiding rejection.
Once in a while they gather the courage to reach out to their ex with the help of some script from an “expert”, lifted from a book or online. But their deeply programmed avoidant nature takes over, and soon or later they are back to, “may be I should give him/her space”, “it’s best to do limited contact” or “I’ll go back to doing NC”.
They don’t know how to move towards what they want in a healthy way. If they are not completely avoiding it, they are aggressively pushing for it, the outcome is the same, rejection — the very same thing they are trying to so hard to avoid.
And here is the I-want-to-hit-my-head-on the-wall part. There is always some equally deeply avoidant personality or ‘expert’ out there saying, ‘Ye-ah. Do it, man” or “You go-girl” give him/her space”, do limited contact, go back to doing NC…
Most avoidant type people never overcome their fear of rejection or learn to move towards what they want in a healthy way because they seek out advice, strategies and theories that are fear -based and encourage avoiding rather than approaching what they really want more than anything in the world, love.
Avoiding pain, rejection, unpleasant situations etc, is what feels comfortable to them. This is what feels ‘safe’.
In my work, trying to get someone out of fear is the hardest part about helping my clients. I think we are making progress overcoming fear, we get to creating a plan of action, things are starting to move forward, and then… “may be I should give him/her space”, “do you think may be it’s best to do limited contact at this point?”, “My therapist/friends/family say I should do NC”…
Fear has taken over!