Struggling to Hold On to Your Ex – This Might Help

Lately, I’ve been getting more and more emails from men and women who say my advice has helped them move things to a point where they are in regular contact with their ex, and things even seem to be heading towards getting back together. But for some unknown reason, their ex is still confused about how they feel and what they want. Many of the emails are asking me whether in such a situation one ought to be trying to get back together with their ex or just give up. One person asked me if it’s even possible to fight for the relationship and at the same time allow it to happen naturally.

When it comes to relationships, there is having a relationship with someone and there is struggling to hold on to a relationship you want.

What’s the difference?

When you take an object and wrap your hands around it tightly, you are communicating that you want to keep it. You are also communicating that you do not wish to let go of it. The (this is mine) energy going into holding tightly is one of control, possessiveness and constant fear of losing what you have in your hand.

This is what “struggling to hold on to a relationship” feels like. Though the fear is disguised as “I love him/her very much”, the energy in the relationship is one of anxiety, worrying, over-analyzing, needing to control or manipulate things to keep someone from leaving.

Despite your trying so hard to make the relationship work, make the other person feel loved and/or manipulate their emotions (i.e. make them jealous, use guilt or ultimatums), in the end, they end up leaving.

When you  open your palm and let the object rest on it, you are communicating that you want to keep it. You are also communicating that you are willing to let go of it, if you have to. The energy is one of openness, ease and effortlessness.

This is what having a relationship in which you are not struggling to hold on to someone feels like. The energy in the relationship is one of openness, ease and effortlessness. The words “I love him/her very much” are devoid of fear or need to control, possess or manipulate to keep the other person from leaving.

How do you know you are struggling to hold onto a relationship versus having a relationship?

  • You feel anxious more often than calm and relaxed
  • You worry about the relationship (and the other person leaving) more often than feel confident about the love you have for each other
  • You over-analyze (and scrutinize) the relationship more often than going with the flow
  • You feel the need to control or manipulate things more often than letting things unfold naturally
  • You are in “can’t live without but can’t live with” type of relationship
  • You are more of relationship coach or couple’s therapist than a lover and partner

Sometimes the simple act of loosening your grip on a relationship is what turns struggling to hold on to a relationship (and to someone) to having a relationship with them.

Don’t just take my word for it, try it for yourself – and for your relationship.

More from Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng
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  1. says: Emilia

    My ex says he likes me but he’s confused about whether he wants me as a friend with benefits or girlfriend. I want more than anything for us to be girlfriend and boyfriend again, but I don’t know what to do. We have already had some time apart.

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      Have you asked him what he means by “be friends”? Does it include “and see what happens?” If it does, don’t get all upset about it. Take it as just “space” and opportunity to show him that things can work again. If not, then you have to decide if you can manage that at the moment.

      Don’t force yourself to do more than you can emotionally handle because you’ll end up hurting yourself, AND also losing the relationship.

  2. says: Ed

    We were together for 4 wonderful months then from out of the blue she said she needed to be alone, that things had moved too fast and she needed time to evaluate how she really feels about me. We still hang out and she says someday we might get back together. Does this somehow mean she regrets breaking up with me or does she just want to be friends. Help!

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      It means just that. Things moved too fast, she wasn’t sure if it’s what she wants and pulled back so she can get a better perspective of the relationship. It also means that you still have a chance to prove to her that you’re what/who she’s looking for. How you go about proving to her that you are what/who she’s looking for will determine whether you get back together, become “just friends” or go your separate ways.

  3. says: Erica

    Yangki, my situation is a little different in that my ex broke up with me but he is the one who has instituted the no contact rule. He doesn’t want any form of contact and has unfriended me on FB, blocked msn and will not pick up his phone when I call. We were very close, and I don’t understand how things could go from the best we’ve ever been as a couple to not talking to each other at all. He did say when we broke up that he still loved me but does not want to be in a relationship. So I think he’s distancing because he does not want to face his feelings, right?

    1. There’s two ways to look at it…

      1) If when he was breaking up with you he said he didn’t want any contact at all, then it is possible that he is using no contact to distance from his feelings for you and move on with his life.

      2) If he decided to do no contact because you overwhelmed him — pleading, begging, and acting in ways that were not in your best interest, then his decision to use go NC is because he does not want to deal with the drama that follows most break-ups.

    1. It’s possible that she’ll never come back, and it’s also possible that she will come back.

      Hope is expecting a positive outcome. But just expecting alone is not enough. You’ve to do what is necessary to create the outcome you want.

  4. says: Jamie

    Yangki, thanks for all ur advices. It’s been helping me to control my emotions better whenever I have the urge to contact my ex. I have read through ur blog for about a month or 2 and ur ebook too. But I’m at a confused stage now which I can’t seem to find the answers in ur blog. What if my ex was the dumper, but suggested that we can still remain and friends and stayed in contact with me, but admitted that he is not able to communicate with me at the moment. How can I fight for this relationship and get my ex back in this situation?

  5. says: Kim

    We both tried so hard to fight for the relationship during the relationship that it just wasn’t working. We both aren’t a whole emotionally stable person and trying to fight for a relationship that wasn’t made up of whole people couldn’t work at this time.

  6. says: Cassandra

    I wish my ex had fought for me and for our relationship. We were together for 8 years and broke up last November. He lost his job and went from being this kind and loving person to being angry and withdrawn. I tried to stand by him but he was not doing anything to help himself. I told him I loved him too much to see him do this to himself. The next day he initiated complete no contact. I haven’t heard from him since. I sent him a Christmas card.

  7. says: Scotty

    I did ask her if there was any other reason and she denied it, but I think I have a pretty good idea. Her family never liked me. She has told me a couple of times that her family compares me to her ex and it makes her so mad. They think I am not good enough for her.

    1. That can create conflict in one’s mind. But if they’re happy with the relationship, the family will eventually come around.

      If they have their own doubts or concerns about the relationship, the family “pressure” will get to them, and they’ll find all kinds of reasons (“I’m not ready for a relationship”, “I need time to focus on myself”, “We should take a break and see how things go”. etc) , to end the relationship.

      Focus on removing her doubts or concerns so that she’s so sure she wants to be with you, and her family will see how happy she is, and accept (or tolerate) you.

  8. says: Scotty

    Yangki, we were together for 4 amazing months. There was nothing wrong between us, she decided she wasn’t ready for another relationship because she wasn’t over what happened with her ex. She said I was a great guy and she wished we had met at a different time. I text her once in a while and she responds immediately. I just want to get an idea if there is even a chance for me or if I am wasting my time.

    1. It’s hard to tell without knowing more about what happened with her ex… if it’s something she can get over, roughly how long that will take… or even if that’s the “real” reason she ended the relationship.

      Sometimes, “I am not ready for a relationship right now” is the easy way out. One of those “it’s not you, it’s me” excuses that people use when they’re afraid to tell you the “real” reason, or don’t want you to hold up hope.

  9. says: Eve

    Yangki, I can see the mistakes that I made and what I could have done to make things better but my ex will not give me a chance to make things right. He says he is done with our relationship and doesn’t want me to set myself up for disappointment. He does not want any contact at the moment. I haven’t lost all hope yet but I don’t know what else to do either.

  10. says: Lynda

    I thought everything was going to be better because of the time apart, 3 months of NC. Since we have been back we’re fighting to exhaustion. I’ve tried everything to stop fighting with him but he knows which of my hot buttons to press. We love each other very much we just can’t stop fighting. My question is this, is this relationship worth fighting for or do I need to just let things go?

    1. Contrary to what most people believe, just time apart doesn’t change anything. What would have changed things for the better would have been for you to learn skills for stopping disagreements before they escalate into a full-on fight

      I don’t think it’s too late for you to do just that.

      If after following the steps you need to take to stop a fight before it starts, you are still fighting, it’ll probably be best to turn in your fighting gloves and go your separate ways.

  11. says: Evans

    From our very first date my ex told me she knew I was ‘the one” and told me she loved me only 5 days into a relationship. We spent every single night together and were very honest with each other. But 3 months into the relationship I noticed her pulling away. She didn’t respond to my texts and always had excuses why she was not able to see me. I was confused and deeply hurt and one day I showed up at her house and there she was entertaining another guy after telling me she needed to sleep early because she had to be up early for work the next day. I stormed out of there and didn’t speak with her for 6 weeks. She called me insistently asking for my forgiveness and I told her I can forgive her but she has to earn it. A couple of days ago I found her profile on a dating website she had posted only a few days earlier. I confronted her about it and she said she didnt want to talk about it. I love this woman and want to fight for her but I don’t know what to do.

    1. I admire your capacity to put up with her infidelity, but in this I don’t think that there is anything you can say or do that’ll stop your ex from “looking” elsewhere for whatever it is she is looking for.

      She needs to deal with her issues before she can be in a healthy relationship, and you need to face the reality of what’s really going on.

  12. says: Ahmed

    This site is really helping. This is our third breakup. The first time we broke up, it lasted only a week and we got back. The second time, slightly over a month. This last breakup I told her I dont want the old relationship and that we should take it slow and date again. The breakup happened because we were constantly arguing. We both said some hurtful things to each other but have since made amends. Progress is slow but I’m not the type of person to give up and want to walk away without knowing that our story is done.

  13. says: Bart

    My ex broke up with me because she felt the “spark” was gone. She also said she wasn’t happy with me anymore. I genuinely believe that she still loves me but her fear being hurt again is holding her back. What do I do to help with her fear?

    1. If you genuinely believe she still loves you, then work on igniting the “spark” again, instead of acting like it’s about her, not you. If someone says YOU are not turning me on anymore, its about YOU.

      You can get that “spark” back, but you have to work on it.

  14. says: Rhia

    It’s both my issues and he cheated on his ex with me. He says although it is not an excuse, he was unhappy for a very long time when I came along. He’d never do it to me, he’d rather end the relationship than hurt me like that. The woman he was texting was his friend’s ex asking for his help reconciling them. I confirmed it with his friend.

    I need to work on my insecurities. I was wondering if you could help me. I’m very encouraged by you advice and think that I can learn a lot from you. How do I go about setting up coaching with you?

  15. says: Rhia

    Two weeks ago I was making much progress with my ex. We were even talking about trying the relationship again. Then I made one stupid mistake. I looked at his phone and saw a text from a woman he had been texting for sometime. I confronted him about it and we had a fight. Now he says he’s not sure about us. We broke up because he said I didn’t trust him. We still text each other but he is distant now. It was wrong to look at his phone but I would not have known about the other woman had I not. I’m beginning t think that he was stringing me along and now wants to get rid of me to date the other woman. Just so you know, we’re in our 50s.

    1. He’s distant because he just realized that nothing has changed. You still don’t trust him. May be you have good reason not to, but doing exactly what made him breakup with you in the first place doesn’t help.

      Ask yourself: If I think he’s stringing me along, then why am I still trying to get him back?

      Sometimes your issues can cloud your judgement and make you see things that aren’t there. But sometimes, there is really fire where there is smoke, especially if he’s done things in the past that have given you good reason not to trust him.

      In short, you are the only one who knows what’s really going on in your relationship, and the only one who is best positioned to know what’s best for you.

  16. says: Kris

    Yangki, it’s has been a while since I was here. I was actually thinking about you and how you helped me get back with my ex and want to update you on where we are. We are still together, a few ups and downs since we got back together but we were able to work things out without breaking up. We both still struggle with being emotionally vulnerable but I think we are in a better place than we were a couple of months ago. Your advice helped and I wanted to come back and thank you. Please keep up the good work.

  17. says: Mikos

    I am in a similar situation, but kind of different. She pulls me in with promises and hope then disappears for 2 -3 days with no explanation. She says she doesn’t want to raise my hopes because right now she doesn’t know what she really wants. I am really starting to wonder whether this is even worth pursuing. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    1. 1. I think that she’s honest when she says she doesn’t know what she wants and doesn’t want to raise your hopes.

      2. It’s also possible that when she says or does certain things, you misinterpret it to mean more than it really means.

      3. Her disappearing for 2 -3 days with no explanation is not good for any kind of relationship she may want in the future, but may be that’s the only way she knows how not get your hopes up.

      4. By being upfront with you, she’s leaving it up to you to decide whether to pursue the relationship any further — or not.

  18. says: Alisa

    Thanks for the advice. My bf and I recently broke up. We didn’t have contact for about 2 weeks but eventually I contacted him and we’ve been communicating regularly and hanging out. He says he doesn’t want a relationship, but that’s where I’m getting confused. When we got back in contact, he told me he always wanted me in him life and I haven’t asked him to get back together. The only time I mentioned the old relationship was over a week ago and he stopped responding for a day. I asked him why he was not responding and he said didn’t want to talk about the past. Am I safe in saying he’s confused about his feelings for me?

    1. I wouldn’t say he’s confused about his feelings for you, more like he knows he still has strong feelings for you but is not sure if he wants a relationship with you.

      That’s a good thing and a bad thing at the same time.

      What’s bad about it is that he may have serious doubts about a relationship with you.

      What’s good about it is that 1) his feelings for you are still strong and 2) he is open to communication, and that means you can uncover what his concerns and doubts are, and try to show him that things can be better.

  19. says: Chayna

    I’m confused. My ex and I broke up in September and 2 weeks later he was dating again. After less than a month he broke up with her but then got back together after a few weeks. When they were broken up he started texting me and we sometimes talk over the phone. I know he still loves me but I’m not sure if he’s just checking in on me – or if it’s more for him. I tried the no contact rule and I was doing great until he started texting me. I don’t know what to do. Should I leave him alone and make him miss me or should I continue contact with him?

    1. It’s up to you if you want to leave him alone/move on or try to get him back. In my opinion, decisions about your life and heart should not be outsourced. To help you make your OWN decision, here are some questions you should ask yourself…

      1) How do you feel that he broke up with the other woman and got back with her, but didn’t do the same with you?
      2) How important are you to him… be honest with yourself. Is he going to miss you when he is already with someone else?
      3) Are you choosing to move on because you feel frustrated or because this is what you really want to do?

      A decision that is true to who you are and how you truly feel, is the RIGHT decision — at the time.

  20. says: CrushedAnn

    We have had an on and off relationship for the last 3 years. When things are good they are really good and then he starts to distance himself and eventually wants his space. I know I contributed to this because I kept putting pressure for the relationship and he would shut down. I love my ex very much, always have but at times I wish I had never laid eyes on him! I just don’t know what to do.

  21. says: Crystal

    My ex broke up with me but after 3 weeks of no contact he came back and told me he’s in love with me but still not sure if he wants a relationship. I feel as if I’m getting mixed signals. Saying you love someone and not want to be with them is cruel.

    1. You may have heard the saying: “The heart says “yes”, but the mind says “no” — and vice versa.

      Loving someone and wanting to be in a relationship with that person are two different things. We don’t have a choice as to who our hearts choose to love, but we do have a choice on who our heads choose to have a relationship with. So while your ex’s heart may still love you, he has evaluated the relationship and decided it’s not what he wants at this point in time. There are several reasons why someone will not want to be in a relationship even if he still obviously loves his ex.

  22. says: Namaste_peace

    Ha ha ha, I’m not looking for a lover. But this is freaking weird! I was sending the words to the universe with no idea anyone would respond or even know the lyrics. I’ve been playing this song since she left me.

    She was 19, I was 21, this was our song. After college we went our separate ways then I found her on Facebook, started communication found out were both single again, electricity first date, 6 months later moved in together, best time of our entire lives, lasted 3 year 2 months, she says she wasn’t happy and moved out. I’ve cried, begged and poured my heart out her but she says made a mistake starting a relationship with me before completely ending it with her ex and hurt both of us by not being honest with herself and with me. The last thing she wants is to hurt me or lose me.

    We found each other again after 28 years and she is still as beautiful to me at 47 as she was at 19. She is my soulmate, Yangki. She has my heart, but I don’t want it back, I just want her. Please help me get her back. I value your advice and would really like to hear from you.

    1. But if you’re lookin’ for….. a Love Coach. Silly!

      You say she’s special to you, I believe you! I know the pain in those lyrics so well… someone sang it to me. I don’t think it’s coincidence at all. I’d love to talk to you about your situation by phone. NO charge. Please respond to the email I sent you with contact info and day/time. May be I can be of some help getting her back.

  23. says: Namaste_peace

    Now you’ve been trapped by love
    Someone takes your heart and then she says goodbye
    So you say that you’ll never love another
    Tired of playing games and that’s the reason why

    1. You say you’re going through changes
      Every day it seems your life is up and down
      And you say that you’re looking for an answer
      Everywhere you look it seems YOU can’t be found

      Like searchin’ tryin’ to find the rainbow
      No one’s ever found it, yet it’s told to be
      But if you’re lookin’ for a …(:
      Everything you need, you can find right here with me

  24. says: Calvin

    I am very impressed by the advice and wisdom on this site. I’m a 61 year-old man and you are really never too old to learn. Thanks for sharing all this important information – it does make a difference to a lot of us out here.

  25. says: Insanelyinlove

    After 1 month of NC and 1 month of limited contact, I successfully got my ex back. We had been broken up for over 6 months. Things were good for about a month but then they started going straight down hill again. She says we just can’t be together and has started dating other guys. But at the same time she says she loves me and cries that we can’t be together. She says it makes her sad. I also found out that when we broke up the first time she went back to her ex and still hang out with him the month we were back together. I still love her very much and want her back but not sure if there is still anything left to save in this relationship.

  26. says: Cjay

    I don’t know if this applies to an ex who breaks up with you because she’s in her early 40’s and really desperate for you to make a decision about the future right away. 2 years later she tells you she’s still interested in you and wants another shot. If you still have feelings for her, do you give her another chance?

    1. Depends on if you are now ready to make a decision. If you are not, the two of you will have the same problems and she’ll break-up with you again when she finds out you are still not ready. She probably wants to settle down (and may be have a family) because she sees her time to have a family is running out. This is just my guess. If you are not ready to honour her biological clock, may be not right now but in the near future, it’s best not to give her false hope. She might blame you for the rest of her life…

  27. says: Mike

    I sadly put pressure on my ex-girlfriend to get back into a relationship with me. I was not in the right emotional space and did a lot of begging, crying, sent 100?s of text messages, showed up at her home and work. For the three weeks I was a total jerkass, she avoided me and would not respond to my texts. I asked a mutual friend to talk to her and she told him she still loves me but is afraid of me. I’m now doing no contact so she can look at me in the same loving way after all that I’ve put her through. Do you think I can regain her love for me if I am able to give her the space she wants? I want her back and can’t see myself with anyone else.

    1. I don’t think you are helping yourself at all. Swinging from one extreme to the other does not really say you are in a healthy emotional space. In any case, “No Contact” in itself is a form of pressure.

      I think you’ll find my article: Contact and How Not To Pressure Your Ex helpful. She may be afraid of you right now and may not want contact, but you have to start somewhere, somehow. The “No Contact” show down isn’t going to help. With no communication, nothing will happen.

  28. says: Bella

    I think that if somebody can’t make up his mind, he is definitely not worth your time. My ex was went back and forth for weeks. I got fed up waiting for him to make up his mind and finally told him to let me go. I have not spoken to him since and he has not contacted me. Don’t waste your time on someone who can’t make up their mind.

    1. This is exactly the kind of attitude I’m talking about. My guess is that when you told him to let you go, you hoped 1) he’d decide he wanted to be with you or 2) you would finally be able to move on.

      But seems none of that happened. In fact it seems things have backfired on you: 1) he let you go and 2) here you are still reading articles about how your ex feels. If you had indeed moved you’d be reading articles about “new love” not wasting your time reading about how your ex feels.

      Any time you try to pressure, control or manipulate how someone else feels about you, you will be the one who ends up frustrated, disappointed, hurt, angry or stuck.

  29. says: ed

    The more I think about it, the more I see that I’m worried about what I can’t control. I love this woman very much and have no intentions of walking away yet. Christine, thank you for helping me see things differently.

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