I Hurt My Ex How Do I Get Her Back?

Question: I broke up with my ex six weeks ago over something really stupid. We were together one year and spent a lot of time together. We enjoyed many of the same things and laughed a lot. I did something that at the time I thought that she over reacted. But after really thinking about it, I can see she had a point and must have felt really terrible about how I treated her. I hurt her very much when I didn’t see how she felt. I kick myself everyday and wish I had reacted differently. I miss her so much. How do I take those first tentative steps to getting her back?

Yangki’s Answer: If you did something really criminal relationship-wise, like cheated on her and/or broke up the relationship to explore a relationship with a mutual friend, she may want nothing to do with you. But if what you did is forgivable, she may be open to giving the  relationship another shot. Some relationships are just meant to be and you will not know if you do not try to find out.

But before you go rushing to get your ex back, you need to do a few things:

1. Take responsibility for your role in the break-up

The more you keep blaming your ex’s (his/her action or his/her issues) for the break-up, the longer it’ll take for your ex to move pas the hurt. Any attempts at an apology will come across as “blaming your ex”.

2. Be willing to do whatever it takes, this may include eating a really humble pie

Just telling your ex you’re truly sorry isn’t going to do it. You must do whatever you need to do to make sure that you do not repeat your mistakes – and that he/she believes that you’ve changed.

3. Find out before hand how he/she feels

Observe his/her expressions and body language when around you. If you haven’t had a chance to meet since the break up and you have mutual friends or you are close to his/her family, ask them if he/she has confided in them whether he/she is open to getting back together. They may even have some ideas for you regarding how you can make the transition easier. However, this is a very risky move especially if the reason you broke up in the first place has to do with trust, or not being open enough. They may see it as your usual “sneaky” self.

Some people try to get back on phone, but a face-to-face meeting is the best approach. You will come across as more sincere if he/she can see your body language.

4. Do not try and make it look like you accidentally bumped into him/her and now want to discuss getting back together

He/she won’t take you seriously. Instead ask to see him/her and explain why. If he/she says “No-way” , at least you have a fair idea that he/she may still be angry at you. Don’t be discouraged though. He/she has the right to hurt. We all do.

5. Try contacting him/her again a few weeks after

My advice is always try at least 4 times (a few weeks in between) before you completely give up. If he/she still does not respond chances are they have moved on. Sorry. No need to make a pest of yourself or start acting like a stalker.

But if he/she responds:

1. Start slow

Do not rush in and try to continue the relationship from where it had stopped. That old relationship is dead, so start dating your ex all over again like the first time you met him or her. Even if you already know tis person, allow time for him or her warm up to you slowly.

2. Hear him/her out

If there were some angry feelings before and after the break-up, do not rush to apologize before you’v heard what the person has to say. Let him/her talk about the hurt, the anger, and all the emotions. Don’t’ try to belittle any of them. People have the right to their emotions even if you do not agree. After they’ve gotten it out they will most likely feel understood and will be willing later on to hear your side of the story.

3. Apologize

Go all out to convey how truly sorry you are. Avoid going into a rant and rave about what he/she did to make you do what you did. It’s self defeating. Let him/her know how dreadful you feel about the whole issue.

4. Promise to start the relationship with a clean slate

Try and set out constructive ideas how you will avoid, at all costs, things ever reaching that state again. Resolve that it will never happen again and work towards it.

5. Woo him/her again

Let him/her know in subtle ways that you will never repeat the mistake. Make the relationship come alive by rekindling the fires. Make him/her feel special. Give him/her many reasons to be deliriously happy.

Now remember these are only the “MOST” important steps, the major ones. There are some more smaller steps between these seven that will ensure that you don’t act like a psycho or be stuck with a head full of useless strategies– and damaging yourself in the process. With careful planning — all big success stories involve planning — you can make your ex realize how important — and valuable — your relationship was and still is.

There Not many people are that fortunate, make it work!

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  • I dated my ex for 2 years before we broke up. I loved him but could not live a life without emotions. He actually told me he was incapable having emotions and had intimacy issues. We’ve been broken up for over a year now but I still feel guilt. I keep thinking may be I should have done more, got him professional help or just accepted a life without warmth and intimacy? This guilt is like an enormous boulder blocking me from making any progress moving on.

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    • Guilt is a heavy burden to carry. You’ve been carrying it for over a year, I can only imagine how much it’s weighed you down.

      I personally can’t imagine a relationship without emotions and intimacy (I’m East African, after all …:) ) , but I know some people who can live happily without both. Not my place to judge.

      But if you want to get past your guilt, you might want to start focusing on you for a change. I think that you are way too focused on his issues and what you should’ve and could’ve done for him. What about you, what do you really want?

      I know it sounds “selfish”, but sometimes in order to be able to give to others what they want and need, we have to have what we want and need first. Even if you had stayed with him but deep inside felt unfulfilled and even unhappy, you’d still feel guilt. Guilt for being untrue to yourself, your wants and needs. That’s an even heavier burden to carry.

      You can still try to help him if he accepts your help, but you can’t keep trying to be responsible for something you did not cause, and have no control over.

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  • I think that it is harder to forgive oneself. I became someone I don’t like and drove her away with my constant demands for her time. She had so many things going on in her life and I should have been more considerate. I should have been more supportive of her pursuing her Masters and when she wanted time with her friends, I should have given her space. Now that she’s gone I clearly see all my mistakes but have no way of telling her what I’m sorry. She wants no contact with me, whatsoever. I’m broken and depressed.

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    • I’m not surprised she wants no contact with you. You are too emotional right now and she’s afraid (and rightly so) that you will overwhelm her with your pain –most human beings can handle only so much of other’s emotions.

      Yes, you were not considerate. Yes, you were not supportive. And yes, you were not so many other things. You can’t go back and change the past. You can only learn from it.

      Like most people with a mind on overdrive, there is a very high chance that you are over-thinking this, distorting facts and even taking responsibility for things that aren’t your fault. It’s hard to forgive oneself when you are being too hard on yourself. Until you make peace with your mind, the pain will continue.

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  • Yangki, treat the other person how you would wish to be treated seems to be the message of your blog. For me forgiving myself for how I treated her has been an ongoing challenge. The breakup has allowed me the safety to access my vulnerability and understand my own problems. I had tried before, but it’s tough when your daily life requires you to keep shields up just to get through it.

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    • You are on the right path. People who are hard on themselves, tend to be hard on others.

      Keep in mind that it takes time for change to take root. The worst thing you can do for your chances is rush back after a couple of weeks claiming you have changed. My advice is to maintain contact so she can follow your progress towards becoming a better you, but do not actively try to get her back until the new behaviours are visibly believable.

      All the very best!

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  • This information is right on time and well articulated. I cheated and despite the pain I caused her, my ex forgave me. We ‘re spending many hours together but she says she’s not ready to get back in a relationship because the experience made her insecure and doubting herself. I obviously hurt her so much. What can I do to make her move past these feelings?

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  • I did something really stupid and cheated with a woman I don’t even care about. I love my ex, she’s the most amazing woman and the most important person in my life and I screwed things up with her. I have tried to explain to her that its a one time thing. I am 44 and I have never cheated before and will never cheat again because if feels so awful. She sent me this ” I don’t understand why you did it but it broke me to pieces. I still care about you very much and miss you but I know we can’t fix this. Whatever you do to make it right will never be enough. So take care of yourself.” I wrote her a letter and sent it by mail. it’ll get there is a day or two. What more can I do? I want her back, love doctor, help me.

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    • I feel for you and wish there is something I could do but you hurt her deeply. Some people can move past betrayal and some can’t. She’s sure she can’t.

      The best thing you can do for both of you is to stop trying to get her to accept your apology. Let her process her emotions on her own, and when she’s ready, or if she’ll ever be, she’ll contact you.

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  • Yangki, Im currently in the 1 step forward 2 steps back phase. Some of it is my fault and some it is her saying she wants to be single for a while. Last night we had a text chat and out of the blue she said “you have been so nice to me and all i have done is push you away’, I told her I understand why, i wasn’t a good boyfriend to her and she has every right to protect herself from hurt. And then Yangki, she said “you know I still love you, right?”. I had tears in my eyes. This morning she initiated her first text. Im besides myself with joy. What do you think?

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    • I think it’s a very good place to be for you… 🙂

      “you know I still love you, right?” followed by initiating a text is four steps forward. In my experience, this is the beginning of the next phase (that is if you do not “mess up” again).

      I am rooting for you!!

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