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. She was deeply in love with me but I did something that at the time I thought that she over reacted. I said things I shouldn’t have. But after really thinking about it, I can see she had a point and must have felt really terrible about how I hurt her deeply and unnecessarily when I didn’t see things from her perspective. 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: Realizing you hurt your ex and acknowledging how deeply you hurt them is the first step to making things right with her.

If you did something 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, and nobody would blame her. But if what you did is forgivable, she may be open to giving the  relationship another chance. Some relationships are just meant to be and you will not know if you do not try to find out.

1. Apologize

A good apology must be meaningful and cathartic. It should include taking responsibility for your actions and holding yourself accountable. Put your heart out there and let her know how you truly feel about how you hurt her. No explaining or justifying your actions. An apology is about the other person, not about you. You hurt her, why you hurt her isn’t going to make her feel less hurt. “This I why I hurt you”, “You need to understand why I hurt you”, “I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you: or “I wouldn’t have done x if you had not done y invalidates an apology. It comes a cross as excusing your actions and/or blaming her for making you do what you did. If you have to explain why you did what you did, it should end with “I was wrong, it’s all on me”.

2. Hear her out

If there were some angry feelings before and after the break-up, do not rush to apologize before you’ve heard what she has to say. Let her talk about the hurt, the anger, and all the emotions. People have the right to their feelings and emotions even if you do not agree. After they’ve expressed how they feel and feel that they were heard and understood, they will be more willing to hear your side of the story.

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

No matter your reasons, you caused her pain. Just telling your ex you’re truly sorry isn’t going to do it.

If trust was broken, ask her what you need to do to make her trust you again, and follow through on whatever she asks of you. You must do whatever you need to do to make sure that you do not repeat your mistakes – and that she believes that you’ve changed.

4. Show patience 

Keep in mind that when you hurt someone deeply, they put up a wall to protect themselves from getting hurt again. That wall doesn’t immediately come down with an apology.

Don’t push for her to accept your apology or “get over it”. She’ll feel like you are telling her she shouldn’t be feeling hurt anymore, which is the same as dismissing her feelings and the hurt you caused. This will keep the wall up longer.

Let her decide when she’s ready to ‘get over it”, move on from what happened or decide if she wants any kind of relationship with you (or not). If she asks for time or says it’ll take time for to forgive you, or move past what happened, it will help to provide some kind of reassurance along the lines “I’ll wait as long as you need me to”.

5.Take it slow

Do not rush into trying to get back together right away. Even if she says she has forgiven you, she may still need  some time to process everything that’s happened including the apology. Not rushing to get back together does two things.

  1. It lets her know that you are there for her even if she needs more time to get past the hurt.
  2. It gives you time and opportunity to make amends for the wrong you did, and to show her that it will not happen again.

And there will be times when she remembers what you did and gets upset, this taking it slow helps the two of you work through from moments without the pressure to get back together.

6. Keep the lines of communication open

For as long a she’s hurting, keep things light and conflict-free. If you have already apologized and given her time to process the apology, but she has not responded to any of your attempts to reach out to her, send her a very short text saying you would really like to hear from her but you will not push it. You would however be there for her if she needed to talk.

7. Seek help from your social circle

If you you have mutual friends or you are close to her family, ask them if she has confided in them. They may even have some ideas for you for how you can make amends. 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. Your ex may see it as your usual “sneaky” self.

8. Learn from what happened

It’s hard to reassure someone that something will never happen again when you haven’t done anything to change or get rid of old patterns.

Try to understand for yourself why you did what you did the way you did, and it, and work on whatever needs to change in order for what happened never to happen again.

9. Forgive yourself

10. Start over

Depending on what you did to hurt her, you may have to accept that your relationship may never be the same. Some hurts permanently change the person who has been hurt (and the relationship), and you have to find a new normal.

Remind yourselves of the things that worked in the relationship and let both of your need guide what the new normal will look like. This can be something as simple as what good communication looks like going forward or as complicated as what happens if something like this happens again.

You can move past this, and have a better relationship as a result, but you have to do the work.

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  1. says: Jon

    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.

    1. 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.

  2. says: Hammer

    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?

  3. says: Debut

    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.

    1. 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!

  4. says: Shane

    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.

    1. 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.

  5. says: Nora

    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.

    1. 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.