When you are confrontational, it’s very hard to be or act friendly, show you care or can be trusted. But most of all, it doesn’t make your ex feel respected because your words and actions perpetuates conflict:
- Disapproving of how he/she feels about you, and/or attacking how he/she is handling the situation
- Trying to manipulate his/her feelings or response time, acting up when you don’t get your way
- Doing things that make him/her feel unworthy and inadequate in some way.
Until you stop being confrontational in words and actions, there’s no way to move things forward in a positive way, let alone get your ex to want to give the relationship another chance.
Cooperation breaks the gridlock. Cooperation demonstrates you are on the same side working as a team. Cooperation creates that “I have a good feeling” about this.
Again, cooperation is not about being “agreeable” or about avoiding disagreements or conflict. Cooperation is about cultivating an atmosphere of friendliness, caring, trust and respect.
To make a shift from confrontational to cooperative, you need first and foremost identify where the resistance is coming from.
- You may have cultivated caring, trust and respect in varying degrees, but struggle communicating friendliness because like some people, you think you just can’t be “friends” with someone you still love and want more from; and are pushing hard and strong for ‘more’.
- You may have cultivated a friendly atmosphere, but your ex doesn’t trust you and/or thinks you have an agenda that may not be to his/her best interest.
- The two of you may be getting along so well but due to things that happened in the past, your ex doesn’t think you are capable of ‘caring” about him/her the way he/she wants you to.
There are so many variables since each relationship is different. Sometimes the resistance is about your present circumstances (financial, emotional, social etc) than it is about the past. And sometimes, it may just be that your ex thinks that the way you talk and/or act shows no respect for his/her person, or boundaries.
You need to identify the exact cause of lack of cooperation, and then address it. Not by trying to convince your ex to “cooperate”, but by cultivating an atmosphere that makes him/her want to “cooperate”.
Some of the things you can do, in addition to letting go of a confrontational approach that is obviously not working for you, is:
- Try always to see things from your ex’s perspective – it’s very important that you check with him/her to see if you are right. I’ve seen people insist that that’s their ex’s perspective and nothing could be further from the truth. The more they insist, the more resistance their ex puts up because no one likes being told you know them better than they know themselves.
- Show understanding even when you don’t agree or like what they are saying or how they are acting. Understanding is not the same as ‘condoning”.
- Be genuinely open, and both physically and emotionally accessible – human beings in general have a hard time trusting, respecting and/or acting ‘friendly’ towards someone they feel is “hiding something”. They tend to put up walls, just in case what the person is “hiding” is potentially threatening.
Last but not least, cooperation is about working as a team towards a common goal. Even if you are the one doing most of the initiating contact, sustaining conversations, making an emotional connection, asking your ex out, building momentum, at the end of the day, your ex has to say “yes, let’s try the relationship again” for you to get back together.
So do not try to do it alone. You need your ex’s input all the way. Ask what he/she thinks or feels about certain things, invite his/her input. If he/she doesn’t offer up anything, suggest several things and have a conversation about them.
Confrontation builds walls. Cooperation builds bridges. Build a bridge to togetherness.