One of the questions I am asked a lot is, “My ex doesn’t think I have changed. How do I show them that I have changed?” My response is always, “what has changed that you want to show your ex?”
Most people give me a laundry list of regrets, mistakes, things they said and shouldn’t have, and things they shouldn’t have done but did.
I ask again, “But what has changed?”
At this point some of them get upset. “What do you mean? I just told. Look, I have spent the last two months thinking about the mistakes I made. I know I messed up, okay. I just want to know how to show my ex I have changed.
If you’ve been trying to get back with your ex for a while now but don’t understand why you don’t seem to make any progress. There is a chance that your ex does not think you have changed.
Follow these 3 solution-focused steps and start showing your ex you have indeed changed.
1. Be honest with yourself
- Are you still giving excuses for your actions (or your ex’s actions)
- Justifying why you did this or that
- Trying to explain away obvious red flags that you should have paid attention to
- Painting a picture of the relationship that is better than or worse than what the relationship was really like.
You may not be emotionally dishonest with yourself on purpose but may be you’ve been telling your break-up story over and over and somehow over time and with input from outside sources, the truth has been lost.
Nothing is changing because you are trying to change a reality that’s been made up.
Even when you read advice on how to move things forward, you can’t possibly see how it will work in your situation because in your story, you are helpless and powerless to change anything..
Taking full responsibility for your actions leading to the break-up and post-break-up does three things:
1) It helps you heal faster and fully.
2) It helps you focus on what is important for your relationship to be healthy, fulfilling and last a long time
3) It dramatically reduces the time it takes to get your ex back.
By taking full responsibility for how you reacted in the past, you are not only holding yourself accountable for how you will respond in the future, you are also showing your ex that the relationship can be better. You are showing your ex that you have changed and it won’t happen again.
2. Do the actual work of changing
Just spending a lot of time thinking about your mistakes or trying to change is not change.
While awareness is a necessary first step to changing behaviour, it is not enough. We all know at least one person who knows what to do to lose weight but never loses the weight, an addict who knows all about addiction but can’t kick the habit, a friend who has a list of behaviours they say they want to change but never do anything to change. It’s no wonder that many people think people don’t change.
Your ex needs to see you have changed for them to believe that a different, better relationship is possible. You can’t for example say, “I want to communicate better” then don’t try to learn how to communicate better. It’s like someone who wants to win the lottery but doesn’t buy any tickets.
If your ex can’t see how the relationship will be any different, they will not want to get back to the same dynamic, same relationship. There is no way round it.
Take an inventory of the relationship and the role you played in the relationship ending and:
- Identify the behaviour(s) to change
- Outline the steps that you need to take to change
- Research the resources and knowledge to make a lasting change
- Identify barriers to change
- Confirm readiness and ability to change
- Do the self-work needed to change
- Practicing the new behaviour
Remember any change that makes you a better person is good. However, some changes have more impact on your changes to attract back your ex than others. Prioritize those changes to shorten the time it will take to attract back your ex.
If there is so much to change to do, begin with areas that have caused you the most pain, present the most concern or will have the biggest impact.
Do not change the things that are already good about you. You may turn into someone your ex may not recognize or be attracted to.
3. Start showing your ex you’ve changed
Once you have made changes that are noteworthy or visible, it is so much easier to communicate to your ex a vision of a better relationship, and better future.
Instead of sending, “Hi, how are you? And Hi, What’s up? text messages, once a week or every few days; you can use the changes you’ve made as topics for conversation.
Try as much as possible to highlight the changes you’ve made at least once a week.
If you find yourself getting frustrated that your ex does not appreciate the improved you, chances are you:
- Haven’t really changed as much as you think you have
- Are not doing a good job showing your ex that you have changed
- Changed too late and your ex has moved on
It could also be that your ex is just using “I don’t think you have changed” as an excuse not to come back. The only way you can eliminate the this as a possibility is to first make the changes and show them to your ex.
It takes time to change so be patient with yourself. This does not mean that you can not change quickly. You can. However, to change unhealthy and unwanted behaviour permanently, the new behaviour must be practiced and reinforced until it is a part of the new you.