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How do I get a second chance?
April 17, 2008 2:08 AM   Subscribe

Lovelifefilter: I have a chance to reconcile with my ex, how can I not blow it?

My last boyfriend broke up with me in November, which came as something of a shock after nearly 4 years together. He told me it was because he'd met someone else; shortly after the breakup I found out that this "someone else" was a friend of his who lives hundreds of miles away. Most of their contact is/was online, although now that they are supposedly "dating" they see each other once a month or so.

The problem is this: my ex and I, after the usual period of hurt ignoring, started meeting up for drinks etc. and have become very close friends again. We've talked about what went on during our relationship, and he admitted that a large part of the reason that he broke up with me was that I had become rather clingy. He's absolutely right, I have recently moved to a new city where I didn't really know anyone, and my confidence took a real knock. In a way I'm almost grateful to him for the breakup, it brought me a lot closer to my new friends very quickly, and I'm now having the time of my life. Things at work have gone from strength to strength, career success beyond belief, tonnes of friends, people to date, interests.

Recently my ex has admitted that the relationship he is in is something of a rebound. He and his girlfriend are incompatible in quite a few areas, and he has told me that he sees their breakup as invevitable. He's also made it clear that, now that I've got my life back in order, he'd be interested in giving things another try, but he doesn't want to feel like I'm waiting for him (I think he feels guilty for hurting me in the past). So what do I do to give this the best chance? Do I wait around and risk him thinking that I have nothing better to do, even though my life is going great? Or do I get on with things as if there will be no second chances, at the risk of him thinking I don't still care for him? Help!
posted by Sianion to Human Relations (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you want to get back together with him? I only ask because your question seems focussed on what he wants rather than what you want. Also:

but he doesn't want to feel like I'm waiting for him

Again, not sure what you mean, it sounds like he only wants to get back with you now you don't appear to 'need' him. That's ok, but it could mean that you won't be able to relax into the relationship for fear that any sign of neediness will send him running for the hills again. What if you get sick? Or go through a rough patch at work? It's natural to miss someone you've been with for a long time, but if you really want to try again I think the best advice is to go slow.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:47 AM on April 17, 2008


So what do I do to give this the best chance [snip] Or do I get on with things as if there will be no second chances.

There are no second chances. Deep down, in your heart, I suspect that you know this to be true. Rather than try and salvage something from a foundered relationship, use that newfound confidence to move on and find someone new.

There will always be freight between you two and whatever happened to split you up can't be buried forever. It's time to move on.
posted by dmt at 3:38 AM on April 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure if you're asking this, but do you think things will be different this time? Has anything changed in both of you that will make things better this time? It's tempting, when given the chance, to correct the mistakes of the past, but it's often a doomed endeavor from the get go. I think, deep down you know this, but you're hoping some one will come up for a way for things to work and all to be happy.

Though, on the other hand; perhaps you've both matured in the meantime, and in relation to your eternal summer you experienced after leaving him, correlation doesn't equal causation. Maybe something else is responsible for your happiness?

My gut feeling is best summed up in my first paragraph, but the 'change' brigade has called me up on this before.
posted by oxford blue at 3:56 AM on April 17, 2008


There are ways to fix the 'neediness' other than breaking up. If someone *really* wants things to work, he/she doesn't break up and finds someone else, but work together with the partner on the problem. Your ex-boyfriend did not do that.

He made a choice to be with someone else. That did not work out, so he wants both of you to get back together. Apparently, he would have not cared a hoot about you and your confidence-level if his new relationship would have worked. You were his backup-plan, not the primary one, during this period.

Move on.
posted by manish at 4:16 AM on April 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


I started off with a guy that I broke up with 4 times in 3 years. There were a lot of things he didn't like about me, no matter how I tried. I ended up with a guy who could see my flaws, but didn't mind them, who was willing to give me an honest but loving response, when I asked him, and who has loved me through hard times and depression. You deserve someone who can accept you as you are.

That's not to say you shouldn't work on yourself and who you want to be. You're the only person you can count on being around forever, and you need to be able to rely on yourself in all sorts of situations. So, my advice to you is, say, thanks, but no thanks, and spend the next 12 months, maybe dating, but not looking for a permanent relationship while you work on developing your self-confidence as you already are.

Oh, and you don't want to have a relationship with a guy who already has a girlfriend, don't be that girl. If he dumps her for you, it's the second time he's done that, that you know of. How can you trust him?

Lastly, be prepared that some people find rejection arousing. Something to do with the chase. If you decide to say no, trust your judgement and keep saying no even if he tries to woo and win you.
posted by b33j at 4:37 AM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Umm, to me, it sounds like you're a backup.

He didn't want you before. He only wants you now you're "better". If someone had said to me what he said to you, I'd have been inclined to punch them. "You can only be with me if you meet my expectations of what you are supposed to be."

No thank you...

It sounds like you've really got your life back on track since the breakup. That's great! it gives you a great spring board to get into a new relationship with someone who will love you for who you are. Not someone who discarded you.

Imagine you sold a car to someone, because it had a huge dent in the side. They them fixed it up, and put it back on the market to sell. Would you have the cheek to go back and buy the car again? OK, that's a bad analogy, but I hope you get the idea.

You are worth so much more than this guy who dumped you because he thought you were "dented". Find someone who will treat you better next time. Please.
posted by Solomon at 5:06 AM on April 17, 2008


So what do I do to give this the best chance?

Wait until he's broken up with her (while not stopping your own life), moved on and is in a similar situation as you i.e. life is going great, job is good, tons of friends etc.

Right now, it sounds like things suck for him and he sees you're doing well and wants a bit of that happiness. He needs to get his own happiness before you two start up again, not drink from the well you've created.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:39 AM on April 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Thanks for all the input, guys. Perhaps I didn't explain it quite right - we had a very happy relationship with no real issues, which I feel was negatively affected by a period of severe depression on my part. I agree with what you're saying, it's awful to ditch somebody when they're going through a hard time and doesn't necesarily bode well for a future together, so I will bear that in mind. However I don't want to make the situation sound like I'm blaming my ex for dumping me - we are very close as friends and have talked a lot about what happened, and I know it can be hard supporting somebody with mental health issues. I genuinely believe that he did the best he could.
posted by Sianion at 5:50 AM on April 17, 2008


we had a very happy relationship with no real issues

Except for that whole "him breaking up with you" thing, when you got stressed or depressed or whatever it was really happened. It's one thing not to want to be with someone who's crazy, it's another to ditch someone because they're having some understandable trouble with some serious life issues.

You're now seriously considering being the rebound relationship from his rebound relationship?

I'm not saying that people can't get back together and have it work out well, but it honestly sounds like you're making all kinds of excuses for why he was right not to stand by you when it sounds like you really needed him (and this is from someone who HATES clinginess and neediness in relationships), how it was okay that he met someone else while he was still with you, ditched you for her, decided she wasn't all that, and now wants to get back together with you...honey, this does not sound like the foundation of a good relationship to me, certainly not without a serious cooling-off period for you both to get your heads sorted out. Don't be in a relationship because you need to be, or because you're lonely, or because you're scared not to be, or because he's a known quantity. You deserve better. Whatever your issues are, you deserve better than someone who goes looking for someone else when the going gets tough, and who doesn't even break up with you because he wants to end the relationship, necessarily, but because he's found his next girlfriend and you're now dead weight.
posted by biscotti at 6:02 AM on April 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


Sometimes the timing can be wrong. Maybe it can be right, but it sounds like he needs to be in his happy place, like you are in yours right now. Until that happens it will just get messy.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:13 AM on April 17, 2008


You might not want to hear this but... you've explained the situation in a way "de-links" your break up with the significant improvements in your life. This isn't plausible.

You weren't doing well in the relationship. He leaves. Your life gets better, his gets worse. I think you might want to give yourself as much time as possible in your new success in order to get a better perspective on the past. Love waits.
posted by ewkpates at 6:16 AM on April 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


He's also made it clear that, now that I've got my life back in order, he'd be interested in giving things another try

So if things go south for you again, he'll be out the door again? No thanks. You deserve, and can do, much better than a fair-weather boyfriend.
posted by boomchicka at 6:34 AM on April 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


From the perspective of a reformed jerk, I'm getting some dick vibes from your description of this guy. I'd distance myself from him if you don't want to start the same pattern over again.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 6:37 AM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


He's also made it clear that, now that I've got my life back in order, he'd be interested in giving things another try

This is why the nice guys are in the corner, lonely, banging their head against the wall. You've seen this jackassery firsthand, and still want to get back together with him.

In the end, it will go better if you find someone who can stick by you when things are tough. I'd advise going out and finding that person.
posted by stevis23 at 6:40 AM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I say no. I've been in this situation before, and there's a temptation to see hope in regaining a relationship you invested a lot of time in. Also there's a certain thrill in winning him back from the other woman.

He broke your trust and then blamed you for it. That's smarmy. It doesn't matter if you were "clingy" or not, if you were in a new situation where you didn't know many people, he should have been supportive of that.

He's playing you and this girl and probably one or two others. I bet if you had contact with her, she could tell you stories about how he whined to her about you and now he's whining to you about her. I'm not suggesting you contact her, but this is what's probably going on. Don't fall for this crap, find a man who appreciates you for who you are. We all have faults -- do you want to be with someone who focuses on your faults? Compare your feelings: after the break-up, you started meeting new friends and are having the time of your life. How do you feel now? Confused? Doubting yourself? Buying his lines that you are less of a person and he has the right to judge you? Uh-uh, sister, show him the door and don't let it hit his arse on the way out.

Screw you over once, his fault, screw you over twice, your fault.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:40 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZyTOROlo9E (with apologies for violence in the music video, for the sensitive) Put some version of this on your stereo. Even the pop music agrees with metafilter on situations like this.
posted by Phalene at 6:55 AM on April 17, 2008


I've been the guy in this story.

Don't go back to the relationship. It will end again.
posted by Sitegeist at 7:00 AM on April 17, 2008


Yeah, generally good relationships involve some kind of 'support' from one person when the other is going through a rough patch. That's how they work. You were lonely and depressed in a new city and his way of handling this was to dump you and hook up with some chick on the internet? This isn't how a boyfriend treats a girlfriend he loves. This isn't how a friend treats another friend.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:01 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


This guy doesn't sound too emotionally healthy to me. He's a serial dater of the worst type - he lines up the next one while still involved with the previous. Do you really want to go out with someone who, the moment things get difficult is on the phone lining up a new relationship?

Maybe you could take a little time and have fun with your new friends first? Enjoy the new city, and your life and let him dry out for a little while? Then see if you want him.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:14 AM on April 17, 2008


It's up to you, and judging from the way you selected as best answer the only comment in this thread that advised you on how to make it work rather than one of the chorus that told you this man is bad news, I'd say you're set on going back to this guy, but please don't. You're making excuses for him, but your description of the situation indicates that this guy isn't committed to you and won't treat you well nor stay the course with you. You sound like a nice, loving, forgiving person, and you need to find someone who won't take advantage of that to do what he wants at your expense.
posted by orange swan at 7:23 AM on April 17, 2008


…he has told me that he sees their breakup as invevitable. He's also made it clear that, now that I've got my life back in order, he'd be interested in giving things another try…

if he thinks his break up with this other girl is inevitable and wants to get back together with you why hasn't he just broken up with her already? just as, why didn't he break up with you before he got together with the other girl? he blames the break up with you because you were needy and clingy and yet this guy can't even be single; he's gotta be lining up the next girlfriend before he's even out of his present relationship. what's he waiting for? i suspect he's waiting for the word from you that you will get back together with him before he calls it off with the other girl. i'm willing to bet that's what happened when he was with you: he made sure the other girl was on board before he broke up with you.

also, nthing what everyone's said about why you would want to be with someone who ditched you when you were going through a rough patch in your life. you were in a new city, with a new job, had to make new friends. of course you were going to rely on him a lot—you didn't really know anyone else. and yet he blames the break up on you for being "clingy" and "needy." and instead of opening up a dialogue with you to check in with what was going on with you, he, instead, starts up with a girl online.

sorry to say, but he sounds like a douche. sounds like his main concern in a relationship is him. the whole tone of your post is very defensive of him, and i think orange swan has it right: you seem bent on getting back together with him and the fact that you selected the only answer here that talked about how to get back together with him makes it appear that you just came on askme to get approval for your decision.
posted by violetk at 8:16 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for all the input, guys. Perhaps I didn't explain it quite right - we had a very happy relationship with no real issues, which I feel was negatively affected by a period of severe depression on my part.

So then you did have serious issues, even if only late in the relationship.

Just one question to ask yourself: If you become seriously depressed again, which could happen, would he stand by you next time? Is he, in other words, a deserter?

I have been extremely lucky to have a partner who has been with me through a lot of difficulties -- right down to hospitalization -- and the key to us having made it this far is that we don't give up. We get frustrated, we get angry, but we talk and we work at it, and if you're looking for a lifelong partner you need to be sure your ex is someone who can stick through things even when they're looking really bad.

Sorry to be preachy, but you should definitely keep this stuff in the back of your head. When and if the opportunity to get back together comes, you have to know whether you can be with someone who might throw in the towel too easily. Good luck.
posted by brina at 8:21 AM on April 17, 2008


This has "bad idea" written all over it, your justifications and rationalizations notwithstanding.
posted by The Gooch at 9:05 AM on April 17, 2008


In addition to what everybody else said about his worrisome lack of support ---- you sound like life is going quite swimmingly for you now. Why not enjoy it a bit and date around?
posted by Jess the Mess at 9:20 AM on April 17, 2008


I almost never say this to anyone, but it really sounds like this guy is playing you. Why doesn't he break up with his girlfriend already if it's "inevitable"? Because he wants to make sure he's got you strung along before he does so. He's testing you. Don't play along.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:05 AM on April 17, 2008


…he has told me that he sees their breakup as invevitable. He's also made it clear that, now that I've got my life back in order, he'd be interested in giving things another try…

He broke your heart. He owes you more than that.
posted by Sara Anne at 11:06 AM on April 17, 2008


Well, it sounds like the second chance would be yours for the asking but really... this is Mr. Broke Things Off With You Without Investing Any Time In Resolving Issues In Your Relationship, Left You For Another Woman, And Is Willing to Rebound Back To You Now That You've Fixed The Issues You Didn't Even Know You Had.

The person who should be asking for a second chance here is him, and no, you should not give it to him. He isn't trustworthy.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:19 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


What he did was lame, and if you get back together, which I suspect you will, you are never going to quite trust that he's not going to do that again - bail when you need support. You will want to know, so you'll ask for reassurance, he'll offer it, you won't believe him (because, why on earth should you?) and you'll ask for reassurance again. He'll hear those requests as needy. We all know how that is going to end up.

Part of being in a relationship is leaning on your partner when you need support, and clearly he failed at that. Start fresh, with someone else. It's so worth it.
posted by 8dot3 at 12:26 PM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


OK, he's out the door. I'm not foolish enough to ignore this much good advice. Thanks guys!
posted by Sianion at 1:44 PM on April 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


I can't tell you how glad I am to hear that. Good for you!!!
posted by orange swan at 1:56 PM on April 17, 2008


this guy can't even be single; he's gotta be lining up the next girlfriend before he's even out of his present relationship

He's a classic Tarzan - swinging through the jungle, won't let go of one vine until he's got a firm grasp of the next one.
posted by runkelfinker at 2:19 PM on April 17, 2008


OK, he's out the door. I'm not foolish enough to ignore this much good advice. Thanks guys!
posted by Sianion at 1:44 PM on April 17


This is good. You deserve better. :)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:33 PM on April 17, 2008


It's totally awesome to see a relationship thread where the OP actually takes the advice :D Good for you for seeing this for what it really is!!
posted by Phire at 2:22 PM on April 18, 2008


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