Can I win her back? Should I try?
September 17, 2008 6:44 PM   Subscribe

Can I win her back? Should I try?

I'm a 26 year-old man. A few months ago, I met a really great woman and we dated for the next 3-4 months. Our relationship was extremely open and honest, we talked about feelings and ambitions regularly, threw around vacation ideas, and really seemed to be settling in for a good run. About a month into the relationship, she warned me that her ex-boyfriend of about 4 years was coming into town for a little while, and would be staying with her, but assured me she wasn't pining for him and was very happy in our relationship. I took her at her word, and everything proceeded as it had been.

When he did show up, I could tell there was some tension, and when we were introduced at a party, I overheard that he had been living in the same house that she was (and was now staying with her), and had moved out a little over a year before. I also realized that her previous relationship had ended about the time that she took a long trip with this ex, though how exactly the two were related I never got the full details on. She has told me since that she feels like she 'sabotaged that relationship' because she hadn't dealt with her feelings toward this ex.

We started having small arguments after her ex came into town, though nothing major. Things really started to go sour when she asked me to go camping with her and her friends, and said he would be coming too. I didn't see any harm in going along, and actually thought it would be a good way to get to know her ex a little better and smooth out some of the tension.

Later that week, she told me that her ex was 'afraid of me' and didn't want to be around me. The same evening, she also told me that the camping trip changed to going to a beach house, and that there wasn't room for me to go anymore. She told me the reason was because there was limited space, and her friend had organized it. I asked if it was 'just the girls going' and she said yes, though I had suspicions the ex was going along as well. (I found out after we broke up that he had gone along, and that the reason I was disinvited is that he had said he wouldn't go if I was going, and was very good friends with the girl that had organized it for her birthday.)

After the trip was over, she said that her ex had decided not to stay in her house any more, and had gone to the beach house where they had been staying to stay with a mutual friend. I was relieved that he was gone, but my frustrations returned shortly when the following weekend she went back up to the house to stay with him and a few of her friends.

The following weekend, she and I had planned a camping trip with just the two of us. We argued a little when organizing it, but when we finally got out there, we were having a fantastic time. But the last night, she revealed to me that her ex still had feelings for her, and she still had feelings for him. She proposed the idea of an open relationship, and I refused, and after some discussion, told her I thought we should 'take a break'. She was very upset and wanted to convince me otherwise, but wouldn't budge on wanting to be intimate with her ex. We stayed out the rest of the trip, but once I dropped her off, I didn't speak to her for most of the following week.

When we finally did she told me her ex had left for good, but that she felt like she needed to be single. We decided to try being friends, though the one time we hung out, we ended up sleeping together. I didn't see her for another week after that, and then she ended up at the same party I was going to. We hung out there a lot, and at the end of it, fueled by overconsumption, I made a move on her and she turned me down. When I pushed her as to why, she said that the ex was on his way back and they were going to make a go of it. I was devastated, and we had a terrible argument. She told me she wanted to talk the next day after we cooled off. We had lunch the next day and smoothed things over, and she said that while she still had very strong feelings for me, she was very in love with this man and felt like it was very serious. But tension got the better of us, and we slept together again as kind of a 'last hurrah', and she asked me to be friends with her. I told her I didn't know if I could handle it, and we parted ways.

She attempted to contact me once about two weeks later, but the conversation devolved into an argument, and I said things I later regretted. As time went on, I got increasingly depressed about the situation, as I'd really had high hopes, but I tried to carry on, and even dated a little. Feeling guilty about the way I left things, I contacted her, just to say I hadn't wanted to leave things coldly or callously, and that I still cared for her. We exchanged a few emails, and she told me she was lonely. I asked why, and she didn't respond. The other night she tried to contact me again, and we exchanged some texts that she interpreted as curt, and started getting angry. I called her and asked what was going on and she revealed her ex had left, and she was distraught over it. We talked for quite a while.

I told her I would be open to rekindling our relationship, but she said that she doesn't see any way that's possible, as she's still hung up on this other man. We agreed to keep in touch, and she says she wants to be friends, but I really care for her, and I still want it to be more than that. At this point I've stopped being angry, and I feel kind of sorry for her because it seems to me like her jealous ex kind of manipulated her feelings after he saw her with me, and basically sabotaged the relationship. I know she bears some responsibility, but given that kind of history, I can see how that might happen. Despite that she says she doesn't see a relationship between us working, I also know she still has feelings for me, and this was the first conversation we'd had in a while without arguing due to the frustrations of the ordeal, so it seems like her hesitation could wane.

Is there any hope here? Could I win her over? How might I do that? Should I even want to?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
No, no, you wouldn't be able to, and you shouldn't want to.

I can't see any reason to go into greater detail than that.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:55 PM on September 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


This is a big fat dramabomb. Do you really want to be back on ground zero?
posted by schroedinger at 7:00 PM on September 17, 2008


please excuse the inevitably crass metaphor here, but it sounds like you guys are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole here.

what she wants you can't give, and what you want she can't give. she wants him. you want her to want you like she wants him. there is a conflict here that cannot be resolved until one of those things changes.

if you just want a f*ck buddy to keep each other warm until love comes along (or returns), she may be open to that. but a real relationship with a future? nah.

i bet you are a neat person with a lot to offer, and i bet there are a bunch of really cool ladies out there who would love to get to know you better. you're young. let her go.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:01 PM on September 17, 2008


Uh, excuse me.

SHE is the one who is responsible for how it went.

Find someone else.
posted by konolia at 7:03 PM on September 17, 2008


Walk away. She doesn't want you. Or, at least, she'll drop you the second the other guy shows up again.

That is way too much drama to be healthy. And don't sleep with her again, no matter what you do. It seems to cloud your judgement.
posted by Brockles at 7:03 PM on September 17, 2008


At this point I've stopped being angry, and I feel kind of sorry for her because it seems to me like her jealous ex kind of manipulated her feelings after he saw her with me, and basically sabotaged the relationship. I know she bears some responsibility, but given that kind of history, I can see how that might happen.

This is your problem. She's not a victim of a manipulative ex - she's a person who, after dating you for a couple of months, decided she wanted to get back together with her ex. And it seems like - after the whole beach house fiasco (which was really shitty - pssst - there was totally room for you, she just didn't want you to come) she has been completely forthright about it. She continues to tell you the truth, and you continue not to listen, and continue to pretend to be her friend while waiting around like a creepy vulture for her to feel weak and sad about someone else so she'll sleep with you. It's a bad scene for everybody.

Unlike most people who haunt the relationship askmes, I'm in favor working through the tricky territory toward post-breakup-friendship if there's a friendship there to find - but there's no such thing here. You didn't know her long, and you don't want to be friends. She doesn't want you either, so there's nothing to do but admit that it's over, and move on.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:03 PM on September 17, 2008 [10 favorites]


Despite that she says she doesn't see a relationship between us working, I also know she still has feelings for me, and this was the first conversation we'd had in a while without arguing due to the frustrations of the ordeal, so it seems like her hesitation could wane.

"Her hesitation could wane"? Good grief, man, pull yourself together. Is this really what you want out of life? I don't think so, I think you just want to "win" back the girl who left you for another guy so you can stop feeling bad about the situation. That is not a good foundation for a healthy relationship, and you know it. Leave this girl (who has already said she's not interested) in the past and move forward.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:04 PM on September 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Tell her to go fuck herself. Those are some weak excuses.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:04 PM on September 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


At this point I've stopped being angry, and I feel kind of sorry for her because it seems to me like her jealous ex kind of manipulated her feelings after he saw her with me, and basically sabotaged the relationship.

Go back to being angry, or at least disapproving of the way she treated you. She's a big girl, and she sabotaged the relationship.

Go find someone who knows what she wants (namely, you) and does what she has to do to be with you.
posted by orange swan at 7:07 PM on September 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


I spent a lot of time when I was younger trying to "win back" girls who broke up with me.

The long-term success rate of that has been 0%. I've found that, when someone breaks up with you, they usually really mean it deep down, even if they are conflicted about it, or insecure (will run back to you when their new flame burns out), or whatever. This all came to a boiling point with one ex in particular. I spent well over a year DYING to be back with her, trying everything I could think of, convinced that I was the only person who could truly make her happy. One day I had an epiphany: "Why do I so desperately want to be with someone who obviously doesn't want to be with me?" I've never felt such a physical manifestation of relief.

After that, when I met someone interesting, I chased them. If it worked, it worked. If not, I moved on. Now I'm in a fantastic relationship, and it's been years since all this silly desperate pining for people who didn't want me. I look back at it and laugh at myself.
posted by autojack at 7:12 PM on September 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Sorry for the bad situation; it's not your fault. It takes some serious mental gymnastics to turn her shitty behavior into you being selfish by trying to "win" her. You just want a good relationship like everyone else.

But this isn't it. The beach house thing is awful and more than enough reason to never speak to her again. Seriously, there's no excuse for a grown-up to act like that. Move on.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:15 PM on September 17, 2008


inspector.gadget has it.
posted by lia at 7:15 PM on September 17, 2008


Wow,...I'm just remembering my 20's. Eeeew.

Move on, you'll thank yourself later.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:20 PM on September 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


the whole beach house fiasco (which was really shitty - pssst - there was totally room for you, she just didn't want you to come)

yeh, that's the sort of thing that would probably have me instantly excommunicate somebody, not that it's a typical sort of behaviour of mine.

let's break it down: the best-case scenario is that your supposed girlfriend allowed her boyfriend (you) to be uninvited, because her ex "wouldn't feel comfortable if you were around"?!?? she should have told him to go fuck himself, or else taken a stand & boycotted the beach house weekend.

more likely, she just wanted the time with him, away from you.

either way, she placed herself & her ex way the fuck above any consideration for you, in a particularly callous & probably deceitful way. remember that at this point you were ostensibly her partner.

with personal morals like that, i honestly can't see why you'd even want to talk to her any more, let alone get back together.

but hey, some people like being treated like doormats. if that's how you see yourself, then go for it. you'd have nothing to lose, because you'd already be at rock bottom, as far as personal dignity is concerned.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:27 PM on September 17, 2008


you're being played like a cheap fiddle. Keep on walking Johnny Walker.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:34 PM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


My advice, having once been in a relationship that had some similarities to your ex-girlfriend and her ex-ex-ex boyfriend's, is this:

The guy's probably going to be in her system until the day when she's ready and able to walk out on him. She's got to do that on her own steam, for her own reasons, and she's got to feel good (or at least resolved) about it.

Until she's able to do this, her ex will always have first call on her affections, and you won't really be able to be anything more than a secondary romantic partner-- even if the primary is, for all intents and purposes, nothing but memories and vague wishes.

Clearly you don't want that. You seem to be looking for long-term, stable monogamy, and IMO, that's not something you're going to get from this girl any time soon.

Be glad you found out about her weakness for her ex four months in, instead of eighteen months in. This is not so much a love lost as it is a bullet dodged.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:35 PM on September 17, 2008


pile-on says no.
posted by jacalata at 7:35 PM on September 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hello, I'll be your contrarian voice today. Nicetameetcha.

I didn't read any of your post except for these parts:

Can I win her back? Should I try? I'm a 26 year-old man.

The answer is no, you shouldn't even try. You are a 26-year-old man. You are in the prime of your life. You should be out there being adventurous and trying lots of new things and meetings lots of new people.

At your age, relationships are like trains. Miss one, catch the next one. They're all going the same place anyway. On some trains, the ride is nicer than others. You won't know until you hop aboard.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:45 PM on September 17, 2008


This is the first relationshipfilter question I've ever read in which the answer seems so abundantly clear. Everyone agrees. No. No way. Hell no.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 7:48 PM on September 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


no. good luck next time. don't hitch your ride to the wrong horse just because it's lonelier to walk alone.
posted by nadawi at 7:48 PM on September 17, 2008


At this point I've stopped being angry, and I feel kind of sorry for her...

Yeah, that. Don't be a victim. You'll just hate yourself for it later.
posted by rokusan at 7:50 PM on September 17, 2008


I wouldn't say no. I'd say slim chance. You were, in her eyes, a worthwhile risk. A maybe The Right Guy. The Ex is THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY.

Your slim chance is to back away and let them have their go at it. If they blow up and blow up bad enough she thinks it's definitely over for good And enough time passes after the blow up and you happen to run into her and she has nothing but good memories of your break up you might be able to pick up where you left off.

Personally though I was the back-burner guy once, it's not worth it. Plenty of fish in the sea.
posted by Bonzai at 8:00 PM on September 17, 2008


No. Don't date people who abuse you or cause you to abuse yourself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 PM on September 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


She is your ex for a very good reason. Don't ignore that reason.
posted by milarepa at 8:15 PM on September 17, 2008


I told her I would be open to rekindling our relationship, but she said that she doesn't see any way that's possible, as she's still hung up on this other man.

When people are honest like this, you should just believe them and leave it at that.
posted by salvia at 8:21 PM on September 17, 2008


She explicitly lied to you about at least one thing and has ALSO explicitly told you she's still not over the guy. No, no, no, no, no. Stay away.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:20 PM on September 17, 2008


I'm occasionally the contrary voice, but not this time.

Dude, she wanted another guy, not you. She ditched you in order to do the horizontal mambo with him. When you talk, you argue. She still likes him a lot more than she likes you.

This is not a good match, you know?

There are clearly strong feelings on both sides (because if there weren't, you wouldn't keep having sex and you wouldn't argue and you wouldn't still be hung up on this). But they aren't being channeled in a healthy way, and unless both of you wake up one morning magically transformed things won't ever be good.

It's time to tell her "hey, good luck, I wish you all the best, but I need some space, so please don't call/text/email/visit me any more," and then give yourself the time and space to move on.

It'll hurt like a motherfucker for a while, but eventually it fades, and you will find yourself with a really awesome new woman, and you'll think back and wonder "what the hell was I thinking?"

(The exception to this is if you decide you are cool with an on-again/off-again sort of friends, sort of lovers, sort of relationship thing, where she sleeps with him whenever he is in town and maybe you get to sleep with other women and maybe not, and where she goes off to visit him or travel around Europe with him every so often, and so on. And if that is what you want, you can have it starting tomorrow. There will be lots of emotional intensity, lots of drama, and the angry sex will be really, really hot. So that's an option, too.)
posted by Forktine at 9:25 PM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I feel bad for yet again recommending that someone walk away, but come on, man. This woman is a basket case, and she is bad for you.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:16 PM on September 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh my goodness - no. By your account, she treated your really badly, and showed you little respect at all. I think she has nearly zero interest in a relationship with you, and is stringing you along.

Cut your losses and run - there are more together and more deserving women out there for you.
posted by lottie at 10:26 PM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


How many times did she tell you the opposite of what was true, and pass it off as the truth? Do you know what that makes her? Do you really want to be involved with that?

You do not want to "win her back". Because she's gone, you have already "won".
posted by hal_c_on at 11:51 PM on September 17, 2008


I'm interested in what keeps you wanting this "really great woman" who is doing all of these horrible things. What are your beliefs about yourself, and yourself in relation to others that attract you to this situation? Do you think she's somehow above you? Like you can't do better?

Do I need to even say that I agree with everyone else?
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 12:42 AM on September 18, 2008


I read the whole thing and I can't figure out why in the world you'd want to get back with her. No no no.
posted by Nattie at 4:22 AM on September 18, 2008


You really don't need more than the first two answers.
posted by flabdablet at 4:38 AM on September 18, 2008


Isn't it weird how we subject ourselves to so much bullshit even when we know it's bullshit but the laws of attraction dim our bullshit-o-meter? Clearly you need no other responses to your post, but just to throw another one up there in case you need an even number of "don't go there, dude, because she clearly doesn't care about you enough to get her act together so you should just never contact her again and move on with your life and look back at this and laugh later in a few years" answers, that was mine. I don't know you, but you probably deserve better. And I'm sure you could find better. So TTFN, dear indecisive lusty EX-girlfriend, and have a nice life!

My two cents.
posted by cachondeo45 at 4:47 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Head for the hills, man. At the end of the day, she is JUST ANOTHER GIRL.

I am reminded of the number one rule of dating:
No matter how hot a girl is, there is some guy somewhere who is sick of her shit.
posted by nineRED at 5:46 AM on September 18, 2008


It's over, man. Let her go.
posted by ostranenie at 6:17 AM on September 18, 2008


It sounds like she just can't make up her mind between the two of you. That doesn't make her a horrible person, but the constant back and forth and dishonesty suggests that she is not good relationship material and frankly, you deserve better. It doesn't sound like this pattern is going to end anytime soon, so I would say move on. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 6:25 AM on September 18, 2008


No matter how hot a girl is, there is some guy somewhere who is sick of her shit.

a simple but extremely powerful way to put it. and i like it.

i think at a more subliminal level, we as humans are naturally sentimental and constantly crave acceptance and praise. this cycle of "oh god, i want her back even though i know there are a dozen others waiting in line" is such a tragic mindset and speaking from experience it is windless tunnel that is fruitless.
look at the bigger picture, think 2 steps head and try to realize that you're only trying to fetch a familiarity - which is easy but painful at the end.
look beyond and see deep inside what you will really achieve by wanting to win her over again. then look again what you can achieve by exposing yourself to other more compatible women who are also more congruent to your ideals.
you got this one!
posted by sniperantics at 6:47 AM on September 18, 2008


seems to me like her jealous ex kind of manipulated her feelings after he saw her with me, and basically sabotaged the relationship.

Your powerful feelings of attraction and infatuation are clouding your judgment. She is in charge of herself. She did those things to you, not him. You should move on and never contact this woman again. She has shown time and again that whatever her feelings for you, she will act to sabotage whatever she has with anyone.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:40 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ugh, I went through a very similar situation when I was about your age. It's so hard to reconcile your feelings for her with the innumerable things pointing to the simple fact that she's not a good person, or at the very least, not good enough for you. If she was a good person, she would have broke things off with you, permanently, the second her ex came back into picture rather than torturing your heart that must be so obviously enamored with her. You deserve better, period. It's going to be hard, but you need to break off all contact with her, give her back any stuff she left at your place, and move on.
posted by ripple at 8:45 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of people have been in situations similar to this. I know I have, a number of times, and always in the position of the girl you're pining after. Unlike what other people have said, I don't necessarily think she's a bad person, but I also don't think you should continue to go after her or to be with her. Sure, you can be friends if you want, some months down the line when you're completely over her. But right now, she's a hot mess and she's hung up on her ex and will continue to be hung up on him until something forces her not to be. That something isn't you.
posted by booknerd at 9:20 AM on September 18, 2008


Nthing that you should get the hell out of there. You'll feel a lot better when you find a woman who actually does want you - all the time, and more than anyone else.
posted by Citrus at 10:08 AM on September 18, 2008


I agree with the post above that mentioned her not wanting to be with you. Just give it time and see what happens.
posted by dieseljay at 7:09 AM on November 16, 2008


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