Can it happen again?
September 25, 2008 8:47 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to "win someone back"?

For the record, I don't like the competitive terminology at all, I just needed something pithy for the front page.

I broke someone's heart. In to very tiny pieces. Only to awake to the realization that it was one of the biggest mistakes I've made. That's not why I want them back in my life in that way, though - I'm not just looking for a rewind.

I don't expect this to necessarily happen, and if it does I certainly don't expect it to happen any time soon. We're still close. We talk and hang out regularly. But I know I was a total shitheel. I know they're still healing. And they know how I feel - to which the only clear answer has been that there are no answers and I need to not ask again. Which isn't no, but certainly isn't yes.

Is it reasonable to even believe this is possible? Can two people heal without closing off that possibility? Has this happened to anyone before?
posted by poweredbybeard to Human Relations (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It's possible, but it's entirely his or her decision. The best you can do is not act like a shitheel anymore.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:55 PM on September 25, 2008

My husband and I split up about three years into our marriage, after couples counselling, after trying and failing to have him understand how I felt about a number of serious issues. I was ready for a divorce. After I left, he followed me 1000 miles, and spent the next 18 months working on himself and wooing me again. We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary last month.
posted by b33j at 9:07 PM on September 25, 2008 [3 favorites]

It is possible, but the relationship will never be the same.
posted by idiotfactory at 9:09 PM on September 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

I hope the "again" tag was a reference to other posts of a similar nature here on ask.metafilter.

That said, try. I don't mean give it a half-assed wink and nudge and give up when you're too tired to deal with it anymore. Depending on what type of shitheel behavior we're talking about, some things have a more lasting imprint on personal relationships than others. Let's hope that whatever it was you did is the equivalent to slagging them off to your friends (AKA shitheel lite). If it is something, oh so much worse, something that requires a time when the party wronged is "still healing" then yeah. Read and re-read the first sentence of this paragraph.

All you can do is try. Glad you're not looking for a rewind because that will not happen. I'm making assumptions, but if there's gravity here, then it may not be too far off the mark. The dynamic has officially changed. You better do everything within your power to prove that you are a person reformed, and even then it's probably a crap shoot at best.

I'm not trying to instill hope when I say that it is possible.
posted by ktrey at 9:16 PM on September 25, 2008

Yeah, totally possible. I don't want to get into specifics, but sometimes it even seems inevitable. Not necessarily a good thing.
posted by Wayman Tisdale at 9:22 PM on September 25, 2008

Of course it's possible, and of course it's happened before. There are almost seven billion people alive in the world at the moment.

It might help if you could narrow the question down somewhat. We don't even know if Someone was a former partner, or just somebody whose advances you spurned. Nor do we know what you did.

Sorry, but this question - as currently stated - is so vague as to be almost chatfilter.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:45 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's possible, but you need to mean it, and understand that you've used up your one and only chance. Go into the new relationship (if you get one) with the understanding that if you backslide, you could very well lose your partner for good, even as a friend.
posted by bettafish at 9:46 PM on September 25, 2008

Yeah, possible, but as others have said, it's not the same relationship again. Problems all come from when you try to, as you said, "rewind."

But sure, a different but good relationship could develop. It sounds like you get along now. Don't rush it.
posted by rokusan at 9:46 PM on September 25, 2008

Yes, but you don't want to. If you're successful (which is not a given) you may very well have done it for the wrong reasons. And whatever you broke in the relationship won't get unbroke. It might heal, over time, but it might just as easily build resentment instead.
posted by Happydaz at 9:48 PM on September 25, 2008

When you're in a relationship, your emotions are all varying shades of gray. When you end a relationship, everything seems black and white. Do you want to be with this person - yes or no. It's all very binary. To you.

Of course it's possible, but your love won't conquer all here. This person's feelings are probably not as sorted out as yours are. What you've done has forever changed the way you two will relate to each other, the way you two will read each other, and of course, the way you two will trust each other. It doesn't necessarily have to be for the worse, but making this work now will require more effort than it did before. More patience. More consideration. You get the idea.

You were a total shitheel. So now you're not? Work on not being a total shitheel. Work on not being capable of being a total shitheel. Give this person space. Make your feelings known. Other than that, it's a waiting game. Good luck.
posted by littlelebowskiurbanachiever at 10:03 PM on September 25, 2008

Nothing will ever be the same again.

If you screwed up the relationship once and you get a second chance, the mistakes you made during the first try will follow you into the second, whether you like it or not.

And let's not look past those mistakes too quickly. Why did you screw it up the first time? No, I mean, really - honestly - why did you screw it up the first time? What's going to be so different the second time that would prevent the same mistakes, not to mention the same feelings that led to those mistakes?
posted by 2oh1 at 10:29 PM on September 25, 2008

It is possible, but the relationship will never be the same.

It won't be the same because you've matured and you won't behave like a complete turd. That's good. She's going to need a very long time to rebuild trust in you, but if the relationship is worth it perhaps you can both make the investment.
posted by 26.2 at 10:41 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

It depends how many pieces, and how small. Really, it would take a lot for me to trust anyone who had hurt me that badly. I would also mistrust their motivation, because who in the world that really cared about me would do something like that? I think that if she does take you back, you may never really trust it, because you know what you did. I would just learn from the experience, take your lumps and let her be.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:16 PM on September 25, 2008

Totally possible. That said, why in the world would you ever want to be with somebody that you had to convince to be with you?
posted by kaseijin at 7:05 AM on September 26, 2008

It is possible, but in my experience, after you win them back they still leave again. Find someone new.
posted by warriorengineer at 7:37 AM on September 26, 2008

Of course it's possible.

Why do you feel the need for a rewind? For your ego?

Find someone else to love, and let them heal.

there are no answers and I need to not ask again. Which isn't no, but certainly isn't yes.

posted by sondrialiac at 7:55 AM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I know people who have broken up and then gotten back together and are still together after many years.

I know people who have broken up, gotten back together, then broken up again for the same reasons that they broke up in the first place.

You can't win anyone back. You can have a new relationship with someone with whom you've broken up in the past. But it has to be a new relationship or it won't work.

If you want to build a new relationship with this person, it's certainly possible. I know people who went from a miserable breakup through no contact through tentative contact through re-wooing to married/partnered and happy together.

But it's hard work. And the other person may never want to go there again, no matter how well you woo them and how much good work you've done on yourself in the interim.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:59 AM on September 26, 2008

it's a classic.

see also: booty call.
posted by matteo at 8:35 AM on September 26, 2008

Yes, but not without a loss of face on your part and an active and wholehearted campaign to make amends and rebuild trust.
posted by parmanparman at 10:00 AM on September 26, 2008

I'm coming late to this discussion, and everyone's already got a lot of good advice.

I echo TLF. How bad did you let it get before you realized it was a mistake? Is it so bad that it cannot be forgiven?

Also others have said it or come close to saying it. If you remake this relationship, you will change yourself. If you're afraid of doing that or don't feel like you have the commitment or willpower, do yourself and your intended a favor and don't try it.

I mean it. If you can't be sure you won't quit in the middle, don't start.

This is a very very hard road to travel and it will require a huge investment of your own will and you own heart, and you are asking for a hurculean effort in extending trust you've already proven you are not worth. Don't do it again just because you want to "do the right thing". If you'd done the right thing in the first place you wouldn't be where you are now.
posted by kalessin at 11:51 AM on September 26, 2008

But I know I was a total shitheel. I know they're still healing. And they know how I feel - to which the only clear answer has been that there are no answers and I need to not ask again. Which isn't no, but certainly isn't yes.

Pardon my french, but if you know this person is currently healing after you broke their heart, and you chose the tell this person who's trying to heal "Hey, I know I did awful things which broke your heart, but I want you back", it still seems like you're acting like a shitheel.

I mean, I don't know what you did, but if someone I was in a relationship with hurt me really bad, and then they said they wanted back with me, I'd be thinking the following things:

1) Why couldn't you have realized this before you broke my heart? This seems very thoughtless of you.
2) I've lost my trust in you. You have to work really hard to get it back. Telling me that you're a shitheel and that you want me back isn't even CLOSE to enough to make me reconsider.
3) My heart is broken. I'm really not in the mood to start up a relationship with anyone, but ESPECIALLY not with someone who already has shown that they screw up relationships with me.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:37 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not trying to be smart. Just my opinion, based on my personal experience.
posted by Mephisto at 6:12 AM on September 27, 2008


Not trying to be smart. Just my opinion, based on my personal experience.
posted by fullerine at 2:01 PM on September 28, 2008

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