Possible to start over again in love?
April 8, 2009 12:55 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to re-build a relationship with my ex?

I have posted questions here before about my relationship because I felt so unsure of what exactly I was going through. Well, with some therapy and insight I knew I made the right moves to break off my relationship with my boyfriend. However, as months pass by, he has still let me know how much he loves and cares for me. Now, he understands why I left and he stated that I wanted a lover, not a parent and how he should not be advising me of anything unless I ask him. He finally understands what his problem was. And I understood what my problem was as well. He has apologized for the way he has hurt me and says he hopes I find a good love because I deserve to have that. I feel he is gaining knowledge and becoming more mature with this. Bottom line, we still love each other. Is it possible to re-build with this new mindset? Should there be any signs I look for when considering an option to get back together with him?
posted by InterestedInKnowing to Human Relations (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
He has apologized for the way he has hurt me and says he hopes I find a good love because I deserve to have that.

He can just as easily hope you find a good love by leaving you alone to do just that.
posted by spec80 at 1:04 PM on April 8, 2009

I'd worry less about his needs / his realizations, and more about yours. Explore why you want to rebuild a relationship with him, why is it necessary? What is unique about you, him, your relationship that suggests you should try again?
posted by RajahKing at 1:19 PM on April 8, 2009

I don't think a few months apart from a five year relationship can give you the proper emotional distance to evaluate whether you can try again, especially since you seem to be in frequent contact while apart. Try having no contact for at least six months and see how you feel then. Otherwise, you will just place yourself back into the same roles and have the same problems.
posted by saucysault at 1:29 PM on April 8, 2009

Why do you want to rebuild the relationship? If you have a long-term relationship and marriage in mind, my recommendation is to slap yourself. This man will not change. Not in the long term. He may be able to compensate for his character for brief periods of time but not for years.

If you want a relationship, choose a mate whose core values and character are aligned with yours. If something's bugging you now, it will be bugging you 100x more in a couple of years, unless you change. Which is a possibility, if you want to go down that road.

Why rebuilding when you can take the lessons from this one and build with someone more compatible?

He may be gaining knowledge fast (matter of months). Becoming mature involves maturing through time, usually years.
posted by andreinla at 1:37 PM on April 8, 2009

Romance doesn't start with reason. This is like asking "should I ask someone out because the facts say we should be a perfect match?" Romance just happens. Its purely emotional, and its inexplicable.

A better question is: In your heart, do you *want* to rebuild a relationship, or do you just think you should?

Saucysault is right, wait until you are both completely over each other (usually after seeing other people). If you find yourself romantically attracted then, then you know its not just settling for the easy ex.

And FYI: ex-boyfriends will convince themselves they are anything they need to be to get their love back. Don't be fooled into thinking he has any control over this.
posted by ninjuhplease at 1:49 PM on April 8, 2009

Bottom line, we still love each other. Is it possible to re-build with this new mindset? Should there be any signs I look for when considering an option to get back together with him?

Yes. There should be at least a year of non communication, he should engage in taking the steps necessary to better himself, you should focus on yourself, continue therapy, and develop an entirely new approach to how you handle your life, your loves, and your relationships with people. And then, maybe then, when you are both entirely different people (and not merely approaching the world with a new midnset), maybe you should think about getting back together. If you get together before then, you'll devolve into your old patterns, old ways, and your future ask.me answers will consist of everyone going "told ya".
posted by Stynxno at 2:07 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

ex-boyfriends will convince themselves they are anything they need to be to get their love back. Don't be fooled into thinking he has any control over this.

Having some experience as an ex-boyfriend, I can attest that this is often true.
posted by crickets at 2:28 PM on April 8, 2009

Is it possible? Yeah, it's possible. Two of my closest married-couple friends both broke up at one point before they got married. They've now been happily married for seven and four years, respectively.

Will it be easy? No, it won't. Building an actual relationship with someone is a lot of work, even when things are going well.

Look, nobody's perfect, and no two people are perfect for each other. Anyone you meet is going to be a flawed human being--just like you--though their flaws are going to be different than yours. A big step towards a healthy relationship is recognizing that I'm flawed, and you're flawed, and though we're not okay with that per se, we each have a decent idea of the nature and shape of our respective flaws and can live with that. Sometimes, when you come to learn enough about another person, you realize that their particular instantiation of crazy isn't something you can live with. Hopefully this happens before you get married. But simply realizing "Hey, this guy's got problems!" isn't really a sufficient condition for breaking off a relationship, because that's going to be true of every guy you ever date. You have to take people as they are, for who they are, and decide whether this is the kind of crazy with which you're willing to deal.

Still, the advice that it's very easy to simply fall into old patterns without meaning to is well given. If you aren't willing to be with this guy unless he changes certain things about himself, then don't get back together with him until those things change. Sometimes people do change. Sometimes people don't. You can't be with someone for who you hope they'll be one day, because they probably won't ever be that. You need to be willing to be with someone for who they are right now, in addition to who they might one day become. If you like the progress your ex is making but there are things which are still dealbreakers, then you need to keep waiting. But if you really are be okay with his issues, whatever they may be, not going anywhere, then, well... why not?

That being said, I don't think detailed lists like the one Stynxno gives are all that helpful, because people and their lives all move, change, and grow uniquely, and I don't know nearly enough about your situation (or you) to give such concrete suggestions. These things can take a decade or a matter of weeks, and trying to make your relationship fit The Plan is a surefire way of making sure that everyone is disappointed. There is no magic way of telling whether or not you're ready, nor is there a magic timeframe over which potential issues resolve themselves.

Sometimes you just gotta go with your gut. Sometimes your gut's got sh*t for brains. Learning to tell the difference is just part of growing up. Discernment is an art not a science.
posted by valkyryn at 2:46 PM on April 8, 2009 [6 favorites]

In general, in my experience, the first time a relationship ends should remain the end of the relationship.

Also, most of my exes have wanted to rekindle our relationship after some time, and I've sometimes wanted that myself. Across the board, it was better that we didn't.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:54 PM on April 8, 2009

I'm going to go against the prevailing tides in here, I'm going to say yeah, you can make a go of this thing, if you are both committed to doing so, if you are both committed to avoid old behaviors, and, most likely, if you are both committed to couples counseling for six months at least with standing invitation to see said therapist at any time things get left-handed again.

Which they will.

Over five years the two of you built patterns that will be easy to slide back into, and you will slide back into them, and that is when troubles will arise. If you've a good counselor/therapist/call it what you will, this stuff will be easy to put on the table in their presence, in the safety of that therapeutic relationship.

If he hesitates, for even three seconds, to get into couples counseling, he is shucking and jiving and he's not serious and he does not really want to change and it's time to move on.

You enter into couples counseling with a good therapist and the games just cannot be played any longer. Or, rather, the can and will be played, but you step into that therapists door and it's back on the table and then the games stop.

Don't think for a minute that you haven't contributed to these games yourself. It does in fact take two to tango, he didn't set this all up himself.

A friend just walked through this, walked right to the very edge of leaving his marriage, his wife FINALLY saw the games she was running and the cruelties she was laying out onto him and their daughter and, with support from a good therapist, their marriage is by far the best it's ever been.

Also. Had my ex-wife left me while she still had any love and/or respect for me, we'd perhaps have made it -- I couldn't believe it when she left, and the blinders surely did drop, and I surely did see what an ass I'd been and I surely did see what I'd lost and I surely was willing to make any changes that I could make but the fact of the matter is that it'd gone on too long, she was tired of it all (I damn sure don't blame her for that), the thing was dead, leastwise it was on her side. It sounds like you two split the blanket while there was still love in both of your hearts; this bodes well.

Walk slow. Watch his face when you insist upon couples therapy. Watch your responses to it all as it unwinds, try to find out your pieces in this thing -- the therapist will help with this also. If you do decide to do this and you do enter back into this relationship, pay attention to what you're feeling; if the old patterns begin to re-assert themselves you'll definitely feel pain, and if you cannot talk to him about it you can surely do so in the safety of that other relationship.

I sure wish you luck, whatever it is that you decide to do here.

posted by dancestoblue at 10:29 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

wow. i havent' checked mefi in a while and i found your post, which generally sounds so similar to my situation, except i'm the ex boyfriend. (btw, i'm 31 and she just turned 30, both creative professionals, we had a puppy for the last year) ...so as some people have written here, sure the guy might be willing to say/do anything to get you back, but in my mind and if given the opportunity i would follow through on my promises. the problem is she left for her country because of a funeral, which is on another hemisphere and i left for my birthplace (a dream she knew about since we met)...so connecting again, eye to eye(exchanging pheramones) is difficult, plus somehow her new guy is already worth more than me, who spent 5 years helping her through some of her hardest times in her life, still i would take the next plane if she could clearly tell me that it would make the difference...
...that being said....
first suggestion, read The Road Less Travelled. if it resonates with you, then it could be a great resource. i wish i would have listened to myself and the book after reading it, and my one brother that advised counseling sooner than later. because i knew when we were breaking up that we could work it out with some help from someone who could guide us in seeing our recent destructive behaviors and addressing them with each other. we actually did go to one session together, but still too much was mixed up at that moment, last august (when job loss, earthquake, funeral, world crisis, and palin was gaining popularity all culminated after she said we should break up)
my problem was that this short move to my birthplace and the end of our relationship were two issues that i had not meant to tangle, but they did. i've met other girls and she is actually with someone who is unbelievably "qualified" as "the package" guy, but i think her and i had more passion than they'll ever have(she's said things that i feel indicate her admission of this too). it depends what you feel your purpose in life is. i constantly thought chasing dreams was my purpose, because there was no other answers that seemed to fit with me. the thing she vocalized most was her dream to marry and settle down, which didn't seem to necessarily NOT fit with my goals, just that it apparently needed to happen faster than i was ready. to me the 5 years we had were always incredible only bumpy at the end, when the marraige bell was rung by her, then the pressure seemed to blind us from other lovely things...i showed commitment in so many ways that she didnt see and eventually the ring was seemingly the only form of commitment that would've meant the most to her. i, on the other hand, looked forward to that moment of wedding and celebration to be a pinnacle expression of our love, not the only meaningful thing left to do. argg, i'm sorry if i'm going on about myself, i just dont' know so much about your situation...let me try some more...
to me, love doesnt start over, it carries on. i've learned that one of my most important goals in life is to have deep connections with the people i love, family and friends. travelling around, fucking around, all that is good, but in the end i want to share these things with my loved ones. with her, we reached very deep places together but i believe we could get much closer the harder we worked at it. it was so easy at first, which is usually how it works i think, but when it gets tough, its a matter of how you two can face it together. i'm sure she can be happy and so can i, as my therapist after the immediate 3 months post breakup asked me.."can you be happy either way" I said yes. but i also believe that she is flesh and bones and that is the only way that i will be able to enjoy her spirit until it moves on...and thats what i would like to do, to stare into her eyes and learn more from that single woman, while realizing i can have other lessons learned with other people of different levels. i think im' rambling on, my confidence is still pretty shot, so i don't know if i've made any sense... you can message me if you feel i could be of help. in any case, i wish you the best.
posted by talljamal at 6:12 AM on April 13, 2009

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