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November 20, 2011 10:13 PM   Subscribe

Reconciliation after a break-up: dealing with fallout from friends.

My ex and I have had a hard year together, one that was mostly good, but pretty lousy these past few months, and we broke up because of it. We told our friends, we told our family, and we started to disengage. Today we had a really good conversation that left us both optimistic about possibly getting back together in the future (6 months to a year) after we've done some work to improve different parts of our lives through therapy and hard work. We're both being pragmatic; it could happen, it might not, we may meet new people, we may move on, etc and we're ready to deal with whichever result comes up. I am hopeful, and after the conversation happened, it felt right.

For those of you who've successfully reconciled with a partner after 6 months to a year of being apart and working to improve yourselves, how did you stay honest with family and friends about the situation? If you felt very strongly that you were doing the right thing, how did you explain that rationale to others? I am accepting full emotional responsibility for anything that happens from here-on-out, but I cannot seem to get my friends to understand that I really just need to give this one more shot. The only answer I've got is, "I've got to go with my gut on this one, I'm sorry."
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
"I've got to go with my gut on this one, I'm sorry."

That sounds like a great answer to me. You could also say, as you did here, "I feel very strongly that I'm doing the right thing."It's nobody else's business whether or not you reconcile. Your friends don't have to understand, and the good ones will support you whatever you do.
posted by corey flood at 10:35 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Why do they need to understand? Can't you leave it at 'got to go with my gut' and let them think whatever they want?

It sounds like you are being honest with your friends - you feel that you need to give this one more shot. If they don't understand, or feel that you'd be better off by moving on, then I'd suggest that you just need to accept that they aren't going to agree with you. Even if you sat them down and had a long conversation about your rationale, would that improve anything? I suspect that your friends are telling you to give it up and move on - they may be right, but even so it needs to be a decision that you come to yourself.
posted by twirlypen at 10:37 PM on November 20, 2011

The issue is that your friends care about you and having seen the rough times you went through, they probably are frustrated and upset that you would consider going through those rough times again. Friends tend to hear a lot of the bad stuff during/after breakups and it's all heavily biased in your favor. They don't like seeing you hurt--that is a good quality in a friend!

Try something like this: "I know it's risky, and I might get hurt again, but I just feel like it's worth the risk and I'm going to work hard to make sure that the same patterns don't repeat themselves--and if they do, I'll get out."

If you acknowledge that their concerns are valid and you're not going into this with rose-colored glasses, then they will feel reassured that you are in an emotional place where you are capable of taking care of yourself. Chances are, that's all they want.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:50 PM on November 20, 2011 [21 favorites]

6 months to a year? As a friend I'd file that in the "never gonna happen" part of my mind and forget about it. If it happens deal with it telling people at that time but you don't have to spend much time on it now. Carry on with your life and if anyone asks tell them you've been talking and are getting along better now that you're not together romantically. That's totally normal and people will accept it without question.
posted by fshgrl at 11:40 PM on November 20, 2011 [8 favorites]

I agree with the young rope-rider. You've got to do some combination of ignoring your friends and recognizing that they're doing what good friends do.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 12:02 AM on November 21, 2011

Your headline/title may be the way to go.

As others have said, those that know some of the details of the messiness of the breakup have an interest in your happiness and want the best for you and so may hope you do not re-engage with something they believe will not be in your best interest. What they believe to be true probably has much to do with what you have told them or what they have themselves seen take place.

Whatever goes on in a marriage/other relationship is in the juristiction of those intimately involved.

There are times when it is appropriate to close ranks and let the well-wishers know that you will update them when you have news. So maybe deal with your self, your ex-partner and your therapist, do the healthy work, and "report" later.
posted by bebrave! at 12:42 AM on November 21, 2011

Wait, have you gotten back together already? If not, and if you're just leaving the possibility open to get back together at some point in the future if it seems like things are improving, why do you need to tell anyone anything?

Bring it up if and when you actually reconcile. Until then, it's nobody's business but yours. If you feel the need to say something/answer questions, just say what you said above -- you're each working to improve your lives, and due to your history there's some obvious overlap, or you're trying to remain friends, &c.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 1:16 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

Why are you trying to convince your friends that something that may not happen and isn't even fully up to you is the right thing to do?

You and your ex are going your separate ways, working on yourselves, doing your own thing, and have agreed that one or both of you might possibly find themselves open to trying again at some point down the road? This is not something you need to convince your friends of and not something you even should be talking about. It's not a thing at all.

By focusing on the potential future with theyou ex, you're not focusing on the task at hand: therapy and hard work on yourself independent of this relationship. Stay focused on that and you will likely find that your friends are 100% behind you.
posted by headnsouth at 3:45 AM on November 21, 2011 [7 favorites]

Why would they care?

You weren't specific as to the reason why you two broke up in the first place. If I were someone's friend, I'd only verbally oppose someone getting back together with someone if they were physically, mentally or verbally abusive to my friend. I hope that's not the case with you, but if it is, it's a perfectly understandable reaction that someone might have.

If not, tell them to mind their damn business if they say something. No one is owed an explanation and if one is requested, you just say it was a mutual decision made after much soul-searching.

Most won't care.
posted by inturnaround at 5:10 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

One thing I learned the hard way is don't let them or you engage in any negative talk about your ex. It sounds like you have a pretty respectful relationship with each other - just make sure your friends and family see that and follow suit.
posted by quodlibet at 5:14 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Why are you talking about giving it one more shot... in six months to a year... right now? If I were a friend, heck, if I were someone you didn't know from Adam on the internet -- and I am -- I'd be worried you were putting the cart before the horse. You've still got work to do, and by talking so strongly about the possibility of reconciliation with your ex now, you're short-changing your future, and all those possibilities.

This is definitely something to talk about with your therapist.
posted by canine epigram at 6:15 AM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

As long as there wasn't horrible trash-talking, I think the biggest thing that a good friend with knowledge of some of the details of the breakup might care about/be affected by is what you mentioned about working to improve things. If, for example, you'd broken up because of really divergent perspectives on family/career balance, then it might be good to share (just a bit!) about what's changed, if you have that level of openness with them.

Obviously it's your private business if you want to keep it that way, but if you really want to allay concerns, being concrete (rather than just "things are different"), might help.
posted by clerestory at 6:16 AM on November 21, 2011

It took me more than six months to get my head on right and be able to actually give the relationship a decent go. Out side of a little surprise, it wasn't that big of a deal. "we're giving it another shot now that we've had some time to grow".

Don't apologize. There is no "i'm sorry" for working toward what you want or going with your gut.

It sounds like you are just being hopeful and that's fine. If all you need to hear is that people get over it and it really won't be that much drama if you guys get back together and have worked on things, you've heard it. Now go work on getting your head on right.

and anyway- it is seriously not anyone's business at all.
posted by Blisterlips at 6:44 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

but I cannot seem to get my friends to understand that I really just need to give this one more shot. The only answer I've got is, "I've got to go with my gut on this one, I'm sorry."

Try this answer: "None of your beeswax."

Love is personal and not explainable.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:24 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Speaking as someone who has done this: it's your life. You don't have to justify yourself to anyone. Make your decision, thank people for their concern, use the line you mentioned in your post to set boundaries around that decision, and then do what you want to do. Everyone WILL get over it, I promise.

The more immediate issue, as I see it, is that you HAVEN'T yet actually decided to do this. The only way I know of to make any move towards the future is to actually completely let go of this ex and not make any promises about what could happen. Then, actually work on yourself, without anyone else in mind. See what happens. The "new you" might still love him, but maybe not. Be open to possibility, and don't live your life in a holding pattern.
posted by araisingirl at 7:30 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tell them this quote:

"The heart has its reason of which reason knows nothing- Blaise Pascal
posted by any major dude at 7:59 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have had a somewhat similar experience--in this case, an on and off kind of messy relationship which now seems to be permanently off as a relationship but which, for various reasons, involves my still being friends with the person in question. In my case, what I did was simply say to my friends and family, "This is what I need from you and how I need you to treat this person. I don't need you to like him or be friends with him, but I need you to respect me and my decisions, and I need you to respect that this is someone I have chosen to have in my life."

I think laying it out like that has helped--certainly it's helped me, because I was able to say what I wanted--and I think it's helped some of the people who were (as others have noted) pretty upset by seeing me upset.
posted by newrambler at 2:33 PM on November 21, 2011

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