Can I get him back?
June 29, 2007 6:28 PM   Subscribe

Very touchy situation with my ex almost but not quite boyfriend. Any and all insight appreciated.

[I am asking this for my friend who is just joining metafilter and doesn't have asking priviledges yet. Thanks!]

At the beginning of this year, I met and started dating a wonderful awesome guy. Everything was peachy and good until I messed it all up.

After a few months of seeing eachother, he made the very reasonable request to be exclusive with eachother. And I, partially out of selfishness and partially because of old wounds, told him no but said we should keep on dating with a "we'll see." He literally cried when I told him that but agreed to keep seeing me.

About a month after that talk he decided to break up with me because of my failure to commit. As soon as I knew he meant business and was ready to leave me for good I saw the mistake I had made and threw myself at his feet and told him I would commit and be everything I should have been from the start.

No dice. He told me that the talk where I callously refused him had cut him deeper than anything on earth and his feelings for me had been dying ever since.

So we both walked.

It became apparent through several channels (mutual friends, his myspace profile) that he was immediately throwing himself headfirst straight into a relationship with another woman.

I resolved to just let it go until I got a text from him roughly seven days after the official "it's over" talk. He was chatty and we texted for an hour or so, and we ended up making plans to grab lunch together. (I suggested it and he agreed very enthusiastically) This lunch is coming up in the near future.

I'd still like to have him back if I can, and this gives me a glimmer of hope.

From a guys perspective, how likely is it you'd text your ex and agree to meet for lunch if you were supposedly all into some new woman?

How can I best feel him out and maximize my chances of winning him back?

I guess I would just like some advice and insights into this from all perspectives as much as possible. Am I reading too much into it?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Rebound relationships following a failed serious emotional investment rarely last. An ex who rebounded two weeks after we broke off a deeply invested relationship later told me that she dated the guy because he was nothing like me and knew nothing about her.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 6:45 PM on June 29, 2007

How can I best feel him out and maximize my chances of winning him back?

Go to lunch. Make it a great lunch where you talk and laugh about all the things you two like to talk and laugh about. Then mention how it's a shame you guys can't do this more often and boy, weren't you foolish for letting him go and man, you wouldn't make that mistake again. His response to that should tell you plenty.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:53 PM on June 29, 2007

You've hurt him, he's hurt you; view it as a clean slate.

The other girl was his "rebound girl," and now that he's had his 'time in the wilderness,' so to speak, he might be interested in talking with you and seeing if something can be worked out again.

It's hard to say without knowing your personalities. Maybe lunch is just that -- lunch. I wouldn't get my hopes too far up if I were you, but don't beat yourself up either. Just take things as they come and see where they go.

It's really impossible to say whether he's interested in trying a romantic relationship again, or whether this is genuinely him just wanting to start your 'just friends' relationship on the right foot. I'd vote tentatively for the former, but like I said, it's hard to say.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:57 PM on June 29, 2007

It sounds like your proto-relationship has more drama than the aggregate of anything I've ever experienced.

Actually I lie. I did know one guy who really into getting in relationships (I personally find it a bit odd when people exist in two states, pursuing a relationship or in a relationship). He was really into himself (and hot!) and liked to drag girls along. It made him feel wanted, and he was good looking enough that he could do such things such as issue ultimatums and not live in the universe of compromise with the rest us.

I would advise you to have fun and see where it takes you, without taking it seriously. You'll be more appealing, as oppose to desperate, and you will be significantly less likely to be on a perpetual roller coaster.
posted by geoff. at 7:01 PM on June 29, 2007

If I acted like him, I'd definitely be interested.
posted by callmejay at 7:08 PM on June 29, 2007

From a guy's perspective, how likely is it you'd text your ex and agree to meet for lunch if you were supposedly all into some new woman?

It's certainly possible. I've done this before, as a way of, uh, assuaging my guilt. Not saying this is the case for you, but it's possible.

this gives me a glimmer of hope.

Please don't hang your hopes on this alone. It sounds as though "expectation" and "communication" were not entirely compatible in your history with this man. Keeping an open mind (with as few expectations as possible) is generally the best way for new relationships (and new beginnings) to flourish.

I am sorry you're going through this.
posted by YamwotIam at 7:09 PM on June 29, 2007

I got a text from him roughly seven days after the official "it's over" talk

If I were him, there would be no way I'd do that if I weren't very interested.

and rebounds don't count for anything - especially those that are less than 7 days old.

Have lunch, have a good time. Tell him what you think.
posted by nazca at 7:21 PM on June 29, 2007

"...had cut him deeper than anything on earth and his feelings for me had been dying ever since."

Emo kids != Dating material

If I were you, I'd run the other way rather than try and get back with him.

However, actually answering the question, he does sound interested again but I'd be worried about this "rebound" girl and whether or not he will try to play her against you.
posted by Loto at 7:21 PM on June 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

First off, you should trust your gut.

If you didn't wanna do The Big C word, his leaving means he's more interested in the idea of being married (to you, a rebound, or anyone who says yes) than in the idea of being with you.

I caved once. Didn't really wanna get married but she talked me into it. We're divorced now. What's that tell you?

If you honestly want what he wants - commitment, then stay the course and sail on through. However, if that's the case, you wouldn't have said no in the first place.

If you don't want what he wants, you're wasting both your time and his, and either you'll be unhappy cuz you decided to commit when you didn't want to, or he'll be unhappy cuz you'll continue being fidgety about it.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:32 PM on June 29, 2007

I want to tell you to take a risk and go for it (romance, ah, romance) but I'd be careful with this one. Go on the lunch definitely, and try to pursue getting him back, as you've done, but do keep your guard up a bit. There's an outside chance that he's just going to play you to make himself feel better, if indeed he was that hurt. He may not even realize what he's doing but once he gets you back, he may find it more satisfying to hurt like you hurt him so you feel it. You just never know. But ask yourself this - this is where your gut comes in - knowing him and your relationship and how he reacted, do you think he's truly over that hurt at this point?
posted by smallstatic at 8:00 PM on June 29, 2007

a rebound "relationship" doesn't exist if it only lasts for 7 days.

he didn't get in a rebound relationship - he just got laid.

he has feelings for you and even though you hurt him, he's not done have feeling for you. the problem is, like smallstatic says, he has NO F'IN CLUE how he's feeling right now and what it all means. If he did, he would have had the breakup talk when you first said no to exclusivity.

This guy doesn't know himself, he's not aware of who he is, and he's confused. And there's nothing you can do to "win" him back. The only way he's gonna be with you, and really be with you - emotionally comitt to you the way he wanted to - is if he does a little self analysis and comes to terms with how he views you and your lack of committment. He needs space and time and he needs to put effort into himself. If he refuses to do this or acts like everything is okay, whatever you two have after your lunch will be meaningless.

He's been hurt, he needs to heal and you've got to give him the space, allow him to be upset with you, and make sure he feels like he has a choice to be with you or not.

If you do pursue a relationship with him, it will be hard and it will suck and it will not be wonderful or awesome and he will not be perfect. In fact, he's gonna be worse than that. And if he's not, well, then he's not a real human being and you need to report him to the authorities.
posted by Stynxno at 8:35 PM on June 29, 2007

i'm a guy. it's really hard to find someone.
work out exactly what you want, what is right for you. not dreamy, just work out what you want in the long term. then work out the best way to tell him, not stealth or twisted, just work out the way to best explain to him.
then go to lunch, look cute, and tell him what you want.
posted by edtut at 9:18 PM on June 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

I feel guilty about my ex girlfriend. Messy situation, I naievely thought that being honest about everything from the start would mean that nothing could go wrong. Ha!

Point being, whenever she gets in touch or arranges something, I make sure to respond/be there. I enjoy spending time with her and it also makes me feel better about the bad end to our relationship. This might be where your lad is coming from.

That said, it definitely didn't happen until months after we'd broken up. Not a week later. To me, that says he wants you back.
posted by twirlypen at 9:21 PM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Anyone who is so black and white about the limits of their emotional commitment at this point will likely be worse, not better, in the long run. He risked his feelings, got hurt a bit, and took his ball and went home. This does not bode well. What happens when there is a real issue confronting your relationship?

Anyway, you obviously are asking how to get him back or if you even can, and my telling you that you might consider just moving on probably doesn't mean much to you now. Still, you're getting an real good look at an important dynamic and from this far away it raises red flags.

Good luck with what ever you do.
posted by qwip at 9:28 PM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Can I get him back? Maybe. Don't try to predict the outcome. Just look him in the eye, smile at him the whole time and near the end of the date, touch him on the arm or hand.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:49 PM on June 29, 2007

It sounds to me like you just want him back because it's familiar. You weren't ready for an exclusive relationship then and I doubt you are now. It basically sounds like you're jealous, and you want that feeling to "go away" suddenly instead of fading out like it always does with adequate time.

But and however, his wanting to go to lunch with you (enthusiastically, no less) tells me that he's thinking one of two things :

1. "I'm gonna brag about my new g/f and make [anonymous] jealous!"

2. "I'm going to talk a little about my new g/f, but mostly see if [anon] has found anyone new"

Either way, this guy sounds flakey, whiney, and too young to know wtf he wants. Go to lunch w/him, sure, but I wouldn't let on that you want anything to do w/him. In about a month (or less) he's going to come crawling back, and if you don't take him - he'll go looking elsewhere. You, however, might best be served by finding new people to date/talk to/sex-up. You'd be surprised how little this high-school-style dating game crap matters once you find someone insurmountably better.

The grass is always greener on the other person.
posted by revmitcz at 9:54 PM on June 29, 2007

This sounds like a disaster. Having someone say "no, i'm not ready for a committed relationship" is not something that should cut someone so deeply. Well-adjusted people do not react in such a fashion. Unless you are in need of drama in your life or are not well-adjusted yourself, you should find someone more mature.

But to answer your actual question: Can you get him back? Maybe. Don't appear overeager. Be yourself, have a good time at lunch and see what happens. If you feel a moment is passing by, then you should say something, but playing it by ear is probably the best way to go.
posted by Happydaz at 1:39 AM on June 30, 2007

I've got a bad feeling about this. I think you should pay a lot of attention to what's happened, rather than how you think you feel. That is, you made a clear decision, before all the throwing-yourself-at-his-feet stuff, not to commit. That, right there, was your choice --IS your choice. And he broke up with you. That was the action he took. Actions speak louder than words, sorry for the cliche.

Look for someone else.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 3:07 AM on June 30, 2007

Happydaz writes 'Having someone say "no, i'm not ready for a committed relationship" is not something that should cut someone so deeply.'

Really? Personally, I think an insistance that you're going to keep your options open and reserve the right to see other people after you've been dating someone for several months is a flat-out rejection. It's saying 'you don't meet my needs, but I'm happy to keep on seeing you until somebody better comes along.'

In this context, I hardly even see how this guy counts as a boyfriend? Hopefully, if he does go back to this relationship, he'll reserve the right to keep seeing other women as well.

In fact, it sounds like he's already started on that process.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:27 AM on June 30, 2007

He literally cried when I told him that
He told me that the talk where I callously refused him had cut him deeper than anything on earth and his feelings for me had been dying ever since.

he's too emo, and an asshole. consent to his booty calls at your own risk. good luck.
posted by matteo at 8:00 AM on June 30, 2007

Ugh. Relationships founded in an atmosphere of manipulation - in the bed or the boardroom - get fucked up really easily, in part because people come in with very different expectations (and the 'won' one is made to feel part of the other's game). If you think of this business in terms of 'winning him back' there's gonna be an imbalance to things that'll wear on everyone, so don't do that. How do relationships get started? Like edtut said: the usual way. Talk have fun eat drink smile no bullshit.

That said, he sounds like a whiner and you sound like a goddamn teenager. 'He texted me seven days later'? He was totally justified in leaving you (recognising your own selfishness and hangups doesn't mitigate them) if you didn't wanna stick with things and see one another exclusively, and headed out to get a piece of ass somewhere else. Coarse but there it is, don't make excuses. Now he wants lunch and you're talking about how to make this wonderful man part of your life? Did he or did he not just say seven goddamn days ago that he felt like you'd smashed his mind/balls?

Whether you two are 16 or 26 the field doesn't sound too fertile at the moment, y'know?

Incidentally were I in his shoes I would be looking for a taste of what I had (the freelance dating thing with you) with the freedom of what I now have (no strings). In fact that sounds so romantic I'm practically crying over here at my desk.
posted by waxbanks at 8:39 AM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is a lie: He told me that the talk where I callously refused him had cut him deeper than anything on earth
Someone who is in love with you, for who you are will not speak to you that way. I'm guessing he was in it for selfish reasons, or has a me-first attitude. He couldn't get over the fact you didn't fall in his arms. (I second matteo's comment).
posted by uni verse at 3:16 PM on June 30, 2007

Loto and matteo have it. Please listen to them. "cut him deeper than anything on earth" ?!??!? Ugh. Please. Be honest with yourself. If you want drama and constant unrest in your relationship, go for it. If you want fun, steady, real growing love...this is NOT the beginning of it.
posted by rio at 5:12 PM on June 30, 2007

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