Do I try to win her back?
October 27, 2007 6:50 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend broke up with me. Yeah, this is one of those questions...

We dated for a relatively short time, a few months, but it was long enough for me to realize exactly how crazy I am about this girl. About 2 nights ago, however, she decided to break things off. She's been accepted to a school out of town, and is generally quite a busy person, and felt that she couldn't commit and give me the attention she thought I deserved. She still cares about me and wants to remain close, just not in a romantic relationship right now.

I respect her views but I'm having a tough time accepting it. Not that it should be easy or anything. But, anyway, I'm not just wasting space here venting. I'm here to ask if it's a good idea for me to approach her and try to "win her back", so to speak. The more I type the less this sounds like a good idea, but so does just giving up. I want to tell her that I think that this could work, and that we've basically given up before we've even tried. She won't be leaving for another few months, and I'd like to spend as much time with her as possible before she actually is gone.

Please don't think I'm a creepy obsessive stalker. I'm talking to the girl as I type this, it's not as if she's telling me to get lost, and if the only response I got from her was a "No." then I'd accept that and move on. I'm just wondering what my chances are at this actually working, or if I'll just end up making things worse.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (39 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Don't hassle her. You'll just push her away.
posted by Rabulah at 6:59 AM on October 27, 2007

"I'm too busy to take care of you" sounds a lot like "It's not you it's me." I think that if you chat further with her, you might find that there is something else really going on, but unfortunately it is probably as simple as "I'm just not that into you."

Good luck.
posted by ms.v. at 7:04 AM on October 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I'm going through almost the same exact thing right now - Boyfriend is crazy about me but feels he doesn't have enough time for a relationship. Caveat here is that he was the one who wanted a super serious relationship to begin with. In any case, I'm certainly going to try and find a compromise between my boyfriend's newly busy schedule and our relationship - Relationships have survived worse things than new jobs or new schools or what have you.
posted by lizzicide at 7:06 AM on October 27, 2007

I'm just wondering what my chances are at this actually working

Not very good. You haven't exactly been together long enough to make permanent marks on each other's soul. She decided that this was a disposable relationship. If that's what she thinks, that's what it is.

So don't bother yourself and don't bother her. By the holidays, she'll have a new boyfriend and, if you don't hang around moping about her, you'll have a new girlfriend.
posted by pracowity at 7:11 AM on October 27, 2007

People make their priorities. She's decided that her priority is school and her other activities. If she really was crazy about you she'd adjust her priorities.

I know it's hard, but find someone who wants to make you a priority in her life. You'll both be happier.

Good luck.
posted by christinetheslp at 7:13 AM on October 27, 2007 [3 favorites]

This is all too common and typically permanent. ymmv. If you really like her put some effort into keeping in touch without sounding obsessive. Chances do not sound good though.
posted by caddis at 7:17 AM on October 27, 2007

She's not into you. You are more into her than she is into you. Her blow off sounds like someone getting rid of a puppy they now realize is more work than they really anticipated. I don't think, however, your last line about "accepting it and moving on" is true. She's already given you the brush off and you aren't accepting it. Pursuing it will result in an uglier more blunt brush off on her part. She's not interested. It isn't about school or anything else. People make time for things important to them and relationships can flourish against impossible odds if both people are working at it, but in this case you are the only one interested in having the relationship and that isn't enough. Sorry.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:18 AM on October 27, 2007 [4 favorites]

It's a tough situation no matter which side you're on. When you're not interested they usually are and vice versa. If anything I'd respect her decision for now and keep things civil. Stay friends and keep in touch and who knows what the future will hold.

The worst thing you can do is obsess over her, or make a pining attempt to "get her back." This isn't the movies and that rarely works. It usually worsens your chances actually. Sit back for a moment and realize that there are Bajillions (technical term) of women out there and there are probably more than you think who are perfect for you and even better than this girl. Work on improving yourself whether it be health-wise, confidence wise or career wise. Don't let yourself get sucked into a rut, keep your spirits high. And good luck.
posted by PetiePal at 7:36 AM on October 27, 2007

She's not into you. You are more into her than she is into you.

How true. This is an opportunity for growth. Try to move on. It will make finding the love of your life more likely if you can learn to form more healthy attachments with gurlz.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:56 AM on October 27, 2007

yep, the above have it. she's trying to be nice, but the affection seems to be one-sided.

let her go. don't even try to be friends for a while, just wish her well and maybe get in touch over the holidays. in the meantime, try to get on with your life and meet other people.
posted by thinkingwoman at 8:10 AM on October 27, 2007

I'm going to disagree a little bit with the people above me.

"I think that this could work, and that we've basically given up before we've even tried. You won't be leaving for another few months, and I'd like to spend as much time with you as possible before you're actually gone."

I think that's a perfectly reasonable thing to say to her and I don't think that it would be hassling. If her motives are that she's just not that into you, she'll probably end up telling you that she's just not that into you. If her motives are something else, that might come out as well. Either way, whether you end up continuing to see her not, I think that the conversation could put you in a better mental and emotional place.
posted by plaingurl at 8:11 AM on October 27, 2007 [3 favorites]

Is she a really practical person? To me this sort of sounds like (possibly) she knows its unlikely to work out long term because she is leaving and doesn't want it to hurt more when she leaves so she's breaking it off early. The fact she still wants to be close friends to me says there is hope. Girls who break up with guys and "just want to be friends" then avoid them like the plague and if she isn't doing that then I don't think there is hope. That may not be the case. But I think 1 (and by 1 i really mean 1) romantic gesture basically saying exactly what you have said wouldn't hurt. But just to warn you long distance really does suck and is she's ending it early so everyone is less hurt in the long run, it might not be such a horrible thing.
posted by whoaali at 8:27 AM on October 27, 2007

Swingers has the answer:

Mike: Okay, so what if I don't want to give up on her?
Rob: You don't call.
Mike: But you said I don't call if I wanted to give up on her.
Rob: Right.
Mike: So I don't call either way?
Rob: Right.
Mike: So what's the difference?
Rob: There is no difference right now. See, Mike, the only difference between giving up and not giving up is if you take her back when she wants to come back. But you can't do anything to make her want to come back. In fact, you can only do stuff to make her not want to come back.
Mike: So the only difference is if I forget about her or just pretend to forget about her?
Rob: Right.
Mike: Well that sucks.
Rob: Yeah, it sucks.
Mike: So it's just like a retroactive decision, then? I mean I could, like, forget about her and then when she comes back make like I just pretended to forget about her?
Rob: Right. Although probably more likely the opposite.
Mike: What do you mean?
Rob: I mean at first you're going to pretend to forget about her, you'll not call her, I don't know, whatever... but then eventually, you really will forget about her.
Mike: Well what if she comes back first?
Rob: Mmmm... see, that's the thing, is somehow they know not to come back until you really forget.
Mike: There's the rub.
Rob: There's the rub.
posted by caek at 8:33 AM on October 27, 2007 [25 favorites]

My instincts say it's not likely to change anything.
But it is possible that what plaingurl suggests might work.
A couple friends of mine broke up after a short relationship. After a week or two, the girl approached the guy and said something like, "Look, I really care about you. Would you be willing to think this over some more and consider being together?" He thought about it for a week and then called her back.
Now they're married and have two kids.
posted by bassjump at 8:39 AM on October 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

Start dating someone else right away--while she's still around to know about it. Since you and she are just good friends, there's nothing for her to get upset about, right? She just cut you loose. Maybe knowing that you are going out with someone else will make her rethink her decision, or maybe you'll find someone you like as well who wants to commit to you. Or maybe you'll have a nice rebound relationship and be ready for the next good person to come along.

But instead of pining away over your current girlfriend, you'll be moving on and putting yourself in a position for something good to happen.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:43 AM on October 27, 2007

Just don't call. Best way to handle it, I assure you. Don't be friends, but don't tell her that. Never call, if she calls, talk for 10 minutes get off the phone. If she suggests plans, demur. If she complains about no plans, make plans then cancel. Terribly manipulative, but perfectly legal here where there is no relationship. Utterly not allowed where one is already in the relationship.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:55 AM on October 27, 2007

Under no circumstances allow yourself to keep hooking up with her without a commitment, unless you just want to hook up until she leaves.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:56 AM on October 27, 2007

It is clear, from the fact that she initiated the breakup, that you are not "doing it" for her. If you were someone she loved, someone she was really "into," she would be fighting to hang onto you. But she isn't. It is pretty clear that you can't hang onto her.
posted by jayder at 8:59 AM on October 27, 2007

It's a big sea. Go fishing.
posted by jimmyhutch at 9:13 AM on October 27, 2007

breaking up before going to a new school is a code for:
1. she just ain't that into you; and
2. she wants to be unhindered entering into a new social/life scene ... just in case there are better options.

which means that, for her, you ain't it.

Sorry ... but if it makes you feel any better we have all been there!

posted by jannw at 9:23 AM on October 27, 2007

Seconding caek's very relevant Swingers quote.

You can try to stay in touch every once in a while but don't obsess -- which basically means, don't try too hard to stay in touch. If you care, act like you don't, otherwise you'll probably be annoying. That's just how it works.

Maybe someday she'll change her mind or circumstances will change, but I wouldn't hold your breath, and I certainly wouldn't try to "win her back." That's a terrible idea, it almost never works long-term, and if it does "work" in the short term, it usually just produces a lot more pain when it eventually disintegrates.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:27 AM on October 27, 2007

Walk away with your dignity.
posted by LarryC at 9:37 AM on October 27, 2007

Anecdote about communication in moving away situations: I dated a guy over the summer last year. At the end of the summer, I was going away for a semester and wanted to break things off and see where we were when I got back, maybe pick things up again. My boyfriend said all or nothing, emphasized that he was really into me but wouldn't just be waiting around while I was gone, that we should either be in a relationship or not, and if not, it was really off between us. At the time, I was afraid of long distance relationships (based on past experience) and through a long conversation about it realized that he would make an extra effort to be around and that it could work. If he hadn't talked to me about it, he wouldn't have known that I really was afraid of the distance rather than not into him, and we wouldn't still be together today. The point is, make sure she knows you're not going to be sitting on your hands waiting for her to come back and make sure you know her reasons for not wanting to keep things up. If she won't have time but you'll be able to visit her, and you won't resent her not visiting you as much while she's away, you should make that clear.

All that said, from the information you gave it does sound like she isn't that into you, and moreover that she's going away for a long time rather than just a semester. You probably will end up resenting her and she may respect you less if you are always the one visiting her, if that's even practical for you to do over such a long time and depending on the distance.
posted by lorrer at 9:44 AM on October 27, 2007

45moore45 has it. If this girl were really into you, she'd find a way to make it work somehow. People who really are into one another will somehow find a way to make it work, even if it means LDR's, squeezing out time from a busy schedule, and so on.

As Gary Larson wrote in a Far Side cartoon, "There are lots more protozoa in the lower intestine." Don't try to be "good friends" with this girl, it will only prolong the agony. Forget her, go out and find someone who IS into you and will make time for a relationship. Sure, this particular girl might look like Ms. Practically Perfect In Every Way, but trust me. Unless you are super-demanding and idosyncratic in your likes and dislikes, there are plenty of compatible people for you roaming the earth.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:50 AM on October 27, 2007

Its useless to speculate on what she thinks. Nobody here knows. Not even the poster. The question is what does he do. There appear to be three suggestions. School number one says talk about it, let her know that you really want it to work. School number two says cut off contact with her and see how she reacts--if her heart and head are in the same area. School number three says look for another woman.

How mature is she? If she's relatively young, School number 2 is right. If older, school number one is the way to go. School number 3 always works, regardless of age.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:57 AM on October 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

Don't try to change her mind. And since you're almost definitely going to be waiting and hoping for her to contact you, you should tell her to forget about being friends. That way, you'll know she's gone, and you won't be holding on to the possibility that there's a future for the two of you.

Damn, if someone had told me this years ago, when I really needed to hear it... well, I probably wouldn't have listened. But I hope you can do it, to save yourself a lot of heartache.
posted by wryly at 10:04 AM on October 27, 2007

I'll second what plaingurl said. Just be honest, don't dance around it. Be prepared for it to go either way. If you truly want to remain friends, then it does seem possible, given that you're still talking.

Don't do what some of these people are suggesting and give her the silent treatment or try to push her away to 'test' her.

Also, if your feelings are deep right now, don't rush out into another relationship. The new doesn't always remove the old from mind or heart, and often, the best bet between relationships where you feel this badly, is to just be alone for a little bit. Taking some time for just you.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:21 AM on October 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm totally in the same situation right now. The best advice I got was "feelings are not facts". Without knowing the details of your situation, inevitably the problem of adopting the "winning her back" attitude towards somebody who has called things off is, no matter what you do, it will never be enough. You won't find peace with that attitude. There is no finish line with love.

Love is more than strong efforts and good times, you know? It's a mutual willingness to go through the good times and the bad times. And I think you might find, that in terms of your own sanity, there's a better girl out there for you. I felt that I met the girl of my dreams once, but was she emotionally there for me? No. And no amount of effort or love on my part would change that. Being at peace with that fact can be a challenge, but it's worth it.
posted by phaedon at 10:35 AM on October 27, 2007 [3 favorites]

Another relevant quote: "Being alone and learning to love yourself is a much more positive thing to aspire to than clinging on to what's gone."
posted by streetdreams at 10:39 AM on October 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

The other aspect of this is, while possibly you could win her back, what is the point? If you don't see yourself in a life-long relationship with this woman, than by prolonging the time you are together, the more you limit the possibility of finding someone who will actually be around for a long time.

If, of course, that's something you're thinking about at this stage in your life. Smelling the roses is nice, too.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:15 PM on October 27, 2007

I broke up with my girlfriend when I went away to university b/c I thought it would be nicer than the 'inevitable slow break-up' I feared would follow my being gone so long. We ended up getting back together again about a year later (I dropped out, ha ha, and was back in town), and were together for several years after that. FWIW.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:30 PM on October 27, 2007

I think ms.v's comment nails it. Sorry to say.

I had the exact same thought when I read that line in your post ('give me the attention she thought I deserved.')
posted by zenpop at 1:11 PM on October 27, 2007

"I'm just really busy right now and I don't feel like I can give you the attention I deserve" is exactly what I've told men I wasn't very interested in when I wanted to stop seeing them.

Don't chase her. Sorry.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:15 PM on October 27, 2007

Curses! "The attention you deserve", obviously.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:16 PM on October 27, 2007

It's simple. If you want to win her back DO NOT TRY TO WIN HER BACK.

That's the only correct answer here. Any attempt on your behalf to win her back will fail to achieve it's desired effect and will only serve to NOT WIN HER BACK.

Best thing you can do? Start dating a very hot girl, preferably a few of them and do everything you can to appear to be having the best time of your life paying scant attention to your ex at all times.

Jack Nicholson once said "When a woman says she doesn't love you she means it. And the only person that can change her mind is herself."

(On reread utterly what caek said!)
posted by brautigan at 3:11 PM on October 27, 2007

I know lots of people who fight to hang on to relationships because they really, really REALLY want to be in a relationship, not because they actually are into the other person.

While this is true, I would suggest that anyone who isn't fighting to hang onto a relationship certainly isn't into the other person.

I echo everyone else, especially 45moore45. If she really wanted to continue this, she would be trying to. She's trying to let you down nicely. Sorry.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:55 PM on October 27, 2007

You say you just want to spend as much time with her as you can before she leaves. And you say that she also seems open to spending time with you. So just do what you said you wanted. IF that's what you really want and you're not fooling yourself. Invite her to stuff and spend time with her (if she's willing, obviously be ready to take a hint!). Don't kiss her and don't act romantic and don't pressure her to make her reject you again. Enjoy her company and don't push for anything more. That respects her and her boundaries, and also allows you to enjoy her company. Then say goodbye.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:36 PM on October 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

The best advice I got was "feelings are not facts".

This is such an important and hard thing to learn. It's easy to assume that because you feel a certain way about someone, they must/should feel the same way about you. When in reality, there is no correlation. Your wanting it to work and thinking it will work has absolutely nothing to do with how she feels about you, no matter how sure you feel. Unfortunately, I find this lesson can't just be absorbed through osmosis; it's something you'll have to remind yourself of every day until the feeling that your strong feelings can control others passes.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:58 PM on October 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

its probably less about you and more about circumstance. She doesnt feel she can maintain a satisfactory relationship and be busy/away a lot. Some ppl are ok with this type of thing and some people arent. You might be but she isnt.

sadly its right feelings wrong place/time.
posted by browolf at 6:02 PM on October 28, 2007

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