Asking the ex for another try?
December 2, 2007 7:16 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to approach an ex about getting back together?

I want my ex back. I was the dumpee, he the dumper, but even at the time he expressed doubt about his decision, and it took him two weeks before he was sure about breaking up with me. There have been months of near complete silence since then (but not complete never-talking-again silence), but I'm thinking about the best way of breaking it with the hope of talking about dating again. I would guess the odds are roughly 50/50 of this working. He is not dating anyone else at the moment that I know of, and neither am I, or I wouldn't ask. Is the best tactic to have a catching up as friends get-together to see if he warms up to me again before I ask for another date, or should I come out of the blue with a letter saying "I miss you, things have changed, can we try again?" I don't want to give the impression that I'm interested in hanging out regularly as friends now, because I'm not. I'd rather go back to not talking much if he's not interested in dating again. I want to be clear that I want another shot, but if I come right out with it, is that bound to fail?

Relationship backstory: lasted about four months, he broke up with me because he wanted more closeness. I was just getting comfortable and feeling connected at that point and I think I needed more time to get to that point than he did (he was my first serious interest), and I feel like it ended suddenly without tapping whatever potential was left. I've dated other people since him, and they all paled in comparison; not bad people though, just no spark. No one since has given me the feeling that I don't have to edit myself like he did. I feel like things that went wrong the first time would be better now, like my avoidance of serious/relationship talk because I thought it scare him off. (noob mistake). I feel like I learned from the breakup and from subsequent dates with other guys. I was pretty amazed that I was even dating someone so awesome the first time, and I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, but now I feel ready, if he is. So what's the best way to communicate that I want a fresh start? Letter, phone call, email? Direct approach or stall to take his temperature first? We wrote to each other constantly before, more than we talked on the phone, so there's precedent there. I only get to play this card once, so what can I do to make sure my timing is good and at least make the discussion go well? Have you done this with any success?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
"I've dated other people since him, and they all paled in comparison; not bad people though, just no spark. No one since has given me the feeling that I don't have to edit myself like he did. I feel like things that went wrong the first time would be better now, like my avoidance of serious/relationship talk because I thought it scare him off."

Call him, write him, have coffee, and tell him that. Address the issue that caused the break, tell him how much you miss being with him, assure him that you want to work at being happy with him... seems like any guy even remotely interested would jump at the chance to try it again.
posted by yogurtisgenocide at 7:26 PM on December 2, 2007


Is the best tactic to have a catching up as friends get-together to see if he warms up to me again before I ask for another date, or should I come out of the blue with a letter saying "I miss you, things have changed, can we try again?"

I think you should say what you would say in the letter in person. It's possible that he will not be interested, or that he'll need some time to think about it. But doing it in person is the best way to not draw out the issue- if it doesn't work, you'll finally be free to move on from him and find someone that you do have a spark with.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:30 PM on December 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


like my avoidance of serious/relationship talk because I thought it scare him off

Whatever this was, you're doing it again. You say you don't need to edit, but this question here, this statment above -- it's some form of editing. The answer: Whatever you think is the right thing to do is the right thing to do. That's the whole idea of not having to edit yourself. Don't listen to us.
posted by Eringatang at 7:32 PM on December 2, 2007


Direct approach or stall to take his temperature first?

Definitely take his temperature. Since you have some history you'll probably be able to read his signs clearly but it's still nice to romance him a little bit. It will give you time to get to know each other again and maybe bring a new dimension to your interaction too.

Something light and in person, like coffee or a movie would be an easy way to break the ice.
posted by MiffyCLB at 7:34 PM on December 2, 2007


I'm actually on the opposite end of the fence from the rest of the collective mind here. I say you should write him a brief e-mail. Get to the point: "I want to try again. How do you feel?" In most cases, I'd say face-to-face communication is best, but since you're not interested in being friends with him, then there's no need to go out to coffee and fake it. Give him the opportunity to react in private; if he's not interested, you'll both be glad that you're not forced to continue sitting across from each other sipping cappuccinos and smiling awkwardly. If, on the other hand, he's game, then you can make that coffee an official date.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 7:40 PM on December 2, 2007


Have you done this with any success?

My first serious girlfriend & I must have broken up & gotten back together half a dozen times over 2-3 years, so, yeh, it's possible. Sometimes breaking up with somebody is probably like trying to give up smoking - it takes a few attempts.

The thing is, the technique is probably not the issue. It's purely a matter of whether or not he wants to be with you again. A text message might do the trick; it really doesn't matter. Having said that, you might have a better chance of success in person, perhaps with a drink or two under your belts. That way, the benefits of what he's being offered are just that little bit more tangible.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:51 PM on December 2, 2007


If one of the main things that went wrong in the relationship was your avoidance of serious talking, then the only reason he'll be convinced that you really are ready to start again is if you... have a serious relationship talk. "Taking his temperature" is doing the same thing wrong, from the same place of fear. Call him, tell him you'd like to get together for a serious talk, then get together and have a serious talk.
posted by xo at 8:19 PM on December 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


As a guy who has broken up with a couple of women, I'd say be as direct as possible. Ask "what do you think about getting back together?" and if he answers with anything besides "no way!" then take it from there. Of course there's a lot of things you want to take care of as far as *how* you get back together and deal with the past, etc., but it's not worth it to put any energy into that stuff until you know if there's any point. It could put him on the spot a little, so butter him up first or whatever, but get the answer to that question and then maybe make plans to talk about it more. Just my 2c!
posted by rhizome at 8:20 PM on December 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Dinner. The conversation may go there, it may not. Dinner again. The conversation may go there, it may not. Keep asking him to dinner. Eventually, the conversation will go there. When it does, do not waste a moment telling him how you feel. Be willing to risk it all.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:38 PM on December 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I vote doing it over dinner. If this guy broke up with you because he wanted more closeness, using text messages/e-mail/etc. might come across as too impersonal. Show him you mean business; do it in person.
posted by polyester.lumberjack at 9:28 PM on December 2, 2007


I say meet him in person, but bring a letter as back-up - just in case the conversation doesn't really touch upon all that you want to say to him. (Also, you've said that letters featured significantly in your relationship - so I suppose it might be a nice touch to remind him of that aspect of the relationship that you both shared.)

If you meet him in person, it would be good to dress strategically. (I don't mean revealingly! Just, have him in mind when you figure out what to wear. Either wear something that you know he's liked before, that perhaps reminds him of a particular moment/time you both shared in the past - or wear something that he hasn't seen before but that you think he'll like.)

And like others have suggested - since he broke up with you because he wanted closeness, transparency, serious/relationship talk, etc - be sure to state your intentions clearly, hopefully during the meeting itself.

Basically, the general idea is to subtly, implicitly remind him of the good things you both shared together and the reasons why he liked/loved you in the first place, while simultaneously making your intentions clear and explicit this time round.
posted by aielen at 10:04 PM on December 2, 2007


Dinner is a good idea, but if you have any other activity (that allows for conversation) which is more specific and unique to your relationship with him (preferably not -that- unique to the point that it comes across as presumptuous and seeming to suggest that you think you're both a couple again, though), go for it.

Something you both used to do together, that can still pass off as a 'friendship' activity. Like...um... cycling or jogging, or going to a museum / art exhibition, or a particular movie or music gig... (I don't know what your relationship was like... I'm just trying to think up examples of what may be more specific options..) It's important to make sure it allows for direct, uninterrupted conversation at some point, though.

But if you can't think of anything like that... dinner is always a pretty safe (and good) option. And you could always pick a familiar dinner place, or someplace that you know he will like (e.g. if you both liked Italian food, you could go to a new Italian place in town, etc).

(Maybe this sounds like overthinking things... but every little bit helps...)
posted by aielen at 10:17 PM on December 2, 2007


What UbuRoivas said. It doesn't really matter what technique you use. If he wants to get back together, he'll jump at any overture you make. My BF broke up with me, and a month later put a note on my car, written on the torn-off corner of a church bulletin. It said, "je t'aime." It was the best 5 seconds of my entire life when I found that note. I am not exaggerating.
I say you have a good shot for this reason: he didn't break up with you because he lost interest in you. People may fight all the time and have a miserable life together, but it's not over until one or both just doesn't care anymore.
Good luck! Hope it works out for you.
posted by annabkr at 2:05 AM on December 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


I have done this with success. My SO and I were together for about a year, he broke it off, and we spent a year apart. Same situation as you - he was my first (and now, only) true love, and the other guys I dated after him were just average. I wrote him a casual email, but I mentioned I missed him and wanted to get together for dinner. We did, and the rest just happened naturally.
That was nine years ago, and we are very happily still together. Good luck!
posted by Shebear at 4:41 AM on December 3, 2007


Don't play games. Ring him up, ask him if he's free to talk right now (no good if his buddies are in the room) and then gush like you've never gushed before. Say you miss him, you've always loved him and wish you'd had the nerve to tell him before. I'm willing to bet that he broke it off because he didn't think you were as into him as he was into you.

And if he doesn't want to get back with you? Then you won't ever see him again. It might hurt but that'll happen anyway sooner or later.
posted by gatchaman at 4:43 AM on December 3, 2007


I think it's a tragic idea but if you really want to do that, just call the guy and tell him the truth. truth is powerful, and you can only build a sane relationship based on truth
posted by matteo at 10:56 AM on December 3, 2007


having said that, prepare to be majorly shattered if the person says no. good luck
posted by matteo at 10:57 AM on December 3, 2007


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