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How to handle a breakup

What do you mean?

So. You’re going through a fresh break up. And you really don’t want to lose your partner. Every part of you wants to try and figure out how to get them back. You feel like you’ve tried everything, but nothing is working. She still wants to end the relationship.

He still isn’t returning your calls. Then, you have a brilliant idea. You’ll text her! You’ll say something so good, so genuine, SO tough that he’ll come running back to you.

You pull out your phone, (well, let’s be honest your phone was already out as it has been chained to your hand since the break up), and you tap out a little something like this:

hey. just wanted to say I hope ur happy.

U just lost someone who would’ve loved you 4ever. I’m over it so don’t even worry about me. Go do you. Let me know if you wanna be friends. Bye.

Look familiar?

Here’s the thing. That passive-aggressive approach really doesn’t get you want you want.

Even if for whatever reason that, oh-so-artfully worded, message triggers something in your partner that motivates some sort of reconciliation, the makeup process is going to be cloaked in negativity, fear, and flat out confusion.

Let’s look back at the message to see what you really accomplished: you lied, you were mean, you told someone to do the opposite of what you want them to do, and you asked for something really don’t want. You weren’t over him.

You didn’t want to be just friends.

And you definitely didn’t want her to “go do her,” which might involve meeting someone new, who isn’t you.

What did you mean? Maybe something like this:

Hi. I’ve been thinking about you and I miss you. I heard you when you said you wanted to end the relationship and I will respect that. I am still interested in working on this relationship. If you are, too, please let me know.

Why would this work better?

  1. It’s the truth. And it’s easy to understand since no part of the message is in congruent or contradictory.

  2. You can’t control other people. You can only control yourself. No matter what clever, underhanded message you send, none of it will be powerful or cheeky enough to force someone to want you back. This welcomes the person to make his own choice.

  3. You’re not mean. And being mean doesn’t make you look tougher, it makes you look like a jerk.

  4. You don’t want your partner to move on without you. You might say you’re over him or her to appear like a winner. To let them know they didn’t wound you. At the end of the day, what you really want is to be in the relationship, not to win a nonexistent game of who is more emotionally robotic.

  5. Attempting to manipulate your partner into loving you again is a pretty bad fresh start. Let’s say you get back together with your partner and the reconciliation spawns relationship 2.0. How did you and your partner get back together? “Oh, I threatened her. I said if she didn’t enter a relationship with me, she would never be loved by anyone better ever again. And then I said my goodbyes.” How romantic.

Ask yourself: what do you want? Once you decide, say what you mean, be clear, be direct, and be honest. The person you’re talking to will do what they want either way, since you have no control over their actions, feelings, and thoughts. So what do you have to lose?

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