Hello Dr. Joy,
My ex and I broke up a little over 6 months ago and I’m still having a lot of trouble getting over the fact the relationship has ended. We dated for 1.5 years and everything seemed to be going fine when he told me that he did not think he was ready for a commitment. He still calls and texts from time to time which leads me to believe that he may be reconsidering his decision to end the relationship. I always respond because I don’t want him to think that I don’t care about him anymore or do anything to upset him. I still have hope that we will get back together if I just keep the lines of communication open and show him that I am still interested. Do you think I am wasting my time?
Thanks so much for your question and for your willingness to share! It seems like you’re having a really hard time with your breakup and I’m sorry you’re feeling so stuck. I know it must be difficult to deal with the sadness that comes from learning that the plan you had for your life may not work out. There are a couple of different areas that concerned me about your question and I’d like to address them each. You commented that his calls and texts lead you to believe he may be reconsidering his decision, but has he clearly stated such? Has he told you that he is second guessing his decision and is considering asking you to be in a relationship with him again or have you assumed that him continuing to be in contact means this? If this is something that you’ve assumed, I’d encourage you to be very careful with this assumption. Exes try to remain in contact for a variety of reasons: 1) To assuage themselves of any guilt they may be feeling for ending the relationship. They often assume that if you respond to a text or answer a call then you must not be that mad and therefore they shouldn’t feel so bad about the breakup. 2) Because talking to you has become a part of their routine and they want to be able to continue to have some connection to you without any rules or boundaries, and 3) To keep you in their back pocket. As long as you continue to respond to their communication, they know they still have an open door to you and that if they decide they want something in the future, you’d likely be open to them coming back into your life. It also appears that you have resigned yourself to following his lead in terms of reconciling. Have you really thought about whether you want to reconcile with him? Is a yes assumed just because he asks? What has changed in the past 6 months to make him ready for a commitment? A lot of times after a breakup, we get consumed with wanting the pain to end and believe that resuming the relationship will be the answer to ending the pain but what are the long term costs of this? Perhaps the pain ends, but is the relationship any healthier?
I’m also concerned about you feeling as though you have to keep the lines of communication open with your ex so that he doesn’t get “upset.” If his decision about asking you to resume a relationship with him is so fragile that it depends on you not upsetting him, then I wonder how solid the decision is to begin with. Will you have to continue to worry that if you upset him, he’ll end the relationship again? It also seems as though you are still putting his needs before your own which could lead you into a very unhealthy place. If you’ve continued to be in touch with him for the past 6 months, how much time have you spent redefining your interests and focusing on things you enjoy? Have you done any traveling? Tried a new hobby? Done anything that seems to mark a start to your life without him? It seems like a lot of time has been focused on hoping that he will change his mind which has likely kept you in limbo about whether you need to move on without him, and it may be time to rethink this strategy.
I hope this has been helpful and leads you to making a decision that is a good fit for you and that truly honors you!
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