Sometimes successfully reconciling is less about what you do right than avoiding certain common pitfalls. Given how the breakup will have turned our objectivity to mush, it’s all too common to make the wrong moves out of desperation, insecurity, grief or blind rage. This list contains a couple of handfuls of how our emotions can be counterproductive, and prematurely sentence us to singledom.
Hot And Cold Behavior
If you’re looking to all but guarantee a trip to planet solitude, engaging in manipulation is a real breadwinner.
The nuts and bolts of the argument against attempting to influence an ex’s emotions is simple; if they so much as suspect you are tampering with their feelings, they are either going to:
- Play the game right back.
- Move on to regain clarity.
- Seek petty revenge of some sort.
In short, playing mind games usually only confuses communication and leads to resentment.
I get it, sometimes it works, but there’s a catch. If the game involves exacerbating their insecurity and starving them out (hello No Contact), what happens when their emotional security shores up as it eventually will? Yes, it’s adios all over again. But this time, they’ll mean it.
Making Them Jealous
Attempting to make an ex jealous is risky business if we intend to reconcile. This should come as no surprise given how transparent these attempts usually are.
Raise your hand if you can tell when a friend does it or has in the past.
That’s right, because breakups make spaghetti out of our ability to be objective, we may feel we are slick in our deceit. But the harsh truth that nobody dares to tell you is that everyone can see straight through it, including your rebound.
Not only will you hurt your chances, but you may also end up hurting the feelings of the person you are using as bait.
Aside from my attempts to guilt trip you, bear in mind that an exs reaction to seeing you “move on” can also be to move on, not come running broken-hearted to your door at 3 am in the pouring rain. Talk about counterproductive!
Making It A Debate
This will perhaps go down as the most controversial of my points, but I truly believe that making logic the centerpiece of your reconciliation efforts will backfire. Why? Because feelings aren’t reasonable.
Obviously, reconciliation has to make a certain amount of logical sense. All I’m saying is that giving your ex a list of objective reasons why you are their best choice will change virtually nothing about how they feel about you. If you’re going to attempt to influence their emotions positively, do so by making them feel good.
Depending on the context, this might mean being supportive, humorous, adventurous or silent. It is up to you to know when and how to operate your charm like the weapon it is.
Focus less on getting the words you say right, and more on how you communicate.
It doesn’t matter how right you are; I guarantee that no matter the situation, your ex will have their list of indignation to chew over.
The only wrongs that are worth righting are those that stand in the way of reconciliation. And even then, anger is possibly the worst way to communicate intent because it no longer matters what you say, it’s now about how you said it. Which leads me to double down on my previous point about feelings versus reason.
Of course, anger is often also used as a weapon. It can be:
- A last ditched effort to remain relevant if you don’t have direct access to an ex. Bad press is better than no press.
- An attempt to dissolve an ex’s self-esteem to make them easier to influence (often a characteristic of controlling relationships). Blame games are an example of this.
- A way to bring their perceived value down to massage our ailing self-esteem.
It goes without saying that these efforts are rooted in denial and seek temporary benefits rather than a long-term solution.
Playing The “Move On First” Game
If it isn’t solely about making our ex jealous, it can also be about our broken pride. Playing the “look at me move on” game is a typical response. Not from real closure, but from hurt.
Once again, think about how transparent it is when others do this, now double the effect when it comes to us because our exs know us better than we think.
As always when playing on insecurity, there’s a high chance that our ex will take our distance at face value and decide to move on themselves. After all, if we act as if reconciliation is off the table, why should they initiate a painful process when the odds of failure seem so high? That’s right, and they won’t.
Making Promises You Can’t Keep
Nothing is as skeptical as an ex who is guarding their emotions, so if you send them a list of outlandish promises about your willingness to sacrifice your core needs it’s probably going to rub them the wrong way.
The short answer is that it smacks of desperation and poor decision making.
The longer answer is that in order to function as a partner, you need to be able to be a well-rounded individual. Sacrificing what makes you, you is a surefire way to doom a long-term relationship. In fact, unless you made a very specific mistake (such as cheating) it’s probably why the relationship fell apart to begin with. Someone gave too much and became the shadow of what they feel they should be.
Successful reconciliation happens on an even playing field, or it is doomed to fail. Your needs are crucial to your ongoing well being, and giving them up to “make things work” is a recipe for disaster.
Not Giving Your Ex Space
Giving space can mean loneliness and craving, but it needs to be respected.
Beyond simply a question of respect, it is a physiological need, and if we refuse to grant them space, they might simply cast us out of their lives. It’s that important.
The signs that we’re too close are fairly easy to spot, even amidst the chaos of a breakup:
- Their answers to chat and texts are abrupt and short. Usually just with a “yea” or “no.”
- They seem to dart off everytime you meet. They’re always busy, busy, busy (if they really are busy but do want to spend time together they will offer an alternative date).
- They tell you so. No, it’s isn’t reverse psychology!
- They deescalate communication from the personal to the impersonal. Which might mean preferring Email to texts, or texts to phone calls.
Most of these are no-brainers, if you get the sense they need some space, back off! Don’t let panic tell you it’s your last chance to tell them that sentence you feel really needs to be said. If anything it is this insecurity-born compulsion to keep them with reach which will damage whatever chances we have left.
Playing The Victim Card
In a sense, you are a victim if you were dumped, but you are not necessarily the victim.
While there’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself and taking it easy on the heels of a breakup, granting yourself the mantle of victim won’t help you with reconciliation in mind. There’s every chance your ex feels the same way about their lot in love.
Reconciling means negotiating, which is difficult to do when entertaining thoughts as fundamentally selfish as those self-victimization throws up. No matter our indignation, we need to try and perceive the breakup from our ex’s perspective and not just judge it according to our to our personal criteria (only if we intend to reconcile, if we don’t we can do as we please).
Demanding That Friends Pick Sides
Using mutual acquaintances like chess pieces will earn us our ex’s permanent resentment because we jeopardize their future and not just their present.
A breakup leaves us with little to hang onto, if we threaten their social circles we might be pulling the only safety catch they have. This goes for us as well. There’s a chance that by making our friends pick sides in the breakup that we are the one that ultimately loses out. If not because they disagree with us, but because we made them make a horrific choice to start with.
Burning Your Bridges
Last but certainly not least, a point that unites many of the above but deserves its own spot because of how misunderstood it is.
Pulling a disappearing act, going no contact, or taking an extended vacation seem to be modern examples of popular “get them back” gimmicks. The magic bullets of 21st-century relationship advice.
I couldn’t disagree more.
By disappearing you make communication impossible, and if you can’t communicate, you can’t reconcile. Even if you do go “no contact” with the aim of starving your ex of attention or clearing your head, at some point you’re going to have to break the ice again. The longer the silence, the harder it gets. Do you honestly expect your ex just to sit and wait for you to come out of your reverie? Take it from me, if they find something interesting, and you’re not around, off they go.
Granted, being up in their face is just as destructive, perhaps more so. But just burning all your bridges pre-emptively is not some subconscious path to success. If anything it is a way to heal, do clear the confusion from your emotional life, it means moving on. If moving on isn’t your goal, acting like you’re gone will only tell your ex that it’s time to build a new life. One, I might add, with you conspicuously absent!