Chris Lloyd on how to carry yourself with dignity, care and respect after a breakup.
Our history is littered with theories of love and astrology, star signs and interstellar planetary forces controlling the destiny of our relationships. If that all sounds like nonsense to you – fear not – for the realists among us, time and space can actually play a far more simplified role in our relationships with women, particularly after a break up.
‘I don’t want to be with you any more’, ‘We need a break’, ‘I just can’t do this any longer’. At one time or another, we’ve all been on the end of these phrases which fill us with such dread. There is no shame in admitting it –whether you’re Pee-wee Herman or Muhammed Ali –heartbreak hits every man in the midsection with an equally dull thud. In the aftermath of any break up, a man’s dignity, strength and self-worth can be wounded so potently that getting back to any sort of normality can seem a long, long way off.
It is no secret that heartache can distort emotions and cloud a logical thought process, leading to irrational decision making, impulsive and regrettable text messaging (sound familiar?) and other things that only serve to validate – in her mind – that the decision to get rid of you, was the right one. So how on earth do you go about trying to salvage any positives out of such a bleak situation? After all, you want to know you did all you could to get her back, without being that clingy ex that we’ve all heard so much about.
There is a lot of space out there, let her have some of it!
If she has broken up with you, she has done so for a reason. That reason will of course vary from person to person, but the primary thing she needs from you in the immediate aftermath, is SPACE. If, during the days succeeding your break up, you invade that space with a barrage of flowers and giant teddy bears, you have missed the point by such a wide margin that you may as well be in a different solar system to the relationship you are trying to claw back. Aside from this, thinking that you will solve the problems with some fuzzy paraphernalia from the local gift store will likely serve only two purposes. First, it will show her that you don’t understand the reason why your relationship came to an end. (Believe me, it is not because you didn’t buy her a 5ft Winnie the Pooh). Second, although it may not be your intention – your gestures may well be interpreted as undervaluing her intelligence. In her mind, by sending her all these lovely things and expecting everything to be ok, you are effectively saying ‘here’s some brightly coloured squishy stuff, lets skip off into the sunset and everything will be fine.’ Trust me, It won’t; in fact it may make her angrier and push her further away than she was before.
The letter – Don’t tell her you’ve changed, show her.
Once you have cooled off from the initial furnace of emotions, put down the teddies and approach the following task with a clear and rational head. Write her a letter. Yes, a letter. Remember those? In a day and age where emails and electronic information saturate our work and personal lives, a hand written letter harks back to an age where things were simpler, more valued and more personal. To write – rather than text or email – shows her that you are thinking, and more importantly, caring about the situation. Keep the tone of the letter warm, but brief. Tell her that you understand why she has made the decision she has made, that you respect her choice and that you understand she needs space and time on her own. DO NOT beg for her back, this is implicit in the fact that you have written her a letter. Tell her that above all, you want her to be happy and that if she needs to contact you, you will be there to talk. The oldest of human psychologies tells us that when you try to force a person into your way of thinking, they are likely to rebel and do the opposite. Give them space, freedom and choice and they are more likely to trust and respect your wishes. Simply put – less is more.
Separating the men from the boys – No needy texts!
Breaking up with someone is no easy task, and not one she will have taken lightly. In the weeks following the break up, she will likely be doing a lot of thinking during those quiet moments. If you constantly interrupt these moments with text messages saying things like ‘please don’t leave me baby, I miss you, I’ll change’, not only will you come across as weak, selfish and as if you haven’t listened to a word she has said, but 15 missed calls from you will also reinforce in her mind that you are not the man she needs in her life. By sending her a letter, you disassociate yourself with the potentially negative connections that she may make between ex boyfriends and mobile phones; you are showing a level of thought that separates the men from the boys. Don’t panic that it may take a day or two for the letter to arrive (or a month if you are using the British postal service), the saying ‘silence is golden’ rings true here; she will have plenty of time to read what you have to say, without any arguments, or without things being said in the heat of the moment. It is a non-invasive, respectful and thoughtful gesture; the mere fact that you have gone through this process in itself will show her a great deal about you as a man.
Tip: To resist the urge to text message her on impulse, give her number to a trusted friend or family member, and delete it from your phone.
Prepare to invest time and be patient.
By giving her the option to talk to you if she wishes, you are implicitly saying, ‘I understand this is over, but I am showing you I have grown up, rather than telling you I will change.’ By doing this you place no expectation, and thus no pressure for her to respond in anytime but her own; however you must be prepared to accept that there is a chance that she may not contact you. This takes a lot of guts to do – and she will know how hard this is for you – but the fact that you are behaving in such a respectful, strong manner regardless may, just may, make her question whether the decision she has made is the right one.
Then comes probably the hardest part; the waiting. Here, sadly, there is no guaranteed return on your emotional investment. You may wait days, weeks or months for the one you love to contact you, but if the lady in question has made her mind up, then sadly, there is little to nothing you can do to change that. It is your risk to take, your investment to make and if you deem it a worthy one, then carry on waiting. In the meantime, get back to work, keep busy, socialise with friends, go out, exercise and be the best you can be, knowing that you have done everything you possibly could to get her back.
Sometimes love is written in the stars, and other times it appears the script has not been drafted as we would wish. Regardless, acting in the best way possible after a break up can go a long way to helping the healing process both for yourself, and for the woman that you love. On her part, even if it is not meant to be, take pride in the fact that she will, at the very least, know she finished things with a man who had the decency to conduct the final act of a relationship with dignity, care and respect. A good man – and that’s what we are trying to be, after all.
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