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Ask Lynn-Should he try to win her back?


She broke up with him, but now he hears she’s missing his company. Should he call her – or forget her and move on?

By Lynn Harris

ear Lynn,
My girlfriend of four years — my first real love! — broke up with me 10 months ago. It confused me because she said she loved me, but we couldn’t be together. I wasn’t totally surprised, since things were rocky towards the end. She wrote me saying she would contact me in a couple of weeks about giving
What should I make of this? I am not over her, either.
me my stuff—but she never did. A month later, I stopped by unannounced and noticed a box of condoms by her bed. She insisted she did not break up with me because of someone new, but I left upset and hurt.

A week later she dropped off my stuff along with a letter saying that she was not over me, but that she felt she’d done the right thing.

She kept in contact with my sister-in-law, who told me that my ex would call crying, saying she missed me and asking if I had a girlfriend.

What should I make of this? I am not over her, either. I want to talk to her, too, but I would like her to be the one who comes back; I don’t really want to show “weakness.” I felt cheated and betrayed when I learned she’d started seeing someone right after our breakup.

Should I call her? Or should I keep trying to forget her?
– Rave Boy

Dear Rave Boy,
It’s Mixed Messages City, and your ex is the Mayor. So first, a proclamation. YES, breakups are about nothing if not mixed feelings (“I never want to see you again… unless you’re wearing those jeans!” “God, you’re cute when you’re… packing.”). But, dumpers: It is your responsibility NOT to inflict mixed feelings. It’s neither nice nor fair. I know it’s not easy to tell the difference between missing someone you loved but knew you had to leave — which is normal and understandable — and wondering, rationally and legitimately, if the breakup was a mistake. But you must work that out with trusted friends, not the ex.

Rave Boy, to be fair to your ex, after her initial bobbling, she kept her distance; it’s the input from your SIL that’s got you on edge. Maybe your ex knows
I worry that a rushed reunion (if any) could be a mistake.
she’ll spill everything? There’s something funky going on there.

Anyway, IF you decide to talk to your ex, it’s only showing “weakness” if you do it from a position of weakness, i.e., crawling or kneeling. Instead, initiate the conversation from a “this is what I need to do for ME” position of strength. Say something like, “Listen, Mayor, I still think about you and believe you’re still thinking about me. If that’s the case, let’s settle this once and for all.”

But! You knew there was a “but”—actually, there are two, unfortunately.

First: I worry that a rushed reunion (if any) could be a mistake. You said that things were rocky at the end. Well, you need to talk about how you’ll address THOSE issues, whatever they were, BEFORE you run back into each other’s arms. You have to be sure that you can work together to make things different this time. Frankly, I’m not 100% convinced that she can. I’m not that concerned about her apparent rebound; it’s icky for you to have seen the evidence, but it’s in the realm of legal, normal, post-breakup behavior. (Unless it was happening before the breakup—which would be a different story.) Overall, she does seem flighty, unstable, immature, not ready to buckle down—and I don’t want you to get into another painful back-and-forth.

Second: You cannot go into this talk — if you have it — thinking, “Well, at least this will give me closure.” No. The talk may help you get some clarity, or it may not. Bottom line, closure is a one-person job. It can’t be contingent on something someone else says or does. You have to achieve it yourself.

How? By doing what you’re doing. Believe it or not, you’re doing great. You are going through a process. The thoughts and feelings you’re having — whether or not you act on them — are part of that process. It’s necessary, uncomfortable and much longer than any of us would like, but it’s called healing. You are doing it—by looking inward, by going out. Keep at it. You’ll get there. When you’re ready, you’ll meet someone wonderful who’ll send a clear message that she’s all yours. (And you’ll get there faster, I might add, if you ask your sister-in-law, nicely, to keep her messages to herself.)


Lynn Harris (www.lynnharris.net) is co-creator, with Chris Kalb (www.chriskalb.com), of the award-winning website BreakupGirl.net — you can visit BG's blog to discuss this letter! A longtime journalist, Lynn has written about dating, gender, and culture high and low for Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Times, Salon.com, Nerve.com, and many others. She is currently the communications strategist for Breakthrough, a transnational organization that creates pop culture to promote human rights. Submit your own dating questions for Ask Lynn via bg@breakupgirl.net. Your question may be answered in a future column.
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