Look, one of the most hotly discussed topics is getting your ex back. It's probably the most highly charged emotional event in a relationship, and it's something everyone encounters at some point.
First of all, I want to talk about getting perspective, this is one of the most important things I think you can do in your life.
One good anecdote was from a friend of mine who was doing some work outside with a friend of his and got bit by a mosquito. He got bit on his upper lip, and it was starting to grow.
It was itchy and he’s trying to sit down and relax and eat his lunch. But he’s like, “God, this thing on my lip is driving me crazy.”
His friend just looked over at him and said, “Well, you know what, dude, if a mosquito bite on your upper lip is the worst thing you got going on right now, that’s not bad.”
He kind of looked up and said, “Yeah, yeah, I hear you. I guess it’s not that bad.”
Think of all the things that can happen to you in life, all the tragedies that can befall us, all the difficult situations we can run into, and some of them can be pretty horrific.
So everything from dealing with illness to losing family members, just so many bad things can happen to us on this life and probably will at some point or another. The little things often seem to be a big deal, but they never are.
So perspective is where you go to discover that all-important lesson that, “You know what? whatever you think you’ve got bad in your life, somebody else has got it worse.”
And yeah, sure, there’s somebody that’s got it better, but it’s only for a short time. Eventually, it balances out.
There’s nobody that leads a charmed life in this world. There’s nobody that just skates right through it, no harm, no difficulty, no problems.
Even if it seems like nothing's wrong with them, on the inside you’d be amazed how insecure, how unhappy, and just generally how not-with-it some people are.
We often take it for granted because we believe that we are the only people experiencing our personal pain. As a matter of fact, we often NEED it to be that way.
We need that pain to be ours and uniquely ours because it gives us kind of a badge of honor that we can celebrate.
“Look, my pain is deeper than yours. My struggle is worse than yours. My agony inside is worse than yours!”
It's something we need to believe in order to feel like we have value.
Believe it or not, that’s what we do in our heads, so you’ve got to get perspective. Step back and get perspective in any way you can, any possible way you can, and that will often give you a very big aha moment, an epiphany if you will.
I remember watching the last episode of Mad Men, where at the end of the show, Don Draper has basically gotten his perspective. A lot of people debated about the ending of the show and how it ended.
I’m not going to talk about the exact ending here, but you could see that he got perspective in a way that served his needs. Because, of course, he’s Don Draper!
He does what he does, and the rest of the people in the show reflect him and how he moves through the world.
You can see this in many shows and movies where somebody has gotten to this unique perspective. And it happens pretty much in every movie because it’s part of the character development and their story.
So you need to get that perspective you need.
Now, all of this relates to another subject which I really wanted to touch on today. The topic of getting your ex back.
Everybody has, at some point or another, had a breakup, possibly gone through that pain of losing a special person, of seeing that person walk out of their lives.
And then what do we want? Well, we want them back, because we don’t want to lose that connection.
It happens enough in our lives where we don’t see the complete pattern of what’s actually happening during a breakup. I want to re-explain this process a bit because it’s very important you understand what’s going on behind the scenes - the weird battle in your head.
Because if you’re not prepared the next time a relationship is in trouble, or there’s an impending breakup on the horizon, you might be fooled. You might be thrown madly into a tailspin because you weren’t ready.
And you’ll panic and you’ll do the things that will not serve you in the relationship.
And it definitely won’t get you that person back in your life.
So let’s talk about that briefly, what’s happening inside you?
Well, forget about just thinking about that person and experiencing that threat of loss. Your brain is actually sending you a withdrawal signal.
It’s what I call a withdrawal signal because when you fall in love with somebody, you’re basically in an addiction spiral. When you first started dating someone, your brain releases chemicals.
And it does this on purpose because it wants you to forge a bond with that person.
So if there’s chemistry - if there’s an attraction there - your brain will help to reinforce it by feeding your brain MORE love chemicals. And these chemicals make you feel good, everything from dopamine to serotonin that throw your brain into a wash of madly intense love.
Very often, by the way, this is passion - and it is passionate LUST - but very rarely is it LOVE.
We have to be very careful about how we define love today. Movies have told us that you can fall in love with somebody in a day or five minutes.
Or we're sold on the romantic notion of falling in "love at first sight," which is quite honestly just not accurate.
Romantic, sure... but not realistic.
We may develop love for that person, but the initial feeling was not love. It was just a very strong knee-jerk attraction.
Something just felt like we jive together, but the actual love didn’t get created for at least a small period of time. So don’t go jumping into that trap right away.
The love at first sight thing is really something that happened in retrospect. It really didn’t happen up front. There are plenty of people that we fall into mad attraction for up front and it doesn’t work out.
And then we don’t say that it was love at first sight - we just say, “Oh, it was a lot of passion, but it didn’t work out.”
Now, I’m not trying to kill romance here. I’m not trying to kill off that romantic notion of the whole "love at first sight" and the "destiny" factor.
But you have to be careful about some of these myths that are put out there that very often will fool you.
Because women are very romantic. You want romance in your life.
You want the notion of romantic love and all the things that go with it.
At times, it’s very easy to buy into notions that don’t serve you, and that’s where I’m trying to help, as I don’t want you to fall for the negative concepts that are being put out there about what love is and how it really works.
You don’t want to fail at love if you don’t have to and some of these myths will lead you down the wrong path.
Now, let’s get back to the topic of getting your ex back.
What’s going on in your brain? Well, your brain is becoming addicted to the other person when you’re falling in love with him.
So of course, it naturally follows that when that connection and that relationship is threatened (or it’s broken off for whatever reason), and especially if it’s out of your control - it’s literally like having a drug supply being cut off.
It’s something we’ve seen in movies and we know how this works. (If you've ever seen "Leaving Las Vegas" or "Less Than Zero" you'll know what I mean.) It’s a horrible situation to be in.
But guess what? Everybody goes through that love-withdrawal at some point in their lives if they’ve gone through a romance, or if they’ve gone through a breakup.
Your brain does get withdrawal sickness from having that love cut off.
When the connection is broken, the relationship is gone, you think: “My God, what do I do? Oh, no!”
And you panic. You panic and you do whatever you can to win that person back.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always serve you, because rushing in to trying to win that person back often backfires.
Now, if you’re lucky, and he was only tempted by another woman he was attracted to, or maybe he was just fed up with certain things about the relationship, but the love is still there, there may be a chance.
Maybe you can talk and negotiate your way back together. But very often, it doesn’t work out this way.
Now, there are some really bad mistakes that women and men make that make it almost impossible for somebody to re-forge or reclaim their relationship, and I’m going to tell you what they are right now because it’s really important.
MISTAKE 1: The first really bad mistake is calling and texting that person all the time.
Now, it’s not that you’re actually calling and texting them that's the issue; it’s that you’re overwhelming them.
I got a letter from a woman that said:
“You know what, I broke up with this guy about eight days ago and since then I’ve been messaging him every day constantly and he never replies. I have to text him. I have to call him. I really love him and I want to be with him, but I don’t understand why he’s acting like this. He said he loved me and then suddenly it’s like this.”
That’s basically the story of about 95% of the people who are desperate to get their ex back, and it’s just a huge mistake to call him. Especially when you flood him with your presence.
In fact, there’s a certain period of time where you have to not call him at all. And then later you can try to reinitiate contact, because you don’t want to totally disappear out of the person’s life.
Sometimes disappearing completely is the wrong thing to do. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the bits of relationship advice I see that’s not quite right.
I see a lot of advice out there that says, “You never want to call them for at least the first three weeks or four weeks or so. Don’t call them. Wait for them to call you.”
What happens? That person just assumes that you’ve moved on and never calls you.
MISTAKE 2: Now, the second big mistake is begging.
Trying to use pity or sympathy or any kind of manipulative method, even guilt to try and get somebody to basically come back to you just doesn't work.
If begging actually worked after you broke up with somebody, no one will ever be able to break up. If that actually worked, all you had to do is beg, well then they would always come back.
But guess what? It doesn’t work.
They’ve decided to leave you and they’re prepared to deal with whatever it is you're going to throw at them. Whether it’s begging or pleading or whatever it is, they’re ready for it.
And they’re going to push you away further because it’s going to come across as being weak, needy, insecure. It’s not very cool.
I mean, the thinking pattern is something like, “If the other person knows how miserable I am without him, he’ll come back to me.”
Think about that, it’s kind of crazy on a certain level.
Or “If he only knows that I just can’t go on without him, he’ll take me back.” Again, your instincts are messing with you. Don’t listen to that voice in your head.
MISTAKE 3: Letting the other person walk all over you.
You’re thinking that maybe if you go along with everything they want, if you’ll do anything they ask of you, that they’ll come back to you.
You’re lowering your boundaries basically to let that person back into your life.
You’re telling yourself that your values, your desires and you goals don’t matter anymore and the only thing that matters is getting your ex back and you’ll sacrifice anything to get it.
And then what happens?
Your ex might come back - and then walk all over you. You become a doormat.
You become dysfunctional and resentful, and then it’s going to lead to another breakup.
MISTAKE 3b: Another bonus mistake I’m going to throw in is being overly affectionate.
If you just show them how much in love with them that you are, they can’t possibly resist that.
If you just walk up to the person you love and tell them how much you love them and show them how much you love them, they won’t be able to resist it. The love will just pour out of them.
That’s the message that we often get, and again - it doesn’t work this way.
That’s not what makes another person love someone, because if that worked, you could walk up to anybody, a complete stranger, that you think is incredibly attractive... or somebody you’ve known for a while, and just suddenly reveal how you feel about them.
And suddenly that would create that same feeling of attraction and desire in them.
Doesn’t that seem a little bit odd? Well it is odd, and that’s what a lot of people think will happen.
If you just show a person love, then that means that they will HAVE to fall in love with you.
MISTAKE 3c: Another mistake that you might make is freaking out when your ex starts dating somebody else.
And I know, I totally get that. It totally blows you away when they start seeing someone else.
The thought of your ex being with another person is like compounding the breakup tenfold. It makes it almost impossible to eat, sleep, do anything but try and get that person back because it’s the worst thing imaginable.
That the other person in your life is no longer with you and they’re with somebody else is nerve shattering. Somebody else is getting what you so desperately want.
If this does happen, if your ex does decided to jump into the arms of another person, 95% of the time it’s a rebound relationship. I’ll talk about rebound relationships in another podcast, but rebound relationships always end.
They almost always end and they end sooner rather than later because the other person figures out that they were just trying to kind of soothe the pain, the loss for themselves. They were using another person basically to help them get over their ex.
Well, it’s actually kind of fortunate for you because it’s the most ineffective way for that person to move on, so it gives you a chance to get back with your ex.
But again, just because they’re in this rebound relationship doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to move on or even forget about you. Nor does it mean that he wouldn’t want to think about coming back to you.
It’s just as long as they’re in that rebound relationship, they can’t work on getting on with their life, which in a way is good for you.
So what if you’ve already made those mistakes? Well, chances are you’ve probably already made at least one of those mistakes after a breakup.
And don’t worry, the most savvy dating instructor out there, the most guru of the gurus out there, has made this mistake.
Yes, even I've made this mistake. I’ve done it.
I have made some just horrible errors with my ex-girlfriends in the past that - if I had just not done anything - I probably would have been able to win that person back. If I had just avoided these mistakes.
There’s a great bit of advice that I heard a long time back that says something to the effect of:
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have. Happiness comes from recognizing and appreciating what we already have.”
It’s something the Dalai Lama has written about. It’s something that so many great spiritual leaders have written about.
Yet of course, here in America, we tend to think that the more we get, the happier we’ll be.
So I’m going to give you the first, biggest step right now. I want you to use it right away if you’re dealing with this situation, or even if you just suspect you’re going to move on from the relationship you're in.
Maybe the man in your life is not giving you what you need.
And now you’ve summoned the courage to be able to move on, this first step is one of the most critical things you can do.
Whether you’re trying to win them back or move on or do anything that surrounds the break-up of a relationship, and that is during the first 15 days to 30 days - maybe even as long as 60 days - you can take that time to work on getting your life together.
Work on getting yourself to feel really good about the life you have without that other person.
Now, this is going to seem like a tall order.
Especially if the other person has tried to break up with you or is breaking up with you. It’s going to be difficult.
You’re going to want to focus solely on the relationship you lost because it feels like that relationship you had, that connection you had with the man was a physical thing in your life.
And now it’s gone. It’s like something has been stolen from you.
It’s going to preoccupy you. It might even get you a little bit obsessed.
It happens, but you can’t fall victim to that or you won’t get over it either and you won’t stand a chance of getting that aspect.
So what you need to do is take some time. If you’ve been in a relationship for a very long time, this recovery period could be as long as two months to six months, sometimes even as long as a year.
I’ve rarely seen it go that long, but it can. And actually, at one point, I took a whole year off from dating just to let that healing happen.
But it’s not what you will want to do.
Your instincts are going to push you to try something to win them back. Your panic is going to push you into trying to do something - anything - to get that person back right now.
Especially if he was the one to initiate the loss. It triggers something in you where you become blind to the situation.
It could have been a horrible relationship and you’ll still want to win it back simply because he cut it off.
Recognize this pattern and recognize that addiction cutoff symptom of panic. If you can do that, you’ll be well on your way to being more prepared and better able to handle your situation if things don't work out.
But again, the only way you can actually win your ex back is to – I hate to use the aphorism, the butterfly one – let him go and if it was meant to be, he will come back to you.
But there are steps to attract him back to you, the right way. I’m going to cover these in the next part of this article.
Remember, you’ve got to at least commit mentally to the first 30 days or so of working on yourself, working on your life, and being happy without him.
It’s really important because there is a chance you may not be able to win that guy back. Or you may decide, “Hey, I don’t want him back.”
In that case, you spent 30 days doing exactly what you should have been doing, getting on with your life and becoming a happier person - using the time to heal the wounds that may have been inflicted.
The first step in any process of change is to recognize the situation that you’re in, recognize the things that you may be doing to enable those mistakes and making you repeat them.
Once you can see them, once we can recognize and acknowledge them, we can then start to make changes that will unlock his heart to you forever.
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