Dear Straight from the
I was on KTLA
News in September discussing how to decide if
its a good idea to go back to the lure of an
old flame or keep looking and moving on. Here's
a link to that interview.
I find this to be a very common concern that
comes up often in my private practice.
I GO BACK TO HIM OR HER?
I must admit that
sometimes breaking up can give the relationship
the healthy shake up it needs. It can be a new
beginning. Like a brush with death, breaking
up can breathe new life and love back into a
relationship that has lost its luster or that
has stalled on the road to deeper commitment.
It can act like a heart wake-up call. We realize
how much we truly miss and yearn for connection
with our partner. We suddenly value them more,
and realize how much we really do love them.
We may feel a psychic connection and invisible
bond with each other. I hear couples say, "Even
though we were broken up, I still felt connected
to him." "I never stopped loving her."
Often a couple wants a second chance to create
a happier, more successful relationship. They
now believe that they have
more clarity and certainty about their feelings
and can work through any problems that arise.
They want another opportunity to have that great
and enduring relationship that their heart's
I NEVER STOPPED LOVING
Being a veteran myself
of a break up/makeup/ and yes, unfortunately,
break up again scenario, I know first hand about
the magical thinking that can fog your ability
to see the situation clearly. We may be telling
ourselves that "This time it will be different!"
"I now know that she/he is my GREAT LOVE,
so we'll be able to get through anything."
"I've changed and/or my partner has changed...now
it will work." "It's been 9 months,
and I haven't met anyone else that comes close."
"I miss her so much it hurts." I have
learned the hard way that no matter what your
heart or head is telling you, it's critical
to remain rational, take it slow, and keep your
eyes wide open before jumping back in. I can
promise you that the unresolved problems that
caused the original break up will rise again,
once the hormones settle down and you each return
to your comfort zone.
WHAT YOU NEED
TO KNOW AND DO BEFORE YOU JUMP IN FULLY
HAVE A PLAN OF ACTION
It is important to have a "rough
waters, this is shaky territory"
game plan for how to handle your responses
differently. Discuss the problems areas
that you had in the past and the needed
changes this time around. Having some
strategies in place will eliminate some
of the shock and disappointment that occurs
when you realize not much has magically
changed during the time apart.
Yes, let yourself
be known. Many times we go undercover
in order to win approval, attention,and
love. But then, we never feel completely
known or seen. To make it work, you need
to have the following agreement: No secrets.
No masks. I am really ME. You are really
YOU. Speak YOUR truth. No lies, no games.
I WON'T BAIL ON YOU
There has to be a firm commitment to
stay together while you are making new
and permanent changes. Create an 'I won't
bail on you" love contract that declares
your willingness to hang in there and
hold hands when the inevitable problems,
fears and regressions arise.
WAIT BEFORE YOU MATE
This is a second chance for love. Take
it slow. Give yourself the time to learn
about each other anew and see each other
with fresh eyes. Date for awhile. Build
trust. Be gentle and nurturing with yourself
and your partner. Notice how safe it feels
to really be you. Are your needs being
met? How loved and accepted do you each
WE'RE ON THE SAME PAGE
Getting back together must be mutual
regarding goals and direction. i.e. If
one person wants to get married and the
other doesn't, this will be a problem
once the 'urge to merge' hormones and/or
drive to end the loneliness calm down.
Don't reunite before you are sure it's
the right time and a mutual commitment
of goals is agreed upon.
BE A TEAM PLAYER
Are you really on the same bench playing
for the same team? Can you give up 'being
right' in favor of being together? Do
you both hold the WE as important as the
I? Are you a team player or do you need
to be the quarterback in order to feel
THIS MAY BE AN OPPORTUNITY
TO REWRITE YOUR OLD RELATIONSHIP SCRIPT
Nothing pushes our buttons
more than a deep, intimate relationship. Our
relationship is the greatest teacher for learning
about ourselves and our buttons. Whatever your
partner is stimulating in you that is painful
or uncomfortable is a wound in YOU that needs
healing. Returning to a past relationship, may
help you complete something that was left undone.
While it could be a brand new beginning, it
might also be a way to finally complete and
really move on once and for all.
ARE YOU REALLY READY
TO HOLD HANDS AND NOT GRUDGES?
Ask yourself and be honest!
Can you leave the past grudges behind? Are you
willing to learn to new skills to really make
the relationship work? Are you willing to compromise?
Are you on the same team? Can you hold on tight
and not bail through the needed changes?
RED FLAGS THAT SAY
NO, NO, NO!
So here's the final test.
Make sure you can answer NO to the following
ONE OF YOU DOESN'T FEEL
READY OR IS UNSURE ABOUT BEING IN A FULL
You may be hot to trot knowing that this
is your beloved. But, if your partner
is unsure or is being pulled in by your
enthusiam, it will peter out fast.
HOLD A GRUDGE AND WANT TO GET EVEN
You can't help it.
You want to get together BUT you feel
that you can never forgive the fact that
he cheated on you. Or, she broke up with
you and really hurt you so this time you
won't let her get so close. If you want
revenge, just keep moving on.
YOU FEEL DESPARATE AND
EMPTY WITHOUT YOUR PARTNER
Life just hasn't been the same since
you broke up. You feel lonely and no one
you've met has been able to fill the gap.
You feel like something is missing that
only your partner could fill. You are
hurting. You are waiting to plan that
great vacation or get tickets to your
favorite play until you have someone you
love to go with. Your life is on hold
until you are in love again.
ONE OF YOU IS UNWILLING
TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR PART
IN THE FAILURE OF THE RELATIONSHIP
After all, it's all your partner's fault.
If they change, it will all work out and
be okay. The failure of the past relationship
was because of his/her problems, not yours.
You see yourself as easygoing and they
are the one with the problems.
YOU ARE STILL FIGHTING
OR ENGAGING IN POWER STRUGGLES
Everything ends up in a struggle. If
you say red, she says blue. There's a
lot of blame and shame. You and/or your
partner are headstrong and controlling
and want it YOUR way. One of you walks
in fear of displeasing your partner. Peace
comes when your partner finally hears
you and sees it your way (or vice versa).
YOU ARE NOT BEING REAL
You are walking on tiptoes, holding back,
being what you think your partner wants
you to be.You still don't really accept
each other as you are. One of you lies
NOTHING HAS REALLY CHANGED
You keep pushing the same old buttons
and there is no plan of action for change.
He or she promises to change, but you
don't see any evidence of it. One or both
of you are in magical thinking that somehow
miraculously it will all work out and
there is nothing to discuss or work on.
" THERE IS NO
LOVER WORTH THE NAME WHO IS NOT COVERED IN MINOR
The truth is that no matter
what you read, what your friends say, what advice
you get, or what your head tells you, if your
heart strongly pulls you back, you'll probably
go. The willingness to return to love again,
choosing love over fear, is a worthy journey
no matter how the relationship ultimately ends
up. This could be your forever love or it could
be the necessary completion you need to fully
I hate to tell you this
but no person or relationship is problem free.
When problems do occur, it is important to remember,
that you are in part responsible for them. To
successfully overcome your conflicts, you have
to become less reactive and more willing to
look at the situation through eyes of love.
The real strength and cohesion between you is
often revealed in how you deal with problems
and frustrations that arise. I like the adage
that 'love builds the best survivors.' Adversity
requires action. Instead of saying, "why
me?" or "what's wrong with you?",
the best question to ask is "what now?".
Loving actions brings caring solutions. For
the known button-pushing problems that occur
between the two of you, create a plan of action
ahead of time.
If you truly want to repair,
restore and rejuvenate your relationship with
your former partner, you have to release and
resolve the negative feelings and come to a
place of forgiveness and understanding with
yourself and each other. As your barriers melt
and a renewed sense of safety and relief replaces
hurt, your heart is set free to truly love again.
I wish you love.