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Should I Give Him A Second Chance? Or a 3rd, 4th, 20th…

Posted Feb 08 2010 3:45pm

yes! no!Ah, Valentine’s Day is approaching and much like Christmas, exes will be potentially creeping out of the woodworks. Maybe you’ve been broken up for a while, watched him waltz off with someone else and have been wondering, ‘Why her and not me?‘ Or maybe he’s not with someone else (or at least not that you know of but you’ve been feeling really bruised by the breakup. Maybe you cut contact with him because you couldn’t take the pain anymore but have been wondering if he’ll call and show remorse. Or maybe you cut contact and thought you were doing fine until he called or text you and you felt blindsided by the pull of your emotions. Whatever it is that’s happened, your mind has probably gone into overdrive.

What is thinking?

What does he want?

Surely if he’s calling/texting/asking me to take him back, he’s going to be a changed man?

Combined with the fact that you may be feeling a little vulnerable because you don’t like the idea of being alone on Valentine’s Day or you’re already weakening and contemplating whether to go back, you may be wondering whether you should give him a second chance.

This past weekend, I posted an excerpt from my ebook The No Contact Rule on ‘So what is he thinking when he makes contact or tries to get back together?’ and this seemed to strike a chord with readers because no matter what has happened up until this point, if you’re in the zone of contemplating giving him a second (or whatever number it is) chance, you’re not over him yet (or don’t think you are) and are hopeful that he has changed. So what do you do?

As I’ve said many times before, no matter what, you need to have boundaries, values, and act with love, care, trust, and respect, not just to them, but to yourself, and this should be reciprocated. You also need to be real and not get lost in illusions. If you’re going to see potential, it’s got to rooted very firmly in his most consistent behaviour – when we’re contemplating taking someone back, we exaggerate the whole glass is half full mentality and even if he has only been great for 10% of the time, that’s what we’ll focus on.

When we break up, we break up for a reason. Unless the reason no longer exists, you will find yourself revisiting the very issues that caused you to break up once the cosy, rosy glow has worn off.

Now whatever those reasons are, when you consider whether you should give them another chance, he needs to understand what the issues were and what caused the pain in your relationship.

If someone doesn’t understand what they contributed to the pain, what is to stop them from repeating the same actions and putting you in the front line of pain again?

Sometimes when someone wants to get back together with you, they assume that in you taking them back, that you are accepting them as they have previously been.

More often than not, we assume that if someone wants to get back together, they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to make the relationship work.

However, often, when there is a skewed dynamic going on and your self-esteem has already taken a knock, they don’t end up changing in order for the relationship to restart; you do.

Once you’ve already broken up, if you get back together for the wrong reasons, you can then end up being scared about questioning or discussing things, or creating ‘conflict’ for fear of breaking up again. You remember how hurt you felt when you weren’t together and totally forget about the reasons why you weren’t together, and decide that because you don’t want to feel that pain again, you will adapt your behaviour to minimise pain.

Of course it doesn’t minimise pain because you end up sacrificing yourself to maintain a relationship on someone else’s terms.

You shouldn’t get back together because:

1) You’re feeling hurt – Don’t confuse the magnitude of your hurt as some sort of indication of the fact that you should go back. You’re being trapped by your own feelings and removing your options – read my post on this.

2) You don’t want to deal with the perceived rejection – Stemming the feeling of rejection by taking him back and seeking validation will only delay the inevitable hurt. You have to work your way through the loss. You have to keep your feet grounded in reality and have faith that a better relationship is out there. Believe the worst, you’ll get the worst. Read my post about coping with rejection.

3) You’d rather be with him than alone – This is not a reason to be with anyone. Whilst it may seem like a logical step, choosing people out of desperation and loneliness causes you to make ‘desperate’ choices where you are likely to be hurt and taken advantage of. Healthy relationships have personal security in them.

4) You don’t want to start over. Fear of change is something that many people have and it’s what keeps many people trapped in inaction. The fear of the uncomfortable unknown appears to be greater than the uncomfortable familiar. Again, you’re delaying the inevitable and lining yourself up for pain.

5) You want to believe that he has changed even though you know he hasn’t. This is like betting on a 3 legged horse and then wondering why it’s not racing like a thoroughbred – you’re taking an extremely risky gamble based on nothing.

If you’re at the second chance point, you have to trust your gut, instincts, and judgement and assess the situation based on what you know – read my post on understanding why relationships don’t work out.

Are they coming to you being genuine and making a concerted effort? Or are they doing it the lazy way, sending text messages and wanting to keep the conversation light and act like nothing happened.

And I should make a firm point here. Whilst I appreciate that there is an element of not wanting to dwell on the past, be very wary of anyone who tries to come back into your life after you have been broken up and pretend like nothing has happened. It’s not because they want to focus on the happy times and move on; it’s because they don’t want to acknowledge the reality of what has happened previously.

If you find that they’re silencing you or punishing you, by for instance, withdrawing from you or getting moody and aggressive when you bring up the past, I would be extremely cautious.

When it’s the first time that you’re taking them back, it’s a leap of faith.

If you’re going to spend weeks or months agonising over whether to take someone back, there’s something to be said for the whole Suck It & See mentality as it’s better than dawdling in indecision because you’re life’s on hold anyway. Yes it means that your hand may get burnt in the fire by going ahead, but if you’re make a pact with yourself to go back and be real and stay real, you can have faith in yourself that you’ll act in your best interests and if the relationship isn’t working for you and you don’t feel good, you can walk away and say that you’ve given it a try. It’ll save you from the whole ‘Coulda, woulda, shoulda’ saga. I don’t suggest you do Suck It & See if you’re struggle with keeping yourself out of illusions.

If someone is asking you to give them a 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6h or whatever it is chance, you’ve really got to ask:

What is so different now? It’s not like you’re short on information to make an evidence based decision.

You don’t need him to fill up your head with words – you already know the pattern of your relationship.

Have you been here before?

Is he someone whose actions match their words? To be fair, if you’re having to give someone a chance again, I doubt it.

You also have to ask yourself, what’s different about you?

Do you understand why the relationship didn’t work previously? Are you able to be accountable for your own contribution?

Is your self-esteem in a good place or is it still low or even worse than before? If it’s the latter, you are unlikely to be making a decision based on healthy reasons.

Will taking him back mean that you have to let go of boundaries? If so, this is not going to work. If you have to devalue yourself to be with someone and effectively sideline yourself to accommodate their disrespect of you, something is seriously wrong. If you have to turn a blind eye and ignore red flags, again, something is seriously wrong.

You know your relationship. You’ve got to make a decision from a ‘real’ place, not lala land because otherwise, you will love blindly and trust blindly, and then wonder why you are hurt.

Relationship insanity is doing the same things over and over again, carrying the same baggage, revisiting the same issues, and doing the same willing, hoping, and waiting, and expecting different results.

I would suggest that if you’re on a third chance or beyond, something pretty catastrophic will need to have happened for you to consider giving him another chance otherwise you’ll keep going round and round. You’ll be throwing yourself into oncoming traffic and wondering why you’re getting run down.

As for the whole feeling weak and vulnerable around Valentine’s Day thing – read my posts about surviving Christmas and the New Year plus my previous gripes about Valentine’s Day. It’s just one day. Yes it would be nice to have someone and get a gift that you’ll probably forget about quickly…but if it comes at the expense of your self-esteem and medium to long term happiness, I wouldn’t go losing your mind over it.

Remember, there are some things that money can’t buy like your happiness and self-esteem. For everything else there’s Mastercard…and another 364 days of the year.

It’s important not to be a short term, reactive, chasing a feeling type of person – this is the very problem you are facing when being involved with Mr Unavailable’s and assclowns. You’ve got to see the big picture. Don’t get too caught up looking at the trees when you should be looking at the wood. Look for consistency, not fleeting highs, plenty of lows, and glimpses of vague decency.

I’ve said before, ‘If loving you means that I can’t love me, I’ll choose me’. I suggest you do the same before deciding to take someone back. You’ve got to know when to fold in relationships.

Your thoughts?

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