Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Ghosted Her After Five Years and Now I Want Her Back”

A few weeks back, I got back in touch, for the first time in five years, with the girl with whom I cut contact without any explanation whatsoever. We were never officially together. Instead, we had a sort of fling that lasted five years. So I got in touch without thinking she would respond at all, or at the very least that she would kindly tell me to get lost. She responded, and she had a lot of things to say:

She told me that all the hurt and pain had come back when I got in touch. That what I put her through badly affected her and still does. That she’s had issues with her relationships and that she’s never quite felt the same again. That she thought I hated her. However, she also told me this: “I like the idea of our trying something together, but I’m afraid of the result.”

A week ago, I sent her the apology:

“(Her name), I’m really sorry to have cut you off in such a way, without explanation, and for not being fair and honest with you. I behaved like a coward and an egoist. My behavior towards you was appalling and insensitive. I always doubted your feelings, and at the time, I thought it was the best way for me.

I am sorry for all the pain and the hurt that I inflicted on you during all these years of questions and distress. During all these years I thought only of you; in the morning when I woke up, throughout the day, and in the evening you were in my thoughts, in my heart. I do not know what you think and feel. (Her name) whatever happens, know that I only wish you happiness in your life.”

I was a real sack of garbage to her. I was selfish and didn’t once think about how cutting her off so abruptly would affect her. Do you think there may be a chance to get her back? Do you think she may still have feelings for me? What’s your opinion on my situation? — Sack of Garbage

I know you think you’re a better person now than when you ghosted a woman you’d been in a relationship with for five years, but I have my doubts. First of all, there’s the fact that you can’t even acknowledge that what you shared was a relationship. Instead, you say you weren’t “officially together” and that it was “a sort of fling that lasted five years.” It was a relationship, ok? It may have been complicated, maybe you weren’t committed or monogamous, it wasn’t “official,” but it was a relationship – a five year relationship that you totally peaced out on without so much as a text. And now, after hearing that your behavior caused this woman so much pain, and has affected her relationships to this day, your primary question is whether you can get her back? Ugh, it’s not about you! You say you were selfish when you cut her off so abruptly five years ago, but you’re still selfish getting in touch with her and not thinking about how that might affect her.

You already fucked up this woman once. You fucked her up so much that she’s struggling with how to process your sudden re-entry into her life. She’s pissed, she’s in pain, she has never felt the same after you ghosted her and, yet, she “likes the idea of your trying something together.” So, yeah, of course, she still has feelings for you, but they’re obviously very mixed. A lot of them – maybe most of them — are not good. She’s afraid of you. She doesn’t trust you. And for all this time, she’s likely been projecting those feelings onto new people she’s tried to date because she probably didn’t completely process the feelings she had when you disappeared without warning or explanation. And now, whatever healing she managed to do in the five years you’ve been away is being threatened by your sudden re-emergence – a re-emergence that’s all about YOU and what YOU want.

You’ve messed her up enough. I would follow up with another note:

“Dear [her name] – This note is only an apology and nothing else. I am sorry for the pain I’ve caused you – for not acknowledging the relationship we shared and the feelings I had for you for the five years we were romantically involved, for contributing to the ambiguousness of our status and for any pain and confusion around that. I’m sorry for any pain I’ve stirred up again now by reaching out to you after all this time and for intentions that were more selfish than altruistic. I missed you and was hopeful that you’d be interested in giving us a chance again, but on further reflection I realize that that wasn’t fair of me. You deserve so much happiness, including a loving relationship with someone you can trust without fear. I understand, given our history and how I treated you, the likelihood of that person being me isn’t great. I also understand how my behavior may make it difficult for you to trust even people who aren’t me, and I’m sorry for that, too. I don’t want to cause you more pain. I only want you to know that our breakup is entirely a reflection of my shortcomings and not a reflection of you at all. I couldn’t be the man you deserved, but I hope you find him and I hope I haven’t caused so much pain that you don’t recognize the promise of a loving relationship when you do.”

Send that and then leave her alone. If she decides to take a chance on you, fine. But let her come to any decision she makes without further pressure from you, and with a reminder — and a warning — that in the past you were not the person she deserved. It’s up to her to decide whether you’re what she deserves going forward. And if she thinks that you are and she wants to give you another chance, it’s up to you not to make her regret that.

***************
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

24 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Moe September 30, 2019, 8:38 am

    So why did you ghost her? Were there problems in the relationship? Did you meet someone else? If you weren’t even exclusive, why suddenly ghost her? This might explain some unanswered questions.

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  • avatar

    FYI September 30, 2019, 8:54 am

    I’m …. not sure I agree with Wendy on this one. I agree LW clearly has not made important changes in terms of maturity, but sending one message that says “I think of only you morning, noon, and night and have for years” — and then following that up with “on second thought, find someone else” — that would not be good. That would be another kick in the gut for this woman. She says “maaaybe,” and you follow that up with “never mind, scratch that idea.” No.

    I don’t know the alternative, now that you’ve opened the door. I guess it would be to make the second message less flowery, less of a feelings-bomb. “I just wanted you to know that I’m sorry, and I’m still working on myself, and all of this is my fault.”

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    • avatar

      MyLovelyMe October 10, 2019, 2:25 pm

      Those were my exact thoughts!

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  • avatar

    MP September 30, 2019, 8:54 am

    “Instead, we had a sort of fling that lasted five years.”

    What does official even mean? I’m a millennial and still don’t get the obsession with the ~official title. Monogamous or “official” or not, it was still a relationship that went on for five years.

    Why did you ghost her? And what prompted you to get back in touch?

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  • avatar

    FYI September 30, 2019, 8:55 am

    Also, that line about “I have thought of no one else in all my waking moments” plus the “we weren’t official” — UGH, dude. Terrible. Really. You have much more work to do on yourself, ’cause that stuff is uber-manipulative.

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  • avatar

    BonV September 30, 2019, 9:00 am

    Two decades ago, I had another sack of garbage pull the same crap on me, and then 5 years later wanted to get back together with me. He is so self-centered that he had no idea of how horribly he had treated me, said horrible treatment’s effect on me, or why I would rather stick ten inch steel rods in my eyes than to even consider getting back together with him. I spent much time, money, and effort to change myself so that I NEVER attract anyone like that into my life again.

    In short, Sack of Garbage, move on and work on yourself to ensure that you never treat another living person like that again.

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    • avatar

      Allornone September 30, 2019, 11:40 am

      I had a similar thing too. He didn’t ghost me, but was still a POS. We had been on and off FWB for years during the times we were single. He knew I had feelings for him and would talk about us ending up together, growing old and having babies, that I may be the love of his life, etc. One week, he told me he was going to break up with his then-girlfriend and we that should finally take our shot. A week later, like literally one week, they got married after a four-day engagement. Now six years later, they are getting a divorce, and he wants to get together with me and have those babies. Jokes on him- I’m happy in my long-term relationship and do not want kids. Even if that weren’t true, I’d rather french kiss Donald Trump before getting into that mess again. It’s baffling that he is still clueless about the ways he almost destroyed my confidence and ability to trust, and it took a lot of growth and a healthy relationship to build it up again.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie September 30, 2019, 9:09 am

    What have you been doing in the five years? Have you been living the life of a monk or have you been seeing other people? Have you behaved similarly with them? Are you going to walk away from anyone if your ex takes you back?

    I think you’ve romanticized your ex because you haven’t found anyone.

    Your ex is going to expect you to explain yourself. Fully explain yourself. More than just “i treated you poorly” or “I don’t know why I did it.” What happens if she needs this information explained to her multiple times? Will you patiently answer her questions, even if you’ve rehashed this multiple times?

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  • avatar

    csp September 30, 2019, 9:15 am

    I think I need to know why you cut her off and how old you were. So if you were 22 when you cut her off and now are 27, maybe.

    I guess I want you to think about why you circled back to her now. I mean, it has been years. Did you just get out of a relationship? are you lonely and in a transition? What brought on thinking about her. I mean, you didn’t think about her before so what is it now?

    Look, we all have done things that are not ideal. But it is what you do going forward that really will decide how you move forward.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse September 30, 2019, 9:16 am

    Why did you ghost her if you were thinking about her all day, everyday? How can you say you didn’t think how it would affect her, if you were thinking about her all the time? Are you sure you were actually thinking about her, because it sounds like a load of bullshit to me. In what way were you thinking about her? Her body? The sex? I don’t think it is possible that you were thinking about her in any serious, deep way. For her sake, I hope you leave her alone. You shouldn’t be in any relationship if you aren’t mature enough to consider how your actions will affect the other person.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 30, 2019, 10:23 am

    Good Lord. Your apology letter seemed designed to inflict maximum pain and damage. Lying about ONLY thinking about her… blah, blah, blah.
    .
    Dude. Fuck off. Could you possibly be more narcissistic? I say — NO.
    .
    Send her another message saying that you are a lying drama queen who thrives on manipulation. (Trust me — THIS she will instantly believe as it’s absolutely 100% true.)

    Say that you would never expect her to offer you another chance in that it would only end badly because you, LW, are a fucking mess.

    Apologize profusely. End contacting her. Only respond IF she contacts you (meaning never ghost her again) and even then just repeat the message I just laid out above. You are never to date this woman again. You have lost the privilege. Forever.

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    • avatar

      cmary October 1, 2019, 9:14 am

      Holy crap, this! 1000% WBGM said.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. September 30, 2019, 10:33 am

    If I were this woman’s friend, I would advise her to kiss you off and never look back. She deserves so much better than you.

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  • avatar

    PDX816 September 30, 2019, 11:48 am

    Just no, no to all of this bullshit. No to ghosting anyone, no to pretending five years together isn’t a relationship, no to telling her she’s always on your mind, no for being a selfish asshole who has once again turned her life inside out.
    LW, no.

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  • avatar

    cdobbs September 30, 2019, 12:15 pm

    ugh….i wish it was the girl he ghosted writing in just so i could tell her to run so fast away from this guy….Wendy’s answer was perfection….hopefully he takes her words to heart

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  • avatar

    Nicole September 30, 2019, 1:35 pm

    Oh hell no. I dated someone like that for 3 years and he was a narcissistic a******. He dragged me along for so long but never really loved me. Was emotionally abusive and gas lighted me. Made me think that he wouldn’t let us get closer, because of who I was. Stood me up on dates, never spent the night, never celebrated holidays with me. You would have thought from his behavior that he was secretly married or something.
    I finally got him to stay away from me. Years later, he tried again. Practically had to move to escape him. He ruined me. So stay away from her. You wouldn’t even admit that you were in a relationship. You obviously never loved her.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros September 30, 2019, 4:33 pm

    Leave her alone. Just accept that you made a mistake and move on. I find it incredibly selfish that after all this, all you care about is whether you can get her back or not.

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  • avatar

    ron September 30, 2019, 5:33 pm

    You’re lucky you didn’t get a visit from the police for, presumably secretly filmed, sex tapes with women you only wanted to fuck once appearing on the internet. You are a scummy guy. I say that present tense, because it really doesn’t sound like you’ve changed at all.

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    • avatar

      Sea witch October 2, 2019, 1:31 pm

      ??? I don’t see any mention of secret sex tapes in the letter.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark October 2, 2019, 2:07 pm

        Ron accidentally posted in the wrong thread!

        Link
  • avatar

    Ange October 1, 2019, 3:27 am

    I swear we’ve had a letter from someone who either was ghosted or did ghost after a similar length of time, would be funny if they were the couple.

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  • avatar

    cmary October 1, 2019, 9:15 am

    I haven’t posted in forever, but this one makes me feel so uncomfortable. Stay away from this woman. Just let her be. She has NOT SPENT THE LAST 5 YEARS THINKING ONLY OF YOU. You are a piece.

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  • avatar

    Sea witch October 2, 2019, 1:28 pm

    It sounds as if she was your Emergency Backup Girlfriend while you searched around for someone better. When you couldn’t find a better (i.e. “hotter”) girlfriend, you decided she’d probably do as well as anyone.

    You’ve been thinking of her day and night for years? I seriously doubt that. You’d have gotten back in contact a long time ago if that were the case.

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  • avatar

    Lis Riker November 7, 2019, 1:25 pm

    Coming from a perspective of being the girl that had a guy suddenly stop contacting back during a normal convo, and then completely ghost after almost six months of an in depth emotional connection and physical relationship… It is truly hurtful to send these mixed signals out, and then to suddenly disappear. It is truly painful no matter if it was a casual relationship or more serious one.

    If feelings were involved, it hurts for someone to bail on you without explanation or anything. You feel like you at least lost a best friend, if not lover, and more.

    If you truly cared there wouldn’t be mixed signals or lack of acknowledgement of feelings or a relationship intention over months, or even years. You would have said, ‘You are the one for me, and I need you to stay in my life here and now in whatever capacity. Because I need and want you in it, more than I need or want other women.’ That is what you should have been able to say to her during those five years, but you couldn’t or didn’t, so don’t say it now….

    Why bother contacting her? She wasn’t good enough for you then to make it ‘official’, so can’t be good enough now…

    I sound upset. But it just happened to me. Thankfully not after years.

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