It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Sick of the Pattern” who wrote in after a vacation with a girlfriend of six months didn’t go very well and made them both question the relationship and whether they were a match.
He wrote: “This has been happening for the last twenty years and it’s the same old pattern. I date a woman for three to six months, anxiety sets in, relationship ends, and anxiety dissipates. I’m sick of it.
I’m even beginning to question myself as to whether I truly want a relationship and whether, perhaps, I secretly want to remain on my own and avoid the challenges that relationships bring. Can you help?”
He updated once before, to say he’d broken up with the woman, Louise, from the ill-fated vacation, but was regretting the break-up, and he then shared a bunch of notes from his therapist about how he’s such a commitment-phone and how he was advised “to breathe [his] anxiety out and to focus on the positives of being in a relationship.” He wondered if he should try again with Louise since she was still single and he’d seen her on a dating site.
To summarize: I dated her for six months and broke up soon after a vacation together. I texted her a couple of times soon after. I then met up with her three months after the break-up but couldn’t bring myself to ask her to get back together. I started seeing a therapist a month later, and he basically said I have a fear of commitment, an avoidant attachment style, and trust issues.
But I feel like I’m ready this time. I feel more mature. I’ve had many opportunities since Louise. I went on dates but couldn’t attach to anyone.
There are many questions though:
Is it common to want to get back with your ex (especially after a long break of 18 months)?
What do you think Louise’s reaction would be? (I’ve seen her on a dating site as recently as a month ago, so maybe she’s possibly still single?)
If she’s still single, would she want to get back together or has she moved on?
What are the chances of it working out the second time?
Would it be boring or exciting?
I even asked my mother. She said it was like taking a bite of an apple, then going back to the same apple later on: The apple would be rotten then. (I am not sure this is a good analogy, but I think I know where she was coming from.)
She said the vacation with Louise didn’t bring us closer; therefore, it was best to move on and find someone else.
Another friend thinks I’m lonely and that’s the reason I want her back. That’s rubbish! I am not lonely. I am not bored. I am not after sex. I’m actually happy!
Another friend thinks there’s always a chance we would break up again. I agree but think that there are no guarantees with any relationship.
Wendy, what should be the right and wrong reasons to want to get back together?
How do I approach this? I don’t want to ring her. My preference is email, and if she’s interested, she’ll reply. But what does someone write on this email?
And if she’s not interested, that’s cool with me. I will respect her boundaries. I will respect her wishes.
I’m now 49 and she’s 46. It’s seems like yesterday that I was dating her, but it’s been 18 months since the break-up.
What should I do?
In your last update, we all advised you to leave poor Louise alone and move on. Nothing you’ve said in this second update indicates that you are any more interested in truly dating Louise than you were over ten months ago when you last wrote in. You ask whether being back together would be boring or exciting, you ask what the “right and wrong” reasons might be to get back together, and you ask what the changes are that it would work out a second time.
Here’s the thing: If you’ve already dated someone, the only reason you should get back together is because you’ve now experienced life with them and without them and life with them is so much better. You should attempt to try again because you feel so strongly in your heart that you’re meant to be together and you’re a great match and you’d regret NOT trying. You should attempt to date again because the benefits of being with her far, far outweigh the risks (which include: being wrong about what a great match you are and breaking up again). You simply do not sound very convinced of these things. Rather than articulating reasons why you want to date Louise again, you’re actually asking to be told what those reasons should be. You sound like you want to be talked into trying again, and if you need to be talked into it, and have your hand held through the process, and told exactly how to even reach out to Louise, you either need a lot more therapy or Louise simply is NOT the right person for you (probably both!). At any rate, I stand by my advice from your last update: leave her alone and let her go.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.