DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: The previous year I wrote you a message here regarding “How to get over someone”. It was about a girl that I thought she was perfect for me but the timing was wrong. She said that even if she liked me very much, she was about to find a job in another country and she was still getting over a long term relationship, so she was not right for me at that time. I was devastated at first, but I followed all your advice. I took the nuclear option, I maintained a good relationship with our common friends, I had many new experiences, I even dated again and at some point after 4-5 months her memory started to fade. I felt tremendously good, because after a long time I could say for sure that I got over her! Your advice back then, clearly helped me to heal, learn and grow.
Then suddenly after 9 months, I met her by chance in a local event. We had a casual conversation and we started hanging out with our common friends once a month, including some Zoom sessions during the lockdown. Although I still liked her, my position was different because (a) I didn’t need her since I strongly believed (and I still do) that I can lead a very enjoyable life without her and (b) the reason she ended things was still hanging there. She didn’t move to another country yet but she was planning to. So, I maintained a very tiny contact but at the same time I was honestly thinking about how I can meet a new girl.
Before a few months, one common friend told me, that this girl decided to not leave our country, and that, surprise surprise, she found a job in my town! Then it occurred to me that the reasons she gave me for breaking up have vanished. And the question came to my mind “Since I clearly got over her back then, there was no drama between us and the reasons she gave me for ending things are not here anymore, should I try and get back with her?”
The fact that she was the one who dumped me back then holds me back. Truth to be told, the interaction between us is still a little awkward when we hang out with other friends. I can sense a cold space still existing between us. I just know that when she comes in my town in few months, since we have many common friends, we will be hanging out much more often. We never text each other, but I thought that I could give it a chance by starting one or two conversations with her and observe whether a connection is slowly evolving or not. I am just afraid to take things too slowly so as to not give the impression that I am just a friend. How should one proceed in that case?
On the other hand I could just let this go and focus on finding someone else, but the fact that I had a great time with her back then makes me think if it would be a good idea to give it a chance. The only thing that holds me back is fear and uncertainty.
Only one thing is sure. I don’t need her and I honestly think that I can happily live without her … or with her and her boyfriend if she has one! I can definitely find someone new who would be nice for me, but given the situation should I give it a chance and if yes then how?
Thank you very much
To Be or Not to Be
DEAR TO BE OR NOT TO BE: My rule of thumb is that your ex is your ex for a reason, TBNTB, and that trying to go back is frequently a bad decision. Most of the time when I hear from people who want to get back with their ex, it’s so soon after the break-up that there really hasn’t been any time for things to have changed. You need both time and distance to get perspective on the relationship, time to grow and change and — importantly — to move forward with your life. The people who are most interested in trying to get back with their ex have a tendency to try to speed-run the process and, frankly, that doesn’t work. There is no short-cut to the process; you can’t get over someone in double-time or become a different person like you’re doing a training montage in Dragon Ball Z. You have to take it at the same pace as everyone else and not let the desire for it to be done already to color your perspective.
Nine months ain’t that much time. And, frankly, some of what you’re describing sounds a lot like what’s known as motivated reasoning: you’re so hoping for a specific outcome that you’re justifying your reasoning based on what you want, rather than the facts on the ground.
I mean, for someone who got over her, you jumped right back to “well, maybe we can get together again” after having only seen her less than a handful of times. There hasn’t been any sort of transition period of getting to know each other as you are now, no real time to get reacquainted, see if you can make a platonic friendship work. As soon as you found out that she wasn’t moving after all, your immediate impulse was to try to start things up again.
Now I get the impulse. I have been there and done that more times than I care to think about. I’ve played the “I got over you first” game before. Hell, there’ve been times where I was absolutely convinced that I was over them. But I was wrong; there hadn’t been enough time, I hadn’t gotten enough distance and I sure as hell didn’t actually have enough perspective to see things differently. I had decided I was over her because I wanted to believe I was.
That lasted… oh, about three weeks before I was trying to get back with her. Which worked about as well as you might expect.
So right from the jump: no, I don’t think this is a good idea. I don’t think you’re nearly as over her as you think you are, and trying to get back together with her is going to just end in tears.
But on top of everything else, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that she wants to get back with you. Having had a good time talking with her isn’t a sign that it’s a good time to try to pursue things with her again. That’s a sign that things were cordial and friendly. She may not be leaving the country any more, but the fact that she hasn’t made any serious attempt to reach out or get back in touch with you is a pretty good indicator that she’s not looking to rekindle things. Now whether this means that her plans to leave provided her a convenient excuse for a break-up she wanted anyway or her feelings have changed over the intervening months is ultimately irrelevant; what matters is that there haven’t been any signs of interest from her. In fact, you mention that you never text and you still feel “a cold space” from her side. All of that seems like a more reliable indicator that no, she’s not thinking that maybe she made a mistake and wants to try again.
As a general rule, TBNTB: when folks want to be with you, there’s very rarely any need to guess. People who are interested and want to date you tend to be pretty clear that yes, that’s what they want. Especially when the two of you have dated briefly before. You’re not getting any of that from her. Hell, it doesn’t sound like you’re getting any sort of attention from her that you could interpret as potential interest if you squint hard enough.
I don’t think you’re as over her as you think, and I really don’t think trying to get back with her is a good idea. I think your best move is to be polite and friendly when you see her at group hang-outs, but to let go of the idea of getting back together. You need to be moving forward… and you can’t do that while you’re constantly looking back at something that never even got off the ground in the first place.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org