When I was in college I drove what one of my exes called a typical “chick car,” a white 2004 Mustang.
Man, I seriously loved that car. But it was like it was made out of a magnet that attracted drunk drivers. I was hit twice in a four month period. A week after I got it back from the body shop from the first incident, I found myself faced with an almost head-on collision with some bozo driving the wrong way down the interstate. Luckily I reacted pretty quickly and instead of hitting me head-on he slid down the driver’s side of the car and kept driving.
It was quite possibly the scariest 45 seconds of my life. I was lucky to walk away from it at the speeds we were both going. And my poor car was mangled for the second time in a month by some moron.
It didn’t make me love my car any less, but the idea of sending it back to the shop again was too much. I just opted to drive it as it was without the bumper. It looked like a go-cart with a crumpled up piece of paper exterior that slightly resembled a mustang.
I wish I had a picture to show you.
It looked something like this…
It wasn’t exactly safe. But my dad has some serious mechanic skills. He made it driveable (and street legal-ish.)
I drove it like that for over a year until I could afford something else. Still, It was hard getting rid of that Mustang. Yes, it was probably going to fall apart in the middle of some highway in the near future. Yes, it got terrible gas mileage because the crumpled up paper form doesn’t exactly scream aerodynamic. And, yes, it was technically unsafe to drive a three-time proven drunk driver magnet in a town that holds a record for DWIand DUI arrests.
But it was my first car of my own and it felt like I was re-homing a family pet.
You have to do what you think is right for you, and, in the case of the pet, for it too. Now, I’m not saying I played fetch with a car, but it may have had a name and I might have spent more time detailing it than I did doing homework. So, invested time and money played into the pain of letting it go, along with some AWESOME road tripping memories.
I think some breakups tend to play out in a similar fashion.
The person who breaks it off makes that call because, for whatever reason, they think it’s what’s best for them. It’s human nature to protect one’s own self-interests. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they just stop caring altogether. If you truly care about someone, it doesn’t just go away, even if they were the most spectacular variation of jerk on the planet.
But, just like Lola the Mustang, just because you still care about someone doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the car you should drive.
Um… that didn’t really come out as clear as I wanted it to.
Let me try again.
Hmmm, perhaps explaining it with a person rather than a car.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
Genius idea, Ashley!
Alright, so I was seeing this guy, Logan* in college. (not his real name. I did have a horse named Logan when I was a kid though!)
I was almost done with my Junior year and he had just started his Freshman year.
He was a typical dude Freshman. By that, I mean a total slacker.
He skipped most of his classes and somehow still managed to ace all of them. (I’ve always envied people that can do that.)
I am the exact opposite. I have to put in some serious study time even to, kind of, maybe retain the information I need for a test. So, we didn’t exactly mesh on that front. But we had a total blast during the Summer though.
My grades dropped as our relationship progressed. I realized that my goals of actually finishing my associates in two years would be impossible if I stayed with Logan*.
In my mother’s words, he was a “bad influence.” She also referred to him as “that boy” instead of using his actual name, even in front of him.
Finally, I had to decide what was more important to me. My education won, despite his dimples.
It actually really sucked walking away from that at that moment, but if I was going to do what was best for me I had to realize that that didn’t include him. I couldn’t expect him to change who he was to make it work, that would be unfair to him.
I went down a rabbit trail there for a minute.
Okay, so where was I going with this?
Okay, so the question that was asked of me this week was, “My ex says he still cares about me. How do I make that work for me in trying to get him back?”
It’s a completely legitimate question.
A lot of times what people say and what they actually mean don’t add up.
Well, I definitely still cared about Logan after I dumped him. I didn’t just stop wanting good things to happen in his life just because I wasn’t in it anymore.
But as I’ve been told, I’m a big softy and I don’t even wish bad things on people who are awful to me. So, I have to point out that not everyone dates with the intention of building a future.
Heck, I dated a guy last year who I later found out treats women like placeholders, never building an emotional connection with them on his end. He would just keep them around until someone else caught his eye.
Walking away from that one was a lot easier even though he was the one doing the dumping.But in his case, he didn’t really seem to care too much about what happened to me after that.
So, it’s really important that you take into account whether his actions line up with what he’s saying.
If he says he cares and then steadily does things that are clearly meant to hurt you, then he probably just said it because he was saying what he thought he was supposed to say.
Everyone dates for different reasons. Some people date to build a relationship. Some people date just because they don’t like to be alone. Oftentimes, people avoid trying to figure out what our parter’s reasons are until the relationship is pretty much over and done with simply because they are afraid it might not be what they want to hear. And it is almost impossible to really know what someone wants even if they tell you.
There are several circumstances I can think of in which a guy would tell you that he cares.
But what is much more important in this situation is HOW he told you he still cares.
Think about it.
I once had a knock-down drag-out with my bestie because I was using the wrong “tone” with him.
No, I’m not going to get into what tone he took with you. I’m just saying that sometimes what we say and what we mean don’t always line up.
So, let’s consider our different scenarios.
Scenario 1: What he said matches up with what his actions.
Scenario 2: What he said doesn’t match up with his actions.
Scenario 3: What he said is one thing. His actions line up with what he said occasionally but there are times when they don’t.
Scenario 4: He said something, but he’s done nothing to support or devalue what he said.
Now, I could write out a bunch of random actions that guys usually take and end up telling you that no matter what he does you can make him care and want you back no matter what the situation… but I wouldn’t do that unless it was a hundred percent true and not a waste of your time.
And in some cases, that’s just not true.
I would rather give you something you can actually work with.
So, Let’s talk about how to deal with this situation you find yourself in.
Your ex has said that he cares. At least he put the effort to say a minimum of two words, “I care.”
A little tough love here, so prepare yourselves.
In my opinion, you have to do something that will seem impossible. Stop reading into every little thing that he says or does because you are going to want to hold out hope even when there is none. The ONLY time that “I care,” actually holds any significance is when he actually backs it up with some actions, like being considerate of your feelings. Sure he could mean, “I care about you, but in a platonic-friend-I-used-to-date sort of way. But the only way you will find that out is if you get with the program and stop chasing him.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Well, I know that you are probably feeling like there is nothing you can do to change the direction this relationship is heading. And it’s true, you can’t MAKE someone care about you.
So, what can you do?
So, I’m going to tell you a secret.
You have all of the knowledge you need inside your pretty little head already.
Now, normally I would never tell anyone to change who they are in order to get their ex back. However, I will tell you that, if it’s important to you, you can make some changes that are pretty much tailor-made for your ex while also making sure that they are also beneficial to you.
This tactic borders on manipulation, but as long as it makes your life better for you too, in the long run, I don’t see what it would hurt. The way I always look at is is… If my ex and I don’t get back together, is this life I’m creating a life that I would be happy living on my own?
One of my exes taught me a heck of a lot about nerd culture. (Don’t judge. My friends gave me a lot of crap. He had a lot of other great attributes.) When we split up I had to decide which of the things he brought into my life I actually wanted there. It turned out that I had added a lot of things while we were together that I wouldn’t have if I was on my own.
Taking what you want into account will boost your self-confidence through the roof along with making your life something you will truly enjoy regardless of what happens.
It’s part of why I love working with Ex Boyfriend Recovery. There is a lot of good information we put out there. But when I read the Ungettable Girl section of the program I realized that it wasn’t just about getting an ex back, we were empowering people to become their best self.
You can’t be your best self when you are living your life for someone else.
The first step to becoming your best self is beating self-doubt. I don’t care how else you plan to get your ex back. If you don’t get rid of the self-doubt crowding out everything else in your mind, how can you expect your ex to see a reason to beg for you back, let alone come back at all?
So, the first thing you are going to do to achieve this goal is to set up an If-Then set of rules to live by.
The best way to go about this is to make sure that you spend time with people that are supportive and cut out negativity.
Psychological studies say that the mind reacts better to rules of self when they are formulated in an If-Then formula, such as, “if I skip going to the gym one day, then I will go to the gym the next day.”
This is a rule that works wonders if you have a habit of skipping the gym one day and then realizing that, like dominoes, you couldn’t get motivated to go go back and suddenly you have skipped weeks. With this If-Then set of rules, you have made a promise to yourself that you will never go two days in a row without going to the gym. If you can’t respect yourself enough to keep a promise to yourself, how can you expect anyone else to respect you?
In this same fashion, what I want you to do is set up an If-Then rule up to block self-doubt.
Anytime you find yourself thinking about what you could have done differently, mistakes you may have made, or about things that made you culpable for your break up, I want you to replace the thought with one thing that makes you awesome and worthy of your exes respect. I don’t care if you cheated, or made some serious mistakes.
I go through periods of time just like anyone when I can be pretty tough on myself. I’ve found taking a step back and rewiring the way that I “talk” to myself makes me demand respect.
When I was younger and would get in trouble with my parents, that’s when my self-doubt got the best of me. When my parents would raise their voice I would just take it and wait it out. Usually, I’d end up tearing up. If I even tried to speak back my voice would crack and I’d tear up. If I actually got words out, they rarely made sense.
But once, my dad got aggravated and called me stupid. Now, I might not be Einstien but I’m not stupid. I was hurt, but it was as if a curtain was pulled back. Why? Because I KNEW I wasn’t stupid and I didn’t deserve to be spoken to in such aware. I was empowered and I think I said something to the effect of, “How do you expect me to let the men in my life talk to me if I let you speak to me like that?”
It was the first time I ever made a complete and poignant sentence directed at my dad when he was fuming. Well, his fuming ran out of gas like he had hit a brick wall and his eyes got really big.
Needless to say, we have a much better relationship now, because I found a respect for myself and apparently so did he.
So, in your situation at this moment, it is important that you come up with something that works for you. Your rule would be phrased something like this, “If I find myself blaming myself for the breakup, then I will remind myself why I am awesome and deserve respect.” A second one would be “If I find myself overanalyzing my exes words or actions, I will remember that I say and do things all the time without putting a lot of thought into them and it is likely that my ex didn’t mean anything by it. I won’t waste my time.”
You see? Our minds instinctively look for patterns. So, by setting up “Rules” we tell our mind to look for a trigger. In this case, it would be self-deprecating thoughts.
I guarantee you will start to see yourself differently.
So will your ex.
I’m assuming some, or most, of you are in some stage of No Contact at this point, so you’ve got some downtime.
I DARE you to try it.
I’d love to know how you personalize it and how it works for you!
Let me know!