“Is it okay to reach out to an ex out of the blue to apologize for less-than-cool things I did while we were dating? Are you supposed to just let the past be the past and not bring it up or does owning up to your mistakes help the friendship?”
-Question submitted by Anonymous
The short answer here is: yes, you can and should absolutely reach out to apologize to any person who you feel you may have hurt in the past. The short answer isn’t always the answer, though, so LET’S DIG IN A LITTLE BIT MORE, ANON. **shovel emoji**
The longer answer gets a bit more complicated, and it has everything to do with the dynamic of your past relationship and your current relationship. Even if you and your ex aren’t speaking to each other right now, you still have a relationship with this person, and taking care of that relationship does notalways mean following the short-answer rules.
If you and your ex broke up a few weeks or even a few months ago, and you know that they were incredibly heart-broken and also very hurt by some less-than-cool things that you did, there is a (good) chance that they may just be beginning to heal those wounds. They may just be beginning to move on and take the first few incredibly important steps toward their without-you future! That is so important and so it should always be treated with the utmost care and compassion.
That doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) ever get back in touch to bring up those old things, but it might mean that NOW isn’t the best time. Think about what you want to say, and why you want to say it. Will you be able to say the things you need to say and then still allow your ex to move forward, even if they aren’t able to forgive you right now? Are you wanting to apologize because you know that this apology will help out your ex, or does it have more to do with you wanting to heal your own heart? Do you think that there is any chance that this apology might confuse your ex, and make them think that you are trying to rekindle anything?
Take those questions and thoughts and turn them over and over again in your hands. Think about your ex, think about what you’ve both been through, try to tune into what they might be doing on their own right now to help heal their heart, and see if that helps you inform your decision.
If you do decide, after all of that thinking, that an apology might really, truly help, then my advice is to write your apology in a letter or any email. Don’t ask questions (don’t ask for anything as a matter of fact) and be incredibly clear about your intentions. Your intentions are to apologize. Your intentions are to only help and not to confuse anything. Tell them they don’t have to respond. Be clear, be compassionate, and ensure that every word in that note is written with your ex’s wellbeing in mind. A letter gives your ex the space that they may need right now, it doesn’t put pressure on an immediate response, and it keeps physical space (which is often very important to moving past a breakup) between the two of you.
The most important thing to becoming friends with someone who you’ve dated is caring for the relationship through all of its many stages, and closely listening to what it (and your ex) needs. <3
“My gf and I have been together for a little over 6 years but lately nothing seems to click like before. It’s obvious that we both still love each other and want it to work but it feels like we have to work super hard on things that used to just flow naturally. I really don’t want to lose her (we’re each others 1st everything) but I feel like it shouldn’t be this hard if it was meant to work. How to know when its over?”
Question Submitted by Anonymous
I think you’re right. You’re recognizing a lot of key parts of this (both how deep your love is and how complicated it has become).
Relationships grow and change, absolutely, but you also have to keep in mind that people grow and change, and those two things (the relationship and the people) don’t always grow and change together in a way that fits.
I don’t know you’re relationship, but I’m one of those people who believes a good relationship hinges on complete honesty, openness, and communication. If you’re hiding something, not sharing the reality of all of your feelings, unable to understand your partner’s point of view, holding on to tiny issues because you don’t want to make a fuss, etc. If you’re doing any of that, you are getting in the way of having a good relationship. If you ARE doing all of the honesty and communication, and it’s not working, that means the relationship doesn’t work.
Think about the best possible version of your relationship. What does that include? Know that right now, it is completely possible to have a perfect relationship with someone. You can be with someone that you admire, who also admires you, you can be with someone who values sex the same way you do, you can be with someone who fights with you and comes out on the other side with more understanding than ever before, you can be with someone that truly challenges you and helps you to grow, you can be with someone who makes you feel so fucking special every single day. Is that the relationship you are in right now? If not, can the two of you talk about it, be honest with one another, and get to that place? Maybe you’ve just hit a bump in the road and you can figure it out.
If there is no way that you see yourself unbelievably happy with this person in the future, that’s okay. Relationships come into our lives for so many reasons, you will learn and grow regardless of how long it lasts. Maybe this one started out with a bang and now it has to end because you’re in two different worlds. Maybe you started out looking for the same things, but you’ve both changed and grown so much that those ‘same things’ are now vastly different. Please believe me when I say there is a way to have a relationship that will make you feel amazing all the time, and when you don’t feel amazing, you’re in the middle of a fight that will take you one step further into amazing.
I want everyone in the world to stop settling. Stop settling for a relationship that used to be good. Either work together to make it good again, or move on. If you’re both sitting there like, “man i miss the love of my life, how do i get it back,” put in the effort and get it back. If you’re both sitting there being like “man, this isn’t even fun anymore and I am doing most things out of obligation” you’re both wasting each other’s time and you know it. Let that person go, it’s only fair to them. You can find a way to be in her life and not have to feel like you’re both settling and unhappy. If you’re contemplating it being over, it’s probably over.
“My girlfriend and I moved across the country two years ago. Now we’re breaking up, and I’m starting to realize that–because we were together when we moved across the country–I never really made my own friends here. How does a twenty-something baby adult make friends, AND get over their first heartbreak at the same time?”
- Question submitted by Anonymous
That’s it, that’s the answer to all people who are trying to meet people. No matter your age, interest, amount of heartbreak, DO STUFF.
I don’t care what it is, really. Take an improv class, do computer work at a cafe instead of from home, check out the local LGBTQ community center events, volunteer for something you give a shit about, do free yoga and talk to the teachers after.
Oh, and after you do stuff. REACH OUT.
So many times we meet people and switch phone numbers and we’re like “they’re so dope, i’ll wait to see if they text me because if they don’t text me then they obviously don’t want to be hanging out with me” … guess who else is doing that? THE PERSON YOU JUST SWITCHED NUMBERS WITH, THEY ARE LITERALLY SITTING AT HOME SAYING THE SAME THING. SO NO ONE IS TEXTING NO ONE AND IT’S ALL FOR NO REASON.
Put it TF out there.
Seriously. When I first moved to LA I was lonely AF and my friend (who I barely knew at the time) was like “WANNA COME TO MY BDAY AND MEET SOME PEOPLE” and I said okay…mind you, I was dreading every second. I showed up, met some people, and one girl gave me her e-mail address. SHE GAVE ME HER EMAIL ADDRESS. So I was like “cool she doesn’t care about being friends,” but I reached out anyway because worst-case scenario she doesn’t email me back and who cares we weren’t friends in the first place. Welp, she did email me back, we planned a brunch, spent four hours talking about LITERALLY EVERYTHING and now she’s a good friend of mine.
Fucking put yourself out there, everyone! IT WORKS.
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