3 Breakup Lessons From My Readers

This is a small website, as it began as a journal of my own thoughts and lessons regarding my own breakup. It is, and was, a way of comparing notes with others, not as a way to position myself as some sort of relationship guru and all-knowing romantic expert. The more you know, the less you know. And when it comes to relationships, nothing is quite as true.

As a tribute marking the website’s two year birthday, I’ve decided to offer a small list of breakup life lessons that my readers and friends have instilled in me, rather than yet another top-heavy existential rant, with my own opinions at the forefront. This one’s yours.

Investing In The Long-Haul

The vast majority of success stories (success doesn’t always mean reconciling) I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing have had one thing in common; they took time and a great deal of resilience.

Traditionally, I have always been a believer in making emotional clarity the single most important aspect of a breakup, and I would do what it took, including isolating an ex completely, in order to make this happen.

While I still do maintain that making a breakup a black and white issue is preferable to drowning in a sea of false hope (no crumbs, no self-victimization, no half-measures), it has – thanks to a slap in the face from my readers’ feedback – become glaringly obvious that you can protect your own feelings without nailing the romantic coffin shut permanently as a consequence.

This is what I’ve learned:

  • DO block their social media profiles.
  • DO erect a no contact/ limited contact policy to protect yourself from mixed messages.
  • DO what it takes to protect your own feelings from false expectations and guilt.

Do all of this, and more, but make sure that they know why, or you risk saddling yourself with life-long guilt, as well as permanently and unnecessarily closing the door on reconciliation. Things change, and if they do, the walls of remorse, pride or resentment which we erected defensively may be too thick for them to ever surmount.

Think Less, Do More

Given the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve spilled on a relationship website, it may seem ironic to encapsulate the entire experience with a message to be less introspective and more dynamic.

And yet…

Statistically speaking, those who have reported success have, by and large, been those who have been more existentially pro-active.

Not, as you might think, in terms of attempting to coax their ex into giving the relationship another whirl, but those who were determined to act in spite of it all, for their own sake. Tellingly, what was actually done was amazingly diverse in nature, and what they did was always secondary to simply doing something (usually it had nothing to do with their exes at all).

Here’s why I think it worked:

  • By keeping moving you are forcing your subconscious mind to accept a new reality, separating your day-to-day existence from grief.
  • The reduction of grief allowed objectivity to re-balance the emotional equation.
  • Since attraction is ultimately rooted in positivity, this shift in alignment was usually enough to make their exes curious as to what was occurring.
  • Curiosity led to a renewal of contact, and a reshuffling of the emotional deck.
  • The progressive shredding of resentment, indignation and guilt thanks to balanced contact paved the way to reconciliation.

Moving on is not a figurative term and trauma isn’t only in the mind. Healing internally must be accompanied by a willingness to act. Reducing our all-to-human tendency to become the victims of our own insecurity.

There Are No Rights And Wrongs

You may be absolutely convinced that you are right, and that the burden of patching things up lies on them, but the problem is – and I absolutely guarantee this – so do they.

No matter who is intrinsically right or wrong, everyone involved in the trauma will have to move on, and as a consequence will justify the breakup in a way that diminishes the feeling of guilt that it generates.

When it comes to reconciling, protecting our dignity is obviously paramount, but so is the willingness to declare an amnesty. If we can’t tackle trust issues, resentment and other anchors head on, reconciliation will simply never happen.

Admittedly, sometimes we really are the victims, and sometimes what was done to us was simply unacceptable. If this is the case, we have the duty to protect our feelings from further pain. But hiding behind a passive-aggressive charade will always end in tragedy. For in trying to play our exes, we only end up playing ourselves.

9 Comments 3 Breakup Lessons From My Readers

  1. Terry T

    great awesomeness site :-D

    My ex and I had a somewhat mutual break up, we did all the deleting eachother off social media etc…
    I went NC for about a month to get over the pain, but returned to him via text with this explanation and he welcomed my contact. His been very polite but also vague. I initiated a hello contact again a week later and same kind of tone, very friendly but still vague, and since then I haven’t heard from him further.
    I guess im at a point where I don’t know what this fship means, its not what I expected it to be and Im wondering if he is only replying out of guilt not because he truely did want a fship out of this.
    Is this a normal reaction? I hear stories where ex’s communicate much more than this after a break up. should I just let him be and keep going NC? I feel like maybe this was a bad idea, feeling a bit humiliated, and don’t really want to be the one always initiating contact.

    Any ideas would be great, even from readers that have experienced something similar and what the outcome was.

    Thank you in advance :)

    1. Terry T

      I forgot to mention if this is of any help. He replies fairly quickly, always adds a smiley emoticon to his messages, but again remains vague about his life when I also ask how he is doing. Again not sure if its guilt or if its a positive sign. Thanks.

    2. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo


      Yes, it’s a normal reaction. The pleasant-but-vague facade is an entirely natural defensive posture that shields his feelings, whatever it is they actually are, from scrutiny. It is usually a construct, aimed at subconsciously protecting himself from further hurt.

      The level of communication is also pretty normal. I personally hardly talk at all after a breakup, but as you know better than I, this does not reflect the fact that I no longer care. What rationale is true for you and I, is probably also true for him.

      It really doesn’t sound like guilt to me. Nor does it sound like friendship. Which is probably what all the confusion is about. Friendship between exs can be murky, especially this close to a breakup (especially given the fact that it was a long term relationship). Calling it friendship seems to detract from the essence of all this, which is possibly reconciling.

      You know this, he knows this, and you both seem to be anticipating escalation without risking further — as you put it — humiliation or rejection. You obviously have taken the initiative, but there is no guarantee he feels confident reading between the lines, or taking any leaps of faith — assuming there is still the will — however small — to do so. The fact that he answers quickly is a good indication that you remain a priority, but beyond this, there’s no telling what his “social face” is hiding.

      His omission of the details of his life might be a way of provoking curiosity, and consequently an invitation to up the ante, but again — no guarantees. Personally I’d send one last message that made it plain that he should feel comfortable contacting you should he need to, and then retreat into limited contact. I, personally, would not be willing to risk my healing and dignity at this point. Should he be willing to initiate then perhaps I’d reconsider it!

  2. Terry T

    That is some insight, oh wow. Im so Gracious!!!!

    Now im even more confused, I was so set on guilt that its changed the way I view this, but thankful regardless. Even though this was mutual separation (Though the ex’s idea that we part mostly), the only thing I thought he wanted or would allow was friendship, so this has thrown me a bit with his feelings. Ideally id like to reconcile but don’t know which way is best to approach this?.
    I did exactly what you mentioned in my last text to him when signing off, stating that he was welcomed to contact me next time if he wished, but a week on & I guess nothing yet, I don’t know what this means. However when I first reached out not only did he welcome the text, but also agreed he would be happy to meet me in person when I make it to his hometown in the near future, which leaves me with, if I don’t here from him till then do I just contact him as it gets closer to visitation? or does one of us here have to swallow our pride and let the other person know how they truly feel about the other?

    Im not sure if im asking the right questions now, Im baffled.

    Thanks for being a great sport Unknown.

  3. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

    Wow, Terry. For some reason I seem to have skipped answering this, it went right through the net. Sorry.

    Are you confused regarding the possibility for reconciliation? I don’t want to stir a hornet’s nest of over-analysis here, and I certainly don’t want to add more confusion. Too late, I suppose :)

    The thing about friendship between exs is that it rarely works, even if it appears to on the surface. As I’m fond of saying, there’s a reason you broke up, but there’s also a reason you fell in love.

    My overall opinion is that whether or not reconciliation is on the menu, I doubt it is friendship that is his goal, but nor is it contact fueled by guilt. He seems to want to explore his singledom (as it were) and would probably resist any kind of pressure right now, but has shown that he still cares and is more than happy to keep the window for contact open (assuming he isn’t pressured).

    I do NOT want to insinuate that the odds for reconciliation are amazing. Merely that the foundations still exist. A conduit for contact remains, as does his regard for you. On top of all this, he is willing to meet face-to-face.

    These are early days yet, a couple of months of on and off NC are just enough time to begin to detox and rationalize what life without someone actually entails. If I were you I would ease off until he comes to town, and then send him a very casual invitation out for a coffee (of a walk, whatever you like).

    You will probably have the chance to judge his body language at that point, which is a far better indicator of intention than any piece of text written me, or by him for that matter. In short, slow it down, but keep the door open.

    Regarding private consultations, I do every now and then again if someone asks (it’s not something I advertise publicly). If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an email over at [email protected] and we can work something out.

    Have a good one!

    1. Terry T

      Thanks James, I have just sent you an email.
      Im also wondering if maybe women testing the waters with their ex;s like I have is not a great idea, gives them a feeling of pressure or maybe just an ego stroke since its a natural instinct for men to do the initiation? I guess Im a bit late for that now. But as you put it, allow him to contact if he wishes too, but keeping moving forward.

  4. mary

    Hey James

    Short introduction to my breakup: We fell in love, had a mature but happy honeymoon period. We are both intelligent people and everything as is should: Good communication, commitment, etc. Then one night I was really upset about my relationship with my mom and I tried to explain this. But without knowing it I said something he completely misunderstood. He was extremely hurt and decided to break up. He cried and punched doors but because I didn’t know what he thought I said I couldn’t explain he was wrong.
    We were both devastated and no one saw it coming because the whole reason we broke up was a miscommunication and not a slow demise of love.

    I wrote a letter a few days later to explain what I did mean and he then understood that he was wrong. He told me he wanted to meet up to see if we could work this out. We talk, he apologized and told me he was wrong. But when i expressed I believed we could make a new start, he told me he had shut down his feelings in those few days and didn’t love me anymore.

    I understood and agreed if that was the case it was time stop. I told him I didn’t want to stay friends (because everyone knows that just doesn’t work).

    I love him and can’t be mad at him because I understand you can’t get those feelings back even though he might want to. He told me not to hope for his feelings to come back. And since then I have done NC, haven’t begged, have been positive, have done all the stuff I need to do.

    But I miss him.
    Do you think there is a chance that he will start feeling something for me again? We had a good relationship and a reasonable good breakup so most of his memories shouldn’t be negative. But if a man goes on full lock down, how do you open him up?

    Thank you so much!

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