Most dumpers will regret something about their old flames. There really is always something to miss, even if the breakup was as dramatic as it was determined.
The real question is whether whatever amorous residue is left is enough to warrant another emotional leap of faith, and if there still is a spark, what our chances really are (and what we can do about it).
Pride And Seek
Breakups usually invoke defensiveness and cause a reshuffling of egos. Confusion and distance can reign supreme, quite literally overnight.
This is the entirely natural, if unfortunate, reaction to emotional trauma. The main problem is that this shift from a “private” face to a “public” one makes communication nearly impossible to decode, and catalyzes additional insecurity on top of separation pain, because it becomes impossible to know with any degree of certainty what it actually is that the dumper is experiencing.
So, if dumpers also mourn the demise of a relationship, what can we expect?
- Forcibly reshuffling their list of priorities in order to protect themselves from further hurt, and to ease their passage into a future of their choosing (they can become cold and distant).
- Mixed messages and an ever-diminishing oscillation of attention and/or affection (fear of the dumpee moving on, guilt or loneliness).
- Love and hate tendencies and a constantly fluctuating emotional spectrum (trauma and the introspective battle for emotional stability running their course).
Often dumpers can lash out in order to subconsciously convince their own minds that what they walked away from was worth leaving. But, as I will never tire of stating; hurt implies caring (unless of course you did something unforgivable). If they were genuinely “over it”, chances are you’d never hear from them again.
The point I’d like to make here is that the vast majority of breakup symptoms that dumpers are prone to manifesting have little to do with the dumpee. They are all subconscious stratagems catalyzed by the egoistic mind aimed at helping them heal and move on, and not a belated attempt at self-righteous retribution. Ironically, they are all signs that hasn’t happened quite yet.
Regret And Reconciliation
First and foremost, it bears remembering that regretting a breakup does not automatically equate a desire for reconciliation (although it obviously can). There will be aspects of the old relationship, routine and (your) personality that they are going to miss — regardless of how determined they are to move on. Because of this, it is important to curb the tendency to over-analyze signs and messages, and to stave off expectation (easier said than done).
Here are more factors that can also lead to regret, but have little to do with reconciliation:
- They feel guilty about leaving you (and want to tie loose ends).
- They are feeling lonely (and you remain an accessible form of instant-gratification).
- The breakup was impulsive and traumatic (and they don’t want to move on with a bitter, guilty taste in their mouths).
- They really do care about you, although romance and attraction might have imploded (they miss your company and friendship).
- They regret the loss of structure in their lives and feel adrift.
Telling the difference between genuine regret and insecurity can be a painful exercise in futility. In my opinion, the best way to filter out crumbs from heartfelt desire is to slow down breakup communication and judge their action based on two main principles. How consistent they remain with their contact, and how willing they are to act on their emotions.
All of this, of course, without exiting their lives completely, or we risk terminally alienating affection. Limited no contact is fine, so long as it is not manipulative and it leaves the door to conditional communication open at all times. Time is the most precious existential commodity we have, the more consistent they are over time, the more realistic the chance at real reconciliation becomes.