What do they want? What does that mean? What’s happening to them? Are they putting up a cold front to conceal their pain? Contact of any sort after a relationship break up will undoubtedly be clouded by over-analysis due to the heightened pattern-seeking tendencies brought on by trauma. If you are dogged by a stubborn hope, it is all to easy to fall prey to false-expectations. Taking an objective step back and asking yourself a number of important questions will allow you to make relative sense out of chaos, and save you a great deal of pain in the long-run. Before we get to that, if your ex’s contact has you stumped — consider living by this simple rule of thumb from here-on-out:
Take all contact at face value.
In a post-breakup apocalypse, particularly if you are the dumpee, you are your worst enemy. Or rather — your brain’s insanely efficient pattern-seeking abilities. I have a pet theory regarding why most dumpees (I am no exception to this rule when my Ragnarok comes around) continuously blame their exes for providing false hope by sending “crumbs” their way. In the main though, I find that our ability to over-analyze and deceive ourselves places the burden squarely on ourselves. Let’s take a longer look with some common examples:
- I miss you: Even if the relationship was a mutual downer, you were a large part of their lives. Naturally, they will miss you in some capacity. But this does not mean they wish to reconcile, it is simply a product of the hole that has been exposed after your absence.
- I remember the good times: You’ll notice the past tense. They fell in love with you, and they will never forget that. But that was then, and things can change.
- I left X at your house: This one is a little more ambiguous but there’s no need to analyze this one either. Maybe they need it back. If you want to separate the men from the boys, arrange to have a friend deliver it to them, if there was anything to work with you’ll here about it from their mouth, or your friend’s.
And on… Not all crumbs are insincere, and occasionally there will be a well of real, tangible remorse that may lead to reconciliation and getting your ex back. But setting up an obstacle course of false expectations will destroy you in the long-run. By learning to take things as face value you will lasso emotional fallout.
Tying loose ends and grief
Even if there is a genuine desire to reach out on behalf of the dumper, don’t forget that there are other reasons, beyond reconciliation, to do so. Some people will leave a relationship despite loving the person dearly because they realize it is not functional. These are also the kind of dumpers who are most likely to feel guilt and may well be driven to attempt to tie loose ends. This does not mean they wish to reconcile — far from it! Whether to comfort them is entirely up to you. If there is bitterness and anger, it is best to adhere to some form of limited or no contact in order to not amplify pain and suffering.
Reconciliation is the least likely cause of post-break up shenanigans. Occasionally the dumper will regret their decision, out of fear, emptiness or genuine loss. The dumpee would do well to figure out exactly what the cause of the reversal was and take objective judgement from there (we all make mistakes but you need to know what happened — something always does).
True reconciliation is borne of honesty, the urge in the dumper should be powerful enough, despite embarrassment, to make contact blunt and transparent. If you are receiving mixed messages the chances are you are dealing with someone who is too prideful or is simply, genuinely not looking to reconcile, but may wish to address other concerns. The only way you can be sure is when they tell you point-blank that they have had a change in heart. If they love you enough, then they will stride past all subtlety to get your attention, because of this, my suggestion is always to take everything at face value, without exception!