28 Aug 2012
Cut the Cord or Try Again?
Here’s the scenario: The phone rings, just a few short weeks after you finally stopped hoping it would be HIM every time you picked up the receiver. Yet this time, on the other end of the line, you hear that familiar voice, the one that sent you over the edge just six months before when he said he loved you but wasn’t ready for a committed relationship.
Maybe it broke your heart when you heard those words because you were sure he was “The One.” Or at least, he was close and you were really hoping.
Yet now, six months later, he’s calling to say he’s reconsidered. He realizes he still has feelings for you and wants a second chance. He’s speaking words that, at one time, you longed to hear; yet, now you find yourself not so sure.
Should you really let him back in after all of the pain you’ve been through? How can you know that he really is worthy of your heart? How can you be sure that he’s really changed?
Having a former love reconsider their feelings and contact you to rekindle a romance is a pretty common thing. And in the face of this, as we all have such a deep need to love and be loved, we might wonder, “Who better to connect with than someone whom I know so well? Someone who already knows all of my quirky habits and routines? Someone with whom I already share a social network, have shared points of reference with, or a shared history with?”
Over these past few months, you may have worked tirelessly to let go of that relationship and move on, training yourself to up your expectations of what you deserve to have in your life, and recognizing why this person might not have actually been the right one for you after all.
Perhaps you’ve spent hours weighing all the pros and cons of what worked and what didn’t in order to harvest the greatest wisdom possible in the midst of the disappointment and heartache you’ve endured. Perhaps, too, you allowed yourself to go deeply into the well of sadness and grief, doing all of your work to forgive and let go, inside of a commitment to be ready for someone completely different from the one that got away.
Yet now, here it is. This out-of-the-blue reminder from your past, and in spite of your best effort to be neutral and uninvested, your old feelings come flooding back, and you find yourself in a dilemma as to what to do next.
How might you even begin to make this difficult decision?
First of all, I want to remind you, that your precious, beautiful heart never lies in the hands of another person unless you yourself make the choice to put it there. You are the one in charge here and I encourage you to keep your first attention on your own feelings and needs, and not do the typical female thing of becoming overly concerned with what someone else wants from you.
We don’t lose faith in love because we come to mistrust others, as much as we lose faith in love because we come to mistrust ourselves. By jumping back in too fast, throwing caution to the wind, and moving quickly with your hormones rather than your head, skipping over all those pesky little red flags of those things you now know that you wish you didn’t know, you risk a painful repeat of heartache and disappointment that at this point, you can ill afford.
Yet, we do want to believe in miracles. People do sometimes wake up and come to their senses. As women who have made substantial changes in our own lives, we know from personal experience that people really can change and grow.
How to know if he really has had the kind of awakening that would make it safe for you to open up your heart to him again?
Before answering that question too quickly, beginning to take down your walls, and give yourself over hook, line and sinker in a romantic frenzy, I invite you to root down into a connection to your own center, holding onto your own value and making a commitment to your own happiness in life and love. From here, I invite you to step back and become an observer of what’s happening from an almost dispassionate place, as though you were watching a movie or reading a novel.
See if you can see who he is being accurately and with great clarity, and not be blinded by how you’d like him to be.
- Is he extending himself with authentic humility and demonstrating a willingness to try to understand the impact of his old behavior upon you?
- Is he trying to make amends by showing up differently than he did before, with a genuine interest to discover your true feelings and needs in order to tend to them?
- Is he responsive when you share your feelings and needs, or is he self referenced and more interested in getting his needs met by you?
- Is he willing to extend himself into your world? Does he relate to what you most care about, and take into account those people who are important to you?
- Is he generous with his attention and his time?
- Does he include you in his world?
- If he kept things from you before, is he more forthcoming and giving now?
You certainly want to give a former partner an opportunity to show up differently, but take your time – especially before you decide to re-engage physically.
Ask him what he means when he says he wants a second chance. A second chance to do what? If he says he wants to show up for you, then give the relationship some time to see if he actually follows through. Take notice if he is going out of his way to meet your needs and tend to your feelings, if he is doing his best to treat you with honor and respect, and raise your expectations that he do so before making any true movement towards reconciliation.
It’s one thing to say we want to change but not all of us actually make the effort to do so. You yourself have been wanting to change all of your old patterns in love . . . particularly the ones that co-created the dynamic with your former partner and left you wide open to heartache and disappointment in love.
So, you also want to be taking this time as an opportunity to make amends to yourself. If you’ve been doing your work, you will have been reflecting upon all of the ways you gave your power away in that relationship and the many ways you need to uplevel in order to show up healthier next time around.
And now you have the chance to do so! You get to set healthy boundaries where once you just gave yourself away. You get to insist upon being treated with respect where once you were willing to subjugate your own needs. You get to insist upon reciprocity and mutuality where once you were willing to over give to, in an effort to prove that you were lovable.
As you gain trust in yourself, you can see how the opportunity to do things differently this time around is more valuable than whether or not the two of you end up rekindling your romance.
For in the end, Calling in “The One” is about calling in you and learning to love yourself, particularly in regards to how you navigate and negotiate the dynamics of relationships. When you are able do that in a way that demonstrates authentic self respect, then finding your true, loving, and committed partner to share the journey with you is that much easier.
If you proceed in this manner, then you will either recreate this particular relationship to be a happy, healthy love, or you will graduate forever from old, toxic and unwanted patterns that have plagued you for years.
Either way, you win.
Katherine Woodward Thomas, MA, MFT
P.S. Be sure to come to my free call Calling in “The One”: How to Release Your Hidden Barriers to Love and Become Magnetic to Your Soulmate on Thursday, September 13 at 5pm Pacific, to learn more about my upcoming 7-week course Calling in “The One.” Click here to register.