Ignore these at your peril because as the thousands of emails that roll through can attest to, if you don’t put some boundaries in place when a relationship ends, you will experience infinitely more pain of your own creation.
1. When someone rejects me and the relationship we shared by breaking up with me, I will register this red flag, step back, and not attempt to change their mind.
I know you’re thinking ‘I should fight for my relationship’ but the trouble is that from the moment someone utters the words that they want to break up, you pushing to keep something that they don’t want is like attempting to negotiate your way back into their affections and their life.
They are saying, I don’t want you or the relationship enough to keep trying.
They have already made up their mind. Only people who play games tell you they’re breaking up so they can watch you jump through hoops as you try to persuade them to change their mind. Everyone else means it when they say that they want to break up.
Whatever the reasons are for the breakup, you will achieve nothing by knee-jerking with a reaction like getting on your hands and knees and begging them to stay, listing all of your qualities, denying the problems, promising that you’ll be different especially when that actually may not even be the source of the issue, or even claiming that you’ll be less ‘needy’.
I know you feel invested in your ex and may feel scandalised by the idea of just ‘giving up’ or ‘throwing it away’ but here’s the problem: someone else has already given up and thrown it away.
Let me tell you from personal experience, that you won’t feel very good or confident about the stability of the relationship or the length and breadth of their affections, if you have to pitch yourself and the relationship like a used car salesperson.
This is where you have to have some pride. Respect their decision in the first instance even if you want to wrap yourself around their ankles, because if you try to persuade him/her out of their decision, you’ll remove your dignity and disrespect their wishes. You don’t know better – you and they are not the same person.
If you are going to even contemplate salvaging the relationship, it must be when enough time and space has passed for both parties to have properly evaluated their feelings and their perceived reasons for why the relationship broke down. Only time and space will accomplish this. Don’t badger your ex.
And this is the kicker: If you keep trying to orchestrate your relationship and force it back together and steer them around to your way of thinking and basically continue to meddle in the order of things instead of letting things be and letting them create their own action, you will never be able to have confidence that they’re in the relationship because they want to be. You don’t need anyone there under ‘duress’.
2. I will not settle for less for the sake of having some crumbs rather than nothing at all.
When we are in pain because we feel rejected and we have lost the person who we’re emotionally invested in, it’s tempting to bargain with ourselves and decide that we would rather have them on some rather than no terms.
This is a fast and extremely slippery slope to pain and disrespect.
The reason why we do this is because it’s a kneejerk reaction to the initial pain and rejection, and we tell ourselves that because of what we feel, we can’t imagine this person not being in our lives and not being our friend.
Leave.It.Be. If you are both destined to be friends, it won’t be because you hung around straight after the breakup cocking each others lives up, poking around in each others emotions and keeping a foothold in each others lives.
Distance and time give objectivity and you can only be friends when you actually no longer want a relationship with them. That, and you can actually only be friends with someone who is actually friend worthy.
3. I will cut contact to give myself time and space to grieve the loss of the relationship.
Let me tell you with 150% certainty that if they are ever going to miss you and regret the loss of you from their lives, it sure as hell is not going to happen with you hanging around, reminding them of your existence and seeking validation and attention!
No Contact is not just for flushing out people that don’t treat you with love, care, trust, and respect or forcing yourself to stop what feels like addictive behaviour. Taking it at its most basic level, even in the healthiest and amicable of breakups, both parties respect that each needs time to do their own thing and grieve the loss of the relationship.
You must have faith that if the person gives even the remotest damn about you, that friendship that you think you so desperately need will be there in a few months time.
4. I will recognise lazy communication for what it is and not inflate it into them actually missing me and wanting to get back together.
When someone misses you and has properly contemplated the loss of the relationship and their decision to end it, a decent person with honourable intentions who is not just knee-jerking to their ego or their libido, will not just be hot air, intentions, and silly text messages and emails.
Someone who genuinely misses you will not only pick up the phone and arrange to meet with you and talk, but they will be decisive, acknowledge whatever issues brought you to the original juncture and will be making constructive suggestions as to how to get back together and progress the relationship.
Someone sending you a text message saying ‘Are you watching the football?’ or ‘How are you?’ or ‘Fancy hanging out this weekend’ or ‘Thinking about you’ (all real text messages by the way), is a lazy dipstick on the hunt for an ego stroke but certainly not missing you enough to actually get up off their backside. Which brings me to…
5. For the sake of not confusing myself or causing me to do something that I later regret, I will not sleep with my ex. If I do, I will accept responsibility for the consequences.
Sex with someone who is familiar that you still feel something for is comforting and possibly great.
Sex with someone who is familiar that you still feel something for but who has actually broken up with you, will feel great at the time but is often loaded with expectations that tend to get disappointed.
Just because you’re having sex, doesn’t mean that they’re missing you or you’re getting back together.
Getting back together is not dependent on getting laid, hence if you were actually getting back together, you’d damn well know about it before you had sex.
They may miss you, but chances are that if you’re having sex but not back together, they miss you, but they don’t miss you that much.
If you’re the type of person that has sex with expectation (don’t a lot of us) and isn’t likely to be able to treat it in a casual fashion, don’t have sex with your ex. While you will feel validated in the short-term and it will stem the feeling of the loss and the rejection, when the blinders (and the oxytocin) wear off, this short-term pleasure may have longer lasting consequences and set you back.
And let me remind you that you cannot shag your way back into a relationship. If sex was what held you both together, it was fragile anyway plus you wouldn’t be broken up.
6. I will not bombard them with my love.
This is an incredibly important boundary that’s there to stop you from not only getting carried away with continuously trying to show them how much you love them, but it will also protect you from crossing their boundaries.
It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in your own agenda because you’re trapped in your feelings. These can become all consuming and will seem of paramount importance for you to ‘let them know’ how much you feel for them and what they’re missing. This is why I get emails from so many women feeling bereft and confused because they’ve been pursuing their exes, cooking, cleaning, offering them sex and the whole kit and caboodle and still being rejected.
There’s no easy way to say this, but if you continue to bombard them with your attention, affections, and your feelings, they will lose respect for you. You also haven’t a cat’s hope in hell of them missing you when you don’t give them a chance to breathe and have their wishes respected.
What you want is not what they want.
I know you can’t just switch off your feelings, but you must switch on your self-respect, for yours and their sakes.
Which brings me neatly to…
7. I will recognise when I am becoming obsessed with my ex and will force myself to step back so that I don’t end up trapped in denial.
Also: I will not engage in behaviour that will cause me to lose my dignity and give them the opportunity to call me a psycho/stalker (and to potentially absolve themselves of any shady treatment).
If you’re calling up their friends and family, turning up wherever they go, logging into their email, their voicemail, poking around their flat, or at the opposite end of the spectrum, spending month after month obsessing over the details of the relationship, it’s time to step back and get some perspective, whether that means leaning on your friends and family for some support or talking with a professional.
All of this obsessive stuff, especially when you start doing the keeping tabs on them and making a bit of a pest out of yourself, is an attempt to control them and what they do – don’t go there. They’re already out of the relationship and it’s also disrespectful.
Some of this stuff can start out so innocently and when you’re distraught, you may not recognise the full impact of what you’re doing. You’ll think it’s you and your ‘love’ but it’s a very quick and slippery slope for crossing into behaviour that could at its worst get you into trouble legally, or having you fanning the flames of embarrassment when your ex cuts you off or puts you back in your place, plus it’s even worse when peers, colleagues, and family members are involved.
Particularly when you have been involved with someone who has not treated you very well, I would strongly caution you against taking revenge, because you will inadvertently legitimise any negative perceptions they have of you, plus you may even legitimise what they think are their reasons for their treatment of you and it will give them license to have your cards marked as a ‘psycho’ or a ‘stalker’.
There are some people who really will not care how they are considered – let’s assume that’s not you. When all is said and done, the lingering feeling left behind after doing something that you later regret can have a huge impact on how long it takes for you to get over the breakup and your subsequent relationships.
I recognise that sometimes you just feel so angry and humiliated and rejected but the answer doesn’t lie in doing something to punish your ex. Even if it’s just keeping tabs on them on Facebook, recognise when it’s become an obsessive habit and take any obsessive behaviour as a sign that you need to take actions to limit the pain you can create for yourself.
If you want to take ‘revenge’, do so by giving no room to them in your life and living your life well. That says more than anything else ever will.
8. I will not punish myself for the breakup by neglecting me or doing stuff that is essentially me acting without love, care, trust, and respect towards myself.
It’s OK to feel hurt. It’s more than OK to cry, be angry, and spend a little while letting everything go while you immerse yourself in the after effects but there is a limit, and that limit is where you tell yourself you’re no good, that no one wants you, that it’s all your fault, that you can’t survive without them, and essentially let the loss of the relationship colour your view of you and the world.
We must love and live with self-esteem which requires that you love yourself unconditionally rather than internalising misplaced and displaced anger as well as unfair judgements.
It’s important to acknowledge when you’re reaching those limits, especially if giving you a hard time lasts over an extended period – this is a sign you need to 1) nurture yourself and 2) take your ex off the mighty pedestal you’ve put them on.
Never let someone be the definition of you and certainly don’t define your hopes, aspirations, and future on someone who is no longer around.
You cannot make yourself wholly and solely responsible for the success or failure of your relationship and ultimately, for a relationship to work, it takes two of you.
You can be hurt and grieving the loss of a breakup, but you can still do that and treat yourself with love, care, trust, and respect. In fact if you do, you will find that not only will you not treat your ex like they’re the King/Queen of the Universe, but you’ll also have perspective and get over them in time and avoid throwing yourself back into the emotional equivalent of oncoming traffic and wondering why you get run down.
9. I will not keep trying to get back together with someone who has already rejected me more than once.
Reject me once, shame on you. Reject me twice, shame on me, but I can chalk it up to giving them the benefit of the doubt and another chance. Reject me anymore than that and it’s time to get off the relationship crack. Seriously.
If someone has rejected you once, it’s already one too many times but to go beyond that, you have to ask yourself 1) what the frick you’re trying to achieve and 2) what the hell is so special about them that you would give them the option of rejecting you again?!
Forming part of the overall core boundaries that every person should live by that I wrote about in yesterday’s post, in essence, you must have some pride and stop pursuing people that have both directly and passively rejected you.
Do not force yourself and your love on anyone. You shouldn’t have to convince them of your greatness and from the moment you let someone reject you more than once, you’re saying ‘You’re free to reject me again! Come back and have a go when you’re ready!’
When you keep pursuing somebody who has broken up with you, it’s because you’re trying to stem the loss of the relationship and the sting of rejection by getting attention so that you can feel validated. The breakup may have triggered old abandonment issues and you’ll pursue them to stop that feeling. Any attention and validation you get is short-lived and you have to start the breakup process all over again. Of course, if you won’t heed the signs that someone isn’t interested or is halfhearted in their interest (neither are good enough), you won’t even start to process the breakup because you’ll be too busy pursuing them!
You may not know it yet, but you have more self-respect than this, or at least you will if you learn to have some boundaries.
10. I will not wait and put my life on hold for anyone.
When you break up, take it as final and get on with your life. Seriously. I know the temptation is to hang around and make sure they don’t forget you, but all you’re doing is putting your life in limbo while they go off and live their lives. Let’s not forget that if they’re opportunistic, they’ll use your inability to move on and the fact that you’re waiting around, to get a shag, ego stroke, a shoulder to lean on, money or any other fringe benefits they can enjoy – you’re better than this. If you have boundaries, you will ensure that you are better than this and will have faith that there is better out there for you than someone who has already broken up with you.
I know of women who have been mentally and in some cases physically waiting for their exes. They’re missing out on life and this isn’t something that can be blamed on the object of their affections – it’s the active choice they make. Not waiting eventually frees you up to be in a mutually fulfilling relationship. Believe it.