yes! no!Ah, Valentine’s Day is approaching and much like Christmas, exes will be potentially creeping out of the woodworks. Maybe you’ve been broken up for a while, watched him waltz off with someone else and have been wondering, ‘Why her and not me?‘ Or maybe he’s not with someone else (or at least not that you know of but you’ve been feeling really bruised by the breakup. Maybe you cut contact with him because you couldn’t take the pain anymore but have been wondering if he’ll call and show remorse. Or maybe you cut contact and thought you were doing fine until he called or text you and you felt blindsided by the pull of your emotions. Whatever it is that’s happened, your mind has probably gone into overdrive.

What is thinking?

What does he want?

Surely if he’s calling/texting/asking me to take him back, he’s going to be a changed man?

Combined with the fact that you may be feeling a little vulnerable because you don’t like the idea of being alone on Valentine’s Day or you’re already weakening and contemplating whether to go back, you may be wondering whether you should give him a second chance.

This past weekend, I posted an excerpt from my ebook The No Contact Rule on ‘So what is he thinking when he makes contact or tries to get back together?’ and this seemed to strike a chord with readers because no matter what has happened up until this point, if you’re in the zone of contemplating giving him a second (or whatever number it is) chance, you’re not over him yet (or don’t think you are) and are hopeful that he has changed. So what do you do?

As I’ve said many times before, no matter what, you need to have boundaries, values, and act with love, care, trust, and respect, not just to them, but to yourself, and this should be reciprocated. You also need to be real and not get lost in illusions. If you’re going to see potential, it’s got to rooted very firmly in his most consistent behaviour – when we’re contemplating taking someone back, we exaggerate the whole glass is half full mentality and even if he has only been great for 10% of the time, that’s what we’ll focus on.

When we break up, we break up for a reason. Unless the reason no longer exists, you will find yourself revisiting the very issues that caused you to break up once the cosy, rosy glow has worn off.

Now whatever those reasons are, when you consider whether you should give them another chance, he needs to understand what the issues were and what caused the pain in your relationship.

If someone doesn’t understand what they contributed to the pain, what is to stop them from repeating the same actions and putting you in the front line of pain again?

Sometimes when someone wants to get back together with you, they assume that in you taking them back, that you are accepting them as they have previously been.

More often than not, we assume that if someone wants to get back together, they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to make the relationship work.

However, often, when there is a skewed dynamic going on and your self-esteem has already taken a knock, they don’t end up changing in order for the relationship to restart; you do.

Once you’ve already broken up, if you get back together for the wrong reasons, you can then end up being scared about questioning or discussing things, or creating ‘conflict’ for fear of breaking up again. You remember how hurt you felt when you weren’t together and totally forget about the reasons why you weren’t together, and decide that because you don’t want to feel that pain again, you will adapt your behaviour to minimise pain.

Of course it doesn’t minimise pain because you end up sacrificing yourself to maintain a relationship on someone else’s terms.

You shouldn’t get back together because:

1) You’re feeling hurt – Don’t confuse the magnitude of your hurt as some sort of indication of the fact that you should go back. You’re being trapped by your own feelings and removing your options – read my post on this.

2) You don’t want to deal with the perceived rejection – Stemming the feeling of rejection by taking him back and seeking validation will only delay the inevitable hurt. You have to work your way through the loss. You have to keep your feet grounded in reality and have faith that a better relationship is out there. Believe the worst, you’ll get the worst. Read my post about coping with rejection.

3) You’d rather be with him than alone – This is not a reason to be with anyone. Whilst it may seem like a logical step, choosing people out of desperation and loneliness causes you to make ‘desperate’ choices where you are likely to be hurt and taken advantage of. Healthy relationships have personal security in them.

4) You don’t want to start over. Fear of change is something that many people have and it’s what keeps many people trapped in inaction. The fear of the uncomfortable unknown appears to be greater than the uncomfortable familiar. Again, you’re delaying the inevitable and lining yourself up for pain.

5) You want to believe that he has changed even though you know he hasn’t. This is like betting on a 3 legged horse and then wondering why it’s not racing like a thoroughbred – you’re taking an extremely risky gamble based on nothing.

If you’re at the second chance point, you have to trust your gut, instincts, and judgement and assess the situation based on what you know – read my post on understanding why relationships don’t work out.

Are they coming to you being genuine and making a concerted effort? Or are they doing it the lazy way, sending text messages and wanting to keep the conversation light and act like nothing happened.

And I should make a firm point here. Whilst I appreciate that there is an element of not wanting to dwell on the past, be very wary of anyone who tries to come back into your life after you have been broken up and pretend like nothing has happened. It’s not because they want to focus on the happy times and move on; it’s because they don’t want to acknowledge the reality of what has happened previously.

If you find that they’re silencing you or punishing you, by for instance, withdrawing from you or getting moody and aggressive when you bring up the past, I would be extremely cautious.

When it’s the first time that you’re taking them back, it’s a leap of faith.

If you’re going to spend weeks or months agonising over whether to take someone back, there’s something to be said for the whole Suck It & See mentality as it’s better than dawdling in indecision because you’re life’s on hold anyway. Yes it means that your hand may get burnt in the fire by going ahead, but if you’re make a pact with yourself to go back and be real and stay real, you can have faith in yourself that you’ll act in your best interests and if the relationship isn’t working for you and you don’t feel good, you can walk away and say that you’ve given it a try. It’ll save you from the whole ‘Coulda, woulda, shoulda’ saga. I don’t suggest you do Suck It & See if you’re struggle with keeping yourself out of illusions.

If someone is asking you to give them a 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6h or whatever it is chance, you’ve really got to ask:

What is so different now? It’s not like you’re short on information to make an evidence based decision.

You don’t need him to fill up your head with words – you already know the pattern of your relationship.

Have you been here before?

Is he someone whose actions match their words? To be fair, if you’re having to give someone a chance again, I doubt it.

You also have to ask yourself, what’s different about you?

Do you understand why the relationship didn’t work previously? Are you able to be accountable for your own contribution?

Is your self-esteem in a good place or is it still low or even worse than before? If it’s the latter, you are unlikely to be making a decision based on healthy reasons.

Will taking him back mean that you have to let go of boundaries? If so, this is not going to work. If you have to devalue yourself to be with someone and effectively sideline yourself to accommodate their disrespect of you, something is seriously wrong. If you have to turn a blind eye and ignore red flags, again, something is seriously wrong.

You know your relationship. You’ve got to make a decision from a ‘real’ place, not lala land because otherwise, you will love blindly and trust blindly, and then wonder why you are hurt.

Relationship insanity is doing the same things over and over again, carrying the same baggage, revisiting the same issues, and doing the same willing, hoping, and waiting, and expecting different results.

I would suggest that if you’re on a third chance or beyond, something pretty catastrophic will need to have happened for you to consider giving him another chance otherwise you’ll keep going round and round. You’ll be throwing yourself into oncoming traffic and wondering why you’re getting run down.

As for the whole feeling weak and vulnerable around Valentine’s Day thing – read my posts about surviving Christmas and the New Year plus my previous gripes about Valentine’s Day. It’s just one day. Yes it would be nice to have someone and get a gift that you’ll probably forget about quickly…but if it comes at the expense of your self-esteem and medium to long term happiness, I wouldn’t go losing your mind over it.

Remember, there are some things that money can’t buy like your happiness and self-esteem. For everything else there’s Mastercard…and another 364 days of the year.

It’s important not to be a short term, reactive, chasing a feeling type of person – this is the very problem you are facing when being involved with Mr Unavailable’s and assclowns. You’ve got to see the big picture. Don’t get too caught up looking at the trees when you should be looking at the wood. Look for consistency, not fleeting highs, plenty of lows, and glimpses of vague decency.

I’ve said before, ‘If loving you means that I can’t love me, I’ll choose me’. I suggest you do the same before deciding to take someone back. You’ve got to know when to fold in relationships.


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22 Responses to Should I Give Him A Second Chance? Or a 3rd, 4th, 20th

  1. Turbulence25 says:

    Very timely article. Always the right words at the right time… :)

  2. skelly says:

    If you have been on a constant, painful roller coaster, he is not going to change. The only solution is no contact.
    I have tried every means to make the doomed relationship work, but you can’t fix someone who is broken and doesn’t want to be fixed. You only sacrifice your self esteem and self worth. No man is worth that. I have only prolonged the inevitable and put myself through unbelievable pain.
    The key is if he is willing to discuss the problems that led to the breakup or does he brush them off? My assclown changed the subject and tried putting it back on me. There was no accountability for his actions and nothing to go back to but pain.
    Another brilliant post!

  3. debbie says:

    I really enjoyed this article! it is not an issue I have faced as yet! Your article made some great points that I will file away for that time they may be needed…

  4. Turbulence25 says:

    I love this quote: “If loving you means that I can’t love me, I’ll choose me”. This is exactly the type of self sacrificing attitude that you’d have to maintain in order to be with the types of a**holes described on this site.

    I’m ashamed to admit that I once was that woman, sacrificing myself just to be with a person that never cared about me, though I couldn’t see it, or didn’t want to see it at the time. I didn’t speak to him for six months after I learned that he was married, then he called and I swear it was like stepping back into the past. He just pretends like nothing’s happened, and that since so much time has passed like it’s supposed to be all good again. He has no idea the pain he’s caused, or perhaps he does, but just lacks the empathy to actually give a damn. He’s just the same as he was when I left him. Still self centered, still a womanizing workaholic, still lacking in self control, still portraying himself to be single, while cheating on his wife with any woman that will give him the opportunity. And he clearly just wants sex. That fact he makes known plain as day! I can’t believe I was ever with someone like that.

    Sometimes when I feel myself weakening, I just think about how far I’ve come in my journey of making decisions that benefit ME and that won’t leave me broken in the end. Deciding to be with him in any fashion would destroy all of my progress. I know what I want, but more importantly I know what I DON’T want. I don’t want to be with anybody if it means settling or doing things contrary to what’s in my own best interest. No decent man would want that for his woman.

  5. MaryC says:

    This post couldn’t of come at a better time. For the last week and a half I’ve felt really bummed and even more sad about our relationship ending and I couldn’t figure out why. Then it dawned on me Valentine’s Day was coming, the old feelings were back. I also realized that the day before Valentine’s Day will be 4 months NC. I getting myself tulips that day, a Valentine’s present to myself. I like/love/respect myself so much more in the past 4 months than I ever did when I was with him. No way I’m giving all that up.

    As you said NML “It’s important not to be a short term, reactive, chasing a feeling type of person”. Been there, done that, regretted it every time.

  6. Moving on in 2010 says:

    “Will taking him back mean that you have to let go of boundaries? If so, this is not going to work. If you have to devalue yourself to be with someone and effectively sideline yourself to accommodate their disrespect of you, something is seriously wrong. If you have to turn a blind eye and ignore red flags, again, something is seriously wrong.”


    Unfortunately, your No Contact book came out about a month after I let my ex-EUM back into my life after 6 months of no contact.

    It was so hurtful how he treated me after we had been intimate (I thought he had a change of heart), but I wouldn’t give myself to him fully. I let my emotional boundaries/guard down again, but I guess in some ways, my head must have been screwed on straight when I decided that I didn’t want to have sex with him (it was just heavy making out). The next day after this happened, I asked him where he felt this relationship was going. The answer I got? “I’m not sure what you mean.” Are you kidding me? I was SO heartbroken. After this incident is when I began to keep my distance from him at work (again) and recently started seeking therapy. I am on my 5th session and working with my therapist on rebuilding my self-esteem and confidence, which was totally shattered by this jagbag. Luckily, he has moved away, however, he is still with the company, but working remotely. I’ll still have to see him when he visits the building I am in (he still works in our dept) once a month, but at least the majority of the time I no longer need to act and keep a brave face and have to act professional around him. I can be myself.

    Fortunately, after reading your two wonderful ebooks, I now know that I need to love, care, and respect myself and stick to this regimen before moving into another relationship. I am two weeks into NC and will continue to keep on this track and not get sucked back into his charm vortex ever again.

  7. Vanna says:

    Humans were taught to be suckers and by nature, us and certain nonhuman animals are born dependent. when people want for people to love them as they are, it is most of the time because of issues with their own security. and when they are not accepted for as they are, it can come back on the person who didn’t accept as guilt. this is all on a colloquial level and colloquial comversation is designed to facilitate agreements without comunication.
    You have already listed the factors for why people would give second, third fourth,chances, etc, so I’m not going to go there.

  8. Aurora says:

    i definitely did 1 – 5 throughout my 20’s – 40’s.
    Ah, if only self-esteem were genetic !!!
    Thanks, NML. I always keep learning here.
    .-= Aurora´s last blog ..View =-.

  9. Etta says:

    Give him a 2nd, 3rd or 10th chance? BINGO! We had not spoken for 8 months but during that time he kept calling and leaving Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde messages. I listened to all of them, wrote him a letter about my feelings, he replied and then I felt sorry for him and thought oh, i’ll pick up the phone and see if we can give it another chance (somehow I knew what the outcome would be because I had read the article Suck It and See). A hard head makes a soft behind. Sorry for me, my heart and my self esteem. Great for me that this time by the second conversation I knew the outcome would be the same. I am back to No Contact (finally had the courage to block his phone number) never thought I would do it and if I receive any mail it will kindly be labled “return to sender”. I am in therapy so that I don’t give him another chance. It’s not worth it and we’ve got to convince ourselves that we’re worth not being treated like we don’t belong or deserve respect, kindness and love in return. Not an easy thing to do or believe after you’ve given so much of yourself, time, energy, begging and pleading for them to treat you better. Though disheartening to finally realize that they just don’t care, we’ve got to believe that we deserve better in order to make better choices.

  10. DazedandConfused says:

    Where was this post 3 months ago! My ex was quite abusive and when he came back, had me convinced everything had been my fault. So I was ready to welcome him back with open arms and show him what a changed woman I was. But then I did mention to him many of the nasty things he’d said to me, and I asked what had motivated that, and what we could do in the future to avoid getting like that… well boy did he lose it on me for bringing that stuff up. He 1) didn’t recall having ever said it and 2) why did I have to ruin the good time we were having by bringing up the past.

    Oh NML… the red flags were there but I sooooo wanted things to work out. Man I wish this post had been up back then… because I turned a blind eye wanting so badly for him to really mean he wanted to be with me. I can say this though, it brings me comfort to see you write this as I realize it makes him what he is… and it almost makes me laugh that you called that entirely accurately as if my relationship with this man was so textbook. It helps me keep moving and teaches me to trust my gut next time.

    I will say one thing… I hate that book “He’s just not that in to you” I feel it trivializes some of the issues we face (for example abuse) but one part I do love is where he says “if someone comes back saying they miss you, remember they had to leave you in the first place to be missing you.” How much value did you have to this person in the first place if he left?

    Ladies, I am sure many of you like me have spent hours reading what NML writes, understanding what she is saying, but then saying “but why can’t he just like me…” trust me it has truly taken me a while, of seeing my ex again and again, watching him date other people, and seeing NML quote things he actually said to say “no this person really is who he is and it has nothing to do with him ‘just not being that in to you”. It has nothing to do with YOU at all!


    • katty says:

      great post!!!

      • NML says:

        @Turbulence25 Thanks!
        @skelly Well at least there is no mystery about what could have been. If he doesn’t want to know how you guys came to be at this point, there’s nothing to stop him from taking you back to hell again!
        @debbie Hopefully you won’t need it!
        @Turbulence25 Even though *you* remember, guys like this wipe the slate clean. It’s like they give themselves license to press a reset button after every offence. No decent guy would put you through this rigmarole – decent people feel uncomfortable benefiting out of taking advantage of you.
        @MaryC Short term thinking causes pain and repercussions that last a lot longer. Keep the faith x
        @Moving on in 2010 This is why these guys are dangerous. He *knows* what he is doing and assumes by trying to get together with you that you get what he is about – it’s a classic case of he’s thinking you’re hooking up whilst you’re thinking you’re getting back together. Keep going with NC. You know after this recent experience that when you put your hand in the fire, it burns. Don’t open up yourself up to more pain from him.
        @Vanna Absolutely. When we have personal security, we don’t try to get people incapable of love to love and validate us.
        @Aurora If only! Mind you, with some of the parents we have, we’d still have issues 😉
        @Etta Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, put yourself in the position of asking , begging, pleading, hanging around for them to treat you decently. It’s a major hazard and incredibly self-destructive. The fact that you have to get someone to treat you decently speaks volumes about them – it shouldn’t be a stretch.
        @DazedandConfused I’m glad you finally see what a creep this guy is. Great progress as I know this has been quite a journey for you. That is definitely one of the better quotes from the book and you’re right about the trivialising because it misses the point about the manipulation, flip flapping, etc that these guys engage in and the impact on your self-esteem.
        @Sophia I feel for you and I hope that whatever happens, you can move forward soon. Stick to your deadline and good luck!
        @RES Relationships serve to teach us about ourselves and you have learnt and grown out of yours x
        @Enlightened Amen, amen, amen! Love is love – it’s not about seeking attention from an AC. Validate your own existence! Love 365 days a year – it’s a frickin Hallmark day!
        @Katty Thanks!

  11. Sophia says:

    I’m going thru this right now, trying to decide whether to give him another chance. He says he will set up and pay for both of us to go to councilling. If he does not do this in the next week or two, I’m not going to give him another chance. This article has reinforced my need for boundaries and I’m sticking to my guns on this.
    Thanks again Natalie. Your articles come exactly when I need them most.

  12. RES says:

    Sound advice. Always “right on the money.” I wish that I had this post 5 years ago, as it would have perhaps, saved me some fip floping heartache over an AC who didn’t deserve me. However, I learned, and am past all of that. I’m in a healthy relationship with real love, care, respect, and trust. And even with a fiance, V day is just a day. I insist on being loved 365 days a year. Be your own Valentine!!! Show love for YOU. You can’t begin to enjoy healthy relationships if you’re not emotionally healthy! Thanks Natalie!

  13. Used says:

    I just was invited to a party by a friend who knows the jerk/EUM I dated. The jerk will be at that party, which will happen in a few weeks. Because this is a first, please advise on how I should handle him and his wife, given the below:

    FYI #1: The friend who invited me is one of the women who projects her own obsession with him onto others (yes, including me), even though he is on record (in photos even!) as the one who is obsessed…with checking me out behind his wife’s back. Of course, I don’t care; this is all his problem. (See below.)

    FYI #2: After all of the disrespect while seeing him, I resolved on NC and made a promise to myself (which I have since kept) to never speak to him, or even acknowledge him, again. I actually can’t stand the sight of him. It’s a cross between hate and disgust with the physical feeling of having eaten a bad taco. (Why is this?) I learned, over time, that he took back the woman he had previously abandoned AND told her about how intimate he was with me, that she TOLD mutual friends that we were intimate (though it was only “second base”), and that he once bragged about the women he dated (including me).

    I ignore and avoid him. But what should I do and say if I am forced to acknowledge/speak to him? I really don’t want to talk to him AT ALL. He may want to congratulate me on obvious good news that we have: I am (finally!!) pregnant.

    • NML says:

      I will respond to all of the comments when I am properly awake tomorrow as it’s bedtime here but I wanted to say congratulations Used. I’ve been away for a few days due to a bereavement so catching up now. Wonderful news on your pregnancy and I think it’s also a great time to move into a new phase in your life – don’t be giving the baby assclown energy and focus on the happy times ahead. I would stop showing that you care. Get on with enjoying the event. Don’t go out of your way to speak with him, but if he does speak to you, smile brightly, thank him for his good wishes, and move on speedily. You have no place for him or negative energy about him so don’t give him power that he doesn’t warrant or need. Stop showing that you give a damn. It’s a lot of energy to go out of your way to ignore someone – it will cloud your evening. Accept that he’s an assclown and laugh at the fact that he’s someone else’s problem.

      • Used says:

        Thank you for your well-wishes and for the good advice!

        And, yes, it does take a lot of energy/thought to ignore someone. I will focus on us, our good news, and the people around us–including him, and only very briefly, and in the manner you advised, if he will cross our path that night! Very likely, he will, and for 2 reasons: (1) his wife won’t be there, as she just had a baby herself; and (2) the conversation-starter–my big belly–is an avenue for him to try to start to acquaint himself with me again. I am ready, though.

  14. Enlightened says:

    @RES I loved what you wrote: ‘And even with a fiance, V day is just a day. I insist on being loved 365 days a year. Be your own Valentine!!! Show love for YOU. You can’t begin to enjoy healthy relationships if you’re not emotionally healthy! ‘

    It is JUST A DAY!…..Out of 365!

    If someone is who they are…. do you think this 1 day will make them any different in character…good or bad? Will it change anything about the existing situation, good or bad? Of course it won’t.

    Here is where we tend to indulge in ‘fantasy’… and that becomes ‘our’ problem and is not really about the other.

    Agreed, particularly if we don’t have a special someone in our lives at this time, Valentines Day highlights that because it is supposed to represent showing someone you love that you love them. If you feel you have no-one, you can allow yourself to feel somewhat excluded.

    Like everything else, it is actually a choice. It is just that we don’t always realise it. Alot of the time we think we are a victim of circumstances. A victim of external forces beyond our control. If only we realised just how powerful we are…..

    If you are in a healthy place, whether in or out of a relationship, you are going to feel completely differently about Valentines day. Firstly, you know that ‘real love and affection’ does not hang on just that one day…a meal, a rose and a cuddly teddy bear! It is so much more than that. Secondly, you will see it clearly for the commercial marketing that it has become…. and you won’t even want to buy into it. Like RES said, you will be expecting love and romance in its different forms (maybe no teddy bear! 😉 ) 365 days a year!

    Thirdly, take away sleeping time, it is all of a few hours long! Why chose to mope about someone who didn’t represent ‘love’ anyway? Better to go out/stay in and have a great time with those who actually do care about and love you…whether it be your kids, family, friends or savouring the delicious moment by yourself…. hassle free!

    Maybe Valentine’s Day should be reviewed and made into a day when you love and romance yourself! :-) instead of winding oneself up in expecting it from another. Now wouldn’t that have a completely different emphasis and feeling on that day……

    Change the emphasis and you change ‘the feeling’. That is when you realise…… it is actually a choice.

  15. myrrh says:

    yes, but it’s a bit easier when you don’t have a child with the man. that makes it really, really, really hard to let go.

  16. Olivia says:

    I am finding it very theraputic reading the comments that have been left here. It is refreshing to see that others are going through what I am.
    My destructive boyfriend has been making me the other woman for six years now whilst being abusive to me and sustaining a relationship with his main girlfriend. An extremely manipulative individual, he tells me that he loves me and often denies all knowledge of his family life, although I know that it exsists beyond all reasonable doubt. It is the hardest thing to do, moving on from these men and these destructive realtionships. By them feeding you crumbs and scraps of emotions that get you by but hardly fufil your needs and yet leave you gagging for more from them. My self confidence has reached a mighty all time low and although I know he is bad news I am finding it extremely difficult to move on from him. I know I deserve better but the weak woman who has been feeding his ego for years still wants to cling to him. I do need to seek help as nobody should have to sacrifice their self esteem and morals for an emotionally unavailable man and position as second best in his life. If anyone has any advice in how to get through this awful time, it would be so much appreciated.

  17. JJ says:


    You are just an OPTION for him… Who would want to be with someone that’s destructive and abusive? Get it in your mind that you are never going to be HAPPY with him. He feeds you just enough to make you stick around. That’s what they do. Seems like you are at square one and you haven’t really had your wake up moment to leave and never look back. If unhappiness is what you’re in for then stay…. Don’t ask questions cause you already know what’s in it for you. But if you are serious about receiving the right kind of love and being in a relationship with a man thats capable of loving and committing then you need to make an EXIT…. Good luck

    • Olivia says:


      Thankyou for your helpful response. You are of course 100 percent right and I know that I already am aware of what I need to do (leave him!) but I am just looking for the strength to do it.
      By reading your post and others and recognising abusive cycles of behaviour I feel that 2010 has to be the year that I reach my wake up call and make the cut. I hope that all other women out there that are going through what I am find the strength to put themselves first again. Thankyou.


Start any of my courses within the next 48 hours and take advantage of the low prices in my summer sale. Current courses include Build Your Self Esteem, The Pattern Breaker and The People Pleasing Diet.


Start any of my courses within the next 48 hours and take advantage of the low prices in my summer sale. Current courses include Build Your Self Esteem, The Pattern Breaker and The People Pleasing Diet.