Hello everybody, welcome to episode 108 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Thanks for being with us today, friends. We’ve got a nice lengthy question about some unexpected interaction when an ex contacts you many years after a breakup. Listen closely and follow along as we hear this story and try to help out. Here it is…
QUESTION: “I was contacted by my ex the other night, we have not been together for 8 years. For context, she was my own personal life coach, whose guidance helped completely turn my character around. But knowing that she had me in the palm of her hand, that power was often abused, and I would resent her. We suffered an ugly breakup that was ultimately both our faults, but I detonated the bomb (so to speak).
Without the person who believed in and guided me, I felt lost. I would contact her with no response, until 3 years ago she finally replied and decreed that things were truly over, and that I should move on with my life. So I did, I traveled the world in an effort to get my mind right, and have made great strides. Seeing as how my “life coach” was gone, I had to be the captain of my own ship.
Out of the blue, I get a text message filled with apologies, updates and appreciation. She also informed me that over the years, she had been in abusive relationships. There were no details about moving forward. For almost a decade, I’ve wished for this very moment of reconciliation, and now that its here…I don’t know what to do about it.
What exactly does she want? How do I accurately assess her sincerity? She might very well be coming to me because she’s vulnerable, and knows that she can rely on me to drop what I’m doing and be at her service. She also might be realizing I’m the only one left she can trust. In an ideal world, I’d like to get back with this person after all our growing up. At the same time, I want to keep my agency whilst not coming off too cold and driving her away.”
An Emotional Rollercoaster
Wow, what a situation this is. An emotional rollercoaster, indeed. Thanks for sending this is and trusting us with this one.
Before I start I’d just like to share that the man who sent this question in has the same name as a dear friend of mine. So when the email came through, I took like 5 minutes trying to decide whether or not this was my friend going to unusual lengths to mess with me, but I I’m going make the call and trust that this is indeed a different person. And if it’s not, well done.
Anyway, I sure wish I could tell you what she wants, but we both know I can’t do that. I can speculate, but even with all the wonderful details you provided, I’d be doing you a disservice if I just made the call on what her intentions are, because I don’t know.
Yes, maybe she’s coming to you in a moment of vulnerability given the abuse she’s suffered these last few years, and maybe she’s just running back to you because you’re the one she knows that she can maintain power over as she’s done in the past. Makes sense to want to step back into that position after being pushed around.
Or maybe these experiences have been powerful enough that she’s started to appreciate you in a way she was unable to before, and it’s indeed for real. Or maybe she has a new found attraction for you because she recognizes that you’ve now built yourself, which could very well be the remnants of a pattern that has led her into abusive relationships since yours.
Any of these or anything in between could be true, and I don’t think either of us should just try to plop one theory on her because
- 1: Even legitimate theories have countless exceptions, and
- 2: It’s anyone’s guess how much she’s changed the last 8 years.
Could you maybe dig deeper and consider if there were any microcosms of this type of situation in the past that could provide insight into this one now? Sure.
But even you, the one who has a history with her, should keep in mind that someone can change a lot in 8 years. After all, look at how much you’ve changed. Therefore, it’s important to try to approach her with a blank slate in that regard. I’ll get back to that, though.
What Do YOU Want?
At this moment, what you have a decent grasp on is what you want, not what she wants. So focus on how you ended the question, about wanting get back with her after all your growing up. It’s understandable to want this.
Maybe it’s for the best, and maybe it’s not. You won’t know until you pursue it a little further, have an exchange with her, and maybe see her in person.
Bear in mind that I wouldn’t suggest pursuing this willy nilly. Were the attachment not so strong and thus, the potential regret down the road if you were to not pursue it so strong, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
If the relationship wasn’t blatantly unhealthy (like the abusive ones she’s endured), I would not recommend it. As a matter of fact, an important part of breakup recovery for many people is to maintain no contact, but somehow, that doesn’t feel like it applies in this scenario.
All things considered, I think it’s worth your time to learn more and go from there.
This is going to be really tough, though.
Should You Respond When An Ex Contacts You?
As you said, keeping your agency is of utmost important here. And it’s hard to do that in the face of both someone we love and especially someone who was once a respected leader of sorts. Combine the two, and it’s extra tricky. So if you choose to respond to her, maybe meet with her, you have to try your absolute best to love yourself more than you love her.
Yes you’re a new person, a person you should be proud of being, but old emotions can stand to unravel that. If anyone out there watches Parks and Rec, I’m essentially talking about what happens when Ron meets up with Tammy.
There’s a lot on the line here for you to protect, and you need to go into this interaction as the new you. It’s the new you meeting the new her, and though your history can not and should not be forgotten, whatever relationship you two forge must be based on who you are now rather than picking up from 8 years ago.
If you can go in with this mentality, you’ll stand your best chance at separating true feelings of love in the now from old feelings of past attachment.
Waiting A Little Bit to Get Your Bearings
I might recommend waiting a little bit before seeing her in person (if you choose to after messaging a bit), because you need to get your bearings first. I can tell this has already shaken you up a little bit and thrown you off course.
Again, it makes sense, but you have to thrust this whole thing into the present and be comfortable enough with your new self that it’s the one leading way.
Maybe a lot of the old intrigue with her was derived from her helping you turn yourself around and taking you by the hand in that way, and maybe the new you doesn’t need that now that you’ve captained your own ship for the last three years.
Or maybe now that you have your own power, the relationship will have the necessary balance that it didn’t have in the past.
The Only Rule To Remember when an Ex Contacts You
Whatever you discover as you get back in touch with her, just remember that the self-work you’ve done has created a wonderful version of you that has to be put first (that’s the only rule), and that whatever type of relationship you have with her would’ve been better then and will be better now if you bring this best version of yourself to the table and it’s made into more of a partnership rather than her having all the control.
That brings us to an end, friends.
Sir, thank you again for sending this to us on when an ex contacts you unexpectedly. Again, it’s a situation that is rightfully pulling at your heartstrings, and though it may feel like everything you’ve ever wanted, you still have and should exercise the power to proceed with both your heart and your brain.
You’ve done a lot for yourself, and whomever joins you for the rest of your journey, you come first.
Folks, if you have a question you’d like help with and you’d like us to answer for you on the show, please email it on in to advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
And bonus points if you have the same name as one of my friends! Talk to you later everyone, have a wonderful day.