‘He Heard From His Ex. Now We’re Both Confused.’

Dear Sara: I started dating someone in the beginning of November. Everything was going great, [until] he called to tell me he heard from an ex. [He said it] messed with his head, that possibly down the line we could open back up communication again. I have been continually hurt by men, and I started dating him because he was the opposite of what I normally go for and he made me laugh. After his comment about possibly texting one day, I just hung up, later sending a message that I was blindsided …

From what I understood, he is getting back with the ex who has hurt him, and if it doesn’t work out he will call me. However I also wanted to know if he just needed time to be on his own and get his mind right. I’m trying to be okay, but this was a blow. Any advice? – C

Dear C: Oh gosh, that is a blow. It’s so disappointing to have a relationship that feels so right, only to get blindsided like that.

My only advice is to not take it personally. It can take people a very very long time to get over exes, especially if the ex keeps trying to pull them back. It does mess with people’s heads. So he’s not in a place to be in a relationship with you right now, and in a way it’s good that he knows this.

There’s no way to really know what’s going on with him—if he’s going to come back, or if you’ll even want to take him back. So let him deal with his stuff and in the meantime be kind to yourself. What you’re going through is very, very hard and it’s okay to allow yourself to feel bad for a while.

But don’t feel bad for feeling bad. You’re in a period of grief—you’re grieving the loss of this relationship, and you’re grieving the hope and happiness it brought you. So if you want to spend some time eating ice cream and watching sad movies, do it. If you start to criticize yourself for feeling sad, just remind yourself, “I feel sad right now. That’s okay. Everyone feels sad sometimes. This is hard, but it will pass.”

We often think that suppressing or denying emotions will make them go away, but it’s not true. When you allow the sadness to simply exist, rather than tighten around it, it tends to move through you more quickly. This isn’t wallowing—it’s simply being patient with your experience.

Being kind to yourself doesn’t just mean indulging in TV and snacks. It also means taking care of yourself: exercising, eating well, etc. Treat yourself to a delicious meal. Get a spa treatment. Take a yoga or zumba class—whatever you know will make you feel better physically. Physical pain and emotional pain are essentially the same thing, so if you take care of yourself physically you’ll also feel better mentally.

If you can do that, you might start to think about whether or not you actually want him back. Yes, you had a good time together, and yes people are entitled to question their relationships. But it does sound like he treated you quite carelessly. By treating yourself with kindness and compassion, you might realize you’d prefer to hold out for a man who will do that, too.



its not you sara eckel

Sara Eckel is a personal coach and the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Ask her questions here.




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2 thoughts on “‘He Heard From His Ex. Now We’re Both Confused.’

  1. i wholeheartedly understand the pain of what you are going through. It’s an awful feeling. I have been dating someone long distance for a year who also just told me a few days ago that he doesn’t love me on the same level that I love him and that he still has feelings for his ex. I was completely shocked and hurt. I never expected him to say that to me — especially the part about the ex. The past few days have been horrible. I’ve done nothing but cry and try to figure out what went wrong.

  2. I know this scenario. Do not buy it. He should have checked with himself if he was ready to move on from his ex before he started dating. Instead he basically used you as entertainment/support/therapy instead of dealing with the break-up in an adult way = on his own. This is very selfish behaviour, and unfortunately it is common, especially among people who are somehow convinced that they will always manage to find someone to date. As a long time single, who is not very good at dating, I would find it so unique that someone wants to spend time with me that I would do my utmost best not to mess it up. He does not seem to care.
    So in my view you should absolutely not wait for him. He does not deserve it because he did not care about your feelings. It would also give him the impression that you do not respect yourself and are happy to be second choice. In such a situation you can never have a level-playing field. There is no balance: he takes the decisions and you wait. Do not let yourself be lured into such a situation.
    Think: do you still have an ex lurking in the background who only has to snap with his fingers and you will run back to him? You have not, so you are 100% free. So you should try to find a guy who is also 100% free. And who offers certainty and clarity. Then you can focus on each other, without annoying background noise.
    Maybe I come across as harsh and strict. Believe me, I have been in your situation and I have also seen it around me. And nothing good comes of it. Ultimately love is simple and black and white: you want to be with someone or you do not want to be with someone. This guy does not want to be with you. The reason does not really matter.

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