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Parallax - Advice

June 24, 2002

Awed or odd?

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!My girlfriend of over three years blindsided me with a breakup, while I was saving for the ring. She is a grad student, while I support myself in a career I don't like. She felt I needed to find a passion for something other than her (career direction, personal issues, etc). She also made it very clear that she didn't know if we could ever get back together, and said she needed at least six months to figure things out. Since the break up, I have invested heavily in myself: therapy (twice a week); self-help books; classes; and seminars. I can now honestly and proudly say, 'I have found it!' I just don't know how to tell her and it's been only three excruciating months since we spoke. Can I win her back? Should I try and contact her? Do I write a letter or call? Please help, as I believe in this relationship like no other before it—I love her truly. Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Epiphany,

Why yes, you do have a chance. I suggest rather than seeing her and risking some rather inarticulate moments and tears, you put all your thoughts in order and write her a very compelling letter about how far you've come. Give her all the details of what has led to your epiphany so she is convinced that your effort is sincere and that you have, in fact, made strides.

Follow up a week later with a phone call (or visit) to give her some time to process it all and see how she reacts. She may say she needs more time (which would be okay); if she says that, I'm afraid you'll have to indulge her.

Oh, and don't neglect the gift option—it always helps. I'd send a few thoughtful items. In fact, send the first one with the letter—it can only improve your odds.

If at the end of her six-month period she is still uncertain, you may have quite a problem on your hands.

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His view:

Dear Epiphany,

Though I am happy you have made progress on your issues, you are still not ready to contact her again. The good news is that you still have three months to spare. Use them to go out with other women.

Here's why: It will make the next three months go by much faster. It will be fun. It will keep you from appearing desperate, needy and hopelessly incapable of addressing the main reason she left you...which is your maniacal focus on her, and her alone.

When the three months are up, wait one more and then call her. But don't call her to ask to be taken back. That would be pathetic and pointless. Instead, thank her for the impetus and opportunity to focus on you, and ask her what she's been doing for the last six months. If it turns out she hasn't replaced you and still shows some interest in you, spend the next few weeks telling her—little by little—about your new direction and all that. During this time, do not stop seeing other women, and don't hide that fact from her.

And do not—ever—ask her to take you back. It has to come from her. She broke up with you, so she should be the one to ask you back. Show some self-respect.

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