Wavering after a Breakup


We’ve all been there – that limbo place after a relationship has ended but before a new one has yet to be found.

Sometimes our resolve wavers. We wonder: Did I break it off too quickly or without a good enough reason?  Perhaps the question is: Why did he break it off and can we go back to being a “we”?

This is not an easy topic. I recommend indulging in comfort food as we ponder the issue.

Let’s focus on scenario #1 in which you broke off the relationship. Perhaps you had a good four-fifths of a partnership but the other poor quality fifth was too damn important to ignore. That fifth could be a major difference in outlook on life, sexual compatibility, the role of family, or for a certain age group, whether to have children. Whatever the reason, the fact that this aspect of your coupled life was seriously inadequate ate away at you until you finally realized it was time to move on.

So, you broke it off. And it was damn hard because that other four-fifths was good. And nothing is perfect, right? So should you swallow and go back to Mr. Almost Right?

Here’s a suggested game plan for your wavering, quivering heart.

*Recognize that it’s going to take time to heal.

*Remember what it felt like to not have that important one fifth. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to live with that situation?”

*Rely on your trusted friends for companionship, moral support, and a bigger picture outlook

*Revive your independence and explore fulfilling activities that bring you joy.

*Reach out to expand your social network through Meetups, social clubs and activities, online dating sites and apps.

*Reflect on your ideal romantic partnership. Realize that although you can’t have everything, you should strive for having the most important things.

*Restrict any desires to reconnect for at least 6 months. Distance and time will help you to see more clearly.

*Relish a new relationship if you are lucky enough to find one.

*Rev up your support system if the new relationship is short lived.

*Realize that if you are not in a new relationship – and you want to be in one — you are vulnerable to returning to Mr. Almost Right.

You should follow a similar game plan if Mr. Almost Right called it quits. Although you didn’t choose to end the relationship, it’s important to think about what worked and didn’t work from both of your perspectives.

If Mr. Almost Right gave you a reason for the breakup, ask yourself whether the relationship met your needs. As hard as it is, try to critically evaluate your time together. Talk to people, including therapists as needed. Read about relationships. Ask yourself: Are there things you would have done differently?

You can’t make someone love you–or vice versa, but you can learn from a breakup.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.





The Slow Dawning of the Realization that He’s Just Not That Into You

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I came rather late to reading the 2009 book He’s Just Not That Into You but then I came rather late to the dating life.

For the last month, I have been on a relationship advice book kick that began with Power Texting Men: The Best Texting Attraction Book to Get the Guy and Love is in the Mouse: Online Dating for Women: Crush your Rivals and Start Dating Extraordinary Men. I’ll offer my take on these resources another time.

About the same time my book kick began, I started going out with someone who would prove to be a conundrum. Mr. B’s behavior became particularly puzzling a couple of weeks ago. When I described the situation to a friend, she said, “Perhaps it’s a case of ‘He’s Just Not That Into You.’”

This was food for thought. Speaking of which, let’s focus on fall food: wild rice crusted halibut.

I saw the movie version of He’s Just Not That Into You awhile ago and though I can’t remember the details, I remember the premise – men treating women badly. I had never read the book, which was written by two Sex and the City writers. Since it was time to select another advice tome, I downloaded the kindle edition of He’s Just Not That Into You and started reading.

For the Cliff Notes version of the book, just read the table of contents. For example:

  • He’s Just Not That Into if He’s Not Asking You Out
  • He’s Just Not That Into if He’s Not Calling You
  • He’s Just Not That Into if He’s Disappeared on You

You get the idea. Author Greg Behrendt has a no-nonsense approach that advises women to immediately dump anyone who shows any of the “He’s Just Not That Into You” signs. His co-author Liz Tuccilo sometimes tempers or softens Greg’s hardline approach with the reality of a woman’s experience.

Women are often willing to put up with less than perfect in order to have some kind of…read “any” relationship in this world of more women than men. But more often than not, Liz agrees with Greg that it’s better to be alone than with someone who treats you poorly.

The book is really about self worth, empowerment, and getting what you as a totally awesome woman deserve.

So let’s go back to my conundrum. Here are the signs from Mr. B that gave me pause:

  • After initial frequent contact (mostly texting), there are now longer gaps in communication
  • Most common mode of communication: texting about inane daily activities or “his stress” from work etc.
  • Only a few phone calls
  • After 2nd date two weeks ago, still no plans for a 3rd date
  • Out of town every other weekend to care for elderly mother but no effort to see me during the week

The reason it was a conundrum and not a clear-cut get out of it ASAP situation:

  • We had two good dates and discovered some common interests
  • He is staying in touch however irregularly and always asks how I am
  • He listens
  • Obvious chemistry and attraction between the two of us
  • I wanted to see him again; there seemed to be potential worth exploring

There are other factors but I’m approaching this issue from a strictly behavioral analysis.

The more I read the book, the more I recognized Mr. B’s actions in the behaving badly category. And like many of the examples in the book, just when I thought he was really demonstrating non-interest, he would phone me. I started to think he was treating me like a yo yo – letting the line out and staying out of touch. Then, right before it hit the ground, he’d jerk (me) back with a phone call.

After pondering all of the examples of badly behaving men in the book and rolling my eyes at the women who kept trying to forgive their guys, I concluded that I was, in fact, in denial and living a case of He’s Just Not That Into You. I also concluded that women outnumber men in the decent and nice category.

What was the last straw with Mr. B? After not hearing from him all week, he phoned me Thursday evening. I was annoyed and didn’t answer. Later that night I sent him a text saying I’d be available Friday.

On Friday, he sent an afternoon text detailing his stressful week as an excuse for not being in touch. He ended the text by saying he plans to drive a friend to the airport in NY and will then spend the weekend in the city. There was no mention of getting together again — only that he’d be back Sunday.

I don’t know if his friend (man or woman) lives in NYC or in the DC area…but regardless, does this make any sense at all? Top that off with a lot of mundane detail. What I wanted him to write was “Really miss you and want to see you as soon as possible.”

I haven’t responded. I wrote a sayonara “breaking up” with you text but I may not send it. Sometimes ghosting seems like the right response.

To any reader who is in a murky mixed-message dating situation, read or re-read He’s Just Not That Into You. It will be a splash of cold water on your hot little love-starved head…. and sometimes you need that.

I don’t know about you but I feel so much better getting this off of my chest.

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.



Breaking Up is Hard to Do; 4 Scripts to Help you Through It

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As the song goes, breaking up is hard to do. It’s hard irrespective of the method of delivery: in person, on the phone, by text, or via e-mail. It’s hard irrespective of the length of the relationship – or pre-relationship. Yes, it’s even hard to “break up” after a first phone call with someone who wants to meet you in person.

Ok, maybe breaking up after one phone conversation isn’t technically a break-up. However, if you’re engaged in online and meet-in-person dating, you’re going to come to various relationship-ending crossroads not only after you have been dating someone for awhile but sometimes at the very beginning of establishing contact.

For the purposes of today’s conversation, a break-up is defined as cutting off a relationship after a phone call, a first date, 2 or 3 dates, or a several-month relationship. And the focus of this conversation is what to say and how to say it when you’re the one instigating the break-up.

Since today is Pi Day, let’s have some vegetable quiche while we talk about breaking up when you’re the initiator.

For me, the difficulty with this whole process is my hesitation to hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t want to look into someone’s eyes (or have to avert my gaze) while telling him I don’t want to see him anymore. My brother thinks it’s safer to not turn down a “new” guy in person since he could get angry and I don’t really know how he handles anger. I hadn’t thought of that and it makes me feel like less of a difficult-moments coward.

I recall two first dates where I actually had the balls to say there would likely not be a second date. In both cases, the guys were so over-the-top strange that I felt less anxious about hurting their feelings. I hedged when they asked about going out again and said, “Perhaps. I need to think about it.”

Guy A asked me to rate him and our Starbucks date after 10 minutes! Guy B couldn’t stop approaching strangers to gab while we were strolling down the street and then proceeded to tell me about— and show me pictures of — the nude beaches he liked to frequent. Sigh. So, you can see why I was less worried about their reactions.

If there’s really nothing wrong with a guy, but I’m just not interested in him, then I find it easier to email him my rejection after the date. If a man hasn’t asked me out for date #2, but it’s clear he wants to see me again, I’m proactive and let him know where I stand. Otherwise, I wait until he asks me out before delivering this last message.

My response expresses my feelings about the fledging relationship in terms of two key components of romance: chemistry and connection. No one can deny these are important and that the lack of these essential ingredients means it’s time to hit the delete button. Chemistry and connection can also be used in your script when you don’t want to meet a man you just had a 2-hour phone conversation with.

If you’re breaking up with a guy you have been dating for 2, 3, or 4 months, you’ll need to be more specific about why the relationship is not working for you.

4 Break-up Scripts: What to Say or Write in a Nice Way

Adjust the phrasing of the following “scripts” as needed to match your style and comfort level and to incorporate any relevant details about your relationship. These explanations were emailed to the men in question. If you’re going to speak them over the phone, they may need personalization so the phrasing sounds natural for you.

  • After emails and a phone call: Hi his name, Although I enjoyed our conversation, I came to realize we are not a match. After doing the online thing for awhile, I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out early on who I will click with in a relationship. So sorry about this and I wish you luck in finding “the one.”
  • After 1 date: Thank you for a nice lunch  I’m sorry to say I did not feel the connection or chemistry I am looking for.  I certainly was hoping for it and you are a very nice guy – and a good hugger.  Well I wish you luck in finding your match. Take care, your name.
  • After 2 or 3 dates: You know I try to be a straight shooter. I want you to know that I think you’re a very nice guy but I’m afraid I’m not feeling the chemistry that I am looking for in a relationship. I wish you good luck and hope you find what you’re looking for. I am so sorry about this.
  • After 2 to 4 months: Although we have had some very good times, I am starting to feel some distance from you. I’m afraid that I’m no longer feeling the connection the way I would like to. BE SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT IS NOT WORKING BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU (e.g., lack of communication, lifestyles are too different, he has no time for you, etc., etc.) END WITH A POSITIVE NOTE IF POSSIBLE.

I wish I had some more bullet points in this list and suggestions for how to break up after a year or two, but I haven’t made it that far in any of my post-marriage relationships. As far as my marriage goes, I did not initiate the breakup so I can’t speak from the dumper’s perspective.

Final Words

Sometimes you don’t need to say anything to your no-longer-a-possibility guy. The relationship just fades away. Hearts beat slower. Conversations get shorter. Emails are sent less frequently. Then, one day, you’re looking through profiles again.

Hey, it’s Saturday night; I can be morose if I want to. Oh, yeah, I do have a date Monday night.


Ciao until next week,