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Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ Can You Help Me Get My Girlfriend Back?

Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ Can You Help Me Get My Girlfriend Back?

Dear Dr V ~

Can you help me get my girlfriend back? We had a bad fight last weekend that escalated into us breaking up. If we hadn’t had the fight I don’t think we would have broken up. The fight was over the fact that I’m not romantic enough for her. I think that’s where it started, eventually it got into that I don’t make enough time for the relationship, that even when we are hanging around I’m distracted by work (my job pretty much has me needing to be able to answer the phone at any given time). I miss her and don’t want to be without her, but I don’t think I should have to put my professional life on hold just to have a relationship. Is this worth saving?


Dear Brad,

When you ask if I can help get your girlfriend back, are you hoping for some kind montage over music where we work together to formulate a witty plan that wins her heart in the big final scene at the end of the movie? That seems to be the kind of power you’ve assigned me. And while I wish I could make that happen, that ain’t the deal. So you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way, and simply ask her.

Provided, of course, that you actually want her back.

I think it might be worth considering why you want to save this relationship to begin with. Do you really want to be with this person, or do you more just like the idea of being with someone? Perhaps you find some sense of security in the notion of a committed relationship …  if only it didn’t take up so much damn time.  Here’s what I’m getting from your question: You do want to be involved romantically with this lady, but don’t want to put in any of the effort required to build and maintain a partnership with her. While everybody may have different notions of what is romantic and sexy, I think across the board we can all agree that a disengaged or preoccupied partner ranks somewhere just under doing our taxes on the “Ooo That Gets Me Hot” scale. This could explain your ex’s main complaint.

So before we go any further, let’s take a minute to try and define what “being romantic” really means. Sure, candle light dinners, walks along the surf, moonlight serenades; there are enough hack cliché’s to fill several dime store novels. Even if your lady is into that stuff, I don’t really think that is what she’s truly seeking from you. In my opinion, one way to define “romantic” could be the act of being deliberate and purposeful in how one cares for their lover. Or, to be less Merriam Webster about it, what the candles, music, fancy dinners and all the rest really represent is that one person in the relationship took the time to construct an enjoyable, sensuous experience to enjoy exclusively with their partner; an island of mellow pleasure in a world that is often demanding and stressful. When something is “romantic,” it’s a concrete expression of the devotion, care and love we have for our partner. The more personally tailored it is to their specific tastes, the more romantic it will feel to them.

That being said, it may be that you haven’t been delivering in the romance department because you haven’t really taken the time to know this woman you say you want to be with. How could you if you haven’t really been focused on her when you’re together? If you’re constantly answering your phone for work related stuff, then you never really leave work. Your attention is never one hundred percent in the moment, some part of your brain is still mulling over whatever it is they need you for down at the office. And I gotta tell ya Brad, relationship or no, that is one unhealthy way to live. It’s great to be passionate and devoted to our work, in fact I’d say you could count yourself lucky as someone who enjoys their job, but to allow it to completely dominate your life, is a recipe for burnout, if not ultimate unfulfillment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard both clients and friends lament the fact that they let their careers take precedence over their loved ones or families. Regrettably, this realization often only comes when it’s too late, after they’ve missed out on stuff that won’t be coming round again.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t stay motivated and dedicated to your job, but rather perhaps consider adjusting what your personal boundaries are with your job. Unless you are a world leader or costumed vigilante crime fighter, this should be doable. Even doctors on-call get to take breaks now and again, so I think you should be able work something out with your colleagues as well. In your case, it sounds like there aren’t any boundaries with work to speak of, so try to open your mind to the idea of stepping back a little bit to make room in your life for other things.

If after some introspection, you find you really do want to save this relationship and are willing to make the changes needed to your lifestyle, then perhaps you could try reaching out to your ex. Explain to her that you’re ready to make her a priority, even to (gasp!) ignore your phone as much as possible when you’re out together. You might want to approach it in a way that is both endearing and even a touch eccentric or self-effacing.  Think of John Cusack holding up the boom box in Say Anything. There, that is the one solid hint of how to be romantic I will give you. Run with it.

You said in your letter you didn’t think you should have to sacrifice your career to have a relationship, and I agree with that. However, don’t you think the converse of that is true as well? Why should you have to sacrifice your relationship to have a career?

With Love and Light,

Dr. V

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