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Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ Should I Give Her Another Chance?

Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ Should I Give Her Another Chance?

Dear Dr V ~

My girlfriend dumped me this week. It was very strange. I dropped her off at the subway to go to work, we kissed, said, “Bye, I love you,” and that was that. At lunch that day she broke up with me, via text! We met later and she said she just didn’t see how things could work out with us. What I really don’t understand is that we just got back from a great weekend away together in Laguna Beach, and I thought the first trip away together was supposed to be the litmus test for a relationship. Yesterday I got a call from her saying she wants to talk, that maybe we should get back together. I don’t know what to do.

Dear Ben,

I’m so sorry that you have to deal with such an emotionally tumultuous, not to mention stressful, situation. Getting “dumped” is never easy, and when the “Dumper” comes back to jangle hope in front of the “Dumpee” post-mortem, it only rubs salt in the wound.

I feel like it’s a tricky situation to advise you on, as I don’t really know you or your ex well enough to try and parse what her motivations were for ending things in the first place, or what dynamics may have already been in play between the two of you to set the stage for dumping. So before I offer you my gut feeling on all of this, my broad stroke suggestion to you would be to follow your gut feeling. Listen to your heart, and let that be your guide in how you choose to move forward with these circumstances. This should not be confused with listening to your hurt. That is to say, you have to take into consideration the behaviors and actions you now know this woman to be capable of when you make your choice. Remember that if you do decide to give it another go, don’t deceive yourself into thinking you’re going back to who you believed you were with in the first place. Your sort-of-ex has given you a glimpse of what she’s capable of, in terms of dramatic and sudden detachment, and even callousness.

You may have guessed from the end of that statement that I do not think it would be a wise idea to return to this relationship, at least not now. Ending relationships in and of itself is not necessarily a villainous or cruel act. There are times (sadly more often than not) when two people involved with each other discover they are simply not compatible, for whatever reason. Breaking up is rarely easy or painless, but if the two parties treat each other with honesty, honor and empathy, it can mitigate the damage done somewhat. Unfortunately for many of us, our pre-existing issues interfere with our internal processes on how to best exit a relationship. Often we are fearful of what our partner’s reaction will be, or perhaps feel guilty about our need to end the relationship. Either way, these and other similar emotions can lead otherwise reasonable adults to conduct themselves in immature, illogical or even deceitful ways, without really having a malicious agenda towards the one they’re leaving. Of course, the dark irony in this is that often we end up hurting our partner (and really ourselves) more than if we simply bit the bullet, reached down inside and found the guts to say straight out, “I’m sorry but this isn’t working anymore.”

From how you describe it, it sounds like your sort-of-girlfriend was trying to mitigate her own guilty feelings about needing to end the relationship. We could speculate endlessly on why she felt she needed to leave. I’m not sure I buy into your theory about the “vacation litmus test.” I think how a couple gets along on a trip away together could be one indicator of the strength of their relationship, but certainly not the indicator. Either way, you said it yourself: the trip went great, and then she split. If I was to take a shot in the dark here, perhaps she left because you had such a great time. She could be afraid of happiness, or being with someone who treats her well, or who knows what. For whatever reason, having a lovely time away with you set off an alarm inside her that told her to get out of Dodge.

Which leads me to my next point. If this person’s reaction to a positive experience with you is to flee the relationship, what does that tell you about her possible emotional expectations on her partner? Again, I don’t know this woman at all, but there is a possibility she could be someone who’s addicted to “drama,” someone whose “emotional dominoes” have gone down in such a way that she now associates emotional strife with romantic intimacy. Needles to say, I have worked with such people and truly empathize for them. They’re not “bad” for having this particular issue. In fact it’s one of the joys of my profession to help people work through these issues so they can discard them like so much useless baggage. However, for you I think the path of least resistance might prove the wiser choice. Especially because by returning to you and saying “hey, remember when I broke your heart last week? My bad. Can I get a do-over on that?” she is in fact creating emotional strife, if not for her then certainly for you.

As I said earlier, only you can truly decide if your relationship with this woman deserves another shot, or if it should be allowed to pass into the ether. As you ponder your decision, I would urge you to keep in mind that if you establish now that this kind of behavior is acceptable, then you may essentially be giving this woman carte blanche to repeat this over and over again with you.

How many times can someone break your heart before it’s too much?

With Love and Light,

Dr. V

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