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Alicia_MSW
Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Specializing in relationship/family counseling
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In in relation to a recent break up. My girlfriend and

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In in relation to a recent break up.

My girlfriend and I had been together 7 years until we broke up 9 days ago. We had had our ups and downs and of late we were both unhappy and she ended it. Before the break she asked for space and I gave her a week of this with no bombardment of calls, just a letter and some flowers which she thanked me for. She explained that we didn't make each other happy and that this happened two years ago and we are back where we were. Two years ago we had hit a low point of unhappiness, trust issues, unaffection, being nice to each other and lots of other small things. At the time we had never properly lived in our own home together and I wrote her a letter in our last break up explaining what I wanted. She gave it another go and we were happy for 18 months. Then a friend of mine was going through a break up and we offered our home to him. This put a strain on our relationship and then we had money troubles so we moved into his house as it was vacant. Then 3 months later we were back where we were 2 years ago in the relationship. She broke it off and I am not in agreement with it. I wrote her a letter when giving her space like last time but I feel now that it was a poor choice but my only choice as I wanted her to know how I felt. When she broke up with me I didn't break down or plead but instead stayed strong, told her how I felt and that I wanted to change (she said she scared I won't and we'll be back here again at some point) and I would show her and then left. Since then she text me once (about my facebook status and whether i'd changed it as it wasn't showing) and then yesterday she text me to meet for lunch which we did. It was apparent that she wasn't going to ask to get back together but she talked about what was going to happen next after the break up. We didn't need to meet about anything and she said it was to make sure I'm okay (of which she didn't need to do by meeting). It started well with me saying what I'd been up to and asked her the same. Then she brought it up. In the conversation she said she was moving in with a friend in 6 weeks, said she is really down all time and was yesterday and that everything was bad at the minute, said it was hard for me now but it will be harder for her in 6 weeks time, that she still loved me, she said deep down this is what I want (of which I disagreed) and then she said just take it slow (slow with us or the break up I'm not sure which). It left with me saying I would keep being nice and show her I am the person she wants and be there for her and she said why weren't you nice in the last two weeks before the space. I said because I was in a bad place.

Now, I need to know what to do next and also how she feels. I love this girl with all my heart and want to marry her and live our lives together. I have seen my errors and now at 31 (shes 27) I want to move forward in life with her.

I was thinking of leaving her some presents at the house with a note saying "Don't read into this, its just because I hate you being down".

Advice on the gifts, how she feels and also what do next.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Alicia_MSW replied 2 years ago.
Hi, I'm Alicia. Thanks for asking your question - I'm happy to try to help.

I believe that there is a reason that you keep coming back together. It's true that love alone is sometimes not enough to build a relationship on, because external circumstances (finances, family issues, etc) do take their toll. That seems to be the case with your relationship - it sounds, just from the bit of information you provided, that there were quite a few outside issues that impacted your relationship with her. There's only so much people can take before they break, and maybe that is what happened with you. But underneath it all, it sounds like you both do truly care about each other - otherwise, she would not have asked you to meet for lunch to "see how you are doing", just as an example.

I think the only way to know for sure how she feels is to ask her, or to give her time to tell you - either one, because we can't read her mind. You might not want to come out just yet and ask for an answer, however, because she might feel pressured. But from what you said, it does sound like she cares very much about you and in some way, is trying to give you the hint that she wants to try to work things out. You feel the same way - you've even said you want to spend the rest of your life with her. I think your relationship is too special to let go, but you're both just unsure of how to proceed because of all of the difficulties in the past. Maybe it's the strain of living together combined with the fact that your friend was also living with you, or any number of complications, that created the additional strain and was the "straw that broke the camel's back".

I think your idea of giving her a small present (some flowers maybe, or something else just to show her that you're thinking about her) is a good idea if you accompany it with a short note (I would leave out the "Don't read in to this" part, however) just letting her know that you were thinking about her, that you hate to see her so unhappy and that you hope the two of you might be able to work things out. Then you might want to suggest that you set up a meeting in a few days (or weeks, depending on how you feel about it) to talk, without putting any pressure on things. It seems that a bit of space is a good idea for the both of you to get a better perspective and, in the end, to realize how much to miss being with each other, hopefully. I hope it works out. Please let me know if you need additional assistance.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I really appreciate that advice. It is nice to hear that we obviously care about each other and also not to "just see how it goes" or "move on" as everyone of my male friends keeps saying. I spoke to one of "more her" friends over coffee last week and she said to carry on showing change and getting motivation in my life.

 

I also hate the fact people keep saying "no contact", "get on with making yourself look better" and "make her jealous". I can agree with making myself better but the no contact and jealousy I can't because it would hurt her.

 

I know she is worried it won't change and come back but how can I ever address that in conversation with her to say I won't?

 

 

Expert:  Alicia_MSW replied 2 years ago.
I don't think the idea of making her jealous is such a good one. I can understand why people would say this, but it's just not smart to start playing games like that with someone who you really, truly care about. If she was just a fling, I could see it. But she's obviously not, so the best bet is to stay true to your emotions.

I can also see why people who care about you are telling you to move on - because they want to see you happy, and they can see the turmoil you're going through right now. But in the end, only you know what's going to make you happy - and it seems like you think it's her (once you can work out some of the issues you were dealing with before.)

The thing is, there's nothing you can say to convince her that things will change. You can tell her this, sure, but you can't force her to believe it. Actions speak louder than words - but you also need her to give it another chance so you can show her those actions. I think it's not so unusual that she's worried that things won't change - but everyone has problems. Every couple has to deal with ups and downs - and sometimes, the fact that there are problems is a good sign (I know that might sound crazy) - because it shows that you do care about each other enough to argue or fight. If you didn't care, then you wouldn't waste energy fighting - if that makes sense.

But I think "just seeing how it goes" is probably good advice, once you actually get your feelings out and let her know that you still want to make it work. You could be honest with her and tell her all of these things that you are saying to me (and to others) - so, in the note you were thinking about giving her with the small gift, something along the lines of how you really are willing to make an honest effort to change things because you care so much about her.

I'm not sure how you or she would feel about this, but I am also just throwing this idea out at you as an option. You could suggest that you try couples counseling. A lot of people see this as a "cop out" - but making the suggestion is a sign of humility and that you really are willing to give it everything you've got. You might suggest it at some point (when you feel comfortable enough to do so) and say that you think it might help to talk about some of the issues you both were facing. It can help to talk about it with a non-biased third party because it reduces the risk of things getting out of control and you both have the opportunity to say what you want (with someone to mediate if necessary, and someone who can give you feedback and advice as well.)
It's not a sign of weakness, but just the opposite. Sometimes problems build up over time and it's just too much for one couple to handle on their own.
But that's just a suggestion. Otherwise, I would stick with your gut feeling about how to handle it and try some of the suggestions we've discussed - with the note, being honest, telling her your feelings and then backing off and putting the ball in her court, so that she doesn't feel pressured.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks.

 

Last questions, I promise!

 

If she cared so much, why end it? And if she is the sort of person not to be open about feelings how can I get her to tell me before we're back together? I think counselling is a good option, but when we're back together. It's just how I get there first!

Expert:  Alicia_MSW replied 2 years ago.
It's no problem! :)
To answer (sort of) your first question, it's not possible to say for sure why she ended it, of course. But it could be simply from sheer frustration, Or the fact that, like I said earlier, love sometimes isn't enough to build a relationship on. And maybe she somehow felt like things weren't going to change. Maybe you both weren't putting in enough effort to change things because you were stressed out or overwhelmed or frustrated or any number of things that could have prevented change for the better. (Or you were just overwhelmed by external factors that neither of you had control over.) Sometimes people just need to take a step back or a step away - even if they ultimately end up coming back together. It happens to a lot of couples :)

And I do totally understand that couples counseling can only happen once she agrees to try again. But maybe just throwing the idea out at her beforehand would show her that you are taking this seriously. You can't control what she says or get her to admit her feelings if she doesn't want to (but her actions are saying otherwise - she does stay in touch with you, for example) but you can say what you want to say and hope she responds favorably. She might be trying to protect herself from being hurt, or not admitting her feelings because she's afraid of putting herself back in a "bad" situation. So the only thing you can do is show her that you are serious, that you are willing to put in work (maybe even see a counselor on your own and let her know that you're looking at some of your issues and wanting to work on those things too) because you want to be with her (in your note, or if you write her an email or talk to her at some later point in person about this.) and that is when you could also bring up the idea of couples counseling. I guess in a sense it's that you have to be the one to make the move in this situation - but then you also have to back off and let her come to you. So not pressuring her to tell you her feelings, because that will come in time. And in the beginning, she might just need time to herself to decide if she wants to try again. So I think you really have to be patient, as much as you want to know the answers to your questions yesterday - it's a process. You have to take it step by step and try not to jump ten steps ahead of yourself. Certain questions you simply can't answer yet. Just go slow - write the letter, give her the flowers, suggest that you meet at a later date to talk more in detail and tell her that you're backing off because it's a good idea for you both to have a bit more space. Then when you meet with her, you can tell her that you've been doing some thinking about things (and then bring up the counseling idea) and that you really are willing to put in the effort to try again and you'll do whatever it takes to make things work. Even if they haven't worked in the past - but you both have to start on the same page.
Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 616
Experience: Specializing in relationship/family counseling
Alicia_MSW and 3 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for help. I can only now do what is in my heart and head and hope she follows. Thanks again, great advice.

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