Salvaging your relationship after breakup
Following a breakup, there’s almost always a possibility of salvaging and healing the relationship. No matter what might have happened or who might have initiated the breakup, it’s not only normal, but psychologically healthy, for both parties to experience grief and remorse and a longing to get back what they’ve lost.
The problem that confronts anyone trying to repair a relationship is trying to figure out what to do differently so as to not end up repeating the same old patterns that lead to the same sad ending. The answer does not lie, as many romantic movies would have you believe, in giving exotic gifts, making grand romantic speeches, confessing your undying and eternal love or all the reasons you know you;re not worthy. The answer is much more basic and mundane: simply learn how to communicate more effectively with your partner.
This is the number one mistake that most fighting (and failed couples) make: they don’t communicate their feelings and handle conflicts in a positive and constructive manner. Instead, they let their emotions take over, and when that happens, a number of things occur: first, they stop listening to the other person; second, they make the focus all about their feelings instead of finding a resolution that works for both parties; third, they make unfair accusations and say and even do hurtful things that make matters worse and that they later regret.
Actually, what I’ve described is essentially the very definition of fighting: fighting = poor communication, it’s as simple as that. As I explain at depth in all my books, including Make Up Don’t Break Up, conflict and fighting are not the same thing, People can have a conflict, but still be able to communicate positively in order to work through and resolve the disagreement. Fighting is what happens when communication over the conflict breaks down and becomes destructive and negative by continuing to feed into the conflict, exaggerate it, and make it grow.
At the root of all breakups is an unresolved conflict of some kind. This means that positive and constructive communication is required to resolve the conflict and stop fighting. When the fighting stops and the conflict is resolved, the relationship is healed and can resume in peace and harmony.
While this formula may seem quite obvious once it’s stated, the reality of the situation is that poor communication habits are hard to change at any time, but especially so right after a breakup. This is because no matter which side you’re on, your sense of personal insult and injury is at an all-time high, emotions are running at a fever pitch, and both sides want to have their gripes and issues heard. The problem is that there are two sides to postive communication, and knowing how to listen is as important, if not more so, than knowing how to state your case in a postive manner.
So what you have is a situation in which the moment is ripe for reconciliation, but the parties involved aren’t capable of it. They’re too self-involved and not really listening because they just want to be heard. But in order for the fight to be over, and communication to resume, both parties have to learn how to start really listening to each other rather than focusing on how to explain themselves.
So, if want to get your ex back and to be the one who initiates saving the relationship, you have to be the one to drop your personal agenda and start listening. You can’t continue to make you and your feelings, your explanations, or your gripes the main subject of discussion.
To start the healing process off correctly, you have to create a climate in which your ex feels safe to share his or her feelings with you. That means learning how to listen without reacting negatively to whatever your ex has to say and putting your gripes on the back burner.
Forget about how wronged you feel: instead, ask your partner how he or she feels wronged. Put aside your own complaints: instead, let your partner describe (calmly) his or her beefs. If you do this the right way, your partner will eventually soften up and your turn will naturally come around.
In my book Make Up, Don’t Break Up: Dr. Love’s 5 Step Plan For Reconciling With Your Ex, I provide step-by-step instructions on how to do this and how to approach your ex to discuss reconciliation.
In Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First); A Step By Step Guide For Resolving Relationship Conflict, I devote an entire chapter to improving your listening skills, complete with examples, exercises, and specific communication techniques that will turn your negative fighting patterms into positive, relationship bonding experiences.
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