This article was co-authored by Jessica Engle, MFT, RDT. Jessica Engle is a relationship coach and psychotherapist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She founded Bay Area Dating Coach in 2009, after receiving her Master's in Counseling Psychology. Jessica is also a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Registered Drama Therapist with over 10 years of experience.
Hi. I have never posted anything online about relationship problems but I am confused and would really love some advice. I have been with my boyfriend for over 8 years. Those 8 years have been amazing. We have always loved spending time together and could never get enough of one another. We have never lived together but we would see each other at least 3 times a week and would always call and text each other when we were apart. But two weeks ago, I noticed that he was upset all of a sudden. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he didn’t know. So he took some time to think about it and he told me that he thinks he doesn’t feel the spark between us anymore. He said that he felt as if when we were hanging out that he was just hanging out with a best friend. So naturally I was very upset because this was a major surprise to me. I thought we were fine and doing great. After he told me, he said that he did not want to break up and that he would do anything to fix this. Before I left his house, we hastily decided to stop seeing each other as much and would go out on dates once a week. He also told me that he would always call at least once a day. The week that followed was one of the worst in my life. I felt rejected and couldn’t understand why he would feel that way. During that week even though he did call everyday, I still felt there was this major distance between us. I ended up canceling our date that week in order to reflect on our relationship. When I thought about it, I realized that we haven’t done anything romantic for one another in a long time and I believe that we took each other for granted. He seemed like he was fine when I cancelled the date, but later on he admitted that he was actually really upset but he didn’t want to show that to me. He has been better this week about communicating with me more. He has texted and called more. He even brought me dinner one day and we ate together. He has also still shown major interest in me sexually, but we both agree to wait on that until we figure some things out. Even though this week has been a little better, I still feel as if there is a major distance between us. When he sees me, he doesn’t want to kiss me because he said that he would feel like he is betraying me and he has stopped all together saying that he loves me. So I don’t know what is the best action to take in order to help mend this relationship. I was thinking of possibly seeing each other another day a week in order to reconnect and communicate about our relationship and so our dates can be for having fun. Or I don’t know if it would be beneficial to see a couples counselor. So any advice would be helpful. Thanks.
Thank you Lauren. It's been 3 weeks now and I am pretty okay. Two questions though: 1. I wonder how did the story of the lady who wrote this apology letter, go? Did they get back together, or do you know about anybody else who have used this with success? 2. Do you cover somewhere if it's a good idea to stay friends with your ex? Thanks in advance.
Take time out – stop talking before you start to yell when you’re having a row and you’re becoming over-emotional with frustration, anger, hurt or sadness. You’ll only be digging yourself a bigger hole, having to not only deal with whatever you were arguing about but also with the fall-out of being in a very emotional state. For more information on this, read my article: When couples argue constantly.

Hi, my ex broke up with me a while ago. We went full no contact for about 8 weeks and then he finally texted me to catch up. We talked for about a month, hooked up a couple times, and he was treating/talking to me as if we were a couple. I want to get back together. So I’ve told him I still have feelings for him and eventually want to get back together. I know he still has feelings for me but he says he doesn’t know what he wants (We’re also doing long distance so this is a big reason of why he doesn’t know). I told him a week ago I can’t be just friends anymore so I went into no contact again. Was this the right move? I want him to realize he does want to get back together and be more that friends. Should I have just stayed friends and waited? Or was it smart to go no contact again!!


Before reading this article, if a guy pulled away I would have automatically assumed he was no longer interested, had met someone else or I’d done something to upset him. In addition, I most certainly wouldn’t have been happy to welcome him back with open arms. On the other hand, IF the need for space was communicated beforehand-though I’d still be wondering- then I’d have no problem with this at all.

Our third attempt—and, you guessed it, the ensuing breakup—was kind of a glitch in the space-time continuum. It was 2009, and at this point I’d realized Mary was not an easy person to please. I coasted through the relationship, and she called me out where other girls I’d been with brushed off my repeated bad behavior. Our second breakup had reinforced the notion that no relationship comes easy and you have to put in the work, but I still sucked.


So, get this. I’ve been seeing this guy for almost 3 months now, so not long. We have taken things pretty casually, I don’t know his past & haven’t asked. When it comes to ‘feelings’ I can tell he is not safe talking about it. We are completely compatible, and honestly I feel as if he’s my person. When we first started talking, we discussed about meeting the parents in general, and he expressed how he doesn’t bring just anyone home to his family & he wants to be sure they will be around for a while before doing so. So, I let him make the call as to when that would happen, if it would. A few weeks ago, he told me to reserve a specific date open for going home to meet his family. Which was just a week ago. Of course, it was the perfect weekend. Introduced me to his whole family, classmates, and family friends, and stayed an extra day than planned. 3 days later, I sent him a nice text- did not say the L word, but was pretty strong feeling. He replied with not feeling the same as me, and didn’t want to waste my time. I have tried calling him one time to get an explanation and he has not responded. Haven’t bugged him since the phone call. It’s so frustrating where 48 hrs prior to the text I was with him at his parents and seen absolutely no red flags. What should I do? What does this mean? I have never had a guy ‘pull away’ before.
Hi Lauren again... Well, quite some time passed by, we broke up 3 and a half months ago. I did try all this what you recommend here: waited, wrote the apology letter, asked him if we could talk about what could I have done better. This is what happened: we met for a coffee and had a good talk, just general catching up and casual subjects, however he didn't mention anything about our relationship and I didn't want to push him. It was a friendly time, with some sparks still there. Then we continued in email, I asked him again about what has gone wrong between us, to which he responded that it was mainly about HIM: he was too stressed about certain things in his life that had nothing to do with me. And mentioned a couple of concerns about me, but they were not anything serious. Then HE suggested that we should meet and discuss it, he will be happy to see me - but another month passed by and he didn't seem to be able to fit me in his extremely busy work schedule and stress and I indeed knew that they had something going on in the company. I was very understanding and not pushy at all. Maybe I was way too patient and gave him too much time: tonight, I saw him with another woman, walking in town, holding hands... Now, we will still meet once, because I forgot something at his place. I am totally clueless of how to behave toward him. Shall I pretend that I don't know anything and wait till he brings up that he already has somebody else, or shall I confront him? The worst thing is that he is one of the last men on Earth I would expect to be dishonest. What shall I do now? Now I am close to 50 and I have never been so happy with a man than with him, in fact, he was the first one I could have imagined to grow old with, and he used to be also very happy and planning a wonderful life together. And now I am in quite a shock. Thank you in advance! ...
Natalie, I have just seen your text, I am not sure how it went since December but the best to do in this case (always), I know that it`s really hard, because you can`t focus on something else but him. You have to disappear, so he will release you are not taken for granted to him. Men can say anything but they get crazy about when the women is doing the same thing or even worst :). He has too feel that he missing you, and beside that focus on your own life and on yourself, the happiness should come from yourself and not from him or any other person. Just step back and see what happens, he will be eager to be the same as before believe me ;) and success!

And should even these small steps seem too overwhelming to take within the relationship, try building up your skills and confidence in easier environs. If, for example, you are trying to be more positive or more open or more assertive, road-test these behaviors with friends, strangers or coworkers where there are fewer emotional triggers to derail you. Once you get your sea legs there you can move on to the heavies like your partner or parents. 


Y’all are making this too complex. Look, a guy falls in love through sex, he needs sex to fall in love, but he’s got to want to have sex with you and thats more than just being hot. It comes down to what you make him feel about himself when he’s around you. Do you make him feel competent, powerful, benevolent, like he’s capable and attractive and trusted? Or do you make him feel he cant do anything right, like a child, stupid, worthless, weak?

Español: arreglar una relación rota, Русский: наладить отношения, Português: Reparar os Danos Causados ao Seu Relacionamento, Italiano: Ricucire un Rapporto Interrotto, Deutsch: Eine kaputte Beziehung retten, Français: sauver une relation détériorée, Bahasa Indonesia: Memperbaiki Hubungan yang Rusak, Tiếng Việt: Hàn gắn mối quan hệ tan vỡ, ไทย: สานความสัมพันธ์ที่แตกร้าว, Nederlands: Een beschadigde relatie herstellen, 中文: 让问题感情重获新生, العربية: إصلاح علاقتك العاطفية أو زواجك المضطرب
Skip the drama, the playing victim, the manipulation. Again, be adult. Think about you, what you can do to fix the problem. Yes, do your best to let the other person know what you need and what (s)he can concretely do to make things better, but then get to work. Buckle down and do what you can to make the situation and problem better without keeping score, tallying up martyr points, without any expectations of the other. Again, since the focus is on changing patterns, if you do your part the best you can, things will begin to change. 

Getting back together with an ex via text messages is too uncertain and results are far from guaranteed. There are definitely other unconventional methods of getting back together with your significant other that work much better! The most important thing is to not go about reaching your goal without having properly planned it. This is why I highly recommend that you read our eBook that can be found here.
Following this advice helped me save my relationship. At the start I the break up I was messaging him a lot and begging to get back together. I looked stupid. After reading this I tried the no contact rule and focused on bettering myself and finding distractions when I felt the urge to talk to him. Just pretending to move on helped me feel a lot better about myself. We were later forced to work together and I kept my head up ignored him the best I could besides work relations and showed him that I can move on. Shortly after that he broke down to me about missing me and doing anything to have me back.
Take time out – stop talking before you start to yell when you’re having a row and you’re becoming over-emotional with frustration, anger, hurt or sadness. You’ll only be digging yourself a bigger hole, having to not only deal with whatever you were arguing about but also with the fall-out of being in a very emotional state. For more information on this, read my article: When couples argue constantly.
But process too follows patterns. You and your partner each have your own ways of dealing with tension and conflict. Your overall way of handling stress and emotions – withdrawal, anger, passive accommodation – invariably and consistently triggers the M.O. of the other person, which in turn fuels yours. Quickly you both get into a negative loop that becomes your combined standard way of dealing with conflict and tension: anger/withdraw, withdraw/withdraw, anger/anger, etc. Your goal again is to break the pattern.

Do not post negativity on social platforms. Firstly, your social media friends will see it as a big negative and any chances of gaining a new partner are gone but mainly when negativity is posted, it only brings a negative response or anger which may ruin any chances of ever having your ex back again. Another reason I personally do not encourage negative posts is it shows desperation and we don’t want this type of image or attention pointed towards us.
The good news is not only is this common—but there’s a way to handle this tricky situation effectively. After all, when you first enter a relationship, there’s sure to be plenty of new boyfriend advice from your friends, your family and your co-workers. But of all of these words of wisdom, the one you want to take the most seriously are the tactics that stop a man from withdrawing from your relationship. How come? As experts explain, sometimes the way a woman communicates her feelings to her partner may make him distance himself even more.
Spend time connecting. When you're in a new relationship, you spend time talking to each other and learning what the other person likes. You discuss your fears and your interests, what you love and what you hate. If you've been in a relationship awhile, you may stop doing this together. If that's the case, you need to consciously work at rebuilding that connection by making time each day to talk. Make time for just the two of you, and when you do spend time together, try to dig deeper than just the day-to-day dramas that fill your life.[22]
1. Start out by heading down the road of healing past wounds. As you talk about the upsetting interactions that have distressed you in the past, look back on these upsetting incidents to find what you yourself can learn from each. When thinking about how to fix a relationship, mistakes are for learning. Share what you experienced, and think aloud about what you would do differently next time. If your partner joins you and does the same, convert past upsets to valuable learning moments in your life journey together.
This also seems like a misplaced expectation of what love is and what relationships can do. A relationship will not solve all your problems, or make you whole, or give you ecstatic happiness at every turn. I’m not sure what “enough” for you looks like. It sounds like you need to mature in your understanding of love and adjust your expectations, rather than throw in the towel or play games with his heart. Have a conversation with him, but also do some introspection with yourself of where these ‘shoulds’ are coming from.
The therapy mantra is that the pattern is more powerful than the people. (Try sitting in someone else's seat at dinner tonight and see what happens – just make sure all the knives are out of sight). So rather than wasting your time worrying about who is right, use it to try and decode the dysfunctional pattern. Once you do, change it. A good way to do that is to talk about it (the pattern) rather than the people: "I notice that a lot of times that when if I ask if you could pick up your socks you say you will but then don't, and then I get annoyed and nag you and then you blow up. I'm wondering if we can do this differently." But even if you can't do that, for whatever reason, just try changing it and if you can, let the other person know your intentions: "I'm doing this because I'm worried that ________." The beauty of patterns is that if you hold your ground, the pattern has to change. You, all by yourself, become the change agent of the relationship. Certainly a good and important start. 

Our relationship was not a relationship at all ,I see now..I was too naive to understand how to handle a relationship.It began suddenly within one week of Facebook chatting,then we went on dates whatever but I never tried to show the rights on him! I didn't call if he didn't and he used to remain without calling for several days ,I wondered if he doesn't miss me at all! But I didn't understand the difference between being needy and being way too nice to not being needy at all ,like whatever he did,even if I felt bad I used to remain too much cool and told him that it was okay!!! Because maybe I put him on a pedestal,maybe I thought that it would cause resentment and fighting ,so let it be and I compromised! Probably I lost my high value and he started pulling away and I also didn't say anything to him at that time..but when he ended the relationship he just said that he never felt that he was in a relationship with me..
It’s imperative that you give your ex room to breathe in order to not make things worse than they already are. This is why I think it’s important to stress that after a breakup, of course you must act – but don’t immediately go running back to your ex, literally. You must take the adequate amount of time needed for you following a break up, to ensure that you rebuild yourself on a personal level and to overcome your heartache. The first step to getting back with your ex begins with a good look in the mirror and an enormous effort on your part!
I was just so hurt and broken hearted, felt empty.. it’s such an un bearable pain I’m going through. When I went home obviously I texted him saying don’t hate me I still love you I just wanted to do a nice thing he said he didn’t hate me and then I texted him something saying I made things harder for myself and then he didn’t reply. I then texted him again a while later and said can I ring you it’s important. I rang him and said I think you need to give it some more thought if I did mean something to me and he got annoyed and said you need to accept it, stop texting and ringing me. So that was the end of that it’s been a few hours since I’ve spoken to him. I can’t stop thinking of him, the thoughts of him going off with another girl so soon is killing me so much.
Make sure to abide by the ever-important No Contact Rule. In this case, ignore your instincts (because they usually act like impulses and read as impulsive behavior). Make sure you take time needed for yourself to feel strong and confident on your own while you give him space. Make sure you do not, I repeat do not show any signs of codependency or clinginess when he does reach back out to you.

Behavior is the key to creating change because, unlike emotions and often even thoughts, behavior is the one aspect of ourselves that we can truly control. Action gets you out of the emotional mud and is an excellent antidote to depression and feeling trapped. So give your partner a hug five times a day whether you feel like it or not and see if it doesn’t change the emotional climate in the house.


Take time out – stop talking before you start to yell when you’re having a row and you’re becoming over-emotional with frustration, anger, hurt or sadness. You’ll only be digging yourself a bigger hole, having to not only deal with whatever you were arguing about but also with the fall-out of being in a very emotional state. For more information on this, read my article: When couples argue constantly.
But chronic attention seekers are annoying to you – why? Because often, their pattern of chronic attention seeking comes from not actually feeling all the attention they do already get. When you don’t allow yourself the feeling – when you reject it – your need for it persists because your body never had the sensation it needed to make you feel full.
It’s that most of the time the one who cares the most in this situation somehow always turns out to be the villain, the one blamed, and the one getting hurt. When a guy pulls away women tend to make the horrible mistake of closing in and putting pressure on the situation, only to have him pull further away because of it. It seems the more you care and try to fix the relationship the more he distances himself from you.
HW (Helen), I'm so happy to hear those books and resources were helpful to you in a difficult time. I'd have to know more about the relationship to give you a more confident answer but if you feel like there was a big enough bond between you in the first place, then you could always try sending this letter. Worst case scenario, he doesn't respond and you've got a clear answer so that you can move on. Hope this helped!

My vibe was affected by stress of school and radiated out into other areas of my life without my realizing…granted my ex never communicated how I was making him feel, but the breakup made me realize what had happened and how i can get those stress levels down and vibe up…I am prepared it is too late…he will never be able to share those vibes. But if he doesn’t hes also missing out because I feel good, a little sad it didn’t work out, but good overall.
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