Have you ever been in a situation where you’re single and trying to explore your options.. and think, “hmm whatever happened to that guy i dated like three years ago?” You may think you were a different person back then, bad timing et all.. and so it’s only fair that you should get another shot at dating Mr XYZ. Right? Well, unfortunately no.. you may well find that things quite often don’t work like that in the real world. Now i’ll be honest.. There’s nothing wrong per se with contacting someone from the past but quite often you’ll find that the other person has a completely different take on things. There’s usually a reason why dates don’t progress into a relationship. And if you’re the kind that has had unhealthy relationship habits in the past, then chances are it din’t progress into a full fledged relationship, because one or both of you were not emotionally available to put in the efforts required to get to know someone.
Lets say, you have moved on from your past experiences, and are now emotionally ready to be in healthy relationships. What makes you so sure that the other person is sitting there, waiting for you to call.. in essence putting their life on hold for you? More often than not, you will find that people have moved on in their lives. As cruel as it sounds, it really is a case of out of sight, out of mind. What are you going to do? Rewind and erase the past? ..err no you can’t. Firstly, it is a sign for you to consider this, ” why am i getting in touch with this person?”
Often, contacting someone from the past is about seeking validation from them. Why do we do this? Because we consider it to be an ultimate validation of the belief that we are now a different, better person and therefore entitled to having a shot again at a failed relationship from the past.
It’s important to understand that how you feel is not how others feel. You have your own version of things, they have theirs. You may be surprised how much people can remember even after a long time, especially if you are the one that said no or initiated the break up. While you’re trying to make your case for why you disappeared or why the relationship just fizzled out, all the other person hears is ” Sorry for being a jerk.. now take me back quickly.” In fact, they start to wonder why if you’re such a great person, have you not met anyone else. Sad but true.
Sometimes, we may not have come as far as we thought we have, and start to feel panic at the thought of still being single, which makes us reach out for people we dated/were in a relationship with. Basically you’re taking a chance and start to feel something is better than nothing.
That said, there may be times when you feel it is worth getting in touch with someone based on your past experience with them. If you do decide to go down that path, there are a few things you should remember.
- First of all, only get back in touch with someone who treated you with respect. This is actually a no brainer because if someone mistreated you once, you can be sure they will do it again. This includes people who din’t call back, were always late for dates without giving an explanation, were passive aggressive and so on.. such type of people don’t change. If you do contact them, they’ll probably think that you’re so desperate that you will rather be with someone that treats you in a less than manner than be by yourself, and that will give them a renewed licence to eff with your brain. Don’t go there.
- Ask once, that’s it. If someone doesn’t respond to you the first time, it is a clear indication that they are not interested. It doesn’t take a hundred emails and countless voice messages to get the message through. If you keep persisting, you will only cause yourself embarassment and lose respect.
- Be prepared to take NO for an answer. You had your chance, and now its up to them to decide if they want to take things further. They might have met somebody, got married or whatever.. or they simply may not be interested. This can be a hard thing to deal with if you don’t have a healthy self esteem. If you don’t, you will likely perceive it as a rejection or lack of worth on your part. That’s why it is important to work on our own issues before thinking about being with someone. If you do feel a sense of rejection, then it is an indication for you to start focussing inwards and do what is required to get a healthy sense of self.
- Be wary of someone that doesn’t question you as to why you’re back. If you get back in touch with someone, and they act like nothing happened, it’s not a good sign. Normal people with healthy values will want to know why you bailed and what brings you back. If someone isn’t bothered to get to the bottom of the past issues, then they are probably not bothered about the outcome now.
- Know that there may be trust issues. While its normal to be a little cautious in the beginning, a lack of basic level trust is never a good thing. People don’t like being turned down and you reappearing may bring back old memories. It takes mutual trust to even get started. If they say yes only to question your every move after that, then it likely isn’t going to work. Take time to figure out if they really can get past the trust issues.
Make sure you’re in a space where you are OK being alone. This will prevent you from making a panic induced decision to get in touch with someone. Only when you learn to appreciate yourself, and develop a healthy sense of self, will you be able to get past any perceived rejection. In getting in touch with yourself, you may well find that actually, they weren’t as great as you thought they were or yes you made mistakes but there were underlying issues which prevented the relationship from moving forward. Accepting that will stop you from viewing the past with rose tinted glasses and help you make an objective decision that is right for you.