A lot of times when we start to move on from a pattern of self destructing relationships to a healthier sense of self, we keep getting pulled back into our old ways. This is because as much as it is worth it, unfortunately getting rid of a lifetime of poor choices and developing a healthy relationship with yourself requires time and patience. One of the things many people particularly seem to struggle with is adjusting their expectations of others, especially the exes. Firstly, i have always believed that exes should be firmly left where they belong.. in the past. Any kind of communication will only seek to fan old flames which quite frankly is rather unnecessary and a waste of mind space. The idea that we are all supposed to get along with an ex is ridiculous. Often times while we feel we have come a long way and indeed we might’ve, somehow we expect an ex to have gone through the same journey as us in the meantime, which is ridiculous. Chances are your brains don’t work in tandem which is why you were at loggerheads in the relationship in the first place.
Just because you changed or are in the process of doing so, does not mean they have too or even want to.
Most people find this difficult to understand in the beginning, we all like getting our hands burnt before reality hits us. I remember calling to wish an ex on his birthday an entire year after the break up (a big mistake) , and not one thing about him had changed, he was the same passive aggressive person that i used to know and started his subtle manipulations soon after i’d gotten back in touch. I just felt sick at the familiar uncomfortable feeling, and decided once and for all i wasn’t having any of it. Actually if one were to think objectively, why should we expect anyone to change? People only change when they want to anyway. Even if they do it will only be what i like to call a ‘short switch’ – i.e they will ‘change’ for a short while to get inside your comfort zone, and once they do, they will start to unfold again. A classic example is when we think we have completely healed and moved on from a previous relationship and reach out to the ex to make peace with them, the problem with this is that often we get back in touch too soon before we really HAVE moved on, usually it’s just because we have not yet learnt to validate ourselves. Sure enough, when they don’t respond in the way we would like them to or pull a short switch on you, we feel frustrated and start to wonder whether we really did make any progress, and it starts the whole cycle off again. It’s not magic, you can’t make someone have an ‘aha’ moment, and want to change.
We not only want people to change, but we want them to change in the way we would like them to. You can’t control other people’s thoughts therefore you can’t influence their decision on whether to change or not. Either you accept it or play mind tricks on a superhuman scale. Frankly, the latter option isn’t even worth it.
Real change comes when you stop expecting others to change and focus on your life instead. Yes, that means not caring if they don’t call back when they said they would. It means not wondering if they’ve met someone better or if they’re ‘different’ with that person. How do you know when they have really changed? Its simple, when they stop trying to reach out to you. As for you, its time to ask yourself, why are you getting in touch with them in the first place? It’s one thing to be in touch with an ex when there was basic respect in the relationship that once was and quite some time has passed, its ridiculous however to get back in touch with an ex, denying a motive to have done so and then expecting for that person to have changed so that maybe just maybe there is a chance it could work out after all.
Changing yourself includes understanding where you went wrong in the past, and that includes being in relationships that weren’t right for us. If indeed they had changed, would they still want to be with someone who represents a part of their life they would rather move on from? Similarly, you change for no one but yourself, whether they changed or not becomes irrelevant. You have to truly want it for yourself. If you try to bring change into your life with an agenda, i promise to you it will not work. This is because everything that you say or do will be tied up to match their expectations and reflect their wants and needs, not yours.
Its best to remember that we have very little or practically no control over how people choose to be. And because we cannot ‘make’ them be a certain way nor can we be sure of what is going on in their minds, it’s best if we leave them to it, and do what needs to be done, which is help ourselves.
Recognizing our values and learning to live in line with our own values and personal rules will enable us to focus inward and get rid of the feeling of helplessness we often feel when someone mistreats us or does not respond to us in the way that we would like them to. Ultimately, that is what will help you break the pattern and move forward.