Houston, we have a problem!
There is a Pandemic going on, yes, but for a lot of women, the real problem right now is that your ex’es are coming out of the woodwork, often muddying the waters in an already complex life.
Perhaps it is someone you were excited about even though it never went past the texting phase…
Or maybe he is even someone you went on a date or two with at some point who ghosted…
Or maybe it is someone you thought could have been the love of your life!
The bottom line is you made a decision to get him out of your head, or even your heart for good, and now he’s back.
When we make decisions to set boundaries like this, it feels empowering, and sticking to it, once and for all, even more so as we take back control of our mind and our lives.
That said, without the normal distractions that keep us busy every day, and our human longing for connection, it’s easy to wax nostalgic right now and find yourself “stalking” him on social media, or pulling out the cards and letters he sent you, or searching for the old messages he sent you on FB messenger or text, or spending hours scrolling through the photos of you together on your phone.
The point is, it’s time to make a plan. Here’s what to do and say to figure out if he really is the one, and if not, to get him out of your head and heart for good.
1. Realize why he is stuck in your head, reclaim your power, and don’t reach out or initiate if you get lonely or feel nostalgic.
First, it’s important to understand that most of the unrequited love experiences or even men who have ghosted us feel like incompletions, even if you felt complete about it at one time. And so for most of us, if it didn’t end the way you wanted it to, you may have left the relationship feeling somehow flawed. Whether you believe that if you were different in some way, or you are replaying events in your mind again and again to identify something you could have done differently to make it work, this type of ‘I’m flawed” or “it’s my fault” thinking holds your heart hostage and sets him in your brain as your ideal partner. This is a mistake! When we keep looking backwards, searching for certainty when certainty isn’t, and won’t probably ever be possible, it’s an ineffective strategy to attempt to feel in control, especially during a time when you most likely feel out of control in many parts of your life.
2. If he actually comes back into your life, put him through the #datingwithdignity Litmus Test.
First, ask yourself this question: Is this man committed to his own growth and development, and is he committed to the growth of your relationship? Whether you know or aren’t sure, invite him to a Zoom or Facetime (not merely texting) date and have a conversation with him to directly determine if your feelings are mutual. So, yes, you’re going to have to be vulnerable and tell him how you feel, and you are going to directly ask him if he feels the same way about you right now. Next, in that conversation, you have to share and discover if you have the same relationship goals, right now. Underline and highlight this part of the conversation because it is an important piece of The Litmus Test. You must have the same relationship goals right now AND you must be clear and direct in asking. And last, if he is committed to his own growth and the growth of the relationship, do his actions right now consistently demonstrate this?
3. Keep it Simple.
This Litmus Test is nearly foolproof so make sure you don’t over analyze the situation. If he won’t even have the conversation, avoids it, doesn’t return your calls, flakes, sabotages, wants to have sex first, resorts to “when then” tactics. (e.g, when the Pandemic is over, when the economy is more settled, when I don’t have my kids we can talk), he’s not the one. If you find yourself convincing him, selling him on why you have an amazing relationship and he has concerns and objections and he does not move away from those, he is not the one! If he passes The Litmus Test, begin dating him (and continue to date others) to make sure you keep your mind and heart open to the best partner for you versus the one that feels the easiest.
It’s your responsibility to respond appropriately.
You are not flawed, and this incompletion with him is not because you are flawed or broken. If he has failed the Litmus Test, put a clear end to the conversation, remembering that it’s important to take his actions seriously (e.g. If the conversation doesn’t happen in a timely manner, he has, in fact, failed the Test). Whether you say it or send a written message, something like, “We had a special connection and I’m flattered you reached out again. That said, I’m on the right road to being in a really great place in my life and we are not a match. I am ready for great things and great love in my life. I wish you all the best.” Be clear and concise, and do not spiral into a deeper conversation that starts to look like a vicious cycle.
Rinse and Repeat.
If an ex texts you who was toxic, you do not need to respond, ever. And, if there is someone from your past who has potential, be kind and informational when you respond without being overly flirtatious. Tell him directly that you are (still) in a place in your life where you are looking for a serious, committed relationship right now, and ask if he is on the same page. If he is, date him (virtually) and put him through the Litmus Test as you begin again. Remember, anyone who is NATO (No Action, Talk Only) is not your person. Get him out of your head and out of your heart so you can make room for the right guy who is!