Eventually, there comes a time when you will have an opportunity to meet with your Ex to talk about things. Whether you are planning a meeting with your ex husband or ex wife, the advice I am about to offer is largely the same.
The key is knowing which kind of meeting we are talking about here!
Ok, so let me back up a bit. Let’s say you and your significant other has had a falling out. Maybe you and your ex are in a forced separation. Or maybe the two of you have not spoken to each other for months and one or both of you are coming off a No Contact Period.
Maybe, neither of you are married to each other, but have been exploring a relationship and things just did not work out.
Whatever the case may be, let’s agree with where we are in time so that we are all on the same page. You see, there are different types of relationship strategies you will want to employ depending on the kind of meeting you are having.
If this is the first time you and your ex have connected have since the breakup, then the location, pacing, and goals of that meeting are different; than if this a meeting that follows a re-connection event.
I know! That sounds so technical. I mean really, what is a “re-connection event”!
Re-connecting With Your Ex
Let’s just say that if a couple has split up, but then have started drawing closer through positive communications and were able to meet a few times without there being any backsliding or backpedaling, then I think we can agree that these two people are “connecting” on some level.
The process of slowly easing back into the relationship is normal. I am a big fan of not rushing back into things, particularly if there has been a serious breakdown in the relationship.
So, let’s say you and your ex have gotten things rolling again. Let’s assume that it is still somewhat early in the process to the extent that sex has not resumed. Or let’s say that even if you guys had a “romp in the sack”, it was one of those things that sometimes happen when “needs” and “desire” conspire against you. For sake of this discussion, let’s agree it is early enough in the period of reestablishing the bond that it is still unclear just how things are going to work out.
As said, the initial contact with your ex which is often triggered through a text will hopefully lead to phone conversation and eventually a meet up. This type of communication and interaction probably needs to unfold for a week or more (depends on each relationship) before you arrive at the point where you begin giving serious consideration to “really talking about the future“.
There will likely come a time when the two of you realize that love for each other overcomes the pain and hurt of the break up. There will invariably come a time when you both know in your heart that you want to be back together. But you will also come to understand that before things progress any further, certain things need to be discussed in an honest way.
So that sounds like a good thing, right?
Just know that I largely skipped over a very important phase of relationship recovery.
Be assured that I went through the processes of breaking up….the No Contact Period…..the initializing of first contact….and the re-budding of the romance rather quickly. Just know that each of these steps and actions involve a great deal.
We could talk a long time about each element of the recovery process. But today our focus is on the Meeting after the meeting.
As I alluded to above, there will come a time when the two lovers will need to have a serious discussion. Avoiding it will likely result in the two of you ending back where you started…..the Breakup Road.
I am not just specifically referring to the discussion of you both agreeing that you wish to commit to each other. The parameters of how you go about talking about that is also another lengthy post which I will save for another day.
No, what I am referring to is how do the two of you ensure that you get down to the bottom of what were the triggering events leading to the break up or separation.
And more importantly, what solutions will the two of your arrive at to protect your relationship. The last thing you want is for the whole relationship to slide back down the same slippery path.
It is one thing to work hard to put that pieces back together. It is another thing to take steps to insulate the marriage or relationship from the repeated mistakes of the past.
My experience is that it is usually best if someone takes the lead. So as you read on, just know that my advice is written from the perspective of the individual who will be initiating and facilitating the discussion.
Post Makeup – The Meeting after the Meeting
I think of the Meet-up following the period of No Contact as the meeting before the MEETING.
Sometimes you need to have a few of these more casual, non threatening “Meet ups”, before the two of your are really ready to talk “Relationship”. Remember, the key purpose of these “Meet Ups” is to re-engage with your Ex and to continue to build attraction.
When it becomes clear you both want the same thing, it is time to plan for a more serious discussion about how the two of you can avoid a breakup from happening again.
This is what I call the MEETING after the Meet-up. The timing on when this happens is important. You can’t rush into this kind of dialogue. You will need to feel sure that both of you are committed to having a strong and solid relationship.
Nor can you avoid such a discussion. I have seen plenty of instances where couples kick the can down the road and avoid talking about the real problems that triggered the breakup.
When you and your boyfriend (or girlfriend) are ready for such a discussion, then I have some suggestions on how you should conduct the conversation. This same advice applies to married couples whose relationship has fallen on difficult times and who are trying to right the ship.
The Ground Rules for the Couple
First of all, let me just lay down some simple ground rules. You don’t want this conversation to feel “formal”. That can be a turn off for some people. You don’t necessarily need a facilitator or someone present. That often just complicates things. You don’t want distractions. Such interruptions will wedge themselves between any progress the two of your are making.
Reset your expectations.
You may be thinking that everything seems to be going well and the past misdeeds have all been forgotten. You may be very excited and eager.
But I have a warning for you. I refer to it as the “Breakup Revenge“.
I know! That sounds so dramatic. But hang in there with me. Think of it like this. Let’s say you and your lover travel to Mexico. And you and your most wonderful companion have a wonderful time.
Except you drank the water!
Imagine the two of your returning from vacation and within days, you both become miserably sick. What happened? Well, you both came down with “Montezuma’s Revenge”. The sins of your past (i.e. drinking the local water) were awakened and everything just got really messy.
Well, sometimes those locked up resentments you may be harboring for your ex (or vice versa) can rear their ugly head and it usually does not take much to trigger them.
So I just want to underscore that sometimes when people start talking about “their past”, those old feelings sometimes gets resurrected. Even when a person tries to push them down for the benefit of the meeting, the “right side brain” can just get in the way. Remember, the right side of our brain is the emotional control center. Except, often, things are not always under control. In fact, it does not take a lot for a memory of the breakup event to come to the forefront.
Knowing this, will help the two of you mitigate the “Ex hangover effect”. Yep, that is also what I call it.
Sometimes after a breakup, even after the two of you have reconciled, old feelings will just slip in, unwelcomed. And before you realize, you and your ex husband (or wife) are again at each other’s throats.
So how do you stop this phenomenon from happening?
It is not easy to tap out these angry or confused feelings that may lie deep inside you. Right across from you is the person who is suppose to be the love of your life, but all you can think of is what they did or said in the past which led to the breakup.
My best advice is to simply speak to the issue. Raise the topic as a defense against the possibility that bad feelings about the relationship could come tumbling out.
Wise you will be, if you understand that unexpected emotional reactions can unfold at anytime during the course of your meeting with your significant other.
To some extent, this approach will diffuse the power of that embedded emotion. Once it is out there, it is no longer something that lurks in the shadows. If it does indeed leap into the conversation, it becomes easier to control the intensity of your feelings.
Try explaining all of these things to your lover upfront. Just getting this out on the table can help the two of you cope better if “upset feelings” emerge.
The Location of Where You Meet With Your Ex Matters
What do you suppose is the worst place to meet up with your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend (whatever the case)?
That’s right! I think you guys know this one. Avoid meeting with your ex where you both experienced the falling out. Hey….I am not that superstitious but I do think bad vibes prevail at those places where things did not go so well.
It is better to find a place that affords the two of your privacy and where distractions can be minimized. You don’t want it to necessarily be a formal location as that tends to make the conversation too structured. I do like the outdoors and if you can pick a pretty day and find a nice park, you might just be on to something.
Make The Tone of Your Meeting With Your Ex Positive
If you are going to make meaningful progress, then you focus should be keeping things as positive as possible. Smile a lot. Wear bright and happy colors. Offer heartfelt little compliments, but don’t go overboard.
Remember, it was not that long ago when the two of you were fussing and fighting. That seldom leads to any progress.
So it’s incumbent on you to do everything within your power to lift that kind of negativity away.
One thing you can do is simply apologize. Your lover may interrupt you and say, “hey, I understand. You do not have to apologize”.
I want you to still express that you are sincerely sorry that the relationship got off track and and that you are excited about the two of your working together to make it better.
Be Warm and Considerate To Your Ex
During the course of this meeting you have a chance to set the tone. You should be aware of the unconscious influence you can have by exhibiting calmness and being sweet and loving.
If you behave in that fashion and project those kinds of vibes, the chances are that your spouse or significant other will pick up on these cues and mirror your emotional behavior.
Utilizing simple, good old fashioned, kindness can make for a wonderful environment to get things done. Even if your ex is showing signs of being uncomfortable or unsure about the whole process, just continue to model the kind of behavior that is synonymous with calmness and reassurance.
If you are calm and re-assuring, your Ex will tend to echo those same sentiments.
That is the mirroring effect at work.
If you act and say things that are kind and considerate, your Ex will often reciprocate.
It is through this technique of mirroring, that you can influence the pace and tone of the meeting on a subconscious level.
And through kindness and improved communications, you both can re-build the foundation of your relationship.
Show Your Ex That You Understand Their Concerns
From the get go, I want you to put on your “empathy” hat!
One of the first things you want to do is express that you understand why your Ex was upset about how things evolved.
You want to show genuine empathy.
Express how you understand the breakup caused a lot of pain.
Tell your Ex that you genuinely wish to hear their perspective on things. Put it in just those terms. This is what is called, keeping things open-ended.
Listen carefully to what your Ex has to say.
Sometimes the best communication is simply listening. Nod your head that you understand. Avoid interrupting. Encourage your ex to share all of their feelings if they feel comfortable doing so.
By showing that you understand your lover’s concerns, you help alleviate much of the pain and resentment that may be bubbling up inside your husband or wife.
Allow Your Ex To Vent
I am sure you have driven by a factory or chemical plant and seen the smoke stacks. These structures are there for safety reasons, specifically to vent and burn off the excess material.
Just as in a relationship, if your partner cannot release what is pent up inside them, then somewhere along the way it will all come spilling out.
So to the extent you can get you Ex to open up and just talk about what is on their mind, much can be accomplished. Just allowing for that kind of emotional venting can work wonders.
One way to accomplish this is simply asking what is called an “open ended” question. Such a question is so broad and general, it gives the other person a chance to talk in depth about whatever that want.
Sometimes people need an invitation to talk about those things they fear you don’t want to hear about. Give your ex permission to tell you everything they wanted to say, without repercussions or judgement.
Just doing that is therapeutic in itself.
Have you noticed that much of my advice revolves around open communications, kindness and consideration and heightened listening?
The reason is simple, yet powerful.
Many couples breakup largely due to their poor communications, controlling behavior, erosion in trust and lack of kindness.
These things will probably be areas you and your Ex will want to focus on in the future to strengthen your relationship.
Reward Your Ex With a Big Thank You For Opening Up
Once your ex husband (or wife) understands that you genuinely appreciate hearing everything they had to say, it can go a long ways in rebuilding trust and eliminating anger.
Use the word “brave” in describing what you think of your lover. For sure, it is not easy for a person to open up their heart and risk being hurt again.
You want you partner in the relationship to understand that you really mean this compliment. Reach over and touch them and tell them you really value their honesty and courage.
Seek to Agree On What The Problem Is
Remember the objective of your meeting is to figure out what the two of you have done or not done that has resulted in the relationship coming off the tracks. What you want to accomplish is an agreed upon list of the top problems.
Once both of you are in agreement about the nature of the problem, then take a moment to congratulate each other on agreeing on what you both need to work on.
Of course, whatever solutions you eventually throw at these problems may or may not work. So don’t get discouraged or certainly don’t give up. Often, relationships that are coming back together, do so in fits and starts.
You cannot get to the solution phase, until you both agree on what it is you want to improve about the relationship.
That in itself is huge. Many couples cannot even agree on what is causing their problems. Either they have not really thought about it or they have not discussed it in a serious manner.
The causes of breakups can be elusive. Sometimes, the key factors are very clear. Sometimes the issues evolved and multiplied over time. In other cases, it may have been just one singular event that caused the relationship to come crashing down.
Whatever it is, the sooner you can both agree on the causes of the problem, the greater the chances are that you can solve it. If the underlying causes are left lingering out there, with no attention, then you can count on them triggering more problems in the future.
Once the “Problem” is Identified, Again Apologize!
You may be thinking, “What? I have already apologized.”
Well, you are probably right about that, but guess what?
With most of these relationship breaking situations I have seen over the years, one apology seldom is enough.
Everyone is different when it comes to this sort of thing. But some people just have a hard time letting go of their anger. The resentment can easily creep back in.
That is why people often experience multiple breakups. Emotions can get in the way. It is our reptile brain getting its way.
So trust me! Your ex will certainly want to hear from you again about how regretful you are about your role in the breakup. And just saying, “I am sorry” is usually not enough.
You will need to explain in some detail what you are sorry for and that you understand the negative impact your actions (or lack of actions) had on your lover.
If the mirroring phenomenon is at work, your Ex should be doing the same things.
The Best Solutions Are Arrived at Together
So you have the problems identified, now we need solutions. And the best of solutions are those that a couple comes up with by themselves. In that way, you have ownership and buy-in because the two of you worked hard, together, in the most loving way, to formulate a way out of the big mess you both created.
Agree to Stop Fighting
It sounds simple right! You love each other. You agree to stop fighting. So everything should be fine, right?
A lot of our lives revolve around rituals. When you have a birthday, you have a party. When you fall in love and agree to get married, you have a special ceremony. This is how we mark the important things in our lives. And we do this out of respect for the occasion and to remember how it is important to our lives.
So if you are coming off a breakup and agree that you want to make things better and along the way stop fighting so much with each other, then you need to do something special to commemorate that vow.
So think about having your own special and memorable event that the two of you can be a part of that will never be forgotten. Indeed this event should serve as an “anchor” to remind you how important each of you are to the other.
I can think of lots of things to do and places to go that would be very special. But as I conclude this post, I will leave it up to you to come up with your own special magic.