What do I do from here?


In October 2016 my girlfriend and I called off our relationship after 10 years of being together.During this year I am in school of a very busy two year program. It was slightly mutual break-up, but mainly from me. At the last year or so together I was feeling unhappy with myself. It manifested from being unhappy with myself, to affecting our relationship. I felt we were stagnant,and we never knew who we were as independent individuals(because we started dating after highschool), and although I wanted more out of the relationship I wasn't applying any action at the time to save it. She did everything she could prior to me going to school to save our relationship, but I still felt "stuck". So..we called it off in October. From the time we broke up to November 2017, we would stay in contact, again both of us waiting for me to actually be happy with myself. Throughout this time she was able to work on herself as well, where as I was focused on school (so I had a little amount of time for myself, but I did work some things out). Well, come thanksgiving weekend and I call to let her know what has changed, in hopes she would take me back. Before I could speak about it, she mentioned that she is seeing someone and they are getting pretty serious. I was left in shock and tried to talk to her as best I could that night. We get off the phone, and I ask for another phone call later next week to put my words in order for her. I did explain everything, but she said the door is closed, and has been since August. I left the conversation by stating that I love her, I want her to be happy, and I'll be there for her. As of now, all I feel I can do is continuing to better myself, which I've had friends and family mention to me. I guess I am making this post because although I want us both to be happy, I was hoping she would be in the picture for my graduation. I do not know how to handle the situation if I were to see her. I know I do not want to come across desperate for her, in hopes of an "us", rather let her see the guy she saw in me that I could not years ago. I spoke with one of the teamates (erica) and she mentioned to start things back as friends. Only thing is...I do not know how during these times. Any feedback is appreciated. Thank you.
So, trying to stay friends in the hopes that you can restart your relationship can be tricky, emotionally. Especially because you just recently found out about her dating somebody new. I would suggest that you take until after the New Year to let this information settle in before you try to pursue more of a friendship with your ex. Since you to left it in a good place the last time you talked, I think wishing her a Merry Christmas would be appropriate. Other than that, though, I would wait until after January 1st to contact her again. I think you might need a few weeks to settle down. And the holidays are filled with emotions and pressure. Once you do Reach Out, try to keep the things you talked about in the present. Don't focus on the old relationship, or tell her that you have hopes for the future. Try talking about the things that are going well in your life at the moment. And asking her about what's going on in hers. I think it would be completely okay to tell her that you don't want to hear many details about her new boyfriend. Not only would that be expected and understandable, but it will be helpful to set boundaries so your ex doesn't forget that you still care about her.
So when I do Reach Out in January how should it sound? should I just say, "hey hope you had a good new years and christmas, can we catch up sometime?".That's my thought process in all this but I need an outsideers perspective on it.
That sounds good, but if you can make it personal and seemingly spontaneous, that's even better. For example:
I saw a cat that looked just like Salem! How is Salem? I sure miss him! Or: Me and a couple friends went to the mini golf and boy did I stink. That place sure holds some amazing memories! Like all the times you kicked my butt there.
I may not be ready by then, or have anything to talk to her about. That I may make something that she has good, and I would just screw it up. Are there other options? If I feel this way I should wait, right? But everyday that goes by, I feel she loses more and more feeling for me.
You're on the right track with your last sentence. It's a balancing act, because you don't want to reach out too soon, which might push her away, but you also don't want to wait too long to reach out, because as you said, she may start to drift away on her own. I agree with Erica's recommendation, it's a low-pressure way of making contact, which keeps you in her mind.
We have a dog, who was like our child, would it be best to not avoid mentiononing something he may have done that reminded me of her?
Given that she is currently in a relationship with someone, I would avoid mentioning the dog, as it inherently has an 'us' connotation, and would automatically bring her mind back to the relationship. Right now, any contact between the two of you should just be as friends. Perhaps ask her if she has seen the new Star Wars, or some other neutral topic of conversation.
Noted. If they've been "dating", but not official, am I crossing any lines in contacting her? When I do contact her, should I just leave it to text message or phone call, I feel there is quite a bit difference. Yesterday, there was an annual x-mas party that was put on by our friends. She did arrive early, and left before I could actually see her....I saw her car in the parking lot. Shes avoiding me right?
no, if its not official you aren't crossing any lines yet. Text message is more ideal because she can respond when possible without the pressure of having to answer if she's unavailable, know what i mean? With a text message it can be on her time too instead of feeling like she has to answer and either cut it short or not answer at all. And that doesn't necessarily mean she's avoiding you. She could have just been busy hanging out with her friends
Once they become official, I need to let her go right? How could I stay in contact with her if that's the case?
Once they become official, ethically, you should stop explicitly pursuing your ex. That would mean that text messages and conversations should have no romantic connotations. But that doesn't necessarily mean you have to give up. Not every relationship lasts a long time, and if you are respectful of her needs, and continue to try to show her that you are the better man, when she is single, she is likely to think of you again. If you want to continue talking to her while she is officially dating somebody else, just keep the messages in the conversations to topics that friends would discuss. Your ex is allowed to have friends even if she is dating somebody new.
How could I show her that I am a better man? I get what you mean by being a better person. That’s partly why we broke up. So would I be me trying to get her attention, by being a better person? The first thing that comes to mind, without being intrusive on their relationship, is sadly through social media.?
A better man and a better person mean the same thing to me. It's just that she is dating men. But you are not attempting to get her attention at the moment. Right now, you are in no contact, so we aren't attempting to get her attention. We are showing her what it's like when you are not around, and giving her a chance to miss you. Once you reach out again at the end of no contact, then you will have a forum in which to show her that you have become a better person.
Also...I have some stuff of our history together...Should I return it now? She already gave up her things to me in a box already. Yet I still have my things that have not been given back to her.
It's a nice gesture to return things without a big show/fuss.
The things are pictures of us and hand written letters..I was going to drop if off to her house or work. I wouldn't consider this much of a gesture, because she already gave up some of her things. So would that make it worse?
I think that depends. You seem to be spending a lot of time focusing on her, and I'm concerned that focusing on returning her things is preventing you from focusing on yourself during the no contact period. If you can pack up the pictures and letters and return them without spending a lot of time on it, I think it's a good idea. I would recommend that you do not go to her house or work to drop it off. I think that is looking for an interaction with your ex and can cross quite a few boundaries. I would recommend putting them in a large manila envelope and mailing them to her, but with a short note that says "I thought you might like these memories." But if you are spending more than 30 minutes on this, you should let it go. It's much more important to focus on building your own life during these 30 days then it is to return her belongings. If you want to go over it in detail, you come join us in an advice session.
I am begging to feel hopeless about the situation...and feel that I am putting a lot of attention on what she is doing throughout her day. I know that's something to avoid, and I really should just work on myself, or what some people have told me is to "move on, because she did". It's rough. I am trying to distract myself with mulitiple things before school starts back up again. I think part of me just feels guilt, shame, and foolishness to think/hope we could get back together.
It sounds like you're really struggling to stay focused on your goals. You're getting distracted by the small things - what she's doing, if she wants her things back, how to get them to her. Remember that your ultimate goal is to be in a healthy relationship with yourself. The only way you can be in a healthy relationship with someone else is if you get there with yourself first. Instead of distracting yourself, maybe you should take some time to mourn the relationship. Even if you eventually get back together, the relationship won't be what you had before. That's a lot of transition, and it's important to feel that pain/shame/guilt so you can eventually heal from it. Do what you need to do to honor that pain - cry, yell, write, listen to sad music, take a day in bed. But sit with that pain and work through that anxiety (it will be uncomfortable). Then, take a deep breath, do something relaxing, and let it go. If you don't deal with your feelings, you'll never be able to get back to a good place with her, let alone survive the no contact period.
I appreciate the input from the staff. It really helps having an outside perspective. I’ll continue working on myself even more, continue to let go, take one day at a time, feel the pain, and accept that the future is not in my control. It will be tough, but I will be better for it and come out with a better career for myself.