Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My girlfriend of about nine months dumped me out of nowhere about four months ago. We had a fight and she immediately went ghost on me -- refused to talk or reply to texts and calls. She basically erased herself from my life over the course of a week. I was shocked and hurt, of course. It was our first fight and really a stupid one -- nothing worth breaking up over, or so I thought. I thought we were going to be a long-term thing. I spent the first part of the summer mad and hurt, and I missed her and us, but knowing that she was off the radar entirely actually helped me bounce back quicker.
Fast forward to last week, she calls me out of the blue. She apologizes, explains that she was really scared of committing fully to a relationship, scared that I would dump her after our fight, and embarrassed about the way she handled things after the fight. She also said she's thought about me and us every day and now wants to see me soon to have dinner and talk. The weird thing is, after getting past the initial surprise, the conversation was just what I needed -- it was like two best friends reconnecting, our communication was easy and there was no bitterness, and I had nervous energy (the good kind) just thinking of the prospect of seeing her again. I guess my questions for you are, do second chances work out? Am I crazy for even letting her back in my life?
You know what's really crazy? Love and the things it makes us do. Scares us. Emboldens us. Makes us run away from the people we care about. Makes us go running back to those who ran away from us. Makes us call people we've hurt. Makes us answer calls from people who have hurt us. Makes us rack up make-up calls, texts and emails until we go over our monthly data plan! Now that's certifiably insane!
But you aren't crazy. You're human. So is she. It's a sign of sanity that she was contrite in her call and conversation. And it's a sign of healing that you didn't melt down when you saw her name pop up on your phone -- if you hadn't erased her contact info, that is. And it's a really good sign that you had a strong connection to begin with and it seems to still be alive now. All these positive signs point lead to a green light (or at least a yellow caution light) for reopening the door to talking again, if that's where your heart's at.
Can things work out for you two long-term? Relationship pundits, professional psychologists and social media memes are split on that -- you'll see equal amounts of "don't dwell on the past" and "true love deserves a second chance" commentary. Your ex definitely has some insecurity and flight risk issues that she'll have to promise to work on. And you both have some communication issues to improve on together. But, if you come to the table committed to working and loving, who knows -- crazier things have happened.
It took a lot for your ex to admit she'd behaved emotionally, irrationally and rashly. And it will also take a lot for you to give her another chance. How to do it? You need ground rules. Agree upon some basics moving forward. For example: You (or she) will not disappear after a fight. Also let her know your deal-breakers, and that if she pulls her ghosty vanishing act again, you won't be around to welcome her when and if she bothers to reappear.
You aren't crazy for letting her back in. The whole romantic mythology of our society is built upon the idea that true love conquers all, that initially thwarted or botched attempts love can be redeemed in Round 2. It's human nature for you to see the goodness and awesomeness that was there and want to try to make it work.
But do be true to yourself. While it's rash to judge a person wholly on the singularity of a mistake -- in this case, her panicking and bolting after your stupid fight -- it's also foolish to subject oneself to repeated emotional beatings and letting history repeat itself. Remember what F. Scott Fitzgerald said at the end of "The Great Gatsby," referring to his central character's flawed, relentless, blind pursuit of the lovely lady Daisy? He essentially said we try and try to make it work, "borne back ceaselessly to the past." So try this compromise: Allow your relationship a single chance at rebirth, give it your all, and love wholly and openly. If things again fizzle or the bottom once more drops out, call it good, and move on.
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