You are here because you are sad, distressed and losing hope fast. You want to understand one thing, why did he leave? What did I do wrong?
You can’t stop thinking that there is something you could have done differently – that this is all your fault. Well, take it from a man – this is not all your fault.
I know you’ve spent countless hours crying and reciting your last few dates you and your ex had with your girlfriends. You’ve poured over those dates, trying to figure out what went wrong. What could you have done differently? Why did my ex boyfriend break up with me? You’ve probably even played this game:
If I had done [insert activity you didn’t do], we would still be together.
Let me reassure you that this isn’t true. In the upcoming moments, I am going to help you understand why men leave the women they love. Then, we are going to examine your next steps. By the time you’re done reading, you won’t even want another container of Hagen Daz.
Why Did He Leave?
What I want you to understand first is very important. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why he left. You are hyper-focused on this right now because it helps you cope with the break up. However, since I know that answer isn’t going to satisfy you, we can uncover a few answers to the age-old question, why did he leave?
There is no way to uncover the exact reason why your guy left. I don’t know you and I don’t know him. I don’t know anything about your relationship, but what I will tell you is that whatever reason he is giving you either isn’t the real truth or it’s only a partial truth. In his defense, he may honestly believe that what he told you is his real reason, but chances are, it’s not.
Men don’t tend to get too touchy feelie with their emotions. He might give you a reason, just to appease you, or he may provide a reason that isn’t quite the truth as a way of not hurting you. He could be trying to avoid a confrontation with you so he tells you either nothing or something that isn’t true.
Ask yourself these questions.
Was My Relationship Too Negative?
Negativity that isn’t just situational will kill a relationship. A partner will stick around to help the other sort through a problem like the death of a loved one, a job loss or other significant event in their lives, but when negativity becomes the norm, rather than the exception, it sucks the life out of the relationship, leaving one partner desperate to get out.
The problem with negativity is that it’s something only the negative person can fix, and then, only if they truly want to. Negativity is a skill we develop as a result of our own beliefs about ourselves, what other people tell us and our personal experience with success and failure. Some very successful people still view themselves in a negative light because they focus instead on their failures, rather than their successes.
This reason leads us to the next.
Predicting a Future that isn’t too Bright
When one partner or the other is highly emotional and doesn’t manage small crises very well, the other partner gets a glimpse into what would happen should a big crisis occur. In other words, if you flip your sh*t every time he gets home five minutes late, he can’t imagine, and doesn’t want to hang around to see what would happen if the two of you experienced a really big problem.
Think about it for a moment. When we start dating someone new, we are trying them on to see if they fit. We are looking for those highly emotional moments and gauging whether or not the emotional response matched the significance of the event.
Of course, we’re looking for other things, but this one can be huge to a man. Men want to fix things. Chances are, if he kept coming five minutes late and you expressed some concern to him, in a non-emotional way, he would have fixed it immediately but since you lost your mind over something so small, he’s outta here.
Why Did He Leave? You Were in a Codependent Relationship
Codependent relationships never succeed. A codependent relationship is where one or both partners have their very happiness wrapped up in the other person. There are no outside activities to draw your interest in different directions. You thrive on requiring his attention and approval. You are needy. You depend on him for approval, love, attention, validation and happiness.
Codependent relationships can either be both parties relying on one another or one partner relying heavily on the other. The second type will end much faster than the first. When both partners are codependent on one another, they can go on for years, each miserable in their own neediness but too afraid to leave. Men and women have an equal shot at being the needy one.
The weight of someone relying on you for all of this becomes very heavy to a partner who is not the same way.
You Tried to “Fix” Him
It’s always easier to see someone else’s flaws than it is to see our own. The problem is that one person cannot ever make another person change. So many people try to change the other person. Women in particular will enter into a relationship, knowing there are things about a man that they don’t like, but with the conviction that they can change him. All he needs is a good woman.
The only way any person, man or woman, changes is if and when they want to change. If I am in a relationship with a woman who wants me to stop racing her through the grocery store, she’s out of luck unless I get too old to run. At that point, I might be motivated enough to change but it won’t be because she asked me to but because I wanted to.
This might sound selfish on the surface but the truth is that change sucks and nobody likes it. We are creatures of habit and it takes a lot of time and energy to change habits, good or bad. Change also means we’re leaving something behind in lieu of something new. The motivation to make that change, just to please someone else, won’t make for lasting change.
Save Your Drama for Your Momma
At least save it for your girlfriends. Men hate drama. They don’t know what exactly to do with it. As a general rule, men are fixers of things. This is how they show you they love you.
When you’re filled with the drama of how your cat chewed on the cord to your lamp, pulled the lamp on the floor and subsequently walked in the chards of ceramic, cutting her paws and transferring bloody little paw prints all over your house, your guy wants to take the cat to get it fixed, clean up the mess and get a new lamp. That’s how he shows you he loves you.
What he doesn’t want to hear is your hours of crying and reliving the drama of finding the mess. If your life is a parade of one drama after another, a good man is going to bail. He just doesn’t want to be surrounded by all of this emotion.
Why Did He Leave? There were no Pennies in the Jar
Many people falsely believe they build intimacy in a relationship through sex. The truth of the matter is that you build intimacy in a relationship by spending quality time together.
It isn’t how often you rustle the sheets that solidifies your relationship but the moonlight walk in the park or the hiking day-trip. Men are action-oriented. They don’t want to have feelings talks. They want to do things together. Heck, I’ll even walk around a craft store if my girlfriend will go to Home Depot with me!
One great way to put pennies in the jar with a guy is to take an interest in one of his hobbies. Learn what it is that excites him about his hobby. Learn the language. Who’s the big deal in that hobby? If he’s interested in antique cars, what model is his favorite?
If you can combine one of your hobbies with one of his, you have a win-win. Photograph some of his favorite old cars at a show sometime and print them for him. There are tons of ways to put pennies in the jar. In fact, I wrote a book by the same name, Pennies in the Jar: How to Keep a Man for Life.
For more ideas, read up on How to Keep Him Hooked!
Your Goals were Incompatible
This happens all too often. You meet someone new, you feel a spark of chemistry and you immediately start dating. You go off and do fun things together, but you never take the time to get to know one another. I know I just told you men don’t like to talk, but they do want to learn more about you and really, men do love to talk about themselves.
It is important for you two to get to know one another, slowly over several dates. Take the time to sort out what you like about him and what you’re not yet sure about. During this time, it’s crucial that you’re not jumping into bed with him yet. This puts blinders on, preventing you from seeing any obvious red flags.
If you use good listening and decoding skills, you can determine what his values are and what types of long-term goals he may have. For instance, a man who says, “I’d love to see how many countries I can visit before I die” might not be your ‘buy a house with a white picket fence and settle down’ type of man.
Listen for how he talks about his own family and when you get to spend time with his friends, observe how he behaves around them and how they regard him. All of these can give you clues as to whether or not you share the same goals and values.
Someone Wasn’t Happy Coming Into the Relationship
Whether it’s one or both of you, someone wasn’t happy when they entered the relationship. Maybe it was you and you thought that having a man in your life would bring you that happiness. Maybe it was him and he’s dating to get his mother off his back. Regardless of the reason, if you don’t come in happy, you’re not leaving happy.
A good relationship is the icing on the cake, not the flour and sugar. When you are happy in your own life, busy with your friends, enjoying hobbies, getting involved in something you’re passionate about and generally enjoying life, having a great guy to share that with is a bonus. When his life is the same – full of friends, hobbies and passions, he’s a happy guy as well.
Why did he leave me?
You bring two happy, well centered people into a relationship and you now have a happy relationship with two independent individuals who bring their own happiness to share with one another.
This is far different from the co-dependent relationship where two people come together, hoping the other person will make them happy.
He Couldn’t Be Himself
I knew a guy once who started dating this woman who was the complete opposite of his ex-wife. It seemed natural to go in the complete opposite direction but when talking to his ex, I heard some disturbing news. The kids would come home from dad’s house and tell her how daddy wasn’t daddy when Julie was around.
In other words, he couldn’t be himself. The kids knew their dad to be a real prankster who was always laughing and having fun with them. When he was with his new girlfriend, however, she didn’t like all of that and thought it was silly. To keep her in his life, he dialed it back. They married and later got divorced. Ultimately, he couldn’t stand not being himself.
It never works to nag someone or badger them about something. When a guy is in love, there are much better ways to go about getting him to do what you want him to do. You can learn more about how to get a guy to do what you want in my best seller, Who Holds the Cards Now?
Someone Stopped Taking Care of Themselves
This can be either you or him but in this instance, since he left, it may have been you. It’s normal to let yourself go a little bit when you settle into a relationship but when you completely give up or stop trying, it can be too much for a man to handle.
In a case like this, he may feel as if the woman he fell in love with has left. Maybe you were once adventurous and vivacious and now, you’re bogged down with your job and rarely make time to take an adventure with him. You’re drained and really kind of turning into a Debbie Downer.
Life can get tough sometimes. The real test comes in how you manage the stress. Some experience a challenge and become weighed down by it, afraid to move in any direction for fear of making a mistake.
Others look at the situation and are determined to do their best and see where the chips fall. It’s when you take that ‘nothing will ever be right again’ or ‘my life will never be as good as it was when…’ mentality that men check out.
Why You Feel Like Crap Right Now
When you go through a break up, whether he initiated it or you did, there are scientifically proven physiological and emotional responses that occur. You feel like crap but you don’t really understand why. You think it’s because you miss him, and that might be true to some extent, but there is so much more going on behind the scenes that you need to know.
You’ve probably heard of ‘happy hormones’. These are chemicals in your brain that are produced by your brain: dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. These chemicals are produced in higher than normal levels when you’re in love.
My friend Helen Fisher, who has conducted research on this topic, tells us that the withdrawal your body goes through when your relationship ends is the equivalent to getting over an addiction – but this addiction is harder to get over than an addiction to cocaine!
As you go through withdrawal from these happy hormones, you feel physical pain more intensely. Your body will crave these chemicals and will give you the feeling that immediate gratification will help.
You may do things like binge eat or drink, go shopping and spend a ton of money or become sexually promiscuous. Your body wants those chemicals to increase again so badly that you will crave these activities.
If you sink into a depression, you won’t binge eat, but you will lose your appetite. You might find yourself the lucky winner of some sleepless or restless nights as well. This is often because you’re fixated on the happy moments you shared in the relationship or on the reasons for the breakup.
It is important for me to stop here and say one critical thing. If you feel extremely depressed – you can’t get out of bed, you can’t stop crying or you just feel terribly down in the dumps, you need to seek professional counseling. Reading a few blog posts or books is not going to be enough to help you. If you feel suicidal, take yourself to an emergency room. They are equipped to help. Please, please seek the help you need.
When you’re going through a breakup, you might be feeling more stressed than normal. Stress causes your body to release another chemical, cortisol. Cortisol does things like increase your heart rate and is labeled one of the fight or flight chemicals. While other chemicals in the fight or flight mixture act in just seconds, cortisol takes a few minutes to kick in. Cortisol’s lasting effects in your body are not good.
It regulates your blood pressure and the levels of fluid in your body. It also regulates your sex drive, immune and digestive systems and your growth. Having higher than levels of cortisol in your body for extended periods of time can cause damage. It leads to obesity, a decreased sex drive, a depleted immune system, increased blood pressure and blood sugar levels and, if all of that isn’t enough, you can get a doozy of a case of acne.
Depending on how long you two were together, you may have formed an identity as a couple. Women form this faster than men because they often feel committed to the relationship sooner.
You probably said us instead of I and your friends probably referred to you as “you guys” or “you two”. Now, you’re broken up and you are just you again. Your values, while you were together, may have shifted and now you need to re-identify who you are and what you’re all about.
For example, maybe as a couple, you valued spending time together on Saturday mornings. Now what do you do with your Saturdays? You might replace valuing that together time with volunteering at a local shelter or working on yourself.
In addition to being part of a “we” for some period of time, you are now faced with the emotional trauma and physical challenge of letting go of the love you had for him. Even if you are the one who dumped him, you still loved him at some point and it is hard to let those feelings go. In order to avoid letting go of the happy chemicals, your mind is conspiring against you and is trying to hold onto those happy feelings.
Another problem you may face is that you had an emotional support system in your partner. You were able to lean on him when things got tough and he on you. If he had become your only support system, you may really be feeling despair right now. Who are you leaning on, now that you truly need support?
All of these things explain the many things you’re feeling and doing right now, perhaps without even realizing it. What you are feeling as you sit, teary-eyed, and read this information, is normal. What you need to do now is work on counteracting that withdrawal and work on listening to what your thoughts are so you can turn them around into healthy thoughts.
9 Stages of Grieving a Relationship
Just like you grieve when someone close to you dies, you grieve when a relationship is over. The difference with these stages is that you don’t proceed through them in an orderly fashion. You may go through some of them more than one time and you probably won’t go through them in the order they’re presented in here. Don’t feel badly if you don’t experience them all or if you feel like you get stuck in one or another. It’s all normal.
Shock will almost always be your first phase, based on how it presents. When you go through a breakup, several things happen rather suddenly:
- You discover you’re replaceable in the heart of someone you thought would love you forever
- You feel as if you’ve become irrelevant in his life
- You feel disposable
- Your identity has suddenly changed – you are no longer part of a couple
- Now, there is nobody to check up on you at night to make sure you got home okay
- The once-familiar sights, sounds, smells, touches and even tastes of your life are now different
- Your body shifts into autopilot, causing survival mode to kick in to compensate for the foggy, numb, spacey way you feel
In this stage of grieving the breakup, you are being forced to deal with the altered chemical levels and all of the resulting physical and emotional side effects of these altered levels. You feel uncomfortable, your heart is racing and you generally feel just about as bad as you’ve ever felt.
This stage can really play with your emotions. During the denial stage, you become convinced the breakup isn’t real. This is not happening to you. He didn’t mean what he said and you can’t envision your life without him in it. You convince yourself he’s going through a phase and he’ll be out of it soon.
To further this denial agenda, you continue to live your life as if you’re still in the relationship. This happens because you’re going through that chemical withdrawal we talked about earlier. It’s your body’s most primal response to the breakup.
Your body wants to keep those happy chemicals flowing and in order to do so, your mind plays tricks on you and presents a narrative which keeps the dopamine flowing. Deep down, you know this narrative isn’t true but your mind is tricking you into believing it anyway.
It’s sometimes difficult to recognize that you’re in denial. It’s a subconscious response to the breakup. We’ll talk about the subconscious soon. For now, just know that this is your mind selfishly messing with you. Once you do recognize that you’re in denial, it’s important to recognize that you’ve now shifted into another stage, avoidance.
Avoidance, in simplest terms, means you’re avoiding facing the truth of the situation. You’re avoiding the reality, so you don’t have to feel the pain. The difference between denial and avoidance is your recognition of the tricks your mind is trying to play and your lack of willingness to do anything about it. In avoidance, you’re doing just that – avoiding the real pain of the breakup by continuing with the false “I’m still in a relationship” narrative.
Desperate for Answers
When you’re desperate for answers, you are in the phase which probably brought you here to begin with – why did we breakup? How could this happen? You had the perfect relationship and now it’s all gone.
During this phase, your mind is not rational. You are incapable of thinking rationally because you’re too emotional. When you’re living mainly in your emotional mind, you base your decisions on emotion, rather than on logic and reasoning. You act impulsively and may find yourself binge eating, taking a trip on a whim, buying things because it makes you feel good, arguing over something small, or being rude to people for no good reason.
Returning to your search for why for a moment, this search for the why has a purpose. Ultimately, the search for why and how is the first step in disproving those how’s and why’s. All you have to do is show that the reasons for the breakup are not valid and everything will be okay again. You have probably thought of a counter-argument for every ‘why’ here.
As you define the whys and how’s, you come to the conclusion that there is no good reason for this breakup. He left for invalid reasons – reasons you can disprove. You weren’t negative, you were just having a bad day (365 days in a row). You did things together but he always complained about the choices. Who’s negative now?
The reality of this phase is that it’s really just a cushion. You aren’t ready to process the why of the breakup yet. You’re still avoiding the reality of the loss.
This phase brings out your creative side. You begin to bargain – if he’ll take you back, you’ll do anything. You are wonder woman – you can singlehandedly fix everything that was wrong with the relationship. It will be stronger and better than ever if he’ll just let you try again.
You’re still using your emotional mind here. You still have no real ability to use logic and reasoning. Logically, somewhere in the dark recesses of your mind, you know that you can’t fix everything by yourself.
When you recognize you’re in this phase of grief, it’s important for you to begin examining what you really can do to fix things. Are you really the only one at fault? Even if, on the odd chance that you were the only one at fault, would changing anything or fixing anything that already happened really make a difference in the outcome?
The truth, which you will discover at some point down the road, is that one person cannot fix all of the things that went wrong in any relationship. This would be an unreasonable burden to put on yourself, or him, but since you’re still in a state of wanting to avoid or alleviate the pain of the breakup, you’re not facing what you know to be true – you can’t fix it by yourself.
If you have started any sentence relating to the relationship with, “If only I had…”, you’re in the internal bargaining stage of grief. Now, you are starting to internalize the problems of your relationship. You envision new outcomes to the problems you’ve perceived:
- If only I had picked him up at the airport instead of making him take a cab
- If only I had kept up with the laundry
- If only I hadn’t pushed him into buying that bigger house
The truth is that unless you’ve invented a time machine, you cannot go back and fix those things. There are no do-overs. We cannot alter the past, no matter how badly we want to. Along with that, how do you know that picking him up at the airport means he would still be by your side? You don’t.
In the relapse phase, you convince him to try again, or maybe he convinces you. Perhaps you two have broken up and gotten back together before. This then becomes familiar territory. What this really is is an attempt to alleviate the pain of the breakup.
Your mind is still craving those happy hormones and if you can just get back together with him, those chemicals will start flowing and all will be well.
There is a major flaw in this logic, however. Unless the two of you did some serious work on yourselves during the breakup, the problems and hurts from the past are still there.
They will return at some point as barbs you shoot at one another or as hurtful comments you say to each other. If one of you agreed to a reconciliation because the other begged, this is a temporary fix at best. Nobody changed during the split, no real discussion has occurred to try and fix the problems.
The unfortunate part of this stage is that you’re not only avoiding the pain from the split but you’re not envisioning a life after either. You find it impossible to see your life without him in it. Getting back together with him right now seems to be the only solution.
When you reach this stage, you’re finally beginning to accept the breakup as a fact of your life. You can begin to see yourself living without him but still, you will have some irrational moments where you look again for the why or try to bargain your way back. Other phases sneak in and out of initial acceptance but your logical mind is starting to take over.
You will visit this stage a few times, especially in the beginning. Each time you come into initial acceptance, though, you’ll stay a little longer. It’s like visiting a long-lost relative. At first, it’s a little uncomfortable and you don’t know what to talk about, but each time you come back, it’s more comfortable and you can see your way past talking about the why.
When you reach initial acceptance, you also begin to stop finding reasons to contact him. You begin to see the logic in not reaching out to open old wounds. Of course, as soon as you slip out of this phase, you’ll be shooting him some sort of text or another, depending on which phase you slip into.
As time progresses, you will grow more and more accepting of the breakup. You will begin to put your life back together and rebuild your confidence. You will uncover your values again and begin to see your life in the future instead of constantly dwelling on the past.
You might get frustrated as you go in and out of initial acceptance. You will feel like you really haven’t progressed in your healing but give it time and be patient. It’s all part of the process.
Anger comes in many shapes and sizes. A lot of what you feel during the anger phase depends on how soon after the breakup you enter it. If it’s early on, you might turn the anger on yourself – your negative self-talk is in high gear. You’re telling yourself things like:
- I’m too fat
- I’m too ugly
- I’m too stupid
The number one goal of the anger phase is to place blame. Venting your anger is one way of accomplishing that goal. When you feel angry over the breakup instead of trying to place blame for it, you’ll know you’ve moved out of the anger phase.
Meanwhile, your goal is to learn how to manage your anger. Doing that enables you to begin pulling together the pieces of your life so you can move forward in some new direction. Anger over the breakup propels you forward.
As with other phases, you will visit hope many times. Early on, you hope you’ll get back together. That’s probably where you are right now. The result of this hope is that you will do or say anything and everything to rekindle the relationship.
Hopelessness is a truly desperate emotion. It is one of the worst emotions humans can feel. There is really only one time when humans are truly hopeless and that’s when they are facing death. I tell you this because it means that even when you think you’re about as hopeless as you can get, you still hold onto some sort of hope, somewhere deep inside.
As you move through the grieving process, hope will drift from a hope that the relationship can be saved to hoping you can survive without it. You know you’re making good progress when you notice your feelings move in this direction.
Once you begin hoping for survival, you can begin to build on your accomplishments. Each goal you attain, each thing you accomplish, no matter how big or small, builds into bigger accomplishments and wins.
I have no doubt you can see yourself in several of these phases already. It is possible to be in more than one at a time and it is possible to come into and go out of these phases numerous times.
Don’t beat yourself up if you get stuck in one phase or another for a while. Don’t let your friends tell you that you need to move through these phases faster or that what you’re feeling is silly or unnecessary. Each of these phases is necessary to move you through to a healthier, more confident woman.
It is important for you to recognize that what you are experiencing is normal. Regardless of which phase you can most identify with right now, it’s normal. Short of the shock phase, you won’t go through these phases in the order they’re presented here.
You may skip some. You may stay in some phases for what seems to your friends and family to be ‘too long’. Kindly tell them that you need to process this in your own time, not theirs and keep plugging along.
As your coach, I’m going to tell you not to wallow in self-pity, at least for very long. The whole ‘woe is me’ thing is not going to get you anywhere. Feel it for a little while – allow yourself some specific amount of time, but never more than a few days at the most. Then, it’s time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go find something to shift your energy and focus.
I know there are days you may not even feel like getting out of bed but those are the days when I encourage you to close your eyes and visualize yourself doing something fun like having lunch with a good friend or going out to buy a new pair of shoes.
New shoes fix everything for women from what I understand. Visualize a vacation you want to take or that new car you’ve been wanting to buy. Soon, the positive vibes from the visualization will motivate you out of your funk.
How Your Mind Works
It is important, as we identify why you’re currently here, to look at the inner-workings of your mind. When we get to proposed solutions to get your ex back, it will be important for you to understand why I’m encouraging you to do the things I am and what type of work you’ll need to do to follow through.
Your Conscious Mind
Most of us think our conscious mind is in control. It’s the part of the mind we’re all aware of. It’s where we hang out. The problem is that the conscious mind is only responsible for roughly 10% of your brain capacity. Even though it’s where you hang out, it’s not doing most of the work.
If we use a computer analogy, your conscious mind is like your keyboard. You type on your keyboard and things happen inside the computer. In much the same way, your conscious mind receives inputs like criticisms, self-talk, what you read and millions of other tidbits of information. It stores those things for you.
Your conscious mind works based on what is going on around you, rather than what you’re working on. Studies have shown that people who are in a coma or under anesthesia are later aware of what was going on while they were in that state. Your conscious mind can receive inputs you’re not even aware of.
Your conscious mind has two main functions:
- It directs your focus
- It has the ability to imagine what is not real
How do these two functions operate in your world? Why is it so important that you make positive changes? Let’s dig into each one a little more.
Your conscious mind directs your focus
Your conscious mind is sort of like the conductor for your subconscious. It’s always sending signals to the subconscious and your subconscious responds in like fashion. If your conscious mind sends a negative thought, the subconscious rips through its stash of responses and comes back with negative thoughts, emotions, feelings and memories. It brings to the surface past events associated with those negative memories.
Think of it this way – if someone swings at you and hits you, you may or may not duck the first time, but your subconscious mind stores that information away and the next time someone swings at you, you’re more likely to duck. Your mind stored the negative memory of being hit and used that memory to prepare you for being hit again. It’s probably a poor example but you get the idea.
This is important to you right now because you need to understand that the memories, thoughts and emotions you’re using right now are being stored in your subconscious and will be recalled again and again if you don’t replace them with more positive emotions and memories. Just like a computer won’t process data if it’s wrong, your subconscious will continue spitting out wrong messages (negative messages) until you change the data it receives.
This means you need to begin inputting positive data – positive thoughts, emotions and experiences as well as relaxing and calming thoughts and experiences. While it will take some time to do this reprogramming, you have to start sometime and today is as good a day as any other.
Your conscious mind has the ability to imagine what is not real
Your conscious mind has a vivid imagination. You dream through your conscious mind. Your subconscious mind only operates with the memories and data fed into it but your conscious can dream stuff up on its own. Using visualization can help you alter the data your conscious mind is putting into the subconscious. When you use visualization to change your subconscious, you are sending new, positive information to your subconscious. Consistency and persistence are key in making this change happen.
The Subconscious Mind
If we continue with the computer analogy, your subconscious is the equivalent to your computer’s memory. It is a storage house for information sent through by the conscious mind. It has the ability to recall information but doesn’t create new information. The job of your subconscious is to keep information handy so it’s easily retrievable. This means:
- Your memories – how to operate your computer, how to turn on your car or the route you take to work, how much time it takes you to perform a task
- Current programs you’re running like how you behave, your habits and your moods
- Your beliefs and values, or the filters you view things through – you use this information to process whether or not something falls within those beliefs and values – you validate things this way
- Each of your senses and the information they provide – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste
If your subconscious can’t process a piece of information, it turns to your unconscious, which, in turn, retrieves information, sends it back to your subconscious which then uses it to make sense of what’s going on.
There are models which suggest that our minds are inundated with more than 2 million pieces of information every second. Much of that gets processed in your subconscious. If your conscious mind managed that many pieces of input, you would be exhausted about 3 minutes after waking up.
The subconscious act as the processor of this information, taking it in and filtering it. It keeps only what is necessary for you to get through the day. It turns to your unconscious mind to figure out what needs to be kept and what can be tossed. Out of the 2 million pieces of information coming in to your subconscious mind, about seven are stored for later. How cool is that?
After your subconscious has processed and filtered these inputs, it sends information back to your conscious mind in the form of emotions, feelings, sensations, reflexes, images and dreams. It’s truly amazing when you think about it. You’re out driving your car and there are thousands of things happening all around you. Your subconscious takes them all in, processes them, filters a few and sends back to your conscious mind some sort of reaction – happiness, anger, frustration, etc.
The subconscious is obedient
While your subconscious is already an amazing thing, one more cool thing it can do is obey orders. What this means is that you’re in complete control of what your subconscious is sending back to your conscious. You control the inputs of your conscious mind. Sciences proves this to us. You are indeed in control of your thoughts.
Your Unconscious Mind
Think of your unconscious mind as being one layer deeper than your subconscious. It communicates with your subconscious as we previously discussed. It stores memories that aren’t used as often as those stored in the subconscious. It’s like a library storing old books.
It’s storing information you input but it’s information you don’t retrieve as often. Emotions you’ve experienced since birth are stored in your unconscious memory. When you want to make deep and long-lasting change in your life, you do so by reaching your unconscious.
Before we proceed, it’s important to make a distinction between a psychological or psychiatric term unconscious, which is what we have been talking about, versus the medical term unconscious, which means under anesthesia or knocked out in some other way. While they have similar qualities, they don’t mean the same thing and you shouldn’t confuse the two.
Our unconscious is where we store things we want to forget. Super-painful memories are stored in the unconscious – abuse, very negative events, etc. We stuff those memories down and they then are not easily triggered. Often, it requires psychoanalytical intervention to allow them to resurface.
Memories stored in the unconscious can be triggered by smells or sounds associated with the memory. Someone beaten with a leather strap will have that memory triggered when they smell leather. Smell is one of the strongest triggers we have for a memory. Have you ever caught wind of a cologne and recalled someone you loved (or hated) who wore the same cologne?
The main distinction between the subconscious and unconscious is the availability of the memories. Subconscious memories are easily recalled while unconscious memories are not. Everything from your birth until now is stored in your unconscious – every thought, feeling, memory, habit, emotion and behavior is sitting there, waiting to be recalled.
In order to make the positive changes you need to make to get your ex back, you must change the memories stored in your unconscious mind. I know what you’re thinking – how can you possibly do this? You put new things into your unconscious the same way the old stuff got there – from conscious to subconscious to unconscious.
You begin inputting positive thoughts, emotions, behaviors, feelings and habits through your keyboard, or conscious mind. You use visualization and shoot them off to the subconscious mind where they are ready to be recalled at a moment’s notice. Once you’ve done this often enough, those new, positive memories will begin to overwrite what is currently stored as negative memories in your unconscious mind.
People sometimes argue with me about affirmations but this is why they are so important. You must begin inputting positives in order to output positives.
Signs He Was Preparing to Leave
While this might seem like a cruel thing to put into this piece, it actually makes good sense. Your relationship with your ex won’t be your last relationship ever, maybe not even your last with him. You need to be able to recognize the signs of a man checking out so you can work on trying to mitigate the disaster before it gets too bad.
I don’t give you a guarantee that knowing these things are coming will save your relationship. In fact, in some instances, you will see that my recommendation is to beat him to the punch and get out first. This ultimately puts you in the power position.
Baby, We Might not be meant for Each Other
He’s been thinking these things in his head for a while but now, he’s verbalizing them. You may hear things like:
- Maybe we just aren’t meant to be
- Relationships shouldn’t be this hard
- Maybe we’re just too different
He is using these phrases to gauge your response. He wants to know if you’re on the same page. If you come back and say, “Yeah, this does seem like it’s more work than it ought to be”, he’ll know you’re both on the same page and he can proceed in breaking up with you without a lot of drama. What you need to know is that he is pouring the foundation for cementing a breakup with you sometime soon.
Don’t let him get away with making these statements. Call him out on his thoughts and let him know you’re no dummy. This will at least give you some of the power in the decision. You may even choose to end it with him first.
When You’re Together, You Feel Dread
Sometimes women’s intuition kicks in and you start getting this feeling in your gut that something about the relationship just isn’t right. Trust your gut and know that something probably isn’t right. You may feel dread before going out with him or you just get this feeling he’s going to break up with you.
Your instincts don’t fail you often. This might be one time to tune in and listen. Many times, however, women get this feeling and rather than face the truth of what they’re feeling, they’ll tell themselves that it’s their imagination.
Ultimately, you discover you were right all along. He may start doing things to spite you – to get a rise out of you or to force you to leave the relationship. If he’s showing these signs, strike a power mode and end it with him first.
You Sense a Disturbance
This is sort of like the last one but let’s look at it differently. You might notice that he isn’t texting you as often, he’s not hanging out with you as often, you don’t have sex as often (if at all) and when he is around, it feels like he’s somewhere else.
These are all signs that he has already checked out of the relationship emotionally. Your intimate moments together either aren’t happening at all or they’re few and far between. A movie and some cuddling on the couch? Forget it.
I’m not sure why most men won’t just get out when they start to feel this way. What happens instead is that they stay and their anger and contempt for you begins to build. Before you know it, you’re going 12 rounds over who forgot to put the trash out or when the last time someone walked the dog was. Dishes start flying around the kitchen and harsh words are spoken.
By the time you feel him pulling back, he’s already left the relationship. He just doesn’t have the guts to tell you he’s checked out. Take control (again) and boot his wet kitten heiny to the door.
He Ghosts You
Ghosting is when someone suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. It usually happens at the beginning of a relationship but a person can ghost you later too.
This is, in my opinion, a lazy man’s way out of a relationship. If you notice your guy starting to pull back with less and less communication, be aware he may suddenly ghost you.
When you start to notice your guy is texting or calling less and less often, he has probably already checked out emotionally and is working on checking out physically as well. What he is really doing is avoiding his end of what will be a difficult conversation. The longer you’ve dated, the more ridiculous this behavior is.
In my book, Power Texting Men (really insert new texting book here), I teach women the tactics to try and draw him back into a conversation. This won’t have a prayer of working if he’s pretty far into ghosting but if he has just started pulling away, you may be able to reel him back in.
Date Night Becomes a Thing of the Past
Men want to spend time with the women they love. If your guy starts avoiding date night or cancelling plans to go out with you, he might be thinking of breaking things off. Chances are, he’s become bored by your company or has found something in you that he really dislikes. Rather than be honest with you, he’s just avoiding you.
If you live together, this could also show up as him coming home from work and retreating to the man cave. He might call before he leaves work to say he’s going to get a drink with folks from work or go hang out with the guys. Regardless of his excuse, he’s spending more time with someone else and less time with you.
He’s Angry All of the Time
The fact that he’s unhappy in your relationship is eating away at him and his way of showing it is to lash out at you. He might not realize what’s causing him to feel so angry but the bottom line is this – he’s mad about something and you’re taking the heat.
Things that normally wouldn’t set him off are now hot buttons. Small things quickly escalate into big arguments. Rather than calmly discuss an issue, he goes from zero to 90 in 10 seconds and blows a gasket.
The root cause of this is that he’s unhappy and he’s expressing it in an unhealthy way. He also may have checked out of the relationship already so some of the things you’ve always done that he found cute or quirky in a good way now just annoy him and set him off. Nobody deserves to be in a relationship with so much anger. If he’s acting this way, get out.
You’re No Longer a Priority in His Life
Men will make a good relationship a priority, and you along with it. He will be considerate and let you know if he will be late or genuinely can’t be where he promised to be. He will care about your feelings and want to be the best version of himself for you. When he stops with the common courtesies, doesn’t want to spend time with you and is always busy with work, friends, family and his dog, he’s moved you way down the list of priorities in his life. He might close with, “but we’ll get together soon, baby, okay?”
When you are together, you may feel even more alone than you do when he’s gone. He’s there, but he’s not there. He may be doing things like spending all of his time on his phone or iPad, reading or digging deeper than you’ve ever seen him dig into household stuff. These are all tactics to avoid you.
A guy pulling this crap has already checked out. Give him his final ticket and go find a great guy!
He Teases You – In Front of You or, Worse, Behind Your Back
A man who loves a woman will not, under any circumstances, talk negatively about her behind her back. Any teasing he would do is all in good fun – a private joke between the two of you – like the time you tripped over air and nearly broke your arm. Something you both laugh about now. When he starts saying negative things about you, to your face or otherwise, he has lost respect for you and its game over.
He may also show his lack of respect in the form of consistent negative feedback. Nothing you do any longer is good enough. The way you ironed his shirts two weeks ago was fine but now, it’s just plain awful. Go ahead and give this guy the old heave-ho. He is just using you as a punching bag to make himself feel better for checking out. Don’t give him the pleasure!
He Got Bored
Men will lose interest in a relationship when they get bored. This doesn’t mean he’s got a Saturday afternoon and nothing to do. It means he no longer finds you interesting or challenging. The mystery is gone for him and he is no longer excited by you.
Men always want to feel like there is an element of the chase in their relationship. Don’t roll your eyes. As I describe in my book, 10 Secrets You Need to Know About Men, men are, by nature, competitive. Even after he has married you, he still wants to know that other guys might be interested in you but he won!
I participated in a video shoot in New York City with three of the dating world’s leading experts. One of the topics we discussed was Why do Men Get Spooked? In that video, you can see the opinions of all four of us on why men bolt from relationships.
He Felt Smothered
By nature, you are a nurturer. It’s not anything to be ashamed of, it’s how women are wired. It’s why you have the babies and not men. Men are providers. We bang our clubs, beat our chests and go out to fetch dinner for our loved ones. You are better at rubbing out boo-boos, providing tender loving care and noticing when someone needs a little something extra.
The problem is when you become too much of a nurturer. Whether it’s you or your guy, when there is a problem, he wants to wave his club, beat his chest and come up with a solution. Men are fixers of things. We don’t understand this nurturing thing and we especially don’t like it when it rains down upon us.
A man who is feeling down for one reason or another – job or promotion loss, death of a loved one, his favorite team losing the big game – he needs to retreat, lick his wounds and come out on the other side. He will come home and retreat to his man cave or head out to have a few cold ones with his buddies.
You see that he’s down and the nurturer in you kicks in. You want to love him back to normal. While your intentions are great, your methodology is off.
Instead of running after him and forcing him to tell you what’s wrong, note his desire to be left alone and find something to do. When he is ready, he will come back willing to share. Until then, leave him be.
Signs He Wants You Back
For the most part, when a relationship is over, it should probably stay over, but I know you are desperately wanting your ex back right now so let’s examine what signals he might be sending that he too wants to get back together.
He Calls You Frequently
While texting is a weaker sign he’s still interested in being with you, a phone call screams it. A phone call allows him to hear your voice and this stirs good feelings for him. His excuse for calling may be lame but that’s because he may be afraid to invite his way back into your life.
He Drunk Texts You
When we drink, our inhibitions are lowered. While a guy may be afraid to tell you he wants to get back together when he’s sober, he will be less afraid to say so when he’s drunk. This type of text when you know he’s hammered is a sign he really wants to get back together.
He Keeps in Touch with Your Friends and Family
Keeping in touch with those you’re close to is his way of keeping his eye on you. He still cares about what you’re doing and probably wants to get back together. He is trying to keep his connection to you open.
He’s not Dating Someone Else
A man won’t move on to a new relationship if he still wants to be in the old one. While this might not be as much of a tell-tale sign as some of the others, if you combine it with one or two other signs, it probably means something.
He Genuinely Wants to Talk Things Out
Men aren’t talkers by nature, so if your guy says he wants to talk about what went wrong and he seems genuine, hear him out. A man who is done with the relationship won’t want to put in the time or energy to figure stuff out.
He Makes Changes
In all honesty, the only way two people who broke up can succeed at another point is if one or both of them change. If he willingly makes changes like ramping up his workout routine or seeing a therapist, he is trying to change – for you.
He may also act differently around you. If he knew there were things about his behavior that bothered you, he may try to present himself as a new and improved guy. This is a big deal if he’s working on these changes. You should definitely give him a shot.
He seems to be Everywhere
He knows where you hang out and he is increasing his odds of seeing you by hanging out in those places when he knows you’ll be there. If he once worked out before work but now finds himself suddenly enamored with going to the gym after work (like you do), it’s no accident. He’s still into you.
Apologies aren’t big in the man world. If he summons the courage to tell you he’s sorry, he deserves at least the time it will take to hear him out. This is behavior that is coming straight from his heart.
He’s not in a Hurry to Get His Stuff
When a guy is done, he wants his stuff and he wants out. If you’ve still got some of his important stuff, even after a few weeks, he’s probably having second thoughts. He wants to maintain that last connection to you. He wants a reason to reach out to you and see you again.
First Steps toward Getting Him Back
If you want to get your ex back, the very first thing you need to do is stop all contact. If you want to get him back and keep him this time, follow my advice.
***My tactic to get your ex back involves no contact but with a twist – you will contact him after 4-5 days for reasons that confirm that you are OK with the breakup to toy with his psyche. You are calling his bluff. More on this inside my best seller How To Get Your ex Back Fast.
There are multiple reasons for going no contact but we’re going to cover a couple of the big ones. Perhaps the most important reason to go no contact with him is because you need to take this time, while you’re single, to work on yourself. I’ve said it repeatedly, but I’ll say it again – if neither of you changes and you get back together, the end result will be the same.
You cannot proceed with changing, however, if you’re continuously in contact with your ex. You need this time to focus solely on you. This is your time to be selfish and give yourself the attention you deserve. I outline a great plan for you in my book Own Your Tomorrow: 14 Steps to Prepare for Love.
You also need to go no contact so he will truly get the opportunity to miss you. If he does text you, you are allowed to respond, but not right away as you would have done previously. You will wait, maybe a day or two before responding and then, your response will be as brief as possible.
He texts, “Hey do you still have my green shirt?” A day or two later, you reply with, “It’s here.” He’s expecting some long drawn-out text about how much you love seeing him in that shirt, blah blah blah. Just tell him you have it. If he continues and wants to pick it up, reply back some time later (maybe a few hours to a day) and say something like “I’ll leave it on the porch tomorrow”.
Obviously, if you share children, a business relationship or major assets, you will need to communicate a bit differently but that’s a conversation for a different time.
Are you ready to start doing the work to get your ex back?