If you think a ring will save your relationship with your ex, you should reconsider your views on marriage.
During the first months after a break up, especially if it was a long or serious relationship, you are a complete mess. You feel like your life is upside down, and you try to distract yourself with anything and everything, as long as it keeps you from texting or calling them. You try to avoid talking about them, and yet, they’re the only thing on your mind. You start wondering what they’re doing with their life, if they’re as screwed up as you feel, if they regret the break up, if there’s some way to fix everything and take yourself back to that past in which everything between you was perfect.
That’s the usual post-break up state, but eventually you’ll pull yourself together, move on, end that mourning period and start over. But what happens when time has passed, you recover the normal pace of your life, you even go on a few dates with new people, but you still can’t stop thinking about that person? No, it’s not that you aren’t over them: actually, after dating other people and analyzing your break up on a more objective level, you realize that you were in a good relationship, and that you really want to go back with them.
This situation is anything but easy because it requires that you be extremely honest with yourself to see if it's just that you’re not letting go of that relationship, or if you actually want to get back with your ex. But let’s say you’re totally sure that you’re still in love with your ex and you’re truly willing to give your relationship a second chance. Well, most likely you, like thousands of people, will seek advice from those around you as well as from the holy oracle of the 21st century: Google. “How do I get back with my ex?” you’ll ask. Here is where things start getting strange. Since the internet is free for everyone to speak their mind, you’ll find all sorts of answers and advice. However, as you explore that issue, you might find something rather creepy, particularly on websites where men help other get back with their exes.
Many of them say the same thing: if you’re 100% sure you want to get back with your ex, start talking to them again. First, you start with some texts. Then, if you feel like you’re on safe ground, you can ask them to hang out (or hang out with them and some friends). Then you go on actual dates, leave the past behind, give them presents, letters, cards, and then the gem of the crown: bring on the ring to show the girl you’re really committed!
That last piece of advice is wrong on so many levels, but let’s tackle two of the most problematic issues with this statement: it is unrealistic and sexist. First, if a ring were to actually create an everlasting and stable bond with a person, there wouldn’t be unhappy marriages throughout history or as many divorces as there are nowadays. This belief is mostly rooted on traditional views about marriage that, fortunately, are starting to be questioned. However, leaving those traditional views aside, it also sees marriage as a magical solution to broken relationships, as if it were some sort of spell to keep someone by your side forever and to ensure a happily ever after. Ironically, this belief could end up resulting in that unsuccesful marriage you fear because, if you do believe marriage is the solution to everything, then you’ll see even the slightest challenge in your relationship as much worse than it is.
Now, as for the sexist part of this advice, it depends on the assumption that the only thing a woman wants in life is to get married. I thought we as a society were already over this belief, but it seems that many people still think marriage is the greatest achievement in a woman's life, so the moment a man offers her a ring, she’ll say yes. Of course, there are women who do see marriage as an achievement in life, but still, it’s not realistic to assume that they will say yes to anyone, even their ex, the moment they see a ring. This belief goes to the old-fashioned depiction of women as one-dimensional characters whose only aspirations in life are marriage and children. And I want to believe that if you want to go back with your ex it’s because you don’t see them as one-dimensional characters, right?
Then, what to do with these rather disquieting pieces of advice to get back with your ex? Always take them with a grain of salt. Something they all say, that I do believe is good advice, is to take some time to consider whether you want to return with them and to give them space to spend some time without you or with other people. While you might be sure of your feelings for them, you should allow your ex to assess their feelings for you, so pressuring them or surfacing in their life when they least expect it won’t help at all. In fact, it might scare them. Remember that the other person might already be over you and might already be dating someone, so just let them be. In the meantime, work on yourself. Did you do something that led to the break up? Can you do something to improve? More importantly, can you move on with your life if they say no? Before you do anything, you have to be aware of that possibility and work on your personal issues that might have led the relationship to an end.
If you’ve worked on yourself and feel ready to try to get back with your ex, don’t start showering them with affectionate gifts or texting them about how regretful you are and how you love them and want to be together with them. Imagine it's your ex doing that to you out of the blue. Of course you’d run! Just take things slowly. You can start with a message, asking them how they’re doing; let them feel comfortable with you. Maybe you can hang out with some friends, catch up a little, and let things flow naturally. If the past issues surface, apologize, and show them you’re really willing to improve (don’t go all Ross-mode with his “we were on a break!” thing). Finally, remember that if your ex doesn’t want to go back with you, they have their reasons. Don’t think of a ring as your trump card or think that you’ll have them in your pocket once you propose to them. No, they are human. They have a will of their own and the right to decide what they want to do with their own love life. If they reject you, perhaps it is the moment to say goodbye to that relationship for good. However, a farewell is also the best opportunity to write new episodes in your life and open yourself to meet great people out there and, more importantly, be at peace with yourself.
Do you want to check out more relationship advice?
Photos by Athena Grace