Ask Pawan: I still have feelings for my ex-girlfriend

With the new school year coming in, plenty of new relationships are on the horizon. Our previous issue focused platonic relationships, especially when those facts might lead you to cut some toxic ties. This issue focuses on the aftermath of a romantic relationship, but can still apply to any kind of relationship you find yourself walking away from.

Hey Pawan,
I broke up with my girlfriend some time ago, but I always have admired her. She was my first. I miss her a lot and want to catch up with her. I just want us to be a part of each other’s lives again. I’ve tried so many way to let go of her completely. I also pretend that I have completely moved on in front of my friends, but the truth is I never did. How should I approach this situation? How do I either move on completely, or bring her back into my life?

A broken-hearted, regretful, anxious idiot

My advice starts off from a place that can seem a bit disappointing, but I encourage you to bear with me when I say that I am not a professional and that this is only my opinion. This leads me right into the core of my advice: talk to someone close to you.

You mention that you’ve led your friends to believe that you’ve moved on, and I believe changing that is where the first step lies. I’m not saying that you need to shout it down Main Mall — just tell someone that you really trust or feel would understand. Letting someone in and telling them about your struggles to decide which way to go might just be the breakthrough you need to take an action. Simply talking to someone about how you feel and what the relationship was like could be enough to give you some idea of what you really want, and figuring out what’s going through your head right now is a great primer for the next step.

If you find yourself with truly no one to talk to, here’s plan B.

If you’re contemplating the merits of anything, it always helps to helps to take stock of what you’re missing, especially if there’s some emotional attachment to what you’re considering — and boy, does it seem that way. When figuring out why the breakup happened, it might help to start from the beginning, sift through the good times at the start and try to pinpoint where things start getting dicey. Depending on how the breakup happened and who initiated you might find that — with the clearer head and more muted emotional responses that comes with reviewing rather than experiencing — you can see things a bit differently. Maybe upon reflection you understand her side a bit more than in the heat of the moment, or you might see flaws in the relationship that were hidden, or you may realize that you were both blowing things out of proportion.

This also brings me to the section of the article that is to do with sobering thoughts: of the three scenarios just mentioned, the last is the most unlikely. After a relationship, especially one that meant a lot, both parties go through a lot of tumultuous emotions and feel a need to go back to the status quo, but usually there’s something stopping them. That something is probably one of, if not the main thing that started making cracks in the relationship, or at least made them more visible. Not to say that there is no chance of reconciliation — because there are a thousand nuances to a human relationship that don’t translate into a Google Forms submission — but I am saying something that has been said in this column before: temper your expectations.

Sadly, nuance and complexity are not something that come across easily when submitting a question online, but that’s where the first bit of advice swoops back in. If you have someone around you that might be able to provide some perspective or at least be a board to bounce words off of for an evening, I recommend that you give them a call and ask for a bit of help with what weights on you (a glass or two might assist).

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