I’ve had a number of exes hit me up in COVID. It’s weird what isolation will do. I caught up with Marni Battista – dating expert and relationship coach – to give us some tips to deal with it.
We’ve all heard… “they always come back.” Why is that? It might have been a guy that you didn’t get past the texting stage with, or a guy that you went on a few dates with… and he ghosted you. Or, even a guy that you thought could’ve been the love of your life.
The bottom line is you made a decision to get him out of your head, or even your heart for good, and now he’s back.
Here’s what to do and say to figure out if he really is the one, and if not, to get him out of your head and heart for good.
1. Realize why he is stuck in your head, reclaim your power, and don’t reach out or initiate if you get lonely or feel nostalgic.
First, it’s important to understand that most of the unrequited love experiences or even men who have ghosted us feel like incompletions, even if you felt complete about it at one time. And so, for most of us, if it didn’t end the way you wanted it to, you may have left the relationship feeling flawed. This type of “I’m flawed” or “It’s my fault” thinking holds your heart hostage and sets him in your brain as your ideal partner. This is a mistake! Stop searching for certainty. It’s an ineffective strategy to attempt to feel in control, especially during a time when you most likely feel out of control in many parts of your life.
2. If he actually comes back into your life, put him through the #datingwithdignity Litmus Test.
Is this man committed to his own growth and development, and is he committed to the growth of your relationship? Invite him to a Zoom or Facetime (not merely texting) date and have a conversation with him to determine if your feelings are mutual. Be vulnerable, tell him how you feel, and ask him if he feels the same way about you right now. Share and discover if you have the same relationship goals, right now. This is an important piece of The Litmus Test. You must have the same relationship goals right now AND you must be clear and direct in asking. And last, if he is committed to his own growth and the growth of the relationship, do his actions right now consistently demonstrate this?
3. Keep it Simple.
This Litmus Test is nearly foolproof so make sure you don’t over analyze the situation. If he won’t even have the conversation, avoids it, sabotages, wants to have sex first, resorts to “when then” tactics. (e.g, when the Pandemic is over, when the economy is more settled, when I don’t have my kids we can talk), he’s not the one. If you find yourself convincing him on why you have an amazing relationship and he has concerns and objections and he does not move away from those, he is not the one! If he passes The Litmus Test, begin dating him (and continue to date others) to make sure you keep your mind and heart open to the best partner for you versus the one that feels the easiest.
4. It’s your responsibility to respond appropriately.
You are not flawed, and this incompletion with him is not because you are flawed or broken. If he has failed the Litmus Test, put a clear end to the conversation, remembering that it’s important to take his actions seriously (e.g. If the conversation doesn’t happen in a timely manner, he has, in fact, failed the Test). Whether you say it or send a written message, something like, “We had a special connection and I’m flattered you reached out again. That said, I’m on the right road to being in a really great place in my life and we are not a match. I am ready for great things and great love in my life. I wish you all the best.” Be clear and concise, and do not spiral into a deeper conversation that starts to look like a vicious cycle.
5. Rinse and Repeat.
If an ex texts you who was toxic, you do not need to respond, ever. And, if there is someone from your past who has potential, be kind and informational when you respond without being overly flirtatious. Tell him directly that you are (still) in a place in your life where you are looking for a serious, committed relationship right now, and ask if he is on the same page. If he is, date him (virtually) and put him through the Litmus Test as you begin again. Remember, anyone who is NATO (No Action, Talk Only) is not your person. Get him out of your head and out of your heart so you can make room for the right guy who is.