What do I do with this Broken Heart? Avoid Requests for Space and Use Your Head to Think about what You Want

By | January 24, 2017
Has your love been shattered? Accept your new beginning.

Now that you’ve begun accepting the position that you are in.  It’s time for something that is even harder…

You have to start thinking about what you want!

All Posts in this Series:

  1. I Love You but I’m Not In Love With You, Meaning and Advice
  2. It’s Normal for Your Heart to be Afraid, but fighting for the Past Will Mean the End, So Start Accepting Your New Beginning
  3. What do I do with this Broken Heart? Avoid Requests for Space and Use Your Head to Think about what You Want ⇐ You are Here
  4. Once Upon a Time We were Happy, and Suddenly it’s Over? The Heart Heals Slowly, don’t Fear the Future
  5. Intentions do not Win Hearts, Actions are the Secret, How to Start Connecting Today for a Happier Tomorrow
  6. Say Yes to Everything and Reveal the Secret of the Heart
  7. Learn to Speak the Language of the Heart
  8. Become a Sex Master and Learn How to Heal the Heart with the Body
  9. It’s Time to Get Some Help, Starting Today
  10. Rekindling the Flame Can Sometimes Burn Too Hot, Use Caution While Reconnecting
  11. Some Words about Physical, Sexual, Verbal and Emotional Abuse

One thing that might come up is that your partner will want “space”.  That’s ok, space is a good thing for both of you right now.  For you, because you need to think!  For them for similar reasons, but more importantly, because they could be feeling threatened or smothered by you, and they need to be able to relax just a little bit and absorb what has happened as well.

The important thing…do NOT consider or even bring up moving out.  If they bring it up you need to tread cautiously, because that is too much space.  Once you’ve moved out, more than ever they’ll be imagining their life without you, and in their current state of mind they aren’t thinking about any of the good things through the years, only the relief that “the truth is finally out”.

If it becomes a big issue, tell them that you’ll go spend the night at a friend or family member’s house, or get a hotel for the night, but make sure you communicate that you’ll be back, and take no more than a single change of clothing.

The point is, that leaving and creating a great deal of distance is a last resort.  Your goal now is to help them start including you in their future thoughts, not excluding you.  That saying, “out of sight, out of mind”, yeah…that’s your worst possible reality right now!

You have to ask yourself questions about your relationship, and your yourself, that might be uncomfortable.  The hardest part of this is that you have to think and formulate answers that are objective, and truthful.

One reason that being objective and truthful is hard right now is because it is our nature to want to make the ideal, the fantasy, the picture in our own heads, real.  In your obvious emotional state, that’s not going to be easy.

Another reason that being objective and truthful with yourself is hard at this time in particular is because your emotions are raw.  You have, in essence, been rejected.

Think back, in your past there likely have been times that you have been rejected and before that happened, you yourself were perhaps thinking of ending things with someone else.

Maybe you were dating someone (a girlfriend or boyfriend) and in your heart, you knew that it wasn’t going to work, maybe you were thinking about breaking it off, and then they beat you to it!

Suddenly you felt terrible!  You were perhaps outraged, and irrationally you wanted badly to keep the ill-fated relationship going.

Perhaps it wasn’t quite so profound, perhaps you were mistakenly given a gift meant for someone else, then it was taken away.  Your initial reaction was likely disappointment, perhaps an irrational desire to have that which you never truly possessed back.

It’s a natural thing, made imaginably worse when the person you care for most is what is being lost.

So, it’s inevitable, you are going to want to reconcile above all else.  But there is danger here.  If you succeed in bringing your partner back into the relationship, you may be postponing the inevitable.

Even if you truly want to make it work, it’s possible that you yourself will keep it from succeeding, years from now, after these raw feelings have been fully processed and relegated to the past.

So as impossible as it may feel at this point, you have to figure out what you really want.  What follows are some fundamental questions you should be asking yourself.  Feel free to explore other more specific questions, but these should get you started at least.

Question Number 1

Do you love your partner?

You’re probably thinking; “what the hell kind of question is that?  Of course, I love my partner!”

Well, do you?  I’ll wait while you dig down and think about that…

Are you sure that it’s the loss of someone that you value more than anything else, or is it simply the lack of what is familiar, or that you’re unsure if anyone else will “want you”, or is it simply that you’ve been “cast aside” and the rejection is causing you to feel the way you are.  What exactly is it that scares you so much?

Don’t discount these feelings.  they can be a very powerful motivators.

I can tell you that I’ve seen from a firsthand perspective, people that have successfully motivated their partner to “stick it out”, only to find out later that they themselves were simply suffering from feeling like the victim.

Feeling like the victim is something that can fool you into thinking that you want something when you are actually just suffering from losing what you thought you had.

The “familiar” is a terrible trap that people fall into.  It’s possible that you simply are so comfortable or “used to” your partner, and your relationship, that the thought of losing it is scary as hell.  Make certain that this is not the case, because the “wake up call”, which will inevitably come, will be a disaster.

If the answer, when you really think about it in this context, objectively and with as clear a mind as you can muster, is anything but a resounding yes, I mean if you have any doubt, then think on it for a day or two.

Try not to dig too deeply into what you are going through, instead reflect on the past and the reasons you got married in the first place, and then ask yourself this question again.

If you still want to pursue your relationship though you answered no to this question, or you’re not sure and struggling with doubt, then skip to Question Number 4 and act on it immediately!

Question Number 2

If you could snap your fingers and make everything better, what would that look like?

Obviously, the answer to this question is likely something along the lines of, “everything would go back to the way it was”.  Or perhaps, “that he or she would love me again”.

But that’s childish.  You need to think more deeply.  I can tell you with certainty that there is no “going back to the way it was” because “the way it was”, was broken.  It wasn’t working, you both had simply deluded yourselves into thinking it was.

You need to think about you.  Start reflecting about some of the things your partner said during the conversations leading up to, and following when they told you they weren’t in love with you anymore.

This means that you have to stop justifying your own actions, and put yourself into their shoes, and I mean fully put yourself in their shoes.  Immerse yourself into their life, see your shared experiences from their perspective.

Sure, your perspective is valid, maybe even justifiable.  But justifying your position is the last thing you need to be doing right now.  You have to completely abandon that line of thinking…for now.

Maybe one of the statements that your partner communicated to you was that you were boring, maybe they indicated you’ve become a recluse.  Perhaps they told you that they wanted to go places, and do things and you never wanted to.

Perhaps they told you that you were angry all the time, or that they felt like you took them for granted.

It’s possible they conveyed that you spend too much time with your friends, watching TV, playing video games, or whatever.

Maybe you always wanted sex and treated them like an object, maybe you never wanted sex and made them feel unwanted and ugly.

There’s an infinite number of things they might have told you, the point is, you may have to change.

Change is often looked at as a bad thing, and it really isn’t.  In fact, often it’s not good or bad, it simply is.  It is up to us to interpret whether the outcome of change when considered in the perspective of the complete picture is good or not.

You may not currently know what you need to change, but I can tell you that you, and likely both of you, will need to change to make this work.  But for God’s sake do NOT start telling your partner they have to change!  That will come later, and you indicating in any way that they are at fault at this stage will drive them from you faster than anything else!

I should qualify that.  There is one other thing that is likely to drive them away from you just as fast or faster:  Neediness

If you come across as needy, clingy and dependent, especially in their current state, you will be revolting to them.  Right now, they don’t like you much, pushing yourself on them is likely to reinforce their feelings of revulsion and increase their “need to escape”.

This question is meant to determine if you are willing to consider change, understanding that it may be possible that what you would have to change could be something that you are not willing to change, but we’ll get into that more later.

That’s how you need to think about this question.  You have to reflect on the things that they’ve said, putting yourself into their shoes, understanding that you may have to change aspects of yourself that you don’t think you even want to change.

This is a question that you’ll likely have to ask yourself many times throughout your reconciliation as you gain clarity on what has brought you both to this point.  If at any time, you start to struggle at being able to answer this question with yes, make certain to consider Question Number 4.

So, let me ask the question in a different way:  Assuming you can successfully put yourself into your partner’s shoes, assuming that you can change aspects about yourself without sacrificing your core beliefs, assuming you can rekindle your relationship, will you be willing to put all your effort into changing what is necessary and still be able to be happy with the new you?

If at any time your answer is no, or doubt creeps in, then perhaps your partner is right and you have to consider a future where you and your partner are not partners, but friends, acquaintances, or simply ex’s.

I strongly urge you again, if you answer this question no, or you have serious doubts, please consider strongly Question Number 4!

Question Number 3

Can you forgive your partner and trust them again?

This one is easier to frame, and is less nebulous, but is probably just as hard to answer.  In fact, this question is a question you may not be able to answer fully right now, but you must answer it to the best of your ability now, and then revisit it every day as you move toward reconciliation…and beyond.

The reason I say this is that your answer may be “no” right now.  In fact, it may be “no” a year from now.

But you’ve always got to be moving toward “yes”.  If you start to feel that the answer to this question is consistently “no” for more than a month without any forward progress toward “yes”, then you have to consider that this relationship may not be salvageable.

Mainly because as you move forward, if trust (on both sides) is not growing, then resentment and distrust is.  At some point, you will sabotage yourself, or end up in a reverse situation where you are the one telling your partner that you can’t go on with the relationship.

I’m telling you, this little bit is insidious.

In fact, if you are one of the really unlucky ones that has been truly betrayed with infidelity once or multiple times, then the answer to this question is likely the most important one!

Jealousy is a demanding mistress.  Jealousy will occupy your mind, color your decisions and erode any possibility of true love.  Chronic jealousy is anti-love.  Love and jealousy cannot coexist in harmony.

Bouts of jealousy are one thing, and perfectly normal.  People can overcome jealous thoughts, but if they grow to something else, they become all encompassing.  Catastrophizing is the child of jealousy, and you’ll begin to manufacture situations that aren’t real…but they’ll FEEL real!

If you can’t trust your mate, neither of you will ever be truly happy.  Relationships must be fostered on trust, and marriage must be built on full trust.

If you feel like you’ll never be able to get over what has brought you here and everything that led to this situation you are now in, as much as it hurts, you should consider that the outcome you’re currently hurtling toward may be the correct outcome.

Issues of trust, more than any other is the reason that Question Number 4 is so important.  You don’t want to engage in choices that are going to affect the rest of your life hastily.  Just because you don’t trust your lover today, does not mean you can’t be moving toward trust.

Abandonment is a type of betrayal.  But you likely weren’t abandoned because you were guiltless, so bear that in mind.  Trust will not be built in a day.  If it is, then it’s not trust, it’s delusion.

Now, go on to what is arguably the most important question, Question Number 4…

Question Number 4

Will you accept help?

What I’m talking about is outside help, a marriage counselor for example.  Many people, especially men, are not keen on visiting a marriage counselor, or any kind of psychiatrist.

However, even if you’re a man, in fact especially if you’re a man, you may ironically be very open to visiting one now.

The problem is your partner likely is not.

If you think back, your partner may have suggested going to see some kind of counselor in the past (thus the irony).  Whether it was a psychoanalyst, a priest, or even a friend.  That was actually a clue to you that something was wrong.

Likely if they did, you dismissed it, maybe you even laughed at them, or the situation, and treated it as a joke.

But now, they’ve made up their mind.  Whether you like it or not, they’re ready to “turn the page” and move onto the next chapter in their life…without you!

They don’t see how this could help, and in fact, even by mentioning it you may be feeding into their current belief that you’ll do anything to keep them around.  They may even mock you, condescendingly asking you why now you’re so willing to do what in the past you were not.

After all, they are correct, aren’t they?  You do seem to be willing to “do anything” to keep them from leaving.

The fact is that you may need a counselor for you.

At this point you need all the help you can get.  In fact, the answer to this question, assuming you are willing to say yes to it, may help you in response to, and to better definitively answer Question Number 2 sooner.

You may need to work on yourself first before you and your partner will ever be able to rebuild your relationship.

If you do answer yes, and you present this option to your partner, and they decline, do it anyway without them!

It will not hurt you at all to get help for you, it also will show that you weren’t just spouting bullshit and that you are sincerely trying to not only deal with the situation, but become a better person.  As in all things, action is the key, especially now!

Too many times people talk, and do nothing.  In fact, that may be part of the issue with your spouse.  Too much talk and not enough action.

I can practically guarantee that if you research and find a good marriage counselor, that they will help you at the very least.  In fact, depending on how screwed up you are (come on, we’re all a little bit crazy aren’t we?) they may even recommend another counselor, perhaps a specialist, for you alone.  I would advise going if that recommendation happens.

Who knows, you may start out going to a marriage counselor all by yourself, and that alone may be the catalyst to get your partner to eventually “try it out” themselves with you.

The problem many people suffer from in life, especially those going through a crisis like a relationship ending, is that we tend to procrastinate, or say things and then not follow through.  If you do this, if you try to “bluff your way through”, then you’re likely going to lose.

Integrity is an important thing, and you probably have little or none in your partner’s eyes at this time.  So don’t make it worse by not acting.  Act, get some help, start following through and start today!

 

When you’re ready for the next part of the series go to: Once Upon a Time We were Happy, and Suddenly it’s Over? The Heart Heals Slowly, don’t Fear the Future

8 thoughts on “What do I do with this Broken Heart? Avoid Requests for Space and Use Your Head to Think about what You Want

  1. Gary

    I really wish you would have written this about 16 years ago before my marriage imploded. It would have saved me a lot of misery.

    That said, I’m still glad I read it now. It helps me to put some of the emotional pieces back together. I’ve come to see others, everyone, including myself, as mentally unstable. We all are. It’s amazing we can form relationships at all, much less maintain them over extended periods of time.

    Recently, I read a novel by Alain de Botton. It’s called “The Course of Love.” It is the most realistic portrayal of marriage I have ever witnessed. Botton’s premise is that love requires maturity. Several times in the novel he returns to the theme that love is a skill, not merely an enthusiasm.

    Ultimately, I realized through reading “The Course of Love,” that love does not begin until we grow up and generously accept our partner as a flawed being. The trick, of course, is even if we love our partner, they are free not to love us back.

    Reply
    1. Jack Post author

      LOL…Yeah, I know…sometimes the timing of things is unfortunate, but it sounds like you gained some level of preparation that the universe decided you needed for something down the road.

      I agree, every one of us is unstable, we all see things through the prisms of our own contextually insensitive reality.

      I really like your statement around love not beginning “until we grow up and generously accept our partner as a flawed being”. So often, especially with our current vanity driven society, it’s too easy to focus on the flaws.

      I can tell you that some of the greatest beauty I’ve witnessed in life came after I stopped worrying about the inch of surface, and learned to focus on that which lays deep within.

      Thanks for the recommendation! That’s a book I haven’t read, I’ll give it a whirl!

      Reply
  2. Roman

    Hello Jack,

    Reading this about relationships got me thinking about my previous partner. Right now we gave each other “space” and are friends. We never actually lived together, however.

    We perceived that we loved each other. However, I wasn’t able to provide her many of her needs. In essence, we both felt like the victim. How I would just do certain things out of humor when she wanted a deep conversation, and other things, of course. And she would keep letting me know that I needed to do little things for her that I just don’t think about often.

    Early in our relationship, we used the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to see if we were a great match. With me being an INTP and her being an ISFJ, we saw that it would take alot of work with us, since we were not a great match. I wonder if you considered the MBTI on your website? The MBTI is a good tool to use in friendship and relationship assessments!

    Thanks for the info Jack,

    Roman Rys

    Reply
    1. Jack Post author

      Hello Roman,

      What an amazing story! I admire the approach the two of you took, it’s very mature to consider it from the aspect that you characterized, and yet, I’ll bet it was frustrating too!

      It’s hard to beat our nature, and I believe it’s important to try to find people that complement us. That said, it’s possible, should we decide that it’s important enough, to change little things, like attention to detail for example.

      I too tended to dismiss the little things, and take few things serious. In fact, I realized at some point that is exactly one of the behaviors that my wife came to appreciate (WHILE it was simultaneously annoying her).

      I think it takes the right sprinkling of annoyance to keep things interesting…but I digress.

      The point is that I started using my phone to note things down. Sometimes I didn’t realize that she’d shared something with me until I was reflecting on the interaction/conversations later.

      But by taking note of things she said she liked, wanted, thought about, etc…

      I now have a list to draw from when I’m looking for a gift for her, or a quick note to leave in her coffee cup having to do with something she said. Maybe a song she really indicated liking comes on at just the right time while she’s having a bad day, or making dinner. I think you get the point.

      Once you’ve formed a habit like this, suddenly a whole new world opens up not just with the person that was the catalyst, but with all people. You begin to notice things that before you were blind to, you start to pay attention in ways that you didn’t even realize you could.

      That’s a great suggestion about the MBTI, in fact I will be touching on that in a later post. It’s fascinating seeing the characterization that those tests make visible, and while far from perfect, they are kind of uncanny.

      That said, I tend to think in all things there is wiggle. Meaning that just because some test tells you that you’re not compatible, we as humans have the power to change many non-core aspects of ourselves…if something’s important to us, it’s AMAZING what we can do! 😉

      Thanks for the comment Roman, make sure to come back for the ongoing series,

      Jack

      Reply
  3. Jacqui

    Hi Jack,

    Is it alright for women to leave comments too?

    I’ve been reading through the other posts and comments, I think ‘relationship’ skills should be taught in school ~ I’m sure if we had been given advice like this prior to having our hearts broken it could have saved a lot of broken hearts.

    It’s great to see that ‘men’ are just as open to discussing this as women are ~ we are brought up to believe so many falsities about the opposite sex.

    My 21 year marriage has recently dissolved, it has always been up and down ~ in fact we didn’t live together for five years. Then he came back home and for the last three years everything appeared to be going well, then last year I discovered how the last 21 years of my life have all been a lie.

    I think this is the first site I’ve come across that’s written by a man on this topic ~ There are lots of ‘find him and keep him sites’, so well done on being unique… It’s really hard to find genuine advice as lots of posts written by women are so anti-men after being heartbroken and that is so against my personal ethos. When I was younger I’d look at some older women and pray that I would never grow up to become as bitter and cynical about life or the men in it. Reading your posts and the comments have confirmed that was the right choice, even if I’ve got a few kinks along the way it hasn’t totally twisted me in to a man hater.

    Kind Regards
    Jacqui

    Reply
    1. Jack Post author

      Hi Jacqui,

      I love your name, that’s one of my favorite names! Of course it’s alright for women to leave comments.

      Many of the concepts here are relevant for both sexes. As a man, I have a somewhat biased perspective, but with a few changes in approach I think the same concepts and strategies would relate toward women as well.

      Discussing relationship skills in school on a broad scale could be time well spent, though teenagers often have a pretty myopic perspective on relationships. 🙂

      It’s true Jacqui, the stereotypes abound, and we men are often too concerned about appearances, not so much the same way women are, but more from a perspective of keeping our “manliness” intact.

      I am sorry to hear about your relationship. 21 years is a really long time, that’s how long I’ve been married too. I don’t know what it is, but the 20 year mark seems to be the magic number when people start to ask themselves “what if”.

      I can tell you that lies to me are deal breakers. I cannot stand lying. I’m not talking about little things like “of course you look good in that, honey you look good in anything” type fibs, I’m talking about real lies.

      Lying is a type of betrayal, in fact it’s one of the highest levels of betrayal in my mind. Once I’ve caught you in a lie, then everything you have said, and everything you will say becomes suspect.

      It takes me a long time to truly trust again, though that too is an important point. Trust has to always be getting closer. Second, third, nth chances can be the things of heaven, or they can be a crutch you lean on. We tend to delude ourselves into allowing ourselves to be continuously duped.

      There has to be a real risk of loss on both sides. It’s not great, but in a terrible sense it could be compared to the arms race, the “mutually assured destruction” approach. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way forever, because the risk of mutual loss can, and often does, give way to mutual respect, that’s the goal.

      It’s true that a lot of emotional advice on these topics are bent toward the female perspective, that’s something that became very clear while I was going through my transformations.

      That’s one of the reason’s why I put this out here. I hope others will benefit from the many mines that I tripped over. I also hope I can help them in some small way succeed where so many fail.

      I’m glad you didn’t become cynical Jacqui, it’s important to realize that we are all imperfect creatures, prone to sabotage of self and those we love.

      True love is when you realize that you care less for yourself, than the object of your affection. That’s a truly amazing realization and way to live when that love is both well-placed AND reciprocated.

      Cheers,

      Jack

      Reply
  4. Jeff

    Reading your post brought me back to a time in my marriage where my wife and I were falling on hard times.

    Some of the things that I have learned over the few years we have been together, is that it is hard to keep your partner engaged. Over time it seemed we took each other for granted and we started doing things apart from one another.

    We got to a point where we never saw each other. finally we came to an understanding and it had a lot to do with some of the content within your post here. enjoyed reading it… All the best

    Reply
    1. Jack Post author

      Yeah, I totally get where you’re coming from. There were lots of similarities in my own life, along with others that I’ve observed along the way.

      It’s like, one day you wake up and wonder who this person is that you are spending all of your time with. Next, you spiral into the thoughts about what used to be, and start asking yourself questions like “what did I ever see in him/her?”

      That’s where it begins, and often ends. It seems like the more you try to think of the “good” things, the harder it is to see any. That’s the trap, surely there must be many reasons why you engaged in this long term relationship?

      The trick is in finding it.

      I’m not talking about a relationship of a year or two either, that’s something that could totally be a result of limerence. What I’m talking about is a long term multi-year commitment where some kind of official ceremony was conducted and vows were made. Those are the events that often make us stop and think, where we ask ourselves…”am I sure”?

      But I’m rambling, I am sorry that you and your “other” endured that experience, and it could be that you’re both happier and better off. I would simply suggest that if there ever was true love, there can be again…but someone in the relationship HAS to truly WANT it.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply

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