“I think I am a pursuer. My girlfriend initiated a breakup. I want to salvage this relationship. What can I do?”

"Skyward" — Otto Lilienthal B by Mimi Stuart Live the Life you Desire

“Skyward” — Otto Lilienthal B by Mimi Stuart©
Live the Life you Desire

Too much pursuit comes off as neediness. This doesn’t mean that you should pretend not to care, but that you must resist the impulse to pursue her. People lose their attraction to those who are needy or dwell in self-pity. They may feel secure and taken care of by pursuers, but they tend to lose their desire for them.

Your girlfriend cannot develop desire for you unless you become more desirable. Realizing that a one-sided relationship is not sustainable should help you to gain the strength to focus on other endeavors.

Enjoy autonomy

The most effective way to attract your girlfriend back and develop a mutually fulfilling relationship is to develop your ability to enjoy being alone and with people other than your girlfriend. If you dwell on how much you want your her back, you will continue to feel desperate and miserable, and you will continue to push her away. On the other hand, if you demonstrate self-respect and autonomy, your feelings of dejection will decrease, and she will find that more appealing.

As difficult as it may be when you feel heart-broken, it’s important for you to do the things that keep you healthy and involved in life. Your health and vitality are likely to blossom if you eat well, exercise, sleep, perform well at work, listen to music, see friends, and pursue your favorite activities as well as new ones.

You will be more attractive to your girlfriend if you stand on your own and live a full life than if you mope around hoping she’ll come back to you.

Break away from the norm

One of the best ways to get relief from yearning for someone who is not excited to be with you is to take a trip or try some new endeavors. If you can’t get away for a week or two, go to new places for an evening or a weekend. Doing things that are novel focuses your attention on the here and now, preventing you from brooding and obsessing over someone. Volunteering and helping others also stop you from falling into a state of self-pity.

When your girlfriend sees that you are living your life and not pursuing her, she may be drawn to you again and start pursuing you! If not, then it is advisable that you move on and continue to build your life.

If she does decide to come back to you, it’s important that you take your time to explore how to establish a good balance in your life and avoid excessive pursuit of her. One person should not have exclusive power to call all the shots. You do not want to continue to be at the mercy of her whims. You will find that a moderate amount of your personal independence will enhance all your relationship with others.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “My parent didn’t care about me.” How we develop Defense Mechanisms (Part II)

Read “Dysfunctional Parents: ‘My parents were so dysfunctional, I don’t even know what a good relationship looks like.’”

Read “Pursuit and Distancing: Intimacy vs. Needing Space”

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3 thoughts on ““I think I am a pursuer. My girlfriend initiated a breakup. I want to salvage this relationship. What can I do?”

  1. Dr. A

    Hi Dr Alison/ whoever who will be reading this mail.

    I was dating a co worker (TR) for a few months, and after reading more on relationship advises, I have come to believe that I am a pursuer and she the distancer. In my past relationships I believe that I was being the distancer most of the time. Anyway, back to my case.

    My ex, has had bad previous relationships that involved her ex cheating. I had tried to get her to talk about it but she did not want to and that was it.

    Before dating TR, I was seeing another co worker LL but there was nothing serious between LL and I. One night at about 4 in the morning LL texted me and the next day TR wanted to use my phone and I let her. (BTW I knew LL texted me but I did not care because there was nothing going on). Needless to say TR thought I was cheating and shut off completely.

    I went into panic mode, and tried harder and harder to pursue her. She kept her distance more and more and it hurt me so bad. She even said that maybe we should live our lives separately and that she feels better off on her own now.

    Broken hearted and emotional, I was in a total wreck. For the first time, in 8-9 years, this pain came surging back and it was like a Mike Tyson using my heart and head as a punching bag.

    We still work together and we were still able to be professional. (one of the things i loved about her). Over the few weeks after the break up, I tried to be there. I sent food, flowers and did a lot of needy things. I suppose the panic mode in me pushed her further and further away.

    It has been 10 days since I last texted her. I bought the book “Make up, Don’t Break Up” by Dr Bonnie Eaker. Right now I am reading that.

    I am taking all the advise I can get from articles such as these and try to live my life.

    Just the thought of her walking away and never coming back really sends a jolt through me. And if she goes with another man…

    I do love her… and over these few weeks, I have come to know that my love is pure and sincere and if she wants to go, I wish her nothing but the best and hope that she finds happiness.

    Is there anything I can do to bring us back together?
    Dr A

    1. Alison Post author

      Hi Dr. A,

      What a disappointment for you. First some advice and then a couple of observations. Assuming that she broke up because of the 4AM text and her previous experience with someone who cheated, I would send her a letter that simply states that you have never cheated or even had an ongoing secret text relationship with LL or anyone else (assuming this is true!). While you saw LL casually before you two got together, you never continued the digital relationship. She had not been texting you, and you are not the type to have secret relationships. You just wanted TR to know that she means a lot to you, you care deeply for her wellbeing, and that you don’t want to be equated with her previous boyfriend who betrayed her. You would not do that. You wish her love and happiness. (If you want you could say that LL doesn’t text anymore, and that was very unusual and she might have been intoxicated, and that TR is welcome to look at your phone records or talk to LL herself. The main point is that you have no pattern of behavior or any history of betraying a woman, nor do you have any desire to do so (assuming all this is true!))

      Then leave her alone for a while, for perhaps a week, and then ask her to lunch or something light that’s not necessarily a date, which might be harder for her to say no to, and see how it goes. If she agrees, take your time courting her again, rather than overwhelming her.

      If you truly haven’t done anything that should make her suspicious, and she continues to reject you, then either she backing away from you for other reasons using the text as an excuse, or she is extremely jealous, or she is being extreme in cutting you off. In any of those cases, and given that she never talked about her bad experience with her past boyfriend, it might be best to let her go, although you really don’t have much of a choice. You will only be walking on eggshells with someone who has difficulty expressing her feelings and then perhaps has a tendency to withdraw suddenly when there’s a challenge to be faced. While it may be alluring to chase someone who is hard to get, it becomes very anxiety-provoking to be with someone who overreacts and will not candidly discuss her feelings and desires.

      I don’t think the flowers, etc. were a mistake. But what it seems she needed or needs is to know that she can trust you. Here is an article on gaining someone’s trust: https://www.sowhatireallymeant.com/2012/06/15/creating-trust-dont-you-trust-me-despite-my-faults-you-know-i-love-you/

      Also here is an article on privacy and secrecy that might be relevant: https://www.sowhatireallymeant.com/2015/04/01/privacy-vs-secrecy-my-husband-has-blocked-me-from-his-facebook-and-other-social-media-accounts/

      Let me know how it goes. Good luck.


    2. Alison Post author

      P.S. If it’s easy to make a copy of your phone records and there are no other texts from LL recently, I’d include a copy for her to look at. Someone who has been lied to and cheated on needs a little extra compassion and proof to learn to trust a new person.

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