Should you take him back?

DG reader AG writes:

I recently dated a guy for a few months but then we had a falling out. We tried to discuss it by email and phone since we were both traveling and we couldn’t meet face-to-face. We set a time in a few days to meet to discuss if we should continue. I have mixed feelings, as I really like being with him and he has many, many characteristics I am looking for in a man. But he would go for a week with no contact which made me feel I wasn’t a priority in his life.

How can I determine if I should take him back?

Good question. You’ve only been seeing each other a few months, so the relationship is still budding. Most people don’t have the strong bond it takes to work things out at this point, but if you do, great.

Be clear what you want. What do you need/want to be different if you decide to continue? Get specific, not just, “I want us to see each other more,” but “I’d like for us to see each other at least 2 times a week, at least one of which is outside the house doing something fun like the beach, a movie or play, and/or dinner.” Or not, “I’d like to talk more often,” to “I want to talk on the phone at least once per day at bedtime, and am open to texts and IMs in addition.”

List your criteria for what you need in order to continue. Don’t read this list as demands but more as your desires. Some of them may be longer term, like, “I want to build our relationship with the intention that we would like to be together long term.”

Of course, you want him to tell you what he wants as well, not just what he thinks you want to hear. If there are non-negotiables, then you each need to take responsibility to say that. If he says, “I want to see other women,” and you say, “I want to be exclusive,” one of you has to give or walk. If neither of you will compromise, then you need to decide to keep it more casual or call if off. It is hard to force someone to be exclusive if they don’t want to be, so whoever wants the exclusivity may find it easier to agree to see others with some caveats. If you say, “We can both see others but not have sex with anyone else,” and he doesn’t agree, that can be a deal breaker for you.

The keys are to be candid and honest about what each of you truly wants and to be clear on your deal breakers. You have to be willing to share what you like about each other, yet be clear you should walk away if you aren’t willing/able to give each other a lot of what s/he wants.

You can also have a trial period to test the waters. “I’m willing to be exclusive for a month, remove myself from all dating sites, end any conversations with past and potential love interests for one month. Then we will discuss how each of us is feeling.” Or, “For the next month I’m willing to go out to dinner with your friends twice if you will go out with mine twice.”

Romantic relationships seem to be a constant stream of compromises. The key to feeling good is to have each of you be willing to 1) discuss what you want in a non-demanding way, 2) offer a compromise, 3) not hold a grudge if you agreed to concede.

Readers, what should AG consider in determining whether to take him back?

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2 responses to “Should you take him back?”

  1. bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    I agree 110% with your assessment of the situation and how to deal with it. As a wise and knowing friend once told me: “Communication and compromise must be present from the get go for a relationship to have a chance of working out long term, everything else is usually negotiable.”

    I also agree with your advice to spell things out in concrete terms, as most of the men I know deal with concretes and specifics much better than abstractions; (i.e, “let’s see each other once or twice a week,” rather than “let’s see more of each other.”) IMHO, the fewer grey areas at the start of a relationship, the better the chances of assessing the relationship’s current value and potential promise, or, alternately, in breaking off the relationship without investing too much time and emotional energy in a partner who, for whatever reason, doesn’t see things the way you do.

    Good luck to AG and to all of us who are in search of the right partner with whom to build our lives and share our dreams.

    Hugs from bookyone 🙂

  2. Jim the tech guy Avatar
    Jim the tech guy

    contact gaps do “NOT” mean no caring. I think this is one **BIG** difference between men and women.

    When men and women are in the thick of earning a living, especially when they are traveling a lot, it is unreasonable to have a lot of contact. I know there are the mythical “ideal” couples that talk to each other every day and twice on Sunday, but in the real world, contact gaps are going to happen and if a woman treats contact gaps as a sign the man “doesn’t care enough” then she is ALWAYS going to be disappointed.

    I really love my GF, but we have to live 400 miles away from each other and I also travel a lot. I know that communication is important (more so for women than men), so we try to email as much as possible and talk when we can and the the time zones let us, but when I am wiped out going from US to Asia and all day meetings, I guarantee that even the emails are going to be few and far between. Fortunately my GF knows I love her and tolerates the gaps especially when I remind her ahead of time what a business trip to Asia is like. Emotionally, she doesn’t like it when I “disappear” for a week or so, but intellectually she understands and can usually calm her emotions.

    So basically I am saying understand why the communication gaps and cut the guy some slack if there are plausible reason. If a woman requires fairly constant communication to feel “loved” she should make sure the guy knows this in plain language from the git go and if he can’t make that happen she should move on. Caution: expecting constant communication may prevent you from having a relationship with lots of guys.