He’s Baaack!! Do I Give Him Another Chance?

 By Nina Atwood

Dear Nina: I just started reading your book [Temptations of the Single Girl] again after one year. I find it fascinating how it’s actually a work-book, and so many thing I didn’t get when I first read it, I’m starting to understand more now. My question is simple: After you’ve broken up a relationship and the guy comes around again trying to patch things up and start fresh, what is the attitude that you have to have with him, in order to avoid past patterns and eventually a second broken heart? What do you come to the table with, in order to state your rules? And more important, how do you know if a genuine inner change has happened in him and that he’s REALLY up to working things out, instead of getting a “I miss you” fix? The reason why we broke up is that he doesnt know he has the capacity to be in a relationship. Again, your book has been helping me a great deal! – Anna

Dear Anna: You are asking great questions, and that is an empowering place to start. The first rule of relationships is this: if he tells you he’s not sure he is capable of being in a relationship, believe him. The second rule is this: the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

That said, I know that you are going to want to go to the table and find out if there is anything new or better for you with this guy. What you bring to the table are these questions:

  • Why should we date again? For what purpose?
  • What will be different this time, and why should I trust you?

Having asked these questions, your job is to be silent and let him do the heavy lifting in the conversation. Don’t succumb to the temptation to fill in the gaps if he struggles to answer you. Just sit there and listen, open to discovery.

What you are listening for is a truly heartfelt intention on his part to be a good man to you, to make a genuine commitment, and to date purposefuly toward lifetime relationship/marriage. You won’t be able to hear that intention if you jump in and rescue him. Your attitude is “we’ll see” and “why should I give you another chance?”

Don’t fall into the trap of talking about your wants and needs. Commitment is such a basic ingredient for relationship success that you shouldn’t have to ask for it; it should come naturally. The more you have to demand it from a guy, the less likely you are to get it.

Be prepared for him to exit again by the end of that meeting. But if he hangs in there and engages around the questions, and if the answers he gives you feel right in your gut, then I would go into a “we’ll see” mode for at least three months during which timeframe you do NOT sleep with him. You go out together but don’t hang out at either of your places. Minimize alcohol, and use that time to observe his behavior with you and to discover whether or not the “I miss you fix” wears off. If he’s weak on commitment, he will be impatient with not getting his sexual needs met and you’ll find he exits again. If he’s strong on commitment, he will use that time to deepen your relationship and give you a strong sense that he is in for the long haul.

It’s not harsh, it’s real. Allowing this guy to earn his way back into your heart is not harsh, it’s real. The first time around, he had the chance for a great relationship just by being with you and being committed. He blew that opportunity. Now, the road back to your heart has to be much more challenging so that he can become the man he truly wants to be – worthy of the love of a good woman. Your challenge will be maintaing that stance, but if you don’t, your relationship will repeat the pattern of the past and it will hurt even more. Stay true to your quest for a healthy relationship and you have the opportunity to turn this lemon into lemonade!

Entry Filed under: Advice for Women,Breaking Up,Dating,Relationships


  • 1. Boris Nelson  |  September 12th, 2011 at 1:03 am


    Nice article.

    Be prepared for him to exit again by the end of that meeting this paragraph is good.

    I like this info.

    Thank You.

  • 2. Dana  |  October 14th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Well said Nina!! –Past behavior does predict future behavior. Don’t allow the “I miss you fix” to fool you. I’ve experienced it and my heart has been broken too many times. If he says he’s not ready–He’s Not!!–don’t wait around for him. You deserve someone whose values and wants are similar to yours. You should get to know each other without sex involved. Some things are deal breakers but that can be made known by both of you. I’d make my wants known prior to getting back together. That way we both know if it’s worth investing our time, energy and attention.

    He has to earn his way back!!

  • 3. Sausalito  |  December 22nd, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Interesting article. I’m writing from a guys perspective. I’ve tried to be in touch with an ex for about three months. We dated for about a year, and fell into each other pretty deeply. She is an ambitious go getter, and wanted me to match her pace, while I was still trying to figure out which career I would be transitioning into from a family business. She wanted stability soon, and I asked for patience and for her to try and stand by me as I figured this out, but it seemed she wasn’t sure if I was sincere in what I was setting out to do. This seemed to be the one thing that kept grinding against the relationship. In September she said she wanted to explore elsewhere. I was quite obviously heart broken and pulled out all the stops and tried to talk to her, let her know that I was coming into focus and that I didn’t think we were that far apart, and that I loved her. She seemed adamant about it. Since then I’ve kept in touch once a week, and we met once for dinner before her trip overseas in November, where we both had a nice time. Trying to get her to meet, several times, she told me that she didn’t want to talk about us anymore, and knew I did and she felt hesitant because of that. Asking further, she said she was dating again. I ended up pouring my heart out again, and told her how much I love her, and how I have been working on myself (which I have), and that I knew exactly what is old be doing a year from now and three years from now. That if I don’t get into grad school this yearI know exactly what to do to so I get in the following year. She asked me why I wasn’t before, and that where I stumbled…I want ready to have the talk then, and told her some of the same things I had before when we first broke up. I’m not sure if it came across as insincere, since I was nervous. You are right, consistent behavior is key, and I need to understand that part.

  • 4. Nina Atwood  |  December 22nd, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Dear Sausalito: I’m sorry things haven’t worked out, and I get that you loved this girl very much. My sense is that you are struggling with identity issues, which is usually what is behind the struggle over career for many men. Don’t know for sure without learning more about you. You sound like a great candidate for life coaching. A good life coach will help you identify your talents and skills and guide you toward discovery of your passions. Thank you for sharing your story, and I wish you the best in moving forward with your life.


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