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She’s gone and there is nothing you can do.

How to win back the one that got away

“ …you can’t do anything to make her want to come back. In fact, you can only do stuff to make her not want to come back.” ~Rob to Mike in Swingers

If you clicked on the link to this article because of the title — because you want the answer to that question, then this article is for you. The problem is I don’t have an answer. You can’t do anything to get her back. You can, however, work on yourself and maybe become a better person. Then one day, if you’re lucky, she may message you out of the blue.

At the time of this writing, I am back with the one that got away, but I did not win her back. After nearly thirteen years she showed interest in getting back together, and the only reason it was even possible was because I worked on myself for most of those thirteen years, though I didn’t really make progress until I packed my van with my dearest and most useful possessions, sold the rest, and hit the road. I intended on having the time of my life on the road (travel, booze, and women) but it ended up being a two and a half year hellish journey into myself.

Why did she leave? Let’s face it, you were probably a dick.

There is a reason she is the one that got away. That reason is probably that you were an insecure dick. You treated her poorly. She may have tolerated it for a while: six months, a year, maybe even a decade or longer. But eventually, she decided that she wasn’t going to allow you to treat her that way anymore and decided to leave you.

You can deny or ignore that you have issues to work out if you want but you will suffer for it. You may end up with a series of broken relationships, depressed, and wondering why you attract women who are no good for you. It’s not the women. It’s you.

Though I eventually identified that something was wrong, I ignored it for many years. I hoped that I got better but never really made much progress. When the time came, and I was in a relationship, the insecure, emotionally abusive dick in me came out.

Then there is the bargaining stage. “I promise I won’t _____ if you take me back.” I tried to get her back for years. I begged. I pleaded. I insisted. You may go through the same thing, and his may or may not get her back, but in the long run, you are just postponing the inevitable. She’ll leave you again. Just because you are sorry, doesn’t mean you are a changed man. You still have those issues that drove her away, and they do not go away just because you felt the sting of losing her. In my personal experience with this, we did get back together — for about a day. As soon as I got pissed and threw something, that was it. She was gone again and this time for over a decade.

You have no one else to blame

As time passed, we communicated off and on. My one that got away would drop hints that she was still in love with me and that maybe there would be a chance in the future. For the longest time I thought, and even said to her, that it wasn’t going to work unless she changed too. Now, I can see that had we gotten back together then; it would never have worked. I had to take 100% responsibility for my actions and was not there yet.

It wasn’t until only recently that I was able to see that this was part of the problem. Though I loved her with all of my heart, I hadn’t accepted her for the person she was. I had the love but lacked the respect and gratitude. This is detrimental to any relationship. After going for thirteen years without her, I couldn’t care less if she smoked or salted her food before she tasted it. I can now see that things like this just aren’t that important — not more important than being with the woman I love.

I got lucky

I can’t express this enough. A couple of years ago, I got into a relationship with someone. As short-lived as it was, it was a significant and life-changing event in my life. I was on my best behavior and found myself being the most patient I had ever been with anyone I ever dated. The problem this time, and I can honestly say this, is that it wasn’t me. “I feel like I every time you ask me a question, I am going to make you mad if I don’t give the right answer.” I have heard these words before, but they never hit me until I said them myself. This woman was doing to me what I had done to most of the women in my life and more importantly, what I had done to the one that got away. I immediately understood and set out to get help.

This was key. I realized that in the past decade since the breakup I had made very little progress and if I was ever going to be in a healthy relationship, I was going to need help. This was essentially the beginning of my journey to be a better man. I read books and sought professional help. I even got on some meds after being tested for ADHD. The real help came from spending the next two years alone and having nothing else to do but face my demons.

It was a god-awful experience. Luckily for me, I was a writer and poured my thoughts and sufferings into my laptop. I suffered from depression off and on and wished I could find a woman who’d make things better — who could take my mind off what I was going through; This, thankfully, did not happen. I was forced to take a long hard look at myself and went through some serious self-discovery. When I hit rock bottom; When I was humbled by the fact that I couldn’t maintain a relationship; When I realized that I had been treating women poorly; When I realized that I was a bit of a misogynist and a womanizer; When I realized I was an addict; When I finally realized I was completely at fault; the one that got away happened to reach out to me.

I didn’t win her back. I was just ready when she finally did come around thirteen years later. If I hadn’t spent the time working on myself — being alone — I wouldn’t have been a different person. I would have been the same asshole, and once she realized this, she would have bailed again. And this time, it may have been forever.