Every relationship has its up and downs. A healthy one can usually overcome most obstacles. However, at some point in our lives, most of us will cross a line of no return – we’ll hurt our significant other to the point where they’ll decide they’re better off alone. But what if you think she’s wrong? What if it was a one-off mistake and now you know better? Doesn’t it make sense you’ll want to win her back after hurting her?
How to win her back after hurting her
In my experience, when a guy can’t win back his girlfriend after hurting her, it’s not for want of trying. Sadly, he just doesn’t know what to do and doesn’t understand there are steps and stages to navigate in this process. So even if he broke up with a girl nicely, he might regret the breakup and want her back.
In this guide, I’m going to take you through a specific “how to win her back after hurting her” program. The process is part self-reflection, part relationship analysis and part development.
1. Okay – what did you do?
This is so obvious, I shouldn’t really need to include it in here, but I can’t emphasize how important this step is. All too often, when we hurt the ones we love, we don’t even know exactly what we did. We think we do – but we don’t!
To be blunt – imagine you cheated on your girlfriend and I ask you what you did. You’re going to say, “I cheated on my girlfriend.” The first thing to notice here is we’re still saying what you did, rather than the effect it had on her. Also, by only thinking of the event that ended the relationship you are ignoring all the mistakes that came before.
A good relationship can survive one mistake - even a big one like cheating. But usually, when she dumps you for cheating, there were tons of other mistakes which came before. Have you also been too emotionally unavailable? Have you let her down one too many times? Is it time to cope with the breakup because she's unlikely to want you back?
To work out how it affected her, we need to think about her.
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2. How was she hurt?
When you hurt a woman enough to push her away it’s because you have done one of three things. You have abused her trust, made her feel insignificant or shown you don’t love her. And often it’s all three. These are subjective emotions. You may not feel you’ve done this – but she does.
Just consider all the ways you might have hurt her, from cheating to stealing to siding with another person against her. These all involve her trusting you not to cheat, her seeing herself as unimportant in your eyes and her feeling like you don’t love her.
But it is not limited to these things. Love involves reciprocity, the lack of which is painful. So if she trusts you and you don’t trust her back, she’ll feel hurt. If she worships you and you are ambivalent towards her, she’ll feel hurt. And if she loves you and you don’t show her you love her back – she’ll feel hurt.
Remember that the way you hurt her can clue you in on whether or not you can win her back.
3. What happened next?
Presumably, the relationship ended, and you got dumped. Maybe you’re “still friends,” either way. If she hangs up on you when you call or doesn’t hear you when you talk, there’s no difference. All of this can make you feel desperate.
No matter the temptation to drown your sorrows in tears or wallow in self-pity, you have to be levelheaded about this. You have to think about what you should do next.
4. Apologize sincerely.
Once you understand how and why she is hurt, the thing to do to win her back after hurting her is to apologize. I can’t stress this enough. This apology needs to be sincere. Apologize for what you did only if you understand how and why it hurt her. Don’t apologize for getting caught.
The words you are going to use are “I am very sorry.” If you feel the need to add an “if” or “but” in there, you’re not ready to apologize. This includes the celebrity/politician variation of the apology, “I’m sorry if I hurt you.”
If you can say sorry in person, do so. If not, write a letter or a well thought out (read: lengthy) text. Make sure you address what happened, and where the fault lies. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
Saying you’re sorry isn’t going to fix anything. But done properly, it can stop the downward spiral of pain. Trusting there are no further revelations looming, it can put the brakes on an otherwise ever worsening sense of betrayal.
5. Recognize the grief involved and accept it.
After saying sorry, you may expect some improvement in the situation – forgiveness, a renewal of contact, the agreement to meet – anything! And when she is not forthcoming, this can push you into a state of despair. Psychologically speaking, a break up is similar to the death of a loved one. The only difference is, a break up can take even longer to get over – because we know we might be able to undo it.
And that’s your aim here. This isn’t a guide to heartbreak, but you need to understand what’s happening inside you if you want to learn how to win her back after hurting her.
6. What not to do to win her back after you hurt her.
First off, don’t get angry if you don’t get the response you want. Also, don’t beg, whine or plead! None of these will make you an attractive option. Remember, you’re the one at fault, so she owes you nothing. If your reason for wanting to get back together all start with ‘I’, you’re trying to get her back for the wrong reasons.
7. The step back
The first step to becoming her new lover is a complete detox for both of you. You’re not going to call her, visit her, see her in any way – not at accidentally at parties, not stalking her online, not ask a friend about her – nothing. Maybe she'll miss you like you miss her.
Making sure you don’t contact her or think about her isn’t easy. It takes willpower. One trick is the elastic band around the wrist aversion therapy route. If you catch yourself thinking of her give it a snap and stop. Every time we think of someone, the neural pathways in our brain become stronger and only remind us of them more. You have to break the cycle if you’re going to learn how to win her back after hurting her.
8. Don’t think about what effect this has on her.
One thing is for sure, she will notice you stopped calling her. Even if she’s not feeling any love towards you, we as humans are programmed to want habit and routine. If the relationship was healthy before you hurt her and you drop out of her life, she will miss you in some capacity – even if it is only as a friend.
She might be thinking about you, but it’s your job to give her space. Dwelling on where she is in the process will tempt you to call her and flush all your good work down the drain.
9. Put the end date on the calendar for when you can win her back after hurting her
How long this period of no contact should be is up to you. I would suggest a month but some people swear on longer. Sometimes the deeper the hurt, the long the no-contact period needs to be. When you begin this period – tell her you’re doing it for both of you, so you both have time to heal. Tell her you’d like to call her when it’s over (say in three months).
But this period of time is not just waiting time. In this time you are going to do some self-improvement, both physically and emotionally.
10. Hit the gym, rehab, college, the mall, etc.
During your time apart she will wonder occasionally what could have been. However, to stem pain we often comfort ourselves with sayings and generalizations. A common one is “people don’t change.” Your job is to illustrate in every way that you have.
If you know she hated you smoking, work on quitting. If you’ve put on a few pounds in the last couple of years, hit the gym. Try for the promotion or enroll in night school. These are all outward signs of you changing, which can show her that you’re completely different from the man who hurt her in the past. After all, empowering yourself is one of the best ways to heal from a breakup.
11. Be ready to react well to bad news.
At the end of your period of no contact and self-improvement, you can begin to reinitiate contact. Call her and ask her if she wants to meet in the daytime, somewhere neutral like at a restaurant or somewhere with lots of people.
One of the hardest things to deal with at re-contact is the possibility that she’s now seeing someone new. This is a very real possibility because when we’re hurting we seek solace. This could be a rebound relationship – it could be love.
Show you’re a mature man by not criticizing the relationship. Show you’re not intimidated by her new relationship. Try not to act like your world just ended, even if you feel like it did. She’s not in love with you right now - but she might be again in the future. And she’s more likely to find you attractive again if she sees you’re well adjusted after the breakup. In the meantime, it's best to try and move on from your ex.
12. Create a souvenir or your love.
When you leave this neutral meeting, give her a letter to read when she feels ready. Inside this, outline why the relationship you had was valuable – how you two were good together and why it can always be reborn.
Include “we” at every point you make to remind her that you used to be a team. When you end the letter, admit fault for causing hurt and reiterate the fact that it could have been a great, long-lasting relationship.
This letter will become your number one tool to win her back after hurting her. She might not open it now or for months to come, but when the shine falls off her new relationship or when she’s feeling low, she will want to read it.
In the meantime, don’t sit around waiting and “staying true” to her. Get out there and continue your self-improvement and your growth. Because you never know, no matter how perfect the relationship was, there might be an even better one around the corner.