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The trouble with 'How to get him/her back' guides

The web is awash with guides with titles like "How to get your man back!" or "Make her love you again!" They cater to the desperate and despairing. According to Google, literally millions of people search every month for guidance on getting partners, boyfriends and girlfriends back and repairing a broken relationship.

If you are one of those people, firstly I'm sorry for your suffering, secondly there is a way forward, thirdly the majority of 'save my relationship' guides out there probably aren't going to help you.

If you're suddenly without the company or connection of someone you love deeply or have depended on in some way to meet your emotional needs, it's understandable that you might be feeling desperate for things to return to how they were. But if that's the case, there's something you would do well to do before worrying about getting back with anyone.

The more desperate you feel, the harder it often is to connect in a healthy, loving way, and the less appealing you're likely to be a certain person. So a smart first step is to gain control of your emotional state, take stock of the situation and start to explore more hopeful perspectives. You could think of it as groundwork.

This may not be what you want to hear, but one especially helpful (and hopeful) perspective is to see the possibility that your emotional and physical needs can be met in other ways and with other people - so that your well-being is not wholly dependant on anyone else, except you.

Obviously, the person you love is the person you most want to have that close connection with, but seeing the possibility of meeting your needs in other ways means you are not hopelessly trapped by your current situation. In contrast, the run-of-the-mill how to get your partner back guide fuels your 'they are my everything' frame of mind, and thus leads you down the wrong track.

Just that positive realization, of there being other possible ways to fulfil your needs, will make you more emotionally resourceful - and less likely to apply the kind of pressure on the other person that will often make them want to get further away from you. What's more, it will put you in a stronger frame of mind for seeing how you might actually repair your relationship.

With a clearer, stronger frame of mind you can look more soberly at the reasons why the relationship fell apart, and the reasons why you think it is worth trying to mend, for both your and the other person's sake. That mutual consideration of needs is a key factor in healthy, loving relationships - and when it's missing often the reason for a relationship going belly up.

Now, getting to the point where you can take the above attitudes and look clearly at the situation might be hard work. It might even require some working on yourself and altering long held beliefs. In a culture of instant gratification and quick fixes, 'hard work' spells 'instant turn-off'. If you don't have the stomach for some potentially hard work, then go ahead and download one of those guides to plaster over the cracks, or to manipulate, charm or seduce your way back into a relationship. But be sure to bookmark HLR, for when you find history repeating itself.

(Note that 'hard work' doesn't necessarily imply slow progress, not at all; simply that serious effort may be required for the kind of results you'd like.)

"Healthy Loving Relationships" explores many of the factors that can be involved in relationships ending unhappily, from communication issues to internal conflict, to sex and commitment. It also walks you through some straightforward ways of developing deeper and more meaning connections that last.

Good luck!

Reader Resources: 
References to the book, to help you go deeper into the above content.
  • Section: 'Commitments and Goodbyes'   For getting more constructive perspectives on why relationships can fall apart and how to keep them strong.
  • Sub-section: 'Beliefs, the gatekeepers to fulfilment'   Explains how the way you look at your situation determines your chances of happiness, and then shows you how to go about transforming your beliefs into more helpful ones.
  • Sub-section: 'Knots not to keep'   Lists some of the tangles of thinking that can create vicious cycles in relationships, and fuel feelings of desperation when they end.
  • Sub-section: 'Support and affection'   Explores two qualities that tend to bring people close together, how to develop them in your relationships, and some common traps to avoid.
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