Recently, my partner broke up with me after 38 years together. I admit I screwed up in the last five years of the relationship, but I’d go back in a second. The loneliness of single living is really getting me down. Coming home to an empty apartment and eating alone is not where I imagined myself to be at age 62. How can I try to reunite? I think my ex would be up for it. It’s just a matter of how to convince her.
He Said: We’re social creatures, and living solo when you prefer to be part of a couple is painful. Splitting up after that many years must be excruciating. Before you outline your strategy for reconciliation, ask yourself whether you want her back (after all, you spent five years sabotaging the relationship) or whether you just want any partner to alleviate your loneliness. Regardless, you’ll need to offer more than your loneliness in order to win her, or any woman, over. What would it take for you to feel like you had a great life that you wanted to share instead of a sad one you wanted to escape? You don’t like eating alone, so go to Meetup (meetup.com). There are dozens of local groups that gather for dinner, book discussions, hiking, and more. It’s an easy, free, low-risk way to build a social network. Whatever you picture doing with a partner, try doing it alone or with new friends first. It will put you in a better position to go back for your partner or find a new one.
She Said: That’s one approach, but let’s face it. Life is mercilessly short, and you’re 62. I assume your ex is around the same age. If you really want her back, I’d suggest you sit down and take a long look at how and why you screwed up. Were you lazy? Angry? Did unspoken feelings or unmet needs linger too long and poison things? Was it a satisfying relationship for you both up until those last five years? Before you go back, you need to understand what happened and whether you’re willing to do it differently this time. It’s true that loneliness and impending old age are not the best of motivations, but they can certainly be powerful ones. For the most part, we’re built to live in relationships. If you feel you’ve learned the value of your ex-partner’s companionship and are willing to do more to keep it alive and reciprocal, then search your soul, and clearly articulate your wrongdoings and commitment to make things better—first to yourself and then to her.