Dear Thelma: I failed to win my ex back as we want different things in life

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Dear Thelma,

I am a 22-year-old student who met my ex-girlfriend back in 2018 during our university orientation. We fell in love half a year after meeting each other and everything was going pretty smoothly.

Our relationship was a very loving one. We were there for each other every step of the way and during each of the ups and downs in our relationship.

We went on many trips together and spent lots of time together even though she transferred to KL to further her degree after she was done with her foundational studies in Melaka.

However, an issue arose when we talked about our future plans. She wanted to migrate; I didn't want to. I wanted to have children; she didn't want to. This became a cornerstone of most of our arguments; eventually she gave in to mine.

During the pandemic, I started to get too comfortable at home and lost a lot of my self-esteem. I started to overthink about the things we wanted in the future and although she had given in to following my future plans, I felt that it was unfair for her. This really stressed me out throughout the lockdown period and I started to neglect her text and calls.

Not being able to take it anymore, I broke off with her this April. She was really heartbroken.

Some time in September, I started to realise the mistake I'd made, and started to long for her. I texted her to ask whether we could continue our relationship, expecting that she would be willing to. Instead, I was faced with rejection. I started to plead with her; I begged her over the past few weeks.

She was adamant that we won't get back together anymore, which broke my heart each time she said it.

I want to win her back. But I don't know how.


Dear DS,

I'm sorry you're having a bad time. Your letter is extremely clear in terms of events. I think that looking at it also from a psychologist's viewpoint will be helpful to you.

You and your ex are both caring, nurturing and supportive. When you're both in the same place, you get along great.

You bonded during university and fell in love. That was a comfort to you both because you were stressed by studies and learning to be adult and independent too. On holidays, you bonded even more because of the excitement of sharing new experiences.

However, while your relationship worked for university, you both knew it would not work out long-term, because you have very different ideas of what you want out of the next 50 years.

She wants a child-free life in another country. You want to stay and have kids. My dear, it's sad but there is no way to reconcile these two totally different needs.

You both knew it, but you were the one who was brave enough to acknowledge the relationship had run its course. Both of you were sad about this.

So far, that's all very reasonable. It is sad when two wonderful people have totally different life goals. And not all relationships are meant to last forever.

However, you are now facing loneliness because you miss her, grief because the relationship is over, and uncertainty because you have to move on with life and you're not certain what's coming. In addition, there are the stresses of the pandemic.

Because of this, you tried to go back to the comforts of the past. That's very understandable, but it's not sensible. Your differences are still there. And as your ex has realised, the two of you cannot be happy together because you want such very different lives.

My advice is to accept that you are sad. It's OK to grieve for a lost relationship. But also remember that you picked a wonderful person, and that is something you will do again.

In the next six months or so, focus on your support group: family and friends. Also, do all the little things that make you happy, such as sports and meeting up with people you haven't seen in ages. If you can, pick up a new hobby too.

Surrounding yourself with love and the good things in life will help you heal. And when the heartache lessens, start dating again. You will find someone who shares your idea of a Good Life, I'm certain of that.

As for your ex, agree to stay out of contact for a year or so. Both of you need to move on. Later, when you're both in a happier space, you can be good friends, sharing a loving past and living very different lives.

I hope this helps you move on to better times.

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