They say it takes a village to raise a child. That may be the case, but it takes a lot of solid, stable marriages to create a village.

- Diane Sollee,

How to Win Your Lover Back

An Article for Men and Women Who Have Behaved Badly

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NOTE: To keep the article clear and easy to read, this article is written from the perspective of a man working to win back a woman. The same advice applies for a woman who wants her man back and for a same sex couple of either gender.

1. Tell her you’ll do whatever it takes to earn her trust back and do it without complaint.

Give her the password to all your accounts; healthy marriages require total transparency, no secrets. Otherwise, you can’t trust each other. If you can’t trust each other, you won’t have the intimacy you desire. And don’t bellyache about how she’s violating your privacy. You gave that up when you violated her trust.

2. Stop asking her how she thinks your relationship is going.

You are understandably anxious about losing her, but seeking constant reassurance from her will just push her away. Instead, get your support from friends or a good therapist, read self-help books, seek spiritual help, but don’t rely on the person you hurt to help you with your own pain. She needs to see that you can demonstrate patience, are there for the long haul, including the long journey to earning back her trust. Anyone can do well for a few weeks or months. The true test is, over time, can you sustain your behavioral changes when faced with daily stressors?

When you have a good moment, don’t gush how much you love her and want to be with her. Just enjoy the moment (“I had fun with you tonight”) or you’ll scare her off. She isn’t sure she wants to be with you anymore because she’s afraid of being hurt again, especially if you’ve done it repeatedly. So expressing your love (especially if you’ve never done that before, despite her repeatedly pleading with you to do so) and begging her to commit to the relationship because it is going well now (though it’s been like, uh, a week!) just makes her feel pressured. If she sees the agony you are in, she feels guilty. If she feels too guilty, she may decide to end the relationship because she can’t stand hurting you, but not because she doesn’t still love you. So put a cap on your anxiety and focus on behaving well over time.

3. Demonstrate by your behavior (words are worthless, quit relying on them) that you are being a good partner: attentive, faithful, kind, considerate, helpful.

Stop waiting for her to tell you what to do to make her happy. Initiate. Take out the garbage, cook dinner, get tickets for a play. However, don’t go over the top or she won’t find the gesture credible. Small, incremental changes over time are indicators of changed behavior. Crash diets don’t work, but cutting your calories by a 100 a day over time does work because it’s a sustainable change. Even if you get it wrong, initiating demonstrates investment in the relationship. When you get it right and initiate — that’s worth bonus bucks!

Judith L. Sloan-Price, LCSW is a psychotherapist and Austin marriage counselor. You can email her or call (512) 922-2256.

December 17, 2009, Austin, Texas.

Judith Sloan-Price, LCSW

Judith Sloan-Price, Austin LCSW
For appointments, email for fastest response times:
Phone: (512) 922-2256
Fax: (512) 336-9351
Office Address:
6904 Fireoak Drive
Austin, Texas 78759