When you enter the No Contact period, you may feel like your first contact, let alone a meet up, will never happen. It feels so far away and getting through the No Contact period can be so difficult. When you do think ahead to the first contact text, you’re probably nervous – assuming the worst outcome.
But then it happens. You don’t get a negative response. In fact, you’d classify your response as positive! You’ve worked your way through the process successfully, and then after some back and forth, your ex-girlfriend says the words you’ve been longing to hear since you broke up:
“Let’s catch up.”
Now, “catching up” can occur in a couple different ways – we will discuss both here. We’re also going to dissect what your ex girlfriend may mean when she says she wants to catch up. First, let’s discuss her motives, as there are multiple different reasons she may use this turn of phrase.
She’s Wondering How You’re Holding Up
If you and your ex had a good relationship, she probably still cares about you on some level. She probably didn’t love hurting you when she ended things. Part of her probably wants to check in and see how you’re doing.
Curiosity is also a huge motivator. You hear stories about people doing crazy things in relationships, as well as after the relationship is over. Even if your ex is not a part of your life anymore, I can assure you that she is wondering how you’re coping without her.
Ego is a powerful thing. We all want to be wanted…even if we don’t want the person who wants us.
I’ll never forget when I was in high school, and there was this guy who was into me – had been for a few years, but I had never been interested. One of my friends convinced me to give him a shot, and so we went and saw a movie together. I decided after the fact that my initial reaction was right – I just didn’t see him that way.
Then, my friend (the same one who encouraged me to give him a chance) began showing interest in him, and he seemed to reciprocate her interest. And even though I had no real desire to date him, I sure didn’t want her to! I enjoyed the power of knowing that he was into me and I was unattainable to him, as awful as it sounds. Everyone wants to be wanted.
In season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it is revealed pretty early on that Dawn, Buffy’s younger sister has had a crush on Xander for years. Then, in “Crush”, she spends a couple hours with Spike (who we learn in the same episode, is in love with Buffy), and is seemingly crazy about him. Buffy and Xander have the following exchange:
Buffy (about Dawn and Spike): I think she has a crush on him.
Buffy: I mean, I always knew he had this weird fixation with me…
Xander: I’m the one she had a crush on. Me!
Buffy: There’s nothing here. Let’s go.
Xander: It’s always been me! Big, funny Xander! Oh what, she suddenly decides I’m not the cool one anymore? Why’s that okay?
Dawn is fourteen years old. Xander is blissfully happy with Anya. He’s not interested in Dawn at all, but he loved the feeling of knowing that someone admired and wanted him. Who doesn’t like that? When Dawn started showing interest in someone else, he felt threatened, and his ego was bruised.
So, point being, it is actually quite possible that your ex is curious to see how you’re holding up without her. She may want to know that her presence in her life was valuable and enriching. She may want to get a sense if you’re seeing someone else – either for her own ego or because she’s interested in rekindling things with you (more on that later).
This is why it is so important that you tackle No Contact fully. You need your exgirlfriend to see the new and improved you – the guy she fell for in the first place. She needs to see that she doesn’t have that strong of a hold over you.
You may want your ex-girlfriend back, but that doesn’t mean you need her. It is important that both she and you know that.
She Wants to Brag About Her New Life Without You
As previously mentioned, ego is a powerful thing. It’s a fact that is widely acknowledged that there are winners and losers in breakups. Even if your ex broke up with you, she still wants to win the breakup.
In fact, the person who does the dumping is usually in a better place to be the winner, because they saw the big change coming well in advance. The person who was blindsided by the breakup usually has a harder time recovering and is not in nearly as good of a place to win.
The person who is doing the best overall post-breakup wins. As I mentioned above, some small part of your ex wants to see you unhappy when they catch up with you because they want to know how much them being in your life impacted you.
This is why (again) it is imperative that you not just cross the days off the calendar during No Contact, but really embrace the time and use it to better yourself.
Work out. Look for new career opportunities if you’re not happy with your job. Spend more time with family and friends. Remember the Holy Trinity: Health, Wealth, and Relationships.
When my ex and I met up for the first time, I had accomplished so much in the month and a half since I had seen him last. I’m not sure what he expected, but I was not sad and pining after him. He talked a bit about what he had been up to, but mostly, it was the same it had always been. I, on the other hand, told him about the new career opportunities that were coming my way, the new friends I had made, my new exercise regimen, projects that I had in the works. He was happy for me, but at the same time, I could see in his eyes that he was surprised I was doing so well without him.
It was clear that even though he had been the one to end things with me, I was the one winning the breakup.
Make it so that your ex doesn’t even recognize you when you “catch up.” Make the regret overwhelm her so you can relish that same look in her eyes when she realizes that you don’t need her to be happy.
She Wants to Test the Waters
If you’re one of the lucky ones, maybe No Contact is all it takes for the regret to start setting in. But your ex may not be quite sure about where you stand. So she may want to catch up to get a sense of where you are, if you’re still interested in dating her, or if you’re with someone else.
At my first meet up with my ex, it took him less than 30 minutes to ask me if I was seeing anyone. I’m still not sure what his intentions are with me, months later, but I do know he was interested enough to want to know if I had been spoken for in the short time we were separated.
If you’re meeting in person and this is her intention, you should get a sense of it pretty quickly. There are a couple of things to watch out for – subtle hints that regret may be seeping in and they are considering what their life would be like if they hadn’t let you go. Reminiscing about your past relationship, commenting on how good you look, and how well you’re doing, admitting and owning up to past mistakes are a couple of prime examples.
If this “catch up” is happening over the phone, these signs might not be as obvious. After any lengthy interaction with my ex, whether it be over the phone or in person, I just down the details. This is helpful because it allows me to go in and dissect the interaction at length later. This is particularly useful for over the phone interactions.
If this catch up is in person (in which case, it’s a meet up), keep an eye on her body language – is she angled towards you? Is she playing with her hair or her lips? Does she keep stretching in ways that are oddly alluring? If so, these are signs that at the very least, she is attracted to you. Which is definitely a step.
If you get the sense that this may be your ex’s intentions, you are in a great spot. What you need to do from there is continue building positive rapport, get her to invest (emotional investment is huge for women so focus on that), and solidify the positive memories she may have from your relationship together.
The key is to keep things as positive as possible so that she totally forgets all of the arguments that were had over the course of the relationship. You want her scratching her head and thinking “Now, why did I let him go again? That was dumb on my part.”
She Misses You
It’s likely that no matter her primary reason for wanting to catch up, missing you probably plays into it at some level. People are habit forming, and when you suddenly disappear from someone’s life (especially if you executed No Contact flawlessly), there is going to be an emptiness in their life, and they will begin to miss you. It’s also possible that dating and being single hasn’t been as fun or easy as she thought, and that in and of itself has caused her to miss you.
If you and your ex had a lengthy relationship, and/or a strong friendship foundation, this is also almost definitely the case. Even if she broke up with you, she is going to miss having that person in her life that she goes to for everything. You were her support, her cheerleader, her friend. Once that’s gone, it packs a punch. It may take her some time to get there, but once she is, you’ll be able to tell. It will be in her eyes, in the way she looks at you.
If this is the case, you are in great shape. Your ex missing you and realizing what you contributed to their life is the first step to getting them back.
“Catching up” in Various Forms
There are a few ways that you and your ex could “catch up.” The two primary ones we are going to talk about are over the phone and in person meetups. Overall, I suggest you take your ex’s lead on which form of “catching up” that you two take. This will give you a sense of where they stand with you and will make them feel more at ease if they feel like they are the one calling the shots.
Very shortly after I ended No Contact, my ex asked me if I’d like to catch up via a phone call. I thought I was going to throw up, I was so nervous. I was convinced he was going to tell me he was dating someone, or that he was going to tell me some other crazy thing. Nope. Instead, he just wanted to talk to me. He said he missed me. He seemed lonely.
Not all ex’s are as transparent as mine. In fact, most won’t be. If you and your ex are catching up via phone call, listen to what they say, yes. But also listen to how they say it.
Listen to the tone of their voice, the inflections they use. Where they hesitate, where they awkwardly shift subjects.
And it is absolutely key to keep your phone call to 15 minutes or less and end it on a high note.
In-Person Meet Ups
Chris has already covered how to approach in person meetings in detail here, so I won’t get into it too much in this section as he is the expectation and his advice on this front has never steered me wrong.
But what I will reiterate is how important body language is. Noting how she behaves towards you and how she looks at you will help to determine what her motives are for wanting to “catch up.” Again, listen to what she says, but in addition to paying attention to how she says it, also pay attention to what she is physically doing as she says certain things. And as I mentioned, jot down the important information to analyze later as soon as you leave the meetup.
Meetups should be under 2 hours, and the key is to make them as positive as possible. Again, leave on a high note, so your ex wants more.
Catching up – An Overview
There are multiple reasons why an ex might want to catch up, whether in person or over the phone. What is important is to look at how they are expressing themselves and their feelings towards you in ways other than the words that are coming out of your mouth.
As the stunning Jennifer Seiter says,
“pay attention to actions, not words.”
In a phone call, that means paying attention to how they choose to say things, in addition to what the words are (I’m certainly not advocating that you just tune out what they are saying. That’s not utilizing good listening skills). In person, it means doing the above, but also adding the component of paying attention to their body language.
Your ex may have one or multiple reasons for wanting to meet up, but I can assure you that really, it boils down to being curious, and missing you. Which means that they still care about you, on some level.
If your ex initiates wanting to “catch up,” I’d say you’re in a great position. Just keep your cool, keep things positive, and with any luck, you’ll have her back in your arms in no time.
(Written by Rachel)