Q: “I met a girl at a busy time, and to be frank, she wasn’t a priority. But now I regret that I let her slip away. How should I go about getting back in touch?”

A: If you want a second chance, there are some key themes you’re going to have to hit on before you ask her out on a date. (Your best bet is probably to have this conversation over the phone, not via text—you want to sound sincere, don’t you?) But no matter how you decide to contact her, here’s what you need to address:

1. You blew her off. You can’t just waltz back into her life out of the blue with no acknowledgement that you were the one to stop contacting her. If you do, you send the message that you either think she’s stupid or has no standards. As awkward as it may feel to talk openly about what happened, it’s the elephant in the room. It needs to be addressed.

2. Why you did it. The why matters because it explains to her that she wasn’t the problem—your life circumstances were. Even if you blew her off because an ex came back into your life, you’re still better off explaining your behavior. Us women folk are not unreasonable people—we get that dating is confusing and sometimes people make mistakes.

3. Why you’re contacting her now. This should also answer the question: why should she trust you? When someone comes back for seconds, it reeks of loneliness. So be clear with her (and yourself!) that the reason you’re reaching out isn’t because you’ve hit a dry spell and are dipping into the reserves.

4. You get her hesitation. This is the tail between your legs part. You can’t act like you’re entitled to a second chance; you have to give her the control to grant you one.

So here are the cliff notes for how the call should go:

“Hey. You’re probably surprised to hear from me after I dropped of the face of the earth. When we dated I was crazy busy at work, was in a really selfish spot, and made some dumb choices. I’ve been thinking about you a lot recently, and how I totally blew it. I understand that you might not want to see me again—or maybe you’re dating someone else—but if not, I’d really love the chance to take you out.”

Now, who wouldn’t give that guy a second chance?

About the Hot Girl: Amber Madison is an author, lecturer, sex and relationship expert and dating coach. She has appeared on MTV, VH1, The Today Show, NPR, The Early Show, and The Bill Cunningham Show; has been quoted in Newsweek, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan; and writes a dating column for The