Thinking of Getting Back With Your Ex? Read This First.
I am the queen of regret.
It’s not the kind of regret that would stop me from doing something terribly stupid like getting tattooed without my parents permission or sneaking out of the house late at night as a teen.
It’s the kind of regret that drove me back to the doors of my exes after I had shut them loudly behind me a few months prior.
If you were to ask me what it was about my life in the weeks and months after a break up that made it feel necessary to perform the walk of shame, I would tell you I had no clue. But after noticing the cycle repeat itself for more than a year, I knew I had to make a change. One day, scrolling through photos, I saw one that said:
“How do you know you’re over someone? When you miss the memories more than the person.”
In that moment, I knew that I wasn’t going back because I actually missed these guys. Believe me, they were different people when I went back. And I was a different person as well. But trying to get back a memory is
like trying to imitate a candid photo.
It just can’t happen. Not without force.
In my humanities class, we learned about the formation of habits, and how to put a stop to them. It was a three step process, referred to as a habit loop in which we acknowledge the cue, recognize the routine, and reap the reward.
So I asked myself, what’s my habit loop?
For me, my cue was loneliness. Right after a break up, I’d have this celebratory phase where I felt this fierce independence and loved sleeping alone. I loved the fact that my phone didn’t ring as much. I loved that I didn’t have to spend twice as much on anything, I loved being free.
But after a few weeks of this, I would get lonely again.
My routine was always marked by that first phone call to my most recent ex from a blocked number with nothing at all to say at strange times during the night. I would send carefully constructed text messages to re-integrate myself into his life, slowly but surely. And then finally, I would somehow become his girlfriend again.
But the reward, at least not the reward that I had hoped for, would never come. I was somehow under the impression that maybe if I just got back with the guy everything would be perfect. Whatever issues we had before had surely just disappeared by the grace of God or magic, or both. We could have a brief discussion about the problems that haunted us and led to our initial departure out of each other’s lives and things would be perfect.
Or so I thought.
If you’re thinking about getting back with your ex, here are three things that I, as a professional get-back-togetherer, implore you to consider.
If it didn’t work out the first time, what makes you so sure it will work out the second? Not to say that second chances never prevail, but walking away from a messy room and returning to it a few days later doesn’t mean it’s clean.
You have to seriously consider the issues that you and your ex had. Are the two of you as a couple damaged beyond repair? If so, why go back? If the only reason for your return is the loneliness you feel from an empty void that hasn’t yet been filled by anyone else, that isn’t fair to you or your former partner. Suck it up buttercup, move it along, and just be patient.
Which brings me to my next point…
There are plenty fish in the sea.
I hate to be all cliché and mainstream, but this is probably one of the most overlooked facts when we’re in that post-break up phase. Get out there! Try new ways of dating; online, speed-dating, going to new parties in new places, network. Even if you don’t find new love, you might find new friends. And they might even be so cool that you’re too pre-occupied doing fun stuff with them that dating goes on to the back burner.
Also, keep your eyes open for people who are already in your life. We can’t always see someone’s potential when we have our relationship goggles on. But once they’re off, people become a lot more (or a lot less) appealing. Go for coffee, go for dinner. But don’t go to the movies. There is no time to talk in a theater. And conversation is the best way to really get to know whether you’re compatible with someone.
You survived. Remember that.
Everytime I was clear-headed enough to look back and reflect on why I went back to this guy or that guy, I always laughed at myself.
“Why did I go back to him after I proved to myself I was able to survive without him?” I would ask.
It’s like a person who has successfully swam a third of the way to the shore, then decides to turn around to get to a paddleboat. You’re almost there, you don’t need the paddleboat.
If you did, you wouldn’t have made it this far.
So whether you go back or not is entirely up to you. This post wasn’t to shackle you to the wall or confine you to your current circumstances. But it was definitely written with the aim of giving you a little more hope in your current circumstances.
Ultimately, you still have to make the final decision. And I don’t believe that any decision we make is the wrong decision. It may not be the best, but there is no such thing as a wrong choice.
But just remember what I said about the swimmer and the paddleboat.
Just keep swimming.
The tides might get high, and you might get some salty water in your nose or your throat, you might even feel like it gets hard to breathe sometimes.
So keep your head above the water.
That way, you can at least see the beautiful shore you’re on your way too, which isn’t too far in the distance.
Close enough that regardless of whether there’s anyone there, you can look forward to the warm and welcoming sand at your feet.
But until you get there, and even when you do…
Don’t look back. Because you’re not going that way.
And there are much, much more unbelievably and remarkably beautiful things ahead.