The Lure of “the Ex”

8 Dec

Ok, most of us have been in this situation. You finally get to a point where you are over your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend. You are dating someone new and fabulous and life is just great. Then, all of a sudden (as luck would have it), your ex has suddenly had a change of heart (probably because he/she has heard you were dating again), and decides to wiggle back into your life.
So there you are, super-stoked on this new relationship; this new person is fresh, exciting and totally different from your ex. Yet, you can’t help but wonder… Should I give my ex another try?  Maybe things will be different this time.  Maybe he/she has changed…

     Right, so like I said, we’ve all been there. The lure of the ex, and answering one’s “what ifs” can be a practically irresistible temptation.  Most of us end up making the wrong decision. That is, foregoing the new promising relationship you are in, and falling back into the old one.  Of course, there are no absolutes, and maybe 2% of the time it does work out.  As a general rule however, giving an old relationship a second chance is a losing proposition.
     But come on, we already know this.  So why do we find the ex so irresistible? There are several reasons to explain this behavior. For one, we have already established our comfort zone with the ex. We know them, their habits, their likes and dislikes. More importantly, they know us, our favorite things, our history, our idiosyncrasies. Not to mention all of the inside jokes and fond memories you share.
     In the time apart, especially if breaking up wasn’t your choice, there is a tendency to glamorize the person we miss. We remember them, and the relationship, as nearly perfect. Sometimes, we do so in order to feel that we have control. As if something that you did, or could change, ended the relationship. In a strange way, it is more comforting to convince yourself that you were doing something wrong, something within your control, than accept unprovoked rejection.
     Further, most are plagued by wondering what could have happened.  Hello?!? More often than not, if it could have happened, it WOULD have happened. We often wait around for “the timing to be right” for them to do the right thing; or equally as futile, for them to change some fatal flaw in their personality. If he would only do THIS…or if she would only SAY that. I will let you in on a little secret: Once a person hits their mid-twenties, most of their personality flaws are permanent with RARE exception. You have to decide whether you can deal with them, or not. And usually, when you break up, you have MADE that decision. Don’t second guess yourself.
     Another fallacy that tends to allude us is where that person was right for you at THAT time and THAT point in your life. People change (yes not much but circumstantially). The person that you were, and the things that you were looking for a year ago, even a few months ago, may not necessarily be who you are today. With any luck, you are growing and maturing. Consequently, so are your needs and what you look for in a relationship. Don’t discount the fact that this other person may be different as well. What worked for two people in one wink-of-time isn’t necessarily going to work later on in life. We are dynamic. And as we are out there learning, maturing and having different experiences, we are undoubtedly affected. Thus, the idea that if someone was perfect for you at one time, then they should be again, is utterly flawed unless the two of you had been cryogenically frozen or something. If that’s the case, I’m going to have to surrender authority because I haven’t had much experience with that type of situation. All joking aside, when we have fallen for someone, it may be hard to accept that they might not still be the person you once loved.
     Here is what happens when you get back with your ex. Your relationship gets its 15 minutes of fame, and then its over. Within a VERY short period of time you are reminded why you broke up in the first place. It won’t belong before you are at each other’s throats again, or are simply unhappy and realize you are back in that same situation that drove you apart. You then regret your poor choice because, as it goes, you have then blown your chances with the new person in your life.
     Save yourself the second-guessing and “what ifs.” Remind yourself why you broke up. Don’t glamorize your ex and turn them into something they weren’t. Take an honest look back at the relationship, and remember them for how they actually were. Day to day, what was it like being with this person, handing out, running errands with them? Once you have a realistic memory, it will be easier to quell those “what ifs” that commonly surface when an ex suddenly re-enters your life.
     Do yourself a favor.  General rule: When an ex from the past attempts to re-kindle what was lost, be flattered, but kindly decline the offer. Stay friends by all means, that’s fine. As far as entertaining thoughts of getting back together, forget it. Move forward, not backwards. There was a reason you broke up, and unless some miraculous transformation has taken place (doubtful), those issues still exist.
     In conclusion, always look ahead. We can always learn things from past relationships, but that is where they belong, in the past. Learn what you liked and didn’t like, what you can deal with and what you will NOT deal with. These are all very important things to come out of any relationship with. Even if it was a bad break-up, you have a choice. You can either let it get you down and hold you back, or you can use it as a learning experience to build yourself up and make yourself a better person. I am a firm believer that out of any bad situation, there is always something good to be gained. You just have to be strong enough to recognize what that is and take advantage of it.

11 Responses to “The Lure of “the Ex””

  1. Kendra8875 June 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    oh hell no you cant get back with your ex. just say no!

  2. Anonymous June 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I think it can work so long as both people are committed to change. Why so pessimistic JD??

    • Ashley A June 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      Cuz he’s right.

    • J.D. St. Michaels January 26, 2014 at 12:08 am #

      I wish you the best. And I’m an optimist. But also a realist. So long as you always follow your heart, you’ll be fine…Just keep this in mind: the RIGHT person only makes your life better and easier- Keep that in mind.

  3. BabyCakes3221 March 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    Yep. Had to learn that one the hard way-

  4. facebook February 17, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    i love it

  5. J.D. St. Michaels September 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Thank you. Just writing from experience.

  6. Catherine September 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    This is right on. Why go backwards when you can go forward? I know the temptation, for sure, but you just have to keep reminding yourself of why you broke up in the first place. A really good book to help you do this is “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken.” Anyone struggling with considering going back to an ex should check this book out for sure! Great post.

  7. Stephanie May 4, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    Good food for thought J.D.Just last night I watched and episode of How I Met Your Mother that touched on this very topic. Entitled "Twin Beds" this episode had the main character writing a letter to his future self entitled "The reason why you broke up with your Ex." It’s easy to remember the good stuff, and important too for that matter (as I’d rather have primarily fond memories than awful ones), but there is always that urge to slip back into something comfortable and it’s important to remember that things end for a reason. Reading over a letter like this prior to jumping back in with an Ex will probably save a lot of heartache in the long run.


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